January 1, 1999 - Serb leaders warned Thursday they would use "all means" necessary to stamp out rebellion in Kosovo. Serbia's extreme nationalist vice premier Vojislav Seselj warned that the government was prepared to stand up against threats by NATO to intervene militarily in the Kosovo conflict if fighting erupts on a major scale. "Warnings of Javier Solana remind me of one-time threats by Adolf Hitler," he told reporters.
Ibrahim Rugova, moderate leader of ethnic Albanians, said that there could be no peace in the disputed province without the deployment of NATO peacekeeping troops.
January 2, 1999 - Kosovo has been relatively quiet since four straight days of fighting erupted on December 24, 1998, near the northern town of Podujevo. France has taken over the presidency of the six-nation Contact Group.
January 4, 1999 - The UN war crimes tribunal approved the prosecution of Fikret Abdic — a former Muslim warlord from the Bosnian war. In 1997, the Muslim part of the Bosnian government accused Abdic of genocide and war crimes and delivered evidence to the UN war crimes tribunal. Under the 1995 Dayton peace accord, Bosnian authorities may not make war crimes arrests unless they first submit evidence to the international tribunal and get approval to proceed.
January 5, 1999 - A tem of international monitors visited a site in southern Kosovo that could be a grave with 11 bodies of ethnic Albanians.
A Serb security guard was killed Wednesday in Grabovac outside Pristina when Albanian rebels armed with automatic weapons attacked the province's main power plant.
A handgrenade was tossed at a Serbian cafe in Pristina. In return, angry Serbs then attacked nearby Albanian cafes with rocks. Three Albanians were killed.
The Serbs accused Docters Without Borders of supplying arms to ethnic Albanian rebels. The international humanitarian group denied the allegations.
January 6, 1999 - General Clark told reporters that the Serbian authorities "are violating their commitments to NATO" under the October agreement between Belgrade and the Atlantic alliance. He noted that the Serbs have broken their promises by deploying additional troops and giving heavy weapons to the paramilitary police. He further stated that he disagreed with Defense Minister Alain Richard, who recently blamed the Kosovo Liberation Army for the continuing crisis.
Christoffer Hill met with Ibrahim Rugova in Prishtina. He said the cease-fire is critical to getting a political settlement.
Rival Serbs and ethnic Albanians accused each other of ethnic violence in Pristina. Seven people were injured when an explosive was hurled at a Serb-run cafe.
Yugoslav Justice Minister Zoran Knezevic said Yugoslavia will not extradite three army officers suspected of war crimes by the UN. Croatian President Franjo Tudjman sparked a wave of anti-tribunal sentiment recently by claiming the court was poised to indict five Croat generals.
January 9, 1999 - Yugoslav army forces and the rebel Kosovo Liberation Army clashed in Kosovo. Tensions are high because of eight Yugoslav soldiers held by ethnic Albanian guerrillas. Two police were wounded in a fight near Podujevo, east of where the Yugoslav soldiers were abducted. The Albanian government agreed to ask the rebels to free the soldiers.
In retaliation for the abductions, government forces moved from Pristina northwest toward Kosovska Mitrovica and north toward Podujevo.
Three KLA rebels were shot dead by Serb police near the western town of Decani.
NATO troops shot to death a suspected Bosnian Serb war criminal near Foca. The suspect was accused of of raping and torturing at least five Muslim women. The suspect resisted arrest and drove his car directly at French soldiers. The troops defended themselves and opened fire, according to NATO. Foca is believed to harbor at least eight suspected war criminals. The top two suspects — former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, the general commanding Bosnian Serb troops during the war — remain at large.
January 10, 1999 - The IPTF station in Foca was surrounded by a crowd of approximately 100. IPTF monitors were assaulted, five of them being injured. The station was severely damaged and the UN equipment destroyed. The Republika Srpska minister of interior has agreed to establish an investigation.
January 12, 1999 - An aide to Kosovo's top ethnic Albanian leader was assassinated outside his home in Pristina. It was speculated that the assassination was linked to the rivalry between the moderate Rugova and the militant Kosovo Liberation Army.
Albanian rebels have agreed to release all eight Yugoslav soldiers they have been holding hostage. Yugoslav army tanks were stationed close to where they were held.
January 13, 1999 - The trial of Dario Kordic and Mario Cerkez was set to April 12, 1999 by the UN court. Both men turned themselves in to the tribunal in 1997. They have been charged with charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Kosovo rebels freed all eight Yugoslav army soldiers.
January 15, 1999 - A German soldier serving with the peacekeeping force died from a gunshot wound.
The Serbs assaulted the area around Stimlje — 15 miles south of Pristina. They shelled and fired automatic weapons on three villages. The Serb Media Center reported that at least 15 KLA fighters were killed in the village of Racak and nearby Petrovo. Serb forces claimed to be seeking out rebels who killed a policeman and attacked a patrol in the area a few days before.
Near Decani, a three-vehicle convoy of the international Kosovo monitoring mission has been attacked by unidentified gunmen. A British monitor was hit in his shoulder and his translator was hit and slightly injured. Serb police — accompanying the two — blamed snipers who fired from territory held by the KLA. The UK, the US, and France have strongly condemned the attack on the unarmed monitors.
January 16, 1999: Bebus Hill, KLA
member at site near Racak where
45 Albanians were killed
January 16, 1999 - In Racak, southern Kosovo, the bodies of 45 ethnic Albanians were found shot from close range or mutilated. The bodies were discovered a day after Serb police forces backed by the army attacked the area. Afterwards they stated that they had killed "tens of terrorists" after coming under mortar and automatic weapons fire while trying to arrest guerrilla suspects for the murder of a policeman. International monitors confirmed at least 28 bodies. It was the highest death toll since the truce of October 12, 1998. The KLA said that of the victims, 8 were KLA members.
NATO has authorized its forces since October to hit Yugoslav military targets if Belgrade violates pledges to seek a peaceful solution to a conflict with ethnic Albanian separatists.
January 17, 1999 - Serbian police armored vehicles moved into Racak, driving international observers away from the scene of the massacre. The shooting continued for at least half an hour.
January 18, 1999 - American peace verifier William Walker was ordered out of the country within 48 hours. Walker criticized the Yugoslav government for the massacre near Racak.
Yugoslav border guards refused today to allow Louise Arbour — chief UN war crimes prosecutor — to enter the country from Macedonia to probe the massacre.
Albanian guerrillas fired a rocket at a Serb patrol near Kosovska Mitrovica, 25 miles northwest of Pristina, injuring five policemen.
President Milosevic refused to meet NATO commander Gen Wesley Clark and head of NATO's military committee Gen Klaus Naumann because he was "too busy".
In Geneva, the UN relief agency said about 3,500 civilians were fleeing the latest fighting in and around Racak.
January 20, 1999 - Fights broke out near Kosovska Mitrovica, 25 miles northwest of Pristina, between Serb forces and KLA rebels. Both sides ignored the NATO warnings to halt the fighting. Both sides accused each other of starting.
In Brussels NATO commander Gen Wesley Clark and German Gen Klaus Naumann made no progress during more than seven hours of talks with Milosevic. Before receiving both NATO generals, he left them waiting for an entire day, according to an article in the Washington Post. The article also mentioned that NATO credibility is on the line.
NATO ordered the USS Enterprise — currently in the Aegean Sea — to move into the Adriatic Sea and moved an eight-vessel Mediterranean naval force to Brindisi (Italy).
January 21, 1999 - In his never ending attempt to manipulate the western world, it seems Milosevic realized he made a mistake in expelling William Walker. Russia, usually with sympathy for Yugoslavia, condemned the fact that the head of the OSCE mission in Kosovo was ordered to leave. Russia is a prominent member of the OSCE and considers it an organization with high potential for the near future. The Yugoslav government said Walker could remain until "the consequences of his behavior are fully clarified." Only hours earlier US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright warned that the entire 750-person monitoring team would be pulled out of Kosovo unless President Slobodan Milosevic allowed Walker to stay.
Louise Arbour — chief prosecutor for the UN war crimes tribunal — was back in The Hague, The Netherlands, after being blocked several times by the Yugoslav border police on her way to Racak.
January 22, 1999 - The Yugoslav government reversed its decision to expel William Walker. US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright threatened to withdraw the entire 750-member mission.
Serb sources reported that five Serb civilians in Nevoljani — 18 miles northwest of Pristina — were kidnapped by the KLA.
January 25, 1999 - Bosnian Serb legislatures rejected president Nikola Poplasen's choice for a prime minister. The moderates — supported internationally — want to keep the current premier, Milorad Dodik. It was the second unsuccessful attempt to elect a new government since elections last September failed to give either hard-liners or moderates a majority.
January 26, 1999 - NATO announced that its peace keeping force will be reduced by 10 precent over the next two months. Current troop strength is approximately 32,000 troops from 25 countries. The US will withdraw about 700 of their 6,900 troops, though no deadline has been set yet. This spring NATO troop requirements will be reviewed again.
January 27, 1999 - The US is studying a possibility of a combination of military force and political pressure to force a settlement for Kosovo. Moscow still opposes bombing Kosovo without prior approval by the UN Security Council.
January 28, 1999 - Along Kosovo's southwestern border fighting broke out between Yugoslav troops and KLA rebels. According to the Serbs, the rebels were caught trying to smuggle weapons out of Albania. The KLA reported two troops injured and one missing.
The KLA still reject any plan that does not lead to full independence. The current US peace plan does not provide that.
The Washington Post reported intercepted telephone calls between Yugoslav deputy prime minister Nikola Sainovic and Interior Ministry General Sreten Lukic indicated that officials "at the highest levels of the Yugoslav government" ordered security forces to "go in heavy" into Recak and launch a "search-and-destroy mission" in response to the killing of three Serbs. The top officials then "systematically sought to cover up the assault," the Washington daily added.
January 30, 1999 - The international Contact Group set an international ultimatum for Kosovo peace talks in Rambouillet, France: February 6. In this plan, results are expected by February 19. The Contact Group — comprised of the United States, Russia, Britain, France, Germany and Italy — set up a draft framework of a settlement for Kosovo and wants a resolution to the conflict soon. Goal is maximum self-rule, but not independence, for the Albanians. Both Milosevic and the KLA stated they needed more time to consider. Eventually, Kosovo's moderate ethnic Albanian leader Ibrahim Rugova promised to attend the peace conference. Milosevic said he would not accept the KLA as a full partner in talks until the rebels renounce violence. He also opposed NATO's proposal to hold talks outside Yugoslavia.
NATO said it will launch air strikes in case diplomacy would fail and a settlements has not been reached before February 19. To back up the ultimatum, two naval task forces have been dispatched into the region. NATO said that the Contact Group's demands "will be fully backed by NATO's military capabilities." Russia supported the diplomatic efforts, but opposed the possible use of force.
January 31, 1999 - Taiwan has promised Macedonia more than $300 million for its decision to establish diplomatic ties. In Europe, the Vatican is the only other state to recognize Taiwan.
February 1, 1999 - In the United States the discussion started whether to send ground troops to Kosovo to keep any peace agreement. In total, some 20,000 troops could be necessary. Britain has announced to contribute to the force and France said it will send some 5,000 troops.
US spokesman James P. Rubin warned that if the Albanians fail to negotiate and accept the self-rule plan, they will lose international support. The Kosovo rebels still have not agreed on attending the peace conference. On February 4, the Serbs will decide whether to show up. Milosevic and his hard-liners have always rejected foreign mediation of the Kosovo conflict.
February 2, 1999 - Even is a peace agreement is reached, ground troops will be necessary, says the US intelligence agency CIA. CIA Director George Tenet warned that neutral forces entering the region would be in much greater danger of coming to harm
The Kosovo rebels announced that they will attend peace talks in France.
February 3, 1999 - The US proposed a peace plan with greater autonomy for Kosovo during three years. The KLA said this plan was better than previous proposals. One of the KLA delegates, Krasniqi, said in France that the KLA will demand that Kosovo be made an international protectorate during the three-year autonomy period. After that, Kosovo's people should decide its future in a referendum.
US State Department spokesman James P. Rubin again warned the Serbs that "NATO has indicated that there will be swift and serious consequences if the Serbs do not make that decision."
