“I think his desire for peace is sincere. You can see it in him.” –CNN interviewer on Ratko Mladic, August 1995
A year ago this month, a Serbian-language news site called Novi Standard published videos of a never-broadcast CNN interview with Ratko Mladic in August 1995. (Transcription here.)
Below is a slightly abridged transcript of the interview, through a translator, between the CNN reporter and Ratko Mladic.
CNN: In the long history of the Serbs, how would you describe the current crisis caused by this huge number of refugees from the Republic of Srpska Krajina?
RM: All right. The Serbian people have lived in the territories they have now been driven out from for centuries. Very old monasteries of the Serbian Orthodox Church are situated in the territory of the Republic of Srpska Krajina. Some of them are more than a thousand years old. The Serbian people are the oldest people who have settled here and have inhabited these places. There’s appropriate historical and scientific evidence of that. The exodus of the Serbian people from their centuries-old hearths may be one of the biggest tragedies in the history of the Serbian people in general. Perhaps, it can even be measured to the tragedy of 1915 when the Serbian army had to leave Serbia during World War I. But thanks to assistance from allied armies after four years of bloody war the Serbian army returned to its hearths. This tragedy is even more tragic because unfortunately it’s happening in the end of the 20th century. Sadly, but it’s not happening in front of the eyes of the world community or international public: we have been isolated and demonized because of the blockade and couldn’t tell the world about our tragedy and our suffering in this war and the huge exodus of the Serbian people. We don’t want sympathy; we just want the world to see the truth.
CNN: Why were the general’s [Mladic’s] forces not able to go to the aid of the Krajina Serbs and prevent their tragedy?
RM: We gave them as much help as we objectively could at that moment. I will be quite open to say that Croatia and its armed units have been present in the former Bosnia & Herzegovina ever since the war broke out there. The arms embargo wasn’t observed. On the contrary, some countries of the world community did everything to arm the Croat-Muslim forces; separate countries sent highly-qualified experts to train their army and helped them plan and carry out their military operations. Unfortunately, the bad image of the Serbs and the Serbian people in general created by some media outlets has led to an unequal and biased approach to the sides in the conflict by part of the world community who took the side of the Croats and Muslims, who actually started this bloody war in the territory of the former Yugoslavia. A UN resolution was grossly violated [before] the eyes of the world community and international public and a country which was the co-founder of the League of Nations and one of the founders of the United Nations was destroyed without any reason.
CNN: How likely is it that the Krajina will ever be retaken? What plans does he [Mladic] have to get the Krajina back?
RM: I will not only allow myself to give an exhaustive answer to this first question but will also answer the next one.
The center of power which stands behind the entire crisis in the former Yugoslavia and continues its disintegration has demonized the Serbian people and has encouraged the forces who withdrew from the former Yugoslavia by means of violent secession; until today these forces have been given all kind of support, unfortunately, not only in the media. They have been supported politically, diplomatically, economically and, sadly, militarily. I don’t have to tell you that not only threats and ultimatums but also rude force was used against us, unfortunately, not only by NATO but also, and that is particularly painful, by countries who were Serbia’s traditional allies when cataclysms happened in the world during WWI and WWII.
As for your second question, we, the Serbs, will never abandon our land because our land is our most sacred thing. This land is irrigated with Serbian blood. The Serbian people in the Republic of Srpska Krajina survived the Turkish and Austro-Hungarian empires and didn’t leave their hearths. It means that those empires who are historically described as ruthless didn’t evict the Serbian people from their land unlike the contemporary fascist armada of the Ustasa of President Franje Tujman [Ustashas of Croatian President Franjo Tudjman] and his sponsors and regrettably by some countries of the world community who had played a dirty role in all those events.
CNN: Let’s talk about the strength of the Croatian army. How is he planning to return the Krajina? What is his plan?
RM: The Croatian army has never presented and will never present any serious military force without the support of its sponsors and some countries of the German bloc with Germany at the helm. Only with the help of international mafia and criminals did they manage to arm themselves with huge amounts of weapons and ammunition from the depots of the former Soviet army left over in the territories of East Germany and the Warsaw Pact countries…[I]n this territory we shouldn’t fight for foreign interests and the interests of world centers of power. Sober-minded people should be sent to these territories, people who can contribute to establishing peace, can end the war, return us to a normal life and rebuild the destroyed villages and towns because the Balkans is a strategically vital area for Europe and the whole world, and even a war breeze, let alone a hurricane, poses a threat not only to the peoples who inhabit the Balkans but to the whole world, the centuries-old history of this planet and particularly the history of the peoples who lived and are still living in the Balkans.
CNN: Does it mean he will try to take it militarily? Are plans under way already to retake the Krajina?
RM: If any plans were in question, then it would have been impossible for us to seize what’s ours; we could have only liberated that land… But I would like you to inquire whether the Serbian people or I, as the Chief of Staff of the Army of Republika Srpska, have a single soldier or a single piece of military hardware in the territory of any other country or any foreign people. I would answer you, “No, we don’t!” because my people have never been occupiers. The Serbs have never, including in this recent war, conquered or occupied other people’s territories. The Serbian people didn’t declare or start that war. On the contrary, the Croat-Muslim coalition declared a war on the Serbian people in 1991 and 1992. Several weeks ago we announced a military situation to defend ourselves from the Croat-Muslim forces and their world sponsors who had brought paid murderers from Iran and some Western countries to this territory…I once said that all weapons, except submarine and nuclear arms, produced in the world had been tested on our people until recently…I personally witnessed how F-16 aircraft and other planes were dropping bombs on us. What hurt us most at that time was not so much that our children were dying under those bombs but the unreasonable decision of the successors of the those ancestors from America who fought shoulder to shoulder with our fathers and grandfathers in the First and Second World Wars against the common evil. Then, the ancestors of those whom they are now supporting sat in trenches from the opposite side and fought together with Austro-Hungarian hordes and Hitler…
CNN: In the midst of that terrible refugee crisis and everything that happened to the Krajina Serbs in the past week, at the same time there’s a lot of talk coming out of Washington about Srebrenica and what happened there? Surveillance photos allegedly show mass graves of Muslim men? Thousands of Muslim men are missing by all accounts. Are there mass graves outside Srebrenica? What happened to the thousands of Muslim men and boys who are missing?
RM: I can tell you that in April-May 1993 an agreement on Srebrenica was signed. It clearly defined it as a safe demilitarized area where no armed military could be present except for the UN soldiers. We in Republika Srpska cooperated with the UN soldiers and rendered assistance to the civilian Muslim population which peacefully stayed in Srebrenica, Zepa, Gorazde, Sarajevo and Bihac for three years. But instead of disarming the Muslim formations, as they had committed themselves to doing under the agreement on Srebrenica signed by me and General Morillon, the United Nations forces turned those safe areas into terrorist and fundamentalist bases from where our villages and towns were attacked. Muslims from Srebrenica and Zepa burnt down more than 200 Serbian villages around those two places and massively killed and massacred all the Serb civilian population in many other villages. Through our contacts with the other side and particularly with UNPROFOR commanders and appropriate international institutions…we warned that the Muslim formations should be disarmed and that the entire safe area should be completely demilitarized which was not done.
CNN: What happened to the Muslim men and boys who are missing?
