JULY 29, 1999, THURSDAY
HEARING OF THE EUROPEAN AFFAIRS SUBCOMMITTEE OF THE SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE
"PROSPECTS FOR DEMOCRACY IN YUGOSLAVIA"
WITNESSES: ROBERT GELBARD, SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE OF THE PRESIDENT AND SECRETARY OF STATE FOR IMPLEMENTATION OF THE DAYTON PEACE ACCORDS
JAMES PARDEW, JR., DEPUTY SPECIAL ADVISOR TO THE PRESIDENT AND SECRETARY OF STATE FOR KOSOVO AND DAYTON IMPLEMENTATION
CHAIRED BY SENATOR GORDON SMITH (R-OR)
SEN. G. SMITH: (Sounds gavel.) Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I apologize for our late beginning, but we are voting a lot today. But we adjourn (sic) this Subcommittee on European Affairs to discuss the prospects for democracy in Yugoslavia and what the United States can do to assist those in Serbia who seek to oust the dictatorial regime of Slobodan Milosevic.
Our first panel consists of Ambassador Robert Gelbard, special representative of the president and the secretary of State for implementation of the Dayton peace accords, and Ambassador James Pardew, deputy special advisor to the president the secretary of State for Kosovo and Dayton implementation.
After we hear from administration representatives, the committee will welcome Ms. Sonja Biserko -- I apologize if my pronunciation is incorrect -- chairperson of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia; Mr. James Hooper, executive director of the Balkan Action Council; Father Irinej Dobrijevic, executive director of the Office of External Affairs of the Serbian Orthodox Church here in the United States; Mr. John Fox, director of the Washington office at the Open Society Institute.
This hearing, by the way, will be the first in a series for this committee on United States policy in the Balkans. This afternoon we're going to focus specifically on what is happening in Serbia right now as opposition parties are rallying their supporters to take to the streets against Milosevic, as army reservists are launching protests after their return from Kosovo, as the Serbian Orthodox Church has at least spoken out in favor of replacing the regime for the good of the Serbian people. In the fall, we will examine the course of political and diplomatic events that led to the NATO bombing in Kosovo, as well as the lessons the United States and our NATO allies can learn from the manner in which the war was waged. This has enormous implications for NATO and its future. In addition, I'm pleased that Senator Rod Grams will convene a hearing in September to look into the response of UNHCR to the Kosovo- Albanian refugee crisis. I agree with Senator Grams that assessing the performance, both positive and negative, of UNHCR can be useful, if and when we are faced with another refugee explosion in the future.
I appreciate the willingness of all our witnesses today to appear before the committee to share their thoughts and expertise on the prospects for democracy in Yugoslavia.
We have an opportunity in Yugoslavia that we must not let pass.
Milosevic has been weakened by the Serbian defeat in Kosovo. And I feel that for the first time, many average citizens of Yugoslavia have finally decided that they've had enough as well of his policies of repression and destruction.
He is now vulnerable. But as we all know, he has managed to be in vulnerable positions before, always managing to outmaneuver his opponents. He seems to be able to divide and conquer that way.
Now that he has been indicted by the War Crimes Tribunal, I can only imagine that his desperation to hang on to power has intensified. Since the end of the war in Kosovo, opposition leaders in Serbia have launched demonstrations throughout the country. But thus far they have been unable to coordinate their message or their actions to reach out to a broader segment of the population.
If these opposition forces have any hope of ousting Mr. Milosevic, it seems obvious to me that they must put aside personal differences and political ambition and for the sake of their country work together.
Ambassador Gelbard, I know that you have been working very hard on this issue. And I hope that in your comments you can offer me and other members who will join us some hope that we're moving in the right direction.
Furthermore, there are several other actors in this process: Montenegran President Milo Djukanovic, the Serbian Orthodox Church, the student movement which was so active in the 1996-97 demonstrations, and organizations like the independent media and trade unions. I'm interested in exploring what role they can play in bringing about democratic change for Serbia.
I note that just yesterday the Foreign Relations Committee approved the Serbian Democratization Act, legislation that was introduced by Senator Helms in March that I co-sponsored along with 11 other senators. Specifically, the legislation authorizes $100 million in democratic assistance to Serbia over the course of the next two years. This is critically important. We must help those who are trying to establish democracy in their country. I'm pleased that the administration agrees with this approach, and I understand that tomorrow in Sarajevo the president will announce that the United States will dedicate $10 million for this purpose.
I encourage the administration to quickly identify appropriate organizations in Serbia so that this money can begin to have an effect as soon as possible.
Milosevic must get this message: his days in power are over.
I believe we will soon be joined by Senator Biden and other members, but without delay we will turn to you, Ambassador Gelbard, and we well welcome you and look forward to your remarks.
MR. GELBARD: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you particularly for giving me the opportunity once again to appear before the committee to discuss the status of our efforts on democratization in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. With your permission, sir, I'd like to enter the full text of this statement for the record,
SEN. G. SMITH: Without objection, we'll receive that.
MR. GELBARD: This hearing comes at a moment of particular importance for the future of Yugoslavia and for the entire Southeast European region. The success of the NATO air campaign, the deployment of KFOR, and the establishment of the U.N. civil administration in Kosovo have left President Slobodan Milosevic weakened and his policies discredited domestically, as well as internationally.
Milosevic, as you said, Mr. Chairman, is now an international pariah and an indicted war criminal. While he and his regime remain in power in Belgrade, Serbia and the FRY cannot take their place among the community of nations, nor can they join the process of Euro- Atlantic integration symbolized tomorrow by the Stability Pact summit in Sarajevo.
