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At 7:00 PM the phone rang. I was asleep in the hotel room, dreaming I was in Serbia.
"We're going to see Milosevic. Please hurry!"
I splashed water on my face, grabbed a mini tape recorder and a dilapidated writing tablet and hurried downstairs. In front of our very modest hotel I got in a car with Vladimir Krsljanin who's the Foreign Secretary of the SPS, Mr. Milosevic's party. We sped away through the streets of Belgrade, which is familiar but also so different from New York and Boston. For one thing, there are the bombed buildings, like movie sets. But real.
We arrived at the Milosevic family's temporary home. Their own house had been bombed by NATO so they were staying in a place built for former President Tito and now owned by the Yugoslav Army.
This was March 2001, almost six months after a Western-sponsored coup d'etat overthrew the elected Milosevic government. The house was guarded by the Army. The claims, spread by the coup authorities and the Western media, that Mr. Milosevic was guarded by drunken private guards, were simply lies. I saw several alert sentries in Yugoslav Army uniforms with automatic rifles. We were stopped three times as we drove up the long driveway, finally getting out in front of the house.
We were greeted there by Mr. Milosevic and several associates.
It was a stunning moment for me. My entire visit to Serbia, so far just one week, had been culture shock. Since October 1998 I had spent virtually all my time studying Yugoslavia, talking by phone to Yugoslavs inside and outside Serbia, and writing. And now to be in the place with these remarkable people who have so much - how can I explain it? - richness of culture. If all Americans spent a little time in Serbia, our government's policies would fall. Go there, see the place, but I warn you: if you are from the U.S., when you leave you will feel homesick for something you never knew you'd lost.
We were ushered into a fairly large, pleasant but simply furnished room. It was mainly empty except for white chairs and small, white, leather couches arranged in a rectangle. The room had been furnished to allow a dozen people to sit and talk, facing each other. In front of each couch was a small coffee table with refreshments, cups of espresso and the Turkish coffee everyone drinks in Serbia, sweet and dense as mud.
Two seats away from me to my right was Mr. Milosevic. To my left was Zjevadeen Jovanovic, former Foreign Minister of Yugoslavia.
I'm telling you this to help you picture the scene so I can relate some small details. As is often true, the details are revealing.
First, regarding Milosevic: he is
impressive and entirely unlike the descriptions in the Western press.
He was funny. It's hard to capture humor
when you're writing from notes, and his humor was dry.
They all were. I used to smoke, but no more. But Milosevic offered me a cigarette and I took it without thinking. He leaned forward and lit it.
A few of Milosevic's associates were in the room. Several times he took out a cigarette but nobody would rush forward to light it. This was not the comic book egotist the media has described. There was no self-importance on his part, no fawning on theirs.
At the start, I reached into my jacket
pocket and pulled out a small black object - my tape recorder.
Zjevadeen Jovanovic patted my hand in a friendly way, smiled. "Please. The tape recorder will make him uncomfortable. Can you take notes?"
So I used the dilapidated writing pad which unfortunately fell apart later. When I got back to the US I thought I'd lost some of the pages. I just found them now, folded in a jacket pocket. Hence this interview, published a year and a half late.
The following is a compilation of Slobodan Milosevic's answers to questions, as recorded by me and also by Nico Varkevisser, from Holland. Milosevic's comments are mostly organized by categories, with only a few remarks by Nico or me.
-- Jared Israel
WHAT IS MY OFFENSE?
The fact that different ethnic groups are in a country could be a wealth for that country. Yugoslavia was a modern federation with different cultures, heritages, living mainly in harmony. When the question of who is Macedonian, who is Croatian, etc., was imposed from the outside, like a torpedo, it produced problems. How could Croats have an interest in the dissolution of Yugoslavia when a part of the Croatian people was living in Bosnia and so on? Or Muslims? And what would become of us, divided into little states?
The existence of Yugoslavia was a solution to the Serbian people's national cohesion. Serbs were all together in the same Federation. It was not in the interest of any national group to destroy Yugoslavia.
In Europe there is no recognition of cultural and ethnic differences. Every country needs new formulas adapted to deal with cultural and ethnic differences in a respectful fashion. Yugoslavia had such a code. That is one of the reasons Yugoslavia was not recognized as a solution by certain international forces. They didn't want our kind of solution. They didn't want the example. They had another solution, which is at the core of their strategy for conquest, the solution of using ethnic differences to destabilize, divide et impera.
As for the charge of racism, which originates from the very forces which stir up race hate, let me ask them a question. Why is it that most Serbs have been purged from Croatia but not only have Croats stayed, unharmed, in Serbia, but tens of thousands of Croatian, Bosnian Muslim and Kosovo Albanian refugees have been welcomed here? Why is that the Roma, bellwether of racism in Europe, are so loyal to Yugoslavia and Serbia?
Today Serbia has a large non-Serbian
population, the same as before the destruction of Yugoslavia.
During the 1999 war I received different representatives from the Italian political scene, from both the left and the right. They said we are not functioning as an independent country. Nobody was asking them, "Are you ready to attack your neighboring country?"
NATO is supposedly an alliance. An alliance means equal states. But in fact, NATO was a war machine imposed by the US. Big Master didn't ask the Italians, "Do you think we should bomb that Serbian passenger train?"
It's understandable for the USA, as the most powerful nation, to aspire to a leading role. But precisely what role?
