particular reason then to believe this story. But no particular
reason to disbelieve it either. It sounds like the sort
of thing the Kostunica/Djindjic regime would do. Day after
day, the Belgrade authorities go out of their way to demonstrate
their solicitude for NATO’s concerns. They resolutely refused
to embarrass NATO during the "depleted uranium"
scandal of a few weeks back. They parrot NATO accusations
of war crimes against former Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic.
The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
(ICTY) was allowed to set up office in Belgrade. Government
officials from Kostunica down dutifully trotted along to
meet Chief Prosecutor Carla del Ponte during her recent
visit. Former NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana was also
wined and dined in royal style. In fact, it is hard to think
of any NATO leader who has not been fawned on and heaped
with praise. And this week, at NATO’s behest, the Yugoslav
parliament passed a bill giving amnesty to around 100 Kosovo
Albanians being held in Serbia, as well as to 30,000 Serbs
and Montenegrins who refused to serve in the Yugoslav armed
forces during NATO’s 1999 bombing campaign.
shocking of all, the
regime arrested the former director of Serbian Radio-Television
(RTS), Dragolyub Milanovic, claiming that he was under
suspicion of not having done enough to prevent the deaths
of sixteen RTS employees killed by NATO bombs. This arrest
came immediately after Carla del Ponte’s January visit.
It was then that she had first made the ludicrous charge
that Milosevic, of all people, was responsible for the deaths
of the RTS employees because, allegedly, he had been notified
in advance of NATO’s decision to bomb the TV network and
did not evacuate the building. According to her, "Milosevic
had been warned of the airstrike on the television station,
but…he had chosen to disregard the information so that the
employees would be killed and NATO potentially smeared."
For the Belgrade regime to accept the characterization that
not NATO but NATO’s victims were responsible for the deaths
of unarmed civilians was an act of stunning self-abasement.
Even the Soviet Union had never considered putting the Hungarian
freedom fighters on trial for the crime of provoking the
Russians into pulverizing Budapest.
despite this shameful record of groveling, the
Belgrade regime rushed to deny the Independent story.
Having accepted uncomplainingly every indignity inflicted
by NATO, the regime now claimed that it would never stoop
so low as to betray Saddam Hussein’s confidence. According
to a UPI story, "President Vojislav Kostunica strongly
denied British news reports that said Yugoslavia had provided
information to the United States and Great Britain about
Iraq’s radar defense systems. In a statement released from
his office…Kostunica rejected reports that said the information
was then used in recent air raids on Iraq. The statement
said Kostunica made the denial during talks in Belgrade
with the Iraqi ambassador to Yugoslavia, Samir Sadun, when
Kostunica condemned air raids on Iraq and stressed that
Yugoslavia’s view on principle was that policing of sanctions
and military reprisals could solve no problems in the world."
It is hard to know what to make of Kostunica’s statement.
What is most striking about the UPI story is that he does
not appear to be denying that Belgrade had passed on information
about Iraqi air defenses to London or Washington. He is
merely denying that "the information was then used
in recent air raids on Iraq." This is certainly very
peculiar. How does Kostunica know what information the United
States or Great Britain made use of in the bombing attacks?
The rest of Kostunica’s statement is full of his usual windy
sanctimony that "sanctions and military reprisals could
solve no problems in the world." Such platitudes become
the Pope but not the leader of a small country scrambling
to survive by sucking up to the powerful. Moreover, the
more compliant Yugoslavia becomes to NATO’s commands, the
less likely will anyone be persuaded by Kostunica’s moral
is no more reason to believe Kostunica’s denials than the
British Government’s assertions. Both have every incentive
to lie. The British and the Americans wanted to quell the
widespread public outrage at their attack on Iraq by pointing
to the triumphant vindication of the 1999 bombing. See,
they seemed to be saying, Yugoslavia was complaining bitterly
two years ago, along with all the European pinkos, weirdos,
wimps, and lefties who are again yelping away. Yet today
democratic Yugoslavia is batting on our team. It just proves:
Bombing is the best policy. As for Kostunica, he obviously
wants to continue to burnish his reputation as Mr. Clean
the man they couldn’t buy. The reputation is, of
course, absurd, since just about every other member of the
so-called "Democratic Opposition" has at one point
or another on the US payroll. While members of the Government
trip over one another in eagerness to satisfy NATO’s demands,
Kostunica issues lugubrious statements about NATO’s "depleted
conscience." One would have thought people by now will
have got tired of this good cop/bad cop routine he and Serb
Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic continue to play. Djindjic
promises to cooperate with the Hague Tribunal. Kostunica
says he has other priorities. The upshot: Belgrade cooperates
with the Tribunal.