Our policy with regard to Serbia has been very clearly articulated by President Clinton. As long as the Milosevic regime is in place, the United States will provide no reconstruction assistance to Serbia and we will continue our policy of overall isolation. Although we continue to provide the people of Serbia with humanitarian assistance through international organizations like UNHCR, we cannot allow Milosevic or his political cronies to benefit from our aid. Helping to rebuild Serbia's roads and bridges would funnel money directly into the pockets of Milosevic and his friends, prolonging the current regime and denying
Serbia any hope of a brighter future. We must keep Milosevic isolated.
Our European allies agree fully with this approach. We are working closely with them to coordinate our activities on Serbia and to deter any attempt at weakening the existing sanctions regime against the FRY.
Another key aspect of our policy on Serbia is to support the forces of democratic change that exist within Serbian society. Serbia's citizens have spontaneously demonstrated their disgust for Milosevic and their hunger for democratic government by gathering in the streets of cities throughout the country for the last several weeks. Opposition parties, taking advantage of the popular sentiment against Milosevic, have organized their own rallies and are beginning to mobilize for a larger effort in the fall. Serbia's independent media are also attempting to struggle out from under the weight of a draconian and repressive media law. These are all very positive signs, and we want to nurture them.
At the same time, however, I do not want to overemphasize the possibility that the Milosevic regime will fall soon. Milosevic continues to hold the main levers of power in his hands, most importantly the army, the police and the state-owned media. Overcoming these obstacles would be difficult even for a united opposition in Serbia, but sadly the Serbian opposition remains far from united.
In all our dealings with Serbian opposition leaders -- and I am in regular contact with every segment of the democratic opposition -- we have urged them to overcome the politics of ego and to work together instead for the common good of Serbia and their people. I have repeatedly told opposition leaders -- and I want to emphasize here that the United States, and the international community more broadly, cannot do their job for them.
Change in Serbia must come from within, not from the outside, which means from us. We can buttress the opposition's efforts; we can provide training and technical assistance to opposition parties; we can even provide equipment, and we can help widen the reach of the independent media, but we cannot win the hearts and minds of the Serbian people. That can only happen if the opposition unites around a strong platform for positive change, a platform that must emphasize the destructive nature of Milosevic's policies and presents a viable democratic alternative. It's not for us to pick a single winner out of the opposition pack. It is for them to combine their different strengths in service for a great goal.
Having said that, I would like to outline for you where we are focusing our efforts and in what ways we are promoting democratization in the FRY.
Regardless of whether Milosevic stays or goes in the very short term, our support for democratic forces is an investment in Serbia's and Yugoslavia's future.
I should note, in fact, that we are not beginning from ground zero by any means here. In the two years leading up to the Kosovo crisis, we spent $16.5 million on programs in support of Serbia democratization. The beginning of the conflict in Kosovo and the subsequent closure of our embassy in Belgrade by necessity cut short some of our programs, but we're now revitalizing our democracy support as quickly as possible.
I would divide the U.S. government's efforts on Serbia democratization into five categories. First, as I noted at the beginning, we are making sure that Milosevic remains completely isolated. This involves not just our sanctions policy, which means three levels of sanctions, starting with the outer wall, the Kosovo- related sanctions started a year and a half ago, and then the wartime sanctions, including the fuel embargo, but also the visa ban, which has had a demonstrably negative effect on members of the Milosevic regime psychologically and in real terms, and, of course, the The Hague Tribunal indictments.
Second, we are beginning to assist a wide array of democratic groups, including NGOs, political parties, independent media, youth organizations and independent labor unions, as you mentioned, Mr. Chairman. Third, we are consulting closely with European allies in order to coordinate our activities both on Kosovo and on Serbia democratization generally. Fourth, we are encouraging the active engagement of regional countries in Southeast Europe, and particularly the neighbors, to harness their expertise with democratization and transition. And fifth, we're providing strong support for the reform government in the FRY Republic of Montenegro.
I would like to discuss briefly some of these tracks in greater detail. As I mentioned, over the past two years U.S. agencies such as AID, as well as NGOs such as the National Democratic Institute, the International Republican Institute and the National Endowment for Democracy have spent $16.5 million on projects aimed at the development of democratic governance and civil society in the FRY. The situation this year was complicated by the outbreak of the conflict in Kosovo, but we still have money available in the pipeline for immediate use on Serbian democratization projects, and we're using it right now.
I am working closely with the National Endowment family, including IRI and NDI, to explore the best ways to help the Serbian opposition and, crucially, to encourage all opposition groups to work together. The consensus among the experts is that opposition parties will be best served if we provide them with technical assistance and first-class political advice, the kinds that may seem commonplace to us but represent a whole different way of thinking to them.
Political parties are not the sole outlets for opposition in Serbia. Youth and student organizations, as well as independent labor unions, were very active in the '96-97 demonstrations in Serbia, and will undoubtedly be important sources of mobilization in the future. The AFL-CIO's Solidarity Center has done good work with independent unions in Serbia and with our support is now readying a new program for interaction.
On a larger economic scale, the Center for International Private Enterprise is preparing a program aimed at business leaders and independent economists in Serbia. Such economists, particularly those grouped under the G-17 in Belgrade, are widely respected and influential in Serbian society.
In short, by working with these groups, we want to show the people of Serbia that our policy is not aimed against them but against their leadership. With regard to independent media, we are moving on two fronts. First, in order to increase the amount of objective news coverage reaching the Serbian population, we are nearing completion of what we call the ring around Serbia, a network of transmitters that permits us to broadcast Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, and other international news programs on FM frequencies throughout the country. RFE has now increased its Serbian language broadcasting to 13-1/2 hours daily.
