By Ann Gibson,2014-06-05 19:07
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    TUESDAY, OCTOBER 7, 2003





















    Transcript by:

    Federal News Service

    Washington, D.C.

     JOHN SITILIDES: (In progress) Western integration and trans-Atlantic

    security. And it‟s a pleasure to welcome our distinguished guests today -- Crown Prince

    Alexander of Yugoslavia and the Ambassador of Serbia and Montenegro to the United States, Dr. Ivan Vujacic and to welcome colleagues and many new friends here today

    for today‟s program. Before I begin, I need to thank my colleagues who organized

    today‟s event. Colonel Steve Norton is a moderator for the second panel on the security dimension, and I believe we‟ve distributed programs on all the seats. And we‟re joined outside the Western Policy Center by our collaborative partner today, Martin Sletzinger of the Woodrow Wilson, who will be the moderator for the political dimension panel, which is the first one on the agenda for this morning.

     I also want to thank Andri Peros of our office, who actually made all this come together. It‟s the nuts and bolts of a conference like this that actually helps us realize its success. And a special thanks to the Motorola Corporation, whose generous support for the Western Policy Center and specifically for this conference, has also helped to bring us together today.

     Ladies and gentlemen, in 1999, the United States led the NATO bombing of Serbia, the culmination of a campaign to end the decade of rule by Slobodan Milosevic, that sped the dismemberment of the former Yugoslavia and the branding of his countrymen, unfortunately, as the Nazis of the „90s. Then-Secretary of State Madeleine

    Albright took great pride in that war, under the impression that she was preventing a latter-day Holocaust in the Serbian province of Kosovo. But two months ago, current Secretary of State Colin Powell thanked his Serbian friends for offering to send over 100,000 infantry troops and police officers to Afghanistan and perhaps hundreds more to Iraq.

     Indeed, rather than descend into chaos and instability following the March assassination of Prime Minister Djindjic, Serbia has accelerated its efforts to reform its political system to incentivize foreign private investment to spark its moribund economy and to partner with the United States and other NATO countries to combat militant Islam in this still volatile region in Europe. This is a remarkable story of rapid transformation, that the very least an inspired effort at such in the three years since the October 5, 2000,

    democratic revolution that ended the Milosevic era.

     The questions before us this morning are many, predicated on what we posit is the strategic goal of the United States in the Balkans, and that is to secure the cooperation of Serbia and Montenegro and other Balkan countries in a long-term war against militant Islam and against international terrorism through the promotion and the institutionalization of freedom, security and democracy. Will Serbia succeed in climbing out of the black hole of the previous decade? And what can the United States do to help foster civil society, good governance, anti-corruption and economic modernization within

    Serbia‟s current political system? What can the United States do to help Serbia curb the lawlessness that is prevailing in regions where organized criminal enterprises thrive, where war criminals continue to evade justice, and where international terrorists sanctuary? And how can NATO and the European Union serve as international institutions that can help build genuine security in Serbia and Montenegro‟s admittedly tough neighborhood? Can the Kosovo question be resolved to the satisfaction of both Serbs and Kosovar Albanians? Urged by Washington and by Brussels, talks between Belgrade and Pristina are now scheduled to begin in Vienna next week initially, as we understand it, on subjects such as wartime refugees, missing persons, energy, and transport, but potentially paving the way for negotiations on Kosovo‟s final status.

     And so, with the insight, the experience and the wisdom of our distinguished speakers today and of our panelists, these are some of the questions that we seek to answer in organizing today‟s conference and in exploring the degree to which Western integration and trans-Atlantic security can truly propel Serbia‟s ongoing transformation from pariah to partner.

