|Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Press Availability following EU-U.S.-Serbian Opposition Meeting
Berlin, Germany, December 17, 1999
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
MINISTER HALONEN: Ladies and gentlemen, we are very happy that you all are here with us because we think that this is a very important day. We have already issued a statement which is being distributed I think so you know the basics. Let me describe the format of this press conference to you. I will have first a very short statement followed by Secretary of State Albright and then we have agreed that the representatives of the democratic forces in Serbia as well as the President of the Republic of Montenegro will make their short statements and then after that we will be available for your questions.
On behalf of the EU Presidency, I can say that we have had a good meeting today. The European Union, the United States of America and representatives of the democratic forces of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia have discussed how they can join forces to contribute to the democratic cause.
The cooperation has been in three main areas: providing immediate humanitarian and other assistance, supporting the democratization of Yugoslavia, and planning for economic recovery and growth in the post-Milosevic era.
We have discussed how the European Union and the U.S.A. could best assist in these fields. We had fruitful and, I would like to say, open and very frank exchanges about these questions here today.
One of the questions highlighted by the representatives of the democratic forces from Serbia and Montenegro was the re-entry of the FRY into the international community. We have made clear from the EU side that we will assist the FRY in developing normal relations with the Union once it is under the democratic roof.
I would like also to point to some of the positive actions that are already being undertaken on the ground by the EU. As you may already know, the European Community has already provided considerable assistance to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia -- over 550 million Euros in recent years. Much of this, over 350 million Euros, has been humanitarian help in reaction to the sad, recent history of the country. In addition, as you know, for Serbia, the pilot project of Energy for Democracy is underway despite all the obstacles from the authorities. Another delivery arrived yesterday and more tankers are on their way. Our greatest wish would be to welcome a democratic Yugoslavia to take its proper place in Europe and in the international community. So, finally I will say, this has been a happy day for me. Madeleine.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Good afternoon, I am pleased to be in this historic city to help inaugurate an historic dialogue between the world's leading democracies and Yugoslavia's leading democrats.
The United States joins with Foreign Minister Halonen and the European Union in pledging support for the aspirations of the Yugoslav people to live in freedom, under leaders they have chosen fairly and laws they have helped to shape.
We commend the courageous leaders of the Serb opposition. And we welcome President Djukanovic, who has earned worldwide admiration and respect for advancing democracy within Montenegro, despite threats from Belgrade.
During our meeting today, we focused on the need for unity and for a series of concrete steps to strengthen Yugoslavia's democratic prospects. To this end, the United States and the EU will continue humanitarian assistance to those most in need both in Serbia and in Montenegro. And we are developing plans for additional direct aid to democratically-controlled municipalities.
The United States is also doubling our democratization assistance this year, to aid Serbia's democrats in laying the groundwork for early elections under fair conditions. Our support for independent media will be an important part of that.
The United States will also maintain its support for Montenegro's democratic and free market reforms. Last year, the United States provided $55 million in economic and other assistance. We are working with the EU to sustain this support, and to help ensure that Montenegro can continue to serve as a model and stimulus for such reforms throughout Yugoslavia.
As I told the Yugoslav leaders during our meeting, we will also continue to encourage their appropriate participation in international events. The people they represent deserve to have their voices heard. And the elusive goal of a Europe whole and free will not be possible until all of Yugoslavia is democratic.
I firmly believe that day is coming. Throughout the country, including Vojvodina and Sanjak, Milosevic relies on fear and offers his people only more hardship and isolation. By contrast, Yugoslavia's democratic leaders rely on hope and offer a new and more prosperous future for their country within the community of free nations.
Today's dialogue marks the beginning of a new phase in the support of western democracies for the brave men and women who seek to bring freedom to Yugoslavia. We leave here united and determined to achieve that goal.
Thank you very much.
MINISTER HALONEN: The next person to speak will be President Djukanovic and then the order in which you have decided (referring to the rest of the Serbian Opposition at the table).
PRESIDENT DJUKANOVIC: (in Serbian, not translated)
MR. DJINJIC: Ladies and gentlemen, we as representatives of the democratic forces of Serbia and Montenegro have the most difficult jobs in Europe to remove an undemocratic regime by using peaceful, democratic tools and methods. We don't need new violence, we don't need new wars in the Balkans. By resolving this difficult problem we need solidarity and support from the democratic world. Mr. Milosevic is counting on new isolationism in this region. He is waiting on elections in Russia and he is hoping to create a new communist bloc after these elections.
We count on new integration in the Balkans, we count on globalization and we want to be a part of a democratic Europe. In this way we need concrete support from democratic countries in the world. In this meeting we discussed many methods and many ways to make this cooperation concrete. Through concrete projects to break the isolation around Serbia, but at the same time to isolate Milosevic and his regime.
We are satisfied with this meeting. We hope we can implement very quickly these projects. Our credibility in the country depends on the results of these concrete projects. We have moral and political and diplomatic support from the democratic world but what we need is to deliver something to the people in Serbia and it depends on the next weeks and next few months to achieve these results and we are facing the future with hope.
MR. DRASKOVIC: First, sanctions are against the people of Serbia and sanctions are an internationally-built wall around Serbia transforming our state into a prison and no one -- even Serbian democratic forces -- in Serbia can build up democracy in a prison. That is the reason the Serbian Union movement today demanded urgent lifting of the sanctions against our people and our state.
