Interview with Slobodan Milosevic

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CNN Interview With President Of Serbia Slobodan

                    December 22, 1994.

                    Announcer: Welcome to Larry King Live. Tonight a new
                    hope or old disappointments? Yet another ceasefire in
                    Bosnia. Will this be the one that holds? With us,
                    Serbia's President Slobodan Milosevic. Then analysis
                    from those who know - diplomatic correspondents: CNN's
                    Steve Hurst, NBC's Andrea Mitchell, ABC's Barrie
                    Dunsmore and CBS's David Martin. Now live from
                    Washington, here is Larry King.

                    King: Good evening! On the surface it seems to be a
                    confusing story. Names, places, numbers. In truth it is
                    a most human of all dramas. It's story of loss. Tens of
                    thousands of people killed or missing. The fighting in
                    former Yugoslavia has been vicious and personal. How did
                    it come to this? Yugoslavia was once made up of six
                    republics but between 1991 and 1992, four of them broke
                    away. Each with a war nastier than the last one. And
                    when one of them tried to form a new nation, the
                    Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina, fighting broke out
                    within that republic among three ethnic groups. The
                    Bosnian Muslims, the Bosnian Croats and the Bosnian
                    Serbs. The Bosnian Serbs have had the most successes in
                    this war, and it's generally believed it's been with the
                    help of fellow Serbs across the border in Serbia. Dozens
                    of previous ceasefires have been announced but the
                    people keep killing and dying and now a new one,
                    brokered by former president Jimmy Carter, takes effect
                    on Friday. Just today it was pronounced successful at a
                    meeting between Serbia's President Slobodan Milosevic
                    and envoys from the United States, Britain, France,
                    Germany and Russia. Is President Milosevic right? Will
                    this end the violence in neighbouring Bosnia. he joins
                    us in Serbia's capital of Belgrade. Also joining us a
                    little later on, the diplomatic correspondents who watch
                    all of this CNN's Steve Hurst, NBC's Andrea Mitchell,
                    ABC's Barrie Dunsmore and CBS's David Martin.

                    We thank you very much for being with us, Mr President.
                    What was the meeting with President Carter like?

                    President Milosevic: Good evening, Mr King. Happy
                    holiday and a peaceful New Year. My meeting with
                    President Carter was a very good meeting. After Cyrus
                    Vance was here in Belgrade two years ago, President
                    Carter was the first American who understood the
                    situation in our country. And he achieved a very good
                    success in mediating between the sides in confrontation
                    in Bosnia. I hope that cessation of hostilities will
                    take place and open possibilities for continuation of
                    the peace process. Much more successful than before.

                    King: Are you hopeful or are you predicting it? Are you
                    saying this time it will stick?

                    Milosevic: Well, I am a real optimist. I can say I am
                    predicting this.

                    King: What's different this time?

                    Milosevic: Well, if you hope for something good, you can
                    hope just without reasons for that. But if you are
                    predicting something that you know well that things have
                    matured to be ready for positive evolution. I think
                    that's the fact here.

                    King: What part in all of this, what part of the credit
                    - if this does work - should go to President Carter?

                    Milosevic: Well, a very big part, no doubt. I believe
                    that his plan, his document, is something that I can
                    define as a Contact Group Plan Plus because of the fact
                    that his document comprises the Contact Group plan,
                    explaining that the continuation of negotiations, or
                    start of negotiations, will be based on the proposals of
                    the Contact Group in all points. But, in addition, there
                    is a provision for an immediate ceasefire and in the
                    second phase a cessation of hostilities and a lot of
                    other provisions in terms of humanitarian aid. Red Cross
                    activities, release of detainees, problems of refugees
                    and confidence-building measures as a whole. So I think
                    it is a very good concept which will work.

                    King: You met with that Contact Group today, did you

                    Milosevic: Yes, yes, I think that it is clear that they
                    are supporting and I would say welcoming that
                    achievement of President Carter which expresses in the
                    eyes of our public opinion the positive approach of the
                    United States and President Clinton wishing peace,
                    wishing to help peace in the area. And this is a policy
                    which is for support, no doubt.

