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Thursday, 28 September, 2000, 12:30 GMT 13:30 UK
Should the West take sides in the Yugoslav elections?

Campaigning in Yugoslavia is reaching a climax ahead of Sunday's general elections, and the international community has entered the fray on the side of the opposition to President Slobodan Milosevic.

The United States has said that it could lift sanctions on Yugoslavia if the elections lead to a change of government. And the European Union released a statement urging Yugoslavs to vote Mr Milosevic out of office.

Belgrade has barred European observers from the poll, and there have been widespread accusations of media bias and intimidation of the opposition.

But in spite of doubts about the fairness of the elections, should the West be so partisan? Will this encourage support for the opposition or will it play into the hands of the Milosevic camp?

This debate is now closed. Your reaction:

The West has every right to protect itself

Simon, Anglo American
Many people forget that both World Wars were initiated in the Balkans. WWIII could easily start here. This area has a long history of instability, human rights abuse, genocide, tyrants and so on. Since the Serbian nation cannot/ will not keep its own house in order, without causing death and destruction in the region and throughout the world, then the West has every right to protect itself.
Simon, Anglo American

One day the Western governments will need Yugoslavia. Yugoslavians will remember what the West did to them.
Stevan Todorcevic, USA

Why don't NATO go into Yugoslavia and take care of the country like in Kosovo?
Don Popovic, USA

How long will the union of opposition parties last?

GC, Canada

Whatever the outcome of the elections in Yugoslavia, even if Milosevic looses after the second round of voting, Slobodan Milosevic will have a lot of influence over Yugoslav politics behind the scenes. How long will the union of opposition parties last, a matter of weeks, maybe months? The people of Serbia and Montenegro will prevail only when they all unite with the same vision of the future.
GC, Canada

If the Yugoslav people did gain a new president would the West really lift sanctions and reinstate full international status to Yugoslavia, or would more concessions be sought from them? Would the world live up to its promises? Remember all those it made to Yugoslavia's neighbour during the conflict. Not one country has been fully compensated for its assistance rather they have to get by as best they can.
Michael Srbljanin, England

It seems that you guys are the best supporters of Nato

Stephanie Sutton, USA

Why has the western Media been so biased in the Yugoslav conflict? Why are you not reporting of the massive ethnic cleansing in Kosova? 90% of the Serbs are cleansed! Where were you when 300, 000 Serbs were cleansed in the Krijina along with Nato Military support? It seems that you guys are the best supporters of Nato. How about Nato's war crimes?
Stephanie Sutton, USA

Who knows the secret knowledge of counting the ballots? The tone of the western media implies reliance on the official results. And despite the opposition to Milosevic's tyranny is reluctant to signal who the winner is. Along this lines is a precautionary comment that Kostunica is a nationalist too. Does it not in itself imply that the west prefers the crippled and compromised servant Milosevic who does not have a choice but to do anything to remain alive and in power, to Kostunica who has not accepted the money from the west so far. The west has a choice to make yet another turmoil over Serbia and that can only be justified if Milosevic claims victory. Besides the status of Montenegro, Kosovo and Vojvodina have still to be resolved. The chance for the west to intervene on these matters is lost if Milosevic accept his loss.
Anonymous Serbian

West, please stop "helping" us. You have been "helping" us for 10 years. So, if you don't want to help, or maybe if you want to but don't know how, please stop helping us. It is the only way this country to really becoming democratic and part of Europe!
Goran, Yugoslavia

The American dream is Europe's nightmare, from which we should all wake up, now

Snezana, Yugoslavia
The West should stay out of our affairs. The so-called western democracies should have stayed out of Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania and former Yugoslavia as well. Instead, they interfered, and now you have demonstrations in Prague, you have majority of Danes saying "no" and you have a neo-nazi government in Austria, and rising fascism in all Western Europe. I am a Serb, and never want to be an American. The American dream is Europe's nightmare, from which we should all wake up, now.
Snezana, Yugoslavia

Is the West interfering with the internal affairs of Yugoslavia? Yes, in much the same way as a sighted person "interferes" with the affairs of a blind person in offering to help them cross a busy street.
Robert, US

