Milosevic sees positive step in discussion of suspension of sanctions
Serbian TV, Novi Sad, in Serbian 1830 gmt 29 Nov 93

Text of recorded interview given to Zoran Jevdjovic by Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic in Geneva on 29th November

Summary: Milosevic says European initiative has allowed continuation of talks which will accelerate final solution; another positive step is discussion of suspension of sanctions in such a comprehensive gathering; EC is now approaching the problem in more balanced and realistic way; Krajina is matter for discussion between Croatia and Krajina; Kosovo is internal matter for Serbia

[Jevdjovic] Mr President, the first day of the new round of Geneva talks on Bosnia-Hercegovina's future has ended, not exactly with an agreement, however, as we understood, nevertheless in an agreement to continue the talks. Therefore, although there has been no total accord, all sides display willingness to continue the negotiations?

[Milosevic] This is the main effect of the European initiative. It is well known that the talks of the three sides in Bosnia have been frozen for a long time. This initiative allowed the continuation of the talks. The continuation of the talks will accelerate a final solution. This is a positive step.

The second thing that could also be assessed as positive is that the issue of lifting - that is to say, suspending - sanctions has been discussed for the first time in such a comprehensive EC gathering. However, what is very important is that we have, I hope, clarified with each other perfectly well about this. Namely, the idea to suspend the sanctions can accelerate the lifting of them in a way because, as you know, the final document of the Geneva conference prior to its interruption clearly defines that with the restoration of peace in Bosnia the sanctions should finally be lifted. We reminded our partners in the talks of this. For this reason, one of the conclusions of this evening's plenary session is that the negotiations will continue where they have stopped, as was stated at the last meeting of the Geneva conference, when the lifting of sanctions was linked strictly to the restoration of peace in Bosnia.

This new category which has been introduced - namely, the suspension - gives the chance that sanctions might be eased a little bit earlier . This means that the sanctions could already be suspended on signing the final accord about the peace plan, while their final lifting would be formally realized during the implementation of the plan. I would say that these are the two most significant positive results of this meeting. Everything else depends on the course of negotiations which will be continued tonight and tomorrow morning between the Serbian and the Muslim side, and the Serbian and the Croatian side.

[Q] Does this mean that the relatively firm stance towards sanctions that the EC put forward at the beginning of today's talks was a sort of tactical move?

[A] The impression here is that on this occasion the Twelve - and this has not been usual so far - did not exert pressure on the negotiating sides of this conference. They tried to put forward a proposal for a just and quick solution, I would say, and to encourage and facilitate the continuation of the talks. This is primarily my impression of this meeting. You have had the opportunity to familiarize yourself with the stance that we supported at this conference. I believe that this was nevertheless a dialogue and that we were not in the situation in which they have frequently tried to put us from the Hague conference onward, when they tried to make us either accept or reject something, but rather that both sides strived for a constructive approach which would facilitate the final solution .

[Q] Therefore, the principled stance of Serbia actually made them listen to our opinion willy-nilly and also acknowledge it regardless of their position?

[A] I would not attribute us winning such a respect to our principled stance. Simply, the circumstances and the facts dictated the need to acknowledge the interests of all sides.

Generally speaking it can be said that regardless of the fact that their approach is still not perfectly balanced, that it is still not perfectly objective towards all sides, it does represent progress in the creation of conditions for objectivity. Namely, so far things have been exclusively black and white. The Serbian side was at fault, the Muslim side was right. Now, they are approaching all this from a much more balanced, and thus much more realistic, viewpoint. I believe that this approach creates conditions for accelerated progress in the overall talks.

[Q] Tell me just one more thing. In the introductory speech by Minister Claes the issue of Krajina and the issue of Kosovo were also mentioned. Have there been any attempts to link the issue of Krajina with Bosnia-Hercegovina, perhaps [words indistinct] Kosovo [words indistinct]?

[A] Yes, we discussed this at the afternoon session. The afternoon sessions were the meetings of the European Twelve with the Serbian, Muslim, and Croatian side separately.

Regarding Krajina, it is perfectly clear, and we reiterated our position, that the negotiations about relations between Croatia and Krajina must take place between Croatia and Krajina. This is the only competent level at which any solutions can be found. However, our principled stance regarding putting this approach approach into practice was embraced here. Namely, we spoke of three phases. In the first phase we must strive to ensure that Knin and Zagreb sign an agreement on the cessation of hostilities which would enable the UN troops to step between the two sides and eliminate the possibility of further bloodshed.

In the second phase, talks about the normalization of communications, oil pipelines, transmission lines, railways - general infrastructure - between the two will be continued.

These two phases practically comprise what the European Community has qualified as the so-called modus vivendi. In this way the third phase, that is, negotiations about a political solution, is being postponed until tensions subside and it is possible to guarantee a more or less normal and rational negotiating process.

However, the fundamental principle is that only the legitimate representatives of Krajina can hold authorized negotiations about Krajina's position towards the end of hostilities and normalization of communications. I would remind our citizens that this has been our position ever since the adoption of the Vance plan. We made great efforts for the adoption of the Vance plan, whereby peace has returned to Krajina. Everything following this must be resolved exclusively between the legitimate Krajina representatives and Zagreb . There is no other way.

Regarding your second question, it is true that the issue of Kosovo was raised. However, our stance regarding this is well known and we have repeated it. We consider Kosovo to be an internal matter for us. No internationalization of the issue of Kosovo is possible.

As regards human and minority rights we observe absolutely the highest CSCE standards. All other issues are our internal issues, and we shall resolve them in the way all sovereign countries do.

[Q] Thank you, Mr President.

Copyright 1993 The British Broadcasting Corporation  
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SECTION: Part 2 Central Europe and the Balkans; FORMER YUGOSLAVIA; BOSNIA-HERCEGOVINA; EE/1860/C; 

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