A US contribution to the possible peace force in Kosovo might be 2,000 to 4,000 troops.
Of the 45 bodies found in Racak (January 16, 1999), possibly only 9 belonged to KLA members, while the others were civilians, including three women and a 12-year-old boy, all executed at short range. William Walker is almost certain that the massacre was perpetrated by Serbian military forces.
February 4, 1999 - Serb sources in Pristina reported a police officer was killed early today on a routine patrol in Djakovica, near the Albanian border. International monitors reported finding the bodies of three ethnic Albanian men shot in a car near Decani in western Kosovo, as well as the body of a Serb man along another roadside.
Serbia's parliament voted to send a delegation to Kosovo peace talks.
A Serbian court sentenced a former policeman to 15 years in jail for killing a war crimes suspect. The Washington Post suggested the killing could be a plot to silence a witness who could link Serbia's leadership with atrocities in Bosnia.
February 5, 1999 - Serbian authorities at Pristina airport refused to let four KLA representatives fly to France. Two of them did not have passports.
Macedonia offered to expand its role in supporting NATO if peace keeping troops are to be deployed to Kosovo. Macedonia is already being used as a base for aerial surveillance and the extraction force as a protection for the 2,000 observers. As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, China has threatened to end support for the extraction force if Macedonia does not withdraw its decision to recognize Taiwan.
February 6, 1999 - After international pressure Serb authorities allowed ethnic Albanian rebels to leave for the peace talks in France. The Serbs said they would refuse to negotiate with the rebels if they show up in France. They pledged never to let Serbia lose jurisdiction over its "heart" Kosovo. They also said foreign peacekeeping troops will never set foot in the province.
The French president Jacques Chirac opened the peace talks in Rambouillet.
February 8, 1999 - US mediators, Bosnian Serbs and members of the Muslim-Croat Federation met in Vienna to talk about the future of the city of Brcko for the third time in three years. The city is in Serb hands, but under international supervision. For Muslims and Croats, the town is both a symbol of the brutality of the Serb takeover and a vital link between the landlocked federation and the rest of Europe. The Serbs reiterated that they must keep control of Brcko because it is at the narrowest point of the corridor between the two halves of the Serb-run portion of Bosnia. A decision is expected by mid-March.
February 9, 1999 - China suspended diplomatic relations with Macedonia, but did not (yet) veto a UN resolution supporting peacekeeping in Macedonia. The current mandate of the 1,000-member UN peacekeeping mission expires on February 20, 1999.
February 11, 1999 - The Kosovo Liberation Army detained 8 ethnic Albanians on the accusation that they are working for the Serb police.
February 13, 1999 - At least 9 people were injured after a bomb explosion near a bank in Urosevac — 25 miles south of Prestina. The bank was closed at the time of the explosion. About 20 shops were damaged. The OSCE said the blast was comparable with that of an anti-tank mine Apparently, 11 pounds of explosives have been used. As usual, Serbs and ethnic Albanians were blaming each other.
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright joined the peace talks in France to put some pressure on the Serbs and Albanians. If the Serbs reject the plan, they are faced with a threat of air strikes by NATO. If the Albanians reject the plans, they are faced with an arms embargo by the Clinton administration.
A US official said Albright would tell the Albanians the most they can have is autonomy — not independence — during a 3-year trial period. As for the Serbs, Albright's position is they have lost all authority in Kosovo, which they consider the cradle of their civilization and religion.
February 16, 1999 - The Clinton administration announced that any American peacekeepers sent to Kosovo would remain there until some system of self-rule is "up and running" in the Serbian province and stability is restored. There would be no timetable or deadline for bringing the troops home. Officials said the job should be done in approximately three years. In 1995, Clinton said the 22,500 US troops would be home by Christmas of the same year. Today, some 6,700 are still present.
NATO continued to plan deployment of troops in Kosovo. The first troops could be in place in a matter of days with some 6,000-8,000 troops soon following. The first forces to arrive will probably be approximately 2,000 US Marines that are currently aboard US Navy ships already in the Mediterranean. Plans for the remainder of the 28,000-string force was expected in a few days.
Key issues in a possible peace deal include a NATO force in Kosovo to ensure implementation. It also includes withdrawal of Serb troops from Kosovo — apart from a small number of troops to guard the border — and elections to clear the way for some autonomy for ethnic Albanians. Another issue is disarming of the KLA. Russia might be willing to back a NATO force.
The 8 Albanians detained by the KLA on February 11, 1999, were released.
February 15, 1999 - After having established relations with Macedonia, Taiwan hopes to establish more relations with other countries in the Balkans. Slovenia has shown interest. Taiwan wants to use its new relations with Macedonia to demonstrate how recognizing the island can pay off for other financially strapped countries in the Balkans, the Liberty Times reported.
Serbian police arrested 40 Albanians in connection to the bombing of February 13, 1999. Serb officials said the bombing was connected to the peace talks in France.
February 17, 1999 - Despite Milosevic's no against any deal that includes NATO troops in Yugoslavia, British and French foreign ministers said there were signs of progress. Key issue in the negotiations is the deployment of a 30,000-strong NATO force in Kosovo to ensure the deal is actually implemented. "Our negative stand on the presence of foreign troops is not only the attitude of the leadership, but also of all the citizens of our country," Milosvic said. Interesting was the remark of the British foreign minister, Robin Cook: "Mr. Milosevic rarely confines himself to something as brief as saying no, and we are quite clear that there have been instructions given to the Serb delegation with respect to that."
Yugoslav Deputy Premier Vuk Draskovic said any peace deal would have to include lifting the remaining sanctions on his country. The US has barred Yugoslavia from receiving badly needed loans from international financial institutions. The European Union has imposed a flight ban on the Yugoslav national carrier.
Another aspect of the proposed peace deal calls for the disarming of the Kosovo Liberation Army. The KLA strongly rejects this plan.
Russia's parliament unanimously passed a nonbinding resolution opposing the use of force in Kosovo. NATO, however, said the Russians have told the alliance they are willing to go along with a NATO deployment as part of a three-year interim peace deal in Kosovo.
The US deployed an additional 51 war planes — 12 F-117 stealth fighters, 10 EA-6B electronic warfare planes and 29 refueling planes — to a European base. A total of 260 US planes is present at the time. Additional aircraft are standing by. Six B-52 bombers have been ordered to RAF base Fairford, UK, and six KC-135 tanker aircraft have been moved from Fairford to another European base, closer to the Balkan region. C-17 aircraft flew 250 support personnel and pilots from Hollowman AFB (NM, USA) to Aviano, Italy.
An OSCE team discovered two corpses of two men along a road between Stimjle and Urosevac, 15 miles south of Prestina, Kosovo. Apparently, they were shot elsewhere.
In Urosevac, a vendor found an unexploded bomb — of which the detonator malfunctioned — made of about 4.4 pounds of plastic explosives in a sack of potatoes.
At the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague, Bosnian Croat general Tihomir Blaskic — accused of a terror campaign during the Bosnian war — claimed he had no control over forces that murdered Muslims and burned their houses. He turned himself in in 1996, wanting to prove his innocence. If convicted, he faces up to life imprisonment.
February 18, 1999 - The French defense minister Alain Richard said that NATO will not automatically take military action against Yugoslavia if an agreement is not reached. This statement contradicts with statements made earlier by US secretary of state Madeleine Albright and US defense minister William Cohen.
Sources close to the Serbian delegation at the talks said if the pressure continues, they might consider allowing foreign troops in Kosovo, but only if they did not include soldiers from "unfriendly" nations like the United States, Germany, Britain and France.
NATO said it reviewed potential Serb targets in Kosovo. US president Clinton warned the Serbs to choose peace with ethnic Albanians or face a devastating military strike. Sea-launched Tomahawk cruise missiles would hit air defense and radar facilities first, then vital command centers. The Pentagon warned that a more aggressive attack plan was under consideration. Since January 30, NATO secretary-general Janvier Solana has authority to order airstrikes against Serb targets without having to consult the member nations again. The international OSCE verifiers are prepared to leave at short notice.
February 19, 1999 - As the deadline for a peace agreement was approaching, Western embassies — amongst which the Dutch and Canadian embassies — in Belgrade evacuated their staff. NATOs Extraction Force stood standby to evacuate the approximately 1,300 international monitors from Kosovo. Secretary-General Solana did not say how soon airstrikes would come if the deadline passed with no deal. Russia strongly opposes possible air strikes.
Serbia urged to stop threatening to enforce an agreement. Serb military convoys with tanks, armored personnel carriers and artillery were seen in Kosovo and Montenegro. OSCE monitors suspected this might be a show of force ahead of the deadline. Foreign Ministers Hubert Vedrine of France and Robin Cook of Britain, co-hosts of the conference, sent dire last warnings to Belgrade.
In an attempt to save the peace talks in France, Christoffer Hill — head of the international mediating team — tried to persuade Yugoslavia's president to accept peace. US State Secretary Albright tried to persuade the Serbs in Rambouillet. Yugoslav president Milosevic rejected the concept of NATO troops — approximately 30,000. "We will not give away Kosovo, not even at the price of bombing," he was quoted in the Washington Post.
Hashim Thaci — an influential person within the KLA — criticized the final draft of the peace agreement as presented by Western negotiators, saying it favors the Serbs. He also stressed that any agreement should include acceptance of the right of Albanians for a final declaration for the status of Kosovo. The Serbs reject this.
In Yugoslavia, 15 Kosovo Albanians received prison terms of between 3-4 years Friday for anti-state activities. They were convicted of raising money among fellow ethnic Albanians in Slovenia and funneling the money to the KLA.
February 20, 1999 - No real progress was made at the peace talks in France. The Yugoslav commander of the air force said his country's air defense was ready to defend the fatherland, especially Kosovo. However, the pro-Western government of Montenegro — the other part of Yugoslavia — pledged not to allow the Yugoslav military to engage NATO from its territory. Anti-aircraft radar and batteries are located in Montenegro's coastal areas, and play an important part in intercepting cruise missiles and enemy planes heading inland.
February 21, 1999 - The deadline for the peace talks were extended from February 13, 1200 hrs until February 16, 1500 hrs (0900 EST) because "very substantial progress" had been made on the political part of a 3-year interim agreement for Kosovo.
Serb resistance to a proposal to station peacekeepers in Kosovo could be weakening. However, Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic remained adamant in his refusal to accept foreign troops on his territory. The US held the Serbs responsible for the delays. Robin Cook said the Albanians were also to blame.
While negotiations were still in progress in France, presumably leading to some sort of agreement, violence in Kosovo continued. Fighting broke out near the northern Kosovo town of Podujevo, 25 miles north of Pristina. Tanks, mortars and automatic weapons fire rocked the village of Studencane about 1.5 miles northwest of Suva Reka when ethnic Albanian rebels attacked a police station. Near the town the bodies of two Serb brothers were found earlier.
Twelve F-117 Nighthawk aircraft from Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., began arriving at Aviano Air Base to support possible NATO air operations over Yugoslavia.
February 23, 1999 - The peace talks were recessed and will resume on March 15, 1999. After 17 days, only partial agreement between warring Serbs and ethnic Albanians could be reached. Negotiators for the ethnic Albanians initialed a peace plan that would restore self-rule to Kosovo, but said they needed time to win approval of it from their countrymen. The Albanians have agreed on signing the deal within two weeks.
The military part of the proposal is not solved, as the Serbs refuse foreign military troops on its territory. They also refused to give their consent to major elements of the self-rule the Albanians appeared to have won back after Slobodan Milosevic nullified it in 1989. The Serbs said they considered the Rambouillet as a victory on president Milosevic. Serbian president Milan Milutinovic said: "Our principal efforts to preserve the territorial integrity and sovereignty of our country were affirmed."
State television in Belgrade reported that Yugoslavia is prepared to consider an international presence in Kosovo to implement a peace accord, signaling possible readiness for a compromise.
Germany pledged 5,500 troops to the proposed 28,000 NATO-led peacekeeping force that would also include 4,000 Americans.
New fighting broke out in Kosovo. So far, 2,000 people have been killed and 300,000 have been left homeless.
February 24, 1999 - US secretary of state Madeleine Albright said that "there is zero chance that the Kosovar Albanians will sign onto this deal if the US does not participate in its implementation."
