United Press Int. Interviews Mr. Slobodan
UPI Arnaud de Borchgrave interviews
YUGOSLAV PRESIDENT SLOBODAN MILOSEVIC
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Q What do you hope to get out of this?
PRESIDENT MILOSEVIC: I find it hard to believe what
America is a great country and Americans great people.
leaders are not strategic thinkers. Short-term quick
fixes, yes. They
said let's bomb Yugoslavia and then figure out what
to do next. Some
said Milosevic would give up Kosovo after a few days
from the air. To set out to destroy a country for
a pretext no one can
buy is simply unbelievable. I don't expect to get
anything out of this
because I did not start it.
You may recall there were no refugees before March
24 when the NATO
aggression started. But the Clinton administration
did expect to get
something out of this terrible decision. I understand
you had two
general goals. One dealing with Europe, the other
with the Balkans.
First is to prove U.S. leadership in Europe and the
second to re-
establish U.S. leadership in NATO in the post-Cold
Regretfully, we were targeted as a Guinea pig to achieve
Simply because of our weaknesses and of the internal
But, as you know, you will find in at least 100 countries
world different ethnic separatist movements. If you
decide to support
separatist movements it is very hard to believe any
survive. There are 4,000 ethnic groups in the world
and only 185
members of the United Nations. In Yugoslavia, we have
ethnic groups. Any one of them could cause trouble
if agitated from
the outside. Which is what happened in Kosovo. In
Belgrade, we have
100,000 Yugoslav Albanians. And never a problem with
them. Walk from
our Parliament building and you will see many shops
Albanian names. Not one window smashed here in all
those years of
violence in Kosovo. Our people never considered them
the behavior of the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army
In Kosovo, Albanian Kosovars were bigger victims of
the KLA than
Kosovar Serbs. When we looked at the figures the number
killed by them was twice as large as Serbs dead. They
terrorized Albanians to join their underground and
impose their idea
of an ethnically pure state. That movement is Nazi
in its character
because of their publicly declared goals of a racially
Where can you find such a state in the world today?
It is precisely
the opposite of what is happening in the world. Ethnically
states is the trend in the new global village. The
were trying to reverse a global phenomenon.
Q Which you then attempted to do in Kosovo after March
PRESIDENT MILOSEVIC: Absolutely not. That is the big
repeated often enough, becomes conventional wisdom.
Q You are denying that your armed forces drove people
out of their
homes and torched entire villages?
PRESIDENT MILOSEVIC: We are not angels. Nor are we
the devils you have
made us out to be. Our regular forces are highly disciplined.
paramilitary irregular forces are a different story.
happened, as they did with both sides during the Vietnam
war, or any
war for that matter. We have arrested those irregular
leaders. Some have already been tried and sentenced
to 20 years in
prison. We reinforced our forces after Rambouillet
for a major
offensive against KLA terrorists, not to ethnically
cleanse Kosovo as
was done with the expulsion of 500,000 Serbs from
Croatia, which was
ignored by the world media. And the refugees were
fleeing in panic
because of the war against the terrorists and also
disinformation horror stories being spread by the
then became word of mouth and forced ever more people
to join the
Q Satellite recon shows entire villages torched?
PRESIDENT MILOSEVIC: Individual houses, yes. But not
whole villages as
we saw on TV in Vietnam when American forces torched
suspected of hiding Viet Cong.
Q Just in the past 10 years, the Soviet Union has become
independent republics. Four former republics of Yugoslavia
declared their independence. Scotland and Wales are
self-rule. As we approach the next millennium, it
increasingly obvious that the nation-state is too
big for small
problems -- and too small for big problems. Devolution
is going on
everywhere. Why not in Kosovo? What is so important
MILOSEVIC: To us Kosovo is critically important because
it is the
heart of country (sic) and an integral part of our
long history. It is
also home to a quarter of million Serbs whose forebears
there for centuries. It is also home to some 5,000
A Swiss expert categorized 1,800 of them as historical
are the heritage of world civilization and that list
was sent to
Q After thousands of NATO strikes against
Yugoslavia, most of your country's communications
networks, as well as your petroleum production and
have been largely destroyed, along with your principal
about $100 billion worth of damage and about 1,000
killed. Now NATO is
raising the total number of warplanes in action against
you from 700
to 1,000. Are you prepared to see Yugoslavia's entire
PRESIDENT MILOSEVIC: We never thought we could defeat
an alliance of some 700 million people armed with
the most advanced
and sophisticated weaponry in the world. But NATO
believes it can pick
on a small nation and force us to surrender our independence.
is where NATO miscalculated. You are not willing to
sacrifice lives to
achieve our surrender. But we are willing to die to
defend our rights
as an independent sovereign nation.
