Allies attempt to isolate Milosevic

Leaders signal Serbs he should be removed

party headquarters hit

War In Yugoslavia

April 21, 1999|By Jonathan Weisman | Jonathan Weisman,SUN NATIONAL STAFF

WASHINGTON -- NATO warplanes pummeled targets throughout Yugoslavia yesterday and hit President Slobodan Milosevic's party headquarters last night, as Western leaders moved to isolate Milosevic and signal to other Serbian leaders that their nation's only hope for peace and recovery might be his removal from power.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair fired the first verbal salvo at Milosevic, declaring that NATO would "carry on until he does step down."

Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright quickly stepped in to say that Blair had intended to say "back down." But Albright applied her own verbal pressure, saying flatly that NATO would not negotiate with Milosevic.

"We believe that the Serb people would be better served by having a democratically elected government that represents their values," Albright said.

NATO's air campaign entered its fourth week yesterday, with alliance leaders insisting that the airstrikes would achieve NATO's objectives.

As he awarded former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl the Presidential Medal of Freedom, President Clinton spoke of a Europe "where nationhood is a source of pride, not a crucible of conflict."

"It is to protect that vision that the NATO allies are in Kosovo today, to defeat the cynical vision embodied by Mr. Milosevic, in which the most primitive hatreds and brutal oppression are more important than mutual respect and common progress," Clinton said.

But NATO leaders conceded that the campaign has been powerless to protect hundreds of thousands of Kosovar Albanians who have been driven from their homes but have not reached safety beyond the province's borders.

Party headquarters hit

A NATO air attack on Belgrade early today hit the headquarters of Milosevic's Socialist Party, setting it afire. The building, the USCE Business Centre, also houses the Kosava radio and television station, run by Milosevic's daughter Marija, and another television station, Pink, run by Zeljko Mitrovic, a prominent member of the United Left Party, led by Milosevic's wife, Mira Markovic.

Yugoslav media said NATO also struck Novi Sad's last remaining bridge over the Danube last night, and reported explosions near Serbia's second-largest city. Tanjug said two civilians died as NATO planes bombed industrial and communications targets in at least 10 towns in central and southern Serbia on Monday night and yesterday.

Daylight raids yesterday pounded the provincial capital, Pristina, and other parts of Kosovo, targeting troops and tanks. NATO planes bombed targets near Kosovo's Belacevac coal mine at least four times yesterday, the state-run Tanjug news agency said. The mine supplies coal for a Pristina power station that provides most of Kosovo's electricity.

Pressure beyond Serbian borders continued to mount. Croatia's state-run news agency reported that up to 300 Yugoslav soldiers entered the United Nations-monitored demilitarized zone that separates Croatia from Serbia. Serbian forces clashed with Albanian troops at an Albanian border post in the first battle between the two countries' forces.

New atrocities alleged

And the deputy prime minister of Montenegro, a pro-Western republic in the Yugoslav federation, said that Yugoslav soldiers had killed "at least six" Kosovar refugees inside Montenegro. The Serbian news agency Beta said Yugoslav forces had killed four members of the rebel Kosovo Liberation Army inside Montenegro.

NATO officials reported new evidence of atrocities, saying Serbian forces were raping ethnic Albanian women, using tear gas to drive Albanians from homes in Pristina, and using Albanian men as human shields around Serbian tanks.

Jamie P. Shea, NATO's civilian spokesman, said the alliance was investigating reports of 700 Kosovar Albanian boys being used either as human shields or as blood banks for injured Serbian soldiers.

"It's extremely depressing that human beings are used as pawns on this type of macabre and rather Machiavellian chess board," Shea said.

U.S. officials continued to press for a blockade of Yugoslavia to halt the resupply of fuel to Serbian forces, against opposition from some NATO allies, such as France. Defense Secretary William S. Cohen expressed confidence that he would secure an agreement to cut off fuel supplies to Yugoslavia this weekend, when the leaders of NATO's 19 nations will gather in Washington for the alliance's 50th anniversary summit.

"It's important that all sources of resupply of fuel and energy be eliminated," Cohen said.

Milosevic's future as a Yugoslav leader has been a source of diplomatic contention since the mid-1990s, when U.S. and European leaders negotiated an accord with the Serbian strongman to end the war in Bosnia. NATO diplomats have resisted declaring Milosevic a war criminal, leaving open channels to negotiate an acceptable peace for Kosovo with him.

Removing Milosevic

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