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Hundreds of Candles Flicker in front of "Indigo" The relatives, schoolmates and other people came to the "Indigo" disco to lit up a candle in commemoration of the seven children who died in a melee at the disco's entrance in December. The schoolmates of Tsveti, Mitko, Chrisi, Eli, Madlena, Viki and Ljuba brought toys and plaster angels.
MINISTER POPOVSKI'S MEETINGS IN BULGARIA.
Macedonian Defense Minister Vlado Popovski met Wednesday Bulgarian President Georgi Prvanov and Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg Gotha in Sofia.
Minister Popovski assessed the visit to Bulgaria as useful because of the signing of the Protocol on Cooperation, the information exchange on the security crisis in Macedonia. He added that it was useful to assess the joint activities for increasing the security in the region as well as the activities and the mutual experiences within the Partnership for Peace program and the integration within the Euro Atlantic structures.
"Nothing has been agreed during this visit that should be kept in secrecy. There has been no interest, negotiations or agreement on buying weaponry," Popovski stressed, adding that it is necessary to increase the professional composition of the Macedonia's Army and the level of training, while the Defense Ministry and the Army as a whole need more applications of the projects referring to NATO and the regional and European security structures.
According to Minister Popovski, there is continuos and transparent cooperation between the defence ministries of the two countries. It was stated at all meetings that the relations between the two countries continuously develop. In that respect, the defense has a complex role in stimulating the cooperation and increasing the confidence between the two countries.
It was stated that since Macedonia's independence Bulgaria conducts fair policy towards the integrity and the sovereignty of the country.
"In that respect, Bulgarian authorities think that the sovereignty and the independence of Republic of Macedonia is a key for the regional peace and the situation in Bulgaria," Minister Popovski stressed.
During the meetings with Bulgarian President and Prime Minister, the importance of the regional infrastructure was stressed, especially Corridor 8 and the construction of the railway and road network.
According to Minister Popovski, it is very important "that the relations among the neighbors on the Balkans are not in a matrix of political instrumentalism of some states due to the interests of part of the international community." On contrary, it was stated that there are general interests of the international community expressed in the Euro Atlantic associations what means that it is insisted on resolving the regional conflicts peacefully by respecting the integrity of the borders.
"The international community will deliver clear message that everything that should have been resolved in Macedonia is resolved. Not a single policy of violation of the borders and the integrity could be supported," Minister Popovski emphasized after the official meetings in Sofia.
On Tuesday, Minister Popovski had meetings with his Bulgarian counterpart Nikolaj Svinarov, with the Diplomacy Chief Solomon Pasi and the Deputy chairman of the Bulgarian National Assembly, Blagovest Sendov.
Macedonian and Bulgarian Defense Ministers Vlado Popovski and Nikolay Svinarov talked Tuesday about the mutual interests and the joint cooperation between the two countries at the meeting in Sofia, MIA's special correspondent reports.
Protocol on cooperation between the two defense ministries was signed, which refers to the training, education, specialization in certain areas, sharing experiences on security topics as well as about the legislation in the defense.
Minister Popovski, emphasizing that Bulgaria was very important strategic partner of Macedonia in the process of its stabilization and integration within the Euro Atlantic associations, stressed that there is comprehensive cooperation and support from Bulgaria, that was very important in providing the security, the integrity and the independence of Macedonia during the crisis.
"There is continuos and complete cooperation between the defense ministries of two friendly countries," Popovski stressed.
Answering a journalist's question, Minister Popovski pointed out that there were different estimations regarding the chances for renewal of the crisis during springtime.
"All forecasts have something in common - the new crisis can not have the strength and the extent of the previous one," Popovski added.
He said that "new situations occurred in the mean time and new factors for peaceful resolution of the crisis were created," mentioning the signed Ohrid agreement, which was partially implemented in the Macedonian Constitution, the adoption of the Law on local self-government as well as the redeployment of the police forces in the crisis regions.
According to him, the international community thought that the realization of the plan was according to the schedules, so not a single political excuse for renewing the crisis could be internationally supported.
"Macedonia has full capacity as sovereign country to act according to the Constitution and to be internationally supported in the same time. We have estimations that the ethnic Albanians in Macedonia do not support new military adventure, and Macedonia has increased capacities for resolving the eventual crisis," Minister Popovski was decisive.
According to Bulgarian Minister Svinarov part of the signed Protocol was the process of continuation of the military-technical cooperation between the ministries, except the heavy arming.
In that respect, Minister Popovski stressed that Macedonia has enough weapons and the additional heavy arming is not necessary, although there is need for combat kits, ammunitions and new radars in the Army, which is part of the professionalization envisaged in the Defense Ministry's program for 2002.
At the meeting with Bulgarian Foreign Minister Solomon Passy it was estimated that the relations between Macedonia and Bulgaria were developing and that conditions for closer cooperation between the citizens were created.
Emphasis was put on the development of the infrastructure and the economy, as the only basis for prosperity of the countries in this region, especially for Macedonia and Bulgaria.
