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U.S. Department of State

Great Seal Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Interview on Kosovo on ABC-TV's "Good Morning America" with Diane Sawyer
Washington, D.C., March 26, 1999
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State

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MS. SAWYER: More now on our top story, the crisis in Kosovo. Joining us from Washington, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Madame Secretary, so good to have you with us.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Good morning, Diane.

MS. SAWYER: There are reports that the ethnic Albanians are under fierce attack by the Serbs still. Is this air campaign working, or is it making everything worse?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I believe that the air campaign is working. I have to say, Diane, in watching the films of our airplanes taking off and your interviews with various pilots and military, I have to say how incredibly proud I am of the American military, how grateful and how much we pray for them.

I do think that this is an essential campaign; that what we have to do is deter Milosevic; and if he is not deterred, then seriously damage his military capability to keep killing and harassing the Kosovars. I think that reports of increased fighting are really dreadful because who's suffering here are the ordinary civilians. This is Milosevic's trait -- he wants to keep himself in power while the Serbs, as well as the Kosovars themselves, are suffering deeply.

MS. SAWYER: You talked about seriously damaging his military. After watching two nights of the bombing, how long is that going to take?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, it's going to take -- I'm not going to comment on the time line of this. It is very important that we continue until our objectives here, that I stated, are finished. The military people say that they are satisfied with how the campaign is proceeding.

MS. SAWYER: But how long are the NATO allies going to give this? Reports now that Greece and Italy are wavering, talking about negotiations?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: What is happening here, Diane, is that all of us would like to end this peacefully and have diplomacy work. But the Alliance is united in knowing that we have to attain our objectives -- those that I said: deter and damage seriously. We're all talking to each other. Yesterday Secretary General Solana said that the Alliance was strong and united. Everyone would like to end this in a peaceful way, but we are all together.

MS. SAWYER: You see no cracks forming or coming?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: No, I don't. Clearly, we are all discussing this. Everyone is assessing the situation. This is a difficult assignment for an alliance of 19 people. It's an alliance that operates by consensus. But I think that as the Secretary General of NATO says, this is a strong and united alliance.

MS. SAWYER: You know Milosevic. You have negotiated with him, talked with him. You said, too, he knows how to get in touch with us. Any word from him -- any word of any kind?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: No. I mean, he has not been in touch. I think what is important here is that he knows how to get a hold of us. Basically, they are still putting out the message that they do not like what is going on and that they object to what we are doing. That is not the way to reverse course. I think that he knows that diplomatic channels are open.

MS. SAWYER: There is talk in Washington among diplomats that his responses are not rational. What does this mean? Is he just an intransigent politician, or do you think he's unstable?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I think that all he cares about is his own power. He has based his power on jingoistic nationalist statements. He is a man who does not care about his people. He has propagandized them he keeps saying to his people, and to anybody that talks to him, that nothing is going on; that the Serb forces are doing nothing in Kosovo. You have just reported that fighting has intensified. He has only one concern: his personal power.

MS. SAWYER: Is he smart?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I think he is smart. I think he's smart and cagey and cares only about himself.

MS. SAWYER: You have said that we will do whatever it takes to bring them back to the negotiating table. What does that mean -- "whatever it takes?"

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that what we need to do is to stay firm here. I believe that it is important for us all to remain strong and united and make clear that this kind of treatment of Kosovar Albanians or anybody -- he has ethnically cleansed other parts -- is unacceptable at the end of the 20th Century, a century that has been marked by extremes in terms of killing people who are not of the same religion or ethnic background. I think we cannot end the century this way. I think we must take steps in order to stop this humanitarian catastrophe. We will use our military force, and we are always prepared to engage with diplomacy.

MS. SAWYER: Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, always great to have you with us. Thank you so much.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thanks, Diane.

[End of Document]

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