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Clinton says Yugoslavia's 'hour is near'
PRINCETON, New Jersey (CNN) -- U.S. President Bill Clinton said Thursday afternoon that he "hoped the hour was near" when the voices of Yugoslavs who voted President Slobodan Milosevic out of office will be heard.
Clinton delivered the keynote address to an academic conference on "The Progressive Tradition" at Princeton University, as hundreds of thousands of people swarmed Belgrade, Yugoslavia, to demand that Milosevic accept his apparent electoral defeat by Vojislav Kostunica in the September 24 election. Clinton said events in Yugoslavia demanded the U.S. carry on the progressive tradition of encouraging freedom.
"There, especially, the fight for freedom should be our own," Clinton said.
Clinton said U.S. insistence that Milosevic yield to the results of last month's presidential elections was true to the vision of progressive presidents such as Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt "when we do our part to keep the peace where brave people are struggling for the quiet miracle of a normal life ... especially in the Balkans, where the first world war began."
'Freedom gaining ground'
"The people of Serbia have spoken with their ballots, on the streets," Clinton said. "I hope the hour is near when their voices can be heard and we can welcome them to democracy, to Europe to the world's community. When they do we will move as quickly as possible to lift sanctions and build the kind of responsible partnership that the people there deserve."
Clinton said the fact that police did not stand in the way of demonstrators demanding that Milosevic yield to them and give up power was a sign of "freedom gaining ground."
"Thousands of young people like you and not-so-young people like me, standing up there and saying that they want their country back, they want to be free," Clinton said. "They voted and they want their vote respected."
Earlier Thursday in Washington, Clinton had declared that the "United States stands with people everywhere who are fighting for their freedom."
Not a case for intervention, Clinton says
"We believe in democracy," Clinton said. "I have said before, the opposition candidate who, according to all unbiased reports clearly won the election, obviously also has strong differences with us. This is not a question of whether he agrees with us. All we want for the Serbian people is what we want for people everywhere -- the right to freely choose their own leaders."
Clinton said he did not believe this was an appropriate case for military intervention and he does not believe the United States "should say or do anything which would only strengthen Milosevic's hand."
Clinton said the Serbian people had made their opinion clear, and if the world community will "stand for freedom, stand for democracy, stand for the will of the people, I think that will prevail."
White House accuses Milosevic of 'another stalling tactic'
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