Macedonian Defense Minister had a short meeting with Deputy Chairman of Bulgarian National Assembly Blagovest Sendov this afternoon, at which they discussed the situation and the activities of the Assemblies in both countries.
The two interlocutors also discussed the ratification of certain agreements between the two countries.
Task Force Fox Will Stay After March With New Leading
by Irina Gelevska
Skopje-The NATO ambassador in Skopje, Klaus Vollers,
told RM today that if the Macedonian officials want a
new extension of the mandate of Task Force Fox they
have to act fast and send an official request to
Brussels by the end of January or early February. This
is necessary in order that the preparations for the
extension to be done on time. "If Macedonia asks for a
new extension that would mean a new mission in the
country and a new leading NATO country "-said
Answering the question, which NATO country will take
over the next mission in Macedonia, Vollers said that
there are a lot of talks in Brussels, but no member
state have volunteered for this task as of yet.
However Vollers adds that NATO has already said that the mission in Macedonia will probably continue into the first 6 months of 2002, because even the Police have been returned to the crisis regions, the local population will be very sensitive to it and because this year is election year. "Besides OSCE already has a mandate till June, and I expect that they will ask for protection from NATO"-said Ambassador Vollers.
Law For Amnesty Key Factor For Stability In Macedonia.
by Irina Gelevska
Skopje-"Having no Law for Amnesty is dangerous" said
the NATO deputy spokesman, Mark Leity, in Skopje
today, adding that this law is a key factor for
stability in the country.
The spokespersons of OSCE and EU in Skopje, Florine Pasniky and Irena Gjuzelova, also agreed on this opinion of NATO. "It might seem that the ex-members of NLA will gain the most benefit, but in the end, all citizens will benefit"-said Leity warning that some ex-NLA members might take again arms if there is no Law for Amnesty.
Police To Enter In 14 New Villages From Gostivar And Tetovo Region.
Skopje, January 30 (MIA) - Ethnically mixed police
patrols Wednesday will enter in 14 new villages from
Tetovo and Gostivar region. The entrance of the police
in Otlja, Orizare and Lipkovo, Kumanovo region, has
Police forces will set forth from Grupcin in Tetovo
region and from Srbinovo in Gostivar region.
As planned, the police will enter in Srbinovo,
Beloviste, Lakavica, Padaliste, Strajane and Trnovo,
Gostivar region and in Novo selo, Kopacin dol, Ciflik,
Lavce, Lukavica, Seldlarevo and Dobarce, Tetovo
The villages of Vrutok, Recane and Zdunje are taken out from the General Plan due to provided security conditions for continual patrolling, with which the conditions for 24-hours patrolling is provided in 18 villages.
Tetovo, January 30 (MIA) - It is relatively calm in
Tetovo region Wednesday morning unlike Tuesday night
when the Albanian terrorists fired from several
Army and police sources say during the night shootings
have been registered from direction of the villages of
Odri, Dobroste, Neraste, Prsovce, Dolno Orasje, Mala
Recica, Gajre, Selce, Poroj, as well as from the areas
of Tetovo Teke, Drenovec 2, Vonvardarska and the
Macedonian security forces have been provoked with
reflectors from the houses in the villages of Gajre
Police Enters 10 Of 17 New Villages In Crisis Regions.
By Irina Gelevska
The mixed police patrols should have entered 14 villages in the crisis regions at 10:00 today, but this was delayed for few hours.
According to the General Plan for Returning of the Police in the crisis regions, the police should have entered 17 villages, but again in this third phase of the plan, the police were prevented from entering the three planned villages in Kumanovo region: Lipkovo, Otlja and Orizare.
The local population in these villages have warned the police that they are not welcome because some of their villagers have been called to a court for criminal charges. During the conflict, Lipkovo was the main stronghold of the NLA in Kumanovo region. NLA even had a hospital in Lipkovo.
The Lipkovo Major Husamedine Halili supported his voters today in their decision not to allow the police to enter these three villages.
In Tetovo region, the police also had problems during today's entering the villages because somebody blew up a building in Chelopek last night which was supposed to be the Regional Police Station.
According to the Plan, the mixed police patrols should have entered 8 villages around Tetovo: Rogle, Novo Selo, Kopachin Dol, Chiflik, Lavce, Lukavica, Sedlarce and Dobarce. 6 villages were planed around Gostivar: Srbinovo, Belovishte, Lakavica, Trnovo, Padalishte and Trajane.
In this third phase of the General Plan, there is no village in the Skopje region, because the population in Radusha are against the return of the police. They demand 4 of their villagers to be included in the list for amnesty.
The police entered a total of 10 villages today. In Tetovo region, they did not enter 2 willages because of blockades, and 2 because of the snow.
"CUSTOMS OFFICER" MAGAZINE PROMOTED.
In organization of the Macedonian Customs Administration the magazine "Customs Officer" was promoted Wednesday night in Skopje.
