Source: Yugoslavia.com. Slobodan Milosevic interviewed by BBC's Laura Silber (Sept. 25, 1995)
Complete text of the interview given by president of Serbia
               Slobodan Milosevic to Laura Silber, BBC

               Broadcast on 25 September 1995

               In 1987, we faced in the first place the problem of Serbia's
               special position in Yugoslavia. In contrast to the other
               republics, which had a clearly defined position in
               Yugoslavia, thanks to the 1974 Constitution, Serbia was
               simply handicapped, split up into three parts, because under
               that Constitution, the both provinces had some powers which
               were causing conflicts in Serbia, while Serbia proper was not
               defined at all, in the constitutional and political sense
               alike.

               In simple terms, the entire economic system and social life
               were institutionally in a certain state of confrontation.

               In addition, as you know, a separatist avalanche had been
               triggered off again in Kosovo already in the eighties.
               Although I will not say that it resulted from shared feelings
               of all Albanians in Kosovo, it certainly did result from a
               persistent activity of the Albanian separatist movement. I
               always dissociate the Albanians from the separatist movement,
               which as you probably remember, had defined its goal in
               Kosovo in the eighties, in public at that: an ethnically
               clean Kosovo. The position of this province and the fact that
               it had almost all powers of a state were misused then, so
               that almost 40,000 Serbs were driven away from Kosovo. Rapes
               were committed, people were killed, even graveyards were dug
               up, and monasteries, orchards and crop fields were set on
               fire. The Serb exodus from Kosovo began.

               In a way, the political position of Kosovo as a province in
               which the Albanians had majority voting rights in
               decision-making, caused a big crisis. Many of them were
               separatists whose objective was to separate Kosovo from
               Serbia, proclaim Kosovo a republic and have it annexed to the
               neighbouring Albania subsequently. In view of that, we took
               action with a view to uniting Serbia and making its status
               equal to that of the other Yugoslav republics. In other
               words, the objective was to provide Serbia with the same
               powers as those vested in Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and
               Herzegovina, Macedonia and Montenegro, so that it wouldn't
               act in its three different functions - Serbia itself and its
               two provinces, and would be able to pursue its own policies,
               as all of the other Yugoslav republics were doing.

               One of the obstructions to that was also such a very
               long-lived bureaucratic leadership of Serbia, which was also
               an obstruction to the development of a modern market economy,
               and there was also the inherited, demagogic attitude to the
               Albanian separatist structures. We were simply faced with
               that problem and we had to see to the reunification of
               Serbia, in addition to taking a big step towards
               debureacratizing and democratizing the political life. That
               was when sessions were open to public for the first time,
               live broadcasts began to be made and the press began to be
               briefed fully on the moves made. Thus, the entire public
               opinion was mobilized towards changing everything that we all
               thought was not good.

               QUESTION: What can you remember about the developments on
               that day in April 1987, when you stood up in front of people
               and said: "Nobody may beat you up"?

               Well, I remember actually that what you have just said. The
               situation there was simply intolerable. People were deprived
               of their rights completely. We never thought that somebody
               could be discriminated in this country. And it was absurd
               that Serbs were discriminated in Serbia, because that
               province was given such powers as are normally vested in
               states, because such powers were misused by just a few
               Albanian separatists who happened to be at key political
               positions. We simply had to end that agony of the people
               living in Kosovo, and I mean the both people, not only the
               Serbs, since a strained atmosphere and confrontation suit no
               one. As you can see, there are have been no tensions in
               Kosovo in the last few years, there are no murders in Kosovo
               and the crime rate there has not gone above the average for
               the whole country. What is most important and often
               forgotten, when we adopted in 1990, that is to say in 1989,
               the new Constitution of Serbia, under which Serbia was united
               and when state powers of the provinces were at long last
               returned to Serbia, when Serbia became equal to the other
               Yugoslav republics, everything was done completely legally
               with due observance of the procedure for amending the
               Constitution of the Republic of Serbia. That procedure was a
               very stiff one and it made it necessary also for the
               assemblies of autonomous provinces to vote for amendments to
               the Constitution. In such political atmosphere which was
               created from 1987 to 1989, also the Assembly of the
               Autonomous Province of Kosovo,in which, I must tell you that,
               the Albanians held the majority of seats, also voted for
               amendments and the new Constitution of Serbia. They too
               understood that constitutional changes are necessary and that
               a single Constitution of Serbia is essential. That was done
               in March 1989 in a very democratic way, using political means
               exclusively. Later on, when the Yugoslav crisis broke out,
               certain tendencies of the separatist movement in Kosovo were
               revived. However, it must be borne in mind that changes to
               the constitutional structure of Serbia were carried out in a
               completely lawful and constitutional manner, in full
               observance of the constitutional procedure.

