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Secretary of State Madeleine Albright Holds News Briefing on Yugoslavia

Aired October 6, 2000 - 2:05 p.m. ET


LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: We are hearing now from the U.S. side in this matter. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is at the State Department right now giving reporters a briefing on U.S. reaction and other matters pertaining to the Yugoslav revolution.


MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: ... to providing a democratic Yugoslavia with all the help we can, and recognize that they have inherited from Milosevic a host of economic, social and institutional problems. We look forward to welcoming the new Serb government into key regional and global institutions. And we look forward to welcoming the Serb people into the transatlantic community of free and prosperous nations.

We remain fully committed to completing the implementation of the Dayton Accords in Bosnia, to implementing U.N. Security Council Resolution 1244 in Kosovo, and to realizing the goals of the Stability Pact we have forged throughout Southeast Europe.

The developments of this week are another enormous step toward the creation of a Europe without walls, wholly at peace and fully free, and a victory for those who love freedom everywhere.

Thank you very much.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, are you confident that this is irreversible, what's happened in Yugoslavia? And can I just add a quick? I know how the administration would feel about a Milosevic role, which Ivanov evidently is talking to Milosevic about, but should he somehow -- he's been pretty clever -- should he somehow get a piece of the political action, would that affect decisions on sanctions?

ALBRIGHT: Let me say that I think that, to answer the latter question first, I think that basically here we do not think he should have a role. The Serb people have made clear that he shouldn't have a role.

ALBRIGHT: And I think that it's important that that be made clear by everyone, that it is, you know, when you have lost the way he did and tried to manipulate the election, that he does not have a role in the future. I think that the numbers of people out in the streets, and the fact that it is not just people in Belgrade but people coming in from the countryside, which has basically been the stronghold of a lot of Milosevic's strength, is a sign that I think -- my own opinion is that this is -- that they voted with the way they want, that they don't want to go back to a Yugoslavia that is disdained by the other countries in the region and in the world, and that they have an opportunity to be a part of a new, free Yugoslavia.

And I would say, from the numbers of people on the streets, that they have shown the direction that they want to go on.

QUESTION: No, I understand. But, please, what I'm trying to suggest is, we're dealing with a pretty cagey -- you're dealing with a pretty cagey fellow who's done some clever stuff. Dayton -- the walk up to Dayton was one example.

Should he somehow manage, against public will, to get a share of political power, or even to remain a political force in Yugoslavia, would the United States want to hold back on lifting all the sanctions?

ALBRIGHT: Well, we have made clear that it has to be a fully democratic government, and that Milosevic should not have a role in it. And as we talk about lifting the sanctions, I think that that is obviously one of the things we have in mind, but so does everybody else, so that it is important to consider it that way.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, have you spoken with Foreign Minister Ivanov? And if you have -- since his meetings -- and is it still your understanding that he was conveying to Mr. Kostunica President Putin's congratulations on becoming president or simply on winning the first round of the election?

ALBRIGHT: First of all, I have not been in touch with him. I talked to him while he was in India several times. As far as I know, none of the other foreign ministers have been in touch with him either. But I got a message that he wanted to speak to me when he got back to Moscow.

It is my understanding that the Putin message was one in which he congratulated Kostunica for his victory. And I think that we have to -- I want to clarify when I talk with Ivanov whether it was for the victory in the first round or victory as president. But the early statements were basically that he congratulated him for his victory on becoming president.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, how much of the -- how much of the credit for what's now happening in Yugoslavia do you ascribe to U.S. or U.S. and allied policies over the past year or two or three years?

ALBRIGHT: Well, I basically ascribe nine-tenths of the credit to the Yugoslav people. They were the ones that have lived during this very unfortunate time and had the guts to go out and get out on the streets and voice their views and pull themselves together in the opposition.

I do believe that the policies that all of us adopted, in terms of making clear the unacceptability of what Milosevic had done and was doing, was very important, in the long run, of holding the line.

ALBRIGHT: But there's no way to give credit to -- the major credit to anyone but the Yugoslav people themselves. You know, we have sat in many conference rooms and many airplanes and had many transatlantic phone calls, but we're not the ones out on the street. And so, the credit goes to them.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, Kostunica has said that he will not turn over Milosevic to the war crimes tribunal in The Hague. How strongly does the U.S. feel about this? And will you, again, somehow not lift all of the sanctions if he is not turned over?