February 25, 1999 - The US expressed concern that the Serbs and Albanians will use the recess in the peace negotiations to strenghten their military positions.
Eight cars with 21 international monitors from Britain, Italy, Germany, Sweden, France and Russia were held at the Macedonian border. In accordance with their diplomatic immunity they had refused the police to search their vehicles. Armed guards released them only after searching the vehicles by force.
China vetoed the extension of the mandate of the UN Preventive Deployment (UNPREDEP) mission in Macedonia. Since the mission helped defuse tension in the region, the UN had recommended an extension of the mandate of the 1,100-strong force. China's veto was the result of Macedonia's decision in January to establish diplomatic ties and accept over $1bn in aid from Taiwan.
February 26, 1999 - Fighting broke out between Serb forces and Kosovo rebels. Serb border police detained diplomatic observers and searched their cars because the police was "suspicious" about the contents of the vehicles. During this convenient delay police forces swept a nearby village. So much for the cease-fire between Serbs and ethnic Albanians.
The international monitors that were held at the Macedonian border Feb 25 were still not allowed to continue their mission.
The Yugoslav army was reported strengthening its defenses in the region where NATO forces in Macedonia would cross if ordered into Kosovo. Some 4,500 troops including tanks and artillery were ordered along the border.
China vetoed a UN Security Council resolution extending the stay of peacekeepers in Macedonia for six months as punishment after Macedonia started diplomatic relations with Taiwan. The veto is a major blow for the UN.
The Clinton administration invited the chief Kosovar Albanian negotiator Hashim Thaci to Washington to try to secure a settlement of their conflict with the Serbs. The US tried wanted to improve the Kosovar Albanians' "comfort level" with discussion of how the plan for self-rule, but not independence, would be implemented. The peace talks were recessed in order for the Albanians to sell the deal to the Albanian people.
February 27, 1999 - International monitors tailed Yugoslav army tanks and armored personnel carriers to prevent attacks against ethnic Albanians. The violence of the past weeks might be the prelude to a new Yugoslav offensive. Yugoslav troops targeted rebel positions in at least five northern villages.
February 28, 1999 - Ethnic Albanian rebels ambushed a police convoy near the Macedonian border, killing a Serb police commander and wounding four other officers.
March 1, 1999 - Yugoslav army troops to launch an attack on the Kosovo Liberation Army to try to free a kidnapped Serb. Another Serb was abducted and killed earlier.
Serb forces have driven thousands of ethnic Albanians from their villages in an military effort to control a strategic artery in Kosovo. Troops and tanks have been moved to the border and a bridge connecting Macedonia and Kosovo is mined. A preparation to prevent NATO forces from coming in — or keep diplomatic monitors and refugees from getting out.
March 2, 1999 - Taiwan's foreign minister visited Macedonia for the first time after the two countries established diplomatic ties. Macedonia said Taiwan's aid package could include $235 million in government-to-government aid and a further $1 billion in commercial investments.
Kosovo is willing to sign a peace plan, the Serbs remain against the stationing of NATO troops in Yugoslavia.
Two monitors were beaten by angry Serb civilians in the city of Prizren.
Yugoslav troops battled ethnic Albanian rebels along the border with Macedonia and pounded villages with tank and mortar fire. Several rebels and a Yugoslav army sergeant were killed.
March 4, 1999 - A group of gunmen killed two villagers near Berat — 40 miles south of Tirana. At least eight people including three policemen died in the fight resulting from this between Albanian police and the gunmen.
RS President Nikola Poplasen started proceedings to dismiss Prime Minister Milorad Dodik. OHR said that Poplasen is creating a sense of government crisis when in reality there is none, and that there are no grounds for elections. OHR also said if Poplasen would continue to hinder implementation of the election results, penalties will be taken against his party. OHR has the authority to remove the president.
Three commanders of different brigades of the VRS were suspended. They were accused by SFOR with weapons smuggling.
March 5, 1999 - US president Clinton said NATO remain ready to act to end "violent repression" of Kosovo's ethnic Albanians if Serbia refuses to sign the peace plan. He said Serbs must accept both the political agreement and the NATO force. So far they have accepted only part of the autonomy provisions and refuse to agree to foreign troops in Kosovo.
Both entities agreed on the status of Brcko. It was agreed that the city would come under independent arbitration, and that it would be final and binding. The status of Brcko was the one item of outstanding business left unresolved in Dayton three years ago.
Robert Owen announced the creation of a Brcko district, consisting of the entire pre-war Opstina. This district will be a condominium, which means that it will be territory shared by both entities. The district will have its own autonomous, multiethnic government with an elected assembly, executive board, judiciary and police force.
High Representative to Bosnia Carlos Westendorp took the decision to remove RS president Poplasen.
March 6, 1999 - Hard-line Bosnian Serb President Nikola Poplasen — the Serb president for Bosnia — refused an order by the top international official in the country to step down. The vice president refused to assume the presidency, as required by the constitution.
This is a result of the decision of Carlos Westendorp — senior international official in Bosnia — that the city of Brcko will no longer remain under Bosnian Serb control. Instead, all three ethnic groups — Serbs, Croats and Muslims — will administer Brcko. Until now, the city was run by the Serbs under international supervision. The Brcko decision was the last major territorial issue left from the Bosnian war.
Westendorp can impose legally binding decisions on issues Bosnian leaders cannot agree upon.
Amid high tensions over the Brcko issue, NATO soldiers shot and killed a leader of a Serb political party in a confrontation with angry Serbs. Four armed assailants entered a restaurant in Ugljevik where US troops were coordinating humanitarian support and began striking their table with clubs and breaking glass bottles in a threatening manner.
The soldiers fled while being punched and shoved, and were chased toward their vehicles by 15 to 20 people. One soldier drew his weapon after being struck in the back with a club, then fatally shot the attacker after he continued to advance with a club poised to strike. The victim was later identified as Krsto Micic, the vice president of the hard-line Bosnian Serb Radical Party in the town of Ugljevik.
The victim's party later stated that "bloodthirsty American criminals and terrorists" shot Micic "in cold blood" and that "American bandits ... will pay dearly for murdering Micic."
In Prijedor, a hand grenade was thrown at a peacekeepers' building and two more were hurled at an international police station there. In Pec, six Kosovo Serbs were wounded when a bomb was tossed into a restaurant. Elsewhere, armed groups of Serbs rampaged through the central town of Lipljan, smashing the windows of Albanian-owned stores. Officials fear that the violence might threaten the peace deal.
All factions of the ethnic Albanians in Kosovo have promised to sign a peace plan. Former US Senator Bob Dole negotiated the agreement at the request of US President Clinton. The KLA would have to disarm under NATO's protective watch. Serb military troops and police also must withdraw. If the ethnic Albanians sign the accord, attention would shift to getting Serb agreement. The Serbs face the threat of NATO airstrikes if they refuse and if they continue a military buildup.
March 7, 1999 - It appeared the Kosovo peace deal would not be signed before later in the week, despite US optimism earlier. KLA leaders voted on a plan for broad autonomy (not independence). Representatives of William Walker attended the meeting. KLA leader Hashim Thaci reiterated that the KLA should remain a defensive force, instead of becoming a political party with some of its members installed as police, as Western diplomats proposed.
In Prestina, an ethnic Albanian civilian shot and killed two Serb policemen who were seeking his son on robbery charges. In retaliation, Serb police forces searched houses for the father and son and beating occupants.
March 8, 1999 - In clashes near Kacanik — near the Macedonian border — at least one ethnic Albanian fighter was killed and four wounded and an unspecified number of Serbian security forces were wounded.
The Serbs declared that they do no longer wish to cooperate with the multiethnic government that has been at the core of Bosnia's fragile peace. Cooperation with Bosnia's Muslims and Croats was suspended after two international decisions:
- Dismissal of the Bosnian-Serb president, Nikola Poplasen.
- Transfer of control over Brcko from the Bosnian Serbs to all three Bosnian entities.
The Bosnian Serbs declared Poplasen's dismissal unconstitutional. Carlos Westendorp dismissed Poplasen for refusing to officially name moderate Milorad Dodik as prime minister in the Bosnian-Serb republic.
March 9, 1999 - Yugoslav forces with tanks swept through an area along the Macedonian border. Near Vucitrn in northern Kosovo artillery fire was heard. The Serb Media Center said two Serb policemen were killed and three were wounded when their vehicle hit a land mine near Djakovica, about 45 miles southwest of Pristina.
March 10, 1999 - In Ivaja, near the Macedonia, three bodies were found. Two had been shot in the back. Residents said neither one of them were KLA rebels.
According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, about 4,000 villagers have been reported fleeing.
In the village of Kotlina, Serbs forces destroyed seven or eight houses.
Shooting also was reported along the Malisevo-Lapusnik road, one policeman was wounded.
March 11, 1999 - In the US, the House of Representatives voted in favor of support for Clinton's Kosovo policy.
The fired Bosnian Serb president Nikola Poplasen vowed to stay in office. He threatened violence against the foreign officials who dismissed him and ended Serb jurisdiction over Brcko.
March 14, 1999 - Ethnic Albanian delegates said they were ready to sign a Kosovo peace plan if the Serb-led government backs down on its opposition to allowing NATO troops to enforce it. Milosevic still rejects the presence of NATO troops. Negotiations are expected to continue on March 15, 1999. The deadline for an agreement has been set to March 18.
Three bombs went off in two government-controlled cities, killing at least six people and injuring more than 60. International monitors said government forces had set fire to more than 25 ethnic Albanian homes in villages near the northwestern town of Vucitrn in retalliation for the killing of two Serb civilians in the area a week ago.
Serb forces shelled and burned the village of Mijalic in apparent retribution for the Albanian rebel slaying of two Serb brothers. Yugoslav army troops were still patrolling the province in violation of an October cease-fire.
March 15, 1999 - The second rounds of the peace talks in Rambouillet started. Mediators expressed little hope for a peace deal. Both sides have been building up their forces during the two rounds of peace talks.
Heavily reinforced Yugoslav forces have swept through the south in an apparent effort to clear out villages across from Macedonia. There, approximately 10,000 NATO soldiers are gathered in preparation for a possible peacekeeping mission in Kosovo. Yugoslav forces, backed by tanks, have mined part of the border and rigged a key bridge with explosives.
US president Bill Clinton, NATO Secretary General Janvier Solana, and German defense minister Rudolf Scharping urged Milosevic for unambiguous commitment to sign the Kosovo peace accord, threatening with NATO air strikes. Meanwhile, the US Senate will debate the issue of using American soldiers in an attack on Serbia.
The Serbs accused the Kosovo Liberation Army of attacking an army post after firing on two police stations the previous night.
A Yugoslav army officer was shot and wounded as he rode in a jeep along the main road just north of Pristina. In retaliation, the Yugoslav army responded by sending tanks and other armored vehicles to the rebel-held village of Besinje, where the shooting was believed to have come from.
OSCE monitors saw 10 bodies of victims of fighting elsewhere — four in the western Klina area and six in the southwest. The Albanians said the dead included two pairs of brothers, shot to death by Serb police while chopping wood.
Yugoslav army forces blasted Bukos and Osljane in the foothills of Cicavica mountain, 12 miles northwest of Pristina. The attack came from both the north and west, with forces pounding the area with frequent tank, rocket and Katyusha fire.
Deputy interior minister in the Muslim-Croat Federation government Jozo Leutar plus two other people were injured in a bomb explosion.
March 17, 1999 - A Finnish forensic team reportedly found that 40 ethnic Albanians killed in January were civilians executed in an organized massacre — some of the victims were forced to kneel before they were shot. The findings contradict claims by the Yugoslav government that the victims were armed separatists or civilians accidentally caught in the crossfire. A report that was released said pathologists determined that 22 of the people were slain in a gully that was so narrow the victims could only have been shot deliberately at close range.
The Serbs indicated earlier that they were prepared to sign the political part of the Kosovo peace deal. They objected the possible deployment of NATO forces. However, the new sticking point for the Serbs has been the political part of the peace accord. NATO commander Clark warned that Serb forces are prepared to resume fighting in Kosovo on a "very large scale".