               QUESTION: Let's get back to 1990, when you were faced with
               the culmination in Slovenia. What were the items of your
               dispute in the course of the 14th Party Congress?

               Well, the Slovenian leadership simply felt that it would be
               better for Slovenia to get out of Yugoslavia, to secede. That
               is how the Yugoslav crisis began. The Slovenes were the ones
               who opened the door to the Yugoslav crisis, although I
               wouldn't say that they are responsible for all of that, since
               on the one hand, as far as internal factors are concerned,
               the crisis was caused by a growing wave of nationalism. As a
               multi-ethnic country, Yugoslavia undoubtedly couldn't have
               any benefit from that growing wave of nationalism. On the
               other hand, a great external pressure was exerted by the
               countries interested in seeing Yugoslavia disintegrate and in
               expanding their sphere of control and interests also to some
               parts of the former Yugoslavia. These forces found their
               fifth column in Yugoslavia, in these nationalist circles.
               Slovenia, the nearest and westernmost Yugoslav republic, or
               its leadership to be more exact, began to toy with the idea
               of their being better off if they were to get out of
               Yugoslavia. When the crisis broke it, we took one position
               and we still have it. We felt that it would be best for all
               Yugoslav peoples to stay together and look after Yugoslavia,
               although we also felt that we are not the ones who have the
               right to decide on behalf of the Slovenian or Croatian or any
               other people. We have preserved that positive attitude to
               Yugoslavia even to date, believing that all people have the
               right to self-determination. It would be better for them to
               stay in Yugoslavia, but if they want to and think that it
               would be better for them to secede, then that it is their
               inalienable right which cannot be challenged by anybody. That
               was our position from the very beginning.

               However, it so happened that those people in Slovenia, and
               I'd say even more so those in Croatia subsequently, felt that
               their secession would not be convincing enough without
               bloodshed, if it is not carried out violently. Namely, when
               the crisis broke out, we kept saying, I kept saying in public
               and at the meetings we had with the leaderships of the other
               republics, that we are not challenging anybody's right to
               self-determination, but let us then change the Yugoslav
               constitution, let us put all people on equal footing, let us
               make it possible for all peoples to exercise the right to
               self-determination in the same way, so that each people can
               do what they deem best. We believe that it would be better
               for Yugoslavia to remain integrated, like it used to be -
               multi-ethnic. However, we don't want to take such powers into
               our hands, it is a matter to be decided on by all people
               concerned.

               As for the war in Slovenia, we didn't even know that it had
               broken out; it was some kind of an agreement between the then
               federal prime minister Ante Markovic and the military
               leadership. Actually, even today, I don't know how much this
               was connected with some ideas of the Slovenian leadership and
               how much of it was done off somebody's own bat. Be it as it
               may, we condemned it immediately. We didn't want a part of
               Yugoslavia to be militarily confronted with Slovenia in any
               way. Anyway, I think that they had only two killed in that
               war. You will be able to establish this better by listing the
               data relating to the developments in the early nineties,
               since that wasn't a war. I'd say that it was a trivial
               incident provoked by our then federal government.

               At that time, we were even accused of contributing to the
               disintegration of Yugoslavia by tolerating the behaviour of
               the Slovenes. We felt that they have the right to determine
               their own fate and we still feel so. That's how it happened.

