INTERVIEW OF SLOBODAN MILOSEVIC TO UPI
BELGRADE, April 30, 1999
Here is the transcript of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's interview with UPI's Arnaud de Borchgrave.
De Borchgrave: What do you hope to get out of this?
Milosevic: I find it hard to believe what is happening.
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 Kosovo terrorists were trying to reverse a global phenomenon.
De Borchgrave: 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.
De Borchgrave: 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
De Borchgrave: Satellite recon shows entire villages torched?
Milosevic: Individual houses, yes. But not whole villages as we saw on TV in
De Borchgrave: Just in the past 10 years, the
Milosevic: To us Kosovo is critically important because it is the heart of our country 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.
De Borchgrave: After thousands of NATO strikes against
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.
De Borchgrave: At the cost of another month of bombing?
Milosevic: Tell me, what choice do we have?
De Borchgrave: 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
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
De Borchgrave: 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
De Borchgrave: 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 less militant Kosovo 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 Kosovo 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 Kosovo ethnic Albanians 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.
De Borchgrave: So how do we get out of this mess?
Milosevic: A political process, not by more bombing.
De Borchgrave: 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 Kosovo Albanian 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.
De Borchgrave: 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 UN protectorate is needed. That is not to say we
are against a UN mission. Before the war, we accepted 2, 000 verifiers from
OSCE. It was Osco'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
De Borchgrave: 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.
De Borchgrave: Are you suggesting that since the UN and other international organizations couldn't do anything before, you see no point in bringing them back now?
Milosevic: No, not at all. The UN 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.
De Borchgrave: Is it possible to have a UN presence without a UN peacekeeping force?
Milosevic: We cannot accept an occupation force, whether it flies under a NATO or UN flag.
De Borchgrave: So you accept a UN peacekeeping force?
Milosevic: Yes, but no army.
De Borchgrave: 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, PACs and heavy weaponry. Kosovo has social and economic problems which an army of occupation cannot alleviate. Aid, not arms, is what Kosovo needs.
De Borchgrave: 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
De Borchgrave: 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
De Borchgrave: How long would such a simultaneous withdrawal take in your judgment?
Milosevic: We can do it in one week.
De Borchgrave: And the third point?
Milosevic: The return of all refugees, regardless of their ethnic or religious affiliation.
De Borchgrave: And when would the UN peacekeeping force go in? Before the refugees can return presumably.
Milosevic: I don't like the word "force." We would welcome UN 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 UN is here they can bear witness that what we are saying is the truth.
De Borchgrave: 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.
De Borchgrave: If you wouldn't quibble about the word "force" for UN peacekeepers, the end of hostilities could be speeded up.
Milosevic: But I told you we are willing to accept a UN 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.
De Borchgrave: 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
De Borchgrave: Back to the composition of UN 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
De Borchgrave: Contingents from
Milosevic: They, too, would be acceptable.
De Borchgrave: 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
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