KOSOVO / PRISONERS

April 9, 1999

VOICE of America, April 4 1999

INTRO: YUGOSLAVIA HAS REJECTED A MISSION TO BELGRADE BY THE ACTING PRESIDENT OF CYPRUS, WHO HAS BEEN TRYING TO WIN THE RELEASE OF THREE AMERICAN SOLDIERS BEING HELD AS PRISONERS OF WAR. OFFICIALS IN BELGRADE ARE BLAMING NATO’S INTENSIFIED BOMBING CAMPAIGN FOR THE DECISION NOT TO RELEASE THE PRISONERS. GUY DINMORE REPORTS FROM THE SERBIAN CAPITAL.

TEXT: SPYROS KYPRIANOU, THE ACTING PRESIDENT OF CYPRUS, LEFT BELGRADE EMPTY-HANDED FRIDAY NIGHT AS AIR-RAID SIRENS SOUNDED, SIGNALING ANOTHER NATO RAID ON THE WAY. MR. KYPRIANOU TOLD REPORTERS HE HAD FAILED TO PERSUADE YUGOSLAV PRESIDENT SLOBODAN MILOSEVIC TO RELEASE THE THREE U-S PRISONERS OF WAR, AND HE CRITICIZED NATO FOR NOT SUSPENDING ITS OPERATIONS DURING HIS MISSION.

MR. KYPRIANOU SAYS THE THREE SOLDIERS, CAPTURED ON THE BORDER WITH MACEDONIA LAST WEEK, WILL PROBABLY REMAIN PRISONERS UNTIL THE END OF THE WAR. HE SAYS YUGOSLAVIA DECIDED TO KEEP THEM BECAUSE NATO HAS INTENSIFIED ITS AIR CAMPAIGN. SERBIAN SOURCES SAY THE THREE MEN ARE BEING HELD IN BELGRADE, BUT THEIR EXACT LOCATION IS UNCLEAR — A WORRYING FACTOR FOR NATO WHEN DECIDING WHAT BUILDINGS TO TARGET NEXT.

NATO INSISTS THE THREE MEN WERE ABDUCTED ON THE MACEDONIAN SIDE OF THE BORDER WITH KOSOVO PROVINCE, AND HAS BEEN DEMANDING THEIR UNCONDITIONAL RELEASE.

THURSDAY NIGHT, NATO AIRCRAFT OR MISSILES INFLICTED SEVERE DAMAGE ON SERBIA’S ONLY AUTO PLANT, IN THE SOUTHERN CITY OF KRAGUJEVAC. SERBIAN OFFICIALS SAY MORE THAN 120 WORKERS WERE WOUNDED BECAUSE THEY HAD REMAINED IN THE PLANT, VOLUNTEERING TO BE HUMAN SHIELDS IN A VAIN ATTEMPT TO DETER ATTACK. THE VAST (ZASTAVA) COMPLEX ALSO INCLUDES A FACTORY THAT, SERBIAN OFFICIALS SAY, PRODUCES PISTOLS AND HUNTING RIFLES.

// OPT //

NATO ALSO DESTROYED TWO FUEL DEPOTS, IN SMEDEREVO AND ANOTHER TOWN CLOSE TO BELGRADE, AND ATTACKED TELEVISION RELAY STATIONS. A NATO SPOKESMAN SAYS THE T-V CENTERS ARE LEGITIMATE TARGETS, BECAUSE — IN HIS WORDS — SERBIA’S STATE-CONTROLLED MEDIA HAVE BEEN SPREADING LIES AND HATE FOR YEARS. TELEVISION SCREENS IN SOME AREAS OF SERBIA ARE NOW BLANKED OUT. // END OPT //

THE THREE AMERICANS ARE NOT THE ONLY PRISONERS HELD BY THE YUGOSLAV AUTHORITIES. THE AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT DEMANDED FRIDAY THAT BELGRADE RELEASE TWO AUSTRALIAN RELIEF WORKERS WHO WERE DETAINED WHILE TRYING TO LEAVE THE COUNTRY OVER A WEEK AGO.

MR. MILOSEVIC SHOWS NO SIGN OF ACCEPTING PEACE TERMS FOR KOSOVO PROVINCE DICTATED BY THE WESTERN POWERS. IN A DEFIANT STATEMENT AFTER MEETING THE GREEK CYPRIOT LEADER, MR. MILOSEVIC SAID YUGOSLAVIA IS DEFENDING EUROPE FROM AMERICAN HEGEMONY, AND WILL CONTINUE TO RESIST WHAT HE CALLS NATO AGGRESSION.

/// REST OPT ///

HE THANKED CYPRUS FOR ITS EXPRESSIONS OF SUPPORT, AND MADE NO MENTION OF THE THREE CAPTURED AMERICANS. (SIGNED)
NEB/GFD/WTW
09-Apr-99 3:49 PM EDT (1949 UTC)
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Source: Voice of America

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