The Serbs are a proud people who are not going to be intimidated into any rash action because London promises

Simon Paul, UK
Unfortunately, the West appears to be missing the point once again. When will the likes of Robin Cook realise that the Serbs are a proud people who are not going to be intimidated into any rash action because London promises to lift sanctions if they "take to the streets". Additionally, the West appears not to realise that Kostunica is also a Nationalist who is also not going to be blackmailed into accepting NATO bases onto Yugoslav soil in return for economic favours. Robin Cook et al ought to go to school and learn about the mentality of the Yugoslav people before making the sought of crass statements and decisions about them!
Simon Paul, UK

The Serbian people have suffered enough. First, from their internal blood enemies, the Croats and Muslims and then from their former allies (UK, USA, Canada etc.)
D. Macura, Canada

Judging by most of the comments on the above topic it seems that the people of Serbia, would rather go it alone as it were to out Mr Milosevic. Well if it is left to the people of Serbia, I think Milosevic is going to be around a lot longer than people think.
Colin Jones, UK

It's all well and good to say it's an internal Yugoslavia problem, but we have to remember Chamberlain and Munich. If we allow aggression to go undeterred, it will create greater problems for us all.
Rob Chambers, USA

Milosevic is a master of political survival, don't underestimate him.

Aleksej, Russia
Three years ago, Milosevic was forced to leave the Serbian presidential office, so he became president of Yugoslavia, supposedly a figurehead. But he retained de facto power. Now he might as well leave his current office and get a job on a lower level (Serbian president or prime minister) - retaining the real power again - leaving the Yugoslav president to be a formality he is supposed to be. Milosevic is a master of political survival, don't underestimate him.
Aleksej, Russia

Judging from what I've been reading about this election, Milosevic's days in power are numbered. It seems clear that most of those voting in the election have already, through popular slogans such as "He's finished!" etc, that they won't stand for a Milosevic victory. All I know is that if the "West" intervened in the upcoming elections in my own country, I would certainly vote against the candidates supported by those who bombed my home.
C. Scott, USA

Half of the problems on the Balkans are because of the foreign interests. If we are leave peacefully to take control over our own future, there will be no more wars here. Don't forget that here started WW1. And it started because of foreign intervention!
Todor Kirilov, Bulgaria

We hope to see the back of Mr. Milosevic soon

Erika, Yugoslavia
We believe that the opposition will win in our country. We hope to see the back of Mr. Milosevic soon.
Erika, Yugoslavia

I think that if the Serbian people cannot see beyond the end of their nose, and wish to keep someone like Milosevic in power, then let them. Let them also not come moaning to Western governments in a few years' time saying 'we've made a mistake'.
As long (and this is the unfortunate thing that cannot be guaranteed) as their 'elected' tyrant does not inflict more misery on those outside of his homeland, then they deserve what they get. I just hope that those who are working hard within Serbia for the advancement of democracy and freedom will one day get what is duly theirs.
Ana, UK

How would Gore like it if China spent millions of dollars and exerted horrific trade sanctions to ensure the election of Bush. This as well as the Austrian fiasco are black marks on western claims of democracy ... it is only democratic if it is politically correct as "we see it".
S Wafalosky, USA

We cannot let what happened in Bosnia and Kosovo happen again in Montenegro

G Hedley, Scotland
A while ago I watched a program following the pathologists in Bosnia, as they uncovered mass graves. The program was extremely saddening, you simply had to look at the faces of the local Bosnians as they had to be held back from a 10ft deep pit filled with dead bodies. The locals wondering if their family members were in there, the desperation on their faces to find their missing loved ones.
After watching this you realise that this must not happen again, but yet it did, in Kosovo. That is why the west needs to intervene. Sure politics plays its part, but we cannot let what happened in Bosnia and Kosovo happen again in Montenegro.
G Hedley, Scotland

The west should let the people of Serbia decide who leads them without intervening. Intervention never works, just make the situation worse. Does Robin Cook really think Milosevic would take his advice and 'step down' after the bombing, or is he trying to boost his standing for the Labour Party Conference?
T. Odeniyi, UK