moreover, had another incentive to lie. The depth of European
hostility towards the Iraqi bombing may have caught Belgrade
by surprise. It may not have grasped that on Iraq, unlike
Yugoslavia, Britain and the United States do not speak for
the rest of NATO. The Belgrade regime may suddenly have
found itself in the awkward situation of being the only
country in the world, other than Kuwait and Israel, to support
the Anglo-Saxons. Yugoslavia would now be more NATO than
NATO. Hence Kostunica’s desperate scramble.
be sure, Kostunica may be telling the truth. And the British
are lying. Alternatively, the British may be telling the
truth. And Kostunica may be lying. It really does not matter
one bit. The point is, Yugoslavia has been reduced to a
NATO supplicant seeking favors, economic largesse and international
acceptance. Take the issue of "what to do about"
Slobodan Milosevic. Every day the media in Belgrade and
elsewhere are full of frenzied speculation about the imminent
arrest of Milosevic. Serbian prosecutors are said to be
ready to charge him with corruption. A story, emanating
from Switzerland, suggests that Milosevic smuggled more
than $1m of gold abroad last year. According to a Swiss
newsmagazine, Facts, Yugoslav officials sent about
380 pounds of gold to Switzerland between September 21 and
November 2 last year to be sold. The proceeds were then
transferred to bank accounts of companies in Cyprus and
Greece. As soon as the story appeared, the Belgrade authorities
ordered a police probe into the matter. In Berne the Economics
Ministry announced that it would investigate whether this
gold can be linked to Milosevic.
interesting aspect of the New World Order is the emergence
of Switzerland as the United States’ errand boy of choice.
Carla del Ponte is Swiss. The charges of corruption against
Russian leader Pavel Borodin, now awaiting extradition in
a Federal Detention Center in Brooklyn, were leveled by
the Swiss, following an investigation of the refurbishment
of the Kremlin by, yes, Carla del Ponte. It seems
peculiar, to say the least, why Switzerland would investigate
kickbacks in Moscow, particularly as no criminal charges
had ever been brought against the Swiss companies involved.
The Swiss, who took such a pounding from American Jewish
organizations a few years ago over Holocaust-era assets,
appear to be yet another people seeking international acceptance
by doing someone else’s dirty work.
Interior Minister Dusan Mihajlovic says he is investigating
allegations of corruption surrounding Milosevic’s acquisition
of property. He is also looking into political assassinations
and abductions. Although there was as yet no evidence tying
Milosevic to any of this, "investigators were working
hard to find it." Mihajlovic also told the BBC that
he had hoped that the recently arrested former head of the
secret service, Rade Markovic, would provide such "evidence."
Apparently, however, the fellow "was so far not cooperating."
This is del Ponte-style justice in action. First you declare
someone guilty of heinous crimes, then you shout it from
every rooftop, promise immediate arrest and speedy trial,
and then and only then do you start to look for the evidence.
When you find no evidence, you arrest someone else in order
to pressure him into giving false testimony. The saga of
the inevitable trial and imprisonment of Slobodan Milosevic
is at one level obviously about putting the Serbian people
on trial for daring to defy the will of NATO effectively
the United States. At the more mundane level, however, it
is a way of getting embarrassing news off the front page.