     To begin our program, it‟s a distinct pleasure for me to introduce a new friend and colleague here in Washington, Ambassador Vujacic. He was he‟s begun his service as

    Ambassador of Serbia and Montenegro here in Washington as of December of last year. He had previously served as professor of economics in the Department of Economics in the University of Belgrade in Serbia, where he earned his PhD, and he‟s also conducted substantive research at the London School of Economics and served as a Fulbright Scholar in 1983 and 1984 at the University of Michigan. We‟ve asked Ambassador Vujacic to present an official overview of Serbia‟s relations with the United States and some of the issues that confront his country and the region in the years ahead. Ladies and gentlemen, it‟s a distinct pleasure to welcome Ambassador Ivan Vujacic.


     IVAN VUJACIC: Thank you, Mr. Sitilides. First of all, let me thank the Western Policy Center for organizing this. They‟ve done a tremendous job, and as I can see, the

    interest is there obviously. The place is full, and I‟m really glad that all of you are participating and that we will have this conference where we can all learn from each other.

     th Let me start by saying that as it was pointed out, three years ago on the 5 of

    October, a lot of us had worked for that day for over ten years, close to ten years, to topple the regime of Slobodan Milosevic. It was extremely difficult. We had gone through three wars, hyperinflation, NATO intervention. Most of us were branded as traitors, and somehow, through a lot of organization, a lot of effort, on that miraculous thday, on the 5 of October, that regime fell, and in that shining moment, there was a new thdawn for Serbia. On the 6 of October, we weren‟t sure what would happen. Milosevic thconceded on the 7 of October the state; President Kostunica gave his oath of office. And then we had great expectations and also inherited a devastated country with tremendous, tremendous problems.

     How have we faired, in terms of what we had set out to do? A lot of things we did very well; in others, we were less successful. In others, we failed. But generally speaking, I would like to say that although a lot of problems will be raised today and issues that we should discuss and we also will probably have some controversy and some criticism on what has been going on and what is going on, I think that generally speaking, we can say that we‟re on the right – finally, from that day on, we were finally on the right

    road to our full integration in the family of democratic nations of Europe and building trans-Atlantic relationships with the United States and other countries across the Atlantic.

     Now, let me just say a few words, because I think we should also remember some of our successes. What we inherited was really a terrible situation in the south of Serbia guerrilla warfare basically on its lowest level, lowest scale. We inherited a totally unresolved situation with Montenegro. These two things, after the satisfaction everything had worked out, and I think most of you are familiar with how that came through. As of thFebruary 4, we‟re no longer Yugoslavia. We‟re the state union of Serbia and

    Montenegro, and we‟re trying to work with – (inaudible) for the next three years, on

    our mission of approaching the European Union.

     Now, in terms of economics, we‟ve had successes. We have a stable currency; we‟re liberalized. Privatization is going on very quickly. This last year was the high point of privatization. We had the growth rates of 5 and 4 percent. This year will be 0, because we‟re going through restructuring, but also this year, we‟ve had the highest foreign investment in terms of privatization proceeds. We had over a billion -- $200 million, most of which incidentally is coming from the United States. So the United States is now our most single foreign direct investor at this point, and that is also in its way remarkable.

     In terms of our international policy, we‟ve tried to be good neighbors. We are

    part of every southern eastern European initiative there is. We‟ve normalized our relations with our neighboring countries, including the countries of the former Yugoslavia. We‟ve gone a long way in that, with Bosnia, with Croatia, Macedonia and the other countries that surround us. We feel that we should be good neighbors, and by proving that we‟re good neighbors, we can prove to others that we can be good neighbors in Europe, in a larger neighborhood. And we are very proactive in this, and we are very, very concerned that this process of regional cooperation continues to advance and flourish.

     In terms of the European Union and the United States, we‟ve had a lot of aid at the beginning, and this of course will be phased out because we don‟t want to be an aid-

    dependent country. But I have to say that we‟re very grateful for all the material and moral and other assistance that we had from the West, including of course the United States of America.

