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The Crisis In Kosovo
March 24, 1999
Correspondents: Sheila Macvicar, Chris Bury, Sam Donaldson
Anchor: Ted Koppel


ANNOUNCER: March 24, 1999.

Pres. BILL CLINTON: Today our armed forces joined our NATO allies in air strikes against Serbian forces. Let a fire burn here in this area and the flames will spread.

TED KOPPEL, ABC News (voice-over): Tonight, the President tells the nation he had no other choice.

Pres. BILL CLINTON: If President Milosevic will not make peace, we will limit his ability to make war. On Sunday, I sent Ambassador Dick Holbrooke to Serbia.

RICHARD HOLBROOKE, U.S. Special Envoy: And the sessions in the last two days were the most bleak and the least engaged that we've ever had. But when I left the presidential palace yesterday morning with President Milosevic's final comment to me being, "Will I ever see you again?" and my response being, "That's up to you, Mr. President."

TED KOPPEL: (voice-over) Tonight, the crisis in Kosovo -- how we got here, from the man who delivered the ultimatum.

ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, this is Nightline. Reporting from Washington, Ted Koppel.

TED KOPPEL: The governments of Yugoslavia and the United States have one thing in common tonight -- both are invoking the memory of World Wars I and II in rallying support among their people. Here in Washington tonight, President Clinton justified the U.S. bombing of Serbian military targets by reminding a national television audience that major catastrophes happen when great powers wait too long and act too late.

Pres. BILL CLINTON: Sarajevo, the capital of neighboring Bosnia, is where World War I began. World War II and the Holocaust engulfed this region. In both wars, Europe was slow to recognize the dangers and the United States waited even longer to enter the conflicts. Just imagine if leaders back then had acted wisely and early enough. How many lives could have been saved? How many Americans would not have had to die?

TED KOPPEL: The same examples are being invoked on Serb TV in Belgrade all evening long. One movie glorifying the resistance of Serbs against the Austro-Hungarian empire during the First World War, two other movies celebrating Yugoslavia's battle against the Nazis during World War II. The message being repeated all night long -- keep fighting, keep resisting. The message has been formalized now. The Yugoslav prime minister announced on television this evening that a formal state of war now exists.

We begin our report tonight with Correspondent Sheila MacVicar, who this evening drove from Budapest to Belgrade and thus became one of the few journalists to witness firsthand installations that had been hit.

Sheila, you're in that awkward position of not having been in the country very long and seemingly on the verge of possibly even being thrown out again, but what can you tell us?

Voice of SHEILA MacVICAR, ABC News: Ted, we drove in this evening from the Hungarian border. It's about 150 miles from the Hungarian border down to Belgrade and until we were on the outskirts of Belgrade, we had seen very little evidence of military activity. On the outskirts of Belgrade, about 12 miles from the center of town, we passed what we now know is the Vanchavo (ph) airplane manufacturing plant that had clearly been hit. There were large fires burning there. On the other side of the road there was what appeared to have been a communications tower, which was also burning. But those are the, that's the only evidence that we have seen so far tonight of NATO military action.

TED KOPPEL: (voice-over) Now, Yugoslav television has been putting out some of the pictures of the targets that have been hit. I've seen some pictures of flaming buildings. But apparently they're a little more concerned about letting foreign television crews like our own operate. Have you been able to move around Belgrade?

Voice of SHEILA MacVICAR: No, it's becoming increasingly difficult. Tonight the government has moved to prevent any foreign television working for any NATO country from broadcasting any images from Belgrade. Just a few, just a short while ago, actually, we had about 20 colleagues arrested and taken away by the, we believe by the military police. Their equipment has been seized. We've been told that they're in the custody of the police now. We don't know what will happen to them. And in addition to that, Ted, we are hearing now that martial law has been declared here.

TED KOPPEL: (on camera) Sheila, you were saying earlier that you drove past some of the bomb damage and, indeed, all of the evidence was that the bombing had not occurred that long ago. Can you describe what you saw?