Perhaps even more important, however, we want to strengthen Serbia's own independent media. Serbs, like Americans, prefer to get their news from their own sources, in their own context. To this end, AID, together with other international donors, is reviewing a proposal by ANEM, the independent electronic media network in Serbia, that would assist individual television and radio stations, as well as create new links among them.
Other programs to train journalists, support local print publications, and utilize Internet connections are also under consideration.
Overall, Mr. Chairman, I would add, as you know, that the administration does support the Serbian Democratization Act sponsored by Senator Helms and you, Mr. Chairman, and 11 others.
The second aspect of U.S. policy on Serbia that I'd like to highlight is our cooperation with the Europeans. The NATO alliance proved its strength during the Kosovo air campaign, and that solidarity has continued to be the rule, not the exception, in the post-conflict period. There are regular consultations between Secretary Albright and her European colleagues on issues related to both Kosovo and Serbia as well as periodic meetings at the expert level. The Western Europeans support our basic approach on Serbia and agree that isolating
Milosevic must be the cornerstone of our strategy.
We have pushed back on some efforts to lift selectively the oil embargo and provide fuel to opposition-controlled municipalities in Serbia, not because we object to helping opposition-run municipalities, but because oil is a fungible commodity. And its distribution in Serbia would inevitably benefit Milosevic's regime. The Europeans, like us, are seeking the best ways to promote democracy in Serbia. They are eager to coordinate their democratization projects as well as to ensure that we are all sending the same message of unity to the Serbian opposition.
The third pillar of our policy is the effort to engage the countries of
Southeast Europe in the Serbia democratization process. Leaders of these countries will meet together with Euro-Atlantic leaders tomorrow in Sarajevo under the rubric of the new stability pact for the region. At that meeting participants will reaffirm their commitment to democratic development and express their regret that the FRY cannot take its rightful place at the summit because of the Milosevic regime.
We believe the countries of Central and Southeast Europe with their vast experience in the transition to democratic and market- oriented societies have a great deal to offer the people of the FRY. We are encouraging NGOs and governments in the region to create links to democratic voices in Serbia and to share the benefits of the wisdom they've gained over the past decade.
Finally, in addition to our efforts to work with regional partners, we assign special importance to our cooperation with and support for the government of Montenegro.
This morning, I noticed an editorial in the Wall Street Journal accusing the United States of neglecting Montenegro, which I find astonishing in its absolute incorrectness and the fact that it's totally wrong. We weren't consulted on that editorial, of course. The fact is that over two years ago we recognized that Milo Djukanovic had the potential to become an effective counterweight to Milosevic and his authoritarian policies. I began meeting with Djukanovic regularly, even before he became the president of Montenegro a year and a half ago. I was with him during his inauguration when we felt that a strong international presence, a public presence, would deter a Milosevic-inspired coup. The U.S. provided $20 million in budgetary support over the last several months, when no other countries stepped in to fill the gap, and we're prepared to do more.
We established a joint economic working group to discuss ways of modernizing the Montenegrin economy. We allowed Montenegrin-owned ships to enter U.S. ports during the conflict, and we provided a blanket waiver for Montenegro from FRY-related sanctions from the very beginning as a way of stimulating their economy.
Djukanovic has managed to craft a multi-ethnic democratic coalition government that focused on political and economic reform and integration with the European mainstream. He and his government have consistently demonstrated courage and determination in implementing reform and in resisting Belgrade's attempts to strip Montenegro of its constitutional powers. As a result, we have steadily increased our support for Montenegro, providing financial and technical assistance as well as humanitarian assistance, with many millions of dollars through UNHCR.
Because the government of Montenegro represents the most credible and powerful opposition force in the FRY today, we believe that President Djukanovic and Montenegro can play a constructive role in promoting democratic change in Serbia, too. While it's too small to change Serbia directly, it can serve as a guiding light for the Serbian opposition. What Montenegro needs now is support from their European neighbors in concrete terms and particularly the same kind of sanctions waivers that we have provided all along. We've urged the Europeans to take a more forward-leaning approach to Montenegro and come through in concrete terms.
Mr. Chairman, it's clear that we have not reached the point where we can say that Serbia is irreversibly on the road to democracy. Our efforts now, however, can do two things. In the short term, we can help the indigenous Serbian opposition to focus their energies and more effectively articulate their anger and frustration of the Serbian public. In the longer term, we can cultivate and strengthen these forces that will carry the democracy banner as long as Milosevic remains in power. Both of these are important goals. U.S. leadership in this endeavor is critical, and your support is essential.
As I said, the proposed Serbian Democratization Act, which would authorize $100 million over two years for democratization projects, is an excellent example of the convergence of administration and congressional perspectives on the Serbia democracy issue. We look forward to working together with Congress to bring democracy to Serbia and the entire Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and restore real stability to the region.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. G. SMITH: Thank you very much, Ambassador Gelbard.
Before we turn to you, Ambassador Pardew, we're pleased to be joined by my colleague, Senator Biden.
And love to hear your comments, Senator.
SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D-DE): Well, I'd ask unanimous consent that my statement be placed in the record.
SEN. G. SMITH: Without objection.
SEN. BIDEN: And we'll hear -- and then I'll be -- comment on --
SEN. G. SMITH: Thank you.
MR. PARDEW: Mr. Chairman, I too have a brief statement which I'd like to submit for the record.
SEN. G. SMITH: Pleased we received that.
MR. PARDEW: All right. I'm grateful for this opportunity to discuss with you today our efforts to promote democracy in Kosovo. The movement toward democracy is key to promoting U.S. interests of regional stability in Southeastern Europe.
