|Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Interview By Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Serbo-Croatian Service
Prague, Czech Republic, March 5, 2000
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
QUESTION: You have just come back from Lisbon where you were (inaudible) necessity for having elections in Kosovo. Do you think that elections alone can solve the problem?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I think that what is very important here is to let the people of Kosovo feel that they have a say about their lives. That has been the problem, that Milosevic did not allow them to have a say in their lives, and local municipal level elections I think will give them that sense and will also, I think be very important in building local institutions so that I think that would be a big step forward and I believe the discussion that we had in Lisbon in which there was agreement when we had the trilateral meeting with the Russians, that it was important to proceed with the registration for elections. I think it was an important discussion.
QUESTION: It has now been a year since NATO has begun and Kosovo still remains an area of crisis. Have you had cooperation with both sides as expected, as needed, and what do you need to finish the job?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, first of all it’s important that you mention that it has been a year. You know, a lot of things have happened in that year. 800,000 refugees were able to return. The KLA has been disarmed. Institutions have begun to be put into place. The local police training has happened. A lot of things really have been very important and I think we all take a great deal of pride in the fact that the international community undertook this process. I think none of us thought that it was going to be easy and it is not easy, but I think it is something that we have to keep pursuing. I spoke with Bernard Kouchner today who is working very hard, who must have the support of the international community in order to continue his work…
QUESTION: He's going to speak to the UN today?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Yes, he is going to talk to the Security Council informally, and I think that that's very important.
QUESTION: But very close to Kosovo, now we have another area of crisis. It is out of Serbia, Milosevic placed a couple of hundred of policemen, ethnic Albanians have been expelled, ethnic Albanians make some kind of irregular para-military. They have been attacking Serbian police forces. Do you think this could be the next area of crisis?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I think we are very concerned about it and have really called on both sides to show restraint. When I was in--actually I met them in Tirana last week--ten days ago--I talked to some Kosovar leaders and we generally have been in touch with them to show restraint. When I spoke with Foreign Minister Ivanov just now in Lisbon, we talked about the necessity and that the Russians also try to get in touch with the Serbs to show restraint. I think that we want to make sure that there is not any kind of an eruption of greater problems in Presevo Valley and we think that it is important for there to be great care taken by both parties.
QUESTION: Some experts say that actually one of the main goals of ethnic Albanians in the south of Serbia is not actually to provoke Serbs, that it is actually to provoke the international community to make additional air strikes.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, they shouldn't miscalculate, because I think that the problem here is that the international community is devoting a great deal of time and energy into helping them, the Kosovars, to create a place for them to be able to exercise a high degree of autonomy and self-government and the Kosovars should concentrate on that. That is what the international community's concentrating on. That's what they should concentrate on.
QUESTION: I need to ask you something, Madam Secretary, can you defeat dictatorship with democracy? Can you defeat violence using democracy as a main method?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that ultimately you have to remember that most people really want, I think, to run their own lives. And what we have seen is that dictatorship may work for a while, but ultimately it is flawed. As you travel around Central and Eastern Europe, a very good example is that the people ultimately do not put up with it. I think that what has happened here is Milosevic wanted to be another Tito. Instead what he is, is another Enver Hoxha, who has basically taken his people and isolated them and given them a lower standard of living than they ever had. I don't think the Serb people deserve Milosovic. They are good people who want to live a peaceful life and they don't deserve a leader like him.
QUESTION: The second area of crisis in Yugoslavia is actually Montenegro. How will the United States react if Milosevic decides to attack Montenegro? Some experts say that Milosevic can use so-called (inaudible) of them, that the Western community will have no time to react at all.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, let me say that we believe that President Djukanovic is working very hard to have a democratic model which we would hope would eventually be within a democratic Yugoslavia. He has been working very hard through a very difficult economic situation. We have said many times that the security of the whole region, including Montenegro, is very important to us.
QUESTION: (inaudible) in Montenegro there should be some kind of (inaudible) they cannot go out from Yugoslavia. They cannot secede. They do not get support from the West; they have a divided country, so they are waiting for Milosevic, actually. Do you agree with that?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: No, I don't. I think that what President Djukanovic is trying to do is to carry out this very difficult -- he is clearly in a very difficult position. He is managing it. He does have a great deal of support from people who believe in what he is doing, not only in Montenegro, but outside. There is in discussions that I have with Europeans in terms of how we generally talk about the region, we all understand the difficult position that he is in and try to be as supportive as possible of what he is doing and we would like him to continue in that way.
QUESTION: You are supposed to meet representatives of Serbian opposition tomorrow here in Prague. They still cannot reach a deal about how to proceed to protest in Belgrade. Can you share with us some of the questions you have regarding the opposition?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: We have been telling them that they need to be cooperative and develop more common positions to be able to show the Serb people that they present an alternative choice. It is my understanding that they have been able to come together on kind of a common platform. I think that it's very important for them to look at lessons from this part of the world, where dissidents who might have disagreed on some long-term goals or even some tactics, ultimately figured out that it was to their advantage to cooperate and get together to get rid of a dictatorship. That's why we think it is such a good idea for them to have contact with NGOs and other groups. There's always this question about Slav-solidarity. There can be a lot of Slav-solidarity by learning from some of the Slavs who live here.
QUESTION: Finally there is a small light in this area called Croatia. You were there twice in the last month in order to support democratic changes, but they need financial support. Are you ready to give them financial support?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, let me say, it is more than a "small light." It is bright. It's strong and it's very exciting. I have been to Croatia twice now in the last month because I wanted to make so clear the support not only of the United States, but of the West, for what they are doing. And there's also a lesson that six opposition parties were able to get together. They won the parliamentary election and then they put on really quite a brilliant election campaign in terms of its openness and fairness and putting forward candidates and being able to really work through two rounds of elections. They have also made a big difference already I think in terms of Bosnia.
I am going to go to Sarajevo and what President Mesic and Prime Minister Racan make quite clear was that they want to support the Federation, the central institutions in Sarajevo, instead of doing what Tudjman did, which was to support separatism by the Herzog-Bosnians. So that is a big step forward. Part of what President Mesic said in his inaugural message was that the Serbs should come back. That is a big example also of how things ought to be done in this very troubled region.
When I was there, I announced that we would be giving additional assistance. We are going to be looking at other ways to help Croatia and I believe that the Europeans will help also. I think it is a big step forward. Everybody wants to be supportive of democracy and to answer your original question, democracy ultimately does win out. I am always an optimist, but I always am very realistic about the amount of work that needs to be done and I can see a willingness of the people in this region and in Western Europe to help. We all have to do our share, burden-sharing.
QUESTION: On Wednesday you are traveling to Bosnia. This is my last question. What is purpose of this visit?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I haven't been there since the Stability Pact meeting last summer. The purpose is, I think, to really show support for the central institutions, to press on with their various movements towards democracy, to make sure that the process continues to work. Bosnia I think has been moving slowly and I want to show again American support for those who want to see a multi-ethnic Bosnia. That is what I will be doing.
Thank you very much.
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