Voice of SHEILA MacVICAR: From a distance it looks almost like a huge bonfire. We saw a red glow against the sky. We could see smoke going up. This is a very bright, very clear night and the closer we got to Belgrade the hazier and smokier it got. The fires that we saw closest, the one where it looked like we could identify what the target had been, we could see a communications mast that was still standing. But beside it, what would have been the bunker that would have housed the radar equipment or whatever it was was burning at a tremendous intensity, just red hot, red, intense flames, just burning up everything that had been inside.

When we drove past the airplane manufacturing factory we could see that there were, I think, two or maybe three sites where there had been targets that were directly hit. And as we approached and drove past the, what looked almost like fireballs, we could see flashes of white going off inside those fireballs as whatever else was there was exploding.

TED KOPPEL: Sheila MacVicar, you have a difficult task ahead of you. Wish you all the best. Thank you very much.

Voice of SHEILA MacVICAR: Thank you, Ted.

TED KOPPEL: Just a quick postscript to what Sheila reported a couple of moments ago. Among those journalists who were arrested, and apparently some 30 were, all but one have now been released.

All over the world today, the question was not whether but when. In this country the first clues came early. Nightline's Chris Bury has been tracking events throughout this extraordinary day.

CHRIS BURY, ABC News: (voice-over) This morning, Americans awoke to reports that B-52s loaded with cruise missiles had already taken off from a base in England, moving into position for the coming attack. In Pristina, the tense capital of Kosovo, BBC Correspondent Orla Guerin (ph) reported the telling indicators of a war zone in the making.

Voice of ORLA GUERIN, BBC News: Panic buying has begun. This was the scene outside bakeries in the city. There is a growing sense of anxiety here and it's showing.

CHRIS BURY: (voice-over) No wonder. Anti-aircraft guns rolled through the city. The Red Cross placed a flag on its roof in hopes that would somehow spare the building. In Belgrade, the Yugoslav capital, an ominous state of emergency. Serbian police shut down Western television transmissions and arrested some independent journalists. On state television, a defiant President Milosevic delivered a mixed message, vowing to defend his country fiercely while suggesting he is still open to a political solution, that is, one not including NATO troops. In Washington, as generals and cabinet secretaries came and went, the White House coped with the first diplomatic casualty -- American relations with Russia. ABC News White House Correspondent Sam Donaldson.

SAM DONALDSON, ABC News: President Clinton called President Yeltsin this morning to try to explain why NATO was acting. We were told the conversation was frank. Now in diplomatic language that means tough. And, in fact, sources said later that President Yeltsin really let Mr. Clinton have it, saying we don't want this. This is wrong. This could lead to a wider war and what could President Clinton do but just listen?

CHRIS BURY: (voice-over) No sooner had he hung up than Yeltsin interrupted Russian television to announce Mr. Clinton had told him the NATO attack was imminent and to demand, at least for public consumption, that the American president call it off.

(on camera) Even in the minutes just before the attack, the Clinton administration continues its last minute campaign to convince a skeptical public that Kosovo is worth risking American pilots, casting Yugoslav President Milosevic as evil personified and NATO as the benevolent policeman who would prevent more genocide in the Balkans.

JAMES RUBIN, State Department Spokesman: In north central Kosovo, Serb forces in recent days have burned villages. Homes throughout the region have been looted. So this humanitarian crisis is only accelerating.

CHRIS BURY: (voice-over) At the State Department, spokesman James Rubin took on those in Congress who complained the administration has not thought this through.

JAMES RUBIN: There are grave costs of inaction and the critics have been unable to answer the question of why we would be better off to allow the slaughter to spread, the humanitarian catastrophe to grow, instability to spread throughout Europe and places that are of concern to the United States.

CHRIS BURY: (voice-over) By now, early afternoon on the east coast, American fighters at the NATO air base in Aviano, Italy, are seen flying off the tarmac, something the White House was not ready to confirm.

1st REPORTER: Joe, can you comment? Can you find out if they're underway?