Secretary Albright was in Kosovo today meeting with representatives of the international community and the people of Kosovo to promote our objectives.
Tomorrow she will join President Clinton and more than three dozen other world leaders at the Stability Pact Summit in Sarajevo to emphasize our interest in a stable, prosperous and democratic Southeastern Europe.
Democracy in Kosovo must be built from the ground up. It must rise literally from the ashes of a savage campaign of destruction and murder waged by Milosevic's forces. And it must rely ultimately on the Kosovar Albanian population, which has been prohibited or more than a decade from participating in the existing structures of government, structures that were themselves undemocratic. But we cannot forget that in the time since Belgrade revoked Kosovo's autonomy, Kosovar Albanians built and managed their own shadow government institutions.
Despite the horrors of recent conflict, therefore, a basis for self- government already exists. But it must be revived, guided and allowed to move forward toward true multiethnic democracy.
Our immediate steps in meeting this challenge have been achieved:
First, Serb forces responsible for carrying out a systematic campaign of atrocities and ethnic cleansing in Kosovo have been driven from the province by NATO's successful air campaign.
Second, more than 700,000 of approximately 800,000 refugees driven out of Kosovo by Milosevic have been able to return more rapidly than anyone imagined and have begun to rebuild their lives.
Third, the international security force and civil administration called for in U.N. Security Council Resolution 1244 under NATO and the United Nations, are being established. KFOR currently has about 35,600 troops from 20 nations, including 5,600 U.S. forces in Kosovo. KFOR is rapidly establishing the secure environment necessary for political and economic development in the future.
The U.N. Mission in Kosovo, or UNMIK, is making steady progress in deploying civil administrators, civilian police and judicial authorities to the field under difficult circumstances. UNMIK has a powerful mandate, one sufficient to create the foundation for a democratic society. Nevertheless, there is still a long way to go, and we are urging the U.N. and contributing countries to deploy their resources and personnel to Kosovo as quickly as possible.
About 700 international staff are already on the ground, including more than 160 civilian police. Approximately 50 Kosovar judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys have already been appointed. And civilian personnel continue to move in to fill positions within the U.N. administration.
Last Sunday, UNMIK issued its Regulation No. 1, which specifies that all legislative and executive authority in Kosovo is vested in UNMIK, and it lays out how that authority is to be exercised.
For our part, we are moving to place American officials in leadership positions within UNMIK and to commit personnel and resources to the programs that will be crucial to future democracy in Kosovo. An experienced American diplomat Jacques Hovey is in Kosovo as the principal deputy to the U.N. Secretary General's Special Representative Bernard Kouchner. We have placed Americans in a number of other key UNMIK positions. Further, if the Congress approves, we intend to open a U.S. office in Pristina that enables us to engage directly with the international agencies, Kosovar leaders and citizens.
The effort to promote democracy in Kosovo has several components. The most urgent item on UNMIK's agenda is the establishment of a civilian police force that will assume responsibility for law and order. The U.N. intends to deploy 3,100 international civil police in Kosovo, the largest international civilian police operation in which the U.S. has participated. The UNMIK civilian police will be armed and will have arrest authority. The U.S. has committed 450 of those civilian police.
As these police deploy, the OSCE will begin to train the Kosovar police of about 3,000, which will eventually take over responsibility for civilian policing. The U.S. is playing a leading role in this effort as well. An American has been appointed to head of the police training academy. Nearly 6,000 applications have already been received from the Kosovar public for membership in this police force. The site for the police academy has been identified, and the first class should begin training next month.
No less important than police in the long run is the prompt establishment of a judicial system and a human rights monitoring regime. The U.S. is working closely with the U.N. and OSCE to develop a comprehensive, coordinated approach to implementing a justice system that operates under UNMIK authority but that is staffed by Kosovar judges and attorneys.
In order to avoid a cycle of revenge and to foster an atmosphere of reconciliation, the U.S. has nominated 21 qualified human rights monitors as part of the OSCE contingent of more than 100 who will monitor and protect human rights of all Kosovars, whatever their ethnicity or religion. We've pushed hard and successfully for the creation of a human rights ombudsperson in Kosovo, and we intend to provide manpower and resources to support that office. In addition, we have pledged $9 million for the ICTY to ensure that the work of the War Crimes Tribunal in Kosovo can be carried forward. Further down the road, democratization in Kosovo will require an active. pluralistic political life, free and fair elections and self- government. We have no intention of seeing one single party system replace another.
In that regard, UNMIK is establishing local and national councils which are intended to guarantee the broadest possible citizen participation in the process of creating self-government in Kosovo. Though Serbs and Albanians have, at one time or another, boycotted the work of these councils, they remain essential to building the conditions in which democracy can take root. In her meeting today in Kosovo, Secretary Albright has emphasized to both Albanians and Serbs the need to participate fully and to make these councils work. We are also working with the U.N., OSCE, and other international organizations
to foster political party development and support training programs for civil administrators. Our goal is to hold local and Kosovo-wide elections as soon as possible.
The fostering of independent and responsible media is another indispensable part of building democracy and civil society in Kosovo. In addition to our continuing assistance to indigenous media there, I am pleased to note that an American, Doug Davidson (sp), has been named to be head of OSCE's Division of Media Affairs, which will have the responsibility for promoting the development of responsible independent media in Kosovo.
The most urgent task is to get Radio/TV Pristina operating, not as the
mouthpiece of one party and one ethnic group, but as an independent, nonpartisan voice of all the people of Kosovo. Radio Pristina was on the air yesterday afternoon for the first time since the beginning of the NATO air campaign, broadcasting news and features in both Albanian and Serbian.
