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NATO ATTACKS Q&A BY GUY DINMORE (BELGRADE)

April 19, 1999

Voice of America, April  19 1999

INTRO: VOA NEWS NOW’S VICTOR BEATTIE IN WASHINGTON CONDUCTED A Q&A WITH FINANCIAL TIMES REPORTER GUY DINMORE IN BELGRADE AT 3:15 AM, EDT, 4/19 CONCERNING THE LATEST NATO AIR ATTACKS ON YUGOSLAVIA DURING THE LATE NIGHT OF 4/18 AND THE EARLY MORNING OF 4/19.

BEATTIE: WHAT IS THE LATEST INFORMATION YOU HAVE WITH REGARD TO THE LATEST NATO ATTACKS.

DINMORE: LAST NIGHT THE AIR RAID SIREN WASN’T SOUNDED UNTIL ONE O’CLOCK IN THE MORNING (BELGRADE TIME) AND THE ALL CLEAR WAS GIVEN A COUPLE OF HOURS AGO (7:00 AM, BELGRADE TIME) BUT WE DIDN’T HEAR ANY EXPLOSIONS IN BELGRADE ITSELF. WE HAD A FAIRLY RESTFUL NIGHT BUT THE STATE MEDIA IS REPORTING AN ATTACK IN THE NORTHERN CITY OF NOVI SAD, A PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT BUILDING THERE. NOVI SAD IS ONE OF THE MOST HISTORIC CITIES IN YUGOSLAVIA, GOING BACK TO THE AUSTRO-HUNGARIAN EMPIRE WITH ALOT OF ELEGANT BEAUTIFUL BUILDINGS THERE. ALSO STRIKES ON MLADENOVAC WHICH IS ABOUT 20 KILOMETERS TO THE SOUTH OF BELGRADE AND THE CENTRAL CITY OF PARACIN. AS USUAL, NO REAL DETAILS GIVEN ABOUT STRIKES ON MILITARY TARGETS, EMPHASIZING MORE THE NON-MILITARY INFRASTRUCTURE THAT HAS BEEN HIT BY NATO.

BEATTIE: WEATHER AGAIN WAS SOMEWHAT OF A FACTOR I GUESS IN NATO’S PLANS OVERNIGHT.

DINMORE: YES, LAST NIGHT IN BELGRADE IT WAS PRETTY WINDY AND WET, CLOUDY BUT TODAY IT’S MUCH CLEARER AND THE WIND HAS BLOWN MOST OF THE BAD WEATHER AWAY. BEATTIE: SO I WOULD IMAGINE THE PEOPLE LOOK TO THE SKYS AND SAY, “OOPS , IT’S A NICE, SUNNY DAY, WE CAN LOOK FOR NATO TO COME BACK TONIGHT.”

DINMORE: YEH, PEOPLE ARE INDEED WATCHING THE WEATHER REPORTS ON TELEVISION, MUCH MORE THAN NORMAL. BEATTIE: NOW , WE UNDERSTAND THAT THE BORDER BETWEEN YUGOSLAVIA AND ALBANIA HAS BEEN CLOSED. IS THE GOVERNMENT TALKING ABOUT THAT AT ALL?

DINMORE: NO, I HAVEN’T HEARD THAT. I THOUGHT THAT YESTERDAY (SUNDAY, 4/18) THE REFUGEES WERE STILL GOING ACROSS. I CAN’T CONFIRM THAT I’M AFRAID.

BEATTIE: YOU ALSO MENTIONED THERE IS AN INTERESTING ALLEGED CONVERSATION BETWEEN NATO MILITARY PERSONEL WHO WERE AIRBORNE. YUGOSLAV STATE MEDIA LATER BROADCAST THE CONVERSATION.