The U.S. Congress is beginning to understand that bombing
into compliance is not a viable policy or strategy.
I think your
strategic thinkers are also beginning to understand
that missiles and
other sophisticated weapons will not always be the
high-tech societies. And with the example it is now
setting, we can
see the day when lesser nations will be able to retaliate.
development of these weapons is taking place so fast
there is not a
single spot on the planet that cannot be reached.
America can be
reached from this part of the world. We have no quarrel
We all know NATO is the strongest military machine
in the world. We
simply want them to stop being so busy with our country
about their own problems. NATO was formed to defend
democratic nations from totalitarian aggression, not
aggression. We just want to be left alone and free.
Q At the cost of another month of bombing?
PRESIDENT MILOSEVIC: Tell me, what choice do we have?
Q It seems to be that left alone is not an option in
what you called a
global village. Doesn't your future lie with the European
Union in an
increasingly integrated Europe? This will require
compromise to end
this war. Surely the rest of Europe has a stake in
what happens in
Yugoslavia. Doesn't EU have a role to play in this
is not an answer.
PRESIDENT MILOSEVIC: Just the opposite. In fact, our
policy has been
consistent on this front. We launched a series of
initiatives with a
view to increasing integration in the Balkans. We
had a highly
successful conference in Crete a year ago. I met with
prime minister in an attempt to normalize relations
open borders and freedom of movement, free trade and
so forth. My
point to him was that borders in Europe were becoming
that we could not be holdouts against these trends.
have no other choice than to cooperate and integrate.
We had a
follow-up conference of all the southeastern European
I suggested to Bulgaria we do the same we had already
Macedonia, namely abolish customs duties and open
borders for free
trade. The same was offered to Bosnia and all other
states in the
region. With a very simple idea in mind. We are all
now. In fact, Yugoslavia is a little bit ahead in
this respect having
started before the collapse of the Soviet Union and
communism. I told
all my neighbors that we could not afford to wait
to enter EU one by
one in the years ahead. We had to do something together
as a region
which would then facilitate joining the wider European
later but earlier than would otherwise be the case.
Parallel with this
was the process of privatization which we started
long before our
former communist neighbors. We privatized our telecommunications
months ago with Italian and Greek companies. Telecom
Serbia is now 50
percent owned by foreign entities. Up and down the
line our policy has
been one of integration, not isolation. Your policy
has been to
isolate us and demonize us and get NATO to treat us
as a pariah state.
Q After you walked away from the Rambouillet accords
on Kosovo, did
you really expect more than a month of sustained bombing?
PRESIDENT MILOSEVIC: Rambouillet was not a negotiation.
It was a
Clinton administration diktat. It wasn't take it or
leave it. Just
take it or else. We did not expect bombing. It was
unbelievable to us
that even as an excuse that we didn't want to sign
something that we
weren't even negotiating it would be used to bomb
us as the Nazis did
in World War II. Rambouillet was a recipe for the
Kosovo, which clearly we could not accept. Especially
given the fact
that we never contemplated depriving Kosovar Albanians
legitimate rights. The proof is what happened when
half a million
Serbs were forced out of Croatia. We never retaliated
by expelling a
single Croat from Serbia. When Serbs were expelled
from Bosnia, we
protected all our Muslims from retaliation. We never
Muslims in Yugoslavia were responsible for what happened
in Bosnia. Of
course there were irresponsible Serb politicians in
Bosnia making all
kinds of demagogic threats. But this was heated rhetoric.
visitors are invariably impressed at how we handle
minorities problems. Go to Vojvodina in the north
and see how the
Hungarian minority of 360,000 is treated -- it after
Hungary became a
member of NATO and has now offered its bases to American
attack us. They have schooling in their own language,
newspapers and radio and TV programs. Twenty-six such
enjoy the same rights. There is no other way in such
society. It has been our philosophy from the very
beginning. In Kosovo
as well. Equality was the basic principle in Kosovo.
between the two communities there would be no basis
for durable peace.
That was our approach for Rambouillet. But the American
to favorize the Albanian community. This could only
lead to ethnic
cleansing of anyone who was not of Albanian origin.
could not have stayed under the overlordship of Albanians.
