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Special Event

Vojislav Kostunica Sworn In As Yugoslav President

Aired October 7, 2000 - 3:18 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

GENE RANDALL, CNN ANCHOR: The other major story this day, of course, is taking place in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, where Vojislav Kostunica is being sworn in as that country's new president.

VOJISLAV KOSTUNICA, YUGOSLAV PRESIDENT (through translator): We don't have to agree in all issues, everything for the well being of the country we live in. I am convinced that, with this, we will enter a new era of our political life, when what is most precious, the peace, will be fulfilled here; and if there is one thing that this country really is missing, it is peace.

And I hope that this thing is here in front of us. And it's -- that we, in a future country, in a future society, we will manage all of those things. In spite of all difficulties we went through in the past month and a half. And I am very convinced that we will face those difficulties on the proper way and we will solve all problems we are facing and the unity of Serbia and Montenegro we will make firmer than it used to be. That we will put Kosovo under our sovereignty even more than it used to be. And that we will bring our country into international community, but with dignity, and following our national interests and our national dignity.

I think that the world, especially Europe, sees us that way. There are a lot of countries, really, speaking frankly, that mean a lot of bad things to us, did wrong to us but, anyway, I think that we are entering the family of nations that are close to us today with dignity. The way that always used to categorize the people from this region.

This moment is -- I would like to say something personally. For many times I was thinking whether it is possible to take the dialogue -- to conversate (ph), to talk, in spite of our differences with no hard words, without violence, and I really think that this era is really in front of us. And I felt that in past few months. And I felt that that is the demand of the people who live in Serbia, the demand addressed to all the representatives -- doesn't matter what political party they belong to.

Thank you, and in the end, I would like to say that those words of my swearing you in, I bear within my heart all of those words, words of my swearing in. And I really like the country I live in. Thank you.

RANDALL: Alessio Vinci, our Belgrade bureau chief, has been listening to this. Alessio, are you with us?

ALESSIO VINCI, CNN BELGRADE BUREAU CHIEF: Yes, Gene. You can see from those pictures, President Vojislav Kostunica now being greeted by the former chief of staff of the Yugoslav army. The former will assume that he will be changed once the new government here is installed. What we are seeing now is the inauguration of Vojislav Kostunica, the president of Yugoslavia. This is taking place in a make-up -- make-shift federal parliament because, as you remember, that parliament has been destroyed during the demonstrations here on Thursday.

They are now meeting at a Federal Parliament -- a joint session of the Federal Parliament is now meeting in a joint session, and in front of that parliament Vojislav Kostunica takes his oath. He made a short speech where, basically, he said that it was an important thing that happened here in last few days. He said that the most important thing is that we know that this was an historical moment for Serbia and despite -- and he said that my political belief is that without democracy there is no prosperity. Mr. Kostunica, of course, referring to the fact that he would like very much to change the way Serbia is perceived not only here in the region, but also throughout the world.

Mr. Kostunica has vowed to bring back Serbia -- to bring Serbia out of its current isolation. Serbs have been under international sanctions and isolation from over ten years now and that's isolation and sanctions imposed by the international community because of the nationalist regime of his predecessor Slobodan Milosevic.

In a speech, Mr. Kostunica also said that we must find a way to talk together in one parliament, to join together people with different political opinion. That means, of course, the parliament that Mr. Kostunica was addressing to is a parliament where are not only people who are supporting his candidacy, but also several people from the Socialist Party supporting Mr. Milosevic and the Yugoslav left.

The way the presidential -- the parliamentary elections took place on September 24 is that the Yugoslav left and the Socialist Party, in coalition with the People's Party of Montenegro, have a majority in the parliament and, therefore, now that Mr. Kostunica is the president, he will have to propose a prime minister, but it will up to this parliament to vote and to accept this prime minister in a vote.

And of course, there are some discrepancies between the people supporting Kostunica and his opponents. We have heard for many, many weeks now that the Socialist People's Party in Montenegro who is, in this case, pretty much a king-maker because the deputies in Montenegro will have to, basically, choose whether to remain loyal to the policies of President Milosevic and therefore perhaps support the candidacy of a different prime minister or whether the deputies which are supporting Mr. Kostunica will be able to gain enough support in both chambers of the parliament to be able to agree to take a prime minister which will be the choice of Vojislav Kostunica. Back to you, Gene. RANDALL: Alessio Vinci in Belgrade. Alessio, thanks very much for the update. Vojislav Kostunica is the new democratically-elected president of Yugoslavia.

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