Note by the Saker: a few months ago I was contacted by Ljubiša who let me know that a number of very interesting documents have been made available to the public. They are now all available on the bottom right of the homepage under the heading of “The Truth About The War On The Serbian People” and include links to all the documents we discussed with Ljubiša. Considering the importance of the topic, I asked Ljubiša whether he would agree to reply to a few questions, which he did below. To my great joy, Ljubiša gave very complete and detailed answers to my question, and I want to express my immense gratitude for him taking the time in such details. I would argue that this Q&A it, by itself, a very interesting document of its own right. I would also like to add here that in 2015 we published a (25k words long!) special report entitled “Special Report: The Truth about Srebrenica 20 years later” which I also hope can be useful to the reader. Finally, a note to our many enemies and to the enemies of the Serbian nation: the Saker blog will never “forget” the absolutely disgusting and genocidal war the united West, US+NATO+EU, waged against the Serbian nation, not only because we will never forget, or forgive, the innocent spilled blood, but also because that war against the Serbian nation was the prototype, the grand rehearsal or the model, for all the subsequent imperialistic wars the AngloZionist Empire has waged on many other countries since. I especially hope that with time the Muslim readers of the Saker blog will fully become aware of how they were used by their worst enemy, the AngloZionist, as a cannon-fodder for the Empire and how then the exact same techniques and lies (for example, Gaddafi handing out Viagra to his soldiers to rape Libyan women!) as were used against the Serbs. As somebody who, at the time, had access to classified information, I know that Markale, Racak, Srebrenica and many other atrocities were carefully orchestrated false flag operations. Worse, at the time, everybody with minimal access (say to the EU report about Racak) also knew that these were all lies, but they chose to remain silent. I remember writing to a US American friend the day the US+NATO attacked the Serbs for the first time “don’t you understand that this is a Kristallnacht for international law?!?!?!”. I got no reply. Decades later, we now all can see that I was right.
The truth must be told about many recent wars, from Chechina or Iraq, to the war against Syria. But it all began with the Empire’s attack against the Serbian nation, and the full truth will never be restored unless the truth about this first major NATO war is restored and the lies told about the Serbian people debunked and rejected. Only then can at least some measure of justice be restored.
- 1. Please introduce yourself, your background, what you studied and have done in your life so far.
My name is Ljubiša Malenica. I was born in Sarajevo, in 1988. My father was a construction worker while my mother was employed as a cleaning lady in one prewar Sarajevo cinema.
As the situation deteriorated at the start of the nineties, my family, by that point living near Sarajevo urban center, was targeted by Muslim paramilitaries, the fate of many other Serbian families in the city as well. The breaking point, for my mother at least, was a visit from unknown men, clad in military fatigues, one evening, who openly threatened my parents, in front of our apartment. In their words, we were to leave our apartment as soon as possible, or they would return and kill us by slitting our throats, one by one. They promised to kill me first, then my mother, and in the end, my father. At that point, my mother was horrified and insisted we should flee to an area with a Serbian majority which my father, stubborn by nature, refused to do.
After all, they lived together in that apartment for a long time. Being a construction worker, I would be justified in saying he, in a literal sense, gave his contribution to building up Sarajevo as it was just before the war. In retrospect, I would say he believed he was a man living in his honestly gained abode, a man who might have toiled his entire life but who had no reason to be ashamed and who, in the end, still believed he lived in his own city. For him, Sarajevo was the city of his youth and of his life. What was going through his mind regarding death threats remains a mystery, for soon enough my mother, who could not endure the uncertainty and fear took me and fled.
With help from a family member the two of us were able to reach Serbian lines and safety, though once, while fleeing, we were shot at by a sniper who missed and hit a tree under which we were resting. My father was arrested and spent the following year in Viktor Bubanj, a holding camp for Serbian civilian prisoners and POWs. That same building today serves as premises for the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
My childhood during wartime remains a bitter sweet memory for it was not devoid of happiness even though my family fell into poverty, like many others, during the conflict and there were literal days when we had nothing to eat. Few and far in between, they still did happen and general state of wartime made it all the more difficult, especially for my parents I would say, who were far more aware than I of the danger.
