|PEACE BREAKS OUT|
June 10, 1999
JIM LEHRER: Yugoslav troops started pulling out of Kosovo, NATO suspended its 78-day air assault, and the UN Security Council authorized a peacekeeping force, which began moving into position. Betty Ann Bowser has our summary of the events on this first day of the new peace.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: The day began with what NATO has said it wanted from the very beginning, the withdrawal of Serb troops from Kosovo. Hundreds of soldiers in tanks and heavy armored vehicles waved the Serb victory sign as they headed up a major highway from the Kosovo capital of Pristina North back into Serbia. In Brussels, NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana said this was a verifiable withdrawal, the condition necessary for NATO to stop the bombing.
SECRETARY-GENERAL JAVIER SOLANA: A few moments ago, I instructed General Clark to suspend NATO's air operations against Yugoslavia. I have taken this decision following the consultations with the North Atlantic Council and also after confirmation from General Clark that the full withdrawal of the Yugoslav security forces from Kosovo has begun.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: At the White House, President Clinton said he was pleased there is peace, but said the international community must watch Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic carefully.
PRESIDENT CLINTON: First, we have to make sure that the Serbs keep their commitments. That means that forces must rapidly and peacefully leave Kosovo under the agreed timetable, 11 days from yesterday. NATO's air campaign is suspended. It is not formally terminated. And Secretary-general Solana retains the authority to resume strikes if Serbia violates its commitments. Second, we face challenges and risks in bringing home the refugees and restoring stability. With determination and cooperation, an international security force of roughly 50,000 troops, including 7,000 Americans, can give the people of coast with the confidence to return, to lay down their arms, to heal their wounds, to live in peace. But there are operational difficulties with this as well, which you will see over the next few days as we come to grips with them. We now have a moment of hope thanks to all those qualities. And we have to finish the job and build the peace.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: But on Capitol hill, the House of Representatives engaged in a bitter debate over what it cost to fight the war, and what it might cost to keep the peace.
REP. DONALD MANZULLO, (R) Illinois: What have we done? Milosevic is still in power. Close to 200 schools in Serbia have been destroyed, a half a dozen bridges across the Danube, power plants; we have destroyed a country. We have wasted our precious military resources. The American public has been asked to pay not only for the war, but the President will come back and ask us to rebuild Serbia. It's wrong.
REP. RICHARD GEPHARDT, Minority Leader: Even if you were against the military action, you should be for the peacekeeping effort. If you care about the humanitarian catastrophe that's happened in the Balkans, if you care about the future stability in Europe; the peacekeeping effort is the best way to continue the success.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: It's expected Congress will prohibit President Clinton from spending any money for peacekeeping in Kosovo beyond September 30th, unless and until he specifically requests additional funds. The President reportedly has said he intends to do just that. In Belgrade, Milosevic went on television to address the nation. He said fewer than 500 Serb soldiers had died in the Kosovo conflict, a figure far lower than the 5,000 deaths NATO estimates, and he refused to admit defeat.
PRESIDENT SLOBODAN MILOSEVIC: (speaking through interpreter) We will not give up Kosovo. We never gave up Kosovo. Today, the territorial integrity and sovereignty is guaranteed by the G-8 nations, the UN This guarantee is in the draft resolution. Open questions regarding the possible independence of Kosovo in the time before the aggression have been sealed with the Belgrade agreement. The territorial integrity of our country can never be questioned again. We survived and defended the country and raised the entire problem to the pinnacle of world authority, the pyramid, the United Nations. The problem was returned to be solved under the auspices of the United Nations and in tune with the UN Charter.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: On the streets of Belgrade last night, the sounds of air raid sirens and bombing were replaced by the sounds of celebration.
SPOKESMAN: (speaking through interpreter) I am hoping that from now on there will be no more foolishness like there has been in the past few years, and particularly the past three months. God help us and all of the planet.
SPOKESMAN: Today and tonight in all of the world, there is going to be peace. No more war in this country, no more war in Europe, you know? There is going to be peace in all over the world.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: At the United Nations this afternoon, the Security Council considered a resolution on a peace plan for Kosovo, including approving a peacekeeping force to be led by NATO. Yugoslavian Ambassador Vladislav Jovanovic was allowed to speak.
