|SECRETARY MADELEINE ALBRIGHT|
May 7, 1999
JIM LEHRER: Madam Secretary, welcome.
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, U.S. Secretary of State: Hello, Jim.
JIM LEHRER: Has there been any response to the G-8 proposal from Yugoslavia?
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: No, not that I know of. And I think that we did a lot of good work yesterday in Bonn on the G-8, you know. What we're doing, Jim, is operating on two tracks. There's obviously the diplomatic track, and the G-8 was a part of that. Chernomyrdin's trip to Belgrade and to capitals, one of which was in Washington, is a part of it. Strobe Talbot is going to be going to Moscow early next week, and I have had many conversations with our various NATO allies as well as with Secretary-General Solana. There is a lot going on on the diplomatic track, and then there is the military track, where the air campaign has intensified and it is now taking place on a 24-hour a day basis, seven days a week, 360 degrees of attacks from... at various places. There has been a... we've really taken this air campaign to the forces in the field, and over a hundred pieces of equipment have been recently destroyed and we also have done a great deal of damage, as you know, on the military structure that Milosevic commands, and have been systematically debilitating and destroying that military machine of his. So there is this double-track campaign.
|Is Milosevic ready to talk?|
|JIM LEHRER: On the diplomatic track, have you had no hints,
no suggestions through intermediaries, or whatever, that he may be willing
to talk about this?
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: Well, not that have come to the Department of State. I think that there are obviously those that are listening very carefully. Milosevic knows how to get messages to us. And I think that we will all await his response to what is really a very unified approach to this. What I have found very, very heartening is that NATO has obviously been united and was very strong at the NATO summit, delivering the message of the five conditions very clearly: that the violence has to stop; that the Serb forces have to be withdrawn; that the refugees have to be able to go back; that there has to be an international military force that goes in; and that there has to be political movement towards a political settlement. Those conditions have been reiterated, and they were reiterated again yesterday by the G-8. So there is a consistency in our demands on what Milosevic has to accept. And as far as I know, there has been no response as of yet.
JIM LEHRER: There was a suggestion today that Milosevic might be willing to at least talk about this, but only after the bombing stops; in other words, there has to be a bombing halt first or some way part of an agreement that would lead to a discussion of this proposal. What's the US position on that?
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: Well, that's not the deal. I mean, the deal is that there can be no suspension of the bombing until he accepts the conditions that I have stated and he begins a demonstrated withdrawal of the forces according to a very precise and detailed schedule.
JIM LEHRER: Now, the Russian involvement in this... when Russia signed on, NATO was already there and Japan joined this, and then Russia joined this. Did you have the feeling that that meant that Milosevic also either indirectly or otherwise was joining it, or otherwise Russia would not have signed on?
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: We don't have that indication, but I have the sense, and this has come about as a result of the conversations with Mr. Chernomyrdin and with Foreign Minister Ivanov, is that the Russians understand more and more the necessity of pressing here to try to bring this to an acceptable conclusion according to the conditions that have been raised. As you know, Jim, I met with Ivanov a couple of weeks ago in Oslo shortly after I'd met with the other members...
JIM LEHRER: He's the Russian foreign minister.
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: I'm sorry, the Russian foreign minister, and he had at that stage accepted four of the five conditions in a general way. And in the last couple of weeks I think that the Russians have seen the importance of having an international force in there. Now, we do not yet agree on the contents of it. We have insisted, and will continue to insist, that there has to be NATO at the core of it, and that we insist on not for theological reasons, but because there's no way that the refugees will go back if that is not the case.
JIM LEHRER: What...
|Keeping the pressure on the Serbs.|
|MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: But we don't have indications as of
yet that the Serbs agree with what the Russians have now agreed to.
JIM LEHRER: So, but without the Serbs' agreement, there's nothing here, right?
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: Well, obviously the Serbs have to accept this. But I think as the pressure on them increases, and it's evident and that more and more countries -- not just the NATO countries, but others -- agree with the same conditions, the question is whether Milosevic can live under the conditions of increasing international isolation and at the same time as his military machine is being systematically destroyed and degraded.
JIM LEHRER: There was a feeling yesterday, Madam Secretary, that things were moving quickly... were going to move quickly on this diplomatic front. Is that a correct reading of things? In other words, if this in fact is a workable solution, do you expect things to happen quickly?
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: No, I don't. I think there are an awful lot of diplomatic details that need to be worked out and I think that it's going to take a while. Those five conditions that I have now repeated so many times...
