Albright: Milosevic has created 'horror of biblical proportions'
April 7, 1999
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright accused Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic Wednesday of creating "a horror of biblical proportions" in his "desire to exterminate a group of people."
Appearing on CNN's "Larry King Live," Albright acknowledged that despite NATO's intense bombing campaigns against Yugoslavia, the "score" at this point is "probably pretty even."
Albright, a Czech native who lived in Belgrade during part of her youth, also warned Milosevic to handover the three captured U.S. Army soldiers "without any conditions."
Albright has come under heated criticism in Washington with some calling the NATO air strikes "Albright's War" while others have accused her of misjudging Milosevic's resolve.
To that end, Albright said, "I take full responsibility along with my colleagues for believing that it was essential for us not to stand by and watch what Milosevic was planning to do."
"We cannot watch crimes against humanity," she said.
Fighting a 'depraved leadership in Serbia'
Albright said the Clinton administration exhausted all diplomatic channels in trying to broker a peace deal for Kosovo -- and "there are people who think we went too far, but we kept going on diplomacy."
"The Balkans are not just some appendage of Europe. They're a huge portion of Europe. And what we're trying to do as we enter the 21st century is to have a Europe that is whole and free for the first time in history," she said,
"We cannot have the whole peninsula of southeast Europe be ravaged by a depraved leadership in Serbia that creates instability throughout the Balkans."
The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that more than 600,000 ethnic Albanians have fled Kosovo since March 24, many telling of alleged atrocities, including mass murders and beatings.
There are reports that Yugoslav authorities have since closed border checkpoints and are forcing tens of thousands of refugees back into Kosovo.
Albright called the humanitarian crisis "a horror of biblical proportions."
"It has reminiscences of the kinds of things that people saw during World War II where there really is a desire to exterminate a group of people or use them as pawns," she said. "He is playing games with people's lives."
'The military is on target'
Operation Allied Force has gone on for just over two weeks, with NATO ratcheting up its attacks on Yugoslav forces and Serb police in recent days aimed at choking off the "ethnic cleansing" offensive in Kosovo.
Asked who is winning the war to this point, Albright said, "It's probably pretty even, because what has happened is (Milosevic) has done dreadful things. There's no question about that."
But she added "the military is on target" and will further degrade Yugoslav forces as the campaign intensifies. "Nobody expects this to end quickly. ... We have to be very patient with this."
Her comments came on the eve of a diplomatic mission to Belgrade by the acting Cyprus president, Spyros Kyprianou, to try to secure the release of the three U.S. Army soldiers.
"It is essential that Milosevic turn them over without any conditions because they should not be in this position where they are being used by Milosevic against their will."
"I would like to see them home. They are very brave Americans."
The three soldiers -- Staff Sgt. Andrew A. Ramirez, 24, of Los Angeles; Staff Sgt. Christopher J. Stone, 25, of Smiths Creek, Mich.; and Spec. Steven M. Gonzales, 21, of Huntsville, Texas -- were taken into custody last week while on a routine border patrol near the Yugoslavia-Macedonia border.
Yugoslavian borders closed, refugees' fate 'alarming'
Extensive list of Kosovo-related sites
|Back to the top||
© 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.|
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.