                    King: What is your goal? What is the Milosevic, Serbian

                    Milosevic: Well, there are many goals. The first goal is
                    the first national interest of all Serbs and all
                    citizens of Serbia and Yugoslavia. That is peace in the
                    area. And then, of course, successful development.

                    King: Would you like to see Bosnian Serbs merge into
                    Serbia? Do you think the United States would approve of
                    that? Do you think that's possibility?

                    Milosevic: Well, that is not a formal question. We are
                    one people, and we are in any case merged. The
                    institutional form of that kind of links is not so
                    important. We were supporting Serbs outside of Serbia to
                    protect their national interest. But not at the expense
                    of other peoples who are having the same national
                    interest, a similar national interest, the same rights
                    to have and to affirm their interest. So I think that
                    we, all of us, are living in one territory in former
                    Yugoslavia and I was very curious watching the opening
                    of this programme when I saw these pictures, just a
                    couple of minutes ago, at the start of this programme on
                    how Yugoslavia dissolved. I know that all of you in the
                    United States are having a very distorted picture of
                    what really happened here. And the media war is making
                    its effects.

                    King: What is the most distorted thing about... what
                    don't we know that to you is an absolute fact?

                    Milosevic: You don't know, for example, that from the
                    beginning of the Yugoslav crisis Serbia was for peace
                    and the preservation of the territorial integrity of
                    Yugoslavia. And it happens that it was done in violation
                    of the UN Charter. The Charter obliges the United
                    Nations to keep the integrity of the member states and
                    Yugoslavia was one of the founders of the United
                    Nations. What happened in the case of Yugoslavia? The
                    international community supported secession from
                    Yugoslavia and even rewarded secession. First, Slovenia,
                    then Croatia, then even Bosnia-Herzegovina, which never
                    existed as a state before, and punished Serbia and
                    Montenegro, which stayed within the previous country,
                    for their loyalty. So those who were for secession from
                    their original state were supported and rewarded even by
                    the international community. Those who were loyal to
                    their country were punished.

                    King: We are back with President Milosevic. He is the
                    President of Serbia. It is rare that he grants
                    interviews. We thank him for joining us on Larry King
                    Live tonight for the first half hour of this programme.
                    What about the atrocities committed by the Serbians?
                    Can't be denied, right? Many atrocities. What will
                    happen from that? Will there be war criminals? What's
                    gonna happen?

                    Milosevic: I am not going to tell you that Serbs are
                    angels. But the Serbs are not devils either. In that
                    civil war in Bosnia-Herzegovina there are no innocent
                    sides. All sides are guilty, only civilians are
                    innocent, suffering misery regardless of their

                    King: So the Serbs are more guilty than anyone else.

                    Milosevic: That is not true because of the fact that war
                    was imposed on the Serbs. They didn't want to get into
                    any kind of war, Bosnia-Herzegovina was created in an
                    illegal referendum. Do you know, Mr King, that even now,
                    not only before, Bosnia-Herzegovina is defined as a
                    republic of three equal, constituent peoples - Muslims,
                    Serbs and Croats.

                    King: Then why has this gone of for four years? Why what
                    Carter did yesterday, why was that not done four years
                    ago? Nobody wants to die, why are we killing each other?

                    Milosevic: That was because of a process of secession of
                    Bosnia-Herzegovina from Yugoslavia. I just started to
                    explain to you, maybe it will be good for your
                    programmes to take some records. I remember very well
                    that session in the Hague. Carrington was chairing. All
                    those things are on record. We heard a report from
                    Cutilliero, the Portuguese ambassador who was running
                    the first conference on Bosnia, reporting to the plenary
                    session of the conference that he had achieved some good
                    progress. Immediately after him, we listened to an
                    intervention from Mr Izetbegovic, insisting on the
                    immediate recognition of an independent state. I then
                    intervened, calling attention to very big differences
                    between the report of the head of the conference,
                    Cutilliero, and Izetbegovic's requests. Why to spoil the
                    positive evolution that Cutilliero reported by premature
                    recognition that would cause big problems. All those
                    things are on record. Nobody wanted to listen. They saw
                    the war after that. The Serbs didn't want to be
                    second-class citizens of a Muslim state imposed on them.
                    And they couldn't accept that. That was the problem.
                    They didn't want, the other side didn't want to solve it
                    through the conference, through the peaceful process,
                    through the conference started by the European
                    Community. they just entered the war. So the war was
                    imposed on the Serbs.