JIM LEHRER: Right.
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: ...need to be elaborated upon, and we are now working on the detail of those, because there... obviously, trying to sort out all the aspects of it is very important. There also, as you know, are a number of people involved in this, of trying to keep the NATO people together -- the Russians are now part of it -- and I think that it's going to take a while. It's a complicated diplomatic negotiation. And at the same time we will continue the sustained air campaign.
JIM LEHRER: Now, what... how and when does the United Nations get involved in this now?
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: Well, we believe that it is useful for the United Nations to endorse basically the five conditions as elaborated, that they would at some stage end up in a Security Council resolution that would endorse the diplomatic work that had been done and set the stage for how a civilian implementation would take place. We believe that that is a very good and important role for the United Nations. The Secretary-General has named two envoys to represent him, and we believe that the best role for them is to actually work on looking forward to how a civilian implementation, which also would have many, many details to it, how that would be worked out.
JIM LEHRER: But the international force that would be . . . that is contemplated and that is a must from the NATO point of view, that would go into Kosovo, that would not be a U.N. force?
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: No, that would be a force that had NATO at its core, that would then... we do not believe that such a force needs to be authorized by the United Nations or have it be a United Nations force, but a Security Council resolution under what is known as "Chapter Seven," which means that it has to be carried out, that it's . . . that that would be a useful way of having that kind of a Security Council resolution adopt and endorse what had been worked out diplomatically.
|Where does the U.N. fit in?|
|JIM LEHRER: Now, is that in the works? When is that going
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: Well, that is also, I think, off some ways because first all these diplomatic details have to be worked out. As I mentioned, my deputy, Strobe Talbott, is going to be going to Moscow early next week and with an expert team to begin working on elaborating those five conditions, which then would lead to a Security Council resolution.
JIM LEHRER: But that's to work it out with the Russians, not with anybody other than the Russians, correct?
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: Yes, but at the same time, we are all working on it in the other areas. For instance, one of the assignments that came out of the G-8 meeting yesterday was that the political directors of the G-8 would also look at the elements of a Security Council resolution and work on the various parts of elaborating those five conditions. What is so interesting about this, Jim, is that there are so many countries involved in working out the diplomatic solutions and how we all work together. I have spent an inordinate amount of time on the phone with my fellow foreign ministers talking about the details of this, coordinating this diplomatic action and keeping all these various parties involved in moving towards the single direction of getting elaboration on these five conditions and moving forward to the point where the refugees can go back. We have to keep our eye on the ball here. The main thing that we want here, a sign of success, will be... is when those refugees are going back to Kosovo.
JIM LEHRER: What's your own personal level of optimism that this thing is going to work?
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: Well, I am a realist and a hardworking realist, and I'm not going to rate it in terms of optimism or pessimism. We're just going to keep working it. And I think there is an awful lot of work to be done. We are doing the right thing. I am convinced every day that the United States has done the right thing in rallying our allies for this cause, that seeing this kind of ethnic cleansing and the huge numbers of people that have been expelled from Kosovo and the horrible massacres and rapes and burning of houses, that that could not be allowed to go on. And no matter how much time it takes for to us work this out, it is important that we do it, and we will all dedicate our energies not only to the diplomatic track, but with great admiration for the military that are carrying out the air campaign.
JIM LEHRER: If this in fact does result in an agreement that . . . along the lines with your five points, et cetera, then would it be correct to say we won?
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that the victory here is if these refugees can go back and the forces are withdrawn and we're able to have a secure situation there and the Kosovars are able to work on a political settlement that allows them the self-government that they ought to have. Those are the objectives of what we are doing, and if we manage that, then, yes, I feel we have done the right thing and we will have achieved it, but we have to be able to get those refugees back.
JIM LEHRER: You do not feel a sense of urgency about getting this moving and get it done as quickly as possible?
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: Obviously we feel a sense of urgency. There's no question. And when you asked me whether I was optimistic, that's one question. Whether there's a sense of urgency, yes, there is a sense of urgency and we are pushing every button there is and working it 24 hours a day, believe me, and talking to all the important parts of this, the players, diplomatically as well as, you well know, having intensified the air campaign to the extent that I believe it is really making a very big difference, that we can see that Milosevic's military machine has been downgraded and destroyed to a great extent. A lot of the command and control, some of the infrastructure, and, as I said, we're now taking it to forces in the field and doing that quite successfully.
JIM LEHRER: All right. Well, Madam Secretary, thank you very much.
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: Thank you.