VLADISLAV JOVANOVIC: No civilian target was spared by NATO planes. For the first time, NATO designated as legitimate targets hospitals, housing blocks, refugee centers, and media institution and journalists, schools, kindergartens, business centers and shopping ball malls, buses and passenger trains, even foreign diplomatic missions. Set on intimidating and punishing the entire Yugoslav people, the NATO aggressors have destroyed the economy and the infrastructure, including bridges, roads, and railroads, as well as the power grid and the water supply system of the country. Hundreds of thousands of people have been made jobless, and millions are without any income. By destroying pharmaceutical and chemical plants and oil refineries, by bombing national parks and using inhuman deference, including depleted uranium ammunition, NATO has caused an ecological catastrophe, the consequences of which will be felt for centuries.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: China, a voting member of the Security Council, and still angry over the NATO bombing of its embassy in Belgrade last month, condemned the NATO air campaign over Yugoslavia.
SHEN GUOFANG, UN Ambassador, China: (speaking through interpreter) NATO has seriously violated the charter of the United Nations and norms of international law, undermined the authority of the Security Council and hence set an extremely dangerous precedent in the history of international relations.
SPOKESMAN: Would those in favor of the draft resolution --
BETTY ANN BOWSER: Then the Security Council voted on the plan.
SPOKESMAN: Please raise their hand. Those against, abstentions. The result of the voting is as follows: fourteen votes in favor, no votes against, one abstention. The draft resolution has been adopted.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: Under the peace plan signed last night, Milosevic has 11 days to pull his forces out of Kosovo. NATO carved the province up into three military zones and two air and ground perimeter zones. Starting today, Serb ground forces in zone three must begin to withdraw. By June 12th, all Serb aircraft and air defense systems must be out of the perimeter air safety zone around Kosovo. By June 15th, all Serb ground forces must be withdrawn from zone one in the southernmost region of Kosovo. By June 18th, all Serb forces must be out of zone two in the middle of the province. And by June 20th, all Serbian soldiers must be out of all of Kosovo, including the ground safety zone. NATO Secretary-General Solana was asked if the alliance is determined to resume the bombing if Milosevic doesn't comply.
SECRETARY-GENERAL JAVIER SOLANA: And I will state the answer in a monosyllable: Yes.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: In Macedonia, the commander of the peacekeeping operation, Lieutenant General Michael Jackson, said his forces, known as KFOR, are ready to move into Kosovo soon, with a very clear mission.
LT. GENERAL SIR MICHAEL JACKSON, NATO Task Force Commander, Macedonia: The KFOR approach will be one of utter evenhandedness to all the people of Kosovo, from whichever ethnic background they may come. I have said that our primary aim is to create that level of security within which all people can have a confidence to live a normal life. I can't put it more strongly than that.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: NATO has divided Kosovo into five sectors, each to be controlled by a NATO nation. U.S. forces are in charge of the eastern sector. The British will patrol the largest area in the central-northern area of Kosovo. The Italians will be in charge of the northwestern sector. The French will control and area south of that, and the Germans will patrol the far southern region. NATO says its soldiers may move into Kosovo on Saturday, and today there were very real signs of preparation. The first of 1,900 American Marines went ashore on the coast of Greece. They will move by land into Macedonia to join contingents of the army. In all, 7,000 of the 50,000 NATO peacekeepers will come from the United States. In Tirana, Albania, American troops load heavy equipment to be moved to the Kosovo-Macedonian border. 11 Apache helicopters landed at an airport near Skopje today. They were followed by two Chinook helicopters carrying heavy artillery. And humanitarian agencies were stepping up plans to get emergency food to the estimated 500,000 ethnic Albanians still in Kosovo. Many have been hiding in the woods from Serb troops for weeks without food or shelter. But international agencies also are getting ready to take care of what may be over 800,000 more refugees returning to Kosovo. Abbie Spring is with the World Food Program.
ABBIE SPRING, Spokesperson, World Food Program: We have a fleet of trucks ready to go into Kosovo as soon as NATO gives us the green light that it's secure. We'll open up transition centers in seven locations in Kosovo to provide food for say one to three days for the refugees as they make the journey home. We'll open up longer-term warehouse locations in over 29 areas in Kosovo. At these locations the refugees can get long-term bulk products, wheat, flower, oil, beans, the kind of foods they can cook in their kitchens.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: The United Nations refugee agency said it will need $246 million for Kosovo humanitarian aid from July through December. And many say it could be one of the most challenging operations in the organization's history.