Is it not possible that Milosevic will concede the loss of the Yugoslav Presidency, but positioning himself as the Serbian President instead. Maybe it's far-fetched, but after this, he could declare Serbia will no longer be part of Yugoslavia. After all - it is rapidly becoming the only member. This way he could 'legitimately' still keep control of Serbia.
Matt Hayes, UK

For Britain, the USA and Germany to posture about what is good for other people is utterly obscene

Paul Lockwood, UK
The fate of Yugoslavia is for the Yugoslav people alone to decide. It is due to the interference of the Western powers that the old Yugoslavia broke up in the first place, and hundreds of thousands of people died in the resulting violence. For Britain, the USA and Germany to posture about what is good for other people and claim to represent some kind of "international law" is utterly obscene.
Paul Lockwood, UK

The West should take sides. The Serb nation has proven itself to be barren of people with conscience. The cues leading to a civilised country must be signalled by the West. For those Serbs who despise Milosevic, yet close ranks with him in the face of world wide objections should examine their position.
Adil Mussa, UK

The West should stay out of it. They have done enough damage already to the people of Serbia with bombing civilians and crippling the country with sanctions. I hope that Kostunica gets in because then the 'international community' will be forced to drop the sanctions, honour UN Resolution 1244, stop their demonising and start rebuilding the country that they have devastated.
A few years ago, before Nato's Kosovo 'campaign', hundreds of thousands of people bravely marched against Milosevic for around 100 days and nights. The Serbian Opposition pleaded with the West to support them and they were ignored because at the time it wasn't 'in their interest'.
Kate Thomas, England

The west intervening, is in my eyes the lesser of two evils

T. Gill, UK
Any one with any good sense of morals would and any concept of 'helping' others would say yes. All those that say we shouldn't, strike me as the kind who would watch others persecuted or robbed in the street while mumbling" it's got nothing to do with me". The west intervening, is in my eyes the lesser of two evils.
T. Gill, UK

Absolutely not. Military intervention in the internal affairs of another country is the slippery sloe to disaster, as has been proved too often before. By all means apply diplomatic pressure, but no armies or sanctions. If Milosevic attacks outside his borders, that is a different issue, which would merit a military response.
Brian, UK

Of course the "west" has to take a firm stance against a despot and indicted war criminal whose rule has led the Serbian people into isolation and misery. It is about time to break the vicious circle in the Balkans and give a chance to the young generations!
Pekka Hakala, Belgium

Normally I would say no, the western powers shouldn't take sides. Yet, in this unusual and somewhat desperate situation which now faces the world, I encourage the west to take sides. Yet at the same time, I urge the west to handle the situation with care.
Peter Bolton, UK in US

For westerners the thing that they can not understand is why people will for Mr. Slobodan Milosevic.
Put simply it is because our people dislike and distrust USA more.
ANTI US Serbian, Serbia

You have done enough damage - leave them alone...

Javanji, USA
NO an NO and NO again, the west have been involved and taking side throughout history and therefore people around the world have so many problems, leave the people alone with your Western "Modernised" inhumane politic. These people have and will find a way to resolve whatever the problem. Your Western Politic is the reason behind the present "ethnic" and other social problems that Yugoslav people are facing, you have done enough damage - leave them alone...
Javanji, USA

The very idea that a group of powerful outside powers can intervene to insure a peaceful fair election is something of a self-contradiction.
Ralph Sato, United States

I like many others have been forced to leave my home due to the sanctions of the west. I now live in Australia where democracy is in theory practised. The USA which is the ruler of the west first put sanctions which ended my rich life and forced me to live in a flee infested house for a year. I have always wondered why the intervened in Serbia when East Timor was left to Australia. The bombing last year also did nothing to raise the image of the west in Serbia.
M Spasov, Australia

As a matter of fact, intervening in another countries internal affairs is some kind of rude behaviour

Timothy So, Hong Kong
As a matter of fact, intervening in another countries internal affairs is some kind of rude behaviour. But if that would hold Slobodan Milosevic from another ethnic cleansing and ensure democracy in the future then my view is that the West should act without delay. Only democracy would create a safer and more peaceful world, not only for those in Serbia, but also everyone in the world.
Timothy So, Hong Kong

