|Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
October 6, 2000, Washington, D.C.
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Good afternoon. The United States is pleased to recognize a new birth of freedom and independence in Serbia and all of Yugoslavia. We congratulate President Kostunica for his victory at the polls on September 24th, and we applaud the Yugoslav people for their courage in preventing that election from being stolen.
We have joined with the European Union in pledging to lift sanctions once the democratic authorities are in place, and we will keep our promise. We look forward, with our partners, to providing a democratic Yugoslavia with all the help we can, and recognize that they have inherited from Milosevic a host of economic, social and institutional problems. We look forward to welcoming the new Serb Government into key regional and global institutions, and we look forward to welcoming the Serb people into the trans-Atlantic community of free and prosperous nations.
We remain fully committed to completing the implementation of the Dayton Accords in Bosnia, to implementing UN Security Council Resolution 1244 on Kosovo, and to realizing the goals of the Stability Pact we have forged throughout Southeast Europe.
The developments of this week are another enormous step towards the creation of a Europe without walls, wholly at peace and fully free, and a victory for those who love freedom everywhere.
Thank you very much.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, are you confident that this is irreversible -- what has happened in Yugoslavia? And can I just have a quick follow-up? I know how the Administration would feel about a Milosevic role, which Ivanov evidently is talking to Milosevic about. But should he somehow -- heís been pretty clever -- should he somehow get a piece of the political action, would that affect decisions on sanctions?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Let me say that I think that, to answer the latter question first, that basically here we do not think he should have a role. The Serb people have made clear that he shouldnít have a role. And I think that it is important that that be made clear by everyone, you know, when you have lost the way he did and tried to manipulate the election, that he does not have a role in the future.
I think that the numbers of people out in the streets, and the fact that it is not just people in Belgrade but people coming in from the countryside, which has basically been the stronghold of a lot of Milosevic strength, is a sign, in my own opinion, that they have voted the way they want, that they donít want to go back to a Yugoslavia that is disdained by the other countries in the region and in the world, and that they have an opportunity to be a part of a new free Yugoslavia. And I would say from the numbers of people on the streets that they have shown the direction that they want to go in.
QUESTION: No, I understand. But, please, what I am trying to suggest is weíre dealing with a pretty cagey -- youíre dealing with a pretty cagey fellow. He has done some clever stuff. The walkup to Dayton was one example.
Should he somehow manage, against public will, to get a share of political power or even to remain a political force in Yugoslavia, would the United States want to hold back on lifting all the sanctions?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, we have made clear that it has to be a fully democratic government and that Milosevic should not have a role in it. And as we talk about lifting the sanctions, I think that that is obviously one of the things we have in mind. But so does everybody else, I think. So that it is important to consider it that way.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, have you spoken with Foreign Minister Ivanov? And if you -- since his meetings?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: No.
QUESTION: And is it still your understanding that he was conveying to Mr. Kostunica President Putinís congratulations on becoming president, or simply on winning the first round of the election?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: First of all, I have not been in touch with him. I talked to him while he was in India several times. As far as I know, none of the other foreign ministers have been in touch with him either. But I got a message that he wanted to speak to me when he got back to Moscow.
It is my understanding that the Putin message was one in which he congratulated Kostunica for his victory. And I think that I want to clarify when I talk with Ivanov whether it was for the victory in the first round or victory as president. But the early statements were basically that he congratulated him for his victory in becoming president.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, how much of the credit for what has now happened in Yugoslavia do you ascribe to US or US and allied policies over the past year or two or three years?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I basically ascribe nine-tenths of the credit to the Yugoslav people. They were the ones that have lived during this very unfortunate time, and had the guts to go out and get out on the streets and voice their views and pull themselves together in the opposition.
I do believe that the policies that all of us adopted in terms of making clear the unacceptability of what Milosevic had done and was doing was very important in the long run of holding the line. But there is no way to give credit to -- the major credit to anyone but the Yugoslav people themselves. You know, we have sat in many conference rooms and many airplanes and had many trans-Atlantic phone calls, but we are not the ones out on the street. And so the credit goes to them.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, Kostunica has said that he will not turn over Milosevic to the War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague. How strongly does the US feel about this, and will you again somehow not lift all of the sanctions if he is not turned over?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, we have made our position very clear, and we believe in the importance of accountability for what Milosevic has done. And the important thing, first, is to get him out of any position of any kind of power. But we have made our position very clear on this over many years and months, and that has not changed.
I think that, again, the sanctions issue is complex in terms of the different kinds of sanctions. We are talking to the Europeans now about how to proceed technically on this, and I think we are very aware of being careful. But I do also think that what is very important is to do what we said to the Serb people. We told them that if there was a democratic election, and if a democratic president was installed -- our sanctions regime is not against the people of Serbia; it was against Milosevic. And if Milosevic is gone, then there are many ways that the sanctions regime can be changed and lifted and adjusted.
QUESTION: Two very quick questions, Secretary Albright. Is it necessary for Mr. Milosevic not only to be out of power but out of the country in order to have sanctions lifted, as far as the US is concerned? And, secondly, what kind of relationship do you anticipate the US will have with President Kostunica, knowing as you do, that he has expressed strong anti-American feelings, anti-NATO feelings?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, first of all, we have said that Milosevic has to be out, and it is out of power. And I think that we will be watching this very carefully, and that there has to be accountability. So that is where we are in terms of -- a very important point is that Kostunica has won; Milosevic has lost. His time is over. He must go.
And in terms of our relationships, you know, we look forward to establishing a perfectly normal relationship with a new Kostunica government. We frankly donít agree with everything that every government that we have relations with do. So I think I know what President Kostunica has said, and I know him to be a Serb nationalist. I also know that he is not a former communist, and I also know that he does not believe that dealing with Serbiaís policies includes ethnic cleansing and the devastation of the rights of those that are not ethnic Serbs.
QUESTION: Do you know where Milosevic is?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: No.
QUESTION: No idea?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: No.
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