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Monday, April 26, 1999 Published at 10:39 GMT 11:39 UK


Draskovic disputes claims of "victory"

Extracts from an interview withYugoslav Deputy Prime Minister Vuk Draskovic on Belgrade's Studio B television, as reported by the Serbian news agency Beta.

Yugoslav Deputy Prime Minister Vuk Draskovic this evening supported the presence of UN-led international forces in Kosovo and expressed the conviction that Russia and Nato would pass a binding resolution that would end the aggression against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

In an interview with Belgrade Studio B television, Mr Draskovic said that no one in the world had yet demanded the separation of Kosovo from Serbia, and emphasised that Serbia was ready to negotiate broad autonomy for Kosovo in line with the highest international standards.

Mr Draskovic said that international forces under UN auspices should be deployed in Kosovo.

He said that the United Nations was not a force of occupation for any country in the world.

"In the UN Charter we can recognise the basic principles of our constitution and in the UN flag we can recognize our national flag as well," Mr Draskovic said, adding that "the UN flag is for us neither a flag of occupation nor a foreign flag" .

'Nato invasion unlikely'

He said that he did not expect a ground invasion by Nato.

When asked whether he was an optimist, he said: "If I were not an optimist, I would not believe in the future of Serbia." Expressing the conviction that Russia and Nato would agree on ending the aggression against Yugoslavia, Mr Draskovic said he expected the UN Security Council to pass a resolution binding to both sides.

"Should forces or individuals appear in Serbia who would urge us to defy the resolution and to defeat the entire world, not only Nato, the Serbian people should say 'no' to them," he stressed.

'Stop lying'

He called on the country's top leadership and the "so-called patriots" to "stop lying to the people and to tell them the truth".

"The people who are leading this country must say clearly where and with whom we are.

They have to say what will remain of Serbia in 20 days if the bombing continues, to clearly state Russia's position and the limits to which it is prepared to go, and to disclose the situation in the West," Mr Draskovic said.

The people should be told that Nato is not facing defeat, that Russia will not help Yugoslavia militarily, and that world public opinion is against us, he said.

"The so-called patriots have been lying to the people that any day now we are going to prevail over Nato, that Nato is about to collapse, and that Russia is on the verge of starting World War III."

'No Russian military aid'

According to him, Nato has never been stronger and more homogenous and Russia "will not send us any military aid, as that would close the doors to the Western financial channels".

The Yugoslav deputy prime minister also condemned the language used by the state propaganda in Yugoslavia and particularly criticised certain terms, such as "criminal aggression" and "criminal aircraft", which are not in the spirit of the Serbian language.

Saying that it was enough to say aggression, Mr Draskovic asked: "Is there such a thing as friendly aggression?"

He said he had asked the federal government to inform those who use such terminology about the language used by Serbian officers in their communications with the enemy in World War I.

'Kosovars should return'

The deputy federal prime minister expressed hope that Albanian refugees would return to Kosovo and stressed that Kosovo must be open to all international humanitarian organisations.

"There is no reason for us to fear the return of Albanian refugees.

We have to work painstakingly on building a trusting relationship," Mr Draskovic said.

Asked by a viewer who introduced himself as Ibrahim about "how and whom to trust in Serbia," Mr Draskovic told him to trust Serbian history and tradition, and promised that he would personally go after the people who insulted him or others on a religious or ethnic basis.

'Political profiteering'

He accused individuals of using the war situation "for political profiteering".

"Many people are taking the situation as an ideal opportunity to start a purge, to imprison people, and to stifle freedom of thought," Mr Draskovic assessed.

"There was no need to pass regulations that would allegedly stop smuggling.

They have tried to pass regulations stipulating that half of the budget for local self-rule should be taken by the republic's invisible hand and put in some reserve funds.

That will not pass," he said, adding that the federal government had been under great pressure from the republican government to reinstate the death penalty.

Addressing relations between Montenegro and Serbia, Mr Draskovic said that he and the ministers from his party, the Serbian Renewal Movement, in the federal government were doing everything to "calm the conflict between the top leaders".

Condemns attack on broadcaster

Mr Draskovic sharply condemned the attack on Radio-TV Serbia and the killing of innocent people.

"This crime will mar the conscience of Western democracy for a long time to come.

Western democracy is based on the principle of respecting all opinions.

They have not expressed a different opinion and responded with arguments; they expressed their different opinion with bombs," he said.

Source: Beta news agency, Belgrade, in Serbo-Croat 25 and 26 Apr 99

BBC Monitoring (http://www.monitor.bbc.co.uk), based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.



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