Kosovo: Fw: [KDN] UPI: Milosevic interview

Bojana i Mladen (perisic@golden.net)
Sat, 1 May 1999 12:27:15 -0700

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>Friday, 30 April 1999 17:20 (GMT)
>Text of Milosevic interview with UPI
>(NOTE: Interview Thursday sted Wednesday)
>Text of Milosevic interview with UPI
>BELGRADE, April 30 (UPI) - Here is the transcript of Yugoslav President
>Slobodan Milosevic's interview Thursday with UPI's Arnaud de Borchgrave:
>Q: What do you hope to get out of this?
>Milosevic: I find it hard to believe what is happening. America is a
>great country and Americans great people. But your 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 of aggression 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 War era. Regretfully,
>we were targeted as a guinea pig to achieve those goals. Simply because
>of our weaknesses and of the internal problems we faced. But, as you
>know, you will find in at least 100 countries around the world different
>ethnic separatist movements. If you decide to support separatist
>movements it is very hard to believe any country can survive. There are
>4,000 ethnic groups in the world and only 185 members of the United
>Nations. In Yugoslavia, we have 26 different 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 with their Albanian names. Not one window smashed
>here in all those years of violence in Kosovo. Our people never
>considered them responsible for the behavior of the so-called Kosovo
>Liberation Army terrorists. In Kosovo, Albanian Kosovars were bigger
>victims of the KLA than Kosovar Serbs. When we looked at the figures the
>number of Albanians killed by them was twice as large as Serbs dead.
>They simply 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 pure
>state. Where can you find such a state in the world today? It is
>precisely the opposite of what is happening in the world. Ethnically
>mixed states is the trend in the new global village. The Kosovar
>terrorists were trying to reverse a global phenomenon.
>Q: Which you then attempted to do in Kosovo after March 24?
>Milosevic: Absolutely not. That is the big lie which, repeated often
>enough, becomes conventional wisdom.
>Q: You are denying that your armed forces drove people out of their
>homes and torched entire villages?
>Milosevic: We are not angels. Nor are we the devils you have made us out
>to be. Our regular forces are highly disciplined. The paramilitary
>irregular forces are a different story. Bad things happened, as they did
>with both sides during the Vietnam war, or any war for that matter. We
>have arrested those irregular self-appointed 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 because of disinformation horror stories being spread by the
>terrorists which then became word of mouth and forced ever more people
>to join the exodus.
>Q: Satellite recon shows entire villages torched?
>Milosevic: Individual houses, yes. But not whole villages as we saw on
>TV in Vietnam when American forces torched villages suspected of hiding
>Viet Cong.
>Q: Just in the past 10 years, the Soviet Union has become 15 independent
>republics. Four former republics of Yugoslavia have declared their
>independence. Scotland and Wales are moving toward self-rule. As we
>approach the next millennium, it is becoming 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 there?
>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 have lived there for
>centuries. It is also home to some 5,000 Christian churches. A Swiss
>expert categorized 1,800 of them as historical monuments that are the
>heritage of world civilization and that list was sent to President
>Q: After thousands of NATO strikes against Yugoslavia, most of your
>country's communications and transportation networks, as well as your
>petroleum production and storage capacity, have been largely destroyed,
>along with your principal bridges, or 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 infrastructure destroyed?
>Milosevic: We never thought we could defeat NATO, 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. And that 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 a country 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 monopoly of high-tech societies. And with the example it is now
>setting, we can see the day when lesser nations will be able to
>retaliate. The 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 with
>America. We all know NATO is the strongest military machine in the
>world. We simply want them to stop being so busy with our country and
>worry about their own problems. NATO was formed to defend the western
>democratic nations from totalitarian aggression, not to commit
>aggression. We just want to be left alone and free.
>Q: At the cost of another month of bombing?
>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 impasse? Isolation is
>not an answer.
>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 the Albanian prime minister
>in an attempt to normalize relations completely with open borders and
>freedom of movement, free trade and so forth. My point to him was that
>borders in Europe were becoming irrelevant and that we could not be
>holdouts against these trends. European countries have no other choice
>than to cooperate and integrate. We had a follow-up conference of all
>the southeastern European nations in Istanbul. I suggested to Bulgaria
>we do the same we had already done with 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 market economies 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 enterprise 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 18 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?
>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 independence of Kosovo, which
>clearly we could not accept. Especially given the fact that we never
>contemplated depriving Kosovar Albanians of their 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 considered 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. Foreign visitors are invariably impressed at how we
>handle our unique 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
>warplanes to attack us. They have schooling in their own language, their
>own newspapers and radio and TV programs. Twenty-six such communities
>enjoy the same rights. There is no other way in such a diversified
>society. It has been our philosophy from the very beginning. In Kosovo
>as well. Equality was the basic principle in Kosovo. Without equality
>between the two communities there would be no basis for durable peace.
>That was our approach for Rambouillet. But the American approach was to
>favorize the Albanian community. This could only lead to ethnic
>cleansing of anyone who was not of Albanian origin. Serbs clearly could