RM: Let me give you a broader explanation. I appreciate your journalistic curiosity but I would like you to listen to the entire genesis behind this matter so that you could have a clear picture because outright questions and short and fragmentary answers can create a wrong picture in the media, especially on television. They can be abused and misused, which has been done many times in this war to our disadvantage. Starting from 1993 we haven’t taken a single action against Srebrenica or Zepa despite watching how the Mulsim side was being armed. Sometimes they even used helicopters to airlift weapons and other combat hardware from Iran. We shot down one such helicopter on the outskirts of Zepa two or three months ago. What happened in Srebrenica and Zepa would never have happened if the Muslims hadn’t launched an attack from Srebrenica and Zepa which was part of their offensive to liberate and lift the siege of Sarajevo. The Muslims attacked the enclave of Sarajevo, also a safe area, though it was not defined as such by any kind of agreements of the two parties. The Muslim attack was carried out exactly from the exclusion zone on Mounts Igman and Bjelasnica from which Republika Srpska had pulled out its forces in 1993 and which had been in confidence handed over to peacekeeping forces with the intention to prevent the presence of both our and Muslim forces. But the Muslim forces used that situation to their advantage. The world media, including your respected channel, followed the Muslim offensive in and against Sarajevo and as far as I know you didn’t take an active stance or condemn that Muslim offensive launched from the exclusion zone to the safe area of Sarajevo.
CNN: With respect to the general, though, why can’t he answer the question about Srebrenica? With respect to the general but the world wants to know why these mass graves exist, if there are surveillance photos, and what happened to the Muslim men and boys?
RM: Yes, of course. With even greater respect to him I would ask him to be a little bit patient and listen to what I am going to tell him because I am going to tell the truth about how exactly all that happened; even science cannot refute these facts because what I am…going to tell you was recorded on camera. So one day you and the whole world are going to be rightly informed.
In the midst of the biggest and heaviest fighting near Sarajevo, the Muslims of Srebrenica and Zepa launched large-scale terrorist attacks from Srebrenica and Zepa on June 26 and 27 on the eve of the Serbian holiday of Vidovdan. They set the village of Visnjica on fire…They massacred everybody they captured alive and killed several of our soldiers in the villages of Visnjica and Banja Luchica. We retaliated with a counteroffensive in that area. We took maximum precautions to avoid casualties among civilians and representatives of the UNPROFOR, given the fact that NATO aviation was pounding air strikes at us, including civilian targets on the outskirts of Srebrenica and Zepa. We successfully finished that operation near Srebrenica and Zepa. With the help of the soldiers of the Dutch battalion…and representatives of the UNPROFOR forces who were present in Zepa…we created an opportunity for all the civilian population to arrive in Srebrenica-Potocar[i] and checkpoint No2 in Vocanica in Zepa, without being forced as it was stipulated by the agreement.
At their request, the civilians could be evacuated to any other place they wanted to. We evacuated them to the Kladnja region. We registered all persons fit for war who had gathered there, the civilian population and those who had surrendered their arms. We immediately asked the International Red Cross and UNPROFOR to mediate their exchange for our (Serb) civilians whom the Muslims had been holding hostage since 1992, even before the war broke out, and a huge number of civilians from the Muslim-controlled territories near Tuzla, Zenica, Mostar and Zagreb whom they had rounded up during the war, and also Serbian soldiers and officers who were driven into captivity during the war.
Unfortunately, they didn’t give a positive answer to our gesture of goodwill, and we expect the world community to exert pressure on them and make them carry out the swap along the principle of “person per person” or “all for all” in accordance with an agreement reached by state commissions. Part of the male population from Srebrenica who had committed atrocities [on] the Serbs fought their way to Tuzla, Kladnja and some even towards Serbia that day, evidently for fear of revenge for the atrocities that they had committed. They were apparently convinced that the Muslim forces from Tuzla who had launched a counter-attack from the opposite direction would save them: they must have thought that they were strong enough to open the way to Tuzla. Fierce battles were waged there and both sides suffered severe losses. Part of the Muslim forces fought their way to Tuzla as was emphasized by their television. Their commandant Rasim Delic said that very soon he would reform the 28th or the 38th division from Srebrenica. Just think, an entire division formed in a safe area.
I understand that as a journalist you should show interest in this matter on behalf of the United States and the American public. But I cannot understand why neither the United States nor American journalists are posing a question how it became possible that an Islamist fundamentalist division armed with weapons from Iran could be formed in a safe area which the world community had been protecting by its forces to guarantee no military presence there. I’ve recently asked one of your colleagues named Peter from CNN what America will do if it discovers at least one terrorist on its soil? He replied that they would try to catch him. To my question what if he puts up resistance… …By the way, what did you do with the person who fired blank cartridges at the White House? Did you take him to court? What happened to that person, Sir?
CNN: We put him in jail and I imagine he will be in jail for a very long time.
RM: No, it’s not true. He was killed in the street in front of TV cameras. You are asking about a division of terrorists from Srebrenica while I am interested in just one terrorist who staged that silly action and fired shots in the vicinity of the White House. Your country is big, and you are a big television station. The whole world listens to you. You raise serious questions, and I am urging you to tell people the truth. What would you do if a division of ten or twelve thousand people armed with weapons from Iran were being formed in Los Angeles or any small town in the United States? Would you come to interview me or would you stay in Los Angeles?
CNN: The world wants to know what happened in Srebrenica. Can he simply tell us? Is he saying that the Muslims who disappeared were fighting the Serbs and were killed in a combat? Are they being held as prisoners or have they been released in an exchange of some kind?
RM: I think that most of them fought their way into a Muslim-controlled territory, which Rasim Delic eventually told the Muslim parliament and said that he would form a division in Srebrenica in no time. One small part of them surrendered. They who surrendered were handed over or will be handed over to the International Red Cross under our control. Some of them certainly died. Both their and our people died. You can ask representatives of international organizations who were present in Zepa about that. We buried their dead in Muslim graves in that territory. We…
CNN: Do you mean there were no executions and there are no mass graves?
RM: Only those who died in battle were buried. For hygienic reasons their bodies had to be collected and buried in appropriate places until the warring parties did agree to exchange the remains of the dead with each other.
CNN: So, possibly, that is what these surveillance planes have seen?
RM: First and foremost, your plane stories and your American stories that you know what’s going [on] in the Universe, in the air, in a human head, in the soil and on Earth are not quite true. I wouldn’t wish to answer any provocative questions in order not to arouse the interest of the world public in some sad issues because at this moment there are many more important questions related to Srebrenica and Zepa or the fate of Muslim terrorists. [NOTE: Indeed, the “satellite” or “surveillance” photos that Madeleine Albright waved around for news cameras are widely suspected to be nothing, which is why their actual contents have never been shown and are “classified” for 50 years, therefore unviewable.]
CNN: What are your plans for Gorazde and Sarajevo?
RM: …The status of Gorazde is clearly defined. There, a circle of three kilometers in diameter was demilitarized. Unfortunately, the Muslims didn’t honor that and deployed another Mujahideen division outside that circle. They couldn’t enjoy the protection of the international peacekeeping force because the peacekeeping force was not supposed to protect armed Islamist fundamentalist divisions because they were supposed to guard peace. Those who pledged to guarantee security at the level of the Security Council and the United Nations should see to it that these forces are disarmed and that peace be established there both for the Muslim and Serbian people…I think that these and many other problems of this region should be solved at the negotiating table through political and diplomatic dialogue and by sober-minded heads who know…what is fair to do on the basis of a common approach in compliance with international law and the United Nations charter instead of solving these problems by means of arms and their stockpiling in this region. Perhaps you think that the stockpiling of weapons here and the training of your guys to fly F-16 and F-18 planes provide security for America…But I am more inclined to believe that weapons are a horrible product of human brain and that war has been a terrible phenomenon through centuries of human history. If you asked me, I would…disagree that weapons should be produced as plastic toys for children. It may seem strange to you but I would join those generals from the past and present who, unfortunately, felt on their own skin just as I did that no one wants peace more than soldiers and generals…I’ve been at war for the fifth year running and to use a sport jargon I am in a very good shape to wage a war. We don’t have any other choice except defending our people. But my message to humanity, if it hasn’t yet learnt a lesson from the wars in Vietman, the Middle East, the Persian Gulf and Chechnya, is that it should learn from this terrible civil, religious and regional war in which some great powers are also involved – and must end this war. They should sit down at the negotiating table and solve all disputable issues by peaceful means.