JOE LOCKHART, White House Press Secretary: I don't have any information that indicates they're underway.

CHRIS BURY: (voice-over) At the very moment the President's spokesman was dodging the critical question ...

JOE LOCKHART: I don't know, I don't know that the wire report is accurate and I don't, I don't rely on wire reports. When I'm told, we'll tell you.

CHRIS BURY: (voice-over) ... reporters in Pristina and Belgrade were phoning in the first bulletins that the bombing was, indeed, underway.

Voice of BEN BROWN, BBC Correspondent: I've heard three or four extremely large explosions and several bursts of fire, which could be anti-aircraft fire.

Voice of JOHN SIMPSON, BBC Correspondent: I myself had already seen two missiles hitting, presumably hitting their targets, not close to the city. There was a flash in the sky in, on both occasions.

Pres. BILL CLINTON: United States forces, acting with our NATO allies, have commenced air strikes against Serbian military targets in the former Yugoslavia.

CHRIS BURY: (voice-over) At precisely 2:16 in Washington, the President himself made the official announcement, once more stressing the humanitarian rationale, the risks to the rest of Europe and again painting Milosevic as the villain.

Pres. BILL CLINTON: His forces have intensified their attacks, burning down Kosovar Albanian villages and murdering civilians. Kosovo's crisis now is full blown and if we do not act, clearly it will get even worse. Only firmness now can prevent greater catastrophe later.

CHRIS BURY: (voice-over) At dusk over the Adriatic, that firmness took the form of Operation Allied Force. Wave after wave of attacks from more than 100 aircraft, most of them American, including F-117 Stealth fighters and for the first time ever B-2 bombers dropping laser-guided one ton bombs. American and British ships along with the B-52s had first softened up the Serbian defenses with nearly 100 cruise missiles. Two hours later, 4:30 Eastern Time, Serbian television broadcast the first pictures of burning buildings in northern Yugoslavia. It claimed NATO missiles had struck weapons factories, air fields and military housing where women and children were killed. One report said the Serbs had shot down a NATO plane, but the Pentagon insisted all NATO aircraft had returned safely and that as many as three Serbian MIGs were taken out in air to air combat. Beyond that, the first official briefing offered only the sketchiest details.

WILLIAM COHEN, Secretary of Defense: We are striking a range of military targets including Yugoslavia's extensive air defense system, its command and control system and the military forces that Yugoslavia is using to suppress the Albanians in the province of Kosovo.

CHRIS BURY: (voice-over) The question is can such bombing, no matter how intensive, really stop ethnic cleansing in Kosovo?

MICHAEL O'HANLON, Brookings Institute: We definitely cannot stop it in the precise sense of the word.

CHRIS BURY: (voice-over) Michael O'Hanlon, a military analyst at the Brookings Institute, says Serbian troops and police can easily continue their killing, looting and burning.

MICHAEL O'HANLON: We can make Milosevic pay a heavy price for continuing. We can also stop some of it. But it's not that hard to do ethnic cleansing. You can do it with small arms. You can use an anti-tank weapon against a house. You can use a small mortar that could be hidden.

CHRIS BURY: Or a rifle.

MICHAEL O'HANLON: Or a rifle, even. But the only way to physically stop him is with ground forces. Otherwise, with air power you can make him pay a price and you can make his country suffer, but you cannot actually stop the ethnic cleansing.

CHRIS BURY: (voice-over) But the secretary of defense, when asked about the possibility of American ground forces, seemed almost allergic to the question.

1st REPORTER: No matter what happens, can you rule it out categorically?

WILLIAM COHEN: What we have indicated to the Congress and to the country is that this is an air operation campaign.

CHRIS BURY: (voice-over) Tonight, even as the House voted to support the NATO air campaign, that nagging question hung over the capital.

Rep. DOUG BEREUTER, (R), Nebraska: Bombing air power never wins wars, never settles things on the ground. It means ground troops.

CHRIS BURY: (voice-over) The President, in his first prime time explanation of American stakes in Kosovo, never raised that possibility.