                    King: Is this the first time, Mr President, that you are
                    going beyond optimism into predicting that this is going
                    to work?

                    Milosevic: Well, maybe I am an optimist by nature but I
                    think that it is a realistic predicting that we can see
                    peace in the spring. I believe so and I hope so with all
                    my heart.

                    King: We'll take some calls for President Milosevic.
                    There are reports that you are still supplying arms to
                    the Serbs in Bosnia. True?

                    Milosevic: No!

                    King: Is your goal a Greater Serbia?

                    Milosevic: That was never defined as a goal. It is
                    somewhere outside. Please have in mind one very clear
                    argument. After the dissolution of Yugoslavia when we
                    proclaimed the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia - Serbia
                    and Montenegro - on the very day of the acceptance of
                    the constitution of FR Yugoslavia, the Federal Assembly
                    issued a declaration in which it was strictly written:
                    FR Yugoslavia has no territorial pretentions on its
                    neighbours. That is clear.

                    King: That is still clear to you?

                    Milosevic: Nobody can deny it. Yes, that is till clear.

                    King: Let's take some calls for President Milosevic.
                    Washington, DC, hello.

                    Female voice: Mr Milosevic, what is your definition of a
                    war criminal and please explain how you fall either
                    inside or outside that category?

                    Milosevic: All definitions of war criminals are the same
                    in any criminal around the world, including the criminal
                    law of our country. We are now having some war criminals
                    in front of our courts for war crimes. And nothing
                    different from other countries in the world. I mean
                    civilised countries in the world.

                    King: Shall we have Michigen, hello.

                    Male voice: Good evening Mr King. And good evening Mr
                    Milosevic. I have a question on the civil war. Is it a
                    religious war or is it gonna be a spreading of the war
                    to Kosovo as well because of the Muslim religion?

                    King: How much of this war, Mr President, is religious?

                    Milosevic: I don't share opinions that that war is a
                    religious war. Religious wars belongs to the Middle
                    Ages, not to the end of the 20th century. That was the
                    war that was provoked by growing nationalism. So severe
                    a nationalism has nothing in common with the end of the
                    20th century as well. And that war was supported from
                    outside. That is a conflict between different
                    ethnicities for their different interests and the
                    different interests of those who were supporting them
                    from outside, supporting the dissolution of Yugoslavia.
                    It was much better for all Yugoslavs to stay within
                    Yugoslavia. No one people of former Yugoslavia will find
                    a better future outside of it. See what happened with
                    the former Yugoslav republics. Slovenia is a
                    second-class county of Austria, Croatia is a satellite
                    country of Germany, Bosnia-Herzegovina doesn't exist at
                    all, Macedonia lost its sovereignty before it had gained
                    it. What happened to those former republics? Only FR
                    Yugoslavia - Serbia and Montenegro - stayed in the
                    centre of the Balkans as an independent country but
                    punished by the international community for not
                    accepting the dissolution and disintegration of the
                    country. That is what will be visible after we have been
                    in a kind of cover-up with that media war. But I am sure
                    that the truth is much stronger than the lies and when
                    the truth comes over all those things then it will be
                    clear what really happens here, in Yugoslavia. But that
                    is a much longer story.

                    King: Do you think it will happen, do you think the
                    whole story will be learned?

                    Milosevic: Of course. No doubt.

                    King: Another call. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Hello.

                    Male Voice: Mr Milosevic. How can the Serbs be
                    second-class citizens when they themselves are the ones
                    exercising ethnic cleansing in Bosnia-Herzegovina on the

                    Milosevic: No one here and no honest man can support any
                    kind of ethnic cleansing. But in that civil war a lot of
                    those things happened but not on one side. Those things
                    were visible on any side. Remember how severe there was
                    fighting a year ago between Croats and Muslims outside
                    any touch of Serbs. So severe fighting and killing you
                    could never imagine. So, please recall that there is no
                    innocent side in that civil war and in severity the
                    sides are equal and that's the product of that war. And
                    that's why the war must stop as soon as possible.