               QUESTION: Could you tell us something about the 14th Party
               Congress, about your conflict with Mr.Kucan and how things
               went?

               Well, I don't know whether it would be worthwhile to go into
               details, since the Slovenes, or their party leadership to be
               more precise, simply wanted to impose some visions and
               solutions affecting the future Yugoslavia, which would bring
               the provisions of the 1974 Constitution to absurdity, I'd
               say. The roots were formed by the 1974 Constitution and they
               destroyed Yugoslavia's economy directly. The 1974
               Constitution provided that each republic is responsible for
               its own economy as a whole. It meant the breaking up of the
               Yugoslav economic system. At the time the whole world was
               undergoing integration, we were disintegrating. Practically
               each republic had its own economic programme and began to
               develop itself autarchically, resorting to political demagogy
               in relation to its own general public, to the effect that it
               is doing so in order upgrade the special interests of the
               people and republic concerned. As if special interests of
               that people and that republic can be upgraded more if we are
               all divided, instead of setting up our total economy better
               by joint forces in a bigger market. Therefore, that evolution
               from 1974 reached in 1990 the point of absurdity in some of
               their ideas, to the effect that we must separate completely,
               which had nothing to do either with market economy or common
               sense, since we took integration as something necessary, and
               disintegration, fragmentation, atomization into our
               individual republics as a feudal approach to modern economy,
               which can yield negative results only.

               Therefore, we clashed over a principled issue. Our concept
               was geared to a single Yugoslav market and greater
               integration with Europe. I think that even today it would be
               quite illogical to think that one of the Yugoslav republics
               would get better integrated in the European economic trends
               if it gets disintigrated in the Balkans and in Yugoslavia
               beforehand. In principle, that is where the roots of the
               conflicts and differences we had at that time were. I can't
               interpret to you what was said and what actually happened
               then. However, it's all on tape and if you are interested,
               you can see and hear for yourself.

               QUESTION: And now, let's get to Lord Carrington's peace plan.
               Our broadcast is showing to the West for the first time that
               you were very much interested in seeing this agreement
               signed. What made you decide not to accept that plan in its
               final version?

               I'll tell you. What was proposed as The Hague document could
               not have been acceptable, because by a stroke of the pen,
               they simply abolished Yugoslavia by that Hague document. They
               had no right to do that. They abandoned the principles which
               we altogether had accepted at the beginning of The Hague
               Conference. It was a question of just a few principles and I
               wouldn't like to waste your time on that. You can see that
               for yourself. However, the Conference accepted that, counting
               on the possibility of a political solution being found
               beforehand, formulating the people's right to
               self-determination, the political agreements on the mode in
               which such right is to be exercised. A final political
               agreement was reached as to the future of the then
               Yugoslavia, and everything we should all agree on beforehand
               should then be sanctioned and made official or be
               officialized fully.

               However, a few weeks after the Conference had made a start
               with such principles, the European Community simply abandoned
               them. The so-called Badinter Commission was set up. It was
               not a body of jurists; it was only nominally a body of
               jurists that took decisions and made appraisals on the basis
               of political pressures. They proclaimed that Yugoslavia no
               longer exists, while we were of the opinion that Yugoslavia
               does exist and that they can't abolish Yugoslavia by a stroke
               of the pen. The question of who was to remain in Yugoslavia
               was no business of the Badinter Commission or of The Hague
               Conference; it was up to the Yugoslav peoples to decide on
               that. Namely, it stands to reason that if we are not
               challenging any people's right to withdraw from Yugoslavia,
               then it would not be possible to challenge the right of other
               people who want to stay in their existing country,
               Yugoslavia, to do so. I don't see why we were being or could
               be forced into deciding not to exist any longer, just because
               somebody wants to leave the country. We wanted to stay in
               Yugoslavia.