It is specialized magazine for the customs and foreign trading operations published in order to increase the transparency and the uniformity of the customs activities and the procedures of the Macedonian Customs Administration. This was one of the recommendations of the World Customs Organization as Macedonia Customs Administration is one of its members.
The magazine deals with various topics such as the major events in the Customs Administration, the reforms in the customs system, the customs procedure, the value, the origin and the classification of the goods according to the Customs tariff, the international free-trade agreements, the customs control and investigations as well as the customs managing and court practice.
Besides the current articles, there will be also texts on the latest changes to the Harmonized System referring to the decisions of the World Customs Organization on goods classification and their recommendations and commentaries about the customs evaluation. Also the topics of the everyday activities in the customs offices are discussed and the answers will be provided for questions of the readers.
Bearing the fact that one of the key roles of the customs is to facilitate the trading by increasing the control and protecting the society and considering the past and the present experiences, it can be summarized that "Customs officer" magazine will assist in the enhancement of the Customs Administration as vital tool of the state.
"Customs officer" will be a forum for dialogue and exchange of experiences of the customs officers and the participants in the customs procedure from all over Macedonia. They create instruments and vision that should be realized through the everyday work, and that vision affects every participant in the customs procedure, the Customs Administration and the professional life of every customs officer.
The publishing of this magazine is a first attempt of the employees in the Customs Administration to increase the efficacy of their operations and achieving uniformity in the procedure. The idea for publishing this magazine originates since Macedonia's independence and is realized with full support and direct engagement by director of the Macedonian Customs Administration Dragan Daravelski.
Director Daravelski emphasizes in the interview for the first edition of "Customs Officer" that he sees this institution in the future as modern and Europe-oriented service. "That will be a service where the latest achievements in the operations according to the international customs conventions and recommendations by the World Customs Organization will be applied. A service that will also apply the method of selectivity and individual, simpler procedures that will contribute towards the development and the facilitation of the trade and protection of the society," Daravelski said.
Most of the articles in "Customs Officer," which could be interesting for the international representatives in Macedonia as well as for the Macedonian diplomatic missions and offices abroad will be also published in English language. Numerous managers in the Customs Administration as well as distinguished businessmen and scientific workers can present their positions and opinions in the magazine.
Secrets of the Blue Cafe.
An interview with Lirim Dullovi by Christopher Deliso
January 26, 2002 [Updated January 30]
Skopje, Macedonia On a dark, snowy night in Skopje, inside the smoky Blue Caf, I met with one of the most knowledgeable individuals in Macedonia's Albanian media community and what he had to say was surprising.
He is the deputy editor-in-chief of Macedonia's largest Albanian paper, Fakti (Facts). Eminently qualified to speak on Macedonia's problems, Lirim Dullovi brings the kind of astute judgment, media experience, and insight that separates him from his less eloquent countrymen in the NLA, whose only dialogue comes through the barrel of a gun. Talking with the 28-year-old in Skopje, I was both relieved and concerned to find that things are better/worse in the Albanian community than I had expected. On a number of topics, ranging from the makeup of the NLA to the role of the Albanian-American lobby, Dullovi's comments were particularly interesting, and a bit controversial.
The current situation.
"Everybody's confused," said Dullovi. "Nobody can tell you what's going to happen I was right in 2000 when I predicted that we would have war in 2001 I also have some information for 2002."
This provocative start to our conversation led me to ask what this "information" was. Dullovi was coy. Merely referring to "sources," he claimed, "I can see that there could be some incidents in Spring, but I cannot say the intensity." Indirectly, he blamed the tension on a bellicose Macedonian government. "When I link my info from abroad and from here with what is happening here, I can see this. You have the paramilitary groups, the Lions and Tigers, now under the control of state institutions, and an interview with the Prime Minister where he predicted a war." Taking a standard NLA line, Dullovi maintained, "they (the Macedonians) had a chance to solve this problem, by letting the Albanians open the university (in Tetovo)."
For Dullovi, it was offensive to not hear a strong denunciation from the Prime Minister back in June, to the proposal by the Macedonian Academy of Arts and Sciences to partition the country. A partition and population exchange, it was suggested, would finally appease the restless Albanians. This was the wrong idea, according to Dullovi. But what about the high birthrate, I asked?
"Come on, this is only the village ones, who don't have something better to do. If you take the Albanian women who work, they have two children each, just like the Macedonian women so the answer is in more education, instead. But they are afraid of what will happen if the Albanians get smart."
A partnership for peace?
The most significant current development for Lirim Dullovi was last week's announcement of a united Albanian coalition. This represents the worst nightmare for the fractious Macedonian parties, who despite being held hostage by the NLA, would rather renounce each other than unite. To most, it would seem that Albanian unity is the first step to secession; but Dullovi had another viewpoint.
According to him, the legitimate Albanian political parties were taken by surprise last year by the formation of the NLA. It is incontestable that Albanian politics were gradually merged with those of the NLA, however, and I pressed Dullovi on this topic.