CNN: Let’s talk about peace. How soon can this war end?
RM: I am not a fortune-teller and I don’t make any forecasts. That’s why I wouldn’t set any concrete dates or deadlines. This question should be raised at the United Nations Security Council and great world power centers. Unfortunately, some of them have provoked and have been orchestrating this war. It goes on with greater or lesser intensity and is getting more complicated. As for me, I think that this war can end very quickly if the world community demands, neutrally and honestly, that all warring parties in this territory, on the basis of science, human conscience and sober mind, recognize that the Serbian people, who have had states in these territories for centuries have the right to have what was taken away from them by unwise decisions and resolutions. Our state which we had had for thousands of years was taken away from us and was given to other peoples who have never had it in history. Let’s say the Slovenes and the Croats, and now some separate forces in the United States would like to create a Muslim country in the Balkans with the help of [fundamentalist wartime Bosnian president] Alija Izetbegovic. I cannot believe either as a human being or as a general that the United States has decided to create a small Iran in Europe. [IT HAS.] Let it wash its shameful face for imposing a blockade on us. Against the background of an officially proclaimed embargo on arms imports into this territory, the Croats and the Muslims have been arming themselves with planes, helicopters, tanks and ships and have more ammunition than interventionist rapid reaction forces. Perhaps some of them have now come to their rescue because twenty days ago they didn’t have anything. Can you imagine that we cannot get the fuel to transport three thousand homeless people from the Republic of Srpska Krajina to safer places in Serbia and Republika Srpska in Bosnia, or we cannot get medicine for the old and disabled or baby mix for babies that are dying en route. What right have they got? If I were a journalist like you…I would have asked them what right did they have to impose a blockade on the Serbian people, and if it’s really right from the legal point of view that the Serbian people, who have had a state for centuries, now do not have a state that is recognized by the world community.
I’ve recently seen a report on CNN about the lives of some tribes on the banks of the Amazon River and from the Kalahari Desert, about those Pygmies who are still living in tribal societies, but the only things they say about the Serbs are some stupidities about mass rapes. They are demonizing the Serbs and that has got nothing to do with reality. Let me tell you that in 1993 your media reported and recorded, you can find those shots in your archives, how during a war between the Muslims and the Croats we made it possible for the Croats to save their population and their forces in our territory. We sheltered their women and children and even soldiers and officers in our territory and transported them from the regions of Zepa and Usor to the territory of Herceg Bosna [Croatian part of Bosnia]. There were about 30,000 of them. In one day alone we transported 904 armed soldiers and officers.
CNN: I think that your desire for peace is sincere. You can see that. How do you feel about being branded as a war criminal?
RM: I am going to answer this question now. I’ve expected that because all of you who come from western countries have clichés in your heads and ask similar questions.
CNN: You are a military man. So I believe you.
RM: I am going to answer your question. Let me continue. You are trying to influence me in a very cultured and intelligent way. I mean you and other of your male and female colleagues who have posed me such questions. But they were framed like pictures on a wall to fit in into some political dimensions or meet editorial wishes.
While we were fighting near Vares, we gave shelter to 25,000 Croatian wives and children and we enabled the Croats to take their armed units from the areas of Kiseljak and Vitez to rescue their people in Vares. We enabled their soldiers and officers after the Muslims had defeated them near Vares to leave that territory and safely walk with weapons in their hands to the region of Stoca where we handed them over to the Croatian side, even though they had committed some crimes against our people. In the region of Butojna and Mount Komar we received more than ten thousand of their soldiers and officers whom we later handed over near Kupres to Livno — so that Croatia could attack that same Kupres several months later – just like Grahovo, Glamoc and the Republic of Srpska Krajina through which we had handed over their people to them. Then, in 1993 during the fighting in the vicinity of Srebrenica and Zepa we must have been the only army in the world to make it possible for the Muslims to evacuate in one day 495 wounded soldiers and officers from Srebrenica and 202 from Zepa by helicopters provided by the UNPROFOR. That number kept rising because the evacuation lasted for several days. In April 1994, about 753 Muslim officers and soldiers were evacuated by UN helicopters even though the NATO aviation was pounding us with bombs near Gorazde and killed our medical personnel in one village: the doctor and medical nurses [in] the village of Gack. You can go there and film it to be convinced that I am telling the truth. Now, let’s get on to your second question.
I have partly followed that accusation of The Hague Tribunal launched against me.
I am a person who belongs to my people with all my heart just like my ancestors. My people or I were not the first to start that war. So neither my people nor its leadership, or me as a general, have declared war on anyone as yet. That war was declared on us and started by those who, unfortunately, in 1914 and 1941 together with the foreign troops of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy and Hitler’s fascist hordes started slaughtering the Serbian people and throwing them into pits. I am defending my people with all my heart and all my skills from extermination because it was attacked by the Croat-Muslim armed formations against the will of a larger part of the Croatian and Muslim populations, I have no doubt about that, and on the instructions from the world power centers that wish to “Germanize” and “Islamize” the Balkans and Europe.
I don’t recognize any trials except the trial of my own people. I don’t need to defend myself because these idiotic accusations have come from those centers which have been churning out lies through PR and similar organizations creating such chaos in these territories that the world community doesn’t know, doesn’t see or simply doesn’t want to see a way out of all this. Since you are a big country I will tell you the following: it doesn’t matter for me how long I am going to live, it’s important for me what I will be able to do for my people during my lifetime and how much I can contribute to saving them from all that terrible suffering from those who have attacked them and from those who support our adversaries and have great might.
I myself said that to General Smith and General Mayer and some other generals who had threatened us with bombardments. One of them was from your country. We are on our land and we are open to peace and cooperation with all the peoples and countries of the world. Neither the Serbian people nor I personally have any racial, religious or any other prejudices. The powers that be cannot take a decision to exterminate us because they are not going to succeed in doing that because our love of our homeland and desire to live are stronger than any weapons existing on this planet. We are going to survive and live because the suffering of the Serbian people in the Republic of Srpska Krajina has given us new and even greater strength than the suffering in Kosovo or the 1915 catastrophe when the Serbian army had to leave their homes and pull out to friendly Greece where it regrouped and reorganized and later liberated its motherland jointly with its allies. If you see any Serbian soldier or officer in the United States or any other country of the world who has come there on my order to stage a rebellion or overthrow the social system, you can be sure that I will voluntarily go to The Hague.
…I believe that you, a prominent journalist, has also come here with a picture which was a bit different from the one you are going to have after our conversation. Eventually, I would like to ask you that if you were General Mladic and so many of your people had been attacked and threatened, that the Mujahideens from Iran, Turkey and some Arab countries had cut the heads off both children and adults as was the case in Vlasic in 1993…would you just sit idly or would you go out to defend your people? Would you wave your hands at NATO planes if they dropped bombs on you? Sir, with the help of powerful media you’ve convinced the whole world that the Serbs are savages because one of your planes [went] down on Serbian territory. President Clinton received that pilot as a hero. What right did he have to be in and over our country in the air space of the Serbian state? What threat did we pose to America? Did we threaten its sovereignty, integrity or did we simply reduce its role as a super power?