               It was absurd that in view of such developments, we here were
               subsequently accused of being nationalists. It turned out
               that those who had seceded from Yugoslavia forcibly with a
               view to establishing their national or putting it better,
               nationalist states, were given support by the international
               community and treated like democrats, while we, who were
               striving for the preservation of the multi-ethnic Yugoslavia
               and who have preserved the multi-ethnic Yugoslavia and
               remained to live in the country we lived in before, were
               accused of being nationalists. These two things can in no way
               go together. That is so obvious. There are simply no
               documents which could bring into question facts and
               everything that has happened. What did happen was that those
               who had seceded from Yugoslavia forcibly were rewarded, while
               those who had decided to stay in Yugoslavia and preserve it,
               were punished.

               QUESTION: Let's get back to April 1993. Lord Owen wrote that
               you said that you have accepted his plan. Why did you accept
               it?

               I'll tell you quite briefly, without details. What is
               involved is a principled approach. We had the same position
               from the outbreak of the crisis in Bosnia and Herzegovina,
               and we still have it. I think that time will show that there
               is no other solution. The crisis in Bosnia and Herzegovina
               can be settled only politically, not with military means.
               That's one thing.

               Number two: a political solution to the crisis in Bosnia and
               Herzegovina can be a successful one only if equal protection
               of the interests of the three peoples living in Bosnia and
               Herzegovina: Muslims, Serbs and Croats.

               I am sure that a vast majority of your public doesn't know
               whether Bosnia and Herzegovina was defined prior to the
               crisis as a republic of three constituent nations - Muslims,
               Serbs and Croats - or whether it is defined as such in its
               own constitution now. Therefore, their conflict could not
               have been interpreted as it was: as Serbia's aggression
               against Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was a conflict inside
               Bosnia and Herzegovina between its three constituent nations.

               At the illegal referendum for the secession of Bosnia and
               Herzegovina - I say illegal because if three nations and
               their consensus are laid down in the Constitution, such a
               crucial decision may not be taken without the consent of one
               of the constituent nations - the Serbs refused to become
               second-rate citizens of a Muslim republic set up by the
               Sarajevo regime, and they said: We want to stay in
               Yugoslavia. That problem could have been settled politically.
               I think that the international community was in a fair way to
               resolving that problem. A special conference on Bosnia was
               formed, and it was chaired by Ambassador Cutiliero of
               Portugal. I the conference in The Hague well; it was chaired
               by Carrington, and Cutiliero took the floor first and
               presented his report. You are bound to have that on tape, so
               that you can check it. His main opinion was that the
               conference on Bosnia and Herzegovina has achieved a certain
               positive evolution. Izetbegovic took the floor next and
               strongly insisted on Bosnia and Herzegovina being recognized
               internationally. I stepped in after them by posing a simple
               question: Cutiliero is referring to a positive evolution
               concerning Bosnia and Herzegovina, while Izetbegovic is
               insisting on instant international recognition of the
               illegally established Bosnia and Herzegovina, resulting also
               in a crisis of the conference chaired by Cutiliero. These two
               matters are in a collision. Why spoil the positive evolution
               of the Lisbon Conference by resorting to a premature
               recognition? A premature recognition could produce tragic
               consequences.

               That did happen: several weeks later, the international
               community recognized Bosnia and Herzegovina, although the
               referendum according to which it had declared its
               independence was an illegal one. In addition, at the moment
               of its recognition, it had no collective presidency but a
               rump one; it had no assembly since it had disintegrated, the
               parliament had disintegrated; and it had no government since
               it, too, had disintegrated, because all of the constituent
               nations of Bosnia and Herzegovina have always been
               represented in it. Moreover, the then recognized government
               didn't control at that time even a half of the territory of
               Bosnia & Herzegovina.

               Thus, all rules applicable to such cases were simply ignored
               and a premature recognition was given, which was used by the
               Sarajevo Government towards recruiting international support
               to its right to establish order by military means in the
               country in which that government was recognized. That
               Government was never elected in that country for the
               performance of such task.

