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Text of NATO Chief´s Statement on Airstrikes Against Yugoslavia

Text of NATO Chief´s Statement on Airstrikes Against Yugoslavia

March 24, 1999 - A statement by NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana on Tuesday ordering airstrikes against Yugoslavia:

"Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. I have just directed the Supreme Allied Commander Europe, Gen. Clark, to initiate the air operations in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. I have taken this decision after extensive consultations in recent days with all the allies, and after it became clear that the final diplomatic efforts of Ambassador Holbrooke in Belgrade has not met with success. All efforts to achieve a negotiated political solution to the Kosovo crisis have failed, and no alternative is open but to take military action.

We are taking action following the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia government´s refusal of international community demands: the acceptance of the interim political settlement, which has been negotiated at Rambouillet; full observance of limits on the Serb Army and the special police forces, agreed on 25 October; an end to the excessive and disproportionate use of force in Kosovo.

As we warned on the 30th of January, failure to meet these demands would lead NATO to take whatever measures were necessary to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. NATO has fully supported all relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions, the efforts of the OSCE, and those of the Contact Group. We deeply regret that these efforts did not succeed, due entirely to the intransigence of the FRY government.

This military action is intended to support the political aims of the international community.

It will be directed towards disrupting the violent attacks being committed by the Serb army and the special police forces, and weakening their ability to cause further humanitarian catastrophes. We wish thereby to support international efforts to secure Yugoslav agreement to an interim political settlement.

As we have stated, a viable political settlement must be guaranteed by an international military presence. It remains open to the Yugoslav government (chief) to show at any time that he´s ready to meet the demands of the international community. I hope very much he will have the wisdom to do so.

At the same time, we are appealing to the Kosovar Albanians to remain firmly committed to the road to peace which they have chosen in Paris. We urge in particular Kosovar armed elements to refrain from provocative military action.

Let me be very clear. NATO is not waging war against Yugoslavia. We have no quarrel with the people of Yugoslavia, a people who for too long have been isolated in Europe because of the policies of their government. Our objective is to prevent more human suffering, more repression, more violence against the civilian population of Kosovo.

We must also act to prevent instability spreading in the region. Let me stress that NATO is united behind this course of action. We must halt the violence and bring an end to the humanitarian catastrophe now unfolding in Kosovo.

We know, and we know very well, the risk of action, but we have all agreed that inaction brings even greater dangers. We will do whatever is necessary to bring stability in the region. We must stop an authoritarian regime from repressing its people in Europe at the end of the 20th century. We have a moral duty to do so. The responsibility is on our shoulders and we will fulfill it.

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