CNN: As a general and soldier in the rank, as a commanding officer and a soldier, if you knew a Serb soldier who has hurt or killed a woman or a child, how would you react to it?
RM: Every soldier who violates legal procedures based on international law and the law of the army of Republika Srpska, irrespective of the reason he commits an offence – the etiquette of the military profession or because of the task that has been assigned, will face the justice bodies of the Serbian Republic.
Let me tell you in the context of that sad scenario near Potocar[i] in the outskirts of Srebrenica about an episode that was shot on camera. I may hand it over to the CNN one day. I spoke to those innocent women and children. I introduced myself to them. We had helped them with what we could. I told them how they were going to be evacuated. Then one lady of around thirty said allegedly in her torment, “General Mladic, you are very good-looking on television but one wouldn’t believe how handsome you are in real life.” Though I don’t belong to handsome people — I am not, say, as handsome as you are. You bear these typical American features: broad shoulders and a smile on your face. So I answered that lady, “Madam, don’t present compliments to me. They are already accusing me of rape. How will the world react to your words?” But she replied jokingly, “You don’t have to rape, you just say.” I think that such stupid stories were told about high-ranking officials in Republika Srpska. I cannot understand one thing: how come that television sets haven’t burst in shame because of the lies they are spreading. Sir, we all have higher education. There’s not a single military school that I haven’t finished. I’ve been working with [military] people all my life. For your information they were all absolutely normal people….My family, my school and my life have taught me to tell the truth and to fight for the truth. If it hadn’t been for this war, I would probably never have seen what can be seen and what can happen and be found in human skin.
And now, my dear journalists, let me provoke you, despite the fact that you are from CNN. You cheated the world, all of you who announced the decision of the Security Council to declare a village of Zepa, where there are only ten houses, to be a town. It has never been and will never be a town. The war in Sarajevo started when Muslim terrorists attacked a Serbian wedding; and started boiling when Muslim terrorists attacked a column of the former Yugoslav People’s Army on Dobrovoljacka Street, where Muslim terrorists in the presence of General McKenzie were shooting at unarmed civilians and soldiers sometimes even from UNPROFOR cars. The Muslims did everything and will continue doing everything to involve the world community, especially the NATO pact, to fight on their side and for their goals by staging various subversive and terrorist acts and offensives. One such example was an attack on a queue for bread in which they killed a huge number of Serbs and also some of their own people for the purpose of demonstrating that the tragedy was a result of Serbian artillery and mortar attack. Or let’s take the tragedy of Markalama [Markale marketplace]. Only those who had planned and perpetrated those monstrous acts and also those who covered them in the media by cheating the whole world have stayed clean of any crimes. And now let me defend myself slightly from your noble attacks.
What right have you got, as a person and journalist, I assume that you are a humane person if you are a journalist, to show so much interests in enclaves, be it Zepa or Sarajevo, and not to ask a single question how the Serbian people feel in…enclaves that were imposed on them by the will of world powers, including your country, when we cannot bring in oxygen for old people who need it? And now let me ask you one question: are you happy or unhappy that monstrous sanctions have been imposed on the Serbian people in Republika Srpska and Serbia? I assure you that the current exodus (from Srpska Krajina) and this 600-kilometer-long column of refugees is the result of those monstrous decisions on sanctions against the Serbian people and their demonization. The world power centers are doing everything to stir things up in order to achieve their dirty goals to dominate the Balkans. The Balkans should be left in peace to the Balkan peoples, who should be helped to find a way out of this Golgotha.
CNN: Final question. Does he have any sense, as a soldier and personally, when this war is going to end? Yesterday, Vice-President Koljevic told us he thinks the fighting will stop next month…
RM: Professor Koljevic is a political person and he’s probably more informed than I am. He has political contacts around the globe.
CNN: Is that possible – that the fighting could end next month?
…RM: You need great courage to start a war but much greater courage is needed to put an end to it. I am convinced that the Serbian people want peace and I am sure that the Muslim and Croatian peoples also want it. I am sure that with help from the world community and great powers it’s possible to end this war and force Croatia to withdraw its armed forces from the former Bosnia & Herzegovina. If it hadn’t had them there, there would have been no war in Bosnia & Herzegovina. [Here Mladic is referring to the fact that Croatian regulars were in Bosnia as early as March 1992; that’s whom the Serb militias and Yugoslav Army fought initially, in Kupres and Bosanski Brod.
Mladic may have believed that Muslims would not have chosen war had they not had Croatian military support, but that is naive.] We should sit down at the negotiating table and should solve all disputable issues on an equal footing in a short-term or long-term period because we are not against the Muslims or the Croats having their own state. But we don’t want this state to be created even on a millimeter of Serbian soil.
CNN: Is this possible so long as the Croatians are in Krajina?
RM: They ought to withdraw from the Republic of Srpska Krajina and a peacekeeping force should be deployed there to carry out its functions and re-establish the order that was there prior to the Croatian aggression…
CNN: No peace unless the Croatians withdraw from Krajina?
RM: Let me tell you what. I would let those who had given the green light to the Croatian aggression against the Republic of Srpska Krajina to answer this question. I would tell you that we waged a war against the Turkish Empire for 500 and in some regions for 600 years until we liberated our hearths and the graves of our ancestors. For decades we fought against the Austro-Hungarian monarchy until we liberated our lands and for half a decade we fought against fascist Germany to do the same. Our ancestors fought better for our land than we do. Our land is sacred for us. We didn’t go to Alaska, Greenland, the Malvinas or the Falklands or Vietnam. We have stayed here and will continue to live on our land. It would be better for all the warring parties if peace settles here as soon as possible. It would also be good for their sponsors and patrons: a boomerang always comes back. The winds of war need to subside.
Interpreter: You should have the biography of General Mladic.
RM: Only don’t take it from me. I’ve met many prominent and fine people among the generals who held commanding posts in the former Bosnia & Herzegovina army or in the former Yugoslav army. They were of my age. It’s my first war and some of my colleagues, I am not going to name them now, have more than twelve wars and countries behind their backs but they have never fought on their own land for they have never been attacked. As far as I am concerned, the route to The Hague is open to me. [i.e. He is open to going to The Hague, as he has fought a defensive war.]
It was genocide. Charles Krauthammer called it “the largest ethnic cleansing of the entire Balkan wars.” A March 1999 New York Times article agreed with him.
“Investigators with the war-crimes tribunal in the Hague have concluded that this campaign was carried out with brutality, wanton murder and indiscriminate shelling of civilians,” Krauthammer wrote.
Is this the dreaded “Srebrenica” massacre, the “worst atrocity in Europe since the Second World War” perpetrated by the evil Serbs led by Ratko Mladic, who has now been arrested and will be brought to justice?
No. This genocide was carried out by the Croats — the “good guys” — and so it was encouraged and praised by the West. [And assisted by same.]
The massacre Krauthammer was describing was in the region of Krajina in Croatia. Croatian troops forced an estimated 200,000 Serbs to flee (National Post, March 13, 2004). [The overall number of Serbs cleansed from Croatia is 380,032.]
“A war that begins with civilian areas being shelled at 5 a.m. when women and children are asleep in their beds and ends with a massive exodus of more than 100,000 people is surely tantamount to ethnic cleansing,” said UN spokesman Chris Gunness.