               Therefore, all democratic principles were violated and the
               Sarajevo Government headed by Alija Izetbegovic was provided
               with an excuse for launching military operations against and
               exerting pressure on the Serbs. So the war broke out. I found
               out subsequently that Lord Carrington himself said that was
               the biggest mistake - the premature recognition of Slovenia,
               followed by Croatia and lastly, the absurd Bosnia and
               Herzegovina, which had never existed as a state.

               I will now get back to your question. Precisely because we
               believed from the very beginning of this conflict and crisis
               that there can be no other solution than the one that will
               protect all of the three nations equally. When the Vance-Owen
               plan was proposed, it had a more or less balanced approach.
               Our position was that it is essential for the interests of
               the Muslims, Serbs and Croats to be protected equally in
               Bosnia. We would give our support to any plan which protects
               such interests equally. Unfortunately, it was rejected, the
               war continued and many people got killed in the meantime.

               QUESTION: How did you try to persuade Karadcic into accepting
               it?

               Well, my attempt was made in public, since the session of the
               Assembly at Pale, which I attended, was broadcast live. I
               used precisely some of the arguments I have already mentioned
               to you. The most important thing was to stop the war
               instantly and then, under the circumstances of diminished
               tension and temperature, absence of bloodshed and clashes,
               try to find reasonable political solutions which would
               protect equally the interests of the both or of the all three
               parties. Even now the most important thing would be to stop
               the war, not to specify the details of all possible
               solutions, because details can be discussed endlessly. The
               arguments we used were recorded, and we spent a whole day and
               night in a heated debate. I think that they didn't realize
               the advantages of the Vance-Owen plan because they were too
               obsessed with territorial issues. These issues never will be
               nor are the most important ones. Borders will probably
               disappear in Europe gradually. Europe will not be divided by
               Chinese walls in the 21st century. People will mix. Isolation
               will not be the future of the Balkans or Europe. It was more
               important to achieve some other values, particularly equal
               treatment, equal status and impossibility of anybody being
               discriminated. These were also the reasons for giving support
               to our people outside Yugoslavia, outside Serbia, and that is
               the limit of our support - that people are protected,
               accorded equal rights, free and non-discriminated. As for the
               kind of constitutional arrangement, in the circumstances of
               equality, one nation will share its lot with the others. In
               that respect, we never made special demands for our people
               concerning rights, or demands that other nations in the
               territory of the former Yugoslavia may have.

               QUESTION: (The introducer said: Laura Silber began the second
               half of the interview by asking President MiloŻevic a
               question about problems in the Serbian province of Kosovo).

               It was a comprehensive policy of isolating Kosovo from the
               rest of Yugoslavia and a consistent implementation of the
               concept of the Albanian separatist movement which had
               announced its goal officially. It was then that I heard for
               the first that expression - ethnically clean - because until
               then, reference was made to Kosovo only. Their objective was
               an ethnically clean Kosovo. We felt that this goal was an
               uncivilized one in the first place, and a very dangerous one.
               It's nonsensical to speak about ethnically clean countries at
               the end of this century. I don't know whether an ethnically
               clean country exists anywhere. Their thus set goal involving
               ethnic cleanliness of Kosovo implies discrimination of all
               non-Albanian inhabitants of Kosovo. The grounds on which they
               wanted to pursue that goal were the powers vested in that
               Province, giving it practically the status of a republic and
               all levers of power necessary for the achievement of such a
               goal, which I'd say is a purely Nazi one.

               Therefore, we were faced with an anti-civilizational matter
               at the end of the 20th century and a policy of brutal
               discrimination, in which it is resorted to the cruelest
               means, including everything from murder and rape to driving
               people away from their homes and setting houses, churches,
               orchards and crop fields on fire, all in an effort to create
               the so-called "Kosovo Republic", which is absurd in Serbia,
               because Kosovo is not just an ordinary part of Serbia. Kosovo
               is the very heart of Serbia, the whole history of Serbia is
               in Kosovo, all of our monasteries are in Kosovo, and Kosovo
               has been Serbian for so many centuries now. It is incredible
               for any Serb that somebody should even mention the
               possibility of Kosovo being taken away, stolen from Serbia
               and turned into a part of some other state. However, I must
               tell you that not only Serbs were the victims of such
               Albanian separatism, since its victims were also the
               Albanians who didn't want to take part in that dirty
               activity, as well as members of the other nations, such a
               Montenegrins, Turks, Muslims, Gypsies and others living in
               Kosovo, including some Croats who lived there. The Albanian
               separatist movement simply announced its goal in public:
               ethnic cleanliness of Kosovo, which then produced all of the
               other, less important, second-rate, third-rate or fifth-rate
               manifestations, which as a whole made up a policy of violence
               and discrimination, which absolutely had to be stopped, which
               we did.