March 18, 1999 - The Pentagon warned on US casualties if NATO airstrikes are to be launched. Serb air defenses were referred to as sophisticated and heavily defended. "There is a distinct possibility we will lose aircraft," Air Force chief of staff Gen. Michael Ryan said. The Clinton administration warned that "NATO will act" against Serb targets if Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic doesn't accept the peace accord.
The Bosnian Croat leadership pulled out of all state and federation institutions on to protest a car-bomb attack on a Bosnian Croat official on March 16, 1999. They accused their Muslim partners in the federation of backing the attack. The US criticized the hard-liners' push to establish a Croat mini-republic.
March 19, 1999 - In Rambouillet, the ethnic Albanians unilaterally signed the US proposed peace plan for Kosovo. The 82 page agreement is called "Interim Agreement for Peace and Self-Government in Kosovo". With just one side signing, it is merely a symbolic gesture that will bring them no closer to peace.
The accord was signed by two of three mediators at the talks — Christopher Hill of the United States and Wolfgang Petritsch of Austria. The Russian mediator, Boris Mayorsky, did not sign. Russia is Yugoslavia's ally, although Russia urged Milosevic to accept the peace deal. The Serbs refused to sign. They rejected the military part of the agreement and since a few days, also object the political part of the agreement.
Signing of the peace deal by the Albanians
There are seven chapters in the agreement:
- Constitution - There is an 11-point constitution, dealing with:
- National Communities
- Communal Police
- Economic issues
- Implementation (1)
- Commission to oversee civilian implementation of the accord
- Implementation (2)
- Multinational military force
The US deployed five EA-6B Prowler electronic warfare planes to Europe. Earlier, Clinton gave congressional leaders a detailed briefing on the crisis. Clinton seemed ready to act — and warned the Americans that military action could include risk to US pilots.
Belgrade now has until March 24, 1999, to accept or reject the plan, after which NATO might make good on its long-standing threat to bomb Serbian military installations in Kosovo. A Russian Foreign Ministry source in Moscow said on condition of anonymity that Russia may cut off relations with NATO if the alliance attacks Serbia.
The Bosnian Serb premier Milorad Dodik agreed to accept and implement an arbitrator's decision over the disputed town of Brcko. The fate of Brcko was the last decision left unresolved in the Dayton agreement. Dodik said he was still in power because his resignation was not accepted by the Serbian National Assembly. The Serb National Assembly must give final approval to the implementation of the Brcko decision for it to take effect.
March 20, 1999 - In Srbica, Serbian security forces blocked two major roads after it came under KLA attack, Serb sources said. Serbian commandos wearing black masks and white jumpsuits broke into homes and turfed out thousands of ethnic Albanians. The independent radio station B-92 said a long column of Yugoslav army vehicles rolled into Kosovo.
[Photo: Damir Sagolj]
OSCE monitors cross the Kosovo-Macedonian
border near Blace
The OSCE ordered the evacuation of the 1,380 monitors, five months after the start of their mission. The OSCE mission started under an October 12, 1998 agreement between Milosevic and US envoy Richard Holbrooke for a cease-fire, which began breaking down in December.
The departure of the monitors raised fears that the Serbs and the ethnic Albanians might step up the conflict. On their way out of Kosovo, the monitors passed a Yugoslav convoy of about 30 vehicles, including tanks, armored vehicles, and trucks carrying anti-aircraft guns, heading westward from the Pristina area.
The head of the OSCE mission, William Walker, said the evacuation went uneventful. However, Serb police canceled their visas as they left, meaning it could take protracted negotiations to relaunch the verification mission.
Bosnian Serb hard-liners on rejected claims by their moderate prime minister Milorad Dodik that the Serbs have accepted an decision on the town of Brcko.
An ethnic Albanian newspaper was charged for publishing recent statements by rebel leader Hashim Thaci. The Serbian government accused the newspaper of "racial and national hatred". The rebel leader accused the Serb state of genocide against the Albanians in Kosovo.
The international war crimes tribunal recommended indictment of three Croatioan army generals for leading the army to summary executions, indiscriminate shelling of civilian populations and ethnic cleansing during a 1995 assault against the Serbs. Until then, 83 people had been indicted by the tribunal, most of the Serbs.
March 21, 1999 - The Yugoslav army took advantage of the departure of international monitors and launched a furious offensive against outgunned ethnic Albanian rebels, especially near Drenica. A UNHC spokesman said the past week alone about 20,000 people were forced to flee.
March 23, 1999 - The Croatian prime minister said Croatia will not surrender any of its generals to an international war crimes tribunal (see March 20, 1999).
March 24, 1999 - NATO commenced air strikes on Yugoslavia in Operation Allied Force. Eight NATO allies were taking part in the first air strikes. The air strikes were NATO's first attack on a sovereign country in the 50 years since the alliance was formed.
Eight NATO nations participated in the air strikes, with approximately 400 aircraft from the US, United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain. For the first time, the B-2 bomber was used in combat, carrying satellite-guided 1-ton bombs. Nearly 100 sea- and air-launched cruise missiles were aimed at the Serb's sophisticated air defense system.
Slovakia granted a NATO request to allow the NATO planes to use Slovak air space and to land for refueling. Premier Mikulas Dzurinda told journalists that NATO's decision to strike is "the smallest of two evils". Hungary also allowed NATO to use military airfields for strikes against Yugoslavia. Earlier, only Hungarian airspace was allowed to be used.
In Montenegro, president Milo Djukanovic said on state-run television that Milosevic's policies led to the NATO air strikes. He said that the bombings "are the tragic consequences of an irrational policy of confrontation with the entire world." (...) "Our future is not in confrontation with the entire world and therefore I demand from Milosevic to halt the policy that has led to collective suffering of innocents and endangered the survival of the country."
Albanian prime minister Pandeli Majko "the Albanian government welcomes this NATO initiative, taken after all political means for solving the crisis in Kosovo and ending Serbian repression were exhausted." NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana sent a letter to Majko providing assurances of NATO support in case of a Yugoslav attack.
Slovenia's president Milan Kucan said that NATO is welcome to use Slovenian air space to launch air strikes against Serbia. He added that UN Secretary-General Solana assured him in a letter that NATO will protect Slovenia's security if is threatened.
Similar assurances had been provided to Macedonia. Solana assured the Macedonian government that the alliance would stand behind its territorial integrity.
Bulgarian President Petar Stoyanov said that since Bulgaria wishes to join NATO and the EU, it "has no other choice but to back the international community" in its conflict with Milosevic's "totalitarian regime".
Russia condemned the NATO attacks and pulled out of the NATO Partnership for Peace program and military cooperation programs. President Yeltsin recalled his chief military envoy to NATO, Lieutenant-General Viktor Zavarzin, and ordered the closure of Russia's offices at NATO headquarters. In addition, Russia decided to return its 100 members of the Kosova Verification Team currently in Macedonia.
In Belgrade, the independent radio station B-92 was shut down by the authorities. Editor-in-chief Veran Matic was arrested for questioning. Programs were continued via the Internet.
SFOR imposed a Training and Movement Ban on the Entity Armed Forces throughout Bosnia Herzegovina, as a precautionary measure.
March 25, 1999 -
For a second night NATO launched an aerial bombardment on Yugoslavia. Aircraft took off from various allied bases and ships in the Adriatic fired Tomahawk cruise missiles on Serb targets. As expected, the Serbs moved their military assets, including tanks and artillery.
Gen Wesley Clark on a
In a speech, General Clark said: "We're going to systematically and progressively attack, disrupt, degrade, devastate and ultimately — unless President Milosevic complies with the demands of the international community — we're going to destroy these forces and their facilities and support." In the first series of bombardments, some 40 targets were attacked. Lt Gen Nebojsa Pavkovic — commander of Yugoslav troops in Kosovo — called the impact of the first NATO attack "minimal".
Despite the fierce words from the supreme NATO commander, NATO did not reach its prime objective: getting Milosevic to sign the peace deal. Serb offensive seemed to have increased. It is unclear whether NATO member nations will be prepared to send ground troops if the objectives can not be met by air strikes.
Serbian army and special police stepped up their efforts to crush resistance in Kosovo. Serbian forces also opened fire with mortars and automatic weapons at the villages of Dobruna and Vicidol in neighboring Albania.
The Serbian health minister, Dr. Leposava Milecevic, told CNN that 10 civilians and one soldier were killed and 60 wounded in NATO attacks. US Defense Secretary William Cohen said those reports were unconfirmed and questioned the reliability of the information.
In the first wave of attacks, 40 targets were hit. NATO fighter aircraft destroyed three Yugoslav Mig-29s — two shot down by US F-16s and one by a Dutch F-16.
In Macedonia, hundreds of demonstrators sympathetic to Yugoslavia damaged cars and some threw firebombs at the US Embassy. There were also protests near the British and French embassies in Skopje. Also China denounced the strikes during a UN Security Council emergency meeting. Russian president Boris Yeltsin angrily denounced the air strikes but said Moscow would not use force in retaliation.
The Serbian government ordered all foreign journalists working for media from countries involved in the air attacks expelled. The Yugoslav government — made up of dominant Serbia and smaller Montenegro — said all journalists are welcome to stay, as long as they are objective. The Washington Post reported that these contradicting messages reflected the power struggle among relative moderates and radicals in top government ranks.
In Serbia, police detained a number of foreign journalists in Belgrade and Pristina and prevented them from sending footage abroad. A BBC reporter said that police "kicked in the doors" of an unspecified number of journalists' rooms in Prishtina's main hotel.
The three brand new NATO nations, Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary, backed the NATO decision to launch attacks on Yugoslavia. In Poland, Marek Siwiec — head of the presidential National Security Bureau — said the government sees the current crisis as a test of Poland's credibility as a NATO member. Czech president Vaclav Havel said the air strikes are the only way Europe and the US can express their commitments to human rights. A Czech military field hospital will be sent to Macedonia to support a NATO peace-keeping operation in neighboring Kosovo.
About 200 Kosovo Albanians crossed into Albania, saying Serb security forces had swept into the village of Goden, detaining men, setting the village on fire, and marching women and children across the border.
In Banja Luka, a crowd of approximately 700 to 1,500 young people held a protest march against the NATO air strikes against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. A handful of protesters threw eggs and stones at the local offices of the United States, German and United Kingdom embassies, breaking windows. Police officers at the scene were able to keep the overall level of violence to a minimum. Later, a smaller group of demonstrators went to the offices of the UNHCR and broke some windows there as well.
In Bosanska Gradiska, an hand grenade exploded sixty meters away from the United Nations - IPTF station. There was no damage to UN property or personnel.
March 26, 1999 - NATO fighters shot down two Yugoslav MiG jets that had crossed the border into Bosnia from Serbia. The Washington Post called the incident "a dangerous broadening of the showdown between the Western alliance and President Slobodan Milosevic". SFOR troops captured the pilots in Bosnia. It was unclear why the MiGs had crossed into Bosnian airspace. The Pentagon said it was possible they had intended to attack NATO peacekeeping troops in Bosnia or that they intended to shoot on NATO aircraft. The MiG was shot down by US F-15s that were conducting routine air patrols over Bosnia as part of NATO's enforcement of a "no-fly" zone over Bosnia. That mission was separate from the NATO air offensive against Yugoslavia.
For the first time, NATO attacked targets in daylight.
The Serbs said they hardly used their air defense systems. Surprisingly only one launch of a surface-to-air missile has been spotted and it wasn't successful.
Russia failed to gather sufficient support to pass a resolution in the UN Security Council demanding NATO stop bombing Yugoslavia.
In Greece — NATO member but close to Yugoslavia, Bulgeria, and Russia people protested against the NATO strikes. Greek officials have urged NATO to halt the bombing and resume negotiations.
March 27, 1999 - For the third night in sequence, NATO attacked targets closer to Belgrade. The raids ended shortly after midnight. There were conflicting reports of leaks of toxic substances because of bomb damage. Just like after the first attack, Yugoslav media claimed two NATO aircraft were shot down, but NATO reported all planes landed safely.
The KLA claimed that Serbs killed more than 30 in "mass executions," including 20 slain in Orahovac and 10 in Podujevo. BBC reported that Yugoslav MiG fighters were used against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.
