Britain says Milosevic 'feeling the heat'
April 9, 1999
LONDON (CNN) -- Britain's foreign secretary said Friday that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic was "feeling the heat" and was looking for a way to escape the punishing NATO airstrikes, which the alliance said had again targeted Serb military units, fuel depots and field forces.
Robin Cook told a news conference in London that NATO would not accept any "empty gestures" from Milosevic.
"We will now only stop the NATO campaign if Milosevic makes an offer of real substance that meets NATO's key demands: a cease-fire on the ground and a halt to ethnic cleansing," Cook said.
NATO attacks on almost 150 targets clearly have taken a toll on Milosevic, Cook said, adding that the Yugoslav president now appeared far less confident during his appearances on Serbian television.
U.S. President Bill Clinton said Friday that Milosevic was still continuing his crackdown on ethnic Albanians in Kosovo and that NATO strikes would therefore continue.
Shortly after that statement from Washington, a special Cypriot envoy in Belgrade said he made no progress in winning the release of three U.S. soldiers held in Yugoslavia, despite a face-to-face meeting with Milosevic.
On Thursday night, the 16th night of air attacks, NATO aircraft attacked a wide range of targets. An auto factory and a fuel depot were claimed as the latest infrastructure casualties in the air campaign.
A Belgrade television station, Studio B, reported strikes on suburbs east of the Yugoslav capital and two towns farther away that were hit in earlier NATO raids -- Pancevo, a city on the Danube River west of Belgrade, and Kragujevac, southeast of the capital.
The station reported that in Kragujevac, the automobile factory "Zastava" was hit. TV Belgrade said several civilian buildings also were damaged in the town.
Serbian television said a fuel depot in Smederevo, east of the capital, was hit. According to Serbian TV, the depot was owned by one of the largest oil companies in Yugoslavia.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe told CNN there was fighting Friday between Serbian forces and Kosovo Liberation Army guerrillas on the Yugoslav-Albanian border. The fighting was between the KLA on the Albanian side of the border and Yugoslav army forces in Kosovo. The KLA is seeking independence for Kosovo.
The OSCE said the fighting was "more than the usual border incident" and involved light arms and artillery.
The KLA set up a camp in the border area and has been recruiting new fighters from among Kosovo-Albanian refugees arriving in Albania from Kosovo, according to the OSCE.
Britain on Friday again accused Milosevic of destroying his country economically, while enriching himself and the political elite supporting him.
Col. Mike Moody told the London news conference that Milosevic's policies in Yugoslavia had led to a situation where 50 percent of the population was now living below the poverty line.
He said inflation was 70 percent and rising, unemployment was above 50 percent and pension payments had been cut back several times.
"I watched a once-prosperous and proud Serbia descending into poverty and Third world status," said Moody, who spent several years in Serbia.
Russian President Boris Yeltsin said Friday that Milosevic had asked to join a Slavic union that includes Russia and Belarus.
Yeltsin said Milosevic made the request during a meeting Thursday in Belgrade with Gennady Seleznyov, speaker of Russia's lower house of parliament.
Russia and neighboring Belarus have created the loose political union over the past three years. Yugoslavia has observer status in the union's parliamentary assembly. It shares no borders with either country.
On Friday, Yeltsin again warned NATO not to send ground troops into Yugoslavia. But he reiterated that Moscow will not be drawn into the conflict militarily.
NATO officials and the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees were still struggling to keep the aid flowing for tens of thousands of ethnic Albanian refugees who fled Kosovo and are now living in NATO-run tent cities in Albania and Macedonia.
While aircraft have been flying in food and supplies to the Albanian capital, Tirana, for days, distribution has been a problem. Albania has taken in about 70 percent of the refugees.
A NATO commander told CNN that civilian aid organizations need to step up their contributions of food and medical aid.
J. Brian Atwood, administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development, said about 140,000 refugees in Albania were "in bad condition (with) respiratory diseases and diarrheal diseases."
"More importantly, they've been terribly traumatized by the brutality that they've faced. We've seen people whose families were executed (and) watched as their homes burned."
On the diplomatic front, Cypriot envoy Spyros Kyprianou was to meet Milosevic Friday to discuss the possible release of three American soldiers held captive by Serb forces.
"I expect to have very friendly and constructive negotiations," said Kyprianou, who arrived in Belgrade Thursday.Correspondents Matthew Chance, Catherine Bond and Betsy Aaron contributed to this report.
NATO vows strikes will continue; Serb TV shows fresh 'hits'
Extensive list of Kosovo-related sites
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