this column appears on the Web, Carla DelPonte will have left
Belgrade already, and the outcome of her visit will be known.
But on the day it is written, she has just arrived in the
Serbian and Yugoslav capital, and the result of her showdown
with President Kostunica is still to be seen.
arrived in Belgrade projecting the confidence and arrogance
of power – two tools which, so far, have enabled her Inquisition-style
court to intimidate, bully and evade all opposition and criticism.
Kostunica, however, is not a man who suffers fools gladly,
nor can he be intimidated or bullied. Though a fairly big
city in Balkans terms, Belgrade is not nearly big enough for
both of them.
DelPonte, Madame Grand Imperial Inquisitor of Balkan Savages,
is coming to demand surrender and obeisance. She is armed
with a list of wanted Serbs, bolstered by a reissued
warrant for Milosevic’s arrest, and backed up by the brute
force of NATO, at whose behest her predecessor Louise Arbour
indicted Milosevic in the first place.
DelPonte’s team are some of Kostunica’s coalition partners
– each looking to improve his own political standing at the
President’s expense, of course. Milosevic "has to be
discussed with the Tribunal," says Serbia’s Deputy Prime
Minister Nebojsa Covic [Neboysha Chovi’ch]. Serbia’s Prime-Minister-to-be,
Zoran Djindjic, adds that ICTY is legitimate because it was
"set up by the United Nations Security Council."
Vladan Batic [Batich], a minor but vocal politician tapped
to be Serbia’s future Justice Minister, went a step further:
"All those who wish to cooperate with the world, must
cooperate with the Hague-based court," he declared Tuesday,
eager to meet DelPonte.
then, stands more or less alone. Those who oppose
the Inquisition’s demands are currently on the margins of
power – whether they were close to Milosevic or to the conservative
patriots on the right. Most other Serbs would like to see
Milosevic tried for the misery he had caused them. The real
question is whether that desire is strong enough to create
a pressure to give in and surrender Milosevic, together with
Serbia’s sovereignty. There is an enormous pressure to do
so, coming from
the West as well as from within
Serbia itself, from those who have bought into the theory
of Serbia’s Original Sin and culpability for all the misfortunes
of the Balkans.
to say, Kostunica does not subscribe to this hokum. During
his recent visit to Sarajevo, he again refused
the Muslim religious leader’s demands to "apologize"
for Serb actions during the 1992-95 Bosnian War. According
to reliable sources, a reason he agreed to meet DelPonte at
all, after initially
refusing to do so, was in order to make the infamous list
of secret indictments available to Serbian public. Dr. Kostunica
(he has a Law Ph.D.) really seems the type capable of saying
"no" when necessary, though he is by far too polite
to tell DelPonte and her ilk to sod off.
however, should not be confused with timidity – a mistake
DelPonte and her masters seem all too willing to make. In
a Monday interview to Turin’s La Stampa, he fired
back at NATO and the US. The bombing of "bridges,
passenger trains, convoys of refugees, hospitals, refineries…
cannot be described except as a crime," he said, adding
that depleted uranium poisoning was the real reason he agreed
to talk to DelPonte. "I will ask her what she, as a prosecutor
of the Hague Tribunal, plans to do in regard to that crime,"
Kostunica said. He pointedly accused the United States as
"the most responsible" for these crimes, "in
accordance with [its] military and political influence in
most potent weapon could prove to be the truth itself. Just
last week, the Finnish forensic experts finally published
(see bottom of page) on the infamous "Racak
Massacre", two years after the fact. A Berlin newspaper
quoted their report, in which Dr. Helena Ranta and her colleagues
specifically said that there is no evidence any of the people
at Racak were executed, and that the remote possibility
exists in only one instance. What a far cry from American
intelligence operative William Walker’s assertion that the
Serbs have "without a doubt" committed a horrendous
crime against Albanian civilians! Serbian officials have maintained
all this time that the alleged "massacre victims"
were really KLA members killed in battle with security troops,
out of which the KLA then fabricated
a massacre. A French television crew which followed them
along with the Serbian police into battle saw no massacre,
but the headlines inevitably went to Walker’s statement as
he stood by grave-looking KLA commanders the following morning
and pointed to "Serb crimes." Despite numerous analyses
to the contrary, Walker’s initial interpretation was accepted
at face value. Racak was used as the excuse for Madeleine
Albright to put a gun to Milosevic’s head in Rambouillet and
then order the savage bombing of Serbia in March. Every report
of atrocities from Kosovo – most of which have since been
discredited as fabrications, outright lies and confessed propaganda
ploys – was given credence by the "fact" that Serbian
police "massacred" Albanians at Racak. Finally,
Racak was listed in Milosevic’s indictment as an example of
his "criminal" activities. Surely, now that the
forensic evidence – suppressed for two years – has finally
emerged to discredit the NATO propaganda, this count in the
indictment has to be dropped. But knowing the ICTY, I would
not hold my breath.
