Munich, 29 June 2001 (RFE/RL) -- The European Union's special representative for the Balkans, Bodo Hombach, says the West must show Yugoslavia at today's donor conference in Brussels that it was worthwhile to take the path of democracy and overthrow Slobodan Milosevic.
Hombach told German correspondents today that the transfer of Milosevic to the UN tribunal at The Hague had considerably improved Yugoslavia's chances of obtaining substantial financial support. He said several countries had upgraded the level of their representation at the donor conference following yesterday's move.
"The Yugoslav people were told that we would stand by them if they lived in peace and turned away from Milosevic, who brought ruin and mass murder to their neighbors." Hombach said Yugoslavia had once been a relatively prosperous and relatively free country envied by many of its fellow communist neighbors in Eastern Europe. He said the EU and other Western countries should now help it return to this level.
Hombach said he recognized that the extradition of Milosevic to The Hague tribunal could create great difficulties between Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic and Milosevic's successor as Yugoslav president, Vojislav Kostunica, who did not learn about the transfer until after it had occurred.
But Hombach said Yugoslavia needed both leaders if it was to move forward toward a better future. He said he hoped that both Kostunica and Djindjic would recognize this.
"Now [Yugoslavia] must go forward -- not only with democracy, but also with social and economic development. It has to be seen to be worthwhile to follow the path of democracy, peaceful neighborliness, and advancement toward the European Union."
Hombach said he fully supported Djindjic's decision to transfer Milosevic to The Hague. He said there were occasions in which a politician must display not only leadership but also courage -- and, Hombach said, Djindjic had done that. He said Djindjic clearly believed that after a difficult initial period, the Serbian people would come together again.
Hombach was a close adviser to German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder before taking the EU post.