Nato and the USA should let Yugoslavia alone. NATO soldiers are imperialist forces protecting capitalism. Other countries with worse human right records do not received this attention because they are already subdued to the IMF and the USA imperial policies.
Carlos, England

The West should stay out. Milosevic will win either way - if we support the opposition, he has a ready made excuse to nullify elections, and if we let all go free, he can easily declare fraud and go home a happy man. But if the history of Serbian politics teaches either him or us anything, it's that someone will eliminate him soon enough.
King Alexander and Queen Draga were hardly better people than Milosevic, and they got shot and thrown out a window. Believe me, someone out there has a gun trained on Milosevic's head, and the sooner we all realise that, the better off we'll all be-Serbian and non-Serbian.
Ana Maric, Croatia

Trust is very vulnerable thing, and the West hasn't invested much in preserving it

Jelena Nikolic, Australia
Every individual, or a country, can benefit from a good advice or support, if it is free of hypocrisy and comes as a result of genuinely good intentions. Trust is very vulnerable thing, and the West hasn't invested much in preserving it. Quite the opposite, really. It is better to stay out of any situation, if there is no willingness to take into account best interests of the people involved.
Jelena Nikolic, Australia

No, the West should stay out. What the West is doing reminds me of the time when the Soviets were interfering in the internal affairs of the Eastern Block countries.
Henry Bensimon, USA

The West showed it inhumanity, or should we say the right face during the bombing of Yugoslavia. The West is not capable to bring any peace or stability to any region in the Balkans. So, please no intervention. Stay out of Serbia. Serbs are capable of voting and electing their own president. No occupation of Serbian land, please!
Boba Borojevic, Canada

The west must lift sanctions against Serbia as soon as possible and on that way help Serbian people. With sanctions in full force we are just helping Mr. Milosevic to stay in power.
Mike, Canada

The so-called "west" has only worsened the problem. Before the bombing and sanctioning of Yugoslavia, the vast majority of Yugoslavia's people were against Milosevic. Milosevic only stayed in power because he marred the elections. Have we forgotten the near constant protests in Belgrade against Milosevic a couple years ago during the previous elections? They only thing that NATO succeeded in doing is creating near unanimous support within Yugoslavia for Milosevic. Now, 80% of the population opposes him again. NATO, please don't screw this one up. The people of Yugoslavia are not stupid. They can decide for themselves.
Anna Maria Venetou, Greece

Do those that say the West should ignore us believe that we sleep safely in our beds at night knowing that Milosevic is not far away?

A simple human being in Kosova, Kosova / Kosovo
Perhaps the people able to give a decision as to whether or not the West should refrain from interfering are those thousands of people who lie in unknown graves throughout the Balkans and here in Kosova, victims of murder and mutilation. They are not responsible for their own murder. Do those that say the West should ignore us believe that we sleep safely in our beds at night knowing that Milosevic is not far away waiting for the chance to rid his Serbia of those of us that remain? It is all so easy for those not living here to pass judgement on our future, our lives, they can sleep safely in their beds at night and plan ahead for the coming months and years....But we keep on smiling!!!
A simple human being in Kosova, Kosova / Kosovo

Who are we kidding? The West (read USA) needs Milosevic to stay in power. What better excuse to continue with the destruction and occupation of Yugoslavia? The same goes for Kosovo Albanians - as long as Milosevic is in power, their dream of independence (read unification with Albania) is real.
P. J. Romano, Canada

Extreme caution should be exercised in dealing with the Yugoslav problem. Let's not forget that the Serbians indirectly started World War I, which directly lead to World War 2. I hope all involved will consider how quickly terrible things can happen.
Bobby Carl, USA

West, keep your hands off Serbia, you have given so much trouble to Serbian people

A Serbian, Yugoslavia
West, keep your hands off Serbia, you have given so much trouble to Serbian people.
A Serbian, Yugoslavia

Just leave us alone.
Nikolic V., Yugoslavia

Please, stay out of our elections, and our country too. We're not idiots. Last time when you tried to help us you bombed us and many civilians were murdered. Thank you for that help, and please don't try to help as again.
Goga, Serbia