     Let me just point out a few things concerning our relationships with the United States. First of all, as most of you know, Serbia and Yugoslavia before had excellent

    relationships with the United States, all the way from the beginning, from the founding of these establishment of these relations back in 1883 all the way to 1990. Even under the Communist times under Tito, we‟ve had good relations with the United States for reasons that I don‟t want to go into but that you are very well aware of. And so the ten years of 1990 to 2000 were really an aberration in this respect, and we really wanted to bring our relationships back to what they were. It is difficult; we were bombed. There are constraints. But since that time, since 2000, since October 2000, we‟ve really gone a long way. And I must point out that we‟ve gone a long way in terms of advancing our

    relationships in the last year.

     When I got here in October, before I present my papers, we had the weapons the

    Iraqi weapons affair. We had our assets frozen by OFAC still. We had executive orders that proclaimed the national emergency in the case of Serbia, Montenegro, Yugoslavia. Since that time and that day, we‟ve overcome a lot of these impediments and are going to really full normalization. The Iraqi weapons affair was handled very wrong. We‟ve done

    a lot in terms of monitoring our weapons sales and consulting with our Western partners, including the United States, over this. We‟ve cracked down on the firm that had done that job. We‟ve cooperated with the United States to a great extent of sharing

    information concerning Iraq. The private assets weren‟t frozen for New Year‟s. In April, beginning of April or late April, the rest of the sovereign assets weren‟t frozen, so this was not an issue anymore.

     During the spring, the president had dropped the national emergency clause, using executive order, concerning our country. The president has also enabled the sale of weapons to Serbia and Montenegro, which is another symbolic and great act of normalization. And I should not of course forget that it was much appreciated that Secretary Powell came during the Iraq war from Turkey on his flight to Brussels to visit Belgrade. It was an act of friendship and support that was much, much supported at thhome, following the unfortunate assassination of Dr. Zoran Djindjic on March 12.

    Zoran‟s a great friend of mine for 30 years; we met as very young men. He‟s definitely a thman that should be remembered today on the anniversary of (inaudible) 5 of October,

    a man who I think did the most, in terms of organization and energy and effort and commitment to overthrowing Milosevic and send him to the (inaudible), a man of

    tremendous courage. It‟s much appreciated that Secretary Powell had the time to come and support the new prime minister and the country in a state of emergency to crack organized crime.

    Finally, this summer, we had an extremely positive visit of Prime Minister Zivkovic and the foreign minister Svilanovic to Washington in late July, in which

    which came up as a follow-up actually, or as a return visit of Secretary Powell. And in that during that visit, we not only met with Secretary Powell, but also National Security Adviser, Dr. Rice, and also members of Congress and the Senate. And this was a very good trip that will contribute to the advancement of our relations.

    Out of this, I should not forget, because we are talking about security issues, came a proposal of joining foreign peacekeeping missions, on the part of the army of Serbia

    and Montenegro. I should mention, because these security issues will be talked about, that there was a visit of some army officers to Serbia before that, during the spring, and I had the privilege to address them at our embassy before they want on this trip.

    So much remains to be done, but definitely I think that our relationships with the United States are growing and are advancing. We have one, unresolved issue, one very important issue left. That is the achievement of our normal trading relations, what used to be called the most (inaudible) nation status. There are no conditions on this. It is

    stuck in Congress at the Senate for other reasons with the (inaudible) tariff bill, but

    this is a very important issue for us and for our economy, and we hope that this issue, the last issue that will normalize our relations, will be resolved quickly.

    Having said all this, in terms of our country, a lot of problems remain. And in spite of the success is a lot of people live in dire poverty. We should not forget them. They should be included in the process of development and should be integrated into society. We have 630,000 refugees; they are misplaced persons. We have a tremendous burden in terms of our economic program, which requires, in our deals of IMF and others, to have a two-digit growth rate of exports every year, which we‟ve had for the last three years, but it is making things a little difficult.