               QUESTION: Can you describe to us the moment when the Slovenes
               left the hall in that dramatic night of the 14th Party
               Congress?

               Ah, they didn't leave the hall all of a sudden. They had
               prepared themselves for leaving it. That was a game, a quite
               dirty and transparent one. They had even checked out of their
               hotel that morning. The practical-minded Slovenes didn't want
               to pay for another night, so they checked out in the morning
               and left their luggage at the reception. Therefore, they
               feigned anger, dissatisfaction and protest, and then left the
               hall. They left their hotel rooms at 7 a.m. and paid their
               bills, and at noon they feigned their resignation,
               disappointment, anger at the non-acceptance of their
               arguments, etc.

               As for political implications, I drew attention at that
               Congress to what is going to happen because of such a
               destructive behaviour, not only because of their destructive
               behaviour, but also because of the Congress' tolerant
               attitude to such behaviour. Many Croatian delegates didn't
               give them support, while no Bosnian delegates gave them
               support.

               However, because of what I'd call a compromising, demagogic
               state of relations in the then party leadership, the policy
               of avoiding grudges, the weakness and I'd say an agony of
               helplessness, which was the chief characteristic of the then
               political life, it was not possible to formulate a
               comprehensive policy geared to the preservation of Yugoslavia
               and the preservation of its political unity. The Slovenes
               managed to break through that line then and trigger off hell
               and chaos in parts of the former Yugoslavia.

               QUESTION: Can you tell us anything about the hostage crisis
               in 1995?

               Well, there is no need for that. I mean, I can't tell you any
               more than I have already said.

               QUESTION: But you nevertheless managed to have them released.
               How did you do that?

               We did it with great difficulty and huge effort. We felt that
               we had to do it, simply because that act meant the staining
               of the Serbian peoples' honour. The Serbs never committed in
               the past such immoral acts such as tying to lamp posts like
               dogs the people who came in good faith, with our consent and
               who are not on any warring side. We here were in a situation
               in which we could not just condemn that act. Sweden can
               condemn, France can condemn or you can condemn, but Serbia
               must do more than that. That is why we did everything
               possible towards these people being released and returned,
               believing that what has happened was absolutely unacceptable
               from the aspect of morality in the first place. It wasn't an
               easy task, but I can't tell you the details about it.

               QUESTION: What do you think about the arrival of the UN
               troops in Bosnia and do you now think that they have achieved
               their objective?

               I wouldn't say that they have been unsuccessful. If you were
               to ask yourself whether their activity has contributed to the
               achievement of peace, the answer would be no, because it
               didn't. However, the answer would be yes to a different
               question: Would have the war escalated and been incomparably
               more brutal, with many more victims, had the UN forces not
               been present? Therefore, the presence of the United Nations
               was not useless. It has made it possible for the war to have
               a low profile and it is providing better chances for a
               peaceable settlement being made, without an escalation which
               could absolutely no longer be bridled.

               That is why I think that on the whole, the presence of the
               United Nations was a useful one. That is also why I think
               that the United Nations forces should not be withdrawn from
               Bosnia, although I certainly think that neither should they
               have dual standards in relation to the parties involved.