According to Robert Fisk, writing in the Independent, the European Union’s confidential assessment from Krajina stated the following:
“Evidence of atrocities; an average of six corpses p/day, continues to emerge … the corpses; some fresh, some decomposed, are mainly of old men. Many have been shot in the back of the head or had throats slit, others have been mutilated. Isolated pockets of elderly civilians report people recently gone missing or detained …. Endless Croat invitations for Serbs to return, guarantees of citizens’ rights and property rights, etc., have gushed forth from all levels …. However, Serbian homes and lands … continue to be torched and looted.
“Contrary to official statements blaming it on fleeing Serbs and uncontrollable elements, the crimes have been perpetrated by the HV Croatian Army, the CR Croatian police and CR civilians. There have been no observed attempts to stop it and the indications point to a scorched-earth policy.”
Two senior Canadian military officers present in Croatia at the time testified that the Croatians attacked indiscriminately and targeted civilians. One of these officers, Maj. Gen. Andrew Leslie, estimated around 500 civilians were murdered.
“In the hospital itself, there were bodies stacked in the corridors,” he said. “There were bodies in almost every hospital bed. And there were bodies lying in the foyer, the reception area and some of the corridors” (National Post, Dec. 9, 2005).
Yugoslav envoy Vladimir Pavicevic claimed that 15,000 Serbs were dead in Krajina, and that this total included slain refugees and soldiers who had already surrendered (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, Aug. 14, 1995). The International Committee of the Red Cross reported that 10,000 to 15,000 refugees were still missing, over three weeks after the initial attack (Sun Herald, Aug. 27, 1995).
Why is Srebrenica everywhere, yet Krajina barely gets a mention? On April 15, Croatian Gen. Ante Gotovina was found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia for what he did in Krajina. It was hardly mentioned in the press. Ratko Mladic is captured. It’s all over the papers.
Serbia’s earliest defeat came in the PR war…Western reporting of the Balkan wars became spectacularly biased. Consider the following quotes, most of which are from people who were actually in the Balkans during the wars:
• “Those of us who served as UN commanders in Bosnia realized the majority of the media reports were biased, to say the least. Whenever we tried to set the record straight we were — and continue to be — accused of being ‘Serbian agents.’” —Lewis MacKenzie, former United Nations protection force general in the former Yugoslavia and commander of the Sarajevo sector
• “[T]he reporting and commenting of some members of the press corp in Sarajevo became close to becoming identified to the propaganda machine of the Bosnia government.” —United Nations Protection Force (unprofor) commander in Bosnia Gen. Sir Michael Rose
• “The American press has become very partisan and anti-Serbian. They are very selective and manipulative with the information they use.” —anonymous UN official
• “I’ve worked with the press for a long time, and I have never seen so much lack of professionalism and ethics in the press. Especially by the American press, there is an extremely hostile style of reporting.” —anonymous UN official
• “I was shocked when a relative read a story to me over the telephone. My byline was on top of the story, but I couldn’t recognize anything else.” —anonymous American correspondent in Belgrade
• “Despite steady reports of atrocities committed there by Croatian soldiers and paramilitary units against Serbs, which some Belgrade correspondents were later able to confirm, the stories that reached the world talked only of Serb abuses …. In a three-month study of news reports, Howard University Professor of International Relations Nikolaos Stavrou detected ‘a disturbing pattern in news coverage.’ He claimed most of the stories were based on ‘hearsay evidence,’ with few attempts to show the ‘other side’s perspectives.’ Ninety percent of the stories originated in Sarajevo, but only 5 percent in Belgrade. Stavrou’s analysis cited ethnic stereotyping, with Serbs referred to as primitive ‘remnants of the Ottoman Empire’ and Yugoslav army officers described as ‘orthodox communist generals’ … while newspaper photographs neglected to show suffering or dead Serbs or destroyed Serb churches and villages.” —Foreign Policy magazine
• “There is hypocrisy in the current outrage of Western journalists, politicians and voters. And perhaps even a strain of racism.” —Charles Lane, Newsweek
Foreign Policy magazine pointed out that news outlets published many photos they said showed victims of Serbian persecution. But the captions simply weren’t correct. In many cases, the victims themselves were Serbs.
It is little wonder, then, that the events that took place in Srebrenica have been horribly twisted by the media…The UN admitted that Bosnian forces were violating the no-fly zone around Srebrenica and were smuggling weapons into the area (see testimony by DavidHarland, civil affairs officer and political adviser to the unprofor commander in Bosnia and Herzegovina at the [ICTY]).
In charge of the Muslim forces in Srebrenica was Naser Oric. Here is how French Gen. Philippe Morillon, commander of the UN troops in Bosnia from 1992 to 1993, described him: “Naser Oric engaged in attacks during Orthodox holidays and destroyed villages, massacring all the inhabitants. This created a degree of hatred that was quite extraordinary in the region ….”
It was this hatred and circle of revenge that led to the Srebrenica massacre.
Continuing with Morillon’s testimony, the general stated that Oric pulled out of Srebrenica a week before it fell. “I said that Mladic had entered an ambush in Srebrenica, a trap, in fact. He expected to find resistance, but there was none. He didn’t expect the massacre to occur but he completely underestimated the amount of hatred that accrued. I don’t believe that he ordered the massacres, but I don’t know. That is my personal opinion.” [He did not.]
The Serbs finally reacted to Oric’s provocations. When they took Srebrenica far more easily than they thought they would [some of them] took their revenge on the men they found there [though most of the Muslim fighters died in combat trying to break through to Tuzla]. But, unlike Oric, they let the women and children go.
The full context presents a very different picture of Srebrenica. It was not a cold-hearted Nazi-style final solution for Bosnian Muslims. Instead it was a crime of passion — still a crime, but one that was provoked by crimes on the other side.
Morillon still held Mladic responsible for what happened in Srebrenica because he didn’t follow through on international agreements two years earlier. But there is a big difference between a military leader who doesn’t trust the other side enough to make peace, and Adolf Eichmann.
[Note that every time there’s a media flurry over Mladic or Karadzic, the Nazi and bin Laden analogies start. To name just a few, when Mladic was captured last year, one moron compared him to the aging (now dead) WWII Nazi Sandor Kepiro, while another equated him with bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. In a 2009 interview with a Karadzic judge, the German magazine Der Spiegel compared Serb crimes in Kosovo to those of the Nazis.]
“All the horrors of all the ages were brought together, and not only armies but whole populations were thrust into the midst of them,” wrote Winston Churchill after World War i. “The mighty educated states involved conceived — not without reason — that their very existence was at stake. Neither peoples nor rulers drew the line at any deed which they thought could help them to win. Germany, having let hell loose, kept well in the van of terror; but she was followed step by step by the desperate and ultimately avenging nations she had assailed. Every outrage against humanity or international law was repaid by reprisals — often of a greater scale and of longer duration.”
“When all was over, torture and cannibalism were the only two expedients that the civilized, scientific, Christian states had been able to deny themselves: And they were of doubtful utility,” concluded Churchill.
Does his description of World War i sound any different from what happened in Srebrenica? That doesn’t make it right, of course. But the real blame for Srebrenica lies with those who started the war.
Who Started the War?
Western media blame the “evil” Serbs for causing war by trying to grab as much territory as they could while Yugoslavia fell apart. The facts show a different picture.
Former chairman of the peace conference on Yugoslavia, Lord Peter Carrington, stated that the actions of the U.S., Germany and certain other European governments “made it sure there was going to be a conflict” in the region.
The European Community (precursor to the EU) was almost unanimous in agreeing that the best way to avoid a war in Yugoslavia was for it to remain one nation. Member states voted 11 to 1 in 1991 to support a resolution that stated that “the best way of achieving stability in the Balkans was for Yugoslavia to remain united, albeit in a revised, looser federal form.”
