Milosevic and Owen confident of "successful" end to talks
Serbian TV, Belgrade, in Serbian 1730 gmt 18 Sep 93

Summary: recorded interview with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and co-chairman Lord Owen by Zoran Jevdjovic in Belgrade on 17th September: relaxation of sanctions; Milosevic' s positive appraisal of negotiations' progress; effect of Krajina fighting on regional settlement

[Jevdjovic, in English with superimposed Serbo-Croat translation] Mr Owen, did Mr Milosevic cooperate with your plan? If not, what was the problem, and if yes, do you intend to relax some of these terrible sanctions against Serbia?

[Owen, in English with superimposed Serbo-Croat translation] I have worked now for over a year with Mr Milosevic. We did not always agree, but the will to resolve not only the problem of Bosnia-Hercegovina but the absolutely crucial question for the entire region, Serbo-Croat relations, relations between Belgrade and Zagreb. [Sentence as heard]. I think we have had a very serious and instructive relationship that should be crowned with some success.

[Jevdjovic] Are you planning to help Mr Milosevic relax the sanctions?

[Owen] The sanctions were introduced with a certain purpose in mind. In most cases, they are implemented because of the danger to peace in an entire region. For example, an arms embargo was imposed on all of Yugoslavia. Also, sanctions that were imposed because of a threat to peace in Bosnia-Hercegovina. Once a peaceful solution is achieved, the only question that remains is how quickly they will be lifted. My opinion has always been that when the Bosnian Serb forces withdraw behind the agreed borders - in this case behind the borders of their republic - I believe that most reasonable people will believe that peace is no longer threatened. We must also admit that once you launch a peace agreement, you cannot implement it without the cooperation of the neighbouring states. You also need the goodwill of the three constituent nations - the Muslims, the Serbs and the Croats in Bosnia-Hercegovina. I believe the whole thing will look different once we start implementing the peace agreement.

[Jevdjovic] Mr Milosevic, did you suggest to Mr Karadzic to make some concessions to the Muslim side if this is aimed at achieving peace?

[Milosevic] This was precisely the topic of these long negotiations in Geneva, and you could see for yourself that the representatives of the Serbian Republic [in Bosnia-Hercegovina] exhibited great flexibility in this respect. You could also see how large - according to the maps that have been published - is the territory from which the Serbian forces must withdraw; in this respect, I believe that we can conclude that the Serbian side has exhibited the greatest possible flexibility. There is truly no reason to doubt that the Serbian side will maintain this constructive attitude until the successful conclusion of the conference.

[Jevdjovic] I have another question. Could you answer in English, please? Are you more optimistic today after this meeting?

[Milosevic] Yes, I feel that the cochairmen are intensifying their efforts and talking to all the participants of the conference in order to ensure a successful conclusion, which is very near. There is only a narrow margin of differences in the stances of the warring factions. I believe we are nearing a successful end to the conference . That is why I am optimistic.

[Jevdjovic] In two years' time, this plan practically allows - [changes thought] it is to be expected that the Serbian Republic and Herceg-Bosna will join their mother countries. How will this affect future relations in the region and the solution of the Krajina problem?

[Milosevic] All the things you have mentioned depend on the will of the people. I believe that the people who live in Bosnia-Hercegovina will have the opportunity to make these decisions in a democratic way . In any case, by respecting the wishes and the will of the people, we will have the possibility of solving our problems - the problems between different states in the Balkans. Crucial relations in this area are the relations between Serbs and Croats. We wish to support this positive evolution in the search for a final solution to Serb-Croat relations in this region. That is why we have supported the negotiations between the representatives of the Krajina and the Republic of Croatia. However, as you know, they were significantly tainted by this Croat offensive against the Krajina, against areas under UN control. However, I hope that this problem will be solved with the help of the international community and that the negotiations will resume as soon as possible with all our support and goodwill.

Copyright 1993 The British Broadcasting Corporation  
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