Pres. BILL CLINTON: We've seen innocent people taken from their homes, forced to kneel in the dirt and sprayed with bullets.

CHRIS BURY: (voice-over) Instead, he spoke again of the moral imperative and showing a map of southern Europe warned of dire consequences should the conflict spread.

Pres. BILL CLINTON: All the ingredients for a major war are there -- ancient grievances, struggling democracies and in the center of it all a dictator in Serbia who has done nothing since the Cold War ended but start new wars and pour gasoline on the flames of ethnic and religious division.

CHRIS BURY: Tonight, NATO warplanes, led by the most advanced American air power, have now launched a second round of bombing. But is that enough to stop the killing in Kosovo or bring Milosevic back to the bargaining table or is this just the beginning of a far deeper American involvement that will ultimately require U.S. troops on the ground?

This is Chris Bury for Nightline in Washington.

TED KOPPEL: Earlier this evening, I spoke with the man who yesterday delivered the ultimatum to Yugoslav President Milosevic, President Clinton's special envoy, Ambassador Richard Holbrooke. That exclusive interview when we come back.

(Commercial Break)

TED KOPPEL: And joining us now from Budapest, U.S. Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke.

Ambassador Holbrooke, give us a little bit of an understanding of Milosevic. He becomes more and more interesting with each passing day to an American audience. What was it that went on between the two of you? Because, after all, you did engage in fairly protracted talks. Was it just no win from the beginning?

RICHARD HOLBROOKE: (Budapest, Hungary) I've been negotiating with him and meeting with him now for three and a half years, since the summer of 1995, and the sessions in the last two days were the most bleak and the least engaged that we've ever had. As a person he is very agile. He's adept. He can make rapid mood changes, but I believe they're controlled. I do not buy the theory that he does not have control of himself. I see no evidence of that. But I do believe that he's quite isolated. A tremendous amount of our non-negotiating exchanges -- and it isn't continuous negotiating, a lot of it is a discussion -- a lot of it concerns what is wrong with the Western press, how it's being used and abused and tricked by now the Albanians. Once it used to be the Muslims. I remember when the bomb fell in the marketplace in Sarajevo in August of 1995 he actively argued that it was Muslims killing themselves in order to lure us into an air war. We got exactly the same version of more recent events in the last two days.

TED KOPPEL: Do you think he actually believes that autonomy is inevitably, in three years, going to lead to independence?

RICHARD HOLBROOKE: His answer to that was that he is offering the Albanians autonomy, we are covertly supporting their independence. He made this statement notwithstanding the fact that the United States, every member of the European Union and every other major country in the world has stated repeatedly that we do not support independence of Kosovo and that we do not support involuntary changing of borders through violent means.

TED KOPPEL: When you were talking before about Milosevic's mood swings, you left me with the clear impression that he does it for effect, either to distract you, break off a certain part of the conversation. Get into that a little bit. What's he after?

RICHARD HOLBROOKE: It has been said of Slobodan Milosevic two things which I think are worth repeating here. Neither of them are original insights of mine. That he is not an ultra extremist nationalist like some of the wilder men of Bosnia like Karajdic, (ph) Vlajdic (ph) and Schesel (ph) in Belgrade, that he is really a former communist with a business background, an apparatchik whose primary goal is simply to retain power whatever the costs. But he does not have a sustaining ideology or a grand design. The second thing that's been said of him, which is very relevant to your question, was said by a Yugoslav journalist who observed of him once that he is both the arsonist and the fireman of these crises. At this point in time, of course, he is only the arsonist.

TED KOPPEL: Do you have any instincts as to how long it will be before we get some sort of a diplomatic feeler from Milosevic?

RICHARD HOLBROOKE: None at all, Ted. If I did, I would certainly shape my recommendations to the President and Secretary Albright accordingly. But when I left the presidential palace yesterday morning with President Milosevic's final comment to me being, "Will I ever see you again?" and my response being, "That's up to you, Mr. President," I could not tell where we were going except that we were crossing a decisive and possibly historic watershed.

