by Stephen Karganovic
President, Srebrenica Historical Project
Serbia’s pathetic defense minister, Zoran Djordjevic, was seen dutifully in attendance in Warsaw last Thursday where he rubbed shoulders with NATO notables and associated freaks (e.g. the guest of honor, Ukrainian killer-lady, Nadiya Savchenko). Apparently delighted that its minister was treated to such generous photo-ops in Warsaw, Serbia’s defense ministry triumphantly averred that NATO’s invitation to Djordjevic to attend the gathering was proof that “the Serbian government enjoys the status of a stable and responsible NATO partner.”
How enjoyable that status will ultimately turn out to be remains to be seen. Serbia’s slow but steady drift toward NATO means that the message that President Putin pointedly addressed to the Atlantic alliance’s Eastern European satellites – that making their territory available for the deployment of weaponry that threatens Russia’s security will make them a legitimate retaliatory target in case of nuclear hostilities – may end up being applicable to Serbia as well. Unless, that is, its dilettantish government comes to its senses, or Serbia’s vehemently anti-NATO and pro-Russian public reads to their rulers the long overdue “riot act”.
A few months ago, with little fanfare and mostly out of the public’s field of vision, the Serbian government deepened its NATO involvement (it is already enrolled in the “Partnership for Peace” program) by signing an additional Status of Forces agreement with the Alliance although, technically, it is not a member. The eventual disclosure of this perfidy caused a brief uproar before the public retired again to its customary torpor. However, the reaction, brief as it was, left no doubt that the Serbian people utterly abhor NATO and everything that is associated with it.
But public sentiment is only a part of it. Neutrality is not a matter of preference but a policy officially enshrined in Serbian law, which explicitly forbids joining any military block. However, legal obstacles have not been known to discourage Serbia’s political elite once it receives marching orders from its Western masters. They recently signed an ominous Status of Forces agreement, granting NATO troops unlimited access to the country’s facilities and NATO soldiers diplomatic immunity and impunity before Serbian courts for any act of personal wrongdoing. In conformity with previously signed agreements, NATO personnel already sit ensconced in the Serbian Defense Ministry. They are presumably engaged in “cooperation” and imparting “advice” to the military of the country they ruthlessly and illegally bombed 17 years ago.
The audacity of the NATO-Serbia Status of Forces agreement is best appreciated in contrast to the terms of Yugoslavia’s brief March 1941 accession to the Axis Pact (NATO being its obvious successor today). That episode was cut short two days after the signing by an army coup which infuriated Hitler and precipitated his decision to invade and crush Yugoslavia 10 days later. The Axis, however, had required Yugoslavia only to remain neutral for the duration of the war, guaranteeing its territorial integrity, and pledging never to demand the use of Yugoslavia’s territory for military purposes. Whether in the long run these promises would have been kept is a matter of speculation, but they were made and signed. In contrast, NATO has already conducted a brutal military campaign against Yugoslavia (Serbia being its major component), it dismembered the country after the 1999 aggression by occupying and then granting “independence” to its vassal territory of Kosovo, and now it has obtained the approval of the servile government of what remains of the country for its military personnel to move about without hindrance and with diplomatic immunity. By demanding from Serbia to join in anti-Russian sanctions, the NATO/EU tandem has also made it clear that it will in fact tolerate nothing resembling Serbian neutrality. The 1941 deal with Hitler seems vastly more advantageous by any comparison.
The stark fact is that NATO is the only security threat that Serbia faces on its horizon.
As might be expected, NATO membership is opposed by a stratospherically elevated percentage of the Serbian population. However, numerous well-financed pro-NATO “NGOs” and lobbying groups are working overtime in Serbia to paint a positive picture of the Alliance and the supposed benefits that await Serbia upon joining it.
Their activities should not be underestimated. The way the equally unpopular NATO membership issue was managed in neighboring Montenegro might give a clue to how the matter is likely to be handled in Serbia as well. In Montenegro it was categorically stated by the ruling regime that there was no need for a referendum on NATO membership and that the rubber stamp legislature was entirely qualified to settle the issue as it sees fit, without popular interference. The stealth, no advance notice, no public debate procedure by which the Status of Forces agreement was recently adopted by the Serbian parliament is probably the model which will be followed to give a fig leaf of legality to Serbia’s eventual membership in NATO, notwithstanding the fact that, as indicated by most polls, it is an idea abhorred by as much as 90% of the population.
The rather infantile arguments advanced by the pro-NATO lobby to push for closer political coordination with the Alliance and eventually membership amount essentially to two main points. First, it is argued rather circularly that since almost all of the countries surrounding Serbia are already NATO members it would be geopolitically awkward for Serbia not to be. The same argument, assuming it had any validity at all, could have been advanced to motivate Switzerland, literally surrounded from all sides by Nazi-controlled territory during World War II, to be “practical” and to join the Axis camp.
The second bogus argument has to do with the nebulously conceived “Euro-Atlantic integrations,” of which NATO is said to constitute a key component. This narrative is presented in terms that recall the illusionist “civilizational choice” rhetoric used not too long ago to further besot the gullible Ukrainian masses, except that in Serbia the only people deluded by it (or corrupted and blackmailed, as the case may be) enough to take it seriously are members of the completely self-contained and alienated political ruling class and its media and NGO enablers.
It is clear to everyone in Serbia who is capable of thinking straight that NATO’s underlying objective in absorbing the country into its military and political framework is exactly the same as was Hitler’s seventy-five years ago. It is to do with the planned war against Russia and the necessity of taking full control of the strategic rear before the assault is launched. Color revolution rumblings in Serbia are part of the same process of imposing “full spectrum dominance” and replacing 99% subservient puppets by a new set that would be obedient 100%.
The realization that NATO is surreptitiously seizing one position after another and stealthily entrenching itself in Serbia provoked a brief outburst of popular indignation in Belgrade several months ago, when 20,000 citizens turned out onto the streets to protest. That may not seem much by robust Greek or French standards, but in comatose Serbia it qualifies as an impressive demonstration. However, for sustained political activism much more is needed than the haphazard activism of a few uncoordinated volunteers with no resources to organize the masses or serious backing from any significant geopolitical player.
The demoralized and passive Serbian people undoubtedly bear the principal burden of responsibility for allowing the ruling coterie of corrupt renegades to jerk them and their country around, drawing them into the disaster that NATO membership and alignment with Russia’s enemies will inevitably turn out to be. But official Russia also has a huge share of responsibility in the matter. It does little to mobilize and encourage its friends in Serbia, devoting itself, instead, to the hopeless task of reforming the governing elite and persuading it to mend its ways. Unless Russia is prepared to lose Serbia by default, which would be a tragedy for both countries which for centuries have been bound by common values, it must act quickly to address its message directly to the Serbian people and to make them, instead of their alienated rulers, the focus of its policy.
Russia has nothing to expect from the scum which constitutes Serbia’s governing class. They will not change their ways before – in the memorable words of Nikita Khrushchev – shrimp learn to whistle, if then.