NATO extends diplomatic pressure to Serb commanders
April 7, 1999
"We know the names of five colonels of the Pristina army corps," British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said at a London news conference. He challenged Milosevic to let members of a war crimes tribunal into Kosovo to investigate alleged Serb atrocities.
"The message to those commanders is clear: You will never sleep free of the fear of justice," Cook said.
U.S. State Department spokesman James Rubin reiterated the warning to the Serb commanders at a Washington news conference.
"The United States wants to send a clear message ... that they are on notice" for possible prosecution for war crimes, Rubin said. He named nine commanders involved in military operations in Kosovo, including two generals and seven colonels.
Spyros Kyprianou, the acting president of Cyprus, told CNN on Wednesday that he has been negotiating with Milosevic for the release of the soldiers, and that he has "indications" that Milosevic will turn them over to Cyprus.
White House officials reacted with skepticism to the offer, and Yugoslav officials did not confirm or deny that an agreement to release the captives was in the works.
Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of Defense William Cohen said Wednesday: "NATO's goals are clear, and our determination is undiminished," after he met with other NATO representatives in Brussels.
"We are now moving into a much more aggressive air campaign," Cohen said.
NATO had responded to Belgrade's talk of a cease-fire with one of its most intense attacks on Yugoslavia since airstrikes began on Yugoslavia 15 days ago.
On Wednesday, Cook described Milosevic's cease-fire announcement "a sham," because it did not allow for NATO troops to supervise the return of refugees to Kosovo.
"The bottom line for us is Milosevic must reverse ethnic cleansing by allowing his people to return under international protection," Cook said. "If Milosevic wants a way out, he's going to have to try a lot harder."
The cease-fire offer was the first sign that Milosevic is faltering, Cook added. "It must have dawned on him that NATO can keep going longer than him."
Meanwhile, representatives of the six-nation Contact Group on the Balkans were meeting in Brussels Wednesday for the first time since the Rambouillet peace talks collapsed and NATO airstrikes began.
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott and his Russian counterpart, First Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Avdeyev, met privately before the Contact Group session.
"NATO and Russia have an extremely profound disagreement on the subject of the use of force (by NATO in Yugoslavia)," Talbott said. "The Russians still have a role to play and we want them to play it."
Talbott said the definition of success in the NATO campaign is that the refugees from Kosovo return home in safety.
"That means they don't have to worry about getting their throats slit or getting a bullet in the back of the head," Talbott said, adding that only the presence of NATO peacekeepers in Kosovo could provide that security.
NATO struggling to keep refugee camps sanitary
Extensive list of Kosovo-related sites
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