    And of course, we have unresolved issues with Kosovo that we should discuss and start discussing through a dialogue on other issues and technical issues on the return of (inaudible) this October. So we are looking forward to this dialogue that will eventually bring some kind of a solution in the future.

    In any case, I think that there is a very positive effort on our part to be included and to be good neighbors and to be good members of the community of democratic nations. Much remains to be done, and there are a lot of problems. I hope that I will hear your fine thoughts on many of these points during today‟s discussion, and I want to thank

    you again for organizing all of this. Thank you very much.


    MR. SITILIDES: Thank you for that cogent executive summary, Mr.

    Ambassador. We‟ll begin our first panel right away. Please, we‟ll ask everyone to remain seated, and Marty, the floor is yours.


    MARTIN SLETZINGER: Well, I guess we‟ll get started immediately. Just a few words by way of introduction I‟d like to echo Ambassador Vujacic‟s words and thank

    the Western Policy Center and John Sitilides and Colonel Steve Norton for holding this very timely and important subject. I think the audience and the kind of people involved here show that this is still an important issue, that although our attention has turned elsewhere, there are still unresolved issues a little closer to home than Iraq, and we need to continue to focus on them.

    I had been asked to panel this session on the political dimension. You have the bios of the people in front of you, so I won‟t go through that. I will tell you, though that they will be speaking for no longer than ten minutes, and I‟m supposed to be a very strict chairman, and we want to leave as much time as possible for question and answer, and so they will have ten minutes each.

    The question of the political dimension it certainly has been covered by the

    ambassador just now. Many of you are familiar with it, but I think what the panel here today will be discussing three or four interlocking issues. First off, there‟s the issue of whether democracy -- whether elections in Serbia, not just presidential but parliamentary, because these kinds of elections are necessary to produce the government that‟s necessary to deal with the issues confronting Serbia. In the first instance, what is Serbia and Montenegro, the nature of the future association there, and perhaps even more importantly, the future of Serbia‟s relationship or lack thereof with Kosovo? And that then in turn is linked to where Serbia fits into the all-important processes of Euro-Atlantic integration, integration into EU and with NATO, and its bilateral relationship with the United States issues of conditionality and I would say hopefully not sharing the fate of some of its former Yugoslav brethren by being caught between the conflicting demands of the European Union and NATO as it proceeds down this path

    So enough from me, and we‟ll now start the panel with Mr. Damjan de Krnjevic-

    Miskovic, who is the deputy managing director editor, rather, of The National Interest,

    someone well known to all of us, who will be discussing is Kosovo ready for final status? And I‟ll put in my first objection by saying, what final status? What we‟re dealing with here is the next status, but final status I guess is the language enshrined in U.N. Resolution 1244. So, Damjan, please.

    DAMJAN de KRNJEVIC-MISKOVIC: Thank you, Marty. The remarks that

    follow will consider whether (inaudible) Kosovo is ready for final status. Belgrade‟s

    position is that it is not, and I will begin from there, not because I am a Serb, but because I find the arguments persuasive. And of course, this is the position of the Bush administration happily.

    The White House recognizes that continuing American support for doing things slowly in the Balkans means that the West will only have to do them once. In the example of the Djindjic assassination, to recall this recent ugly event, we see what happens when the West pressures those who are most like them in parts of the world unlike theirs to act quickly, without granting much in return. Indeed, the absence of war in Kosovo and in the region in general should not provoke the international community into declaring Kosovo a nation-building success. The Pula Potemkin (?) sleight of hand remains strong for those who think that getting out is the answer to stability. But this is going too far too quickly.

    Let me begin anew with my understanding of Belgrade‟s position, and let us be mindful of the broader strategic context which is to say of the current state of U.S.-

    Serbian relations, as the ambassador has already done. Serbia today is an emerging democracy with a bright future. Since the fall of Milosevic, it has reformed its military insecurity sector, privatized its economy, established the rule of law and strongly cooperated with the Hague war crimes tribunal. All in all, Serbia‟s well on its way to full integration with the key institutions of the west.