ALBRIGHT: Well, we have made our position very clear, and we believe in the importance of accountability for what Milosevic has done. And the important thing, first, is to get him out of any position of any kind of power. But we have made our position very clear on this over many years and months. And that has not changed.

I think that, again, the sanctions issue is complex in terms of the different kinds of sanctions. We're talking to the Europeans now about which, you know, how to proceed technically on this. And I think, you know, we are very aware of being careful.

ALBRIGHT: I think that's -- but I do also think that what's very important is to do what we said. It's to -- the Serb people, we told them that if there was a democratic election and if a democratic president was installed -- our sanctions regime is not against the people of Serbia. It was against Milosevic. And if Milosevic is gone, then there are many ways that the sanctions regime can be changed and lifted and adjusted.

QUESTION: Two very quick questions. Secretary Albright, is it necessary for Mr. Milosevic not only to be out of power but out of the country in order to have sanctions lifted, as far as the U.S. is concerned?

And secondly, what kind of relationship do you anticipate the U.S. will have with a President Kostunica, knowing as you do that he has expressed strong anti-American feelings, anti-NATO feelings, et cetera?

ALBRIGHT: Well, first of all, we have said that Milosevic has to be out, and it is -- out of power. And I think that we will be watching this carefully, that there has to be accountability.

So that is where we are in terms of -- a very important point is that Kostunica has won. Milosevic has lost. His time is over; he must go.

And in terms of our relationship, you know, we look forward to establishing a perfectly normal relationship with a new Kostunica government.

ALBRIGHT: We, frankly, don't agree with everything that every government that we have relations with do. So I think that -- I know what President Kostunica has said, and I know him to be a Serb nationalist. I also know that he is not a former Communist, and I also know that he does not believe that dealing with Serbia's polices includes ethnic cleansing and the devastation of the rights of those that are not ethnic Serbs.

Thank you.

QUESTION: Do you know where Milosevic is?

WATERS: The view from the United States State Department. Secretary Madeleine Albright saying Slobodan Milosevic has to be out of power, has to be held accountable for his war crimes, describing the sanctions regime against Serbia as a difficult and complex matter.

She said simply that if duly elected, democratically elected president is installed in Serbia, that sanctions will be limited. She said the U.S. goal to create a Europe without walls, but declines to accept credit for U.S. policies against Serbia, saying the credit belongs to the Yugoslavian people -- Natalie.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: So the world waits and wonders what happens next. The one country that has talked both with Kostunica and Milosevic is Russia.

CNN's Moscow bureau chief Jill Dougherty is keeping an eye on the situation from Moscow -- Jill.

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Natalie, as you can see from the statements by Madeleine Albright, it's not precisely clear what Russia has done. Obviously, Russia has now congratulated Mr. Kostunica, the opposition leader, on his victory, but as Madame Albright said, it's not clear what exactly that victory was: a victory in the first round or victory as the president of Yugoslavia.

And also, Russia apparently still envisions some type of political role for Slobodan Milosevic. Russia met with both sides, the Russian foreign minister in Belgrade, met with both sides, with Mr. Kostunica and then with Slobodan Milosevic. And Mr. Milosevic told Mr. Ivanov, the foreign minister, that he envisions himself as continuing as the head of Serbia's largest political party. And Russia apparently has no objection to that.

Meanwhile, the ambassador from Yugoslavia in Russia, who happens to be the brother of Slobodan Milosevic, Borislav Milosevic, said that the president still considers himself the head of the country.


BORISLAV MILOSEVIC, YUGOSLAV AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA: I think he considers himself to be the president, that there's been no legitimate transfer of power. Even if there were elections and the candidate had scored the necessary number of votes, there must be a legal procedure. There has to be a democratic procedure to transfer power.


DOUGHERTY: So Russia's shift in position has really angered a number of people here in Moscow, the more conservative members, who did support Slobodan Milosevic. In fact, the head of the Communist Party, Gennadiy Zyuganov, said that what is going on in Yugoslavia right now, as he put it, smells of marijuana, vodka and dollars -- Natalie.

ALLEN: Jill Dougherty. And Jill, is anyone saying whether Ivanov or Putin plan to talk with the Clinton administration about what's going on any time soon?

DOUGHERTY: They have not specifically said that from here, but obviously, there has been quite a lot of discussion going on over the past few days and weeks. But they have not specifically said that there will be any discussion.

ALLEN: Jill Dougherty.

DOUGHERTY: I would presume they'd want to have it clarified, though, Natalie.

ALLEN: Jill Dougherty in Moscow. Thanks, Jill.



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