I finished elementary and high school in Srpsko Sarajevo, part of old Sarajevo that was under Serbian control during the war and which is known today as East Sarajevo. I would be remiss if I did not mention my elementary teacher who had that role from first to fifth grade, late Vukota Skoko, a man who I remember by his strict but fair style of teaching, truly an old school kind of teacher, demanding discipline and knowledge but never missing an opportunity to impress upon us lessons whose value we came to understand only later on, and to set us, as far as he was capable of, upon a straight and proper path.
Afterwards, I went to Faculty of Political Sciences at the University of Sarajevo, where I earned my bachelor’s in Political Sciences and master’s in International Relations. My five years of college went by mostly uneventful. Majority of my professors were professionals who tried to approach the subject of war within the parameters of their own subject and at least tried to offer some objective stance, though there were several members of staff who openly displayed their contempt for Serbs in general and who found in them culprits for every vile occurrence during the conflict.
I had very few personal issues with my colleagues, the majority of whom were Muslim and I would dare say I had a good standing with the majority of my professors, however, there were certain topics pointless to discuss, such as nature of war in Bosnia and main culprits for its start. There was an ever-present understanding these issues were closed as far as faculty and wider society, at least in Muslim Sarajevo, were concerned and conclusions were mirroring those heard many times before, Serbs were at fault for starting the war, Srebrenica was a genocide, Serbia committed aggression and there was no blame, except few petty crimes here and there, to be found with either Muslims or Croats.
As you can see, there was a divide between me and the majority of my colleagues when it came to the most important questions, and though we could openly discuss about many other subjects, positions we held on these few issues were in clear opposition to each other and remained as such. My master thesis dealt with the application of geopolitical principles to the Byzantine Empire, especially the overwhelming importance of Asia Minor for the survival of the Byzantium. After all was said and done I finished my master’s studies as a salutatorian of my generation.
I currently work as a back office manager for an IT project in Sarajevo. For four years I volunteered with Wikimedia Community of Republic Srpska, have published several dozens of articles regarding society and politics for media portals in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, United States and Russia. Besides these texts, I have published several science fiction short stories. My free time is dedicated to some of my hobbies, usually writing, work in 3D modeling programs or reading.
- 2. Please give a general (even vague) description of what you would call your politics (if any!).
For the sake of clarity, I would say I am a conservative and a nationalist, despite the negative connotations being applied to these terms, especially the last one. I have always understood nationalism as synonymous with patriotism and do not subscribe to the contemporary left definition of nationalism which links it with Nazism as if that relation is somehow natural and implied.
Whatever might have been the rhetoric of the Third Reich, its actions provide clearer insight into its ideology and I would say there is no doubt Nazi Germany was not a nationalist project but an imperial one. Even the name itself reminds us of the previous iterations of the German imperial aspirations, such as Holy Roman Empire or German empire after its reunification by Bismarck. It is also worth noting that the full name of Nazi party was National-Socialist. Interesting how those whose mouths, in our day and age, are full of scorn for Nazism at the same time seem to skip, consciously or otherwise, over the second part of the name.
With all of its flaws, and they do exist, the national state is still the best way to protect both collective and the individual from the predations of imperialist tendencies, present in each and every period of human history. Today it might dress itself in garbs of liberalism, but the underlying tendency, to dictate affairs of the entire world from one center, to demand from entire humanity to think and behave according to one standard, to claim one’s own historical experience, national, cultural and traditional specificity are both vile and primitive, those are all characteristics of imperial worldview, very much alive and well.
Nation, as I see it and believe as it should be seen, is not something you can build. This is why I take issue with Western “nation-building” approach. You cannot construct a nation, the nation has to grow, through ages and within certain historic, cultural and geographical context. If there is some nation-building to be done, it can be done only in circumstances where you have all the necessary preconditions for emergence of a real nation, so outside actors take upon themselves the role of a catalyst, speeding up an already existing but slow process.
Just like the term nationalism itself, the definition of nation has been “updated” to fit more into the contemporary Western intellectual and political thinking, so I would say we have today two different understandings of a nation, a Western one, where nation is defined by the state and where one becomes a member of a nation by acquiring citizenship, and a European one, or to be more precise, Eastern European one where nation is a clearly defined collective of individuals with the same language, tradition, historical references, religion (in most cases) and culture.
There is expectance of general belonging to a certain race and group of people, though to claim all members of a nation are somehow linked by blood is unrealistic and I don’t think this subject should be understood as such but in a sense of a closely knit group of people, where certain genetic and biological bond exists, intertwined with same historical, cultural and language experience. It is a homogeneous collective.
