Exchange With Reporters on Bosnia
Q. Can you give us any sense of what is going on in Bosnia and what has happened——
The President. Well, you know the essential facts, that last evening after midnight our time, United States aircraft, flying under NATO authority, warned some fixed-wing Serbian aircraft, Bosnian Serbian aircraft, to land, and when they didn't, they were shot down. There were two warnings. Every attempt was made, to the best of our information, to avoid this encounter.
We have had responsibility for enforcing the no-fly zone since last April. It has been since last fall that there were any fixed-wing aircraft that we knew of violating the no-fly zone, and we're attempting to get more facts now. We're also trying to brief everyone involved in this effort to bring peace to Bosnia about the facts, and if we find out any more information, of course, we'll be glad to give it to you. But it seems to——
Q. Why now? Why now? Is this a new get-tough policy?
The President. No, no. The violations—the principal violations of the no-fly zone have been by helicopters, which could easily land. We've not had a fixed-wing violation reported of any kind, much less one we were in a position to do something about, to the best of my information, since last fall, since September. Those are much more serious because of the capacity they have to engage in military conduct from the air. Our mandate under the United Nations was to enforce the no-fly zone to eliminate the prospect that the war could be carried into the air.
Q. How were you informed, President Clinton? How did you learn of this, sir?
The President. Early, early this morning I was notified.
NOTE: The exchange began at 8:05 a.m. on the South Lawn at the White House, prior to the President's departure for Chicago, IL.
William J. Clinton, Exchange With Reporters on Bosnia Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/218819