The commitments that I have just listed are essential to the creation of a peaceful, democratic Kosovo, which is a critical element of U.S. interests in Europe. In the end, however, the establishment of democracy will depend upon the people of Kosovo themselves. Our overall objective is to see Kosovo, a democratic Serbia, and the whole of Southeastern Europe as an integral part of an undivided, democratic, and peaceful Europe, for we have learned from the history of this century that without stability in Southeastern Europe, the continent as a whole will not be peaceful. And we have learned from the history of the last 10 years that without peace -- a democratic peace -- in Kosovo, there can be no stability in Southeastern Europe.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. SMITH: Thank you, Ambassador Pardew.
Ambassador Gelbard, I wonder if Balkan ghosts are still alive even in Serbia that these opposition forces can actually unite to extricate Mr. Milosevic, what are the odds? I mean, you see it happening? There's a number of parties here:
Mr. Draskovic, Mr. Djindjic. I mean, can they put aside personal ambition for national good in this effort?
MR. GELBARD: Well, first, Mr. Chairman, one thing I've learned after a number of years working in the Balkans is that I don't give odds.
SEN. SMITH: (Laughs.)
MR. GELBARD: I like to be pleasantly surprised, if that should happen.
The biggest obstacle right now, as I said, has been the fractiousness of some elements of the opposition and the possibility that they may not have learned from the mistakes they committed in the past, where they allowed their egos, personal differences, and perhaps even some ideological differences to get in the way from achieving the ultimate goal that they all say they desire. As you know, Mr. Chairman, and as Senator Biden knows very well, the Zajedno group blew their opportunity during the winter of '96-'97, when they had victory in their hands. And a principal reason for that was, indeed, the personality differences between Draskovic and Djindjic. Over the last year and a half some elements of the opposition appear to have learned from this. Several coalition groups have developed in a very positive way, including the Alliance For Change, the Alliance For Democratic Political Parties, and others. And their message appears to be a constructive one, a forward-looking one about the future that could be that of Serbia and the FRY.
Our message to the opposition has been that this time they need to learn from the mistakes of the past because they have such an extraordinary opportunity now, and they need to find a way, if they can't construct a single opposition front, then at least to develop a loose coalition that follows the same line to avoid undercutting each other. There have been a number of non-aggression pacts signed among opposition groups and parties, so far. That's a positive sign, and we think it's critical that they continue to move forward on this kind of code of conduct, as well as similar platforms in their demonstrations as they move forward.
SEN. G. SMITH: As you look into the future, you think of Montenegro and what they're doing, is Montenegro something of a model for how Kosovo could develop?
And is Montenegro likely to go independent as well?
MR. GELBARD: Well first, we have, as I said in my written testimony, continued to point to the government, the ruling party, the ruling coalition in Montenegro as the right kind of example for Serbia in the sense that they have developed a multi-ethnic democratic coalition, which, incidentally, includes Serbs, Montenegrans, Albanians, Bosniacs, lots of others. In that sense, we would hope that the Serbian political parties and NGOs, labor unions and the like, could learn from this.
And it's very interesting for me that Serb opposition leaders really look up to President Djukanovic, not just because he's 6'-5", but because he is somebody who clearly has demonstrated a willingness and an ability to construct a democratic coalition that functions and that pursues free-market economic policies. So we certainly hope that whether it's the people of Serbia and their leadership, their political parties, or in Kosovo, that this can be a kind of example.
At the same time, our preference, of course strong preference, as I have repeatedly told President Djukanovic, is for Montenegro to remain an integral part of the The --
SEN. G. SMITH: Is that likely, or what do you suspect is happening?
MR. GELBARD: Well, President Djukanovic is looking for a fairer deal under the constitution that exists.
The constitution itself isn't bad. It has been the way Milosevic has twisted it over the last seven or eight years. And Djukanovic is now looking or more autonomy under this constitution, as a way of keeping Montenegro inside of Yugoslavia, and we don't disagree with that.
We want to continue to see Montenegro as part of Yugoslavia. And we feel that a country made up of equal republics is a reasonable and decent way to go.
SEN. G. SMITH: Ambassador Pardew, without a democratic change in Belgrade -- I mean, is it realistic for Kosovo to be a truly autonomous province of Serbia?
MR. PARDEW: On the long run, we have to have a democratic change in Belgrade.
We are going to do everything that we possibly can to create the institutions of democracy in Kosovo with or without regard to what happens in Belgrade. But you're right; there are limits to how far you can go with the current regime in Belgrade. So I agree with you.
SEN. G. SMITH: Senator Biden?
SEN. BIDEN: Gentlemen, they are both good statements I believe -- and so much to ask. Let me start by picking up where the chairman left off.
Montenegro has basically issued an ultimatum to Serbia. And it says that: "We want greater autonomy. We want to be able to conduct relations with other countries without Belgrade's interference." And it set a deadline for that to occur. They are going to hold a referendum. That's been pushed back until, as I understand it, until September, the ultimatum.
I don't know where that goes. I mean, Milosevic, it seems to me, if he accedes to that, demonstrates he has even less power than he's trying to portray he has hold of, and if he doesn't, there's nothing he can do to stop what Montenegro's going to do. And I don't know how they stop that from rolling down the -- that ball from rolling. Would you comment on that, Ambassador Gelbard?
MR. GELBARD: First, under the constitution of the FRY, the federal constitution, and under Montenegro's constitution, they do have certain rights which go further than we would normally expect part of a sovereign state to have. For example, they do have legitimately their own foreign minister and ability to conduct some foreign policy functions constitutionally. They also have the right to have a referendum on independence under their constitution.
