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U.S. Department of State

Great Seal Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and
His Excellency Milo Djukanovic,
President of the Republic of Montenegro
Press remarks prior to their meeting
Washington, D.C., April 22, 1998
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State

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SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I think you can see, with its new president, that Montenegro is standing tall.

I am very pleased to welcome Montenegro President Djukanovic to the State Department this morning. President Djukanovic has a critical role to play in building democracy in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and securing peace and growing prosperity throughout the Balkans.

Since taking office last year, President Djukanovic has made a strong start on democratization, promoted freedom of the press and championed ethnic tolerance -- all in the face of serious opposition from Belgrade. The United States salutes Montenegro’s achievements, and is committed to supporting its reforms.

Today, President Djukanovic and I will discuss expanding American assistance programs in Montenegro in such areas as independent media, privatization, agriculture, bank reform and the availability of micro-credit. President Djukanovic and I will also, obviously, discuss the crisis in Kosovo, where the potential for renewed violence remains great.

I very much welcome the constructive role Montenegro has played in calling for an international role in discussions on Kosovo, and in providing shelter for thousands of Kosovar Albanians who fled their homes during the February violence. Montenegrins know firsthand that the only alternative to negotiations in good faith is instability and suffering -- not just in Kosovo, but throughout the region.

I know we also agree that the use of force by either side to resolve a political problem is unacceptable and wrong. Next week, the United States and our Contact Group partners will meet in Rome to assess the prospects for serious and productive dialogue, and to consider further steps to end the current stalemate. We’re also working to see that sanctions against Belgrade authorities do not unfairly penalize the country’s citizens, who have no say in their government’s repressive policies; nor should they unfairly harm leaders, such as in Montenegro, who have shown their willingness to promote democratic values and practices.

Again, I welcome President Djukanovic to Washington, and I look forward to our close cooperation in building democracy and peace in Montenegro and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and across the Balkans.

President Djukanovic.

PRESIDENT DJUKANOVIC: (Through Interpreter) Ladies and gentlemen, I today have the great honor and pleasure to be received and to have a conversation with Secretary of State, Mrs. Albright.

The program of my visit to the States, which includes visits to and meetings in Washington and in New York, is motivated by the wish to intensify and strengthen our bilateral cooperation.

It is my wish to present the Secretary of State and to other distinguished interlocutors here the main characteristics of Montenegro’s policies, which include opening up to the world multi-ethnic democracy and tolerance and democratization and economic reform.

This policy has proved victorious in Montenegro at a presidential election last October. And this policy will have the next test at the early parliamentary election in late May this year. And it certainly aspires to becoming serious and meaningful policy for all of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, to which Montenegro belongs.

It is therefore my wish to present to the American public and to the international community a new policy of Montenegro as a new political chance for all of Yugoslavia. That is to say, to present a policy which aspires to shut down and close the book of sanctions and discussions on sanctions against Yugoslavia and to open, on the other hand, a new page of full cooperation with the international community.

I very highly appreciate the support that Montenegro, in pursuing such policies, enjoys from the United States of America. This for us is a great encouragement to persist along this course of democratic transformation of Montenegro and of all of our country. I am confident that with such support, Montenegro can become a very positive example and can set a very positive example not only within Yugoslavia, but within the region in which it lives.

I also hope to discuss with Madame Secretary the very important issue of Kosovo, too. Our positions on Kosovo are already very well-known. All extremists approaches to the resolution of this issue must be ruled out. The solutions advocated by the Albanian extremists involving Kosovo as an independent state must be ruled out. And, on the other hand, the political solution involving retaining status quo in Kosovo must also be ruled out. Therefore, what must happen -- a dialogue must start in Kosovo and it is our opinion that this dialogue must involve the presence of a third party. This dialogue must ensure a broad autonomy for Kosovo and the high-level of human rights according to the international standards.

Thank you very much for your attention.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, could you be a little more specific on the support you’re giving -- the US is giving Montenegro; for instance, privatization and credits? And could you comment on Belgrade’s tough stance against the new look in Montenegro, as represented by our visitor?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: First of all, let me say that we are doing what we can in order to give financial assistance to Montenegro. We’re now providing $5.9 million in assistance to Montenegro. We’ve recently allocated more than $1.5 million to support economic and political reform for a total of approximately $4.95 million in technical assistance. And then, in addition, we have provided approximately $400,000 in transition assistance that substantially benefits the establishment of an independent media, as I spoke about the importance of that being developed. Also, USIA programs valued at nearly $500,000 support human rights and cultural exchange and information programs.

What we are also doing is pursuing further possibilities to increase funding for business development, NGO activities and other programs for economic and political development in Montenegro.

We have great respect for President Djukanovic. I’m very much looking forward to our discussions. And I know from reports from Ambassador Gelbard and now from what you have heard from the president himself is that he has quite a different approach to what he sees as the future of Montenegro and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. We would like to see the spirit of Montenegro throughout the Federal Republic, because he, I think, represents an ability to see the possibility for political dialogue and a different sense of direction for the people of the region that has suffered so much.