250,000 Serbs in Kosovo and 200,000 Muslim Serbs who
are not of
Albanian origin but whose families converted to Islam
Ottoman Empire. Then you have 150,000 Gypsies and
50,000 Turks. Even
this last community has its own newspaper and TV program.
diplomats knowledgeable about Kosovo have confirmed
that we were
indeed respecting those principles. So I said to them,
now please put those principles into the Rambouillet
Equality means nothing unless incorporated into the
Q And how did you propose to do this in practice?
PRESIDENT MILOSEVIC: Very simple. Takes only one minute
The parliament in Kosovo has to be composed of two
houses. The lower
house elected on the basis of one-citizen one-vote
and the other house
to be made up of national communities, with each community
five representatives. That way everyone is guaranteed
domination. That way, too, Serbs could not impose
Albanians and vice versa. When I talked to Ibrahim
moderate Kosovar Albanian leader), we agreed that
it was in our common
interest to have real peace, welfare for all citizens,
clean towns and
villages and develop industry. But at the back of
the minds of Kosovar
Albanians is how to become the masters of the rest
of the population.
Several decades ago when the Albanians had complete
power in their
hands, they started a process of Albanization of the
rest of the
population. Gypsies, for example, could not register
newly born child
unless willing give it one of the officially recognized
names. In Rambouillet, regardless of the fact that
never met, never exchanged so much as a single word,
we had a
delegation in which Serbs were a minority. We had
Serb Muslims, Turks and four Serb Christians. Our
represented a real cross-section of Kosovo. The Albanian
all representatives of the Albanian separatist movement.
at the end of the 20th century is whether they are
going to support a
multi-ethnic and multi-cultural society and multi-
to society or a kind of Nazi-like approach with one
ethnic group ruling a diverse society like Kosovo.
said Rambouillet was a mechanism for permanent creation
and confrontation. President Clinton should have listened
to this wise
geopolitical expert rather than some of his own less
Q So how do we get out of this mess?
PRESIDENT MILOSEVIC: A political process, not by more
Q But you must be prepared to compromise.
PRESIDENT MILOSEVIC: From the beginning of April I
have had five
meetings with Rugova. He was not a prisoner or under
week, the President of Serbia went to Pristina (the
capital of Kosovo)
and he and Rugova signed a statement of agreed joint
called for respect for the equality of national communities,
for the equality of all citizens, direct negotiations,
shuttle diplomacy was completely useless as Rambouillet
So we have ourselves begun a real political process.
This first joint
statement with the Albanian Kosovar leader is the
first joint victory
in our struggle for peace. At the same time we have
been talking about
the formation of a temporary joint executive board
for Kosovo composed
of representatives of all national communities in
Kosovo. Its first
task will be to help refugees return home. The problem
refugees will be bombing. So clearly this insanity
will have to stop.
Before bombing, regardless of what you hear from NATO
briefings, there were no refugees. It wasn't only
the Albanians who
fled, but also the Serbs, Turks, everyone.
Q Are you saying that the idea of a U.S. trusteeship
is a non-starter in your mind?
PRESIDENT MILOSEVIC: Please tell me why a U.N. protectorate
That is not to say we are against a U.N. mission.
Before the war, we
accepted 2,000 verifiers from OSCE. It was OSCE's
mission. We also had in Kosovo the International Red
Cross and the
United Nations High Commission for Refugees, both
with huge missions.
Plus 1,000 journalists from all over the world, with
Plus Kosovo Observation Diplomatic Mission run by
Belgrade. All this in Kosovo. So who could say we
were not open to the
international community? They were all free to verify
happening in this small territory. But this was abused.
PRESIDENT MILOSEVIC: Foreign diplomatic missions were
to all intents
and purposes supporting KLA terrorists. Instructing
them how to
organize and what to do to achieve their objectives.
Also to create
something that would look more like a regular army.
That way they were
told to create the kind of situation that would make
it look to the
rest of the world that there was a war between the
army and the KLA. The KLA was then composed of different
groups. Just judge them by their acts. They were never
able to attack
any military or police unit. Instead they were taking
killing civilians. One hundred and fifty hostages
were never seen
again. They were planting car bombs and dynamiting
Q Are you suggesting that since the U.N. and other
organizations couldn't do anything before, you see
no point in
bringing them back now? PRESIDENT MILOSEVIC: No, not
at all. The U.N.
can have a huge mission in Kosovo if it wishes. They
can bear witness
to the legal behavior of our law enforcement agencies
and to the fact
that everything is now peaceful, that the KLA has
ceased to exist
except for scattered small groups that can still stage
Q Is it possible to have a U.N. presence without a
PRESIDENT MILOSEVIC: We cannot accept an occupation
force, whether it
flies under a NATO or U.N. flag.
