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The following campaign was launched on July 12, 1998 to send a letter to President Clinton demanding that he take a firm stand against aggression in Kosovo.

To: NGOs
Re: Appeal to President Clinton to Adopt A Firm Policy to End Crisis in Kosovo
Date: July 16, 1998

Attached is a letter to the President, with copies to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke, sponsored by Friends of Bosnia and Massachusetts Congressman John Olver. The letter is being circulated through the House of Representatives and will be presented to the President in a press conference to be held in front of the Capitol on Tuesday, July 28 at 10:00 a.m. The same letter will be sent to the President under separate cover, signed by NGOs and grassroots groups from across the country. We are asking your organization to support this important initiative that calls for the United States to take decisive action to stop the violence in Kosovo and encourages negotiated settlement, as well as to take a firm stand against the belligerent Milosevic regime that will continue to sow destruction until it is stopped.

We are presenting the following proposals on the third anniversary of the massacre at Srebrenica to point out that prosecuting war criminals and curbing the power of ultranationalism is key to diffusing the current crisis in the former Yugoslavia and helping prevent future ones.

Experience has shown that negotiation and deal-making do not restrain Milosevic, and so should not begin until all military activity has ceased. Therefore, any serious, effective policy seeking to halt the Serbian aggression against the Albanian Kosovars must incorporate the strategic, controlled use of military force by NATO, as the means of enforcement. It is also imperative that those who have committed war crimes be treated as the criminals they are by the international community. NATO should immediately be given support for the arrest of those indicted, and the U.S. should fully support the investigations by the ICTY against Milosevic.

You may have been asked to support other similar initiatives recently, and we welcome the efforts of those legislators to advocate for stronger U.S. leadership in the Balkans. We are looking for as much support as possible to emphasize to the Administration the need to implement a clear, future-oriented policy that will confront the sources of hatred and division in the region and secure a brighter future for the people of the Balkans.

We feel it is important for all of us to take a united stand on these issues and send a strong message to President Clinton that it is time for the U.S. to adopt a serious strategy to reduce the blood being shed in the Balkans. We hope you will add your signature of support. To do so, please fax back this letter to our office at 413-586-2415, or contact us with any questions.


Glenn Ruga Sharon Webb

Director Associate Directors

Yes, the organization listed above supports the attached letter to President Clinton.

July 28, 1998

The Honorable William Jefferson Clinton
President of the United States
The White House
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President

On this third anniversary of the brutal massacre at Srebrenica, the undersigned urgently call on the United States to prevent Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic from pursuing his campaign of ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. We urge the U.S. to send a clear message to Milosevic that NATO will intervene in the coming days if Serbian forces do not stop the attacks on civilians and the wholesale destruction of villages and that those ultimately responsible for the war crimes committed throughout the Balkans this decade will be prosecuted.

In 1991, Slobodan Milosevic led Yugoslavia's ultranationalist forces in a campaign of terror across the former Yugoslavia--beginning in Vukovar and the Krajina region of Croatia, then crossing the border into Bosnia where the gravest war crimes in Europe since World War II were committed by his forces. The apex of their criminal acts was committed three years ago in the small Bosnian town of Srebrenica. In July 1995, 8,000 unarmed men and boys were murdered. The chief architects of this massacre, Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, both indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal, remain free. Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, the premier strategist of the genocidal war against Bosnia, has not even been indicted.

Over the past seven years, the U.S. response to this bloodshed has been a series of compromising agreements with President Milosevic--which have served to bolster his position as Serb leader and solidify his power in the region to the extent that, once again, he is killing and displacing large numbers of civilians, this time in Kosovo. Again, the United States and its allies have refrained from interfering--allowing Milosevic�s violent oppression against the ethnic Albanians to escalate. Today, there are 700,000 Albanians living under siege in Kosovo, 80,000 who are internally displaced, tens of thousands living as refugees in neighboring countries, and hundreds of civilians who have been tortured and killed. We urge the United States to lead the international community in recognizing that the violent pursuit of nationalistic aims by the Milosevic regime is the primary cause of the continuing bloodshed and instability in the Balkans.

Any long-term solution to the crisis in Kosovo must address the issues of autonomy or independence for the Kosovo Albanians. We firmly believe that Belgrade must, at a minimum, restore full autonomy to the region. All other claims should be pursued through negotiation or democratic means rather than by armed conflict.

The growing strength of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) does not reduce President Milosevic's responsibility for nine years of oppression and persecution of Kosovo's Albanian population. While we condemn the attacks by the KLA against Serb civilians, these attacks are not equivalent to the disproportionate response by Milosevic's forces, including the wholesale bombing of entire villages.

We hereby urge the Clinton administration to take the following measures as part of a comprehensive policy to ensure long-term peace and stability among the nations of the former Yugoslavia:

Demand that President Milosevic immediately halt all attacks by Serbian special police, military and paramilitary units against civilians in Kosovo and lift the siege of towns or face swift and robust NATO intervention.

  • Demand that President Milosevic begin complete withdrawal of all special police, military and paramilitary units from Kosovo and allow immediate access by food and medical aid convoys, independent human rights monitors, and the International War Criminal Tribunal to investigate possible war crimes.
  • Demand that the Kosovo Liberation Army cease all attacks against Serb civilians.
  • Establish a no-fly zone over Kosovo to neutralize Serbian air superiority and prevent escalation of the conflict by any party.
  • Demand that President Milosevic and the Kosovo Albanians accept internationally-mediated negotiations to determine the future status of Kosovo.
  • Pursue the immediate arrest of Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic for war crimes committed in Srebrenica as required by UN Security Council Resolutions.
  • Actively support the indictment of Slobodan Milosevic by the ICTY and release evidence of his role in genocide and crimes against humanity.
  • Maintain full economic sanctions on Yugoslavia until significant progress has been made in restoring full autonomy and human rights to Kosovo.

As we remember the victims of the Srebrenica massacre, we believe the conciliatory response of the international community toward President Milosevic is ineffective and dangerous. The failure to arrest indicted war criminals is directly related to the renewal of Serb-nationalist aggression in Kosovo. Furthermore, the current status given to Milosevic as a negotiating partner only serves to condone the crimes, past and present, committed by the forces under his control. Lastly, while we are in favor of resolving violent conflict by diplomatic negotiation, Milosevic has clearly demonstrated in both Croatia and Bosnia that only by the credible threat of force can his aggression be deterred.

We urge you to forcefully adopt the above proposals in order to bring a swift end to the conflict in Kosovo, to allow justice to prevail for the victims of war in Bosnia, and to end the belligerence of the Milosevic regime that threatens to destabilize the Balkans for years to come.


Friends of Bosnia, 2 CLOCK TOWER PLACE #510, MAYNARD, MA 01754
Tel: 978-461-0909, Fax: 978-461-2552/ / email: [email protected]