|Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright|
Press availability en route Brussels, Belgium
April 11, 1999
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: We are clearly going into what is clearly the first Ministerial of the new NATO, the expanded NATO. I have talked now to every one of the other eighteen allies since yesterday or during yesterday. I think what was really very heartened by is the total dedication of all of them to the principles that have been enunciated and our objectives which are that the Serbs have to pull their forces, paramilitary forces and the MUP out; that there has to be an international security force that can go in; that the refugees have to be able to return and that what we are seeking is a democratic, multi-ethnic Kosovo where the people can live under a form of self-government and all of the Allies are supportive of that and all of them are supportive of the action that we are taking.
The purpose of having a NATO Ministerial, I think, is to show the unity of the Alliance and to make clear that what Milosevic has been trying to do, which is to say that the Alliance is split, is absolutely not true and again to underline the fact that Milosevic is the cause of what has happened. Also, there have been increasing ideas put out, the EU under the leadership of the German presidency is looking to the future, of expanding a zone in the Balkans where there is more cooperation, actions of cooperation to look towards the future of a Balkans where people can live together.
QUESTION: -- is there a reason to reconsider having 5,000 or so Serb troops?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I think that the numbers -- we are trying to say that they need to pull out, and so some of the numbers and things that have been in either Rambouillet or parts of the October agreement, I think that we are not stating specifically what the numbers are because you're right, I think that there has to be a reconsideration of that. There are lots of parts of that and lots of parts of Rambouillet that obviously are as we say "OBE," Overtaken By Events, and so I think we have to be realistic and flexible as we look at the future.
QUESTION: What ploys do you worry about from Milosevic? What could possibly drive a wedge into the Alliance?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I think, as I was saying, the Alliance is "wedge-proof." I think that what has been interesting is as he gave his kind of, his idea of a cease-fire, which was really a cease-fire minus, basically was immediately rejected by the Alliance as being insufficient and I think that the Alliance has its eyes open -- all the members -- in terms of trying to keep ourselves focused on the objectives that I mentioned and I think that basically they have been galvanized by all the facts on the ground. I think even, you know, throughout when we have met in various groups or in my various conversations there has been a sense that Milosevic is responsible for this, that the original decision to have the NATO air campaign was based on the fact that we knew he was massing his troops and his tanks and that it was essential to take action. Since then, as our publics have also been appalled by the horrors, the massacres, the finding of graves, the separating of military-aged men from women and children, the railroad cars, the buses, the forced marches, I think have all served to underline and emphasize what the Alliance members felt at the beginning, that it is clearly a reason for having this kind of Ministerial to again re-state our united case.
QUESTION: The proposals that are floating around about the Balkans of the future, I get some ideas some people have even suggested bringing all the Balkan countries into NATO as a group. Can you speak specifically to some of the things that you think are worthwhile and --
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that these are clearly the things that we're going to be examining. We talked a little bit about it individually. As I talked to the members, Foreign Minister Papandreou has some ideas, Foreign Minister Plesu of Romania had gathered a group together, week before last I think to talk about how they could cooperate on humanitarian issues. The EU and the Germans have some ideas and they are based on kind of similar threat which is that the democratically elected countries have -- and we have created this (inaudible) group which shows how they can cooperate in terms of a lot of economic issues, are trying to build on those already existing institutions to try to figure out how they can cooperate more, be more integrated economically and assist with the refugees.
I have not heard that they should all come into NATO, but clearly I am going to be meeting with all the front line states to talk about how they can assist themselves and how we can assist them, how we want to make sure that this does not spread and to really, I think, create a bond that is even stronger among them. But one of the things here and also at the summit later this month, one of the things we are going to be talking about is exploring even more and putting flesh on these skeleton ideas about how to bring the group together.
QUESTION: Is it getting to be time or is it time now for the Alliance to say that a post war Kosovo has no more future in Serbia?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: That is not what we are saying. We are looking at a variety of ways that it will be possible for the people of Kosovo to have a democratically elected multi-ethnic future that allows them the highest degree of self-government. But that is where we are and I think that we are going to be exploring ways to make that possible.
QUESTION: You are seeking the Russian Foreign Minister on Tuesday (April 13), what is the minimum role you think that they can play at the moment and how interested are they in the idea of some partition, a northern tier and the rest for Albania?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I have been in touch with Foreign Minister Ivanov either every other day or twice a day, I mean we have very regular contact and we decided that it would be a good idea for us to get together in Oslo and for a number of reasons. One is that I think the Russians can play a useful role. They have been part of the Contact Group, they have played a useful role in Bosnia, they obviously have a different relationship with Milosevic than the rest of us do and I think that there is a possibility that they can become re-engaged. So I think that we have to be very realistic about what the possibilities are and how any country can influence Milosevic and what is the limit of what they can do. I have not actually had a discussion. We have not been talking partition with them, at least I haven't. That's one reason.
The other reason is that both Ivanov and I have, as President Clinton and President Yeltsin and as Vice President Gore and Prime Minister Primakov have said, we have short-, medium- and long-term dealings with Russia that go beyond our dealings on Milosevic. So I think it is very important for us to get together to talk about those kinds of things also. We are realistic about the role the Russians can play, but I think all the allies that I have spoken to believe that it is important for us to maintain close contact with the Russians and have them be a part of a solution.
