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NATO ATTACKS Q&A BY GUY DINMORE (BELGRADE)

April 14, 1999

Voice of America, April 14 1999

INTRO: V-O-A NEWS NOW’S VICTOR BEATTIE IN WASHINGTON SPOKE BY PHONE TO FINANCIAL TIMES CORRESPONDENT GUY DINMORE IN BELGRADE (EARLY WEDNESDAY 4/14) CONCERNING THE LATEST NATO ATTACKS ON YUGOSLAVIA.

BEATTIE: OBVIOUSLY AS YOU MENTIONED, THE PATTERN HAS CHANGED IN THESE NATO AIR ATTACKS, I GUESS IT WAS RELATIVELY QUIET LAST NIGHT (TUESDAY NIGHT AND EARLY WEDNESDAY) IN BELGRADE.

DINMORE: YES, WE COULD HEAR AIRPLANES FLYING OVERHEAD, VERY HIGH IN THE SKY, SOME ANTI-AIRCRAFT FIRE, BUT THEY SEEM TO BE BYPASSING BELGRADE AND FLYING ONTO THE NORTH. THERE WERE SOME REPORTS OF ATTACKS IN NOVI SAD. BUT THE MAIN CONCENTRATION LAST NIGHT, ACCORDING AT LEAST TO THE YUGOSLAV MEDIA, WAS AN ATTACK IN THE SOUTH ON AN INDUSTRIAL UNIT ON A HYDROELECTRIC PLANT IN NOVA VAROS, WHICH IS NEAR MONTENEGRO, AND ALSO ON AN ON A RAILWAY LINE THAT LINKS SERBIA WITH MONTENEGRO. THEY SEEM TO BE TRYING TO CUT OFF BELGRADE’S ABILITY TO REINFORCE TROOPS TO THE SOUTH. OF COURSE, I SHOULD POINT OUT THAT THE YUGOSLAV MEDIA GIVES VERY FEW REPORTS ON NATO ATTACKS INSIDE KOSOVO. THUS, SITTING IN BELGRADE 300-KILOMETERS AWAY, WE REALLY DO NOT HAVE A VERY CLEAR PICTURE OF WHAT IS GOING ON DOWN THERE.

BEATTIE: DO YOU HAVE ANY FEELING THAT THE ATTACKS ON THESE POWER PLANTS IS HAVING AN IMPACT ON, SAY THE ELECTRICAL POWER IN BELGRADE?

DINMORE: NO, THOSE PLANTS ARE A LONG WAY FROM BELGRADE. THEY WOULD EFFECT MOSTLY INDUSTRY PROBABLY IN THE NORTH OF MONTENEGRO POSSIBLY A BEER-MAKING FACTORY DOWN THERE. BUT IN BELGRADE, NO. WE HAVE POWER SO FAR. WE HAVE TELEPHONE LINES, WATER, AND ALL THE UTILITIES HERE ARE WORKING PRETTY WELL. NOT SO MUCH SO IN NOVI SAD, THE CITY JUST TO THE NORTH WHERE TWO BRIDGES WERE DESTROYED. SOME POWER LINES AND TELEPHONE LINES WERE DESTROYED THERE.

BEATTIE: ARE YOU GETTING A SENSE THAT IS HAMPERING ARMY EFFORTS TO MOVE INTO KOSOVO?

DINMORE: WELL, FROM WHAT NATO IS SAYING IN THE SKETCHY REPORTS WE GET HERE, YES. THE ARMY’S ABILITY TO MOVE AROUND IS CERTAINLY HAMPERED BECAUSE OF THE LACK OF FUEL NOW, ROADS, AND BRIDGES BEING CUT. BUT WE GOT THE IMPRESSION THAT, FROM THE LIMITED AMOUNT OF TRAVELING WE ARE ABLE TO DO, THE ARMY IS STILL MOBILE. IT IS NOT SORT-OF STATIC BY ANY MEANS.

BEATTIE: ARE THE LOCAL PAPERS TODAY OR THE BROADCAST MEDIA TALKING ABOUT THIS ALLEGED YUGOSLAV INCURSION INTO ALBANIA (TUESDAY)?