Surprisingly, he maintained that "the main interest of this (unity coalition) is to minimize the chance for a new military organization." In other words, Albanian politicians are trying to insure themselves against having another mandate forced upon them by extremists. Dullovi maintained, "now they (the Albanians) have got some rights, and they want to give some space for the Treaty of Ochrid to be implemented they want to break any illusions, and avoid any suspicions in the international community."
There is some justification for this viewpoint, though it is rather compromised by the fact that Ali Ahmeti himself was the one who called for the unity of parties to which the NLA will send three representatives. Yet in Macedonia, where anything is possible, it is not hard to imagine how last year's warlord can become this year's social democrat. Dullovi's contention that the Albanian politicians just want peace within the existing framework has to be taken with a grain of salt.
True, there are some Albanians, like economics minister Vesnik Fatai, who suffered just as much from the NLA as the Macedonians did. Mr. Fatai was forced to escape with his family from his home in Bogovina, according to one inside source, "because the NLA wanted to kill him, and burned his farm."
Yet there are others, and chief of all Arben Xhaferi, for whom the same spirit of cooperation cannot be maintained. Xhaferi is especially well attuned to the rhetoric of the West; in the past he has called for "collective rights" of minorities, a la Lani Guinier, and other ideas that warmed the hearts of Clinton-era liberals. His latest comment in support of the NLA was rather strange: that wars in a variety of theaters Chechnya, Bosnia, Kosovo, and apparently Macedonia are all legitimate attempts at ending "Slav colonization." Some sources even maintain that Xhaferi has a mentor-disciple relationship with his young Jedi, Ali Ahmeti. But this is simply another of the tantalizing contentions that pass, phantom-like, through the Winter fogs of Skopje.
Did Fakti support the NLA?
One question continued to bother me. Dullovi had claimed that Fakti was "independent" of the NLA's influence. Yet had it supported the NLA? The answer had similarities with the story of Albanian political parties, who were reluctantly driven onto the bandwagon as the year progressed. Dullovi was somewhat
"Did we support the NLA? This is a very difficult question. You cannot answer with 'yes' or 'no.' Now it is very difficult this group is nonexistent anymore."
I asked about the early part of the crisis, and whether Fakti's editorial direction had had any influence on the war's direction. Dullovi stated:
"Each media finds itself in war. In the beginning, we were against the NLA we wrote one very famous editorial, 'Why the NLA should just go away.' We said why the Albanians should lay down their weapons, and (the foreign fighters) should leave from Macedonia. This was in February 2001."
This seemed interesting; I asked what the reaction had been.
"There was a very bad reaction in the Albanian community. But the main problem was, we did not have the support from the Macedonian media and the Macedonian police. We were taken by the police many times me, my chief editor, my journalists and they said to us, 'we want to ask you some questions.'
Basically, about whether we had some contacts with commanders from the NLA. They were very interested to find out who was making contacts but we didn't know any of those people. We didn't have the chance to go up into the mountains."
This statement that the legitimate Albanian press had little to do with the NLA was made repeatedly by Dullovi. Yet since he admitted that the "reaction of the Macedonian army" caused his newspaper to support the NLA, I asked whether he felt that Fakti could be objective now.
"Can we be objective? We are trying. Many times we cannot consult the other side for making the case. But you know what happened, seven days ago? One of our journalists was writing an article, and he got two statements from the Macedonian politicians. This makes me very happy, because this was the first time since the end of the war that some Macedonian politicians made a statement for Albanian media. But in general, the main problem here is that you can't convince the other side."
Albanians abroad: the diaspora question The Albanian Diaspora has been one of the keys to the success of the NLA, fueling it with money, ideology, and political influence abroad. I was curious about one apparent contradiction I had encountered. While the Western media portrays the Albanians in Macedonia as poor, slum-dwelling villagers, the palatial homes in the Tetovo area attest to a different reality. I asked Dullovi how this could be. His response was interesting.
"If you want to see the other side of this, I can take you to the other side of Skopje, where I live. It will be very difficult for you to find even one good house. But everybody in the West (of Macedonia) has family in Europe who earn a lot of money. This is because in Tetovo and Gostivar, the Albanians are more connected (to Kosovo and the Diaspora) than we are here."
This answer led me to another thought; why, if the NLA was fighting so hard for some territory in Macedonia, did so many Albanians leave the country for good?
Dullovi had a compelling reply:
"I have more than seven members of my family who live in Florida. One of them is a dentist; he graduated in Pristina. But he cannot work in Macedonia, because they do not recognize diplomas from Pristina. Another (relative) was for four years the wrestling champion of all Macedonia, but he didn't even have Macedonian citizenship! They are forced to leave their country because they don't see any opportunity here."
