Michael Benson on Mon, 19 Jun 2000 16:53:48 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> NYTimes on Milosevic

This little item of interest just in from the NY Times:
        June 19, 2000

        Informal Talks Reported on Exit
        Terms for Milosevic 


        PRAGUE, June 18 --
        The Clinton
        administration is exploring
        with some of its NATO
        allies and Russia the
        possibility that President
        Slobodan Milosevic of
        Yugoslavia be allowed to
        leave office with
        guarantees for his safety
        and his savings, senior
        American and NATO
        officials say. 

        The discussions are
        delicate and informal, the
        officials stress,
        emphasizing that the
        administration is not
        preparing any offer to Mr. Milosevic -- who has been
        indicted by an international war crimes tribunal -- and will
        not make one. 

        On the other hand, "if we were presented with a hard and
        fast offer that would get Milosevic out of power, we'd have
        to think very hard before saying 'no,' " a senior
        administration official said. 

        Another senior official said that the United States would
        condemn any proposal that would allow Mr. Milosevic to go
        anywhere but to the war crimes tribunal in The Hague.
        "That's the policy," the official said. "But 'Would we act to
        stop it or quietly acquiesce?' is another question," the official
        said, then added carefully: "There has been no formal
        discussion of this -- that I am aware of." 

        Mr. Milosevic raised the question of his future last summer,
        after the war over Kosovo ended, officials say. But
        Washington rebuffed any discussion of a deal. 

        Various proposals have been raised to Washington and
        Athens in recent weeks by emissaries saying they come from
        Mr. Milosevic, the officials said. But what is less clear is
        whether they are fully authorized, and whether Mr.
        Milosevic is serious about doing a deal, or simply trying to
        "see how the ground lies," an American official said. "What
        we would never do is make him an offer, because he'll just
        pocket it." 

        Any deal, even without clear American fingerprints, would
        also put Vice President Al Gore into a difficult position
        during the presidential campaign and could undermine the
        international tribunal that indicted Mr. Milosevic. 

        It is also not clear why Mr. Milosevic would choose to leave
        power now, the officials caution. While his position is slowly
        disintegrating, along with Yugoslavia's economy, his current
        seat is probably the safest place for him. "It would be hard
        for him to trust assurances from anyone, inside or outside
        the country," an official said. 

        Within his ruling party, Mr. Milosevic has said that it is
        important to wait out the Clinton administration, and that a
        President George W. Bush would be more "realistic" toward
        Serbia and carry less personal animosity from the Kosovo

        Still, President Clinton raised the issue of Mr. Milosevic's
        future with the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, at their
        recent summit meeting, Russian officials have told some
        NATO-country officials. According to the Russians, Mr.
        Putin told Mr. Clinton that Miami seemed as good a place
        for Mr. Milosevic as Moscow, the officials said. 

        The Clinton administration has made the ouster of Mr.
        Milosevic one of its main policy goals and regards him as the
        central obstacle to democratization and stability in
        southeastern Europe. Secretary of State Madeleine K.
        Albright has told her top aides she wants Mr. Milosevic out
        of office before she goes, yet Mr. Milosevic has frustrated
        Washington, outflanking the opposition. 

        "There is keen interest in these proposals in Washington,"
        said a NATO-country official. "They can't be seen to be
        shopping. But they are sending signals that should a clear
        proposal come, it would be seriously entertained. And that
        shows they're serious. If you write about it, it will be full
        denial. But it's the best solution for everyone, and they could
        spin it as victory, as his head on a platter. There is a strong
        argument that democracy should be put ahead of the

        Greece is one of the countries actively exploring the
        possibility of a deal for Mr. Milosevic's ouster, which could
        mean exile abroad for him and his family or, less likely,
        pledges of safety inside Serbia from any successor
        government that promises not to extradite him. 

        Orthodox Greece provided humanitarian aid to Serbia and
        Kosovo even during the air war and has acted as a
        go-between for NATO and Belgrade in the past. 

        Last month, Mr. Milosevic saw the former Greek foreign
        minister, Karolos Papoulias, and some important Greek
        businessmen, including some with close ties to the United
        States. Mr. Milosevic is said to have asked to see former
        Prime Minister Constantine Mitsotakis, whom he trusts, but
        officials say that they are looking for more signals of
        seriousness from Belgrade before Mr. Mitsotakis would be
        authorized to go. 

        While Mr. Milosevic is beleaguered and unpopular, and the
        country is having severe economic problems, the Serbian
        opposition is weak and there are no signs of potential
        insurrection. The army and the police have not cracked.
        Russia and China, which opposed NATO's use of force in
        Kosovo and have interests in Serbia, have been willing to
        help Mr. Milosevic and his government with credits, loans
        and energy supplies. 

        On the other hand, the officials say, Mr. Milosevic is
        showing signs of nervousness. He is not seeing a broad range
        of people or traveling widely inside the country; there is
        evidence of a grain shortage that will drive up food prices;
        and there have been a series of assassinations of senior
        officials and criminal leaders, none of them solved, that
        indicate instability. 

        The opposition is becoming more of a widespread movement
        inside Serbia, with opinion polls showing a growing desire for
        change and an end to international isolation, even if the
        current leaders of the opposition are not popular themselves. 

        Furthermore, international sanctions against Yugoslavia are
        becoming better coordinated and seem to be biting those
        close to the government. Just last week, officials say,
        Cyprus, a favored spot for Serbian money and money
        laundering, finally agreed to shut down the office of
        Beogradska Banka on technical grounds. 

        Mr. Milosevic and his family are believed to have large
        amounts of money in foreign banks, although the size and
        location of the holdings are not known. 

        Mr. Milosevic seems tired and irritable, the officials say, and
        they note that his speeches have a kind of ideological fury
        more reminiscent of the views of his influential wife, Mirjana
        Markovic, a professor of sociology who founded the
        Yugoslav United Left Party. 

        Some in his own party are said to be looking beyond him,
        and the security of his family -- especially his son, Marko,
        who is involved in a wide range of business activities -- is a

        Marko Milosevic, although on a list of individuals banned
        from travel to European Union countries, was recently in
        Greece on a false diplomatic passport, one official said, and
        he is now believed to be in Japan, possibly on his way to

        As for Mr. Milosevic's conviction that a Bush administration
        would be more realistic and less emotional toward him, a
        Bush foreign policy adviser cautioned that there was no
        agreed policy, and that the situation in Serbia could change a
        lot in six months. 

        "But Milosevic should take no comfort from the prospect of
        a Bush administration," the adviser said. "There will be no
        sense of letting bygones be bygones. The strategy may
        change in different ways, and it will be worked out with the
        Europeans. But the idea that a bunch of Kissingerian
        realpolitikers will focus energy elsewhere and let him mind
        his own business is not something he should bank on." 

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