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[Congressional Record: September 26, 2000 (Senate)]
[Page S9251-S9252]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access []


  Mr. BIDEN. Mr. President, on another matter which relates to another 
form of human rights, I wish to speak to the legislation we are going 
to bring up tomorrow, the Serbian Democratization Act of 2000. I am an 
original cosponsor of this legislation. I am told that tomorrow we are 
going to get a chance to deal with this issue.
  As everyone knows, Slobodan Milosevic is on the ropes. Despite 
Milosevic's massive systematic effort to steal Sunday's Yugoslav 
Presidential election, his state election commission had to admit that 
the opposition candidate Vojislav Kostunica won at least the plurality 
of the votes already counted; 48.22 percent to be exact.
  According to opposition poll watchers, Kostunica in all probability 
actually won about 55 percent of the vote, which would have obviated 
the need for a two-candidate second-round runoff with Milosevic, which 
now seems likely.
  It is still unclear whether the democratic opposition will go along 
with this semi-rigged, desperation plan of Milosevic's to hang on by 
rigging the runoff. Even if Milosevic loses the runoff and is forced to 
recognize the results of the election, he may still attempt to hold on 
to the levers of power through his control of the federal parliament 
and of the Socialist Party with its network of political cronies and 
corrupt businessmen.
  He may use the classic tactic of provoking a foreign crisis by trying 
to unseat the democratically elected, pro-Western government in 
Montenegro, a move I warned against on this floor several months ago.
  We will have to wait and see for a few days before knowing exactly 
how the situation in Yugoslavia is going to develop, but there is no 
doubt whatsoever as to who the primary villain in this drama is. It 
was, it is, and it continues to be Slobodan Milosevic, one of the most 
despicable men I have personally met, and, as everyone in this Chamber 
knows, a man who has been indicted by The Hague Tribunal for war crimes 
and is the chief obstacle to peace and stability in the 
Balkans. Therefore, it should be--and has been--a primary goal of U.S. 
foreign policy to isolate Milosevic and his cronies, and to assist the 
Serbian democratic opposition in toppling him.

  Earlier this year, with this goal in mind, the Serbian 
Democratization Act of 2000 was drafted in a bipartisan effort. It is 
particularly timely that the Senate consider this legislation tomorrow, 
precisely at the moment when the Serbian people have courageously voted 
against Milosevic's tyranny that has so thoroughly ruined their country 
during the last decade.
  I would like to review the main provisions of the legislation we will 
be voting on tomorrow and then propose alternative strategies for our 
relations with Serbia, depending upon the outcome of the elections.
  The act supports the democratic opposition by authorizing $50 million 
for fiscal year 2001 to promote democracy and civil society in Serbia 
and $55 million to assist the Government of Montenegro in its ongoing 
political and economic reform efforts. It also authorizes increasing 
Voice of America and Radio Free Europe broadcasting to Yugoslavia in 
both the Serbo-Croatian and Albanian languages.
  Second, the act prescribes assistance to the victims of Serbian 
oppression by authorizing the President of the United States to use 
authorities in the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 to provide 
humanitarian assistance to individuals living in Kosovo for relief, 
rehabilitation, and reconstruction, and to refugees and persons 
displaced by the conflict.
  Third, the act we will vote on tomorrow codifies the so-called 
``outer wall'' of sanctions by multilateral organizations, including 
the international financial institutions.
  I talked about this with Senator Voinovich of Ohio, and we agreed 
that we have to give the President more flexibility in this area.
  Fourth, it authorizes other measures against Yugoslavia, including 
blocking Yugoslavia's assets in the United States; prohibits the 
issuance of visas and admission into the United States of any alien who 
holds a position in the senior leadership of the Government of 
Yugoslavia of Slobodan Milosevic or the Government of Serbia and to 
members of their families; and prohibits strategic exports to 
Yugoslavia, on private loans and investments and on military-to-
military cooperation.
  The act also grants exceptions on export restrictions for 
humanitarian assistance to Kosovo and on visa prohibitions to senior 
officials of the Government of Montenegro, unless that Government 
changes its current policy of respect for international norms.
  The act contains a national interest waiver for the President. The 
President may also waive the act's provision if he certifies that 
``significant progress has been made in Yugoslavia in establishing a 
government based upon democratic principles and the rule of law, and 
that respects internationally recognized human rights.''
  Clearly, if the democratic opposition triumphs in the current 
elections, the chances will increase dramatically that the President 
will exercise this waiver option.

[[Page S9252]]