TED KOPPEL: Let's just take a very brief pause if we can, Mr. Ambassador.

(Commercial Break)

TED KOPPEL: And we're back once again with special presidential envoy, Ambassador Richard Holbrooke.

Ambassador Holbrooke, you've had probably as much opportunity to speak with President Milosevic as any American diplomat. What is it that ultimately will cause him to change his mind, do you think?

RICHARD HOLBROOKE: I can't answer that question, Ted. All I can tell you, and I want to be very clear on this, is that when I left his office yesterday morning, actually early afternoon, I did not leave until I was absolutely sure that President Milosevic understood the full consequences that would follow from the positions he had taken on the two key issues which we were focused on -- the continuation of the offensive, which he first said was not taking place at all and then said he wouldn't stop even though it wasn't taking place, and secondly, his adamant refusal to even discuss the question of an international NATO-led peacekeeping force in Kosovo. That force has been portrayed in the Serb media as an anti-Serb, pro-Albanian force but, in fact, it was designed to bring peace to an area where the two ethnic groups have such deep-seated animosity that an outside presence is necessary under the Rambouillet agreements for some interim period.

TED KOPPEL: Isn't it inevitable that the Yugoslav government will now depict the NATO air force as being, in effect, an arm of the Kosovar Albanians?

RICHARD HOLBROOKE: For sure. They're doing that already.

TED KOPPEL: And given that, isn't it going to be extremely difficult, then, for him to back away from where he is right now? In other words, when I ask you what will cause him finally to reach some kind of an agreement, he's in a bit of a corner here himself, isn't he?

RICHARD HOLBROOKE: I can't see inside his mind despite the amount of time I've spent with him. He has put himself in a box. He triggered the military actions that are now taking place and which will lead to the destruction of his military establishment by swift, severe and sustained military action. At what point he will ask us to stop is something none of us can answer. But he will know how serious the damage is and how accurate it is.

TED KOPPEL: You, better than anyone alive, know what Milosevic's customary pattern is. When the pain threshold gets a little bit too high, when he is beginning to feel real pain, inevitably, then, he tends to come back and say all right, let's talk. Is a "let's talk" enough to end the bombing?

RICHARD HOLBROOKE: That's a very good question. You know, today his brother, who is the Yugoslav ambassador in Moscow, said we're ready to continue talking on political issues and immediately the world press said there's a new offer from Belgrade, but in fact it was an old offer. If President Milosevic is willing to discuss the international peacekeeping force led by NATO as envisaged in the military part of the Rambouillet agreements, within the framework of the agreements that bring autonomy and self-governing to Kosovo, if that's what he means by let's talk, then that is the basis for a resumption of the diplomatic dialogue. But what his brother said in Moscow today was really, frankly, just the same old stuff.

TED KOPPEL: Well, let me ask you to focus on what you have just defined as being enough, then, to stop the bombing. In the past, what he's done is said let's talk but in the time that it takes to get the talks started he tends to continue his military operations. What guarantees will we have that he doesn't do that?

RICHARD HOLBROOKE: Well, let me be very clear on this. My previous answer should not be misunderstood. If the offensive is continuing, let's talk turns into a talk, talk, fight, fight strategy. You and I both grew up some 30 years ago when that happened in Vietnam, you covering the Paris peace talks and I as a junior member of the American delegation to the American talks with the North Vietnamese. That was talk, talk, fight, fight and it went on for three or four years. We're not going to get into something like that, not even for three or four weeks or three or four days. The on-the-ground military situation must also dramatically change. The enormous offensive which the Yugoslav security and military forces are now undertaking, which is causing tens of thousands of new refugees, people who had been able to return to their homes after the October cease-fire agreements and now are being driven out again by their flagrant violation must come to an end.

TED KOPPEL: President Milosevic, ambassador, has probably been led to believe that certainly not the United States and probably not any of the other NATO governments would be inclined to send ground troops into Yugoslavia or Kosovo for any other purpose than peacekeeping after a cease-fire. Doesn't that give him a tremendous advantage knowing that no ground troops will come in to force his hand?