    And the Bush administration I think recognizes that a strong, prosperous Serbia is the lynchpin of America‟s security interests in the Balkans. The recent announcement

    that Serbia will send at least a thousand soldiers to Kandahar or to the Kandahar region in Afghanistan in support of the war on terror and the reconstruction efforts is not only truly welcome news, but another indication that relations between the two countries are getting much better. And yesterday I came across an amazing editorial in the Wall Street Journal, quoting “Who‟d have thought that the Serbs would turn out to be better friends of America than the French?” the Journal editorialized. And the Journal quoted a U.S.

    embassy official in Belgrade describing current U.S. and Serbia relations as the best certainly since 1991, maybe even since World War II. And just four years ago, Serbia was America‟s enemy in war. The Washington-Belgrade relationship has never been set

    on firmer ground, because both sides have begun to trust each other‟s intentions.

    The importance of this new relationship for both sides should not be

    underestimated. Serbia‟s reasons for wanting closer ties to Washington are obvious, but

    in Serbia, America now has an example of a people to which it has helped deliver responsible liberty, even without the presence of vital interests in the calculus of U.S. policymaking. And of course, America has become the single largest foreign direct investor in Serbia, as the ambassador mentioned.

    All this brings us to Kosovo. First -- and I don‟t want to spend much time on this,

    we have the Vienna talks that are coming up Kosovo‟s new SRSG, Hari Holkeri, the

    former prime minister of Finland, has repeatedly indicated that the Belgrade-Pristina talks are not negotiations or pre-negotiations are the question of final status. And by the way, again, just to repeat, final status for Kosovo is a specific, legal term that we find in Resolution 1244. But rather, these talks are to cover practical issues, such as energy, security, traffic, telecommunications, and missing persons. Also, I‟ve been told Belgrade will have much to say concerning the question of property rights, the unresolved issue of property rights -- a lot of Serbian property has been expropriated by UNMIK and the Albanians and the question of the state‟s debt, because of course, Kosovo is not paying its share of the common state‟s debt, but nothing to do with the change in the legal status

    of the entity, which remains an integral part of Serbia.

    The document that reaffirms Serbian sovereignty over Kosovo and Metohija is the U.N. Security Council Resolution 1244, the same document that establishes the only legal mechanism to change this fact of sovereignty, which is why I‟m going to keep coming back to 1244 and why this Serbian parliamentary declaration that I‟m going to talk about also emphasizes 1244 over and over again.

    UNMIK has made it as clear as possible that final status will not be considered until the benchmarks have been met. And thus it seems to me it‟s in the interest of Pristina to accept as a matter of law Belgrade‟s factual claims for recognition as the only way to alter that which has been recognized. Pristina must recognize that it is bound to Belgrade before it can present an argument for why it should be unbound from Belgrade.

    So let‟s come to this declaration that was issued in late August unanimously by the Serbian parliament. The document declares that no debate on Kosovo‟s final status

    may be launched until the provisions of 1244 have been met. And this is UNMIK‟s doctrine of standards before status.

    A little more on these standards they‟re recognized I think to everyone in this

    room as necessary for success in the international arena and reinforce the language and intent of 1244. These provisions include the founding of effective representative and functioning institutions of governmental authority, the promotion of civil society, structures and human rights, institutional transparency, accountability. They call for the rule of law and judicial impartiality. They insist on the unrestricted freedom of movement for all residents of Kosovo and on securing the conditions for the safe and sustainable return of refugees. They affirm the necessity of establishing an institution of legal basis for a market economy. They insist on the necessity of a dialogue with Belgrade and a transformation of the Kosovo protection core, where a lot of former KLA types gravitated, into little more than a multiethnic emergency response vehicle.