[Photo: Serb media]
USAF F-117 cockpit transparency;
the pilot whose name was on it
was not flying
A NATO aircraft crashed during raids on Yugoslavia. The US F-117 was claimed to be shot down by the Serbs, 40 km west of Belgrade, about 10 pm local time. CNN reported that two F-117s took off from Aviano (Italy) earlier, and that only one returned. At first, NATO denied any planes were lost. A few hours later a senior officer at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico confirmed a plane from his squadron was down. It was the first stealth aircraft lost in combat. The F-117 flew over 1,300 sorties over Iraq without losses.
Radio B92 had earlier said that Yugoslav army air defence forces shot down a NATO plane and NATO helicopter overnight near Uzice in western Serbia.
NATO expanded its air assault by ordering its forces to attack tanks, artillery and troops in Kosovo.
March 28, 1999 - CNN quoted Serbs officials claimimg farmers had found at least two pilots, one of them German, from "a number of" Phantom jets. Germany said all its aircrews were safe.
Hours after his plane went down near Belgrade, the US F-117 pilot was rescued and taken to a NATO base.
Serb police units continued a sweep of large tracts of ethnic Albanian-dominated Kosovo, expelling hundreds from the village of General Jankovic, on the Macedonian border, and razing their homes. Albania said Saturday alone, some 20,000 refugees crossed its border.
In an unconfirmed report it was said that Serb paramilitary gangs had slaughtered several hundred ethnic Albanians in the Kosovo town of Djakovica after NATO bombed a local barracks.
Thousands of ethnic Albanian refugees fled into neighboring Albania and Macedonia. Bratislava Morina — Serbia's commissioner for refugees — stated on Serb state-controlled television: "There is no humanitarian catastrophe in Kosovo whatsoever. Those manipulations with the number of refugees, carried out by foreign agencies and media, are used to intensify (NATO) attacks on Yugoslavia." Apparently, the Serbs have a different meaning of the word genocide.
In the past few days, between 50,000-60,000 ethnic Albanians were driven from their homes. Yugoslav authorities closed at least one crossing point into Albania. About 500,000 Kosovars are displaced from the crisis, NATO said. It is the biggest shift of population since WW2.
Along the border with Macedonia police were charging $60 per car to allow refugees to cross.
Albanian president, Rexhep Meidani, said NATO ground troops must be deployed in order to stop the violence. This scenario, however, has been rejected by NATO. NATO performed air attacks for the fifth night in a row.
Fehmi Agani — founder of the Democratic League of Kosovo, the moderate party of ethnic Albanian leader Ibrahim Rugova — was executed. Last year, he signed an agreement with the Serbs that dealt with the return of ethnic Albanian students and teachers. He was also one of the negotiators in Rambouillet.
March 29, 1999 - The Pentagon added 6 to 12 more planes, including B-52 long-range bombers, as well as 12 more fighters and light bombers. The US already had about 200 war planes participating in Operation ALLIED FORCE. The USAF F-117A that was lost earlier might have been shot down by a Serbian SA-3 surface-to-air missile.
The American A-10 aircraft was used in what NATO called the second phase of attacks. The British Air Commodore David Wilby said the new phase is beginning to show signs of success.
British Harrier jets successfully hit Serb targets but came under heavy fire. All Harriers safely returned to Aviano, Italy. NATO missiles fired at a military airport at Podgorica hit a MiG-21 jet fighter and an army vehicle, a Yugoslav army source said. It was the sixth day of the air strikes.
In the Czech capital Prague, one person was killed by a rifle fire when a demonstration organized by human right groups and ethnic Albanians was disrupted by Serb demonstrators.
Russian prime minister Yevgeny Primakov announced plans to travel to Belgrade on March 30, to meet with Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic. Russia strongly opposed the NATO air campaign against fellow Slavic Yugoslavia.
Refugees are crossing the Albanian border at an estimated rate of 4,000 per hour. NATO attacks seem to have intensified Serb anger at the ethnic Albanians.
March 30, 1999 - The talks between Primakov and Milosevic did not result in anything substantial. Milosevic stated he would be willing to stop his campaign against the ethnic Albanians and resume peace talks if NATO would stop its air strikes and would stop its support for the Kosovo Liberation Army. Clinton responded saying: "We will see that his military will be seriously diminished, key military infrastructure destroyed, the prospect for international support for Serbia's claim to Kosovo increasingly jeopardized."
German chancellor Gerhard Schröder, the current president of the European Union, called Milosevic's offer unacceptable. He specifically rejected the condition that NATO stop its attacks first.
French president Jacques Chirac took a hard line: Europe "cannot accept on its soil a man and a regime that, for nearly 10 years, has conducted ... operations of ethnic cleansing, murders and massacres, of destabilization in the entire region, resulting in more than 200,000 deaths and millions left homeless."
The Pentagon ordered five B-1 bombers from Ellsworth (South Dakota) and additional air defense-jamming planes and refueling tankers to Europe for intensified airstrikes. Five Navy EA-6B aircraft were being deployed to help jam the target-seeking radar of the Serbs' anti-aircraft missile network. Ten refueling tankers also were being added.
British Air Commodore David Wilby said NATO was going after units that had committed atrocities.
French defense minister Alain Richard said that NATO airstrikes had halved Yugoslavia's capacity to strike and defend itself by air.
The Serbian government — coping with a gas shortage — decreed that gasoline and diesel fuel will be rationed.
Hashim Thaci, a KLA leader, told on television that the Serbs had created three concentration camps, including one in the stadium of Pristina which he said is holding 100,000 people. It is impossible to get an independent confirmation.
Albania said it would be willing to allow its territory to be used to funnel arms into Kosovo to arm the KLA, should the international community decide to do so. The UN Security Council imposed an arms embargo on Yugoslavia in March 1998. Lifting it would require support from all five permanent members of the council including Russia and the United States. Earlier, Russia suggested lifting the arms embargo, only to allow their Serb friends to defend themselves against NATO attacks. Many arms were smuggled from Albania into Kosovo already.
Yugoslav deputy prime minister Vuk Draskovic admitted that atrocities may have been committed: "Emotions rise up extremely, and it's possible that there are circumstances to crack down, maybe atrocities, but it is not a state strategy."
March 31, 1999 - Bad weather has forced NATO to scratch many attack missions.
Three US army soldiers on patrol along Macedonia's border with Kosovo were missing after reporting that they were surrounded and under fire. Local commanders lost contact with the soldiers during a reconnaissance mission in Macedonia in a rugged region with no precise or defined border between Macedonia and Yugoslavia. The soldiers were part of the forces that are on stand-by in Macedonia in case a peace agreement might be signed and peace keeping troops are required in Yugoslavia. NATO first insisted the soldiers were on the Macedonian side of the border but later stated that the exact location was unknown.
The Clinton administration announced a plan to airlift supplies in a $50 million aid effort to benefit the more than 100,000 ethnic Albanian refugees who fled Kosovo.
Russia said it planned on dispatching a frigate to the Mediterranean and putting other warships on standby. Russia strongly opposes the air campaign against their Yugoslav allies. Parts of the F-117 wreck (shot down March 27) are said to have been shipped to Russia.
In a TV interview, US president Clinton said: "The thing that bothers me about introducing ground troops into a hostile situation, into the Balkans and Kosovo, is the prospect of never being able to get them out." NATO commander in Europe General Clark said: "We've slowed him (Milosevic) down and we've hurt him, but we never thought air power alone can stop this kind of paramilitary tragedy."
In Montenegro Yugoslav president Milosevic fired the army commander for Yugoslav republic and seven other top generals. The Washington Post suggested Milosevic was strengthening his position against any possible military coup by officers who are calling for a cease-fire, since Montenegro has a pro-Western government.
Two trains jammed with more than 10,000 people arrived Thursday at the Macedonian border.
KLA official Jakup Krasniqi told reporters that the rebels were helping NATO bombing operations in Kosovo by locating targets.
Yugoslavia charged two Australian CARE aid workers — working in Kosovo — as spies.
April 1, 1999 - The Yugoslav government announced that the three US soldiers captured will have to face military court proceedings. This is a direct violation of international law. President Clinton says the United States will hold Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic responsible for the safety of the three.
Canadian foreign minister Lloyd Axworthy urges the sharply divided UN Security Council to address the "very horrific" humanitarian crisis in Kosovo.
NATO countries are not willing to send in ground troops. Military strategists point out that in Yugoslavia it would increase the likelihood of casualties as it brings the war to rough terrain known well by Serb fighters.
The American Predator unmanned surveillance aircraft began flying over Yugoslavia
April 2, 1999 - Serb forces are systematically rounding up ethnic Albanians, herding them into trains and other vehicles and transporting them to neighboring countries, the UN said. Pristina is turning into a ghost town, refugees said.
Western officials said to have evidence that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic is plotting to oust the democratically elected president of pro-western Montenegro. Montenegro provoked the federal Yugoslav government's wrath by refusing to go along with the declaration of a state of war or with its order to break ties with four Western powers.
On March 31, 1999, Milosevic removed a Montenegrin general as head of Yugoslavia's 2nd Army and replaced him with an ally, General Milorad Obradovic. That gives Obradovic command of 10,000-12,000 troops and 3,000-4,000 reservists in Montenegro.
At the borders with Yugoslavia, cars of refugees are stripped of their license plates to prevent the owners from returning.
Two Spanish journalists were detained by Serbian police Friday near the border between Macedonia and Kosovo province after boarding a train to interview ethnic Albanian refugees. Earlier, Serbian authorities ordered journalists from NATO-member countries out of Yugoslavia.
NATO released aerial photos that showed how Serb military forces chase ethnic Albanians from their homes in Kosovo, then destroy their properties. British Air Commodore David Wilby said that Serbian forces "continue to terrorize ethnic Albanians and take advantage of the situation to loot and pillage."
Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez condemned NATO's air operations against the Serbs.
Yugoslav authorities took over the independent radio station B92. The director was replaced by a government loyalist. A week ago, the station's transmitters were disabled, but the Internet was used to continue broadcasting. B92 is the most influencial of 35 independent radio and 18 television stations in Yugoslavia.
April 3, 1999 - For the first time, NATO hit the center of Belgrade. Eight cruise missiles hit symbolic targets. One of them was the Interior Ministry, which controls Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's special police forces. Serb state television stated that a maternity hospital was evacuated after a missile exploded 30 meters away.
NATO airstrikes destroyed the Freedom Bridge across the Danube River at Novi Sad — Yugoslavia's second largest city. Seven people were reported injured.
Another Danube bridge was damaged at Backa Palanka near Yugoslavia's border with Croatia. The bridge is located 48 km west of Novi Sad.
In Bosnia-Herzengovina, NATO-led peacekeeping forces blew up a crucial Yugoslav rail link connecting Serbia with the southern Yugoslav republic of Montenegro, preventing the Yugoslav military forces from traveling on the line. During the operation, the Western troops exchanged gunfire with two attackers shooting assault rifles. One of them was killed.
Two civilians driving in an SFOR vehicle in a Sarajevo suburb were shot at with a small caliber weapon. One person was wounded.
Washington said it suspected the Iraqis have provided Serb leaders with tactical information about American warplanes.
Almost 700,000 people have been internally displaced or forced to flee the country. Organizations say it is almost impossible to count the number of refugees.
Macedonia announced it would not accept any more refugees unless they can go on to other European countries. At the borders, 60,000 people are stuck. The mounting crisis, with similar scenes in Albania and the Yugoslav republic of Montenegro, was fast becoming the worst-case scenario that Western officials had hoped to prevent by launching NATO airstrikes on Yugoslavia on March 24 (quote Washington Post). Ethnic Albanians comprised 90 percent of the Kosovo population. It was feared that the large number of refugees might eventuelly threaten the stability in the entire Balkan region. The Security Council said "It is going to cause economic collapse and political instability."
Germany announces it will accept some Kosovo refugees and will urge other European countries to do the same.
NATO decided to send approximately 6,000 Italian troops to Albania to protect a humanitarian relief effort for more than 100,000 refugees there.
Yugoslav Foreign Minister Zivadin Jovanovic refered to 3 captured US soldiers as prisoners of war. This would offer some protection under the Geneva Conventions on the conduct of war.