RICHARD HOLBROOKE: Well, the United States and its allies have said that what we're talking about is an invited, that is, a permissive peacekeeping force, not an army of invasion.

TED KOPPEL: Let me see if I can get you to focus a little more precisely on my question because he seems to be under the impression that all he has to survive is air attacks, that he does not face any danger of ground troops coming in.

RICHARD HOLBROOKE: That is a, well, you said all he has to survive. That minimizes what damage, and the damage is substantial and will be more substantial, that he is going to suffer. I don't think now is the time to discuss our ground troop option. It has been ruled out at this time by the President and the secretary of defense. The Congress is debating it. It's not my authority to discuss this issue. I want to be clear simply on what my mission was and the consequences that flowed from President Milosevic's continuing refusal to deal with the two issues I put on the table before him.

TED KOPPEL: On that note, Ambassador Holbrooke, thank you very much. Always a pleasure talking to you and I appreciate your coming on.

RICHARD HOLBROOKE: Thank you, Ted. It was good to be with you again.

TED KOPPEL: The Serbs, of course, are likely to have a very different view. We'll hear from their representative here in Washington in a moment.

(Commercial Break)

TED KOPPEL: And joining us now live here in our Washington bureau, Nebojsa Vujovic, Chargé d'Affaires at the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

Let me, Mr. Vujovic, if I understand your government's position. Is it still that there has been no offensive by Serbian troops against Albanian Kosovars?

NEBOJSA VUJOVIC, Yugoslavian Chargé d'Affaires: (Washington) No, there has not been an offensive against the Albanian civilians and the Serbian troops are only tracing the terrorists who are committing terrorist crimes against the civilian population or police forces in Kosovo and Ritocia. (ph) But Mr. Koppel, I followed your conversation with Ambassador Holbrooke, whom I know very well from the peace conference in Dayton, Ohio, and I've been going about 20 or 25 years ago and I remember through the '80s when Yugoslavian and Serbian car manufacturer Zastava (ph) from Cargurus (ph) were producing and exporting small Yugo cars to the United States. And unfortunately the very same factory, the symbol of the Serbian economy, has been bombed tonight. And this is a kind of a very sad story. I just wanted to use the symbolic.

TED KOPPEL: Yes. Now perhaps I can get back to the line of questioning that I was trying to pursue.

NEBOJSA VUJOVIC: Yes.

TED KOPPEL: If it's your position that there are no attacks against the Albanian Kosovars, that creates a bit of a logical problem for you because if that is the first condition for the United States and NATO aircraft to stop bombing your country and you claim it's not happening in the first place, then you won't be able to stop it, will you?

NEBOJSA VUJOVIC: Well, I would think that this bombing campaign is absolutely and completely unjustifiable and we've been exposed to military aggression which has not been provoked. We do not represent a threat to the civilian population in Kosovo and Ritochia. Neither do we represent a threat to any neighboring state, not to mention that we do not represent any kind of threat to the NATO military alliance or NATO member states.

TED KOPPEL: If you represent no threat to the Albanian Kosovars, to none of your neighbors, can you explain to me what logic prevails, then, with NATO and the United States launching any kind of bombing attack against you? I mean what motivation do you think there is?

NEBOJSA VUJOVIC: Well, that could be connected. If I would play for the moment the role of analyst, the motive could be that Kosovo, it's a kind of a global corner now because a lot is at stake, the credibility of NATO and the NATO summit is coming in April. So maybe they were trying to prove the case that NATO is a global policeman or that NATO is a global power which can transform from a defensive alliance into an aggressive one.

TED KOPPEL: But what possible advantage could there be to the NATO alliance simply to support the Kosovar Albanians? I'm not quite sure what advantage there would be if, indeed, there is no Serbian offensive to begin with?

NEBOJSA VUJOVIC: Well, they wanted to inject 28,000 troops in Kosovo and Ritochia and we responded that we are interested to reach a political agreement but that we are not interested in having foreign troops on our soil.