    Well, we‟re a couple of days before the Vienna talks. Pristina is stalling. The parliament delays granting authority to senior Albanian officials to attend the talks. They and others besides quibble about procedure and obfuscate every step along the way, giving the distinct impression that they don‟t want to talk to Belgrade, perhaps because the streets of Kosovo and the KLA thugs that rule them still see this as betrayal. And this is childish nonsense, and it has to stop. This is not the way we enter Europe.

    To return to the Covic declaration, it insists additionally that the Kumanova military technical agreement and the joint document on cooperation between Serbia and UNMIK must be honored. Among other things, this would put Serbian forces in positions where they can guard against the credible threat of vandalism or terrorism, against religious and cultural shrines, and also calls on UNESCO to establish protective zones around Serbian monasteries and churches. So this is basically the declaration.

    It also and this is very important emphasizes Serbia‟s obligation to cooperate

    with the Hague and basically says that anyone who committed crimes before, during or after the NATO intervention needs to be held accountable. Of course, the declaration emphasizes that this needs to take place in Pristina as well, and Belgrade‟s position is that Kosovo‟s Albanians have not done their part.

    Now, ultimately, this declaration says once all of these standards have been fulfilled, then we can talk about final status. And the declaration‟s explicit position is that final status is basically going to consist of substantial autonomy. Now, substantial

    autonomy is not independence, of course. But the legal and political burden, it seems to me, falls on Pristina to convince the international community in Belgrade of course that an independent Kosovo can be a viable state. That should be the standard not whether

    you deserve it or whether this is going to right an injustice and so on no, whether it can

    be a viable state.

     And so far, I see very little evidence that supports such a contention in this Covic declaration and elsewhere. Belgrade, on the other hand, argues that the most effective mechanism for resolving the problem of Kosovo is full European and Euro-Atlantic integration, along of course with the continuing implementation of 1244. So this is the document we have from Belgrade, which says that the time for final status negotiations is not right, and it employs (inaudible) criteria, which is very clever and also happens to

    coincide with reality.

     And I am pleased that statesmen from across America‟s political spectrum are saying the same thing. Example Richard Holbrooke, this past Sunday in Pristina, said

    that there could be no progress in the province while there was no security for the Serb thcommunity. President Clinton, on the 19 of September also in Pristina, quote, “I want

    to see you” – he‟s addressing the Albanians – “I want to see you move towards self-

    government, economic prosperity, a civilized and lawful society, and religious and ethnic freedom,” adding that it was Kosovo‟s Albanians who were in the driver‟s seat now, and so success or failure was their responsibility, their choice. But take note of the language I want to see you achieve this and that, he suggested, which to me means that they‟re not there yet. Kosovo has not achieved all of these things that he talked about, including a civilized and lawful society and religious and ethnic freedom.

     Donald Rumsfeld, in a recent op-ed in the Washington Post, inferred strongly that the experiment in nation building in Kosovo had so far been a failure, where as he put it, the exercise in nation building in Kosovo has had, quote, “unintended, adverse side effects.” I assume he was talking about the reverse ethnic cleansing of 200,000 Serbs from the province. Now, this bipartisan turn away from the morality of intentions to the morality of results is welcome news to those who have followed the direction of Washington‟s past policies in the Balkans, for it makes it more likely that American power will be put at the service of securing stability and prosperity, not righting the apparent wrongs of history.

    Now, I‟d like to put quickly Rumsfeld‟s statement together with the State Department‟s reaction to the strange recent offer by Ibrahim Regova, the president of Kosovo, this past February and repeated last week by the speaker of Kosovo‟s parliament.

    To send KLA troops, Kosovo protection troops Kosovo protection core troops, excuse

    me on peacekeeping missions this is in response to Serbia‟s offer that has been

    accepted and the assistant secretary of state for European affairs, Elizabeth Jones, according to a newspaper report, replied to Regova‟s offer in the following way: “The best thing that Regova could do to contribute to the campaign against terrorism was to build a stable, democratic Kosovo.” Fantastic response.

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