DINMORE: YES, THIS MORNING THERE HAS BEEN THE PUBLISHING OF A TRANSCRIPT BETWEEN WHO THEY SAY IS AN F-16 PILOT, WHOSE CODE NAME IS “CHARLIE BRAVO” AND AN AWACS , ONE OF THESE BIG ELECTRONIC SURVEILLANCE PLANES. HE (THE F-16) IS SAID TO BE FLYING AT ABOUT THREE-THOUSAND FEET (900 METERS) AND THE AWACS PLANE IS FLYING IN THE AREA SOMEWHERE. THE F-16 PILOT IS QUOTED AS SAYING THAT HE CAN SEE A COLUMN OF VEHICLES BELOW HIM IN KOSOVO, THIS WAS A FEW DAYS AGO, AND HE SAYS THE COLUMN IS COWS AND TRACTORS, APPARENTLY A CIVILIAN COLUMN. AND HE ASKS THE AWACS WHAT HE SHOULD DO. ALLEGEDLY THE REPLY COMES: “THE SERB ARMY IS DISGUISING THEMSELVES AS CIVILIANS” AND HE (THE F-16) SHOULD GO IN AN ATTACK, BUT THE PILOT (OF THE F-16) SAYS , “NO, I THINK THIS IS A CIVILIAN COLUMN, I SHOULDN’T.” THE AWACS COMES BACK SAYING, “YES, GO IN AND ATTACK.” AND THE LAST WORDS FROM THE F-16, CHARLE BRAVO PILOT, ARE SAID TO HAVE BEEN, “TARGET LOCKED.” A BRIEF CONVERSATION. I HAVE HEARD THAT THIS CONVERSATION IS BEING BROADCAST ON STATE TELEVISION THOUGH I HAVEN’T ACTUALLY HEARD IT MYSELF. I HAVE READ THE TRANSCRIPT.

BEATTIE: HAS ANYONE TRIED TO VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY OF THIS CONVERSATION?

DINMORE: WELL, I’ M SURE AS SOON AS NATO WAKES UP THIS MORNING IN BRUSSLES, THAT WILL BE ONE OF THE QUESTIONS THEY WILL BE ASKING THEM. THERE IS STILL A MYSTERY SURROUNDING WHAT HAPPENED TO THIS REFUGEE COLUMN THAT DOES APPEAR TO HAVE BEEN HIT IN SEVERAL PLACES LAST WEDNESDAY AND NATO REALLY HASN’T COME UP WITH A CREDIBLE EXPLANATION OF WHAT THEIR PILOTS WERE DOING AT THAT TIME.

BEATTIE: WE HAVE TALKED ABOUT HOW DAILY LIFE IS BEING AFFECTED BY THESE ATTACKS, NOW THERE IS A NEW REPORT THAT SAYS THE UNITED STATES AND ITS NATO ALLIES MAY TRY TO CUT OFF THE SEAWARD IMPORT OF OIL TO YUGOSLAVIA AND ALSO WE UNDERSTAND THERE IS SOMEWHAT OF A FOOD SHORTAGE THERE. WHAT CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THAT?

DINMORE: CONCERNING THE OIL SITUATION, YES, I’VE HEARD THAT ALL THE COUNTRIES SURROUNDING SERBIA ARE BEING ASKED BY NATO TO CHECK OFF OIL SUPPLIES AND THE F-4 PEACEKEEPING TROOPS IN BOSNIA ARE TYRING TO STOP A FLOW OF OIL COMING THRU FROM THE SERB-CONTROLLED PART OF BOSNIA INTO SERBIA. HUNGARY, WHICH IS A NEW NATO MEMBER, IS ALSO UNDER PRESSURE TO STOP THE OIL COMING THRU AND OF COURSE THE MONTENEGRON COAST IS PRETTY EASY FOR NATO TO BLOCK ALONG THE ADRIATIC. YES, PETROL IS RUNNING OUT HERE BUT I MUST SAY IN BELGRADE THERE IS STILL ALOT OF TRAFFIC. EVERYONE IS SAYING THIS IS NOT GOING TO LAST MUCH LONGER. ON THE FOOD FRONT, THERE IS STILL PLENTY OF FOOD IN THE SHOPS. THE SPRING CROPS ARE COMING IN SO THERE IS PLENTY OF SALADS AND SPINACH AND RADISHES AND THAT KIND OF FOOD. THERE IS A SHORTAGE OF IMPORTED FOOD. I WENT TO THE MARKET THE OTHER DAY AND THERE ARE NO BANANAS , NO ORANGES , NO TOMATOES AND MY FRIENDS TELL ME THE SHOPS SEEM TO BE GETTING QUITE SHORT NOW OF SUGAR AND COOKING OIL. BUT FOR THE MOMENT THE GOVERNMENT HAS QUITE LARGE RESERVES AND I THINK THIS COUNTRY, WHICH IS VERY RICH IN FOOD, SHOULD NOT HAVE A PROBLEM ON THAT FRONT FOR MONTHS TO COME.

BEATTIE : THANK YOU GUY.
19-Apr-99 4:22 AM EDT (0822 UTC)
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Source: Voice of America


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