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Q&A KOSOVO BY GUY DINMORE (BELGRADE)

April 22, 1999

Voice of America, April 22 1999

LES CARPENTER: THERE IS RUMOR THAT ONE OF THE HOUSES OF SLOBODAN MILOSEVIC MAY HAVE BEEN HIT OVERNIGHT.

GUY DIMORE: ITS THE OFFICIAL RESIDENCE, WHICH IS NOT FAR FROM WHERE I LIVE.

Q: CAN YOU TELL ME MORE ABOUT THAT.

D: THE OFFICIAL RESIDENCE OF THE YUGOSLAV PRESIDENT, WHO IS NOW PRESIDENT MILOSIVIC. BEFORE HIM IN THE EARLY 80’S AND 70’S IT WAS THE OFFICIAL RESIDENCE OF PRESIDENT TITO. IT IS IN A RESIDENTIAL AREA, ON A HILL CENTRAL BELGRADE. IT IS A VERY HUGE RESIDENCE, IT IS BELIEVED ALSO TO HAVE AN UNDERGROUND BUNKER, COMMAND CENTER. THERE WERE ENORMOUS EXPLOSIONS IN THE AREA. I’M NOT LIVING FAR FROM THERE MYSELF. TELEVISION THIS MORNING CONFIRMED THAT THE RESIDENCE HAD BEEN HIT AND THEY SAY PRESIDENT MILOSIVIC WAS NOT IN IT AT THE TIME. THE AREA IS NOW SEALED OFF.

Q.: WHAT ARE THE OTHER TARGETS THAT WERE HIT DURING THE NIGHT IN THE BELGRADE AREA.

A: THERE WERE ENORMOUS EXPLOSIONS THAT WE STILL HAVE NOT MANAGED TO FIND OUT WHERE THEY ALL WERE. THEY MIGHT HAVE BEEN TARGETING AN AREA NEAR THE PANCHIVO BRIDGE WHICH IS THE MAIN BRIDGE IN BELGRADE BECAUSE OF THE DANUBE LINKING CENTRAL SERBIA WITH THE NORTH. THE BRIDGE ITSELF HAS NOT BEEN HIT BUT AREAS AROUND IT WERE. ACCORDING TO STATE TELEVISION ALSO THE TOWN OF VALIVO IN CENTRAL SERBIA WAS ALSO DAMAGED LAST NIGHT.

Q: WE ALSO UNDERSTAND THAT RUSSIAN PRESIDENT YELTSIN’S SPECIAL ENVOY VICTOR CHERNOMYRDIN IS TO BE IN BELGRADE PROBABLY SOME TIME TODAY. HE IS SAID TO BE ON HIS WAY. DO YOU EXPECT ANY OR ANYTHING TO LOOK PROMISING OUT OF THIS VISIT WITH MR. MILOSIVIC?

A: I THINK IT IS A VERY IMPORTANT VISIT. HE SAYS WE HAVE A FIVE-POINT INITIATIVE THAT IS ALSO BEING (ENDORSED BY) GEORGIA, UKRAINE, AND SOME OF THE OTHER FORMER STATES OF THE SOVIET UNION. THE MOST IMPORTANT INGREDIENT OF THIS INITIATIVE IS SOME KIND OF INTERNATIONAL PEACEKEEPING FORCE FOR KOSOVO WHICH WOULD PROBABLY BE LED BY THE UNITED NATIONS AND WOULD INVOLVE COUNTRIES PERHAPS MORE ACCEPTABLE TO YUGOSLAVIA. THE PROBLEM WITH THIS IS THAT THE PROBLEM SO FAR IS PRESIDENT MILOSIVIC HAS REFUSED ANY FOREIGN TROOPS IN KOSOVO AND HE IS INSISTING ON A U-N CIVILIAN FORCE RATHER THAN A MILITARY FORCE. I THINK WE WILL HAVE TO WAIT AND SEE WHETHER THE RUSSIANS HAVE GOT SUFFICIENT LEVERAGE OVER MILOSIVIC TO PERSUADE HIM TO ACCEPT SOME KIND OF INTERNATIONAL PEACEKEEPING FORCE.

Q: NATO SECRETARY GENERAL JAVIER SOLANA HAS AUTHORIZED ALLIANCE COMMANDERS TO UPDATE THEIR PLANS FOR A POSSIBLE GROUND INVASION OF KOSOVO. THE NATO MEETINGS ARE IN WASHINGTON STARTING LATER TOMORROW (FRIDAY). IS THERE ANY WORD THERE THAT THEY ARE HOPEFUL THAT SOMETHING WILL COME OUT OF THIS NATO MEETING THAT WILL HELP END THE AIR STRIKES?

A: NO. I THINK QUITE THE CONTRARY. THE GOVERNMENT’S POSITION SEEMS TO BE THAT THEY ARE EXPECTING, EVENTUALLY, A GROUND INVASION OF SOME KIND. THE MAIN QUESTION SEEMS TO BE WHICH DIRECTION IT WILL COME — WHETHER FROM ALBANIAN MACEDONIA IN THE SOUTH WHICH LOGISTICALLY APPEARS IMPOSSIBLE. FROM BOVIR IN THE WEST WHICH IS ALSO VERY DIFFICULT BECAUSE THEY HAVE TO GO THROUGH SERB-CONTROLLED TERRITORY. A LOT OF PEOPLE IN BELGRADE SUSPECT THE INVASION MAY EVENTUALLY COME IF EITHER FROM CROATIA AND HUNGARY IN THE NORTH OR BULGARIA AND ROMANIA IN THE EAST. THE GOVERNMENT HERE SAYS ITS PREPARING FOR THAT GROUND INVASION. I THINK THEY HAVE BEEN SAVING A LOT OF THEIR AIR DEFENSE UNITS TO GET READY FOR THE LOW-FLYING AIRCRAFT THAT WILL COME IN WITH GROUND TROOPS. I THINK THERE ARE SOME PEOPLE WITHIN THIS GOVERNMENT BELIEVE A GROUND INVASION WOULD HELP THEM TO SOME EXTENT BECAUSE THEY THINK IT WILL SWING THE RUSSIANS FIRMLY BEHIND THEM AND PROVOKE A WIDER CONFLICT.

Q: THEY ARE PUTTING PRESSURE ON SOME OF THE NEIGHBORS, BULGARIA, FOR INSTANCE, TO PREVENT ANY INVASION FROM COMING FROM THAT AREA?

A: BULGARIA DOES SEEM VERY DIVIDED OVER THE WHOLE ISSUE. THE OPPOSITION IS STRONGLY AGAINST NATO AIR STRIKES. THE GOVERNMENT FOR THE MOMENT IS GOING ONLY SO FAR AS IT HAS TO IN ORDER TO SUPPORT NATO. BUT YES, THERE IS A LOT OF PRESSURE FROM BELGRADE ON ITS NEIGHBORING STATES TO KEEP OUT OF THE CONFLICT. BUT SERBIA DOES NOT HAVE VERY GOOD RELATIONS WITH ANY OF HIS NEIGHBORS. IT IS QUITE A DIFFICULT POSITION.
NEB / CB-T / WD
22-Apr-99 6:56 AM EDT (1056 UTC)
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Source: Voice of America

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