                    King: Mr President, do you remain a committed communist?

                    Milosevic: I did not quite understand what you said.

                    King: We hear stories that you were a communist, you are
                    a communist. With communism taking so much defeat around
                    the world, are you still a communist philosophically?

                    Milosevic: You are using an expression which is, how to
                    say, demonised in the American language. I am the
                    founder of the Socialist party of Serbia, the ruling
                    party in three free elections in our country and it is
                    better to judge on the aims of the party through
                    definitions of the programme and the real aim. We want
                    to create a wealthy society, on the basis of a market
                    economy and we are a market economy. That is one
                    important thing and also a just society, which means
                    that values of the society have to be accessible
                    equally, or relatively equally, to all citizens.
                    Education, health care, social protection, child care,
                    pensions and so on. That's something which is going
                    along with our ideas a wealthy and just society. Those
                    are our aims and I think that some of those aims you
                    will realise in the United States very soon. If you
                    avoid now, you will not avoid next time. Those things -
                    health protection, social protection and equal
                    possibilities to have medical care for all citizens are
                    unavoidable even in your country and I hope you will not
                    avoid that.

                    King: Thank you, Mr President. Thank you for sharing
                    this time with us. Our guest has been President Slobodan
                    Milosevic, the President of the Republic of Serbia. We
                    have committed satellite time. We might try to get some
                    extra satellite time and if we can, it is hard to
                    arrange on the spot, we will ask him to remain a few
                    more moments. Maybe we will take some questions from

                    What can we expect from the bosnian ceasefire and other
                    trouble spots around the world. Joining us are those
                    with a front-row view. CNN's own State Department
                    correspondent, Steve Hurst. NBC's chief foreign affairs
                    correspondent, Andrea Mitchell. Barrie Dunsmore, the ABC
                    News diplomatic correspondent, and from CBS, David
                    Martin, Pentagon and national security correspondent.
                    President Milosevic remains with us and he's agreed to
                    take some calls from our panel. So we'll start with
                    ladies first. Andrea.

                    Mitchell: Mr President, are you willing now to recognise
                    you neighbours - Bosnia, Croatia and Macedonia - and
                    what are you willing to do to prove to Senator Bob Dole
                    and others in the US Senate, who want to reimpose
                    sanction on you in January, that you are not cheating
                    and not still supplying the Bosnian Serbs with weapons?

                    Milosevic: Well, that problem of sanctions is a key
                    problem of very bad understanding of the situation here.
                    Sanctions were imposed because of the condemnation that
                    we have made aggression against Bosnia. Now it clear to
                    all the world that there is civil war between those
                    three constituent, equal peoples of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
                    Like if you had, for example, a conflict in Switzerland
                    where you have the population of their internal
                    conflict. That was wrong.

                    King: What about the recognition of the other states?

                    Milosevic: Well, I will explain. The major mistake of
                    the international community. Many foreign politicians,
                    including Lord Carrington who was chairing the
                    conference, and his colleagues, said that many mistakes
                    were made by the international community, starting with
                    the premature recognition and so on. Now I can tell you
                    the major mistake is the continuation of sanctions
                    because of one simple fact. The continuation of
                    sanctions against Yugoslavia is feeding extremist from
                    both sides. Muslim extremists in Bosnia are dreaming
                    that Serbia will collapse under sanctions and then they
                    will be able to widen that war to Kosovo, to parts of
                    the territory of Serbia and so on, which is totally

                    Mitchell: Are you willing to recognise your neighbours,
                    Mr President?

                    Milosevic: The other side, the extremists on the Serbian
                    side, think that sanctions will make dramatic problems
                    here and that we will be pushed and involved in some
                    total war. That is why sanctions are feeding motivation
                    for the war option. Abolition of sanctions is
                    practically the first step which can help peace in the

                    About recognition I will be clear. We are sticking to
                    the principles we accepted at the beginning of the
                    international conference on Yugoslavia. It is fair to
                    all subjects involved in that to stick to those
                    principles. Recognition will come after a political
                    solution of the crisis. For example, for Macedonia. We
                    will easily recognise them after they have solved their
                    problem with Athens. There is no other problem between
                    us. But let them solve their problem with Athens, our
                    friends in Greece, and then we will recognise them. No
                    problem with that.

