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U.S. Department of State

Great Seal   Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Interview on CBS's "The Early Show" with Bryant Gumbel
Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo, November 23, 1999
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
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MR. GUMBEL: Secretary Albright, good morning.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Good morning. Good to be with you.

MR. GUMBEL: Would it be fair to say that, five months after the bombing has stopped, Kosovo is still a postwar disaster?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: No, I don't think that's fair to say. I think that, five months after the bombing has stopped, the people that we have just been meeting with are incredibly grateful for what NATO, under the US lead, did. And, while there is an awful lot to do, we have -- we, the international community, have accomplished a lot.

Fifty-to-eighty percent of the winterized materials are here, ready to be put in place. A new generator is going to be up in the next couple of days. There are 1,700 international police here. The local police have just graduated a group of people, and another new class is coming in. So while there is a lot left to do, Bryant, I think that we should feel proud about the progress that has been made.

MR. GUMBEL: But there has -- but there are still problems remaining. The Albanian revenge continues, there are a lot of ethnic reprisals, there is rampant criminality, there is a lack of basic services. There is a lack of an infrastructure, a lack of municipality organization. There are a lot of people still depending on humanitarian aid.

Why have peacekeepers and Administration officials been unable to get a better handle on the region?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I think, first of all, some of the things you say are indeed true. But it has been only five months and, frankly, we are ahead of where this was when we were in Bosnia, for instance. These things are very hard to effectuate. There are a lot of people involved. It is a combination of the United Nations, the European Union, the OSCE and the various national countries.

So it is a matter of "un-blocking" funds that need to get here. We have just voted our funds from Congress. And it is a matter of just pursuing this, and working through the roadblocks. But I think it is very important for people to know that a lot has been done here. And I have just come with the President. He has given a speech, and so have I, to several thousand Kosovar children and their parents who are so grateful for what we have done.

MR. GUMBEL: The Administration has been focused on rebuilding and focused on forging a multi-ethnic democracy. Why don't you yet view independence as an option for Kosovo's majority Albanians?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, because I think the important point here is to focus on now. We are -- our position is that we need to make sure that there is a high degree of autonomy and self-government here, and that the future status is something that we can look towards later. But now we need to concentrate on what has to happen here. And so we believe that they need to concentrate on exactly the things that you've been talking about: municipal governance, working with the United Nations, getting ready for elections that ought to be held as soon as possible.

So there are lots of steps along the way here, and lots of work that needs to be done before we consider the final status.

MR. GUMBEL: Final note: Do you see an end any time soon to the required presence of US and UN peacekeepers in the region?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, we are not putting any time limit on this. I am here at this amazing camp, where our military has put up a lot of good structures. They are working very hard. They are very enthusiastic, and I think that they really see that they have a mission here. And if you only could see the gratitude of the people of Kosovo to what we have done, out of Washington, with our allies in NATO, I think people would understand that this is worth doing. And just imagine, Bryant, how we would feel if we had done nothing, and the ethnic cleansing would have continued.

MR. GUMBEL: Secretary Albright, thanks so very much. Safe travels to you and best of the holidays also.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thanks to you also. Thanks, Bryant.

[End of Document]
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