THE WHITE HOUSE AT WORK
Wednesday, June 2, 1999
PLANNING FOR PEACE IN KOSOVO
"We are in Kosovo for the same reason you are here today...we believe that there are some things worth fighting for. If we have the power to act, and we do not reject and reverse ethnic cleansing, we will ratify it. We have acted to end this horror - and that is exactly what we will do."
President Bill ClintonToday, in Colorado Springs, Colorado, President Clinton delivered the commencement address to the Air Force Academy. In his remarks, the President announced a new deployment of 48 U.S. aircraft to Operation Allied Force, and a commitment of 7,000 U.S. troops to KFOR, an international security force for Kosovo. He outlined NATO's strategy for reversing Milosevic's ethnic cleansing campaign and restoring peace to the Balkans.
June 2, 1999
Expanding Operation Allied Force. In his commencement address to the Air Force Academy, President Clinton today announced a new deployment of 48 U.S. aircraft to augment Operation Allied Force. The aircraft, which include a squadron of F-16s and two squadrons of F-15s, will bring the total number of U.S. aircraft supporting Operation Allied Force to 769.
The President also announced his commitment to contribute approximately 7,000 U.S. troops to KFOR, an international security force organized by NATO to implement peace in Kosovo. Yesterday, NATO approved the outlines of KFOR, which will comprise approximately 50,000 troops, with the U.S. contributing about 15 percent. KFOR's mission will be to deter renewed hostilities; establish the security necessary for refugees to return to Kosovo; and restore confidence to all Kosovars to begin rebuilding their lives.
Pursuing a Strategy for Peace. The President outlined NATO's strategy for restoring peace in the Balkans:
- Milosevic must meet NATO's conditions:
- Kosovar refugees must be able to return home with security and self-government;
- Serb forces must withdraw from Kosovo; and
- an international security force, with NATO at its core, must be deployed to protect all Kosovars. U.S. diplomatic efforts support these goals, and the military campaign will continue until they are met.
- Prepare for success by planning for the return of refugees to their homes and for the implementation of peace in Kosovo. The leading elements of KFOR are already in the region providing relief to Kosovar refugees, and are prepared to move into Kosovo within hours of Belgrade accepting NATO's conditions for peace.
- Plan for lasting peace and stability in the Balkans by working with the European Union to rebuild fragile economies, encourage trade and investment, support democratic governments and institutions, and help the nations of the region join the EU and NATO.
Having a Devastating Impact. Operation Allied Force continues to impede Milosevic's ability to pursue his campaign of ethnic cleansing. Serb tanks, armored vehicles, artillery, and modern fighters have all sustained heavy damage, and there are growing signs of discontent among Serb leaders, soldiers, and citizens. While NATO's air campaign progresses, humanitarian relief is meeting the basic needs of the Kosovar refugees, and diplomatic efforts continue.
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