West supporter of Democracy? Please. What kind of hoax is this? And who was behind all that direct and indirect interferences in the whole world in Iran, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Greece? The world does not need a second period of colonization under the hypocritical interest of the West for Democracy.
Defkalion Tsagarakis, Greece

It doesn't matter if Milosevic wins or loses, sanctions against Yugoslavia will not be lifted

Aussie, Australia
Divide and conquer that is the Nato philosophy. It doesn't matter if Milosevic wins or loses, sanctions against Yugoslavia will not be lifted. Nato after all are a bunch of war criminals with their own kangaroo courts. Until they are tried for war crime themselves there can be no peace in this world of ours.
Aussie, Australia

It is up to the people of Yugoslavia to decide who is going to be their next president. As the situation in Kosovo demonstrates, taking sides by the West in this highly volatile region of Europe can only complicate the situation and bring more harm. The Western meddling in Yugoslavia's presidential elections is a precursor of civil war in this traumatized nation. The West clearly should stay out.
Alam, USA

The only reason why some people who do not support Milosevic are not willing to vote for Mr Kostunica, the strongest opposition candidate, is that the West verbally 'supported' Serbian opposition, the same West that bombed us all last year, pretending to be ignorant of the fact that at least 75% of people here do not support Milosevic and were not at all responsible for Kosovo or anything else. So, what do you think is the answer? He is still in power just thanks to the West.
Vesna, Yugoslavia

Let them choose their leader freely

Dieudonne M Kasamba, Canada
I think when there is an election in US people around do not have a say. The same should apply to the people of Yugoslavia. Let them choose their leader freely.
Dieudonne M Kasamba, Canada

The West was prepared to take sides in the wars over Bosnia and Kosovo so it would be extremely hypocritical for it to decide that Serbia needs independence and abstain from giving Milosevic's opposition support. In fact, it says a lot about the Western world's attitude and objectives if it will try to defeat dictators with bombs but it will turn a blind eye to defeating them with the far more justified and far less destructive alternative of democracy.
Benj'min Mossop, UK

If Yugoslavia is to have a free and fair election, it must be conducted by the Yugoslavs alone. Any Western intervention or propaganda will only serve the interests of the propaganda spewed forth by the "butcher of Belgrade." Should Milosevic think of annulling the elections if he loses, he would do well for himself to remember what happened to Ceaucescu back in 1989.
Chris Scott, USA

The "West" should really restrict its activities regarding Serbia to physically isolating it from the neighbours who suffered enough because of Serbian delusions. As long as their pathetic infighting does not affect Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro and Macedonia, they would do us all a big favour and take their aggressiveness on themselves. Others have suffered enough.
Srdjan, US

if the population of a country really want their dictators out, they will get them out

Paul, UK
I have come to believe, after seeing what has happened in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya etc, that if the population of a country really want their dictators out, they will do so (viz Romania and Czechoslovakia). Yes, Milosevic is a ghastly individual, but if, as views on this page attest, some members of the local opposition even think he gets a raw deal from the West, then we should leave the situation as it is. The only time the outside world should take action is when a dictatorial regime becomes expansionist and/or seriously persecutes its minorities. Mind you, I am savvy enough to know that China easily falls into this category and that the West will never do anything about that!
Paul, UK

Definitely not. It only makes things worse. The West should leave the Balkans alone once and for all.
Aleksandra Ratkovic, Canada

I believe that the only way for the opposition to build democracy is for the West to allow Yugoslavs to do it themselves

Rob Morrison, USA
Quite simply, the Yugoslav opposition cannot afford the support of the west. Even though I agree with the reason for it, NATO did drop bombs on Yugoslavia. For that reason, many Serbs will find it difficult to vote for a candidate that identifies with the West. Although I do not believe in Nationalism.
I believe that the only way for the opposition to build democracy is for the West to allow Yugoslavs to do it themselves. Only with a strong, self-made democracy will Yugoslavia and the region be able to stand as a peace loving nation, and set about on the process of reconciliation with itself, its neighbours, and the world.
Rob Morrison, USA

Only if you want to insure that Milosevic wins.
Richard T. Ketchum, USA

I think the US should influence more Opposition Rallies and tell the people that if Milosevic stay's in power that means that no humanitarian aid nor budget influences will be supported. Being an Albanian, I have too say that you must be mad to vote for Milosevic.
Capa, Kosova