The one ended up overruling the 11.
Here’s how T.W. “Bill” Carr, associate publisher of Defense and Foreign Affairs’ Strategic Policy, describes what happened:
“Germany, despite its current problems, remains the strongest economy in Europe. During the Maastricht negotiations, a reunited Germany used that power to further what appeared to be its historical strategic objective to control the territories of Croatia, Slovenia and Dalmatia, with their access to the Adriatic and Mediterranean.
“During protracted negotiations, Germany wore down the other EC members and eventually, at 04.00 hours on the morning of the debate, the 11:1 vote to hold Yugoslavia united turned into a unanimous vote to recognize Croatia as an independent state on the grounds that the right to self-determination overruled all other criteria.
“In order to maintain its own unity, the EC sacrificed the unity of Yugoslavia, and with it, the stability of the Balkans,” Carr writes.
“Germany had won round one,” he continues. “Shortly after, Germany won round two when Bosnia-Herzegovina was also recognized, despite EC negotiator Lord Carrington’s advice that such a step would result in a civil war.”
America, too, allowed itself to be led by Germany into pushing Yugoslavia into civil war.
But Germany wasn’t alone. Carr writes, “The German/Croatian axis and expansionist Islam are the key players in the region, along with the very real interest and role played by the Vatican and the Croatian Catholic Church.”
These forces conspired to cause a war in Yugoslavia so Germany could regain its influence in the Balkans.
Here’s how Karadzic makes his case in a recent interview for Politics First:
“The Germans wanted to take revenge on Yugoslavia for its involvement in World Wars i and ii on the side of the anti-German coalition; to support their allies in Slovenia and Croatia as well as the Bosnian Muslims; and to secure strategic access for themselves through Slovenia and Croatia to the Adriatic Sea, as it had a preference for a group of small countries in the European Union instead of a big one.”
The Germans went on to back Serbia’s enemies. The German tv program Monitor unearthed evidence of German intelligence agents smuggling weapons to the Bosnia Muslims. Operating under the guise of neutral European Union monitors, Germany smuggled weapons and ammunition to Serbia’s enemies. Other monitors confirmed that German EU monitors smuggled arms through Croatia and Bosnia.
In 1997, Monitor reported that the mig-21 airplanes used by the Croatian Air Force “demonstrably came from Germany, were given a complete overhaul in the former Soviet Union and delivered to Croatia via Hungary.”
The program also stated, “Combat helicopters, tanks, artillery — many of the weapons that decided the outcome of the war — had been delivered with the help of the bnd [German intelligence], according to information of the American Defense Intelligence Service (dia). This is also confirmed by the internationally acknowledged military expert Paul Beaver.”
The Aug. 11-25, 1995, issue of Intelligence Digest stated that German pilots trained the Croatian Air Force.
The Monitor program also stated, “Without the German intelligence service, the smuggling could not have been accomplished.” The allegations caused an uproar in the German parliament, but as Britain’s Telegraph reported in 1997, “For many German politicians, however, the nub of the problem may not be the bnd’s operations at all—rather that it appears to have been caught out.”
Crucially, German and U.S. help won the Croats the media war. Little Croatia and Bosnia could not have won over the entire Western media without help. Sanctions placed on Yugoslavia meant it was unable to hire Western PR firms. Serbia’s enemies were able to get their message out unopposed.
Karadzic stated that “The media did more damage to us than nato bombs.”
Just the Beginning
Horrific as the events in the Balkans were, they are just the start of an even bigger, far worse conflict. As Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry writes in his booklet The Rising Beast — Germany’s Conquest of the Balkans, “Yugoslavia is in fact the first victim of World War iii.”
“The first blow of World War iii has already been struck,” he writes. “That is because this same nation — Germany — will continue this aggressive war spirit until the whole world is dragged into a nuclear World War iii! So says history and Bible prophecy.”
War means events like the Krajina ethnic cleansing, and Srebrenica. As Churchill described, war means man unleashes all the destructive forces he has available. This time, man has more destructive power at his fingertips than ever before.
The truth is that Bosnia is already a victim of World War iii.
A soldier stands by Serbian graves near Gracac Feb. 6, 1993. His fellow soldiers were killed in a Croatian ambush 60 kilometers from Knin, in the Serbian enclave of Krajina. (Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images)
A comment by Betty from Canada, left at The Trumpet’s site:
I’ve been working in the Balkans for almost 20 years and can’t believe how rarely the truth gets out. So many terrible things has happened to the Serbians since the wars started that I’ve noticed the psychological damage it has done to everyone in Serbia; men, women and children. They’ve been told by the West that they are the “bad guys” so many times that they’re actually starting to believe that rubbish. In truth they did their best to hold Yugoslavia together, but there was no way NATO was going to let that happen.
Below is an account of some conversations between Mladic and Rajko Dolecek, a prominent Czech university professor and scientist who between 1992 and 1999 published a brochure titled “The Yugoslav brothers: Serbs, Croats and Muslims,” as well as a book that he titled I Accuse!, about the dark and unfair role of the EU, NATO and U.S. in Yugoslavia. The item, whose introduction of Dr. Dolecek I’ve just paraphrased, appears to have been posted on December 16, 2009, and conveys the professor’s impressions of Mladic based on their meetings in 1996-99, as well as on 1990s events. At the time, Dr. Dolecek was president of the Czech Foundation of Friends of Serbs and Montenegrins. I’ve fixed capitalization and grammatical issues.
TALKS WITH GENERAL MLADIĆ
I was upset because the official West had made friends and proteges out of those who had fought to the bitter end on the side of the Nazis and Fascists (1941-45): the Croats from the Ustasha fascist Independent state of Croatia (NDH), a part of the Muslims from Bosnia-Herzegovina, and the Kosovo Albanians. On the other side, the official West and its powerful propaganda machine…made villains out of its staunch allies, the Serbs, who had fought gallantly on their side during two big wars (1914-18 and 1941-45) with a loss of
almost a third of Serbia’s population…According to the French general P.M.Gallois, Germany took revenge on Serbia because it fought in two wars when Germany was defeated. In 1941 the Serbs compelled Hitler to postpone his attack on USSR for 5-6 weeks and it was one of the reasons why the Germans lost the war. The US foreign secretary Warren Christopher accused (1993) Germany of responsibility for the war in the Balkans.
During our first meeting, General Ratko Mladić told us [Dr. Dolecek and his wife Dobra] with a sad smile: “I am the third generation of Serbs who did not know their fathers, because they had been killed in wars when their sons were too young. “General’s father Nedja, a peasant from [the] Bosnian mountains, was killed in 1945 in the fight with the Ustashas, when Ratko was only two years old.
Colonel Mladić was sent in June 1991 to the Serb Krajina in Croatia, to help reorganize the 9th corps of the Yugoslav Army (JNA) weakened by desertions of Albanians, Croats, Muslims from BiH [Bosnia-Herzegovina] and Slovenes, while the Macedonians, Montenegrins and Serbs stayed. He renewed the discipline and stopped the advance of the Croatian paramilitary groups which had started to expel and even to assassinate the Serbs in Krajina, as they had done during 1941-45. But he was not able to stop the inter-ethnic clashes. Later, he was unanimously chosen (already as a general) on May 12, 1992, to be the commander in chief of the newly created Bosnian Serb Army (VRS).
My wife and I spent a very friendly afternoon chatting at the HQ of VRS at Han Pijesak in eastern Bosnia with [Mladic and] his top commanding officers….