QUESTION: Madame of State Secretary, -- (inaudible) -- the sanctions you imposed over the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia on the Kosovo issue, are there any chances for Montenegro to get exempt from them?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, we obviously are very concerned about kind of an overall approach here. We are, as you can tell from what I have reported that we’re trying to do for Montenegro, that we are very sensitive to difficulties by overall outer-wall sanctions. The outer-wall sanctions are very important in terms of pressing for compliance with Dayton, and we will be sensitive to the needs of Montenegro, as I have discussed.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, I wonder if you would indulge me with an answer on the Middle East. There’s been some confusion about the May 4 meeting in London. Will the Europeans play any role at all in the substance of the meeting, or will they just be providing venue?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, let me make clear -- what has been going on here is that the United States has been pushing very hard to close the gaps between the two parties. Ambassador Ross is going to be going out later this week. I, personally, will be meeting separately with Prime Minister Netanyahu and Chairman Arafat in London; and there are no plans beyond that.

QUESTION: (In Serbian.)

INTERPRETER: Will Montenegro, and in what way, be exempted from possible sanctions?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, as I mentioned already, we are giving particular assistance to Montenegro as we look at what the reaction to Kosovo is going to be. We are dealing with other members of the Contact Group; we’re going to be talking to President Djukanovic; and we are sensitive to the needs of Montenegro. I can’t be more specific than that at this time.

QUESTION: Sir, you said you believe the dialogue in Kosovo should be conducted with the assistance of or through a third party. Who do you have in mind?

PRESIDENT DJUKANOVIC: (Through Interpreter) I, first of all, believe that there is a high degree of mistrust between the Albanians in Kosovo on one hand, and on the other hand, between the Serbian and Yugoslav authorities. I believe that the dialogue cannot start at all without previous presence of a third party. That is what is important.

I would not presume to suggest who that may be -- perhaps a representative of the OSCE or perhaps a representative of some other international organization. As you know, Montenegro has, from the very start, supported the idea that Mr. Gonzalez take the role of mediator on Kosovo.

QUESTION: Mr. President, to what degree can you move forward with your policies in Montenegro without the specific support of Slobodan Milosevic?

PRESIDENT DJUKANOVIC: (Through Interpreter) I’ve already said that the policies that we have been pursuing in Montenegro are not policies for Montenegro only, but for the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, too. Also, I am convinced that this is the only political path that Yugoslavia must take if it wants to leave the economic backwardness and its isolation.

And if Mr. Milosevic, in his capacity of President of Yugoslavia, should be willing to accept this, the easier this will be for us and the better for him. If Mr. Milosevic is unwilling to accept this, or if he fails to understand this, Montenegro has sufficient energy and sufficient resolve to pursue this path and to try to ensure the victory over conservative policies and a new and better future for us and for our community.

QUESTION: On Bosnia, for Madame Secretary, and about Montenegro for President Djukanovic. Have you every considered possibility to go out of Yugoslavia -- to be, let’s say, an independent Montenegro?

PRESIDENT DJUKANOVIC: (Through Interpreter) Most of the citizens of Montenegro wish to live in federation with Serbia. This has been demonstrated by the result of a referendum that we held in 1992, at a time of the disintegration of our former federation. Because of the opposition to our policies by Belgrade and by Mr. Milosevic, we do not want to destroy our federation.

What we want is that our political approach wins, and we want to take both Montenegro and the whole federation along this path. We believe that this a much more rational approach in an otherwise already very much divided and troubled Balkans.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, regarding war criminals. Do you care to comment on the recent rumors about Karadzic going to The Hague; or how would you view the situation in Bosnia now?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, first of all, let me just comment on what President Djukanovic said. One of the reasons that I said that it would be good to have the spirit of Montenegro throughout the Former Republic of Yugoslavia is exactly the kind of thing that he said, in terms of their desire of the people to live in a way that allows them to have democratic reforms and market reforms. And it is proof that it is possible for good people to arise out of what has been the tragedy in the Former Republic of Yugoslavia, as well as Bosnia, when Prime Minister Dodik and President Djukanovic can make statements that are so evidently an understanding of the direction in which the Balkans need to go.

On the question of Karadzic, I can’t comment on the rumors. There have been many, many rumors about him. But what I can say is what I have said a number of times -- there is no statute of limitations on war crimes, and that Mr. Karadzic’s day will come. I think, also, we can be very pleased with the record now of the War Crimes Tribunal and the number of people that have been indicted and the number of people that are in custody. I think there are about 30 that are now in custody, and about 70 that have been indicted.

The whole process and procedure of the War Crimes Tribunal, as far as I’m concerned, vindicates the idea that it is very important to assign individual guilt so that collective guilt does not exist. So we are in train of a process that is working that the United States has been a leader in and has supported all along.

Thank you.

[End of Document]

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