My sense is that right now the vote would not go in favor of independence. But what's very clear, Senator, is that Milosevic has been the one who has pushed the Montenegrin people in this direction over the course of the last two years. As I mentioned in my testimony, Milosevic and his puppet, the former president of Montenegro, Momir Bulatovic, tried to overthrow Djukanovic before he was inaugurated as president on June 15th, 1998. They also increased the size of the army, the VJ, in Montenegro during the conflict in Kosovo from 9,500 which is its usual size, up to 40,000 by adding on reservists and some other regular army personnel. And it was a very delicate dance that took place there between the VJ and the police, which come under the Montenegrin government.
I think Milosevic knew that if the army tried to overthrow Djukanovic, there was likely to be civil war, the army was likely to fracture; and the police are quite strong. Nonetheless, the Montenegrin government is showing prudence in how it's trying to proceed. Djukanovic, by his own public statements, has said that he doesn't want independence; what he wants is equal opportunity inside of the FRY.
SEN. BIDEN: But he's threatened a referendum, hasn't he?
MR. GELBARD: He's threatened a referendum, which, as I said, is legitimate under their constitution.
SEN. BIDEN: Yeah.
MR. GELBARD: So I wouldn't want to give you a hypothetical answer about where this is going.
But Djukanovic is trying to keep his coalition to gether, he's trying to cope with the significantly increased percentage of the population who are now tremendously frustrated by Milosevic's boycotts and blockades against the Montenegrin people, and I think President Djukanovic deserves a great deal of credit for trying to walk a very delicate line right now, even as he's trying to stay inside Yugoslavia.
SEN. BIDEN: Great non-answer. (Laughter.) And I appreciate it very much. It seems to me, because I'm not a diplomat and most people don't care about foreign policy and they forget what I have to say anyway --
MR. GELBARD: I never do, Senator.
SEN. BIDEN: It seems to me that Djukanovic has himself -- and I'm not being critical of him -- I mean, I think he's looking around and saying, "How do I cut my deal so that I get a major piece of this reconstruction that's going to go on in the Balkans here?" Not a whole lot that Serbia can do to block access now; boycotts are aren't going to matter a whole lot if, in fact, they attempt to.
And I just wonder how this is playing in Belgrade, whether or not they fear a referendum or Djukanovic fears a referendum more than Belgrade fears a referendum, but you've -- you know, you've answered it as you probably should.
We talk about -- Ambassador Pardew -- we talk about supporting the media, a free and open media. How? How do we do that? I thought you had said that, or maybe you said that --
MR. PARDEW: Yes. Yes.
SEN. BIDEN: Either one of you or both of you. Mechanically, how do we do that?
MR. PARDEW: Well, we work through nongovernmental organizations. We have established, as Ambassador Gelbard mentioned, a ring around Serbia, which is using international broadcasts, but we're offering that to independent voices in Serbia. We are using international facilities to make -- and making them available to independent groups.
SEN. BIDEN: Let me put it another way. We can make facilities available; are we prepared to shut down facilities that spew propaganda?
MR. GELBARD: Well, we have, senator.
SEN. BIDEN: We have. I mean --
MR. GELBARD: During the --
SEN. BIDEN: -- over the long haul? Is this the --
MR. GELBARD: Well, first, during the conflict in Kosovo we and our allies --
SEN. BIDEN: No, I know that. I want to know from now.
MR. GELBARD: Well, the -- as far as I'm aware, Serb television has still been cut off the (EUTELSAT ?) facilities, and we've made sure that whenever they made an attempt -- and there was a brief moment when they got back on another satellite -- we shut them off those. What we're really trying to do, the use of the international facilities that Ambassador Pardew referred to, particularly the RFE, RL, and the ring around Serbia, is a temporary measure. What we're trying to do over the long term is support an alternative indigenous voice for the Serbian people through mechanisms such as ANEM, the Network of Independent Radio and Television. We have funds available that we were just about to deliver when the conflict broke out and Milosevic switched them off. But we have funds available that we are on the verge of providing to them again so that independent television and radio can be augmented throughout Serbia. We're supporting Montenegran television and radio so that they can be another voice for the Serb opposition and the Serb people as well as, of course, for the Montenegran people. And we're looking at other means to really augment the capability or start up again the capability of free Serbian voices inside of Serbia.
MR. PARDEW: Can I add to that, senator?
SEN. BIDEN: Yes.
MR. PARDEW: We are -- the international community is promoting printing of newspapers that were previously printed in Kosovo now being printed in Macedonia and distributed in Kosovo free of charge. You will hear from John Fox (sp) later, I think, from the Soros Foundation. They've been instrumental in putting funding in to independent radio in Kosovo. We encourage that. The former Serbian radio and TV in Pristina has been taken over by the international community, and we've denied one access to one group to dominate that because we don't want a single voice, and we will ensure that there are multiple voices on this.
So there are a range of programs ongoing in Kosovo, as Bob mentioned.
SEN. BIDEN: What can we do about inside Serbia? For example, Draskovic
continues to deny access to Studio B, which is supposedly, as I understand it -- he's not?
MR. GELBARD: No, he's actually given access to Studio B -- excuse me; given access of Studio B to Radio B-92. And my understanding is that Radio B-92, one of the independent voices, has just reopened as Radio B-292. We want Draskovic to open up Studio B to the rest of the opposition, and that's a message that he'll be getting from us in the next few days.
SEN. BIDEN: Last question, if I may, Mr. Chairman?
SEN. G. SMITH: Sure.
SEN. BIDEN: We all say, including me, that ultimately there is no long-term integration of the Balkans into an undivided Europe until Milosevic goes. I wonder whether we're saying that too much these days, including me. Let me be more precise.