And of course, the Greater Albania One of the burning questions everyone would like to have answered is that of the "Greater Albania." Do the Albanians in Macedonia support the same idealistic dream of a pan-Albanian state that is so popular with migr Albanians, such as the Albanian-American Civic League? Dullovi's answer was somewhat unexpected:
"Yeah, you can find some of them who want that, but the main Albanian factor doesn't want that, because we don't have any relations with the Albanians in Albania. It's another story with Kosovo. Albania is something else they are completely different."
I pressed Dullovi on this issue. Certainly during 2001, we had seen enough talk of "Greater Albania" aspirations not to just dismiss the idea's popularity.
But Dullovi was adamant:
"For some radicals, maybe (the idea is appealing), but I don't know who they are. They are ignored by the Albanians here. As one editor of the Albanian daily news, I can tell you I don't know who these people are sometimes you get some communiqu or fax, but nobody know who it's from."
This means of communicating with the NLA, whether accurate or not, underscores the distance that educated, literate Albanians like Dullovi feel from the thugs of the NLA. But what of the similarly educated, well-heeled Albanians abroad? I mentioned the case of the AACL, which lobbies heavily for Albanian issues, and proudly posts a map of "Greater Albania" on its website. I asked Dullovi about the AACL, and other expatriate groups like it, and their influence in Macedonia.
"The organs who want to make that (a Greater Albania),
are not popular here or in Kosovo.
Do they have influence?
No. Nobody agrees with them; it is only a dream I met Jamie Shea in Brussels, and I tried to explain to him the same question, why the Albanians who are the main factor here or in Kosovo don't want it. They know it is impossible do you know how I want to make that idea of Greater Albania real?
Through integration with Europe."
The end of history in the Balkans?
It was hard to argue with a sentiment like that, but I still had to ask about just how this integration would commence. Dullovi responded with the most contentious, and the most mysterious, claim of the night:
"According to my diplomatic sources, everything is being prepared for the redefinition of the borders in the Balkans from Britain to Athens, they are very interested to solve this problem (once and for all). I think that the Macedonians have a real problem with their identity, and that the international factor saw this, and they can find some method for solving this."
We can only guess at what this "method" will be. The unsettling idea of forced intervention to change Balkans borders was more interesting, in that it had come from a well-connected Albanian in Macedonia. Even by the end of the interview, through the haze of smoke in the caf, I was not sure just what Lirim Dullovi knew, or how. On the one hand, the catlike editor denied knowing the NLA fighters or their plans; on the other, he had mysterious "sources" and "diplomats" at the ready to provide him with breaking news on the latest developments and future trends. He seemed to enjoy cultivating this air of contradiction and suspense. Of all the whispered intrigues and insinuations which I had experienced all week, none was more Balkan than my evening with Lirim Dullovi.
Bulent Ecevit: Turkey Will Reiterate Support for Bulgaria's NATO Membership Bid in Prague.
Sofia, January 30 (BTA) - Bulgaria can count on Turkey's support for its NATO membership bid. The Turkish side, which has couched this decision in a law, will reiterate its position at the NATO summit in Prague this fall, Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit told a news conference on Wednesday. He is here on a two-day official visit at the invitation of his Bulgarian counterpart Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.
In Turkey's view, the accession to NATO of Bulgaria and Romania earlier than the rest of the candidates will ensure peace and prosperity in Southeast Europe.
The pension insurance of Bulgarian expatriates living in Turkey, road taxes changed on Turkish motor carriers and the protection of the cultural heritage of either country that is located on the territory of the other were discussed by the two delegations.
Ecevit said he hopes all problems can be solved at expert level.
Saxe-Coburg-Gotha urged the Turkish business people to invest in Bulgaria before their Western counterparts beat them to all vacant market niches. The construction of a new checkpoint at the Bulgarian-Turkish border that will be located near Malko Turnovo was discussed as an opportunity to boost bilateral cooperation.
Ecevit said he is all for increased Turkish investment in Bulgaria. By opening new jobs in Bulgaria, Turkish businesses will help solve the problem with the high unemployment rate among Bulgarian Turks, he said.
Bulgaria can also benefit from the Turkish project for twin tunnels under the Bosphorus since that will increase cargo traffic in the region, Saxe-Coburg-Gotha noted.
Later in the day, Transport Minister Plamen Petrov told journalists that cargo traffic could jump by 10 million tonnes following the reconstruction of the Plovdiv-Svilengrad and the Sofia-Nis railways and the construction of a second bridge over the Danube section shared by Bulgaria and Romania at Vidin-Calafat.
Turkey attaches significance to the Upper Arda project, Ecevit noted, predicting that the problems that have besotted the project will be solved promptly.
Saxe-Coburg-Gotha received an invitation to visit Turkey soon.
Representatives of the foreign ministries of the two countries exchanged the documents for the ratification of the agreement on the nonuse of land mines and on their destruction.
Transport Minister Yasar Okuyan, Labour Minister Haidar Berk and representatives of the foreign ministry were on the Turkish delegation. Bulgaria was represented by Social Minister Lidia Shuleva, Petrov and minister without portfolio Nedjet Mollov.