>not have stayed under the overlordship of Albanians. There are 250,000
>Serbs in Kosovo and 200,000 Muslim Serbs who are not of Albanian origin
>but whose families converted to Islam under the Ottoman Empire. Then you
>have 150,000 Gypsies and 50,000 Turks. Even this last community has its
>own newspaper and TV program. U.S. diplomats knowledgeable about Kosovo
>have confirmed that we were indeed respecting those principles. So I
>said to them, "OK, gentlemen, now please put those principles into the
>Rambouillet agreement." Equality means nothing unless incorporated into
>the institutions.
>Q: And how did you propose to do this in practice?
>Milosevic: Very simple. Takes only one minute to explain. 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 entitled to five
>representatives. That way everyone is guaranteed against majority
>domination. That way, too, Serbs could not impose anything on Albanians
>and vice versa. When I talked to Ibrahim Rugova (the 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 Albanian first names. In Rambouillet,
>regardless of the fact that the delegations never met, never exchanged
>so much as a single word, we had a delegation in which Serbs were a
>minority. We had three Albanians, Serb Muslims, Turks and four Serb
>Christians. Our delegation represented a real cross-section of Kosovo.
>The Albanian Kosovars were all representatives of the Albanian
>separatist movement. EU's dilemma at the end of the 20th century is
>whether they are going to support a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural
>society and multi-religious approach to society or a kind of Nazi-like
>approach with one racially pure ethnic group ruling a diverse society
>like Kosovo. Henry Kissinger said Rambouillet was a mechanism for
>permanent creation of problems and confrontation. President Clinton
>should have listened to this wise geopolitical expert rather than some
>of his own less knowledgeable advisers.
>Q: So how do we get out of this mess?
>Milosevic: A political process, not by more bombing.
>Q: But you must be prepared to compromise.
>Milosevic: From the beginning of April I have had five meetings with
>Rugova. He was not a prisoner or under duress. This week, the President
>of Serbia went to Pristina (the capital of Kosovo) and he and Rugova
>signed a statement of agreed joint principles, which called for respect
>for the equality of national communities, respect for the equality of
>all citizens, direct negotiations, because U.S. shuttle diplomacy was
>completely useless as Rambouillet demonstrated. 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 for returning refugees will be
>bombing. So clearly this insanity will have to stop. Before bombing,
>regardless of what you hear from NATO and Pentagon 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 or protectorate is
>a non-starter in your mind?
>Milosevic: Please tell me why a U.N. protectorate is needed. 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 biggest ever 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 no restrictions. Plus Kosovo Observation
>Diplomatic Mission run by Embassies from Belgrade. All this in Kosovo.
>So who could say we were not open to the international community? They
>were all free to verify what was happening in this small territory. But
>this was abused.
>Q: How?
>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 regular Yugoslav army and the KLA. The KLA was
>then composed of different terrorist groups. Just judge them by their
>acts. They were never able to attack any military or police unit.
>Instead they were taking hostages and killing civilians. One hundred and
>fifty hostages were never seen again. They were planting car bombs and
>dynamiting supermarkets. Classic terrorism.
>Q: Are you suggesting that since the U.N. and other international
>organizations couldn't do anything before, you see no point in bringing
>them back now?
>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 ambushes.
>Q: Is it possible to have a U.N. presence without a U.N. peacekeeping
>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?
>Milosevic: Yes, but no army.
>Q: Without weapons?
>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 4,000 Americans, who would be
>occupying Kosovo with tanks, APCs and heavy weaponry. Kosovo has social
>and economic problems which an army of occupation cannot alleviate. Aid,
>not arms, is what Kosovo needs.
>Q: So in your judgment what is the nature of a compromise between NATO
>and Yugoslavia?
>Milosevic: I will tell you. Several points. First of all, cessation of
>all military activities. Second, simultaneity between the 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 normal garrison strength of between 11,
>000 and 12,000, which was the regular Pristina Corps.
>Q: You went from 40,000 to 100,000 troops in Kosovo since the bombing
>Milosevic: Yes, because of the danger of aggression across our borders
>by NATO forces. Every day we heard NATO voices urging 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 withdrawal take in your judgment?
>Milosevic: We can do it in one week.
>Q: And the third point?
>Milosevic: The return of all refugees, regardless of their ethnic or
>religious affiliation.
>Q: And when would the U.N. peacekeeping force go in? Before the refugees
>can return presumably.
>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 their tracked 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 are not 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 truth.
>Q: I assume you know that NATO will not accept your idea of a
>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 U.N. peacekeepers,
>the end of hostilities could be speeded up.
>Milosevic: But I told you we are willing to accept a U.N. presence and
>are ready to negotiate its composition. But please understand that after
>all those crimes against our nation and its people, we cannot accept
>representatives of the countries that committed aggression against us.
>We would like to see representatives of neutral countries.
>Q: Any further points?
>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 elected Albanian
>local police. Some were killed by KLA terrorists. My fifth point is free
>access for UNHCR and the International Red Cross. Sixth, an economic
>recovery plan for the three Yugoslav federation states that have been
>heavily damaged by NATO aggression.
>Q: Back to the compositon 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 NATO countries.?
>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 also been
>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.
>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 issue of national honor and

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