INTERVIEW OF SLOBODAN MILOSEVIC TO TIME MAGAZINE
Belgrade - 1995
President Milosevic spoke with managing editor James R. Gaines, editor at large Karsten Prager, Central Europe bureau chief Massimo Calabresi and correspondent Marguerite Michaels
TIME: Many say that if there is hope at all for finding a political solution to the Bosnian war, it can't be done without Milosevic.
MILOSEVIC: Maybe they
are right. Maybe they are not. Who knows? I'm just an ordinary man who, by the
circumstance of his position, can help by having a policy of peace, one that is
honest and objective to all sides. We accepted the Contact Group plan [which
proposed a 51-49 division of war-torn
TIME: How do you get there? You clearly had enough influence on [Bosnian Serb leader Radovan] Karadzic to get him to free the hostages but not enough to get him to accept the Contact Group plan.
MILOSEVIC: The taking of hostages was an immoral act. We had to do whatever we could just to eliminate that dirty story from the history of Serbs.
TIME: Why can't you do the same for the peace plan?
sanctions end, [Bosnian President Alija] Izetbegovic will count on
TIME: You talked
about the humiliation of the hostage taking. Certainly it is no less
humiliating for Serbs to have the Serbs in
MILOSEVIC: When we
first heard via the foreign press that there were some detention camps and
rapes, our first reaction was, "What about that?" The [Bosnian Serb]
leadership explained, "It is absolutely not the truth, absolutely
not." That was what was explained to us, and we then had a very deep
confidence in what they were explaining. And I believed that just because of
habit. One detail reported in the press: a Muslim girl who was pregnant by rape
got shelter in a hospital in
TIME: The CIA,
not a particular lover of radical Muslims worldwide, has reported that 90% of
the atrocities committed in
MILOSEVIC: I don't have those kinds of figures. But it is absolutely unbelievable in that civil war.
TIME: How would you describe your relationship with the Bosnian Serb leaders?
MILOSEVIC: We cut off all our relations with all of them. We don't have relations.
TIME: But there's still significant contact with General Ratko Mladic, the commander of the Bosnian Serb army [who is under investigation as a potential war criminal].
MILOSEVIC: Oh, yes, he
has his family here in
TIME: Are you having any kind of interchange with [Croatian President Franjo] Tudjman?
MILOSEVIC: Well, I'll
tell you, I had some direct and some indirect contacts with Tudjman up to the
first of May, when [fighting started in] western
in 1987 in Kosovo, you were talking about an ascendant
MILOSEVIC: All my
speeches up to '89 were published in my book. You can see that there was no
nationalism in those speeches. We were explaining why we think it is good to
TIME: Yet your actions, at least, bespoke an interest in creating Greater Serbia.
supported independence in large part because arms were coming from
MILOSEVIC: Under the
military doctrine of former
paramilitary leader] Arkan was from
MILOSEVIC: You know, all those kinds of paramilitary formations were totally marginal in that war. There never were more than a couple of thousand all together.
TIME: They did some appalling things.
MILOSEVIC: That is different; that is a different problem. It is clear that any paramilitary formation on the Serbian side, on the Muslim side, on other sides never had more than a couple of thousand.
involved in war on this scale have been known to feel haunted by the human
cost. How have you felt being the leader of
MILOSEVIC: It is a very, very tough and very unpleasant position. No doubt. But I must tell you, personally, I'm calm with that, having in mind that all we were politically doing was oriented to peace, from the beginning of the crisis up to now.
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