NATO ATTACKS Q&A

March 18, 1999

BY GUY DINMORE (BELGRADE)

Voice of America

INTRO: V-O-A NEWS NOW’S VICTOR BEATTIE IN WASHINGTON SPOKE TO FINANCIAL TIMES CORRESPONDENT GUY DINMORE IN BELGRADE AT 3:30 AM, EDT, TODAY (4/18) ABOUT THE LATEST NATO OVERNIGHT ATTACKS.

EATTIE: WHAT DID YOU OBSERVE LAST NIGHT AND WHAT HAVE YOU HEARD AS YOU WENT AROUND EARLY THIS MORNING IN BELGRADE?

DINMORE: YEH, IT APPEARS FROM BELGRADE’S POINT OF VIEW TO HAVE BEEN A VERY HEAVY NIGHT OF BOMBING. WE HEARD QUITE A BIT OF AIRCRAFT ACTIVITY IN THE SKY, ANTI-AIRCRAFT FIRE AND EVEN AS LATE AS 8:45 THIS MORNING (BELGRADE TIME) , WE HEARD THREE LARGE EXPLOSIONS IN THE OUTSKIRTS. THE OFFICIAL MEDIA WERE REPORTING THAT A CHEMICAL FACTORY CLOSE TO BELGRADE HAS BEEN HIT. THERE IS SMOKE DRIFTING ACROSS THE CENTER OF THE CITY BUT OFFICIALS ARE ALSO SAYING THERE IS NO IMMEDIATE TOXIC DANGER. NOVI SAD, SERBIA’S SECOND LARGEST CITY TO THE NORTH HAS BEEN HIT VERY HEAVILY APPARENTLY OVERNIGHT. AGAIN, I THINK NATO IS AIMING AT FUEL DEPOTS , AIMING TO TRY AND CRIPPLE THE MOBILITY OF THE YUGOSLAV ARMY. A LARGE INDUSTRIAL AREA NEAR PANCEVO HAS BEEN HIT ALSO, SO IT SEEMS A LARGE NUMBER OF THE TARGETS OF NATO ARE NON-MILITARY.

BEATTIE: HAS THE WEATHER IMPROVED SO IT IS HELPING NATO CONCENTRATE ON THE ATTACKS?

DINMORE: WELL, IT’S VERY MIXED. LAST NIGHT, EARLY IN THE NIGHT, IT WAS QUITE CLEAR AND WE COULD SEE THE STARS SHINING VERY BRIGHTLY. THIS MORNING IT’S OVERCAST AND LOOKS LIKE RAIN, SO IT COMES AND GOES.

BEATTIE: HAS THE MOOD OF THE PEOPLE CHANGED AT ALL, THE PEOPLE THAT YOU CONVERSE WITH? ARE THEY SULLEN , ARE THEY ANGRY AT NATO, WHAT IS THEIR MOOD?

DINMORE: I THINK THEY’RE VERY TIRED BUT THEY ARE VERY ANGRY. I SPENT SOME HOURS YESTERDAY (SATURDAY) IN A RESTAURANT, DRINKING AND EATING WITH PEOPLE I KNEW, BUT NOT TERRIBLY WELL. THEY WERE ACTUALLY REMARKABLY CIVIL TO ME AND THEIR MOOD IS ONE OF COMPLETE DEFIANCE. THEY WERE SAYING THEY DIDN’T USED TO SUPPORT THEIR PRESIDENT MILOSEVIC BUT NOW THEY DO. ONE OF THE WAITERS SAID HE IS JUST ABOUT TO PUT HIS UNIFORM ON AND GO DOWN AND FIGHT IN KOSOVO. TO SOME EXTENT THERE MIGHT BE A BIT OF BRAVADO BUT I THINK GENERALLY PEOPLE ARE READY TO TOUGHT THIS OUT AND GO AND FIGHT IF THEY HAVE TO.

BEATTIE: DID THEY HEAR ABOUT THESE ALLEGATIONS OF ATROCITIES BY THEIR OWN FORCES AGAINST THE KOSOVAR ALBANIANS.

DINMORE: THEY DO HEAR THAT YES THROUGH ONE MEDIA OUTLET OR ANOTHER BUT GENERALLY THEY DON’T BELIEVE IT. AND SINCE IT’S VERY DIFFICULT TO GET HARD EVIDENCE, BECAUSE REPORTERS CAN’T TRAVEL FREELY AROUND KOSOVO, PEOPLE JUST SAY IT’S NATO LIES AND PROPAGANDA. NATO HAS IN FACT MADE QUITE A LOT OF MISTAKES OR OUTRIGHT LIES SO FAR. IT’S UNDERSTANDABLE THAT THEY DON’T BELIEVE ALOT OF WHAT THESE REFUGEES ARE SAYING EITHER.

BEATTIE: OVER THE PAST COUPLE OF WEEKS THAT WE HAVE BEEN CONVERSING , WE HAVE DISCUSSED THE ECONOMIC IMPACT AS WELL AS THE PSYCHOLOGICAL IMPACT OF THESE ATTACKS. IS RATIONING EVEN HARDER AND WHAT ABOUT PEOPLE LOSING THEIR JOBS BECAUSE OF THESE BOMBINGS?

DINMORE: THE ECONOMIC IMPACT IS GETTING VERY SEVERE. DRIVING BACK THROUGH SERBIA FROM KOSOVO A COUPLE OF DAYS AGO WE NOTICED THAT FARMERS ARE IN THE FIELDS TILLING THE EARTH BY HAND. CATTLE AND HORSES ARE DRAWING PLOWS. SORT OF GOING BACK TO THE 19TH CENTURY HERE. THERE IS STILL QUITE ALOT OF FOOD IN THE SHOPS BUT PEOPLE’S MAIN PROBLEM NOW IS MONEY. THE GOVERNMENT SEEMS TO BE ADAMANT THAT IT WON’T TRIGGER HYPER-INFLATION BY PRINTING ITS WAY OUT OF TROUBLE. SO PEOPLE ARE NOT GETTING PAYED VERY MUCH AND THEY DON’T HAVE ENOUGH MONEY TO KEEP THEMSELVES GOING BASICALLY. THE ECONOMY IS SUFFERING ENORMOUSLY, I’D SAY.

BEATTIE: THANKS VERY MUCH.
18-Apr-99 5:07 AM EDT (0907 UTC)
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Source: Voice of America

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