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Did any major power NOT fund the Kostunica campaign?
[Based on article from 'Reuters' 7 October 2000]
[Note: If you are familiar with Germany's history in the Balkans Fischer's statement is chilling. Our thanks to Professor of Linguistics Peter Maher for sending in this story.]
BERLIN, Oct 7 (Reuters) - Germany said on Saturday it had supported the Yugoslav opposition with millions of marks in financial aid.
Norway also said it had helped fund the Yugoslav opposition's election campaign, which led to victory by opposition candidate Vojislav Kostunica and soon afterwards to the overthrow of strongman President Slobodan Milosevic.
German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said in a magazine interview that Germany had been duty bound to provide financial support to Slobodan Milosevic's opponents.
``It could have all ended up being far bloodier,'' Fischer told Der Spiegel. For Germans it was ``an obligation based on history'' to back the push for democracy, he added.
Der Spiegel said around $30 million, mostly from the United States, was channelled through an office in Budapest.
Another 45 million marks ($20 million) from Germany and other Western states went to cities that were under opposition control. Der Spiegel said the Foreign Ministry sent around 17 million marks through 16 German towns, which also contributed.
A spokeswoman for the Foreign Ministry confirmed the figures. ``It was not disguised but rather it was entirely normal financial aid from the budget,'' she said.
She said four million marks in media support went to Yugoslavia. She declined to identify which media outlets channelled the money, but Der Spiegel said state broadcasters ZDF and Bayerischer Rundfunk were used. No one from either broadcaster was available for comment.
Der Spiegel also reported that Fischer, U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and some G-8 foreign ministers brought the Yugoslav opposition together in Berlin on December 17.
``We read the riot act to the opposition then and told them to get their act together,'' it quoted one participant as saying.
Most of the opposition, long divided by infighting and personality clashes, united behind Kostunica in last month's presidential election that ultimately ended Milosevic's rule.
Germany urged the European Union on Friday to offer immediate assistance to the new government in Belgrade. Economics Minister Werner Mueller promised in an interview with Bild am Sonntag newspaper to be published on Sunday that Yugoslavia would receive ``immediate aid'' from the EU.
NORWAY ALSO SAYS HELPED OPPOSITION
In Oslo, Foreign Ministry spokesman Victor Roenneberg told Reuters the government had given ``several million crowns'' in financial aid to Yugoslavia and provided supplies ranging from computer and communications equipment for the opposition's vote count to oil to opposition-controlled villages.
Norway also funded opposition-run newspapers, radio stations and Internet media, he said.
``It is highly unusual to fund one party against another, but because we had assisted the opposition throughout the election, we were quite convinced that the opposition had a clear majority from the beginning,'' Roenneberg said.
Norwegian Foreign Minister Thorbjoern Jagland arrived in Belgrade early on Saturday and met with Kostunica, who was to be sworn in at a ceremony later in the day.
``Norwegian diplomacy manages to do things even though it works quietly,'' Jagland told national news agency NTB.
Norway has also said it will concentrate more of its foreign aid on Yugoslavia.
(c) Reuters 2000. Reposted for fair use only.
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