A short video clip was smuggled out of Kosovo. It appeared to add graphic evidence to the reports of widespread slaughter of ethnic Albanians by Yugoslav authorities across Kosovo. The video was handed to international media by Melaim Bellanica, who said he hid from Serbs for five days in his basement in the village of Velike Krusa while killings and looting raged above. He also had a list of 26 names of people he said were executed in his village after Serb police gave an ultimatum following the start of NATO bombing of Yugoslavia: leave Kosovo or be killed.
Bellanica said he witnessed police order three young men to stop. "And when they did, they started executing them, shooting them one by one. One man was shot in the neck, one had his brains blown out ... the usual thing" (quote Washington Post).
Thirteen F-117A stealth fighter-bombers left Holloman Air Force Base to join NATO's air campaign against Yugoslavia.
April 4, 1999 -
NATO bombs struck three targets in Belgrade. A thermal heating plant in New Belgrade was hit, along with the police academy in the Banjica suburb. A day earlier, the first target inside Belgrade was destroyed in what is considered a series of infrastructure attacks in the Serbian heartland. The Serbs reported 17 people injured. Some 75 miles south of Belgrade, a fuel depot was destroyed. A power plant in the town of Pancevo, 10 miles northeast of Belgrade, also was hit.
NATO said 290,000 ethnic Albanians have been expelled from Kosovo in the past 10 days and estimated that 200,000 to 300,000 more were heading toward the Serbian province's borders with Albania and Macedonia. At the current rate, NATO said "Serbian forces will have emptied the country in 10 to 20 days."
NATO countries plan to airlift 1 million military meals, 187,000 blankets and drinking water to Macedonia for refugees.
April 5, 1999 - President Clinton said it would no longer be enough for Yugoslav president Milosevic to just stop the killing. "A Kosovo denied its freedom and devoid of its people is not acceptable. ... Our plan is to persist until we prevail."
NATO cruise missiles struck the headquarters of the Yugoslav air force in the Zemun district of Belgrade.
NATO agreed that the 12,000 NATO troops in Macedonia — originally intended as peace keeping forces in case of a peace agreement — will be used to assist in the humanitarian effort.
A NATO Black Hawk helicopter flying on a routine mission apparently came under fire over Bosnian Serb territory, 10 miles southwest of the city of Doboj.
April 6, 1999 - The first of tens of thousands of refugees were evacuated from Macedonia. This first group was flown to Turkey and Norway. NATO stressed that while the goal was for the refugees to return to Kosovo, the alliance wanted to take pressure off neighboring states by providing temporary homes elsewhere.
Albania has been flooded with 239,000 refugees. In Macedonia arrivals numbered about 120,000. Macedonia has said no more than 20,000 can stay.
Fearing that Kosovo Albanians may be dispersed far from their homeland and might not ever return, the Albanian government protested plans to settle many of them in Western countries and agreed to accept more refugees. NATO nations and other Western countries have offered to take in about 110,000 refugees.
Macedonian deputy prime minister Radmilla Kiprjanova said Macedonia could not deal with the refugee problem without international help. Macedonian officials mobilized army troops and police patrolled the border to prevent refugees from entering illegally.
Japan said it will supply tents for 10,000 refugees. Kuwait today sent a jumbo jet to Skopje carrying 40 tons of tents, blankets, clothes, food, baby formula, medicines and medical supplies. A number of more flights were expected. Israel sent two relief planes to Macedonia and Albania, including one carrying a field hospital and doctors.
April 7, 1999 - NATO stepped up its air campaign even more after rejecting President Slobodan Milosevic's cease-fire declaration.
The Pentagon confirmed the loss of a twin-engine unmanned Hunter reconnaissance plane. The aircraft was used as a surveillance aid that can transmit video images to battlefield commanders.
In Morini, Yugoslav authorities closed the main exit route where a quarter-million ethnic Albanians have fled Kosovo, forcing tens of thousands of people back. OSCE said that the refugees were told to return of their places of residence — whatever is left of those places.
Macedonia emptied a border enclave at Blace with tens of thousands of Kosovo refugees. The country sharply criticized NATO allies for failing to stem the flood of refugees.
The privately run Israeli relief group Giving organized a relief operation, shipping eight tons of relief supplies. Israel announced would take in 100 Kosovar refugees. Kuwait commenced a three-day airlift operation. Saudi Arabia also sent a plane packed with relief supplies.
Former Cypriot President Spyros Kyprianou said he was close to arranging the release of three U.S. soldiers captured by Yugoslav forces:"I have to meet with President Milosevic. The exchanges have been very constructive so far and the indications are that this mission will succeed."
Naming names, the US warned 9 top Serb commanders they could face war crimes prosecution. The US had no specific evidence that the individuals ordered soldiers to commit crimes, but the commanders could be prosecuted for allowing crimes to occur or for not prosecuting soldiers who committed them.
The Pentagon estimated that 1.3 million ethnic Albanians have been displaced, either inside the province or in neighboring countries — 430,000 of them since March 24, 1999.
April 8, 1999 - The hardline Serbian vice premier Vojislav Seselj said that freeing the three was out of the question and that the soldiers should be tried as terrorists.
At the NATO debriefing Air Commodore David Wilby said "NATO has certainly not caused the reported widespread and random damage which we believe has been orchestrated by Serbian forces."
French RTL radio reported that KLA forces are using a satellite telephone to help NATO identify Serb targets.
April 9, 1999 - A group of 1,500 Kosovo refugees crossed into Albania from Yugoslavia, saying Serbs had chased them from their homes. Apparently, the Serbs suddenly reopened their borders. About 450,000 Kosovo Albanians have been forced to leave Kosovo during the last two weeks.
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan called on Yugoslav authorities to withdraw forces from Kosovo and accept an international military presence to oversee the return of refugees. This point of view is similar to that of NATO.
Clinton accused Milosevic of presenting an "illusion of partial compliance" with NATO demands in Kosovo by declaring a cease-fire after violently chasing nearly 1 million ethnic Albanians from the province. Clinton said the ethnic rout won't stand and NATO airstrikes will continue.
CNN reporters said Serbs are planting land mines along the Yugoslav-Albanian border just inside their territory. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees — Sadako Ogata — said the flow of people out of Kosovo had suddenly stopped.
About 10,000 refugees queuing for days to enter Albania and forced to return to Kosovo by the Serbs have reportedly disappeared. Serb media said that the Kosovars had returned to their homes.
April 10, 1999: NATO refugee
handling center at Brazda
April 10, 1999 - Kosovo Albanian refugees from Serbia stated they had been forced out of their homes by Serb police forces. Anyone left behind would be killed.
A column of about 3,000 Kosovars in tractors, trucks and other vehicles stretched more than a mile near the province's border with Albania. The border opened about 2100 (local time) and the flow of refugees picked up. A lot of refugees said they were arrested by police or other (para) military units, and being beaten.
Brian Atwood, the US coordinator for Kosovo relief, said: "There is no question that people that have been driven back into the country are being used as human shields."
NATO governments were giving increasing credence to the refugees' stories, warning that any evidence of war crimes will be turned over to an international tribunal.
The latest figures compiled by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees estimate the exodus at 521,000 people, the vast majority of them ethnic Albanians.
US president Clinton came under increasing pressure from Congress members to use ground troops in Kosovo. Canada has also raised the possibility of using ground forces in Kosovo despite Clinton's opposition. Macedonian president Kiro Gligorov told the Turkish press that he would not allow a land offensive into Kosovo to be launched from his country.
Russian president Yeltsin said NATO should not force Russia into an armed conflict, as it may trigger a world war. The Kremlin denied that Russian missiles had been retargeted toward NATO countries. The statements came during preparations by the Russian opposition to impeach president Yeltsin.
Spyros Kyprianou did not succeed in freeing the three US soldiers. While he was in Belgrade, NATO airstrikes continued.
In Amsterdam, the Netherlands, people protested against the NATO actions. Serbs beat up one of the demonstrators.
April 11, 1999 - US Secretary of State Albright said the Serbian actions against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo means fewer Serb troops will be permitted to remain in the province than once envisioned under a failed peace settlement. She did not rule out partitioning Kosovo as part of a settlement.
Top UN refugee official Sadako Ogata said the Serb ethnic cleansing planning "certainly" was the culmination of long and detailed preparations at the highest level of the government of Yugoslav President Milosevic.
NATO showed aerial images of what it said was a possible freshly dug mass gravesite at Pusto Selo, outside Pristina. The ground appeared to be freshly dug and the pictures resembled those of mass graves seen during the war in Bosnia.
April 12, 1999 - Yugoslavia's state news agency reported that about 150 KLA rebels were "liquidated" in a battle with Yugoslav forces near the Albanian border.
State media claimed NATO struck a passenger train near Leskovac — 180 miles south of Belgrade. There was no immediate confirmation from NATO. It was said about 20 people were killed.
Albanian foreign minister Paskal Milo said the country has handed over control of its airspace, ports and military infrastructure to NATO and is ready to accept more ground troops.
To demonstrate their unity, the 19 NATO ministers gathered. Albright denied any discussion of partition as a possible option for the future of Kosovo. NATO said ground troops will only enter the province in a "permissive environment," either as part of a NATO implementation force or to escort refugees back into Kosovo.
The Yugoslav parliament voted to join an alliance with Russia and Belarus in an attempt to draw Russia into the fighting. Russia favors the idea of incorporating Yugoslavia into an alliance, but membership would not be instantaneous and any military aid would not be automatically granted, according to Russian foreign minister Igor Ivanov. Moscow suggested any formal strengthening of ties will have to wait until the end of the NATO bombing campaign. Russia said it is still intending not to get involved militarily.
The UK newspaper Sunday Telegraph said 80 British commandos have infiltrated Kosovo to direct NATO bombers to Serb police and military units, and identify massacre sites and "death squad" commanders.
Slavko Curuvija, the owner of the prominent newspaper Dnevni Telegraf — representing opposition views — was shot to death in Belgrade.
British officials said some 100,000 ethnic Albanian men were believed missing, based on the low number of males among the refugees crossing into Macedonia and Albania.
US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and NATO allies considered establishing a protectorate to shield Kosovo from Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's forces.
A six-nation peace plan that was rejected by Milosevic would have permitted 5,000 Serb troops to remain, half of them to patrol the border of Kosovo, which would remain a part of Serbia. The other half would leave after a year. However, NATO Secretary General Javier Solana said all Serb troops must depart.
The highest-ranking Bosnian Croat war crimes suspect in UN custody went on trial for allegedly leading what prosecutors called a "monstrous" purge of Muslims from central Bosnia in 1992 and 1993.
SFOR announced that in Bosnia-Herzegovina airports and airspace will remain closed to all non-authorized traffic at night until further notice.
April 13, 1999 - Serb infantry troops crossed into Albania. They briefly seized control of a border village, and fought a running battle with border police and Albanian soldiers.
The UN reported nearly 5,000 ethnic Albanians poured into Albania after a systematic clearing out of their villages near Pristina.
About 4,800 more refugees entered Albania and hundreds more crossed into Macedonia. More and more ethnic Albanians report systemathc Serb atrocities.
Bosnian airports that were closed since the start of the NATO air strikes will be reopened to civil flight operations during daylight hours. Carlos Westendorp argued that the no-fly zone over Bosnia would do no good to the commercial health of the country.
Russia said it will send more navy vessels to the Mediterranean and it considered pulling out Russian peacekeepers from Bosnia. Earlier, Russia suspended all contacts with NATO, and removed all soldiers from NATO command in Bosnia. The Washington Post reported that that has little meaning, since the Russian forces depend on NATO logistical support.
April 14, 1999 - At a European Union meeting, Germany unveiled a plan calling for a one-day suspension of airstrikes if Yugoslavia begins withdrawing troops from Kosovo. But EU leaders set the idea aside in favor of a similar initiative by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. That plan called for:
- An immediate end to the campaign of intimidation and expulsion of civilians.
- Ceasing all military and paramilitary activities in Kosovo and withdraw these forces.
- Accepting unconditionally the return of all refugees and displaced people to their homes.
- Accepting the deployment of an international military force to help in the return of refugees and delivery of aid.