All of these features are, by their very nature, inexorably connected to a specific geographical location, large or small, and through time, these geographical spaces become emotionally charged exactly because members of a nation recognize them as more than just relief features on a map, they gain a reality of their own brought into being by the weight of historical events pressing upon the geographical space. Those who understand this can understand why Serbs insist, seemingly against all reason sometimes, that Kosovo is Serbia.
For nation understood in this manner citizenship is not the way to become a member, gradual assimilation is. Outsiders can become part of such a nation but it would then require, on his or her part, willing acceptance of cultural norms specific for said nation, language acquisition and acceptance of important historical moments as one own. In comparison to citizenship route, this is far more complex and longer process which inevitably ends in assimilation, maybe not of the outsider, but of the offspring certainly. In this manner, stability of the whole was preserved, for the collective, that being nation, did not change in its fundamental characteristic, though new elements were introduced.
It would seem it is possible to preserve stability and homogeneity of nations while at the same time each nation is “trading” its individual members, in limited number, with surrounding nations and even those geographically more distant. However, this system falls apart if arriving foreigners are particularly numerous and/or if there is no incentive for gradual assimilation into the host nation.
From what I have written so far, it is easy to deduce I am adherent to the second definition of the nation and see it as a proper understanding of what nation is, especially in the European context. When regarding Serbian, French, German nation, I do not have the same understanding of them as, for example, British nation, if there is such a thing. However, I do understand the need for a different approach in the United States, and I believe the difference comes from a need for an established political order, a stable state.
While in Europe stable state required homogeneity of population and same cultural, religious and historical traditions, in the New World stable political framework was understood as set of rules which could be accepted by all, no matter their particular differences, and able to persist for an extended time period. In a sense, within the United States, state itself tried and seems to still be trying to build a nation, which would, ironically, be of the same nature as those of Europe, while on the Old Continent, nations were those creative forces which built states as frameworks for their own survival and development.
In my opinion a time dimension is far more present in the nation as I have described it than in nations we could call civic ones, for in a nation based on history and homogeneity there is a clear link between previous generations, the current ones and those yet to be born, which does not have to be the case of countries where belonging to a nation is observed from the point of citizenship. From everything said previously arise my arguments against introduction and advocacy for multiculturalism, which I cannot see but as a political paradox. Furthermore, it is by this point clear, thanks to the example of Western nations, that multiculturalism does not work nor can it work if we presume multicultural society is the one where all cultures, both native and imported are deemed equal and completely compatible.
If we are talking about two cultures from the same geographical area, which has developed in constant communication with each other, that share certain traits and could be understood, in objective terms, as more compatible than conflicting, then there can be a ground for debate about possible “multicultural society”. Even in this case, there are elements within each culture that are specific to one culture and not found in the other one.
To argue three or more cultures, from different parts of the world, can coexist without any issues whatsoever, within same political and legal framework is borderline fantasy and unwelcomed one as experience has shown positive effects of culture importations are, in general, short-termed, trivial and near the surface, so to speak. On the other hand, negative effects of foreign cultures forced into unnatural proximity of each other tend to be longer lasting, politically destabilizing and polarizing.
There is always a possibility of multiculturalism, both the term and its social manifestations, being used to sell an imperial ideology of the lowest common denominator to disparate national groups. Multiculturalism of McDonalds and Coca Cola, if you wish. In this case, there is very little of real cultural value, both in previously individual cultures, which are actively suppressed and watered down, and the “universal culture” which usually claims its origins in multitude of authentic cultures but actually holds nothing of their substance.
My conservative worldview comes to the fore in issues such as abortion, where I am, in American political parlance, prolife, or question of marriage, which I see as strictly a union of a man and a woman. For me, prolife choice seems to be the only choice when we talk about abortion given I see it as nothing less than a death sentence, delivered upon the most vulnerable and most incapable of defending themselves, both in word and deed. For certain situations, such as rape, incest, severe fetal deformation, danger to mother’s life and similar, there is a space to debate about abortion as an option, or possibility of other solutions if they exist, but if we speak about normal pregnancy then abortion should be off the table.
