|Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Interview on ABC's "Good Morning America"
October 6, 2000, Washington, DC
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
QUESTION: Secretary Albright, we’re hearing two different reports this morning. One is that Slobodan Milosevic is out in a bunker someplace outside of Belgrade; the other is, he is still in Belgrade. What do you know?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I think it is unclear, Diane. I think there have been lots of rumors placing him all over Serbia and some in Belgrade. But it is unclear at this moment where he is.
QUESTION: Have you received word from the Russians that he is attempting to flee?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: No, we have heard this morning that Foreign Minister Ivanov is on his way to Belgrade, and I have gotten the message that he will be in touch when he comes out. We will see what he will be doing there, and that is as far as we know on that score.
QUESTION: A lot of people are wondering about the Russian role. What do you expect the Russian President Vladimir Putin to do?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that what is important for him to do is to recognize the fact that the people of Serbia have spoken, and that Kostunica is their elected president. And the Russians have a very close relationship with the Serb people. They are Slav; they have had long-term historical relationships. And I think it is very important now for the Russians to recognize the future of Serbia are the people that have voted, and that want Mr. Kostunica, and that they need to recognize that fact. And that is what I hope will happen in the next 24 hours.
QUESTION: And that is what you expect, based on contacts with them?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that they are in a position where they have tried very hard to maintain calm and try to assess the situation from their perspective. But I think it is very important for the Russians also to do what the countries in Europe have been doing, which is basically to recognize Kostunica’s victory. We and the Russians have worked together very closely throughout the whole conflict in the Balkans. We have forces together in Kosovo; and we have all been in touch through our contact group. And I think that they Russians need to do what the rest of the countries in Europe are doing, which is recognize Kostunica. The Serb people are out on the streets making clear their wishes.
QUESTION: Two quick questions. Will we lift sanctions immediately if Kostunica takes over?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, we have said that we would lift sanctions when Kostunica is in place and Milosevic is out, and we are all looking at times -- the appropriate time to do it. I think it will happen fairly soon, when the situation is clear. The Europeans were in touch about that -- we were all night, actually -- and there is no reason to keep sanctions on the free people of Serbia, and Kostunica is their president. But we have to make sure that the situation is totally clear.
QUESTION: Will we still prosecute Milosevic for war crimes?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: We have made our position very clear on this, and we want a new Yugoslavia to abide by the rule of law and be part of Europe and do everything it can to be a functioning, normal democratic country, and we have made our position so clear on this so many times, Diane.
QUESTION: Do you -- are you confident of Kostunica, who he is? We know he is 56 years old, a constitutional lawyer, that he apparently is a democrat at the same time he opposes US involvement in the region.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, he is a Serb nationalist, but he is a constitutional lawyer. He never was a Communist. He certainly is not an ethnic cleanser, and he wants to make his country a normal, European country. He has not been very pleased with either the US or Russia at this stage, and I think that what he wants to do is to get his country back on track.
He is not somebody that has decided to make a greater Serbia at the expense of ethnically cleansing other people. But I think it is very clear that what he has done is show strength for the Serb people. And we don’t deal with one person; we hope to be dealing with a Serb democracy, and we hope very much to have a good relationship with Kostunica and the Serbian people.
QA final question, about the Mid-East, if I can, as we head into this weekend. Are you confident that Yasser Arafat will enforce the spirit of a cease-fire?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, what happened, Diane, was when we were in Paris, both the leaders made phone calls to their commanders in front of me and in front of each other determining what kind of security procedures had to be taken, and what needed to be done to enforce a cease-fire and to lessen the violence. And I think we are going to be watching it very carefully. It continues to be a volatile situation, but I would expect both the parties to live up to their obligations that they made to me and to each other on this, and we will obviously watch this very closely. It is going to be a busy weekend, Diane.
QUESTION: Fasten our seatbelts, huh?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Busy times.
QUESTION: Secretary Albright, thanks so much for talking to us this morning.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you very much.
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