- The Washington Times - Friday, June 14, 2002

THE HAGUE Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic indicated months before his campaign in Kosovo began that he was planning to wipe out large parts of the ethnic Albanian population, the former head of NATO's military said yesterday.
The testimony by Gen. Klaus Naumann, a four-star German general who led the bombing of Mr. Milosevic's Serbian forces in 1999, was some of the most incriminating yet in the landmark trial at the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal.
Gen. Naumann, a leading witness for the prosecution, is the highest-ranking military official so far to assert a direct link between Mr. Milosevic and the bloody campaign carried out by government forces in Kosovo the spring of 1999.
Gen. Naumann described three meetings he had with Mr. Milosevic in 1998 and 1999, before the 78-day NATO intervention.
During talks at the presidential White Palace in Belgrade in October 1998, Gen. Naumann said the atmosphere was "relaxed" after a drink of plum brandy, and they discussed the ethnic balance in the disputed province.
"In that context, [Mr. Milosevic] had stated, and I think [former Deputy Prime Minister Nikola] Sainovic as well, that one of the preconditions for a solution in the Kosovo area is to achieve a balance between the two ethnic groups," Gen. Naumann said, speaking in English.
Mr. Sainovic, who was indicted alongside Mr. Milosevic for war crimes crimes in Kosovo and surrendered to the tribunal last month, "expressed his concern that the reproduction rate of the Kosovo Albanians was much higher than of the Serbs," the witness said. They said a permanent solution, to decrease the dominant ethnic Albanian population, would come in the spring of 1999.
Gen. Naumann said he asked Mr. Milosevic, "What do you mean with a solution?" and Mr. Milosevic answered: "We do the same [as] what we did in Drenica in 1945-46 We got them together and we shot them."
Drenica, an Albanian stronghold during the World War II, was overrun and scores of Albanians were executed.
The former Yugoslav president dismissed the charges as "absurd," and clashed with presiding Judge Richard May, who warned Mr. Milosevic to stop arguing with the witness or lose the right to cross-examine.
Mr. Milosevic has been charged with five counts of war crimes in connection with the campaign in which thousands of Kosovo Albanians were killed and about 800,000 fled their homes to neighboring countries. He faces another 61 counts, including genocide, for suspected atrocities in Bosnia and Croatia.
Given his chance to cross-examine the general, Mr. Milosevic said:
"How come this astonishing statement was not used by NATO" to justify the bombing of Yugoslavia. "Because you have just thought of this, three years later," said Mr. Milosevic, who is leading his own defense.
He said the German general had acted out of a long-standing German hatred for Yugoslavia dating back to World War I.
Gen. Naumann said Mr. Milosevic was "confusing matters."
When Mr. Milosevic persisted, Judge May grew angry and turned off his microphone, warning him against abusing the court with political speeches.


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