As the failures and incompetence of the Belgrade regime
power blackouts, soaring food prices, lawlessness
become ever more apparent, Kostunica and Djindjic
have settled for a tried and true strategy: Blame everything
on your predecessor. Distract the public’s attention with
endless and tedious tales of Milosevic’s alleged dastardly
recent announcement that he does not, after all, have
the power to prevent Milosevic from being extradited to
The Hague should have surprised no one. The superannuated
Hamlet of the Balkans now believes that it is exclusively
up to the courts to decide the fate of Milosevic. This is
odd, to say the least. For months, Kostunica had been saying
correctly that the Hague Tribunal was a "political,"
not a legal institution. One would have thought a "political"
institution demands a political response. Kostunica seized
power last October on the basis of his claim to have won
the Yugoslav Presidential election. Apparently the vote
of the people was a mandate to burn and trash the Yugoslav
Parliament, but not to defend of the sovereignty of the
also has every incentive to keep the Milosevic pot bubbling.
The NATO-imposed "peace" has, as was to be expected,
turned out to be no peace at all. An ethnic Albanian insurrection
is now taking place on the border of Macedonia and Serbia.
In the Presevo Valley, inside Serbia itself, ethnic Albanians
are conducting a war against Serb forces. In both wars,
the objective is the same: the reconstituted KLA is carving
out ethnically pure Albanian territories that will then
be attached to the no doubt soon-to-be independent Kosovo.
In both conflicts Albanian arms and personnel are coming
across the border from NATO-occupied Kosovo. There is every
reason to suspect that this Albanian push to establish the
boundaries of the coming Greater Albania had been instigated
by the United States. A
recent BBC report pulled no punches:
BBC’s Nik Gowing in Davos has been shown evidence by foreign
diplomatic sources that the guerrillas now have several
hundred fighters in the 5km-deep military exclusion zone
on the boundary between Kosovo and the rest of Serbia. The
sources said that: Certain NATO-led KFOR forces were not
preventing the guerrillas taking mortars and other weapons
into the exclusion zone. The guerrilla units had been able
to hold exercises there, including live-firing of weapons,
despite the fact that KFOR patrols the zone. Western special
forces were still training the guerrillas, as a result of
decisions taken before the change of government in Yugoslavia."
NATO’s pretence to be alarmed by the deteriorating security
situation in Southern Serbia is a fraud an excuse
to expand the scope of NATO’s colonization of the Balkans.
recent days NATO has suggested that it is ready to narrow
the 3-mile wide buffer zone around Kosovo and thus let in
the Yugoslav armed forces to sort out the Albanian terrorists.
The Belgrade regime was exultant. It seemed like a vindication
of their policy of going out of their way to placate NATO.
However, it quickly turned out that there was less to this
NATO tilt to Serbia than met the eye. The commander of KFOR
would retain authority over the territory, even though it
is Serb land. The Serbs would have to pull back some of
their forces from Presevo Valley before NATO would even
be prepared to reduce the buffer zone. Meanwhile, Shawn
Sullivan, political adviser to the commander of the KFOR
declared that there he foresaw NATO troops and Yugoslav
army coming into conflict if the Serbs went after the Albanian
guerrillas. "If a stray shell hit Outpost Sapper [a
US checkpoint on the Kosovo border] it would be the worst
thing the [Yugoslav] government could experience,"
he said somewhat menacingly. According
to an AFP story, "asked if KFOR would retaliate
against Serb forces, he said: "I would think so. I
don’t think we would accept an ‘Oops, we’re sorry’."
So the Albanian wage a terrorist war of ethnic separatism
and NATO threatens the Serbs! Meanwhile, the French are
proposing to send KFOR into the Presevo Valley instead of
much then Kostunica’s boast earlier this week that the Yugoslav
army would be permitted to reoccupy three-quarters of the
buffer zone. NATO still refuses to give Belgrade anything.
And this is unlikely to change any time soon. Yet the Belgrade
regime continues to live a fantasy life believing vast amounts
of money from the US are forthcoming. Yugoslavia will not
receive a penny from Washington. Human Rights Watch
has already urged the US Government not to give Belgrade
a thing until it starts cooperating with the ICTY. A kangaroo
court in Belgrade will not do. "Now that the arrest
of Milosevic seems imminent, the US Government must be firmer
than ever about the need to cooperate with the international
Holly Carter, executive director of Human Rights Watch’s
branch dealing with the Balkans. Denying money to Belgrade
will be a bipartisan effort. The Right will cry: "No
foreign handouts!"; the Left will cry: "Milosevic
to The Hague!." And Belgrade will get nothing. But
then self-abasement is rarely rewarded.
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