QUESTION: -- that they are not going to be trouble. And these daily statements, even though they are tempered, the next day brings another scary thing.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I don't want to overstate either case. I think that clearly they have a lot of things they are troubled by, the role of NATO, they have made that very clear, they also have a whole series of domestic issues, as we all know about, and at the same time I think that they do want to see themselves as responsible players within the international community.
As there are discussions about the G-8, or Security Council, they are obviously part of the process, the question is the extent to which they can really be a part of the process. They have been part of the process and most of us think that it is useful to try to have them be, but let me just say that I am not, this is not an easy aspect of it, but it is one of the issues that needs to be worked and managed and that is what I am going to try and do on Tuesday.
QUESTION: What is the latest you hear in terms of the condition for the internally displaced people in Kosovo? Are we in danger of seeing a situation of mass starvation for thousands or hundreds of thousands?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, we are very concerned about it and it has been again a subject or discussion as I talk to the Allies and we are trying to sort out ways to get food and medicine to them. It's obviously difficult because there are not ways to distribute very well what goes in there. The Greeks do still have some NGOs within Kosovo, and one of the things I talked to Foreign Minister Papandreou about was whether there was a chance that they could figure out how to distribute. But everybody, Doug, is very concerned about this and it is obviously going to be very much a subject of discussion tomorrow and looking at ways the food, the medicine can get to them.
QUESTION: Now that the Cypriot mission is over, can you assess it and do you think, have you gotten any indication from him or from anyone else there will be other attempts to get the POWs?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that I have not spoken to him. It was clearly not a mission that succeeded and we are not -- as we have said, there should be no conditions for releasing our soldiers; they weren't doing anything wrong and they should be released unconditionally. They should be allowed to or the ICRC should be allowed to visit them. I think it is kind of embarrassing the way every day some American journalist asks the Ambassador, the Representative in New York, the Charge, have you seen, has the ICRC been allowed to come in, and he says "I'm checking it." I would think at some point somebody would ask about why it's taking so long. So they have not allowed that, but we will not allow our military and these soldiers to be used as pawns in this and we obviously want their release immediately, unconditionally.
QUESTION: (Inaudible ...)
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Not that I know of.
QUESTION: Could you talk about how this could all end? You say that you want to see him withdraw his forces and various other things and to allow people to come home. What can he do if he says okay, I want a cease-fire, do people -- do the paramilitaries and the army have to be withdrawn before the bombing stops?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: -- submitted to him a series of questions about whether he is in fact going to, there has to be a verifiable withdrawal of these forces, it has to be verifiable that they are coming back in, and that he is willing to talk about a political agreement. There has been no indication from him whatsoever and promises don't do any good, we haven't even had those either, so it has to be very clear that he has responded positively to those questions.
QUESTION: Have you seen any indications that Milosevic or the people close to him are wavering in any way in their resolve?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I think that there is not. You know it is very hard to figure out what is going on there since they are totally propagandized and put out whatever news they have through Western reporters also who say -- how is it that they put it? -- "this report has been cleared, but nothing has been changed." That's called self-censorship as far as I know.
QUESTION: -- very serious consequences if they got engaged military in Yugoslavia?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: We have said to the Russians that we do not, that it is important, there is an arms embargo on Yugoslavia, that it's a Security Council Resolution and that it is important to abide by that Security Council Resolution and that we expect them to do so.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I think that we have made clear that it would be counterproductive to all our efforts and to their playing, as I said before, we would like them to play a positive role. That is not viewed as being positive, so we have said that it is not useful.
QUESTION: One of the questions about withdrawal of forces, does that include the police and paramilitary? How is that verifiable?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I think that there are things that one can see, and that it is verifiable to see the movements out.
QUESTION: What's the United States stand on bombing the radio transmitters, the tools of the propaganda you just spoke of?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I am not going to discuss any targeting. We have made clear that what we have been focusing on and has been successful is dealing with their lines of communication, their lines of command and control, their ability to continue producing ammunition, their infrastructure that has to do with their bridges, those are their lines of communication, but I am not going to discuss any targeting.
QUESTION: --. disagreement between the civilian side of NATO and the military side of NATO on that point. Is there any way you can talk about that without --
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: No, I am not going to talk about those kinds of things. To my knowledge there isn't.
QUESTION: Do you know -- there obviously have been discussions within the administration -- on what a solution might look like? How do you feel about the option of partition, of allowing the Serbs to keep some religious monuments and some places for Serb civilians to stay?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that it is really premature to discuss things like that. I do think I have said previously that clearly the holy places and these very special places are important to the Serbs and to others, and in arrangements that one looks at for other countries there are ways to provide for these kinds of places to be protected. But I am not going to go into any specifics at this stage.
One of the things we are going to be talking about is what all this looks like. I think there are a number of ideas but I think it's not a good idea to discuss them yet.
QUESTION: Can I ask a clarifying question? Are you saying that there should be no Serb military, paramilitary, police forces in Kosovo?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: What it says is that the military forces that are there have to be withdrawn. We have not stated this specifically as Barry asked because there have been a number of different proposals. I think we have to see; they know that they have to be willing to withdraw them and that is what we're saying and it has to be verifiable. I am not going to go beyond that.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Read carefully the way we stated it.
[End of Document]