Q So you accept a U.N. peacekeeping force?
PRESIDENT MILOSEVIC: Yes, but no army.
Q Without weapons?
PRESIDENT MILOSEVIC: Self-defense weapons is normal,
but no offensive
weapons. We cannot accept anything that looks like
an occupation. The
idea behind Rambouillet was 28,000 troops, including
who would be occupying Kosovo with tanks, APCs and
Kosovo has social and economic problems which an army
cannot alleviate. Aid, not arms, is what Kosovo needs.
Q So in your judgment what is the nature of a compromise
PRESIDENT MILOSEVIC: I will tell you. Several points.
First of all,
cessation of all military activities. Second, simultaneity
withdrawal of NATO troops now concentrated on our
borders in Albania
and Macedonia, on the one hand, and the decrease of
our own troops in
Kosovo from their present level of 100,000 to the
strength of between 11,000 and 12,000, which was the
Q You went from 40,000 to 100,000 troops in Kosovo
since the bombing
PRESIDENT MILOSEVIC: Yes, because of the danger of
our borders by NATO forces. Every day we heard NATO
political leaders to order ground forces into action.
But if the
danger of NATO aggression is over, we can send our
troops back to
Serbia. Some are mobilized reservists and they are
anxious to get back
to their regular jobs. Q How long would such a simultaneous
take in your judgment?
PRESIDENT MILOSEVIC: We can do it in one week.
Q And the third point?
PRESIDENT MILOSEVIC: The return of all refugees, regardless
ethnic or religious affiliation.
Q And when would the U.N. peacekeeping force go in?
refugees can return presumably.
PRESIDENT MILOSEVIC: I don't like the word "force."
We would welcome
U.N. mission not what "force" implies. There is no
job for forces.
What would such forces do? Just ruin our roads with
vehicles. We would welcome anyone, any mission, that
accepts to be our
guests. Their mission would be to observe that all
is peaceful and not
to act as an occupation force. They can see that we
terrorizing anybody. Even now we are not terrorizing
anybody. When the
U.N. is here they can bear witness that what we are
saying is the
Q I assume you know that NATO will not accept your
idea of a
PRESIDENT MILOSEVIC: Well, I don't know what NATO will
accept. IF NATO
insists on the occupation of our country, we have
no choice but to
defend ourselves against this further act of aggression.
Q If you wouldn't quibble about the word "force" for
peacekeepers, the end of hostilities could be speeded
PRESIDENT MILOSEVIC: But I told you we are willing
to accept a U.N.
presence and are ready to negotiate its composition.
understand that after all those crimes against our
nation and its
people, we cannot accept representatives of the countries
committed aggression against us. We would like to
of neutral countries.
Q Any further points?
PRESIDENT MILOSEVIC: My fourth point is the political
process. We will
continue direct negotiations with Mr. Rugova in the
presence of the
international community. They can listen to every
single word that is
spoken, but they cannot act as mediators. We want
to achieve the
widest possible autonomy for Kosovo within Serbia.
So we must negotiate the composition of new institutions
and the local
police. Before the war, there were 120 villages with
local police. Some were killed by KLA terrorists.
My fifth point is
free access for UNHCR and the International Red Cross.
economic recovery plan for the three Yugoslav federation
have been heavily damaged by NATO aggression.
Q Back to the composition of U.N. peacekeepers, which
you don't like
to call a force. Since NATO members are not acceptable,
what would you
see to European participation as EU, not as individual
PRESIDENT MILOSEVIC: There are European countries that
are not members
of NATO, like Ireland, that would be acceptable.
Q Contingents from Russia, Ukraine and Belarus have
PRESIDENT MILOSEVIC: They, too, would be acceptable.
Q Surely you are not prepared to face several more
weeks of NATO
bombing as the diplomatic haggling continues.
PRESIDENT MILOSEVIC: One more day is too much. But
what choice do we
have if NATO insists on occupying Yugoslavia. To that
we will never
surrender. We Serbs are as one on this life and death
national honor and sovereignty.
LOAD-DATE: April 30, 1999
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