I told the Americans in 1998: "You could have been benevolent and everyone would have applauded. But instead you chose the path of Caesar, spreading blood and killing nations. So you missed the millennium, not just the century. It would be comic if it wasn't tragic."
I told the US Balkans envoy, Richard
Holbrooke, "Don't tell me you're interested in Albanians.
And Holbrooke said, "We have to be international leaders."
And I said, "Why does that have to be at our expense?"
Now we are seeing the destabilization of
the whole of Southeastern Europe including Greece.
1997 MEETING OF SOUTHEAST EUROPEAN LEADERS
Everything has become transparent. Consider this very brief history. In October 1997, leaders of the Southeast European countries met. All of us. We established a very good understanding. I suggested, "Let's do something for ourselves. Let's abolish customs fees among ourselves." The meeting was very good. I had excellent person to person discussions with Fatos Nano, the Albanian Prime Minister. We discussed opening our borders and he said Kosovo is an internal problem of our country. The message of that meeting was that in Southeast Europe things are going to be solved by mutual consultation.
A month later I received a letter from German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkle and French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine stating that they were very concerned about Albanians. And then of course the BND [German intelligence] organized the so-called UCK [KLA] in 1998. They started to shoot, to kill postmen, foresters; they threw bombs in cafes, near green markets. We reacted as any state would react. By summer of 1998 they were gone. Destroyed.
At that point [U.S. Balkans Envoy] Richard Holbrooke came here to insist that his armed personal be allowed into Kosovo. As observors, he said
We talked. Our discussions were frustrating. We would solve a problem one day and Holbrooke would re-open it the next. I would say, "But we solved that problem yesterday!" And he would say, "Instructions."
He wanted to send in 20,000 armed so-called observers.
This was accompanied by the threat that NATO would bomb us. We tried to minimize the harm of this blackmail, to rouse world public opinion. At the same time we whittled down Holbrooke's demands from 20,000 to 2000. And from armed to unarmed so-called observors. So, something less than outright armed invasion. Though still an assault on our sovereignty.
They put a criminal, William Walker, in charge of their Observors. This is a man who worked with death squads in El Salvador. Supposedly a diplomat. His Observors were mostly intelligence operatives, behind the veneer of a private American company. [Milosevic is referring here to DynCorp - Ed.]
Walker created Racak, the phony
massacre, based on his El Salvador expertise. Racak was then used by Madeleine Albright to
justify their ultimatum to negotiate at Rambouillet. We were told:
We decided to use these supposed negotiations to illustrate our stand. Our delegation was a composite of our national groups. It included ethnic Serbs, Albanians, Gorani [Slavic Muslims], Roma ["Gypsies"], Turks. The composition of Kosovo before the UCK [Kosovo Liberation Army] drove most of them out.
Meanwhile, the complete text of the Rambouillet "agreement" appeared in an Albanian publication three days before our delegation even arrived in France. Do you see? It was drawn up in advance.
So our delegates read the thing. One
showed it to the Americans, saying, "Look, this is badly done.
That's what we had to deal with.
And Clinton? He actually said Serbs were responsible for W.W.I and W.W.II.
MEDIA LIES THAT KILL
An Israeli newspaper asked me if the anti-Serb media demonization was a form of genocide. After all, the demonization was used to justify the air war, which involved almost exclusively bombing of civilians, destroying normal life, the life of a people.
The Serbs are the only Europeans who
have been bombed since World War II. 22,000 tons of bombs. Without the avalanche of media
lies, ordinary Western citizens would never have allowed it.
People in the NATO countries are not yet aware they were lied to. And they aren't aware how much harm this has done to their societies. Clinton's administration put lies into an ostensibly democratic institutional apparatus thus preventing any possibility of democracy. How can people make choices when theyre basing their thinking on lies?
NEW TYPE OF COLONIALISM
The destruction of Yugoslavia is material proof that the U.S. and other forces are engaged in a new colonialism. If their big words about world integration were true, they would have preserved Yugoslavia. It embodied precisely such integration. Nobody can be against integration if it is just, if people are treated equally. The new colonialism consists in making the small part richer, the big part poorer, and killing nations. If you lose your country, your independence and freedom, all other battles are lost. How can you organize a country for prosperity when you don't have a country?
If we understand that we're facing a new type of colonialism, one that attacks national sovereignty, we can pull all our forces together. The Left once grasped this idea, which is why Imperial forces penetrated the Left.
Now the Left is often worse than the Right. In Germany they removed Kohl and put in Schroeder, who will do anything for the Americans. Gorbachev was an American guy as well. He destroyed the Soviet Union for them.
For years the Russians have functioned as if under hypnosis. The Americans succeeded in hypnotizing them into believing their economy depends on the IMF and the World Bank. Hundreds of Billions have been taken out of Russia; the lives of ordinary people are destroyed; and they waste time negotiating IMF loans.
Consider the possibilities. The whole of Western Europe is relying on natural gas production. Why isn't Russia the big supplier? It could if the Russians had that in mind instead of playing this fool's game of relying on the IMF.
Look at the economic models the IMF enforces! Kenneth Galbraith, the American economist, said, "If the Americans deployed these economic models in America they'd be destroyed."
The question for Russians is: When will
you realize the need and possibility to be your own masters?
|By: Jared Israel & Nico Varkevisser, August 15, 2002|