Interview with Slobodan Milosevic
For fair use only. Source: Yugoslavia.com
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
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
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
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
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
King: We'll take some calls for President Milosevic.
There are reports that you are still supplying arms to
the Serbs in Bosnia. True?
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
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,
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
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.