DINMORE: WELL, THEY ARE COUNTING BRIEF REPORTS BY THE ARMY DENYING THAT THEY DID INTRUDE INTO ALBANIA. THEY SAY THIS IS ANOTHER PRETEXT COOKED UP BY NATO TO JUSTIFY WHAT THEY CALL ITS FASCIST AGGRESSION AGAINST YUGOSLAVIA. IT IS VERY DIFFICULT TO CONFIRM INDEPENDENT NEWS REPORTS FROM NORTHERN ALBANIA. IT IS VERY HARD TO GET TO THE BORDER AND OF COURSE WE CAN NOT GO DOWN INTO KOSOVO. WE HAVE BEEN EXPECTING A LONG TIME THAT THE YUGOSLAV ARMY WOULD HAVE A GO AT NORTHERN ALBANIA, BOTH AS A WARNING TO THE K-L-A TO STOP INTRUDING INTO YUGOSLAV TERRITORY, BUT ALSO PERHAPS A WARNING BY PRESIDENT MILOSEVIC TO THE WEST THAT HE HAS THE POWER TO EXTEND THIS CONFLICT BEYOND HIS BORDERS IF HE CHOOSES.

BEATTIE: THIS INCURSION, EVEN THOUGH YUGOSLAVIA DENIES IT, HAS SENT SHIVERS ACROSS EUROPE AND HAS RESULTED IN THE ISSUING OF A STRONG RESPONSE FROM WASHINGTON. HOW DO THE ALBANIAN ARMED FORCES STACK UP AGAINST YUGOSLAV FORCES?

DINMORE: WELL, ALBANIA’S ARMED FORCES ARE VERY WEAK. TWO-YEARS AGO, ALBANIANS WERE DESCENDED INTO ANARCHY AND CHAOS WITH THE COLLAPSE OF PYRAMID INVESTMENT SCHEMES. THE ARMY OPENED UP ITS ARSENALS AND WEAPONS WERE LOOTED, WHICH IS ONE REASON THE CONFLICT IN KOSOVO EXPLODED — BECAUSE AN INFLUX OF WEAPONS FROM ALBANIA. BUT I DO NOT THINK ONE SHOULD EXAGGERATE TO MUCH THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THIS BOARDER INCURSION, IF IT HAPPENED. I DO NOT THINK YUGOSLAVIA IS ABOUT TO INVADE ALBANIA. THE TERRAIN IN THE NORTH IS INCREDIBLY HOSTILE AND PRACTICALLY SPEAKING IT WOULD BE EXTREMELY DIFFICULT FOR THEM TO DO IT, THEY WOULD BE SURROUNDED BY A HOSTILE POPULATION. I THINK IF IT DID HAPPEN IT WAS MORE OF WARNING TO THE K-L-A JUST TO KEEP AWAY FROM THE BORDER AND TRY TO PUSH THEM A BIT DEEPER INTO ALBANIA.

BEATTIE: LET ME JUST ASK YOU ONE MORE QUESTION ABOUT THIS RUSSIAN CONVOY THAT WAS HELD UP BY HUNGARY, WHICH IS NOW A NATO MEMBER. I GUESS IT WAS SHORN OF A NUMBER OF TRUCKS THAT WERE CARING WHAT MIGHT BE CONSIDERED MILITARY SUPPLIES. DID YOU SEE THAT CONVOY AT ALL ENTER BELGRADE?

DINMORE: WE SAW SOME TRUCKS THAT WERE PARKED OUTSIDE ONE OF THE BIG INTERNATIONAL HOTELS WHERE A LOT OF FOREIGN JOURNALISTS ARE STAYING AND WE ASSUMED THAT THIS WAS THE CONVOY THAT CAME IN FROM RUSSIA. IT HAD ‘HUMANITARIAN AID’ WRITTEN ON THE BACK. STRANGELY ENOUGH THE MEDIA HERE HAVE NOT REALLY PLAYED THIS OUT TO A LARGE EXTENT, WE THOUGHT ALL THE FOREIGN REPORTERS WOULD BE DRAGGED OUT TO SEE THIS RUSSIAN CONVOY ARRIVING. IT DID ARRIVED SEVERAL DAYS LATE, IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE HERE FOR THE ORTHODOX EASTER, BUT BECAUSE THE HUNGARIANS HELD IT UP ON THE BORDER IT SORT-OF SLIPPED IN YESTERDAY AND NOT MANY PEOPLE SEEMED TO NOTICE IT.

BEATTIE: GUY, THANK YOU VERY MUCH AND I ASSUME WE WILL HEAR FROM YOU AT SOME POINT LATER TODAY.

DINMORE: YES, SURE.
NEB/ENE-T/RAE
14-Apr-99 1:16 PM EDT (1716 UTC)
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Source: Voice of America

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