As long as there is success in Sarajevo today -- I guess it's today or tomorrow -- tomorrow, as long as the commitments are real, as long as the civilian police force is put in place, the media is not dominated, the reconstruction of Kosovo and Macedonia and Montenegro and the surrounding areas really begins in earnest, with the European Community taking the lead, I don't know what Serbia can do, under Milosevic's leadership, that can much effect whether or not we succeed in that part. In other words, admittedly, at the end of the day, until the Serbian people have come to terms with their leadership and what was done, you can't have a solution here. But I don't know what Milosevic and an antagonistic Serbia can do, as a practical matter, to effect about 500 things we've got to do in the meantime anyway, to begin to put together, economically and politically, a larger plan for the Balkans.
Am I missing something here?
MR. GELBARD: Senator, I believe that Milosevic has an infinite capability for creating damage. Even while he had so many problems at home, he tried to overthrow the Dodik government, the moderate Bosnian Serb government in Republika Srpska. We were able to stymie that, and the Dodik -- Dodik and his government emerged strong after the conflict --
SEN. BIDEN: Is that related to his ability if it -- when it was even a possibility, to his ability to provide force to back up any effort that would be undertaken, ultimately? The ability to provide assistance?
MR. GELBARD: He still has the capability of providing force, not in Bosnia, but in Montenegro, and in his own perverse way --
SEN. BIDEN: How can he do that? Be specific --
MR. GELBARD: Through the army.
SEN. BIDEN: If in fact that occurs, I can't imagine that the international community and KFOR will not come down on that effort like a God- -- a gosh-darn mountainside being blown up. I don't understand that. I mean, do you mean -- is there any doubt on the part of the alliance that if there is use of military force, of the VJ, in Montenegro, that we won't use all force available to us to take them out?
SEN. SMITH: Or are you telling us that we won't? I mean, I don't --
MR. GELBARD: I'm not certain that that is something which is in -- that is not necessarily in NATO's agreed NATO action at this point, or when the current mandate terminates. If it isn't --
SEN. BIDEN: But --
MR. GELBARD: -- what I worry about is that Milosevic survives by creating trouble. He is in the worst trouble he's ever been. He's in a corner. The economy has collapsed totally. Real wages were at the same level as the early 1950s before the conflict, and right now they have virtually no reserves left. But this is why it is imperative to see a change in the regime, to have democratic government arrive in Belgrade as a way of having the region whole. That's why we --
SEN. BIDEN: I couldn't agree more, but let me --
MR. GELBARD: -- consider that to be an imperative in our foreign policy.
SEN. BIDEN: As you know, there has been no one that you have known in Congress that has been more supportive of arriving at that conclusion, but I like to think I am a realist.
The idea that we are going to produce a democratic government in Serbia, between now an d the end of the year, is about as likely as this podium getting up and walking to the back of the room. And what I want to sort of disabuse everybody of here is a new State Department-arrived-at notion that, through State Department-speak, we are going to arrive at something that's not possible. The most likely thing to do is nail the son of a gun by literally going in and getting him and dragging him to The Hague. If we had a brain in our collective heads, that's what we would do; literally, not figuratively. But we are not going to do that because our European friends all lack the will, and we will lack the willingness to push that forcefully.
And so I just hope that we make it clear that the idea that he may be alive and well in Serbia does not mean that we -- the isolation of Serbia and him in fact -- and him in particular does not allow us to pursue all our other objectives in the meantime. If they want to wither on the vine and die, so be it -- so be it -- which takes me to a question relating to aid.
We are saying -- we and the Europeans are saying that we will provide humanitarian financial -- we are not planning financial assistance or reconstruction aid but that we will provide humanitarian assistance. I think that is a very, very, very fine line to draw. And I think that we should be very aware that his ability to create mischief and gain credibility will relate to how tightly we parse that.
How do we prevent Milosevic from claiming credit for Western assistance to Serbia, particularly when the media is still not a free media?
So I just -- I'm not even asking you to respond, because it's unfair. If you'd like to, I'd welcome it. But I just think that this ain't over till it's over. It's not over till he's gone. But we cannot assume as long as he's [not?]gone we can hedge our assessment of what we're able to do outside of Serbia, in my humble opinion.
SEN. G. SMITH: I'd like to follow on to what Senator Biden is saying here. One of the reasons that I voted to support President Clinton and the allies in this action in Kosovo was my belief that if Milosevic could work this kind of mischief, we would be pinned down in Bosnia for a long, long, long time, and that by defanging his military, we could go home earlier. Is that a na´ve belief on my part?
MR. GELBARD: Well, first, to answer Senator Biden's question --
SEN. G. SMITH: And by the way, I think he's going to commit mischief if we're saying that we're not willing to do anything.
MR. GELBARD: First to answer Senator Biden, though, Senator, I agree with you.
That's why we are continuing to press ahead on all other initiatives and we're working with the Europeans on the stability pact, which is a regional effort, a regional approach regarding democracy, security and economic development. And that's what we feel it has to be, a regional focus on every place.
The line -- the fine line you ask about, I agree with you again. That's why, again, we're not trying to play games on the issue of assistance; we're saying humanitarian assistance means food and medicine. We have looked at other types of possible assistance, but we feel, as I said in my statement, that it's imperative to maintain the isolation with the three layers of sanctions -- the outer wall, Kosovo-related sanctions, and the wartime sanctions.
And the -- President Clinton and the administration, entire administration, feel very strongly that we should be maintaining all these sanctions until -- as a way of maintaining this type of isolation, because you're right, it would be very easy to begin to blur the line. And I know, as you know, Senator, there are countries out there that are interested in moving over different lines over time.
