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Opposition Leader Zarco Korac: Milosevic Reduced to 'Simple, Petty Balkan Tyrant'

Aired October 5, 2000 - 1:52 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: Is it the beginning of the end for Slobodan Milosevic, the president of Yugoslavia, who's authority is being challenged today by more than 100,000 demonstrators in the parliament square?

Opposition leader Zarco Korac was interviewed just moments ago by our Belgrade bureau chief, Alessio Vinci.

Let's hear what he has to say.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALESSIO VINCI, CNN BELGRADE BUREAU CHIEF: Now, to talk about this historical moment here, we have one of the opposition leaders, who is supporting Vojislav Kostunica, Mr. Zarko Korac.

Thank you very much for coming here. We know that it's a very busy day for you as well.

First of all, can you tell us, what is your understanding of what is going on now?

ZARKO KORAC, OPPOSITION LEADER: What we have now is Belgrade is a complete collapse of police. And we were really surprised the police didn't use force, and the police didn't shoot at us, and basically the police in Belgrade simply collapsed, and Milosevic does not have police at his disposal.

Now there is a very large group of people going to the TV studio at the outskirts of Belgrade right now, there is several thousand people are going there. Once we have hold of that, we will have a state television under our control. And there is now a group of people negotiating with heads of police in Serbia, and some are trying to reach the heads of the army.

VINCI: How much have you been able to speak to those head of security, the head of police, the head of the army. How much are you in contact with them right now?

KORAC: I think the police chiefs are in no position to do anything because even I was amazed that the police would collapse this way. And I can tell you that right now we have groups of police in opposition party headquarters. They just simply came there, and said we are giving up, we don't want to serve the regime that has actually sold our wallets?

VINCI: Do you think that those security forces, especially the army and perhaps the more radical within the police is trying just to regroup and to think about the reaction, and do you think we are really witnessing here a collapse of the whole system?

KORAC: Frankly, if I am stunned by what is happening, they should be stunned too. So, basically, they are trying to find their way out.

For example, I just spoke 10 minutes ago, and one of the local TV stations, that belongs to the biggest daily "Politica." What happened in Politica, it's a huge skyscraper in downtown Belgrade. The whole management of Politica actually two hours ago, escaped through the back exit, and the whole building is empty, and security at the entrance of the building are just keeping the building for us.

I walked in, I addressed people on their TV. There is nobody there to say anything. It is just ours.

VINCI: Are you noticing that a lot of people who supported President Milosevic and his systems are now switching sides, coming towards you now?

KORAC: The loyalty to Milosevic was always based on fear. No fear, no loyalty. Milosevic has been reduced to what he is, a simple, petty, Balkan tyrant.

VINCI: Where do we go from here? What is next?

KORAC: Army. We must absolutely must get in touch with the army. The army should issue an statement they recognize election victor of Mr. Kostunica. Mr. Kostunica is the second step, appears on state-controlled TV, it goes all over the country. He simply turns to people and says: I'm your lawful president, and from then on, my nation is free.

I've been waiting for 10 years for this, and for now, my nation is free, like everybody else in Europe.

VINCI: Is there any attempt to contact the state authority, either President Milosevic or even the head of army? Are you trying to get in touch with them and trying to tell them what is now -- what you are asking for?

KORAC: Well, he is hiding in some home. But he won't be able to hide for long. So it is going to be interesting. Where does he goes from now? There is people in the streets. There's a popular revolution in the streets. People are joyful. There is music. And that is the end of Milosevic's era.

VINCI: What will you ask them to do next, the people in the streets. Will you keep them all night?

KORAC: Yes, they have to keep this. Perhaps Milosevic might try to regroup some police forces within the country or the army. We don't think it is very likely. But we are very, very apprehensive. This night is crucial.

VINCI: Mr. Korac, thank you very much for joining us here.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WATERS: Zarko Korac, with the opposition in Belgrade, interviewed just moments ago by Alessio Vinci.

Joining us from Washington is Ivo Daadler. He is with the Brookings Institute, an expert in these sorts of matters.

You heard what Mr. Korac had to say how it's imperative now to get in touch with the army, and get the army. How do you see this unfolding? is this the beginning or the end for Milosevic?

IVO DAALDER, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: I think we're at the end of the end virtually. We have a confrontation between the regime and the people, and those who have supported the regime are starting to flow to the people. The police has left. We just heard that the chiefs of police either have no control over their own forces, or in fact would like to join the opposition. The interior security forces remain in the background.

And so the real question is: Where is the army? Well, the army is a bunch of conscripts. They are probably want to be out on the streets as well. And the senior leadership is not about to start shooting at its own people, It will start support to the opposition at which time, Mr. Milosevic has no more power left, and he is just a lonely, lonely man on the top, who's only question is: How is he going to get out?

WATERS: We are hearing world leaders say: Milosevic must go. But he is an internationally-indicted war criminal. Where does he go? That is the question being asked and probably the one being pondered quite intently by Mr. Milosevic?

DAALDER: Well, clearly, Mr. Milosevic has to be worried the fact that he is an indicted war criminal. That even though Kostunica has said that he will not hand him over to The Hague, the precedent has been set with the Chilean president Pinochet, who was 16 years after leaving power almost handed over for a trial.

He really has no place to go, other than to hope that the Serbian people are not going to hand him over. I don't think there are many other countries in the world that are going to welcome a Milosevic in their midst at this point.

WATERS: Mr. Ivo Daadler, with the Brookings Institution, thanks so much.

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