The opportunities for cooperation between Bulgarian and Turkish special services in combatting terrorism were on the agenda of the meeting between Ecevit and President Georgi Purvanov, the Presidents Foreign Policy Secretary Georgi Dimitrov said. Bulgaria has clear commitments in the fight against terrorism, Dimitrov said.
Purvanov and Ecevit expressed a wish for the two countries to continue the implementation of the Upper Arda project and stressed its social effect.
The two officials hailed the trade and economic cooperation between Bulgaria and Turkey and the level of Turkish investment in Bulgaria, Dimitrov said.
The Bulgarian President and the Turkish Prime Minister are in favour of bilateral cooperation in EU accession talks.
Purvanov thanked Turkey for its active support for Bulgarias bid to join NATO.
The Turkish guest also met with National Assembly Deputy Chairperson Kamelia Kassabova.
By Adding Three Lies, One Does Not Get the Truth, Only a Bigger Lie.
President Slobodan Milosevic in The Hague, January 30th 2002 (transcript)
[Editorial note: We are posting this statement by Slobodan Milosevic at his "trial" before the International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague for purely informational purposes. Posting it does not constitute agreement with either the statement, or the history of its author.]
By adding three lies, one does not get the truth only a bigger lie.
All three indictments really have a thread running through them to use an expression I've heard used here which is the ongoing crime against Yugoslavia and against my people.
This here is obviously a colossal abuse of power to fabricate an historical forgery in which those who advocated the preservation of Yugoslavia would be charged with its destruction; those who defended the country would be accused of crimes; and those who advocated and committed secession, advocating separatism and terrorism, would be given amnesty because they were backed by forces that wanted to establish control over the Balkans, so as to be able to use this strategic position to establish their control elsewhere.
As we've heard, you spoke of three connected events. How come the 'discoverers' of this so-called plan, of which they speak so self-assuredly, only got around to making allegations about Bosnia and Croatia after ten years? Furthermore, these claims are absurd and nonsensical, primarily because the entire policy of the Serbs, Serbia and me personally was in regard to Croatia and Bosnia focused on peace, not war. We used all our influence to achieve peace as soon as possible.
At the very beginning of the conflict in Croatia, we advocated a political solution. Based on that proposal, the UN Protected Areas were established and the situation calmed down immediately. On March 24, 1992, the late Croatian leader Tudjman spoke to his nation from the Ban Jelacic Square [in Zagreb], saying literally: "There would not have been a war had Croatia not wanted it, but we judged this was the only way to achieve independence."
There would have certainly been no war had Croatia not wished for it. Serbia never participated in that war anyway. It was an internal conflict.
But why did Croatia want war? Most certainly not in order for the Croatian people to use their right to self-determination and secession (Macedonia, for example, claimed that right and separated from Yugoslavia), but to achieve its goal of expelling half a million Serbs from Croatia Serbian Krajina who for centuries lived there on their own land, and not as occupiers.
Until the arrival of that Croatian regime that wanted war and so admitted publicly, Croatia had a Constitution describing it as a state of Croats, Serbs and other peoples residing therein. That Constitution was changed. Serbs lost their rights and their constituent status in Croatia, and they rose in rebellion. At the time, few in Serbia even knew that Serbs lived in some part of Croatia.
You speak of the plan according to which, with German support, Croatia was prematurely recognized at the end of 1991, without waiting for a political solution, which sparked a confrontation in which Serbia I repeat only contributed in finding a peaceful solution as soon as possible. Even the Croatian government never accused us of responsibility for that conflict, and now I hear, here, today, that we had some sort of a plan for that?
There was, in fact, a plan a clear plan aimed against a state that was, I would say, at the time a model of future European federalism. That state was Yugoslavia, in which multiple nations lived in a federation, on equal footing, successfully, with the ability to prosper, develop, and show the entire world that coexistence was possible.
All the time we fought for Yugoslavia, for the preservation of Yugoslavia. After all, all the facts prove that what I am saying is true. Only the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, which now exists, retained its ethnic makeup. There were no expulsions, from the beginning to the end of the Yugoslav crisis. All other republics changed their ethnic makeup. Half a million Serbs were expelled from Croatia and we all know what happened in Bosnia, not to mention other parts of Yugoslavia.
Therefore, I would say this is a malicious, utterly hostile process aimed at justifying the crime against my country, using this 'court' as a weapon against my country and my people.
Look at Bosnia-Herzegovina. Over there, we tried from the very beginning to secure peace. What happened to the Cutillero Plan, which everyone had backed? The Islamist Bosnian government rejected it at the urging of the U.S. Ambassador and the conflict began. How can Serbia be accused of anything in Bosnia, when it is well known that, attempting to use our influence for peace, we not only backed all the peace proposals but also tried to help implement them?