“In summer 1992 the western part of Republika Srpska (RS) was cut from its eastern part, from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia [FRY]….” [Mladic began]. “In the Banja Luka hospital, suddenly no oxygen in cylinders was available. The local authorities asked the West to allow the oxygen cylinders from FRY or from the West to be sent to Banja Luka. It was not allowed and 12 newborn babies suffocated…The supplies arrived when my heroic Krajina and Drina corps after severe fighting opened a corridor at Brčko, in northern Bosnia…. A group of four British parliamentarians visited RS (1993) and found an appalling health service situation. Two boys, Siniša (9 yrs) and Dejan (10 yrs), had been severely wounded by a Muslim shell at the Serb-held town of Doboj. The local doctors were not able to help them. They asked the West to transport them to a western well-equipped hospital in Germany, France or Italy, as it was done when Croat or Muslim children were critically injured. This urgent appeal was rejected and both boys died soon…” The report of the four MPs was written in September 1993.
But one of the western crimes against humanity upset General a lot. It was the suspension of FRY from the World Health Organisation on May 3, 1993. It was initiated by Denmark and WHO thus became an instrument of punishment and not of help. As a consequence, thousands of babies, children, elderly people and chronically ill died in FRY, in Republika Srpska, [and] in Republika Srpska Krajina. Infectious diseases spread.
In spring and summer 1995 a powerful Croatian army was concentrated near the borders of RS. In May and August 1995, the Croatian Army (about 140,000 troops), well equipped by Germany, Argentina and others, attacked the Republika Srpska Krajina (about 20-30,000 troops). The planners of that aggression were the U.S. retired mercenary generals C. E. Saint, H. Soyster and C. E. Vuono (from MPRI, Military Professional Resources, Inc.). The Croatian attack was supported by the Bosnian Muslim army and by NATO planes (intelligence, supplies). About 250,000 Serbs were robbed and expelled from their ancient homes, over 1000 of them were assassinated. Serb Krajina in Croatia was devastated, its towns heavily bombarded by artillery and planes. Krajina became ethnically “clear” of Serbs. The Croatian attack happened during Croat-Serb negotiations, under UN protection. There were no resolutions of UN, no sanctions, there was only some sporadic official criticism…
“…The West used Srebrenica to divert the world’s attention from the horrible crimes of Croats against the 250,000 expelled and looted Serbs in Krajina. It was Mrs Albright’s cover-up that created the fantastic fabrication, the alleged Srebrenica massacre. During the 3 years of fighting around Srebrenica we lost about 1200 men, while the Muslims about 2000. Our VRS had strict orders to behave according to the international laws. There were absolutely no ‘mass’ murders or ‘mass’ executions. But I cannot exclude personal revenges of some of our troops from this area when they recognized among the Muslim troops the killers of their families, who had devastated their villages. We used our buses to transport about 30,000 civilians who wanted to leave, and Muslim soldiers who surrendered, to the position of the Muslim army near Kladanj or Tuzla. Was this a genocide? Maybe 10,000 Muslim troops fought trying to break through to Tuzla. Oddly enough, their commanders withdrew well in advance. Was [the fall of the town] planned? Muslims suffered heavy losses in fighting, but thousands of them reached Tuzla. The West and the Sarajevo authorities made out of this losses during fighting a genocide.”
The Dutch troops (the Dutchbat of approximately 450 men) stationed at Srebrenica, including their commander Lt. Colonel T. Karremans and the Dutch Chief of Staff General Hans Cousy negated the official western version about genocide of Muslims in Srebrenica (H. Hetzel, Die Welt, July 12, 1996). While the Dutch defence minister J. Voorhoeve talked more about thousands of Muslim victims, the Dutch troops talked more about hundreds, up to one thousand, of Muslim troops killed in fighting…
One day General Mladić told us with some sadness in his voice:
“I know that both the Muslims from BiH and the Croats hate me, especially their mothers because they see behind my name their dead sons, soldiers and, unluckily, civilians as well. And their destroyed houses, lost property. But they must realize that THEY wanted and started to dismember this country in defiance [of the] constitution, that they started all those destructions and killings. What could I do? Had I to allow them to kill the Serbs, as they did in the Ustasha state of Croatia in 1941-45? We, the Serbs, as well as many Muslims and Croats with a pro-Yugoslav ideology did not want a war, did not start it. We did not want to secede from Yugoslavia. It was terrible that many of our pro-Yugoslav brothers, Croats and Muslims, found themselves unintentionally behind hostile barricades, driven there by their leaders and fanatic fellow believers. Many Muslims knew that they had been originally Serbs, before they converted to Islam. There were many Muslim prominent men, poets, writers who declared that they were the Serbs of Muslim faith.
“Do you imagine what an orgy of brutal murder brought to Bosnia the mujaheddins from Irak, Chechnya, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, etc.? They taught our Muslims how to kill in a more brutal way. They even decapitated their prisoners, the Serbs and even the Croats when they waged a very bloody and cruel Croat-Muslim war (mainly in 1993).”
Generally speaking, General Mladić felt that he was a Yugoslav, he declared it during a population census in 1991. He was very angry with the Slovenes, about their dirty role in the dismemberment of Yugoslavia and their very anti-Serb attitudes.
“The Slovenes have forgotten how they and Croats implored the Serb royal authorities in Belgrade at the end of 1918, to be accepted by the victorious Serbia to become a part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (SHS) and how the SHS saved the Slovenes from a final Germanization and Italianization. As a member of a victorious country, neither the Slovenes nor the Croats were obliged to pay reparations, otherwise they would be obliged to, because they were part of Austria-Hungary during the war…Finally the Serb army expelled the Italians who started to occupy Slovenia, Dalmatia and parts of Croatia. Both in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and in Tito’s Yugoslavia, the Slovenes had the highest living standard in our country,” said Mladić angrily.
But even Warren Zimmermann, the [former] U.S. ambassador in Belgrade, who behaved in an anti-Serb, pro-Slovene way, made a few caustic remarks about the Slovenes in his article “Origins of a Catastrophe” (Foreign Affairs, March/April, 1995): “…Contrary to the general view, it was the Slovenes who started the war…”
One event, among others, made general Mladić sad. His memory about it recurred again and again.
“I am sorry about the fact that nobody in the West mentioned how the Serbs from VRS saved 40-50,000 fleeing Croats pursued (in 1993) by the bloodthirsty mujaheddins. We defended them, fed them, treated them in our hospitals, we shared our food with them as their brothers, although we ourselves suffered a lot of deprivations. Their troops, including officers, solemnly promised to me, even swore, not to use arms against their Serb brothers anymore. But they did not keep their word. It made me really sad. Otherwise, my personal bodyguard was a young Croat, a sergeant of our VRS, whom I trusted completely. He was a good Yugoslav. Well, I must tell you, that we saved occasionally the Muslims as well. Usually it was from their fanatic fellow Muslims…”
There was another aspect of the mujaheddin activities that must be mentioned. They did not want only to defend their brothers in faith from the infidels, “giaours,” but they wanted to keep the local Muslims “on the right side of traditional Islam,” to compel them, even by force, to conform to the ancient Islamic laws and traditions. Mladić told us how some of his “normal” Muslim acquaintances were shocked to hear about all the limitations the mujaheddins wanted to impose on the Muslim women. They would not be allowed to meet alone any men not related to them, they would not be allowed to show their face and hair when out of doors…
To stop the hostilities in BiH, a summit was held in Athens (May 1-2, 1993), chaired by the Greek Prime Minister K. Mitsotakis. President of Serbia Slobodan Milošević, of FRY Dobrica Ćosić and of RS Dr. Radovan Karadžić were present. They supported the Vance-Owen plan…[which] divided BiH into 9 cantons (for each nation three), the tenth would be Sarajevo under a joint administration. The Parliament of RS had to ratify it on May 15th at Pale. And it was there that General Mladić addressed the guests and the RS Parliament…:
“This war was forced upon the Serbs. It is a civil, ethnic and religious war. We were expelled to a place of windstorms and we were branded as “criminals” to the world…And the same world and the same international community did not condemn the inhuman and cruel acts by the Slovene and Croatian secessionists…We, the military, have serious worries that the international community made out of Srebrenica an international stage spectacle…All the humanitarian agencies appeal to supply Srebrenica with water without admitting that we were informing the world a whole year through that the Serbs were without water, without electricity, without the possibility to produce food…Our people breathe through a straw, we are under blockade, we cannot import drugs or oil for our agriculture.