Second, the situation in Kosovo today is a real disaster for Serb and other non-Albanian groups and citizens. The process of ethnic cleansing of non-Albanians in Kosovo is close to being finished. KFOR Forces could be very soon the only multi-ethnic, multi-cultural forces in Kosovo. That is the reason the Serbian Union Movement today very strongly demanded full respecting and implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1244. I would be completely satisfied with today's very, very important meeting if this meeting produced very soon, very urgent implementation at least of those two things I demand in the name of my party today. Thank you.
MR. KORAC: Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen if there is a word to describe Serbia of today it is ‘isolation'. Of course, it was first the self-imposed isolation by the nature of the politics Slobodan Milosevic presents. But there is another isolation. There is the isolation from the outside. We debated today as we did before, and will no doubt continue to debate different humanitarian and social programs to assist the citizens, the population of Serbia, that results in a very high percentage of the population living in poverty and in need of urgent help.
But what we were debating here was how to avoid the creation of a new wall in Europe because ten years ago one wall disappeared in Europe -- we do have another kind of a wall gradually, slowly building up around Serbia and of course it is the wall that Milosevic is building, but, unfortunately with a little bit of help from the outside.
So what we are debating here is how to remove this wall and basically this meeting is sending two messages to the population of Serbia that is most important for us living there -- we are going back this evening to our own country. The first message is that Serbia and its citizens have a place in Europe. A Europe that is going towards integration -- despite many problems -- there is no doubt that the process of economic and political integration of Europe is taking place. We are in front of the new millennium it is almost hard to believe that in the new millennium in Europe you will have a old-fashioned dictatorship in the Balkans where political rulers are not willing to submit their positions to the political will of their own citizens, meaning free elections after the war, after all the disasters that have happened in our country.
As you know, there is one thing Mr. Milosevic certainly does not want -- that is free and fair elections. For him to see whether he has support of the majority of his population we think he absolutely has none of it and he knows he would lose.
The second message is that there is a belief in the democratic potential of Serbia and Serbia indeed can be a democratic country like most of them in Europe if not all of them. And I will end with an old Chinese proverb: even a thousand kilometer march starts with one step. This is a step we have taken today. The risk for us as you know, there are assassination attempts on the leaders of the opposition. There is no doubt that we will be subject, as we have been already, to the vicious state propaganda that Europe thought was gone but it still does exist in Serbia. The least of the things they call us is NATO ground troops. This is what they call us. But nevertheless we are willing to do this for the sake of our country and its future if not us, there will be other people. But what is most important is that Serbia becomes democratic and we restore the good name of our country in Europe once again. Thank you.
MR. MICUNOVIC: (in Serbian, not translated)
QUESTION: Question in Serbian for Mr. Draskovic and Mr. Djinjic. (not translated)
QUESTION: For Secretary Albright. All the gentlemen at the table called for the West to lift sanctions against Yugoslavia. Could you give your reaction to that call?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Yes, well I can understand why they are voicing these ideas, but we have said that we are ready to suspend oil and flight bans on the holding of free and fair elections. We have considered this actually a very important way of indicating that we are ready to integrate freely-elected Yugoslavia into a stable Balkans. I think that that is the important message here and I think that the Energy for Democracy Program is a very good example of how there can be a specific program that is directed towards those municipalities that have in fact shown their capability and desire to follow a democratic path. And that is our position. Thank you.
QUESTION: If I understand correctly, there is no suspension of sanctions, even those when we speak about air flights and oil, unless we have free elections in Serbia: And in order to have free elections in Serbia the opposition has to deliver something to show the Serbian people that they can use what the opposition is delivering to them and you as well. Could you be specific? There will be no lifting, neither suspension of sanctions before these elections, by all means. Second and final question for both the European Union and the United States. Would you consider, perhaps as a transitional phase that might help the democratic opposition forces in Yugoslavia the establishment of a parliamentary monarchy? Thank you.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, first of all let me clarify some things. We do agree on the need for humanitarian and democratization assistance to Serbia and we have, in fact, been doing that. And when I said that we were doubling our assistance to the democratic opposition from twelve to twenty-five million dollars, and that is being given through the National Democratic Institute, the International Republican Institute and to the independent media, because I think that it is very important for the people of Serbia to know that if they have free and fair elections there will be no end to the possibilities. As I have said, we are ready to suspend oil and flight bans on the holding of free and fair elections but this Energy for Democracy Program is a very important aspect of our ability to target those places that are specifically indicating their ability to have a freer approach to government and not be under the heel of Slobadan Milosevic and that is our position. I do not want to comment on the future type of government for Serbia, it just has to be democratic.
MINISTER HALONEN: I am also very happy for this joint venture we have today and I will underline both sides. It is wonderful to see the united representatives of the Serbian side, the president of Montenegro, but I also enjoy very much to be here with Madeleine Albright. That also might help in this process quite well.
But what is coming for the future of the FRY, and I will say very briefly that if the democratic forces in the FRY get the free and fair elections under international supervision, so whatever might be the will of the people in the elections, it is in the hands of the people.
QUESTION: Do any of the opposition leaders see the possibility of a more democratic regime taking power in Zagreb after the death of President Tudjman as an opportunity to strengthen the opposition forces in Serbia as well? That this counterforce against Milosevic has been removed?
MR. DRASKOVIC: Yes, absolutely. In the case of the election victory of pro-European democratic forces in Croatia, I mean it would support, I mean democratic, pro-European forces in Serbia too.
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