In 1993, in Athens, there was a meeting at which the Vance-Owen Peace Plan was signed. Everybody signed it. I went to Pale with [Greek Prime Minister] Mitsotakis and former Yugoslav president Dobrica Cosic, and we advocated the acceptance of this plan. Unfortunately, it was rejected on May 3 or May 5, 1993, I don't remember exactly. Even then we initiated a blockade of the Serb Republic, in order to force its leadership to accept the peace plan. This was Serbia's role to attempt to achieve peace.
We had constantly emphasized that the only formula for achieving peace in Bosnia was to equally protect the interests of all three peoples in Bosnia-Herzegovina: Serbs, Muslims and Croats. The Dayton Agreement succeeded because that formula was accepted because the national interests of all three peoples were protected equally.
Now I hear that Dayton was supposed to discuss Kosovo. That is nonsense. The Dayton talks were convened to establish peace in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and no one even thought of addressing the issue of Kosovo. It has been an internal issue of Serbia, and no one could have even dreamed that someone would attempt to internationalize it.
You cannot, in any way, link Serbia or the Serbian policy with any kind of crimes. You especially cannot legally claim, ten years later, something that no one ever alleged about us, even then. We were accorded only respect and appreciation for the gigantic efforts Serbia and the Serbian policy made to achieve peace.
Speaking of Bosnia, do you know that 70,000 Muslim refugees sought sanctuary in Serbia during the Bosnian conflict? Do you think someone would flee their home and take refuge in the very territory from which they were endangered? How many lives did we save, how many of your hostages did we rescue from Bosnia from UN peacekeepers to pilots and how many peace treaties did we insist on and make possible? Eventually, we were the most responsible for the success of the Dayton talks and the peace that ensued.
It was a total peace, a complete relaxation of tensions, and then... I will tell you how it all began in Kosovo. Because of the plan to establish control of the Balkans, the territory of the former Yugoslavia, efforts were made to destabilize Kosovo at precisely the time when it seemed everything would be resolved peacefully.
In November 1997, there was a summit meeting in Crete of all heads of state and governments of Southeastern Europe. Back then, we discussed at our initiative the elimination of barriers, tariffs, integration within Southeastern Europe and improving our mutual cooperation. I had a direct dialog with the Albanian Prime Minister Fatos Nano. We spoke of normalizing our relations, eliminating visas and tariffs, developing transport and trade links, et cetera. Fatos Nano and I went before the TV cameras and he then said, after talking about cooperation and improving our mutual relations, that Kosovo was an internal Serbian matter. This was a promise of peace, of peaceful solutions to all these problems.
But this was an alarm for all the powers that continued to act criminally against my country, trying to destabilize Yugoslavia and intervene the way they did. A month or two afterwards, we received a letter from [German Foreign Minister] Kinkel and [French Foreign Minister] Vedrine saying they were worried about the situation in Kosovo. For ten years since the time you claim Serbia "seized" control of its own territory, there were no murders, no expulsions, no plunder, no arson, no arrests in Kosovo. We did not have a single political prisoner in Yugoslavia not one. Kosovo had 20 newspapers and other publications in Albanian, which one could buy at every street corner. Not a single issue, not a single copy, was ever banned. Albanian political parties, even separatist ones, worked freely. Someone here said we tolerated them. No, our view was that everything should be permitted except violence.
Then the powers behind Yugoslavia's destruction and occupation rounded up criminals throughout Western Europe and sent them to Kosovo to establish a terrorist organization. They began terrorist attacks in the spring of 1998. Then they were crushed. By the fall of 1998, they were completely eliminated, surrendering by the truckload the weapons they had smuggled in.
Within that year, they mostly killed Albanians. I do not have specific figures with me, since I did not know I would be given a chance to speak today. I was notified of my appearance here only yesterday, and I did not know what would be discussed. So I do not have all the specific information, but I will tell you what I do have. Two and a half times...
Mr. Milosevic, please allow...
... more Albanians than Serbs were killed by the terrorists in 1998. They killed Albanian police officers, postal carriers, forest rangers, even retirees only because they received their retirement checks from the state. They were attempting to strike terror in the hearts of Albanians as well as kill Serbs. We protected our citizens both Serbs and Albanians from terrorism, and this operation was completed by the fall of 1998. Then [US envoy] Holbrooke came to demand a Verification Mission in order to create a pretext for attacking Yugoslavia. Let me tell you....
Mr. Milosevic, allow me just a minute. Please. Just one minute. I will not take away your time, I will certainly give it to you. Even this International Tribunal whose legality you dispute is giving you the opportunity to fully state your case. It seems to me, first of all, that you are ready to start with the trial even today, as it seems. This goes to your credit. You are ready. But I have to take you back to the... Please, try not to completely lose sight of the issue we are discussing today. We are not the chamber that will conduct your trial. We understand well that your central idea is quite contrary that this is a victimization of your country. It has been heard and understood.
It would be good for you, Mr. Milosevic, not to deceive yourself about the chamber that will try you. You have the same amount of time as the prosecutor here. As the chairman of this chamber I guarantee that. Please, do not lose sight of the topic we are discussing, then.