SEN. BIDEN: And I'm worried about us setting the bar so high that we build in failure here, because if a year from now there is not democracy in Serbia, after we keep talking this claptrap about, you know, democratic -- there aren't any democratic forces in Serbia now. Draskovic ain't a Democrat. This guy is no box of chocolates. He's better than the other guy, but this is no box of chocolates. I think we should be honest about this.
And look, just to make it clear to you where I am, and just speaking as one senator, there's a big difference between clearing the bridge -- the bridge debris out of the Danube so our allies can use the Danube, and building a new bridge. I'll clear it. I will do everything in my power here to make sure there's not a cent that can be spent to build it.
And I just think that they've got to come to their -- the realization of what they have enabled Milosevic to do, and until there are democratic forces there, I am -- like for example, the press asks me all the time, we voted 100 -- what was it? -- $100 million in the Serbian -- I don't know who to give it to? Okay?
I mean, I know how -- I know what I'd like to give it to. But we Americans tend to think, whether it was Ronald Reagan in, you know, in Latin America or us in the Balkans, that there's some Jeffersonian democrat waiting to spring up somewhere to lead a -- you know, a democratic rival there. There ain't no Democrats in Serbia, that I've found. I mean -- democratic leadership, that has any realistic possibility of moving. So I guess what I'm trying to say to you is this. I just think it's a little bit like -- the secretary got mad at me when I a month ago said stop talking about Rambouillet, stop talking about how we want to bring them back to the table. We don't want to bring them back, we want to beat the hell ou t of them until they stop. That's what we want. And that's the only thing that worked.
And I think this idea that we're really in effect saying we're not going to succeed until we have a democratic Serbia, then that is ultimate success. But I'm afraid you're going to have people up here saying, well, geez, it's been -- it's been four months, you know? -- don't have it yet, so I guess we shouldn't be spending all this money doing this other stuff over here.
MR. GELBARD: Well, in fact, I said in my statement that in the short term it's hard to imagine that it will be able to achieve a democratic solution in Serbia. That's why we have to be prepared to support democratic forces --
SEN. BIDEN: And there are democratic forces.
MR. GELBARD: Well --
SEN. BIDEN: Ain't much democratic leadership.
MR. GELBARD: Tomorrow a representative of the democratic opposition, Draguslav Ovramovic (sp), will be in Sarajevo for the summit. This is a man who is a very high common denominator. He is part of the alliance for change. Vuk Draskovic is a really flawed individual. But --
SEN. BIDEN: He is the Rasputin of the 21st century, about to be. I mean, we're not quite there yet.
MR. GELBARD: I'll tell him you said it. (Laughs.)
SEN. BIDEN: I told him that.
MR. GELBARD: Yeah.
SEN. BIDEN: So I -- I'd tell him. I --
MR. GELBARD: We still hope that he can be part of the solution here -- SEN.
BIDEN: I hope so, too, but he's going to take work.
MR. GELBARD: Mr. Chairman -- he's going to take a lot of work.
SEN. BIDEN: That's a very high maintenance fellow.
MR. GELBARD: I know. Believe me, I know. (Laughs.)
Mr. Chairman, regarding your question, the -- (stops) -- the Republika Srpska has emerged, coming out of the conflict, if anything with significantly strengthened moderate leadership. The Dodik government is stronger than they were at the beginning of the year. They are stronger than they were after the elections in September.
When I last met with Prime Minister Dodik, about a month ago, he was much more comfortable, much more confident about his ability to govern. We are seeing that the extremes, who were weakened after the September national elections, are becoming weaker still. High Representative Carlos Westendorp, whose last day is tomorrow, banished President Poplasen, the leader of the Radical Party, from his position, and it's now very clear that his Radical Party is weaker than ever, as is Karadzic's SDS. We see prospects for the moderates better than ever. And while there's still a ways to go, the prospects look much better.
SEN. G. SMITH: Thank you.
MR. PARDEW: Could I just comment on the democracy issue? We don't have any illusions about who we're dealing with here, but I do think democracy is an aspiration of many of the Serb people. And in that regard, I don't think we ought to stop talking about it, Senator. I think we ought to -- we ought to continue to discuss it as an issue of --
SEN. BIDEN: I'm not suggesting we don't talk about it; I'm suggesting we talk about it realistically. I mean, for example, it's amazing what can happen when you eliminate the extremes. I mean, the single best thing that ever happened to the Republic of Srpska is we kicked the living hell out of Milosevic. There ain't no alternative left. That's the reason why it happened. It had nothing to do with elections, it had to do with the fact that Westendorp had the right idea, number one; and number two, there ain't no alternative. Belgrade's no beacon, no help, no place to go. So there is no alternative. It's amazing what a salutary impact that has upon extremes in countries.
And that's why the single best thing we -- my dream is to visit Milosevic in prison. (Laughter.) I mean that sincerely. I'm not being facetious. Because you put Milosevic in prison, and things in the region will change drastically.
If you said to me, "You can leave him where he is or give him a plane ticket to take off to some -- like the former leader of Uganda, well, you know, we gave him -- what was his name? -- Idi Amin -- we can give him an "Idi Amin passport"
and he would leave; I'd say no, leave him there, leave him there till we get him. Put him in jail. Short of that, I don't know how we get to the point. And by the way, I often wondered, Karadzic's party, the SDS, the only misnomer, it should have dropped the "D." I mean, these guys are BAD guys. BAD guys. They're no good. SEN. G. SMITH: When Senator Biden makes that visit to that prison, I want to be your junior companion.
Gentlemen, thank you very much for your testimony. We appreciate it.
SEN. BIDEN: Thanks.