We must remove from our worldview the notion that abortion is some sort of female right, or any sort of right for that matter. The object of abortion is not “a clump of cells”, nor a “parasite”, nor is it “potential human” as some feminists like to phrase it. If we consider this last line of reasoning, then within the womb of a pregnant woman there could potentially be anything else instead of a fetus, given we are dealing with a potential here. In a sense, comically enough, we are talking about something like a Schrodinger’s Pregnancy. Do pregnant women carry human fetuses during pregnancies? Well, we do not know, possibilities are endless and we cannot possibly know until the moment of birth. It’s comical and simultaneously tragic to consider an unborn human being as anything less than human, but that is exactly what has been happening for a long time now. Even in the womb of its mother, a child is not devoid of its basic humanity, it cannot be, for implications of such perspective point to a conclusion that human life can be terminated as soon as it becomes an inconvenience. In essence, human beings become things.
Argument “my body, my choice” is deeply flawed and falsely represented given that fetus, I would argue, is not a part of female body. Yes, unborn child spends nine months within its mother’s womb and is dependent on her for sustenance and protection, however, if we categorize these processes in terms of “services” (sustenance, protection) and “placement” (fetus is found within mother’s womb) then we came to a conclusion you are as much part of your car as unborn child is part of its mother.
The average adult spends far more time in his car than nine months. Car provides certain services for its owner. It transports from point A to point B in shorter time frame than if the individual used his own capabilities, it provides comfort, ability to transport with oneself larger number of other objects, and people, it is resistant, in most cases, to outside weather conditions and in general it eases the life of its owner. In terms of placement and services, and logic of “my body my choice” argument, average adult is more part of his vehicle than fetus is of its mother.
For the sake of this conversation, let’s presume that average human life span is around seventy years. Consider now how arrogant is to presume you have a right to terminate someone’s life just because you are carrying that person for nine months out of those potential seventy years.
Throughout history, in every part of the globe, mothers, in their thousands, abandoned newly born children for one reason or the other, a story, if you wish, as old as time. I am not pointing this out as some cheap attack on motherhood, far from it, but to emphasize a simple point that you cannot separate with something that is presumed to be a part of “your body” in such an easy and straight to the point manner as to leave your newborn in a dark street, steps of a monastery or an orphanage.
Removing one’s limb in case of dire need is arduous, painful and possibly fatal experience, removing one’s internal organs in most cases guarantees certain death, and yet, leaving one’s offspring to indifference of the world brings neither certain death nor the possibility of fatal outcome. There is, for sure, psychological pain and trauma, and it should be noted when I speak about these issues I limit myself to the sphere of biology for that is where shaky foundations of “my body my choice” argument can be found. The issue of abortion should and I believe is only be properly placed once within framework of women’s responsibilities, not rights.
The whole point of the feminist movement is, to paraphrase their own words, providing women with enough individual freedom so they can become equal members of society. However, membership in society is predicated upon acceptance of certain responsibilities, and in the old debate between responsibilities and rights, I tend to prefer primacy of responsibility.
- 3. How did the International Commission on Sarajevo and the International Commission on Srebrenica arise? Who created them and what was the purpose? There have been quite a few books and reports written on this topic, what makes these reports different and unique?
I believe their creation was actually just a matter of time and political will, especially in the light of never-ending propaganda coming from Muslims in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and their supporters from the West, regarding events both in Srebrenica and Sarajevo.
For Serbs in the Republic of Srpska it became a necessity to subject events in these places under objective scrutiny of domestic and foreign experts so as to put all speculations to rest and provide firm and grounded, data based, reports on happenings in Srebrenica and Sarajevo for use of domestic and foreign audiences, general and intellectual.
Both commissions were created by the government of the Republic of Srpska for a clear purpose of establishing as close as possible to reality account of events which transpired during civil war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Furthermore, during preliminary talks, government of Republic Srpska offered all members of the commissions’ contract which clearly stated that it would publish reports of both commissions no matter what final research results were. They were completely independent in their research. In that way, it was ensured that the reports were objective and with scientific and professional integrity. One of the direct outcomes is that the government of Republic Srpska recognizes all crimes committed by Serbs against Muslims and requests the same treatment for Muslims who committed crimes against the Serbian population. The reports are owned by the commissions and not by the government of Republic Srpska. Each final report was prepared by the chairman, in cooperation with other members of the commission and it was signed by all members.