You have a thesis you are attempting to defend, and you have that right and will have that right. However, I have to remind you that this Appeals chamber is facing an important procedural question. It may not be important to you, but it is to us, since we are trying to safeguard the norms of just and equitable procedure. What we would like to know is if you would like your trial for Kosovo to be separate from the trial for Bosnia and Croatia, or if you would prefer them to be combined. I understand that you might answer this in a roundabout way. I will, of course, permit you to speak. You are a defendant who has good mental health and clarity of thought. Therefore I ask you to try and answer this question. Thank you in advance. You have the floor again.
First of all, this is the only time I have not been interrupted, the first time I can say something, and I will use every opportunity to address the public regarding the crime that is being perpetrated against my country. I do this not because of procedure, since procedure does not interest me, but in order to answer the attacks against my country and my people, and the ongoing crimes against them. I want the public to know that after the aggression...
Please wait, Mr. Milosevic. You understand that you have much time at your disposal, but you will have more when the trial starts. This is, of course, not the subject of today's debate. You have the right to continue. But you are now addressing the people outside this courtroom. Mr. Milosevic, I have to tell you that you will have the right to address the public. The international community created this trial and I certainly wish that all the rules that apply to the prosecution, to you and to the civilization are respected. Today's debate is about how the trial would take place in another chamber. I have no intention of interrupting you and will subtract the time I used up by my interruptions. You may proceed now.
I want to emphasize that the crime against my country has continued. The most recent Serb murdered in Kosovo that I've heard of was killed on Christmas this year. Some 350,000 were expelled from Kosovo under UN auspices, while Albanian terrorist activities were protected by the UN. Since the arrival of the so-called UN peacekeepers that were obligated by [UN Security Council] Resolution 1244 to guarantee the security of person and property to every inhabitant of Kosovo, Albanian terrorists have expelled 350,000 people and torched tens of thousands of homes. Sometimes they would burn 50, 60, all the Serbian houses in a village, in plain sight of the [UN] troops. These are in fact occupation troops, who came [to Kosovo] under the UN banner only to transform themselves overnight into occupiers and allies of the terrorists who killed, who mutilated and butchered so many, and burned so much, and continue to do so even today. And they say they were unaware this was happening.
Can anyone believe that the troops over there could be unaware that tens of thousands of homes were being torched? Can someone damage and destroy...since the UN troops came, 107 Serbian churches have been destroyed. Can someone destroy an entire church and burn it without the UN troops knowing?
This is a "joint criminal enterprise" of the forces who committed crimes against Yugoslavia with the drug-Mafia and Albanian terrorists in Kosovo, for the purpose of crimes not only against the Serbs but all other non-Albanians, even Catholic Albanians. Even Albanians who, in any way such as cashing their retirement checks showed any loyalty to the Republic of Serbia as their state.
What is happening over there is practically the rehabilitation of a policy led by Hitler and Mussolini. This talk about "Greater Serbia", this alleged idea that never really existed, is only raised to mask the creation of "Greater Albania" the very same one that was made by Hitler and Mussolini in World War Two. Look at it then, and look at what is being done now, what they want to seize from Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia tomorrow maybe from northern Greece, when Greek-Turkish relations are strained under orders of the common master.
This is obviously a crime, and the thread running through it is obviously a crime against Yugoslavia. I want to point out that falsifying historical facts is not easy, though. It is not easy even when these facts are only known to a select group of people, and downright impossible when millions, entire nations, know the facts. With all due respect, the real judges in this trial not you who wear the robes are those who decided to murder children in my country, who launched NATO's aggression and dropped 25 thousand tons of bombs in 78 days, murdering mostly elderly people, children and women.
They want to play that role. But they will not be the judges.
The real judge here is the people not just the people of Yugoslavia, but the peoples of all the countries who care about liberty and equality. Not for nothing do we have a saying that the judgment of the people is the judgment of God. We all face that judgment, not just me who is facing an attempt here to be made responsible instead of being given recognition but also you, and your employers, especially those who committed crimes against my country.
Since you want me to request something of you, let me demand this: set me free. I demand to be set free because you and the entire world should know by now that I will not run from a fight for my people and my country. I have no intention of running. It does not serve the honor of this institution to keep me imprisoned here, in disgraceful conditions, in order to deprive me of equality in stating my arguments even if this institution were legal, and you know very well that it isn't.
For if you didn't know and I don't refer to you in particular, but to the institution then you would have accepted the motion from the amici curiae to seek advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice on the legality of this tribunal. You did not seek it, because the outcome would be entirely predictable.
Altogether, I think that such a criminal approach, an attempt to cast the victim as the culprit, both in regard to my country, my people and myself, has not yet been recorded in history. With that in mind, I consider it both logical and just to release me immediately. I will not flee, and I am ready to enter any of these debates, since this is one battle which I certainly have an obligation to fight.