|Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Interview on Montenegrin Public Television with Ljudmila Mladenovic
Washington, D.C., May 26, 1999
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
QUESTION: Thank you for taking your time to speak with us and share your views with the people of Montenegro.
Some members of (the) media and politicians talk about an independent Kosovo. Do you support this status for Kosovo; if not, what is your vision of the future of Kosovo?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: We have said very clearly that we support a high degree of autonomy for Kosovo, not independence, and we think that it's very important that the goal here is for all the Kosovars to be able to go back, and that this -- within Kosovo where they have their political rights and really develop Kosovo in a way that allows them to live in their society. But we do think that independence is not a viable option, because it's a very small area, and also we think it would cause greater instability in the region.
QUESTION: If Slobodan Milosevic completely, completely fulfills G-8 demands, will the US and international community sign (a) peace accord with him? And do you think that after the bombing it will (be) possible to have a democratic Yugoslavia with Slobodan Milosevic is still in power?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, first of all let me say that what has to happen is Slobodan Milosevic has to accept the five NATO conditions, which are that the violence and the cleansing has to stop; the refugees have to be able to go back; all Serb forces have to come out; an international security force with NATO at its core has to be able to go in; and we have to work on the political settlement -- the high degree of autonomy that we spoke about.
We believe that Milosevic has to accept those principles, not necessarily -- as others have said -- have a signing agreement; that is not necessary. He has to make -- it has to be very clear that he has accepted them. As for the future, I think that what has to happen is: We have to see a democratic Serbia where, frankly, the kinds of things that President Djukanovic has been doing in Montenegro happen; which is: Support for democratic institutions, economic reforms, civil society, a respect for people of other ethnic groups. That's the kind of Serbia we are looking for.
And Milosevic -- his history is that he has gone back to a policy where there is ethnic hatred. He made this clear when he was dealing with Croatia, Bosnia. He goes back to a high degree of nationalism and hatred of other ethnic groups, which does not work well in terms of democratic principles. So I see a democratic Serbia that is able to have a leader that reflects those values.
QUESTION: There exists a fear that after the end of (the) Kosovo conflict, that Milosevic is planning to militarily destabilize Montenegro. How does your plan protect democratic forces in Montenegro against possible Milosevic aggression?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, first of all, I think that we have made very clear our support for what President Djukanovic has been doing, making very clear that we need to support that not only by our words, but our deeds. We have provided tens of millions of dollars in terms of economic support, support for democracy, and we intend to continue this very strong relationship.
We have also made very clear that any action by Milosevic vis-à-vis Montenegro -- i.e., trying to have a coup or any kind of aggression or anything like that -- is something that the West has said would only escalate the situation and is something that we would not -- that is unacceptable. So we have made very clear our support for what is happening under President Djukanovic in Montenegro, and we have limited the amount of bombing because we respect what is happening in Montenegro -- limited the amount of bombing within Montenegro.
QUESTION: How can President Milo Djukanovic and his government help to end the bombing and greater conflict of Kosovo?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I think that what he is doing is exactly what he needs to do, which is to show that it is possible for people within Serbian society to live decent lives if democratic principles are respected and economic deployment undertaken and if there is a sense of pluralism. By virtue of his example, he is showing that it is possible for the people of Kosovo, for the people of Serbia to see a different kind of a future. And he needs to keep doing what he's doing -- showing leadership and explaining to the people in the region that it is possible to get out of this hatred and live together in a peaceful way.
QUESTION: U.S. President Bill Clinton has said that the air campaign against Yugoslavia is very successful. But he has mentioned also that NATO may send combat ground troops into Kosovo. Do you think combat troops are necessary; and if so, for what purpose?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, we believe, as you've said, that the air campaign is working very well. And every day we get reports about the damage that has been done to Milosevic's military machine. A lot of tanks and artillery and ammunition has been destroyed in the field. His command-and-control centers in Belgrade have been destroyed. There have been attacks also on the amount of petroleum they have and on the electric grid. So a great deal has happened in the air campaign and will continue as the air campaign intensifies.
As you know, we have proposed that there be forces that go in after an agreement has been reached, which would really help to have a secure situation. But we have also said that no option is off the table, and there is very formal planning of this -- of looking at other options within NATO.
But what I think is very important for the people of Montenegro to know is that the air campaign is working -- and indeed, very successful -- and will continue.
QUESTION: Is there anything you would like to say to the people of Montenegro?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, first of all, I would like to tell them that they're lucky to have the leadership that they have in President Djukanovic. Second, that the United States and the West really believe in what is happening in Montenegro, and respect the kind of democratic change that has happened there and the respect for people of various ethnic groupings, and what they're doing for Kosovar refugees.
I have spent some time studying the history of Montenegro, and I would like to say to the people of Montenegro that the principles and bravery that they have exhibited for hundreds of years are needed now, and that they need to remember who they are and their proud history, and put themselves into the democratic stream, and that the West respects them.
QUESTION: Thank you for your time.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you.
[End of Document]