Friday, 30 April 1999 18:00 (GMT)
Text of Milosevic interview with UPI

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

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 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 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

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 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?

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 advisers.

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 [deer squirrels and birds too]

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 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?

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?

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 Yugoslavia?

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 religious affiliation.

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

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 compositon 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

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.


1999 by United Press International.


Copyright 1999 by United Press International

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