                    King: Barry Dunsmore of ABC for the President.

                    Dunsmore: Mr President, you have made a big issue of the
                    fact that it is not only the Serbs who are committing
                    atrocities but everyone is guilty to some degree or
                    another. You recalled that about two years ago the then
                    Secretary of State, Laurence Eagleburger, who I know you
                    are acquainted with and were friendly with at one time
                    decided that you and General Mladic and Dr Karadzic are
                    at least responsible for being leaders at a time when
                    ethnic cleansing and war crimes took place. And he
                    believed that you should be put on trial at least to
                    determine the degree of your culpability. I wonder to
                    what extent that weighs on you today and are you trying
                    to be sure that in any arrangements that are being made
                    such a trial will never take place.

                    Milosevic: I don't believe that even larry Eagleburger
                    believes today what he said that day.

                    King: David Martin of CBS.

                    Martin: Mr President, how would you have to alter this
                    proposed peace agreement before the bosnian Serbs would
                    sign it?

                    Milosevic: If I understood you well - the links are not
                    brilliant - the peace proposal is a matter for the sides
                    in confrontation. An issue that they must solve. So I
                    think that the ideas of the Contact Group putting a kind
                    of balanced approach is a basis for the achievement of a
                    complete peace and political solution for
                    Bosnia-herzegovina. And finally what is new in our
                    approach. Three years ago, two years, one year ago,
                    everywhere, here, or in the Hague, in Brussels, in
                    Paris, in Moscow, in Athens, in Geneva and so on - all
                    those things are on the record - I was always explaining
                    there is only one solution for Bosnia-Herzegovina, the
                    former Yugoslav republic. That is the solution which
                    will equally protect the interests of all three
                    constituent peoples in Bosnia-herzegovina. There is no
                    other way for a durable peace. No other way. And this is
                    why I think that an approach which is balanced offering
                    a kind of 50-50 division can be a good basis for the
                    achievement of the solution.

                    King: One more question. Steve Hurst of CNN.

                    Hurst: President Milosevic, are you now then saying that
                    the Bosnian Serbs are willing to give up one third of
                    the land that they have won in the 32 months of
                    fighting? Are you going to be pressing them for that
                    sort of concession.

                    Milosevic: They said that, not now, they said that even
                    before. They are ready to give some land for peace. No

                    Hurst: Not some land but one third on what they have
                    taken back. The Contact Group plan that you have
                    mentioned calls for a roughly 50-50 split.

                    Milosevic: Yes, that is clear, that is their will and I
                    am sure of another thing. I know very well that 99 per
                    cent of Serbs in Bosnia want peace. The same is true of
                    the Muslims. Only extremists on both sides would like to
                    continue the war.

                    King: Mr President, thank you for sharing this time with
                    us. We appreciate it very much.

                    One other thing for President Milosevic. How are you and
                    Mr Karadzic getting along? Things better?

                    Milosevic: I don't understand you, Mr King. Excuse me.

                    King: How are you the head of the Bosnian Serbs getting

                    Milosevic: Oh, I am not accordance with him at all. We
                    are not getting along.

                    Mitchel: You are not really in cahoots together? You are
                    not just pretending to be in disagreement, Mr President?

                    Milosevic: Excuse me, madam, but I really don't hear
                    very well what is your question. Please repeat the

                    King: Okey, she said you're not pretending this
                    disagreement, there is genuine disagreement between you
                    and the Bosnian Serb leadership.

                    Milosevic: Well, there is real disagreement between me
                    and some of them and top of them, let us say that.

                    King: And you are hopeful, are you hopeful on that end
                    that that will get better?

                    Milosevic: Well, I don't believe so when some
                    individuals are considered.

                    King: Thank you, and thank you for optimism and
                    predictions on the other end of a successful peace
                    brought about by President Carter and the others
                    involved. We thank the President again.