Milosevic proclaims victory with end to Kosovo conflict
June 10, 1999
From Correspondent Walter Rodgers
BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (CNN) -- As Yugoslav soldiers began streaming out of Kosovo on Thursday, Yugoslavia's president portrayed the withdrawal as a victory telling his citizens: "We survived."
"We demonstrated our army cannot be defeated," President Slobodan Milosevic said Thursday as he announced the end of the 11-week-old war. Most importantly, he added, "We did not give up the province of Kosovo."
He called for national unity, but his attempt to put a pleasant face on the outcome of the war was met with mixed reaction in Belgrade.
The appeal to solidarity seemed to be a warning that dissent and postwar criticism are not welcome. But he may find it difficult to keep the opposition quiet.
Members of his own government -- like ultranationalist leader Vojislav Seselj -- accused Milosevic of selling out with the armistice.
"The Serb Radical Party will not accept the aggressors' boots marching on our territory or the occupation of the Federal Republic Of Yugoslavia," Seselj said.
Milosevic said the Yugoslav army had lost only 462 soldiers and 114 special police officers -- barely a tenth of NATO's estimate of 5,000 or more Yugoslav combat deaths.
Some in Belgrade seemed to accept the government's claim of a moral victory over NATO. Privately, however, others scoffed at their government's claim of triumph.
"I think we never should have come to this point," said one man, who wanted to remain anonymous. "We didn't need the war. Everything is the same as before, which means NATO got everything it asked for."
Peacekeepers prepare to enter Kosovo
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