               The main issue concerning the international community was
               that it should accord equal treatment to parties to the
               conflict. I can understand your public opinion for always
               standing up for the Muslims, because they have lost the war,
               since the public opinion always stands up for the weaker
               side. However, the war was imposed onto the Serbs in Bosnia,
               the Serbs didn't start the war there and the creation of the
               impression that Serbia has committed aggression against
               Bosnia and Herzegovina is nonsensical. Namely, your general
               public failed to understand the fact that the presence of
               Serbs in Bosnia does not mean that an army from Serbia has
               invaded Bosnia and Herzegovina with a view to occupying it:
               the Serbs involved are the citizens of Bosnia and
               Herzegovina, who even under the Constitution of Bosnia and
               Herzegovina make up one of its three constituent nations and
               who have refused to be second-rate citizens in a Muslim state
               Alija Izetbegovic wanted to create with his followers, with
               the support of various external factors.

               Therefore, getting back to the role of the United Nations, I
               think that it was a positive one on the whole, although I
               think that this opinion would have been even better, had the
               United Nations not applied dual standards in the approach to
               the warring sides in Bosnia and Herzegovina. If the United
               Nations Organization manages to secure equal treatment for
               all parties to the conflict, its role would be irreplaceable.
               If it gives privileges to one side and punishes the other,
               its role is likely to fade and turn into its opposite. The
               main request is for the United Nations to be unbiased and
               objective, otherwise it would be only discrediting itself.

               QUESTION: Do you think that one of the causes of the fall of
               Srebrenica was precisely the fact that UNPROFOR was defending
               one side from the other?

               Oh, no. It's quite a different matter. I think that many
               mistakes were made there. The agreement on the Srebrenica
               safe area was made in 1993. I remember that well. That
               UN-protected area was supposed to be demilitarized. General
               Morillon told me here in my office that he personally thinks
               that the commanding officer in Srebrenica, Oric, had
               personally cut the throats of more than 40 Serbs, that he is
               a war criminal and that these and other matters will
               certainly have to be considered after the war. However, he
               then insisted that the status of Srebrenica as a safe area be
               accepted, in which case the United Nations would undertake to
               demilitarize it. Unfortunately, that did not happen. The
               Serbian side accepted it then, and we put in a lot of effort
               towards the United Nations request for making Srebrenica a
               safe area being accepted. However, according to the reliable
               reports and information available to us, by continuously
               launching minor and major attacks from this area, Oric's
               forces certainly killed more than 100 and seriously wounded
               more than 200 people in the neighbourhood. A few days ago,
               they burned down two Serbian villages, ViŻnjica and Banja
               Lucica, and killed all villagers found when they intruded
               from Srebrenica.

               Under such circumstances, when the United Nations forces were
               simply not seeing to the safe area status being observed by
               the two parties, a situation arose in which it absolutely
               wasn't possible to except that all that could be kept under
               some reasonable control. I personally don't know what went on
               there, I didn't even know anything about that offensive,
               although I realized that a big change was made there,
               undoubtedly brought about by such a status, meaning a status
               unsettled for two whole years. This offensive, which has been
               under way for a few months now and which was launched around
               Sarajevo first and then in the enclaves, is happening because
               the Muslim leadership felt that they now have a chance of
               scoring some military victory and making people lose their
               lives towards nonsensical and unachievable goals.

               I say again that there is no military solution to the problem
               in Bosnia and Herzegovina. None of its constituent peoples,
               Serbs, Muslims and Croats, have anywhere to go outside Bosnia
               and Herzegovina. They are no outside occupiers, so that you
               are liberating your own country. The Serbs are staying where
               they are, so are the Muslims and Croats, too. The only
               formula is the political one, which will protect the
               interests of the Muslims, Serbs and Croats equally, so that
               they can carry on living one beside the other. Of course,
               when peace is established at last, I'm sure that such peace
               and normal life which will follow, will annul many results of
               this war, which was a very dirty one. And it is a good thing
               that will be so.

               QUESTION: We have now reached the last few questions. Can you
               tell us something about the rally of February 1989? A million
               people were gathered in front of the parliament then, you
               were attending a crisis session about the special measures in
               Kosovo, and you addressed the people.

