|Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Interview on CNN's WorldView With Bernard Shaw and Judy Woodruff
Washington, DC, June 10, 1999
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
QUESTION: United States Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, the driving force in getting NATO to take a stand on Kosovo: Secretary Albright joins us now from Cologne, Germany, where she has been meeting with foreign ministers from the world's major powers.
Madame Secretary, in this very complex endeavor, is it not simplistic to talk about winning?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I think that it is very difficult to divide things into winners and losers, but in listening to David Ensor, there is a clear loser, and that is Slobodan Milosevic, who has led his country to disaster, and who has lost control over Kosovo. He is the clear and only real loser in this.
QUESTION: However, Madame Secretary, as long as he remains in power, can this be a pure victory for NATO?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that what we have shown is that NATO is the overwhelming military force. It is composed of 19 democracies who worked together incredibly well through a prolonged period, and showed dedication to a set of principles, among which is a very important one: that individual life matters, and that ethnic cleansing is impossible.
But I do think that none of us think that the road ahead is easy. We have an awful lot of work to do. I think you pointed out what we - the tragedy of the refugees, and we have to work on that. We also have to have a humanitarian outlook towards the people of Serbia. What has to happen is that a democratic Serbia, where democratic principles are practiced, must ultimately be welcomed into a Euro-Atlantic community. But Milosevic has never shown any indication of democratic principles, and he is an indicted war criminal.
QUESTION: One, two, three: What should be Milosevic's fate?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that we'll have to see. We know that the War Crimes Tribunal has a system. He should go to The Hague and present himself to the War Crimes Tribunal; that is what he ought to be doing. There is no statute of limitations on war crimes, but I hope that, as the Serb people hear the truth and not that double-talk that we heard Milosevic giving - there's this old saying about, you can fool some of the people some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time. You certainly cannot fool all of the Serb people all of the time.
They know that they didn't win this war, and they know that they have been led by somebody who has contributed to their destruction. They are smart people; they will figure it out.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, whatever the outcome of all this, as you look back, is there any doubt in your mind that it was worth the loss of life of - what? -- hundreds, perhaps thousands, of ethnic Albanians, the displacement of hundreds of thousands more and the just horrific damage to their country?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Judy, I think that's a very hard question, but I have answered it for myself a number of times now. That is that, had we thought that there was a peaceful way to deal with the Kosovo situation, we would have followed it; in fact, we tried. I, along with my colleagues, tried very hard to persuade Milosevic to grant a high degree of self-autonomy to the people of Kosovo, to give them back what he had taken away from them in 1989.
Instead, what happened was that he was systematically planning an assault on Kosovo - we knew that - using his time to build up forces to drive in there. We believe - I believe - that even worse damage would have been done had we let him just pursue, and we had stood back. I am going to Macedonia tomorrow. You have had interviews with lots of refugees, and they believe that it was worth it.
There was tremendous loss, and we all regret it; but I truly do believe it would have been much, much worse had we not taken a stand.
QUESTION: This was Madeleine's war; that's what some of your critics have said. Your blunt reaction to that?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I never believed it was Madeleine's war. What it was was a war by the democracies, led by President Clinton, against what is a basic evil that had to be eradicated at the end of the 20th Century. I have spent a lot of time now with my colleagues from the 19 democracies - it's their war; it was all our war; and it's everybody's victory.
QUESTION: What do you say, Secretary Albright, to some other critics who are now saying the message this sends is that the United States is the world's policeman?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, it shouldn't send that message. What it should send is the message that when there is evil and when there is the possibility of getting rid of it, that we ought to do what we can.
Now, I have said - and I will say again - there are terrible things going on in other parts of the world, and we should try what we can to make sure that those kinds of evils are either overturned or do not happen. But we don't always have the same opportunity in each part of the world, and the stakes are not always the same. But that doesn't mean that we don't do anything anywhere. I think that we should be looking at ways with partners in different parts of the world to try to avoid conflict and deal with it diplomatically as much as we can, and take what steps we can.
I don't draw any larger lessons than that. I think that we're going to have to look at a lot of what we have done, and what this means. But for now, I think it should be seen as a very important victory for democracies, and for NATO, and for General Clark and for President Clinton and for all of us that have worked on this; but mostly a victory for the refugees, and we've got to get them home.
QUESTION: You mentioned Mr. Clinton, Madame Secretary. What will this do to his Republican critics in the United States Congress and elsewhere in this country, many of whom regard him as a foreign policy lightweight?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, you know I don't do politics anymore. But I honestly believe that a lot of people are going to have to eat their words. President Clinton has, I think, led us in a stalwart way; he knew what he wanted. He has for a long, long time, Bernie, talked about a vision that he's had for Europe. And he's systematically followed it out, to come to the end of the century with a Europe which is united and free. There was a missing piece, and that is the Balkans. He was left with the situation in the Balkans when he came into office. He took action in Bosnia; he has now taken action in Kosovo; and he is fulfilling what he thinks is very important for US national interests, which is to have a Europe that is whole, united and stable. Stability in Europe is very important for US national interests.
QUESTION: Please indulge us -- we're going to have to take a break - but we'll continue our interview with Secretary Albright from Cologne, Germany, in just a moment.
(A break was taken.)
QUESTION: Welcome back to "WorldView." We continue now our interview with US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who's joining us from Cologne, Germany.
Madame Secretary, on the floor of the United States Senate today a Democratic senator, Bob Kerry, said that the United States and the West have not done enough to bring the Balkans into the economic strength of the rest of the world. In other words, not enough has been done to prevent these sort of conflicts from breaking out in the future. Would you agree with that?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that we clearly need to do more As a matter of fact, what I was doing this afternoon, Judy, was we had a meeting that German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer organized on behalf of the EU about the Southeast Europe Stability Pact. We had countries there from the Balkans themselves and a lot of other European countries, talking about the next phase of how we do have to bring them into the Euro-Atlantic, as well as democratic mainstream.
We're going to be doing that according to a plan, and the Europeans are going to be bearing the bulk of the costs, because they are ready and able to do so. We helped Europe after the Second World War, and they are now passing on the benefits of that, by helping the last missing piece here of a united and free Europe.
QUESTION: Is this your finest hour?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I've had a pretty good day. I think that we have all worked very hard for this. There are an awful lot of people that deserve credit, and among those is my deputy, Strobe Talbott, who is really the one that helped put together the very difficult part of getting the Russians to work with us to help solve this.
QUESTION: Madeleine Albright, Secretary of State of the United States, from Cologne, Germany, thanks for joining us on "WorldView."
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