|Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Interview on Fox News
Washington, D.C., May 28, 1999
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
KELLY WALLACE: Madame Secretary, thanks so much for joining us.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Good morning, Kelly.
MS. WALLACE: Madame Secretary, as you know, at this hour, Russian Kosovo envoy, Viktor Chernomyrdin, is in Belgrade to meet with Yugoslav President Milosevic. Chernomyrdin said that this indictment complicates the process. Isn't he right? Doesn't this indictment make it much more difficult for you to achieve a diplomatic solution to the crisis?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I actually believe that this indictment clarifies the situation and makes it really evident to everybody that the kinds of crimes that Milosevic has committed require us to take the kind of action that we've been taking – a serious and intensive air campaign that makes it evident that Milosevic has to accept the terms and conditions of the NATO alliance. That is the only way to bring this to an end. A political solution is possible if he accepts the terms. Mr. Chernomyrdin, I think, is there – I spoke with him yesterday -- to assess how Milosevic is absorbing the news of his indictment and explaining what is necessary to end this.
MS. WALLACE: I know it's impossible to predict how Milosevic will respond to this, but don't you believe that it will make him more likely to dig in and decide to fight it out, as opposed to agreeing to NATO's demands?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I think it's very hard to assess that at this moment, Kelly. He is somebody who is very stubborn, who is isolated, and this will isolate him further. The people of Serbia, with whom we have no fight at all, are now suffering because they are being led by an indicted war criminal -- the first time in history that a sitting President has been indicted as a war criminal for crimes against humanity, which are the kinds of the things that we have been watching on TV -- the horrible stories that we've heard about rapes and massacres and executions and torching of towns. That has now been made very clear to an international court that these kinds of crimes have been committed by a sitting head of state.
MS. WALLACE: Now, Madame Secretary, I know you hate hypotheticals, but if Milosevic tells Chernomyrdin that now that he's been indicted he has no plans to agree ever to NATO's demands, doesn't that leave the US and NATO with no other option, other than to send in ground troops in a hostile environment to get those refugees back home?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I think that we have -- are very clear that the air campaign is working, that it's created an incredible amount of damage and we will continue an intensive air campaign. At the same time, we have gotten ourselves ready for the end of this by having a KFOR force -- that is the force that NATO voted to go in as a security force when this is over -- and NATO is looking at how to assess the ground force issue. President Clinton has made clear that no options are off the table.
MS. WALLACE: Let me ask you, Madame Secretary, Reverend Jesse Jackson told Fox News that Yugoslavia's Foreign Minister told him that Yugoslavia is prepared to cut its forces in Kosovo substantially and quickly to 12,000 troops if NATO first stops its bombing. Is this something NATO would consider?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: No. We have made very clear what the terms and conditions are, and those are that the bombing will stop when he has: one, agreed to the fact that the forces -- all his forces need to come out; the refugees have to be able to go back in; an international security force with NATO at its core has to be able to go in; and we have to start working on a political settlements; and he has to begin the withdrawal of those forces --12,000 is an unacceptable number. If you were a Kosovar that had been tortured by the Serb forces, you would never go back with a number such as 12,000. What the whole purpose of this is to try to get the refugees to go back. So, it is unacceptable.
MS. WALLACE: Madame Secretary, yesterday you said that Milosevic has to be turned over to The Hague for trial. Do you favor the US actually going in and apprehending and arresting Milosevic?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: It is the responsibility of the authorities to turn him over, and he cannot travel to any country because it is the responsibility of every country to turn him over. I'm not going to go further than that in terms of saying what can and should be done. But let me just say this -- is that the statute of limitations on war crimes does not run out, and the day of reckoning will come. The Serb people are the ones that are now suffering because they can't be a part of what we hope will happen, which is a pluralistic and democratic Balkan peninsula of which we would like to see Serbia be a part. But it cannot be if it is run by an indicted war criminal.
MS. WALLACE: Yesterday, Senator Helms said that in response to this indictment of Milosevic, that Milosevic must be removed from power now. Do you agree with Senator Helms? And do you believe that Milosevic's removal from office should be a new goal of the US and NATO before there is any settlement?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I don't think that we should change our objectives. We've made very clear what the objectives of this campaign are. I, however, have said that I do not see how in the long run, or even the short run, the Serb people can hope for a future in which they are part of the exciting things that are happening in Europe if they continue to be run by an indicted war criminal.
MS. WALLACE: Okay, Madame Secretary, we'll have to leave it there. Thanks so much for joining us.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you.
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