“Gentleman, on the heroic Ozren (mountain range between Tuzla and Doboj) live more than 100,000 Serb refugees…Do you know that our holy place, the abyss GOLUBINKA, is in Croat hands? In 1941 the Ustashas threw into it, dead or half dead, 2000 Serbs from surrounding Serbian villages and Mostar…The Orthodox graveyard, church and the war memorial here were destroyed by the Croatian troops and paramilitaries in 1992, when the JNA had withdrawn…Our RS, if divided according to the [Vance-Owen] plan, would become undefendable…”
After hearing General’s speech, the RS Parliament rejected almost unanimously the Vance-Owen plan. It was rejected overwhelmingly as well in a later referendum. This caused a hostile reaction by President Milošević (the support of FRY to RS almost stopped), by the western politicians and media. Karadžić-Mladić relations deteriorated for some time…
“We have not been aggressors. It was our own country, where we have lived for many centuries together with Croats and Muslims. I am not a war criminal. The Serbian people suffered a lot, unluckily nowadays from its former friends and allies (Britain, France, USA), on whose side we fought in two big wars. Almost nobody did understand the suffering of our people, its just struggle here in Bosnia. Only the U.S. ex-president Jimmy Carter said, during his visit to Pale, when he was sitting between Karadžić and me, that the U.S. public is quite insufficiently acquainted with our Serb problems in BiH. But I am proud that the army under my command prevented the repetition of the Serb genocide in the fascist Ustasha state of Croatia during 1941-1945…”
Some Serb paramilitary groups caused many sleepless nights to both Mladić and Karadžić. Not all of them were helpful and welcome. Some of them included even criminal elements, psychopaths. The others treated the Croat or Muslim civilians too heavy-handedly, but it could be understood to some extent, but not permitted, even if some of them had seen their families assassinated by the Muslims or the Croats. President Karadžić issued many orders to protect Muslims from those irregulars. I have seen many relevant documents about it. On the other side, some Serb paramilitaries helped a lot the unprepared and undefended Serb settlements that had been at the beginning an easy prey to the organized and trained Croat and Muslim bands, e.g., in northern and eastern Bosnia.
During our last meeting Ratko was very mad at the European Union, when we talked about the criminal NATO aggression on FRY in spring 1999, with all the daily bombing raids lasting for 78 days:
“I cannot understand the hypocrisy of those EU countries. Their words about humanism are just a fake because they used their bombers without any UN mandate and under fabricated pretext killed and destroyed in Serbia and collaborated with the UÇK [KLA] criminals in Kosovo and Metohija. How is it possible that the Germans were killing in Serbia again? Why were the American, Belgian, Dutch, etc. goody-goodies killing our children? How is it possible that the EU democratic and liberal parliament did not stop it?”
I was very sorry that I was not able to talk to Ratko later, to tell him, for example, about those Germans who waged a war against the lies and fabrications of their own government and against NATO because of their involvement in the dirty, criminal military action against the FRY. I am sure that Mladic would hear with enthusiasm what the German publicist Juergen Elsasser wrote in his two books about the incredible lies of his government…[Mladic] knew how the German writer [Peter] Handke liked and defended Serbs in his novels. [There was of course also the German TV documentary “It Began with a Lie.”]
Very interesting was General’s attitude to various UNPROFOR commanding generals. Some of them General even befriended, liked them (the Indian Satish Nambiar, the Swedish Lars-Eric Wahlgren, the Belgian Francis Briquemont, to some extent the Canadian Lewis MacKenzie). The French general Philippe Morillon was not close to Mladić, even though he showed repeatedly courageous firmness. As for the elite British Michael Rose, he was not close to General’s heart…The first meeting with the U.S. general Wesley Clark in Banja Luka (Aug.27, 1994) was rather friendly, with some jokes and innocent teasing. Mladić reminded Clark that the Serbs never were at war with Americans, British, French and Russians. He told him that the Serb army of General Mihailović, itself in a critical position, saved over 500 American pilots shot down by Germans during the war 1941-45 and enabled their return home in the grandiose “Operation Halyard,” at the end of 1944. Clark expressed his admiration to Mladić for his courage and patriotism. Mladić remembered that Clark had paid him a compliment: “You are the only commander who does not say to his men FORWARD, but [instead] FOLLOW ME!”
…They even exchanged their military caps…Later, Clark had to explain it to the State Department. When parting, Mladić tapped in a friendly way Clark on his shoulders, as a sign of mutual trust, confidence. People allegedly heard that he called him “Wesley” …Regrettably, Wesley commanded NATO during its criminal aggression against FRY in 1999.
There was one general that Mladić did not like, even detested. It was the French general Bernard Janvier who knew or surely anticipated the planned Croat massacres of the Krajina Serbs and did not prevent them…Mladić did not like the British general Rupert Smith either. He signed the results of a superficial investigation, that the Serbs had caused the Markale II massacre (Aug.28, 1995), although other experts denied it. He was thus responsible for the immediate (in less than two days) massive air raids of NATO planes against RS, with a lot of destructions and killing, without any detailed investigation. Two papers were published about that fraud by Hugh McManners [in Sunday Times (UK)] on Oct. 1, and by David Binder (The Nation, Oct. 2,1995).
[In an earlier section, Dr. Dolecek cites an article titled “Muslims slaughter their own people – Bosnia bread queue massacre was propaganda ploy, UN told” (The Independent, Aug.22, 1992); as well as a report by French TF1 journalist Bernard Volker that “The mortar bomb which killed 68 people in a Sarajevo marketplace and evoked a NATO ultimatum against the Bosnian Serbs was fired from Muslim positions, according to a UN report” (Feb. 5, 1994); and an article titled “Serbs ‘not guilty of massacre’ - Experts warned US that mortar was Bosnian” (The Sunday Times, Oct.1, 1995). “At that time,” wrote Dr. Dolecek, “U.S. Colonel John Sray (military intelligence) published his report “Selling the Bosnian Myth to America: Buyer Beware!” (Foreign Military Studies Office, Oct.1995)….Mladic knew from Serb intelligence that the explosions were organized by the Muslim authorities, the latest (”Markale II”) with the knowledge and approval by the official West because NATO needed a pretext to start the air raids on RS and to become practically an official ally of Croats and Muslims.”]
[Mladic] was slandered by a dirty propaganda campaign both from the West and from its client states in the former Yugoslavia…Even some members of his own nation were slandering him, most of them in their endeavour to show how they obey and how they are loyal to their foreign lords in the West.
Nobody was absolutely innocent in the tragedy of Yugoslavia, but the Serbian people are not responsible for the dismemberment of Yugoslavia, which they did not want, and the Serbs did not begin all those killings and destructions. NATO behaved in Yugoslavia like a criminal organization, killing and destroying without any UN mandate, and increasing the inter-ethnic and inter-religious hatred.
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