Funny things, a few years ago, Milosevic was pressed hard by democratic pressures to remove him, but he was allowed by the outside world to suppress such democratic dissent through the use of force. Had the West promoted the protection of democracy in Yugoslavia then, had the West remained vigilant and active in the promotion of democracy, we may not have had a Kosovo war at all, and may not have had Milosevic for some years now.
Stephen Kenney, USA

The Serbian people should decide who they want as their leader. They live in Serbia, we don't. If the US was smaller and less powerful, I would certainly not appreciate it in the least if a big foreign power told me who to vote for. The bombing of Serbia was a criminal action, and the excuse they (NATO) used has been exposed as false. Where is this "might makes right" philosophy leading us?
Richard, USA

The west has already intervened by threatening to keep sanctions on if Milosevic is elected

Will Kaploun, Australia
You are missing the point. The west has already intervened by threatening to keep sanctions on if Milosevic is elected. I guess that is US and British idea of free and fair elections. I wonder if Hitler's supervision of war time elections in Britain would have been welcomed.
Will Kaploun, Australia

What is it about the Serbian people? No matter how well educated and informed, they seem to support their government's butchery of other ethnic groups. What is even stranger now, while the rest of the world wants Milosevic and his gangster politics out, many Serbs resent this stance?
Adil Mussa, UK

Whether the West should take sides is a redundant question. The West took sides LONG time ago when they decided to disintegrate Yugoslavia, the same country they supported to be formed for their own interests: to get rid off the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoma empires. Recently, the superpowers changed their agenda, only to find out that Serbia and the Serbs do not quite fit it in their plans. Just leave Serbia and the Serbs alone. Go back to your home countries and defend your own
G Butorac, USA

Whatever happens in the elections in Yugoslavia, Milosevic will win. He will not relinquish power because if he leaves office he will be vulnerable to attempts to bring him to justice for his war crimes. The interventions of the US and EU will do nothing to swing voters against Milosevic and will probably only antagonise the situation, as voters will see it as further NATO interference in their own domestic affairs.
Nick Evans, UK

Western leaders should not give into emotional blackmail from the 'opposition' in any country

Quite frankly, Western leaders should not give into emotional blackmail from the 'opposition' in any country. There is no such thing as a 'good guys vs. bad guys' syndrome. As the situation in post war Kosovo shows, as soon as former underdogs get the upper hand they can behave equally as vilely as their enemies. Therefore, Clinton, Blair etc must keep their noses out of Serbian elections.

Serbian media is almost completely state-controlled, the police and the army are heavily corrupted, judicial system works only if Milosevic needs it for something, and large segments of the population are also economically dependent on the state and kept on a very short leash.
So it's unfair to talk about free political choice of ordinary Serbs in such an environment. Serbs are Milosevic's hostage, and they can't really cry for Western help with Milosevic regime's guns to their heads.
What Serbian opposition needs is sincere, timely and practical support from the West that, for a change, won't be counter-productive.
Milan Petrovic, Serbia

Certainly not, we do not expect them to take sides in our elections so therefore we should not interfere in theirs. If there is evidence that the election result has been tampered with then the international community should voice their opposition, however the people always have the democratic right to vote, free from intimidation and pressure. In short, we should act, but only if really necessary.
Andrew Cromwell, UK/Northern Ireland

It all boils down to whether you believe that there is a democratic election in Yugoslavia (or more particularly Serbia) and whether the result will actually stand. Judging by Milosevic's attitude and comments on the opposition it is unlikely that he will depart quietly and he has refused to allow independent election observers to monitor the election which is very suspicious. If he is abusing the idea of democracy those in countries that have a tradition of democracy must stand up and stop the abuse of it.
Simon Atkinson, UK

Yugoslavia! Come back to place, that has always belonged to you: to the community of the civilised Europe!
J. Tomaga, Slovakia

It is up to the people of Yugoslavia to decide who rules them and the West should mind its own business

J. Knight, UK
Western interference in the internal affairs of former Yugoslavia is largely responsible for the current situation and for the death and displacement of well over a million people. It is up to the people of Yugoslavia to decide who rules them and the West should mind its own business since any interference will only make the situation worse.
J. Knight, UK