TED KOPPEL: I mean you don't deny that there has been killing going on in Kosovo, do you?

NEBOJSA VUJOVIC: No, I do not deny that. Of course I do not deny that. There is killing going on and there are Albanian terrorists who are killing Serbian policemen and Serbian military and Serbian civilians and there is the Serbian forces responding to that.

TED KOPPEL: So the killing has only been in one direction -- well, no, you are saying ...

NEBOJSA VUJOVIC: No, we're responding ...

TED KOPPEL: -- the killing has been going on in both directions?

NEBOJSA VUJOVIC: Yes.

TED KOPPEL: So let's begin with that as a starting point. If, indeed, there is killing going on, it doesn't really matter for the moment who is initiating it or who is responsible. I presume that you want to see it stopped.

NEBOJSA VUJOVIC: Yes, of course. We want the killing to stop as soon as possible.

TED KOPPEL: And you haven't been able to do that on your own?

NEBOJSA VUJOVIC: Yes. But we didn't need a NATO military aggression and another suffering and other killings. We have five dead people as a result of the bombing raid tonight, three civilian factories have been hit, 30 people, most of them severely injured. So we do not need this kind of help, of course.

TED KOPPEL: Let me just ask you before we run out of time this evening, Mr. Vujovic, is there going to come a moment, do you think, when foreign journalists in your country will be free to move around and check for themselves some of these things that you've been saying?

NEBOJSA VUJOVIC: Yes, of course.

TED KOPPEL: When?

NEBOJSA VUJOVIC: Yeah, we are open for the cooperation and we want foreign journalists to move around and to report what is going on and hopefully that this is going to be a balanced reporting, not one which would serve the purpose of one side.

TED KOPPEL: Well, so far they've just been arrested. They haven't had much of a chance to report.

NEBOJSA VUJOVIC: No, there were 29 journalists who's been detained, not arrested, because they've been recording with their equipment from the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Belgrade and my authorities inform me that they've all been released.

TED KOPPEL: All right, Mr. Vujovic, I thank you very much for joining us this evening. It was good of you to come in.

NEBOJSA VUJOVIC: Thank you.

TED KOPPEL: It's now first light in Belgrade. We'll return there for a late update in just a moment.

(Commercial Break)

TED KOPPEL: It's just after dawn in Belgrade and once again we want to turn to ABC's Sheila MacVicar for a quick update. Sheila, what's happening this morning?

Voice of SHEILA MacVICAR: Well, you're right, Ted, it is dawn. It's full light. There is a lot of smoke in the air here this morning. You can smell the smoke. We've not yet been able to get out and take a look at what's happened overnight. But I'm looking outside the hotel now. I can see that there are people lining up at the bus stops getting ready to go to work.

TED KOPPEL: What about our own personnel? We just heard from the Yugoslav chargé that 29 have been released, indeed, those who were detained overnight. Any other fresh word?

Voice of SHEILA MacVICAR: Well, I heard what Mr. Vujovic said. As a matter of fact, our producer, who was not on the roof, was detained when policemen came to his door about three hours ago. They took him away. They took him to a police station. They brought him back to the hotel very briefly, just time enough, really, that he could call us and tell us that he was being deported. We don't know why he's being deported. We're being told he's being taken to neighboring Croatia. The one thing he was able to tell us when he was downtown with the police he was able to see things burning, he doesn't know what they were, in central Belgrade itself, inside the city.

TED KOPPEL: All right, Sheila, I'm afraid that's all the time we've got for now. We'll be talking again tomorrow. Many thanks.

I'll be back with a program note in just a moment.

(Commercial Break)

TED KOPPEL: We hope you'll stay with ABC News for the very latest on the crisis in Kosovo. Defense Secretary William Cohen from the Pentagon, a guest tomorrow morning on Good Morning America.

That's our report for tonight. I'm Ted Koppel in Washington. For all of us here at ABC News, good night.



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