  We, the Congress, are saying to the people of Serbia that they are 
our friends, not our enemies. It is their Government, it is Slobodan 
Milosevic that is the problem, not the Serbian people.
  Today in the Committee on Foreign Relations, we discussed at length 
with Madeleine Albright what we should be doing about Serbia. I have 
discussed it as well with Senator Voinovich.
  I see the Senator from Iowa is on the floor. He may be here for other 
reasons, but I know his keen interest in Serbia, the Serbian people, 
and the need for us to render assistance if they, in fact, move in the 
direction of democracy.
  The act calls for Serbia to cooperate with the International Criminal 
Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
  It also contains two important Sense of the Congress provisions. The 
first is that the President should condemn the harassment, threats, and 
intimidation against any ethnic group in Yugoslavia, but in particular 
against such persecution of the ethnic Hungarian minority in the 
Serbian province of Vojvodina.
  The second voices support for a fair and equitable disposition of the 
ownership and use of the former Yugoslavia's diplomatic and consular 
properties in the United States.
  Finally, in a move to facilitate the transition to democracy in the 
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Congress authorizes the President to 
furnish assistance to Yugoslavia if he determines and certifies to the 
appropriate congressional committees that a post-Milosevic Government 
of Yugoslavia is ``committed to democratic principles and the rule of 
law, and that respects internationally recognized human rights.''
  Mr. President, the Serbia Democratization Act offers the President 
ample flexibility in dealing with Serbia. If Milosevic should succeed 
in frustrating the will of the Serbian people by stealing this 
election, the act will give the President of the United States a 
complete kit of peaceful tools to continue to try to undermine his 
oppressive regime.
  If, on the other hand, the democratic opposition led by Mr. Kostunica 
manages to make its electoral victory stick, then the final provision 
of the act becomes the operative one in which we open up the spigot of 
increased assistance to a democratic Serbia. Obviously, this would be 
the preferred option.
  Unfortunately, however, foreign policy is rarely so black and white. 
The apparent winner of the election, Mr. Kostunica, is vastly 
preferable to Milosevic, but this may be a case of damning by faint 
praise. As many of my colleagues have heard me say on other occasions, 
I met Milosevic in Belgrade during the Bosnian war and called him a war 
criminal to his face. Not only is he a war criminal, but he is 
thoroughly corrupt and anti-democratic.
  Mr. Kostunica, by all accounts, is honest and democratic, a dissident 
in Communist times and a man with a reputation for probity. He seems, 
however, to represent a democratic, honest variant of a rather extreme 
Serbian nationalism.
  His language describing NATO's Operation Allied Force has been 
strident. Like Milosevic--and most other Serbian politicians--he calls 
for the return of Kosovo to Belgrade's rule. But I am prepared to have 
an open mind on what he said. I can understand why, in running for 
President, being labeled by Mr. Milosevic as the ``dupe of the West'' 
and ``a puppet of the United States,'' he would feel the need to openly 
condemn the United States.
  I also do not have a problem with the fact that he may have used 
tough language with regard to Kosovo. There is a difference between 
words and his actions. So I will have great problems with him if, in 
fact, he tries to again suppress the Kosovars, who, if he comes to 
power will probably increase their agitation for independence.
  Moreover, Kostunica has repeatedly said that if he is elected he 
would refuse to hand over The Hague those Serbs indicted by the 
International War Crimes Tribunal.
  To a large extent Kostunica's criticism of Milosevic's policies 
toward non-Serbs in the old Yugoslavia--Slovenes, Croats, Bosniaks, and 
Kosovars--is that those policies resulted in four failed wars. There is 
no indication, for example, that Kostunica would cut off Belgrade's 
support for the radical Bosnian Serbs who on a daily basis are trying 
to undermine the Dayton Agreement.
  Of course, as I have indicated earlier, Kostunica's policies must be 
seen in the context of an electoral campaign. Nonetheless, they do 
reflect what the traffic will bear. In other words, they reflect his 
view of contemporary Serbian society.
  During the Bosnian war and after it, I often stated publicly that in 
my opinion Croatian President Franjo Tudjman was cut from the same 
cloth as Milosevic--an aggressive, anti-democratic leader. The only 
reason I advocated helping to rebuild his army was because, unlike 
Serbia, Croatia did not represent a major threat to the region. In 
fact, in the summer of 1995 the reorganized Croatian Army provided the 
Bosnian Army and the Bosnian Croat militia the support necessary to 
rout the Bosnian Serbs and bring all parties to the negotiating table.
  Since Tudjman's death, Croatia has proven that beneath the surface of 
Tudjman's authoritarianism a genuine, Western-style democratic body 
politic survived. The newly elected government of President Stipe Mesic 
and Prime Minister Ivica Racan has utilized this mandate not only to 
enact domestic democratic reforms, but also to cut off support for the 
radical Herzegovina Croats who have done everything in their power to 
undo Dayton. The government has also taken the much less popular step 
of handing over to The Hague Tribunal several high-ranking Croats who 
were indicted for alleged war crimes.
  The United States has a great deal invested in a democratic, 
multiethnic Bosnia, and if Serbia and the rest of the world is lucky 
enough to be rid of Slobodan Milosevic, we should not give him an ex 
post facto victory by applying a looser standard of behavior on his 
successor than we have to Tudjman's successors in Croatia. To be blunt: 
respect for Dayton and cooperation with The Hague Tribunal must be 
litmus tests for any democratic government in Serbia.
  I fervently hope that Mr. Kostunica emerges victorious in the 
Yugoslav elections. If he does, the United States should immediately 
extend to him a sincere hand of friendship, with the assistance 
outlined in the pending legislation.
  We should make clear to him that if he chooses to cooperate with us, 
a ``win-win'' situation would result, with tangible benefits for the 
long-suffering and isolated Serbian people who, we should never forget, 
were this country's allies in two world wars during the twentieth 
  If, on the other hand, Mr. Kostunica comes to power and thinks that 
his undeniable and praiseworthy democratic credentials will enable him 
to pursue an aggressive Serbian nationalist policy with a kinder face, 
then we must disabuse him of this notion.
  Should our West European allies choose to embrace a post-Milosevic, 
democratically elected, but ultra-nationalistic Serbia, then I would 
say to them ``good luck; we'll concentrate our policy in the former 
Yugoslavia on preparing democratic and prosperous Slovenia for the next 
round of NATO enlargement, on continuing to help reconstruct Bosnia and 
Kosovo, and on supporting the democratic governments in Macedonia, 
Croatia, and Montenegro.''
  Mr. President, the long-frozen, icy situation in Serbia appears 
finally to be breaking up. I genuinely hope that Serbia is on the verge 
of democracy. I urge my colleagues to support the Serbia 
Democratization Act of 2000 in order to enable our government 
peacefully to deal with any eventuality in that country.
  Mr. HARKIN. Mr. President, will the Senator yield?
  Mr. BIDEN. I yield to the Senator from Iowa.