Isn't democracy about the choice of the people? If so, let the people decide. Regardless of what I think of Milosevic, it is a matter for the Serbian people to decide whom they wish to follow. No state should interfere in the election process of another, whether it is John Major campaigning for George Bush (against Bill Clinton) or whether it is in Serbia, stay out!
Steve Browne, USA

Milosevic needs to surrender power to someone who is going to do positive things for his country. These people have endured too much pain and suffering.
G. Campo, USA

It's a choice between a donkey and an ass. Opposition leaders have made anti-Western speeches. They are also committed to hanging onto Montenegro, even though many Montenegrins crave independence from Serb control. If the West's favoured candidate wins the election and then tries to draw Serbs in Bosnia, Serbia and Montenegro into a war against non-Serbs in Montenegro, this will cause the same procrastination amongst the allies which caused the slaughter of so many Croatians only a few years ago.
Liam Coughlan, Armenia

I am an opposition supporter. However, there's not a shred of evidence to support the charges brought against Milosevic. The West, suddenly, cares about us and wants us to re-join the European family. WOW! How arrogant can one get? 18 months ago, the very same West bombed the entire country of 11.5 million. They bombed everything we'd built since WWII. They murdered thousands! Now they want to help us? I am sorry, I am not buying it and neither is the majority of this country. We will join the West when the West learns how to behave. Until then... Just stay out of our internal affairs.
Nikola Ivanovic, Zrenjanin, Serbia

The West shouldn't take sides, because it would definitely decrease the candidate's popularity among some voters; while not supporting a favourable hopeful would do him no harm. But Russia and Greece rally behind Vojislav Koshtunica to make him unbeatable and completely diminish Milosevic in the eyes of Serb voters.
Andrej, Russia

Appeasement and co-existence didn't work in the 1930s and it won't now

Neil H, UK
Clearly yes. The man is an indicted war criminal and the international community (west or otherwise) should bring pressure to bear to see him removed from power. Appeasement and co-existence didn't work in the 1930s and it won't now.
Neil H, UK

If democracy is to be fair and prevail, let the people in Yugoslavia decide who ought to lead them. There should be no media propaganda here. If they send Milosevic back to office, it is their prerogative. Yugoslavians are not to be considered idiots here. Since they have to live under the leadership of this individual, they know what is best for them. Let democracy prove itself in its most natural form. Have faith in the invisible hand effect of the economic gurus from the past.
Guru Shenoy, United States

Perhaps the UN should keep the pressure on other political parties to hand over Milosevic for war crimes. The biggest fear is that if Milosevic fears he may lose, he would assume a dictatorship.
Ahmed, UK

It is up to the Yugoslav people to select their leader

Asif, USA
I believe the West should stay out of the elections. It is up to the Yugoslav people to select their leader. However I would disagree with US government for lifting sanctions if democracy is restored in Yugoslavia. Would the US also lift sanctions against Iraq when Saddam leaves. The West should only lift sanctions when Slobodan Milosevic is brought to trial for War Crimes against humanity.
Asif, USA

Any election is characterised by the majority over ruling the minority with all its attendant problems and injustices. In cases like these other people's governments should at most offer to make sure the voting is carried out fairly, but not try to secure a result the Yugoslavian majority would not secure for themselves.
Godfrey Joseph, UK

Having failed to subvert the legally elected government of the Yugoslav Federation, the purveyors of war now attempt another feeble effort to unseat President Milosevic. It apparently did not occur to the Nato warlords that an overwhelming majority of the Yugoslav people support Mr. Milosevic and condemn the wanton destruction of their country's infrastructure by the dogs of war.
Steve Lukacs, USA

The West should give the Serb public an unofficial vote administered by us

Nathan Dobson, UK
The West should give the Serb public an unofficial vote administered by us so that we can really find out the truth about vote rigging and the opinion of the nation.
Nathan Dobson, UK

