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May 28, 1999
Some people have asked about the likelihood of NATO being
indicted for war crimes for the bombing of civilian
targets in Yugoslavia. The UN's chief war-crimes
prosecutor answered that question a few days ago:
"(Arbour) said it would be "wildly premature" for her to
speculate on whether accusations that NATO has violated
the Geneva Conventions will ever be substantiated."
Source: National Post (Canada) - May 21, 1999
Let's see if I understand this. We can witness with our
own eyes the destruction of civilian targets and the
slaughter of non-combatants, but these acts, according
to the UN's chief prosecutor, are unlikely to ever be
On the other hand, second and third hand refugee stories
(some of which may very well be true), doctored satellite
photos, and video misrepresented by CNN are sufficient
evidence to condemn the citizens of Yugoslavia to death,
disability, and poverty by merciless bombing.
At least now the ground rules of the new "humanitarian"
style of war are clear.
But one thing. Don't you usually start hanging the "criminals"
after the trial? Not 60+ days before the indictment of their
Anyway, here's something you're not likely to
see in the US press: an unedited interview
with the "villain du jour", Slobodan Milosevic.
It's from UPI, United Press International,
a major press service that is a competitor
of the AP. How this managed to get buried
by newsrooms across the country is
one of the many mysteries of US journalism.
Obviously, like all people who've attained
an elevated position in government, Milosevic's
statements are bound to be self-serving, but
consider this: The US has been engaged in a
non-stop bombing campaign against civilians for
60+ days in order to "get" this guy and yet this
is probably the longest, and maybe the only exposure,
you've ever been given to his side of the story.
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
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
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 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
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 favor 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
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
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
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
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?
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 ONCE. It was Oscine'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.
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.
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 force?
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
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 started?
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
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 compromise.
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 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 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 mentioned.
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 sovereignty.
-- Copyright 1999 by United Press International.
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