Cohen Says: No Peace, No Pause
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
WOODBRIDGE, Va., June 2, 1999 NATO will not pause its ever-more intensive air strikes against Serb forces, Defense Secretary William S. Cohen said here June 1.
"A pause would only serve [Yugoslav President Slobodan] Milosevic's interests," Cohen told reporters following a visit with Woodbridge Senior High School Army Junior ROTC cadets. Milosevic is trying to divide the alliance and gain a delay, but he will not succeed, he added.
While diplomatic efforts are under way to end the conflict, NATO is not negotiating, Cohen stressed. "The delegation is going there to try once again to make Mr. Milosevic understand that he must accept the five key components that were discussed and adopted at the NATO summit," he said.
Under NATO's terms, ethnic cleansing and other violence must end, all of Milosevic's forces must withdraw from Kosovo, the province's ethnic Albanian refugees must be able to return home to a safe environment, autonomy must be restored, and a NATO-led international peacekeeping force must be admitted to enforce the terms. "Those key components have to be accepted and only at that time would there be a cessation of the air campaign," Cohen said.
NATO's air campaign gets stronger every day, as strikes are launched from a "360-degree circle of operation," Cohen pointed out. Milosevic "is starting to pay a very heavy penalty in the field," he said. "So a pause at this time can only serve his interests and not ours."
Cohen said he met with Western European defense ministers during an unannounced trip to Germany last week to reaffirm the need for an intensified air campaign and the understanding that a probable consequence would be increased collateral damage.
He also said the United States and European allies strongly support pre-positioning a peacekeeping force that would be ready to move into Kosovo "without delay" once a peace agreement is reached. He said NATO has made it clear its command and control structure must be in charge of any peacekeeping operation. Other command arrangements in the past have proved not only unproductive, but counterproductive, he said.
NATO's North Atlantic Council has approved U.S. Army Gen. Wesley Clark's request for the positioning of a force of 45,000 to 48,000 troops in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. When the force needs to be in Kosovo, it needs to be able to get there right away, the Operation Allied Force commander said May 29 at Aviano Air Base, Italy.