The government of UK and their EC club members should be accused of gross interference in the political affairs of the Yugoslavian democratic election by bribing the electorate to drop sanctions if they vote Milosevic out of office.
Not content with killing as many people in this country as they could and then offering a price of what was it $10million on the head of Milosevic, they will no doubt conclude that if he loses the election this has been a free and fair democratic vote. What a disgrace!
James Spencer, UK

If the West really wants to get rid of Milosevic, it must stay away from such statements. Nationalist feelings that are so strong in Yugoslavia can be exploited by Milosevic by pointing to his opponents as "the Western agents".
Ilya Girin, USA

Losing an election does not mean he will be removed from power

Thomas Threlkeld, USA
I think the events of the last decade make it abundantly clear where the sympathies of western governments must lie in the Yugoslav elections. Assistance to a beleaguered and harassed opposition is appropriate, but should not be so blatant as to arouse the anger and resentment of most Yugoslavs.
Frankly, I don't see how Mr. Milosevic can win the election, but losing an election does not mean he will be removed from power. Mr. Milosevic surely knows that when he loses power, he also loses protection from prosecution for his grotesque human rights abuses. I rather doubt he will go quietly into that good night.
Thomas Threlkeld, USA

Sure, the Yugoslav people have every right to re-elect a man the most of the rest of the world holds responsible for some of the worst atrocities on this continent since the end of the Cold War. But if they do, then the Yugoslavs have only themselves to blame when the rest of the world takes sanctions against them because of the actions of their leader. I think it's only fair that we make it clear what our position is with their government.
CNS, Durham, England

The enemy of your enemy isn't always your friend

Paul R, UK
The enemy of your enemy isn't always your friend. International politics is a dangerous game, and when you overtly support a side you hardly know, you only have yourself to blame if they turn out to be even worse than those you wish overthrown. I'm sure the Serbian people are perfectly capable of getting their own house in order, and interference in their affairs will only delay that process. We should keep our opinions to ourselves.
Paul R, UK

The Serbs need to be left alone to fight for their own democratic path no matter how long this process might last. The Milosevic vs. opposition debate is an internal dialogue that will come to a resolution in due time.
Milan Miletic, Canada

When a country is playing dirty, and that country influences the welfare of the rest of the world, why should the rest of the world play it fair? Meddling in democratic processes must be viewed as dodgy, but sometimes principles should be prioritised behind what's actually gonna work.
Richard N, UK

They should seek every opportunity to extend the hand of help, friendship and material assistance to the people of Serbia

John Brownlee, England
Instead of confrontation they should seek every opportunity to extend the hand of help, friendship and material assistance to the people of Serbia and spend whatever it takes to ensure that the ordinary Serbian knows that the West's only objective is improve their individual lot - self interest will do the rest. The time for bombing and killing innocent citizens from 15,000 feet are surely over; we can be smarter than that.
John Brownlee, England

So our government supports telling the Serbs that if they elect Milosevic then they'll get more of the same (bombs, sanctions etc.) and yet when a bunch of economic terrorists interfere in our democratic process with fuel blockades they shout not fair.
The Serbs have the right to choose badly without the west forcing the issue. After all in my opinion this country has a habit of voting for deranged megalomaniacs with little foresight and no real concern for social justice, how can we be a better electorate?
Martin Bentley, UK

At heart, the Serbians are just ordinary Europeans: they (and the rest of us) want Serbia to be a normal part of Europe. The only way that can happen is if Milosevic goes. It doesn't hurt to make that fact clear.
Tom Rees, UK

Although our sympathies are clear (nationally, not individually), it would be daft for our governments to overtly take sides in what is, after all, the internal affairs of a (albeit primitive) democracy. That would be the height of hypocrisy and could backfire against us anyway. Better to just sit back and watch ... if Serbian citizens don't know which side we support by now, they never will!
Mark M. Newdick, USA/UK

The Yugoslavian people have to make this decision for themselves

R. Dasiel, UK
Personally I think we should stay out of it. The Yugoslavian people have to make this decision for themselves, and they will. We in the West get too involved in other people's business and invariably it leads to problems. Also what on earth could we do? Invade? I think we need only look across the Irish Sea to see the result of that kind of action.
R. Dasiel, UK

Would the British welcome Col Gaddafi's help to the oppressed people of English-administered, English-controlled Ireland?
Mohansingh, India

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