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Daniel Tomasevic
United Press Int. Interviews Mr. Slobodan Milosevic

UPI Arnaud de Borchgrave interviews 



   Q What do you hope to get out of this?

   PRESIDENT 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

   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?

   PRESIDENT 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?

   PRESIDENT 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

   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 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 Clinton.

   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

   PRESIDENT 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?

   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 impasse? Isolation
   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 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

   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?

   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 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?

   PRESIDENT 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

   Q So how do we get out of this mess?
   PRESIDENT MILOSEVIC: A political process, not by more bombing. 

   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 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?

   PRESIDENT 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?

   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 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? 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 ambushes.

   Q Is it possible to have a U.N. presence without a U.N. peacekeeping

   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 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?

   PRESIDENT 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

   Q You went from 40,000 to 100,000 troops in Kosovo since the bombing

   PRESIDENT 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?

   PRESIDENT MILOSEVIC: We can do it in one week.

   Q And the third point?
   PRESIDENT 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.

   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 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

   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 U.N.
   peacekeepers, the end of hostilities could be speeded up.

   PRESIDENT 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?

   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 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 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 NATO

   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 also been

   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 issue of
   national honor and sovereignty.
   #### END
   LOAD-DATE: April 30, 1999

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