               I remember the big rally. Yes, it was a big rally. A big
               support was being given in Serbia to our effort to settle the
               Kosovo issue, to settle the crisis and let people begin to
               live normally and on equal footing. I can tell you that even
               today, I feel that a vast majority of the citizens of Serbia
               think that in a country like Yugoslavia, the present FR of
               Yugoslavia and the former Yugoslavia, no other policy than
               the policy of ethnic equality can be pursued. Such
               multi-ethnic countries can be successful and prosperous only
               if they are pursuing a policy of ethnic equality.

               A medieval coup was carried out in Kosovo with that slogan
               about ethnic cleanliness, pressures and all of the cruel
               measures applied. That simply had to be eliminated and all
               citizens were for it, including a vast majority of Albanians.
               I'm sure of that. Regardless of the accusations we can read
               about in the various foreign newspapers, they are in a much
               better position, they know that they are living in peace and
               security, that they are completely safe and that they can
               work normally. Now we can see that Trepca - a lead and zinc
               mining and producing complex I intend to see in any case -
               has begun to operate again. Of course, it would have begun to
               operate earlier had these sanctions not been introduced. It
               has begun to operate and many Albanians are going back to
               their jobs. They too are no longer paying any heed to their
               leadership, the top of their separatist movement, who are
               forbidding them to work in any enterprise together with
               Serbs. They are coming back, several hundred have already
               returned in a week, thousands of people are returning to
               their jobs. In simple terms, their policy which was
               implemented by the separatist movement in Kosovo has failed.
               It hasn't failed only in Serbia as a whole, but it has failed
               also in that part of Serbia which is called Kosovo and it has
               failed among Albanians. It has failed in Serbia a long time
               ago.

               QUESTION: We have some marvelous pictures from that rally.
               Can you tell us what it was like that night?

               Well, it was actually an atmosphere of support to a political
               settlement of the Kosovo crisis. That was the essence. There
               was nothing else involved.

               QUESTION: When do you think you were closest to peace?

               I think that peace was closest when we did everything towards
               the European Union's proposal being accepted. You will
               remember that we met in Geneva or Brussels, I no longer
               remember exactly where it was; twelve European ministers and
               all parties to the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and
               representatives of Yugoslavia and Croatia, sat at the same
               table. The twelve ministers proposed then to parties to the
               conflict and all of us a plan consisting of several items
               which I can still remember: that 33.3 percent of the
               territory is set aside for the Muslim republic, since this
               federation was still not created then, that UN administration
               be provided for Sarajevo, and that an outlet to the River
               Sava be provided in Brcko. The other two parties immediately
               said that the proposals are good, and the Serbian one showed
               reserve. We spent days and nights in debating that matter
               together, and in the end, it was decided for the EU plan to
               be accepted without any reservations. There were many ideas
               about its being accepted with this or that reservation, but
               our view was that the complete request of the European Union
               should be accepted without any reservation, in the interest
               of peace. If the twelve European ministers had given a great
               deal of thought to that plan and taken that decision, and if
               that could be a way towards peace, regardless of whether all
               in the leaderships, including that of the Serb Republic,
               considered it best or not, it should be accepted. And they
               did accept it. We went back to Geneva for the purpose of the
               plan being signed. Izetbegovic refused. The European Union
               acted thereafter as if it actually hadn't proposed anything.

               Peace initiatives simply fail whenever equal treatment is not
               accorded to all parties to the conflict, when one side is
               taken. There is no chance of success then and we are back to
               square one. There can be no grounds for a lasting peace until
               a formula providing for equal protection of the interests of
               all three nations of Bosnia and Herzegovina is arrived at.
               Peace at the expense of one nation is not possible. A serious
               lasting peace is not possible. What is possible is a half-way
               and unstable peace. However, only a peace protecting the
               Serbs, Croats and Muslims equally can be a lasting peace, and
               we need a lasting peace. That's the main point for the
               international community, I'd say. Once it decides to accord
               equal treatment to all parties to the conflict, it will have
               opened the doors to peace in the Balkans. Peace will have
               been achieved.