Malic left his home in Bosnia after the Dayton Accords and
currently resides in the United States. During the Bosnian
War he had exposure to diplomatic and media affairs in Sarajevo,
and had contributed to the Independent. As a historian who
specialized in international relations and the Balkans, Malich
has written numerous essays on the Kosovo War, Bosnia and
Serbian politics, which were published by the Serbian
Unity Congress. His exclusive column for Antiwar.com appears
greatest problem with the Inquisition is not Carla DelPonte’s
– or NATO’s – determined quest for justice in the Balkans,
but the lack thereof.
giving the new government lip service about "democracy"
and "reform," NATO has applied tremendous pressure
on Belgrade at every point of leverage in the Balkans. In
Bosnia’s Serb Republic, the occupation authorities and US
officials are obstructing
the newly elected democratic government, simply because
they do not like the winners.
occupied Kosovo, a UN-backed Albanian kangaroo court recently
convicted a Serb of "genocide," despite the
utter lack of evidence. While any notion of US withdrawal
from Kosovo is met with highly publicized threats
and ravings of the Albanian separatists, the new governor
elections for the province’s government, guaranteed
at this point to be all-Albanian and fiercely separatist.
New York Times, while trying to present the Presevo
valley bandits as a threat to both Serbs and NATO, really
manages to describe the full extent to which Kosovo and
Presevo valley are both being used
as leverage against the new government.
that during Milosevic’s rule "the West did not much
care about another irritant to him and his forces in southern
Serbia" – a euphemism for what evidence indicates was
active support – Steven Erlanger of the New York Times
finally states what Serbs have been saying for months, that
the Albanian bandits’ goal "is widely interpreted as
an effort to get Mr. Kostunica to overreact militarily and
to harm his new relations with the West." Testifying
– in the same article – that the Albanians’ reasoning goes
further is vitriolic Serbophobe Baton Haxiu, editor of Albanian
daily Koha Ditore. He said that his cousin was currently
in Presevo because he wanted "to kill Serbs,"
then adding that Kosovo peace will be "finished"
if the Serbs retaliate and "Albanian bodies come here."
also noted that NATO was counting on Belgrade not to act,
because the new government needed "Western financial
and diplomatic aid to keep their promises of improving life
at home and to keep pressure on Montenegro’s restive president."
Could it be that NATO is keeping UCPMB as leverage, to keep
Belgrade dependent on Western good will?
to the Hague Inquisition seems to have been just the opening
shot of a major diplomatic offensive against Kostunica’s
government – focusing on undermining Kostunica himself,
since his associates are more than willing to comply and
Kostunica be wrong, then, to see all this as connecting
into a larger whole – with the presumptuously named International
Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia only a hefty link
in the chain around Serbia’s neck?
give in, or not to give in, that is the question. Whether
‘tis better to follow the example of Croatia’s Mesic and
use the foreign powers to purge one’s political opponents
– knowing that, as with Plavsic, that would be his ultimate
undoing – or to take arms against a vast sea of lies and,
by standing on principle, expose them?
cannot give up Milosevic, not because he values him, but
because doing so would erode what little sovereignty Yugoslavia
has left – courtesy of ten years of secession, UN resolutions,
sanctions, US-brokered deals, NATO bombing and partial occupation.
Last week, Kostunica told a Belgrade
news magazine that the state he was charged with preserving
and upholding was more important than the Hague Inquisition,
or even his political future. Continuing on, Kostunica said
he would withdraw from politics if Montenegro seceded, since
he would consider it a failure to fulfill his task of protecting
Yugoslavia. A politician with scruples and a cause larger
than himself may be a rarity in the Balkans – indeed, in
the modern world – but Kostunica appears to be the genuine
article. This is the man whom Carla DelPonte intends to
bully into abandoning his principles.
be told, she does not have much choice. In order to justify
its existence, preserve the illusion of its credibility
and bestow after-the-fact blessings on NATO’s aggression
of 1999, DelPonte’s Inquisition must not only try Milosevic,
but deliver his head to Brussels and Washington on a silver
platter. Nothing less than a maximum sentence for the man
blamed for everything wrong in the Balkans would
do, in the minds of those who came up with such accusations.
Even if the Inquisition’s methods were pure as driven snow
(which is emphatically not the case) its motivation is soiled
enough for Milosevic to know he would receive a fairer trial
at the hands of an angry lynch mob.
his Sarajevo visit, Kostunica said
that "Nothing built on half-truths, manipulations or
lies can last." Given that most Western involvement
in the Balkans falls into this category, it is clear that
DelPonte and her paymasters have a pressing need to either
convert those mendacities into real facts, or get rid of
people who are determined to prevent this. Either way, Kostunica
is in for a tough fight.
greatest irony in all this, really, is the fact that Kostunica
has to fight a battle for Serbia’s freedom and justice over
a man like Milosevic, who showed little respect for either.
But with so much at stake, he has little choice. This challenge
will make or break not only Kostunica, but the future of
Serbia and Yugoslavia – not to mention the truth about what
happened in the 1990s in the Balkans hills.
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