Truth in Media Global Watch Bulletins

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TiM GW Bulletin 98/12-8

Dec. 26, 1998

Clinton Administration and Balkan Affairs

Seven American Senators Urge Ouster of Milosevic

Proposed Changes to U.S. Serbia Policy Are Welcome, Albeit Over Eight Years Overdue


WESTERN AUSTRALIA - Seven U.S. senators, four Republicans and three Democrats,urged Bill Clinton in a Dec. 22 letter to work toward an ouster of the Serbian dictator, Slobodan Milosevic, and his replacement by a democratically-minded leader. Hear, hear!

The Senators' message is welcome, of course, albeit about eight years too late. Worse, all signatories of the letter to the U.S. President have at one time or another in the past voted AGAINST the interests of both the American and Serbian peoples, and FOR the genocidal, anti-Serbian policies by the Bush and Clinton administrations. Yet now the very same senators are advising Bill Clinton that, "it is important that the United States make clear that we are not opposed to the Serb people; to Serbia as a nation; or to the legal and legitimate interests of the Serbian republic, and that the United States is ready to facilitate Serbia's return to the family of nations under a post-Milosevic, democratic government committed to the rule of law." Which is why their goodwill message will be a hard sell in Serbia.

Of course, there is a strong possibility that the letter was actually drafted by someone within the Clinton administration, and merely signed by the seven congressional patsies. Not only is there a perfect symmetry between the seven chosen senators and the balance of power in the Senate, where the Republicans are a majority. But a couple of months ago, the State Department finally decided to abandon its unflagging support of the former communist (Milosevic) and his communist wife (Mira Markovic). And to put some teeth behind its empty promises to the democratic opposition in Serbia during the last eight years.

During our November visit to Washington, we had discerned that Milosevic's ass had become grass by about late October, according to some well-informed sources about the Balkan situation at the State Department. The senators' letter, therefore, may have been a mere holiday season stomping on the grass sowed by the State Department a few months ago. Rather than try to change Clinton's Serbia policy, the senators dutifully followed it. Again.

But let the bygones be bygones. Let us welcome the seven U.S. senators' stomping on the Milosevic's ass. And join them in mowing down this long overgrown Balkan communist grass.


And now, here's the Senators' letter:

December 22, 1998

The Honorable William Jefferson Clinton

President of the United States

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. Washington D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We are writing to you with regard to the deepening crisis of the regime of Slobodan Milosevic in Serbia and the need for the United States to take steps to help facilitate a transition to a democratic government committed to the rule of law. Such a transition in the very near future is not only essential to the Serbian people but is a necessary prerequisite to a stable peace in the Balkans.

It is increasingly apparent that Milosevic is faced with a spirit of opposition by the forces of democratic change as well as a growing uncertainty of the loyalty of the props of his regime, an uncertainty heightened by the dismissal last month of the Army Chief of Staff, General Momcilo Perisic. Moreover, the Serbian Orthodox Church, a strong voice of national legitimacy, is opposed to Milosevic. In the current atmosphere, the Serbian democratic forces need a clear signal that the United States favors the replacement of the Milosevic regime with a democratic government and is taking steps to encourage that outcome.

The December 1, 1998, comments on American policy by State Department Spokesman Rubin regarding progress in Kosovo, the apprehension and prosecution of war criminals, and democratization of Serbia, were a step in the right direction. But his comments stopped short of an explicit acknowledgment that Milosevic’s removal from power would be welcomed in Washington. Official American denials create the impression in Serbia that the United States favors Milosevic’s continuation in power as a principal negotiating "partner," a perception which he exploits as a major asset in fostering a climate of inevitability that has helped him retain power. This is a very real problem within Serbia and a serious defect in American policy. Until Milosevic leaves power, he will be able, and willing, to reignite the Bosnian war (with possibly serious consequences for U.S. personnel deployed there), unleash renewed repression in Kosovo, or generate new crises as his needs require. We should not let our understandable concern about managing the crisis du jour outweigh the priority of removing the source of crisis.

Paradoxically, Milosevic’s other major asset in manipulating his dwindling support among the Serbian people is his claim that he is the only force standing up to an American-led international policy determined to reduce the Serbian people to poverty and misery by sanctions, and, ultimately, the dismemberment of the Serbian republic. The democratic opposition in Serbia knows that, despite his claims, Milosevic’s own policies are inexorably leading Serbia to that result.

It is important that the United States make clear that we are not opposed to the Serb people, to Serbia as a nation or to the legal and legitimate interests of the Serbian republic, and that the United States is ready to facilitate Serbia’s return to the family of nations under a post-Milosevic, democratic government committed to the rule of law. By comparison, the United States has consistently and properly personalized its policy in Iraq: Saddam Hussein, not the Iraqi people, is the problem, and the United States does not favor the breakup of Iraq or a compromise of Iraq’s territorial integrity. Unfortunately, we have not made the same point with respect to Serbia, to Milosevic’s continuing advantage to further that objective.