- Permitting the international community to verify compliance.
These are very similar to NATO's own conditions for halting the bombing. Under the German plan NATO would suspend its airstrikes on Yugoslavia for 24 hours to give Milosevic time to begin moving his troops out of the province, and permanently suspend the attacks once the pullout is complete.
The World Bank said it planned loans totaling more than US$70 million to Albania to help it deal with the costs of providing for thousands refugees fleeing Kosovo.
The KLA claimed that Serb troops killed 1,000 ethnic Albanian civilians over the past four days in the heartland of the rebel movement.
April 15, 1999 - Serb forces lobbed artillery shells over the border into northern Albania in a running battle with the KLA. According to the OSCE, mortars landed close to Albania's border checkpoint at Morini, where international aid workers were operating and refugees were passing through.
April 16, 1999 - The Bosnian Serb TV station Kanal S, based in Pale, was ordered to stop broadcasting because its coverage of the Kosovo crisis was deemed inflammatory and inaccurate.
According to the UNHCR thousands of refugees were driven into Albania and Macedonia — with tens of thousands more on their heels. At least 5,000 refugees crossed into Macedonia and another 8,000 arrived in Albania.
Washington said there is evidence of "mass killings and graves associated with those mass killings" in an area west of Pristina. Serb forces damaged or destroyed over 400 villages and towns inside Kosovo, 45 of them in the last week to 10 days.
A German newspaper reported that ethnic Albanian leader Ibrahim Rugova was being held under house arrest in Pristina.
The KLA rebel forces captured a Yugoslav Army officer during an overnight ground operation near Junik, Kosovo, on April 13-14. The officer was handed over to the US and is being held in Tirana as a prisoner of war. The Red Cross has not been allowed access to the three American servicemen held by Yugoslavia — captured March 31.
As a part of their media campaign against western countires, the Serbs organized a bus trip for journalists to the site where a convoy allegedly was attacked by NATO planes.
April 17, 1999 - Serb forces appeared to be making a final push to empty Kosovo of ethnic Albanians. Some 25,000 refugees arrived in Albania and Macedonia after fleeing their homes.
In Dresden (Germany) the European Union finance ministers supported a plan to freeze debt payments for both nations.
During a press meeting, NATO displayed aerial photos of what it claimed to be 43 fresh mass grave sites in Kosovo, one with up to 150 victims from the Kosovo town of Izbica.
Macedonia warned the KLA against doing anything to destabilize the former Yugoslav republic. In the past several days, Macedonian police have confiscated more than four tons of weapons from the KLA.
The prominent Italian TV journalist Lucia Annunziata was roughed up and expelled from Yugoslavia. He was detained at the Yugoslav-Croatian border on the way back to Italy on April 16. She was searched, stripped, handcuffed, hit and then taken back to Belgrade, where she was interrogated for nearly eight hours. She said was questioned about Italy's role in the NATO bombing campaign.
The Red Cross was allowed to exmine the Yugoslav POW, captured before April 16.
April 18, 1999 - A car carrying seven ethnic Albanians out of Kosovo struck a land mine at the border, killing five refugees, including three children. Yugoslav troops have been planting mines along the road for weeks to guard against crossings into Kosovo by KLA rebels or by NATO troops.
April 19, 1999 - Yugoslav officials broke diplomatic relations with Albania, on the accusation that Albania supported "agression". Yugoslavia also shut the main crossing point for ethnic Albanian refugees fleeing Kosovo.
US President Clinton asked Congress for $6 billion in emergency spending to sustain US military operations in Kosovo and to increase aid to ethnic Albanians fleeing Kosovo. The US is seeking NATO support for cutting off seaborne shipments of oil into Yugoslavia to limit President Slobodan Milosevic's ability to fight ethnic Albanians.
Clinton met with Russian President Boris Yeltsin, who has been critical of the NATO campaign. The White House said the two emphasized the things they agreed upon, such as the need for Serb forces to withdraw from Kosovo.
The US ambassador for war crimes said Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic is being investigated as a war crimes suspect since more than 100,000 ethnic Albanians are unaccounted for.
The Training and Movement Ban as imposed by SFOR on March 24 was partially lifted.
April 20, 1999 - NATO said that Serb military and paramilitary forces were shelling hills where ethnic Albanians had fled, marching the refugees on roads and putting them on trains to the border, then closing the border to them.
Two to three hundred Yugoslav soldiers entered Croatia's southernmost peninsula — a demilitarized zone between Croatia and Montenegro, controlled by a 28-man UN monitoring mission. Ivan Simonovic, Croatia's representative to the United Nations, said he was convinced diplomatic means would lead to their withdrawal. "But Croatia must be ready to use other means if necessary."
One Albanian soldier was wounded in a seven-hour exchange of machine-gun and sniper fire across the Yugoslav-Albanian border south of the Kosovo city Djakovica, the OSCE reported.
NATO commanders spoke of new accounts of mass executions, including ethnic Albanians flushed from their homes by Serb forces firing tear gas.
The UN refugee agency declared its camps in Macedonia full beyond capacity.
Aid workers worried about the fate of a reported 15-mile-long convoy of refugees seen coming south from the Kosovo capital Pristina, on Saturday April 17. The convoy — estimated to include 9,000 to 16,000 people — disappeared.
Aid workers also worried about the few refugees that made it accross the border, uncertain whether border fighting had stopped the flow or Serbs had blocked it.
A report said 700 ethnic Albanian boys as young as 14 were being used either as "human shields or as blood banks for Serb casualties."
April 23, 1999 - Albanian Foreign Minister Paskal Milo said his country feared Milosevic might drag Albania into the armed conflict, after Yugoslav troops have crossed the border with Albania on April 20. He also said that "there is evidence that shows that many people from the Serbian secret services have been infiltrating (Albania) with the poor men and women coming into Albania from Kosovo."
NATO offered suspend its air strikes if President Slobodan Milosevic would accept the five conditions for peace in Kosovo and begins withdrawing his troops, said British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook.
April 24, 1999 - Again, Yugoslavia ruled out the presence of armed foreign soldiers on its territory to enforce a possible peace agreement in Kosovo. So far, Russian prime minister Viktor Chernomyrdin made little progress in Moscow's latest attempt to persuade Belgrade.
April 26, 1999 - The European Union banned fuel shipments to Yugoslavia. It is unknown whether it should be enforced with a naval blockade in the Adriatic Sea.
Despite the fact that ground troops still were out of the question, NATO military planners started to review the estimate of the number of troops required for a ground war in Yugoslavia — 200,000 in a worst-case scenario. The Washington POst wrote that Harry Summers, retired US Army colonel, said NATO's high-end estimate of 200,000 troops is likely to become its low-end estimate.
The European Union banned fuel shipments to Yugoslavia. It is unknown whether it should be enforced with a naval blockade in the Adriatic Sea.
Yugoslavia's deputy premier, Vuc Draskovic, said Serbia has been seriously weakened by the allied bombardment. Draskovic said his government was ready to accept a peace deal calling for a UN presence that would include NATO countries. According to Draskovic, his party's privately owned TV station was taken over by the Serb army.
April 26, 1999 - Approximately 5,000 ethnic Albanians entered Macedonia — the leading edge of a major exodus ignited by Serb forces operating south and east of Pristina. More than 600,000 refugees have fled Kosovo over the past month — 360,000 to Albania and the remainder to Macedonia, Montenegro and Bosnia.
In negotiations with Russia key obstacles to a settlement are NATO's refusal to stop the bombing and Yugoslavia's refusal to accept armed NATO peacekeepers to enforce a peace accord for Kosovo.
April 28, 1999 - Yugoslav deputy premier Vuk Draskovic was dismissed because of "public statements which were contrary to the government stands." Montenegro's president Milo Djukanovic — strong Milosevic critic — said the dismissal "is a confirmation ... that there are people who cannot support, nor accept, whatever" Milosevic says.
More than 2,000 ethnic Albanian refugees fled into Albania, telling of a new Serb campaign to clear villages in southwest Kosovo and a possible massacre in near Djakovica.
In Macedonia, the UN refugee agency warned that camps packed beyond capacity were "on the verge of rioting" because of tensions.
A top European Union official said the refugees near Kukes could become a target of Serb attacks and a prime source of recruits for the guerrilla Kosovo Liberation Army. The first concern was to try to move the people southwards.
April 29, 1999 - Yugoslavia said it was suing NATO countries involved in the five-week-old bombing campaign of its territory at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.
Former Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin flew to Germany, presenting "concrete proposals" in Bonn, Rome and Belgrade in a two-day shuttle mission. He said that the key precondition for peace remains a halt to NATO airstrikes, highly unlikely given NATO's requirements. The Russian plan calls for a U.N.-controlled international peacekeeping force in Kosovo but a top Serb official rejected the notion of any military force whatsoever in the province. "No armed forces will be allowed to come, not even UN peacekeepers," said ultranationalist Serbian Deputy Premier Vojislav Seselj, whose views generally reflect those of Milosevic.
Refugees reaching the Albanian border told about how Serb forces had taken roughly 100 young and middle-aged men into custody at gunpoint April 27 in the southwestern Kosovo village of Meje. Refugees who passed through the village hours later said they saw bodies heaped in a street, all of them men. The information could not immediately be verified. Other refugees told aid workers how men were taken off tractors that were taking them to the border.
May 1, 1999 - President Clinton imposed a US trade embargo on the Yugoslav republic of Serbia, forbidding American exports of oil, software and other items — except for food and medicine — to the Serbian province. The US also froze all official Yugoslav assets in the United States and banned imports from Serbia. This coincides with a similar ban on oil products imposed by the European Union that also took effect. Earlier, a arms sales and financial transactions were banned.
There has been some disagreement about enforcing the oil embargo in the Balkans. France questioned the legality to visit and search ships in the Balkan region.
May 2, 1999 - Three US servicemen, captured March 31 by the Serbs along the Macedoian border, were freed after 32 days of captivity. They were handed over to the American reverent Jesse Jackson.
Yugoslav forces in Kosovo increased cross-border attacks on guerrilla camps and civilian villages in Albania, firing rockets and mortars.
May 3, 1999 - At Albania's northern border with Kosovo, refugees said they saw groups of citizens from the city of Prizren, mostly women and children, walking back toward the city from the border and said they had been turned back by Serb border police.
At least 5,000 refugees passed through the main Blace border post.
After the release of the three American POWs on May 2, the White House said there can be no deal with Milosevic until all forces are ordered out of Kosovo, the mass expulsions have stopped, and a peace plan including NATO troops to enforce peace is accepted.
Former Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin was sent to Washington by President Boris Yeltsin, who discussed the Yugoslav crisis with Clinton by phone.
In an appearance on the US talkshow "60 Minutes" Milosevic's wife Mirjana Markovic insisted that "no, there isn't any" ethnic cleansing in Kosovo.
May 4, 1999 - Russian envoy Viktor Chernomyrdin met with President Clinton's top foreign policy advisers for a second day. Clinton offered a pause in the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia as well as negotiations on a peacekeeping force for Kosovo. Clinton still insisted on the four US key requirements for ending the war — withdrawal of Serb forces from Kosovo, return of the hundreds of thousands of ethnic Albanian refugees, acceptance of an international security force to protect the refugees, restoration of Kosovo self-rule. Chernomyrdin also met UN Secretary General Anan. In Europe, Clinton met NATO Secretary General Solana. Clinton and Norwegian officials mentioned compromises on several issues, but not the presence of an international security force.
The UN and local Albanian officials asked 30,000 refugees to leave the volatile border region around Kukes and relocate to camps further south. The main concern was an escalation of border conflicts with Serb forces. A great number of refugees were reluctant to leave because of unknown whereabouts of family members still in Kosovo.
NATO top general Klaus Naumann, head of NATO's military arm, acknowledged that the air campaign failed to stop the Serb ethnic cleansing campaign: "We cannot stop such a thing entirely."
May 5, 1999 - Though initially thought to be under house arrest, Ibrahim Rugova held talks with Italian Premier Massimo D'Alema. Rugova's delegation opposed Milosevic's at peace talks in Rambouillet. It was unclear whether he brought proposals from Milosevic, or whether he had resumed activity as an advocate for Kosovo Albanians. Rugova was elected president of the unrecognized Republic of Kosovo by ethnic Albanians.
