Key members of Congress expressed relief and hope for peace in Kosovo yesterday after Yugoslavia finally accepted a plan to withdraw its military forces from the shattered province. But both Republicans and Democrats warned that a permanent peace would be elusive unless Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic is removed from power.
"I am hopeful that the accord agreed to by NATO negotiators and the Serbian government can provide the framework for a lasting peace in the Kosovo area," said House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.). Since Americans spent billions on the war, "Europeans should provide the lion's share of the resources" to reconstruct the province. "I also believe none of those resources should go to Serbia as long as Slobodan Milosevic remains in charge," he said.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) welcomed the accord as "very good news for the United States, NATO and the world" but said the alliance should remain prepared to resume its offensive at the first sign of bad faith by Milosevic's forces.
"We should make clear to the people of Serbia how great a disaster Milosevic's leadership has been for their country and that the day where any European government can act in wanton disregard for the most basic of human rights is forever at an end," McCain said.
John W. Warner (R-Va.), who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, praised NATO commanders of the U.S.-led forces that carried out an 11-week air campaign against Serbia. Warner said Milosevic "has conducted himself with complete disregard for international law and human rights."
Others noted that the accord had vindicated NATO's strategy of sustained bombing and had reasserted the alliance's authority.
"We have much to be proud of at this historic moment," said Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.). "We . . . sent an unequivocal message to other world leaders that we will not tolerate this kind of aggression and ethnic cleansing in the heart of Europe."