In view of the foregoing, we appreciate the efforts your Administration has made to step up promotion of democracy in Serbia, and urge that the following points be integrated into a comprehensive U.S. program:

An explicit statement that United States policy seeks the replacement of the Milosevic regime with a democratic government committed to the rule of law.

An insistence that the repression of independent media in Serbia cease at once, including repeal of the media law recently enacted in the wake of the latest Kosovo crisis.

Intensification of programs to promote American cooperation with Serbian democratic forces, including stepped-up exchanges and programs encouraging the independence of the media, trade unions, students, and professional groups.

Encouragement of non-governmental organizations to create an international support group for Serbian democratic forces.

A firm insistence that fair, orderly, and transparent internationally-monitored elections in any interim agreement in Kosovo must also include the same standards for elections in all of Serbia .

Instructions to all senior Administration officials traveling to Serbia to meet with senior representatives of the democratic opposition, including representatives of the Church; for high-level meetings by senior U.S. officials with democratic opposition figures traveling to the United States or to third countries; and for an intensification of Embassy Belgrade contacts with the democratic opposition.

Instructions to senior Administration officials to minimize visible, public contacts with officials of the Milosevic regime, and especially with Milosevic himself, that lend themselves to distorted portrayals in the Serbian media of evidence of American favor or "partnership."

A commitment to lift the outer wall of sanctions against Montenegro and take steps to promote economic development in that republic; to lift sanctions, if possible, on localities in Serbia under control of the democratic opposition; and a clear commitment that all sanctions against the Serbian republic will be lifted upon Milosevic’s replacement by a democratic government committed to the rule of law.

A commitment that the United States will, upon Milosevic’s replacement by a democratic government committed to the rule of law, formally grant de jure recognition of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and will support a process for its integration into the United Nations, the OSCE, and international financial institutions.

The designation of a special presidential representative for promotion of democratic change in Serbia, with the assistance of appropriate experts; this representative should be a visible and distinguished figure well known in Serbia but not seen as hostile to Serbia or as close to Milosevic.

A closer coordination of American efforts to promote democracy in Serbia with those of our European friends and allies and of the European Union.

Acceleration of humanitarian programs in Serbia, especially those directed toward the hundreds of thousands of refugees and displaced persons in and from Bosnia, Croatia, and Kosovo; U.S.-supported programs in Kosovo must take care to be non-discriminatory.

Exploration of options, as employed in other countries in the past, whereby Milosevic (with his wife, Mirjana Markovic) might be given incentives to relinquish power voluntarily and to leave Serbia, rather than to cling to power and inflict greater suffering on the people of Yugoslavia and the region.

Mr. President, we emphasize that these and other measures must be undertaken with all urgency given the growing governmental instability in Serbia. No American policy to promote a stable and peaceful Balkan region can succeed if Serbia remains, as it has since the breakup of Yugoslavia, under the grip of a regime that depends on crisis for its continued hold on power. We believe a democratic, law-abiding Serbia is essential to peace and stability in the region. The coming months — and perhaps weeks — may be crucial in ensuring that the source of war and instability in Belgrade is replaced. Moreover, it is essential that these steps be taken as soon as possible to ensure that the direction of change, whenever and however it comes, takes a positive, democratic direction. This would not only be in the interest of the people of Serbia, it is decidedly in our national interest. We urge you to consider these steps to help end the protracted crisis in the Balkans as soon as possible.


Richard G. Lugar                   Joseph I. Lieberman

Don Nickles                          Larry E. Craig

Jesse Helms                           Robert J. Kerrey

Gordon Smith

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Also, check out... "Seven U.S. Senators Suggest Ouster of Milosevic", "Biting the Hand That Feeds You", "A Balkan Affairs Potpourri", "Put the U.N. Justice on Trial", "International Justice 'Progresses' from Kidnapping to Murder", "Milosevic: 'A Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery'...", "Kosovo Lie Allowed to Stand", "New World Order's Inquisition in Bosnia", "Kosovo Heating Up""Decani Monastery Under Siege?", "Murder on Wall Street""Kosovo: 'Bosnia II'""What If the Shoe Were on the Other Foot?", "Green Interstate - Not Worth American Lives", and/or "Clinton arme secrètement les musulmans bosniaques"

Or Djurdjevic's WASHINGTON TIMES columns: "An Ugly Double Standard in Kosovo Conflict?", "NATO's Bullyboys", "Kosovo: Why Are We Involved?", and "Ginning Up Another Crisis"