More than 7,000 ethnic Albanian refugees flooded into Albania, telling of large scale massacres and abuses by Yugoslav security forces.
May 6, 1999 - Russia and the major Western powers agreed on a draft plan for ending the conflict in Kosovo, but many details needed to be worked out. Milosevic repeatedly indicated he would only accept a UN-controlled, non-NATO international force, armed only with personal weapons.
Even if Milosevic would accept any agreement on the return of refugees, it leaves the problem unresolved of the hundreds of thousands of refugees. Serb authorities hoped they either choose not to return or if they do, will have a problem proving that they have the right to do so, since most refugees were stripped from identity papers by Serb forces.
Macedonia closed its border to all but a handful of ethnic Albanians after more than 230,000 refugees entered the country — a tenth of its population. Albania said it would accept up to 1 million Kosovo refugees.
The World Bank approved a $30 million boost to Albania to help counter the impact of the Kosovo crisis. Albania does not have to start paying back the loan for 10 years, and then has 30 years to pay it off.
May 8, 1999 - Fehmi Agani, a politician, a close aide of Ibrahim Rugova, and member of the Kosovo Albanian delegation at February's peace talks in France, was found dead. Tanjug news agency blamed the KLA.
May 9, 1999 - In Stenkovec — just north of Skopje, Macedonia — angry refugees protested poor camp conditions, demanding that alliance troops take over the camp. Ten days before, NATO handed over camp security to the Macedonian police.
The Washington Post wrote that in Yugoslavia, Goran Matic — minister without portfolio — claimed that 3,000 to 4,000 terrified refugees fleeing Kosovo in the first ten days of the campaign were actors, who were paid $5.50 each to participate in a NATO-directed screenplay. He said the "actors" were marching in a circle so as to seem like vast numbers of people on the run. He also questioned the number of ethnic Albanians that were living in Kosovo before the war — some 800,000 instead of 1,8 million. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that more than 750,000-780,000 people were forced to leave Kosovo since March 24. Yugoslavia always blamed NATO for the refugee crisis, not its own military and police forces.
May 12, 1999 - Yugoslav troops fighting ethnic Albanian rebels swept over the border into Albania in one of their deepest incursions yet from Kosovo, international observers reported.
May 13, 1999 - Montenegro's president — Milo Djukanovic — called Milosevic's policies a "total failure". He said he would wait for an end to the NATO airstrikes before deciding whether his country should split from Yugoslavia. He also said Milosvic could not be removed by force and that elections should be held after the airstrikes.
In Germany, the Greens voted to back the NATO campaign and rejected a pacifist call for a ceasefire. The vote averted a political crisis that could have shaken NATO unity and forced German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder to seek a new coalition partner.
Loral Space and Communications said it might be forced to cut transmissions into Yugoslavia from one of its satellites, which serves at least two of the country's major Internet providers. The US issued order two weeks ago banning US companies from selling or supplying to Yugoslavia "any goods, software, technology or services," although the order allows for the "special consideration of the humanitarian needs of refugees."
May 14, 1999 - Yugoslavia charged two Australian CARE aid workers as spies. They were detained on March 31. Australia responded angrily.
May 15, 1999 - CNN said it obtained video footage from inside Kosovo depicting the aftermath of a massacre of ethnic Albanian men. A Yugoslavia minister denied the Yugoslav military has been involved in any mass executions.
The flow of ethnic Albanian refugees reaching the mountain border of Mirini, Albania slowed down. Almost 800,000 refugees were forced to leave Kosovo.
May 16, 1999 - A group of 800 refugees described horror stories of Serb police, seeking out men suspected of links to the ethnic Albanian KLA.
For the first time since the start of the NATO air campaign against Yugoslavia, a 15-member UN team arrived in Belgrade, on a 15-day mission.
May 17, 1999 - Serb forces barred a group of 800 ethnic Albanians who arrived at the Macedonian border in a packed train from leaving the province.
British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said NATO "now documented 80 different cases reported by the refugees of the use of human shields by the Serb forces".
May 18, 1999 - About 800 ethnic Albanians packed into a train were allowed to leave Kosovo for Macedonia.
NATO said there was evidence that Milosevic was digging up mass graves near the Kosovo towns of Glogovac and Lipljan and tried to hide the evidence of war crimes against Kosovo Albanians.
The NATO airstrikes were having an impact on the Republika Srpska, since 80% of its market is in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The European Commission urged the RS to seek diversification of its market.
An SFOR spokesman said the figures for arms and ordnance handed in during the first two months of Operation Harvest 99 in Bosnia-Herzegovina and the RS have been most encouraging.
May 19, 1999 - A Muslim-Croat forensic team exhumed the bodies of 50 civilians killed during the 3 1/2-year war in Bosnia. The victims were killed by the Serbs in Jun 1992 near Zijemlje, 25 miles east of Mostar. In a ten-day period, forensic teams found 124 bodies. More than 20,000 people are still missing.
An bomb blast outside a mosque in Skopje, Macedonia, injured two. Tensions have run high in the capital between the Muslim ethnic Albanian minority and the Slavic majority. More than 200,000 refugees from Yugoslavia entered Macedonia.
Reports indicated that between 500 to 2,000 Serb soldiers have deserted in Kosovo and returned to their homes, the US reported. In some cities, there were demonstrations against Milosvic.
May 20, 1999 - UNHCR published a four-stage strategy for the post-conflict return of Kosovo refugees. Apart from the nearly 800,000 refugees outside Kosovo, the UN used planning figures of more than 600,000 people displaced inside Kosovo. A spokesman said "the main conditions would be the complete pullout of Serb military, police and paramilitary forces to create some sort of secure situation."
May 22, 1999 - Some 5,000 refugees from Kosovo entered Macedonia. Many said Serb forces came to their homes, ordered them out, and demanded money and valuables along the way. Some described being herded into a field and ordered to "wait for NATO" to bomb them.
Yugoslav forces released an estimated 2,000 Kosovo men. They were detained several weeks earlier at Smrekovnice prison near the northern Kosovo town of Kosovska-Mitrovica, after being taken from refugee columns. On many occasions, Serb forces separated men from columns of refugees.
May 23, 1999 - After heavy diplomatic pressure from NATO Eutelsat announced it would pull the plug on Serbian television. Serbian television used the satellite to beam its signal to Serbia and Montenegro. The satellite feed was also used to resume broadcasting inside the country if NATO bombs knock out relay stations. Thirty-one Eutelsat members voted in favor. Russia, Belarus and Armenia voted against, and he Vatican, Ukraine and Greece abstained.
May 24, 1999 - More than 1,000 refugees entered Albania. UNHCR estimates tat some 438,000 refugees entered Albania.
Refugees reaching Albania say Serb troops in Kosovo handcuffed 50 Kosovo men to one another and ordered them to march as a human shield in front of troops and tanks.
May 25, 1999 - Forensic experts discovered 30 bodies in Kiseljak, 20 miles northwest of Sarajevo, and six on another location. It was believed to be those of Muslim victims from the Bosnian war.
An estimated 200,000 people were killed in the 1992-95 Bosnian war and international experts said more than 24,000 people are still missing. Forensic teams found 1,700 bodies in 1998. In 1999, 250 bodies were exhumed.
NATO troops began relocating 30,000 Kosovo refugees from Albania's northern border to safer camps deeper inside the country.
Mines, laid by Serb forces in border areas are expected to slow down the return of refugees. Removing the mines would be so time-consuming, that the refugees would have to return in phases, leaving many of them to spend the winter in camps in Macedonia and Albania.
More than 150,000 refugees were said to be on their way to Macedonia. Violence against refugees was increasing.
Two Kosovo Albanians in the United States filed a federal lawsuit against Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and a dozen others, alleging genocide and other war crimes in Kosovo.
May 26, 1999 - Two houses in the area of Zvornik, Republica Srpska, were attacked early in the morning, resulting in serious property damage, but no deaths or injuries. Four anti-tank rounds were fired at one house and five anti-tank rounds were fired at the second house, 4 km away. SFOR spokesman LCdr Dave Scanlon spoke of an attempted murder of SFOR personnel and Republika Srpska citizens living in one house, and attempted murder of Joint Commission Observers living in the other house.
Six soldiers of an SFOR unit in Bosnia-Herzegovina were kidnapped near the town of Rudo by 15-20 Yugoslav forces and taken into Yugoslavia, interrogated and held for about eight hours before being released.
May 27, 1999 - Yugoslav president Milosevic, Milan Milutinovic, the President of Serbia, Nikola Sainovic, Deputy Prime Minister of the FRY, Dragoljub OJDANIC, Chief of Staff of the Yugoslav Army, Vlajko Stojiljkovic, Minister of Internal Affairs of Serbia were indicted by the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague. They were charged for crimes against humanity and violations of the laws and customs of war. It was the first time an international court has charged a sitting head of state with war crimes. Belgrade rejected the indictments as a political stunt.
May 28, 1999 - Newsweek reported that US president Clinton authorized the CIA to train ethnic Albanian rebels in sabotage and the National Security Agency to meddle with Milosevic's international bank accounts.
May 29, 1999 - A Yugoslav military panel convicts two Australian aid workers of CARE International of espionage. The court sentenced one to 12 years, and the other to a four-year term. Australia calls the proceedings unacceptable.
June 1, 1999 - The UNHCR says 442,000 refugees have sought refuge in Albania and nearly as many to Macedonia. In all, 850,000 ethnic Albanians have fled Kosovo since March. Some 100,000 of them sought asylum in European countries before the airstrikes on Yugoslavia.
June 2, 1999 - The Clinton administration said it would not object to adoption of a resolution by the United Nations to endorse the peacekeeping plan after a settlement to protect returning refugees.
June 3, 1999 - The World Bank approved two loans to Albania. One is a structural adjustment credit of $45 million, to help the government complete privatization efforts and strengthen the judiciary and other state institutions. The other is a $24 million loan designed to improve irrigation facilities.
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Carlos Westendorp said that about $11 million — including funds for reconstruction projects and governmental monies — have repeatedly been diverted and are not available for use.
Serbia's parliament, controlled by Slobodan Milosevic, overwhelmingly approved a Western-backed peace plan for Kosovo.
Chief prosecutor for the UN War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague, Louise Arbour, who indicted Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic for war crimes said that any peace deal for Kosovo should guarantee investigators probing alleged atrocities access to the Serb province. She said there was "a credible basis" to believe that Milosevic and his four aides were responsible for the deportation of 740,000 Kosovo Albanians and for the murder of 340 Kosovo Albanians.
June 11, 1999 - In Multi-National Division North, the Russian Seperate Airborne Brigade was ordered by the Russian government to prepare to deploy to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to arrange for the arrival of a Russian peace keeping contingent. Russia said it did not intend to withdraw the 200 troops from Bosnia.
June 18, 1999 - The United Nations Security Council authorized NATO to keep peacekeepers and the seperate UN civilian mission in Bosnia for another year. In Bosnia, the United Nations handed over peacekeeping responsibilities to SFOR after the 1995 Dayton peace agreement ended the Bosnian war.
The UN Security Council adopted UN resolution 1247, authorizing the continuation of SFOR in Bosnia Herzegovina from Sunday the 20th of June 1999 — as established in accordance with UN Security Council resolution 1088 — for a further 12 months.
June 24, 1999 - Ambassador Robert Barry, who heads the OSCE's mission to Bosnia said that the next round of local elections will be postponed from September 1999 until April 2000. He cited "tensions" in neighboring Yugoslavia following the Kosova crisis as part of the reason for the postponement. He also noted that there are "practical difficulties particularly at this time" in registering voters there.
Special envoy Carlos Westendorp announced that he will impose economic sanctions on areas governed by the Muslim Party of Democratic Action (SDA) unless the SDA implements a local power-sharing agreement in Zepce, which is northwest of Sarajevo.
June 30, 1999 - A forensic team began an exhumation of a mass grave in northeastern Bosnia related to the Srebrenica investigation. The grave was disturbed and at least some of the remains moved to secondary graves in an effort by the perpetrators to hide evidence. The work was kept confidential for operational security reasons.