Commission for Srebrenica numbered ten members, two from the United States and one from Germany, Japan, Serbia, Nigeria, Australia, Israel, Austria, and Italy. Individuals in question are prominent experts in their fields and their biographies can be found on the official pages created for purpose of presenting work and conclusions of the commissions, pages which Saker has been kind enough to host on his site, for which I am deeply thankful. Commission for Sarajevo, just like the one for Srebrenica, was assembled from international experts from Russia, Serbia, Italy, France, Israel and the United States.
There are several reasons, from my point of view, why reports on Sarajevo and Srebrenica discussed here stand, in part, on their own from the rest of the material and bibliography on these subjects. Issues of Srebrenica and Sarajevo, as previously mentioned, have been extensively researched and written about, however, a significant part of existing work regarding these issues, possibly major part, is written by those who, for one reason or another, support the existing narrative of so-called genocide in Srebrenica and of Serbian guilt for civil war in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Given the official status of these new reports, in sense of the government of Republic of Srpska involvement in creation of commissions, their work and final form could be understood as official position of Republic of Srpska and its institutions when it comes to events in Sarajevo and Srebrenica. Commissions took upon themselves investigation of everything leading up to the blockade of Sarajevo and crimes committed in Srebrenica, thus dealing not only with outcomes but with causes leading to these events.
In case of Sarajevo, attention of the commission was given to events during war, but also to historical context of Bosnia and Herzegovina, to role Islam and radical Islam played, role of media and restorative social justice with special attention given to subject of, mostly neglected in other sources, suffering of Serbs from Sarajevo and its surroundings with helpful insight into psychological and physical aspects of this suffering.
The work of this commission is pivotal because it also, clearly, indicates Sarajevo became, by the end of the war, a city ethnically cleansed of Serbs. Out of, roughly speaking, 150.000 Serbs who lived and worked in the Bosnian capital before the war, only about 10.000 remained after the conflict concluded. Sarajevo today is a city feverishly trying to remove any signs that Serbs ever lived within it. Footprints of Gavrilo Princip were removed from their location in the city, given how overnight he became a Serbian terrorist and not a member of the organization calling itself Young Bosnia.
Current initiatives focus on the removal of Serbian Orthodox graveyards and the appropriation of private land in possession of Serbs who were driven out or fled, by authorities of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
One should note all of this happened under the gaze of international officials, agencies and cameras of foreign media. Srebrenica, due to its low population numbers and remote position could be considered a rural community and something of a backwater, so lack of knowledge on things happening there could be somewhat understood, but Sarajevo is a completely different story, country’s capital with the largest concentration of foreign agents, aid workers, soldiers, journalists and none of them, supposedly, noticed ethnic cleansing of Serbs.
Commission for Srebrenica worked in a similar fashion, dedicating its effort to quantitative analysis of earlier court decisions and legal findings on Srebrenica, exploring chronology of events and history of Srebrenica region itself while at the same time undertaking a reconstruction of Srebrenica events through the use of criminology research, forensic archeology, anthropology and pathology data. Several chapters in the report on Srebrenica were dedicated to the role media and ICTY played with special emphasis on the issue of ICTY and its supposed function as an instrument of justice. The full chapter was dedicated to false claims of genocide that have been, for three decades now, used to stigmatize the entire Serbian people.
As we can notice, the work of both commissions went beyond particular events and attempted to present a complete picture of historical circumstances preceding and influencing developments in Sarajevo and Srebrenica during the civil war.
All those wishing to dispute final reports of these commissions need to undertake an extensive work of disproving and undermining the entire structure commissions on Sarajevo and Srebrenica built their work on. While reporting on Sarajevo, western media and elites often spoke of Sarajevo as if it was a completely Muslim city, being besieged by these half-savage, evil Serbs who fired indiscriminately at the city to cause terror and kill civilians standing in lines to have their ration of water.
Their entire story was about that “noble” resistance of oppressed minority before the aggression of Serbian thugs who, for all intense and purposes, seem to have spawned in and around Sarajevo as if we are dealing with a video game where the computer generates enemies out of thin air for the sake of advancing the story. Those who are familiar with Sarajevo before the war clearly understand this narrative is nothing but a severe deformation of facts on the ground. If you wish to understand Sarajevo during the war, the best place to start is to accept Sarajevo was a city divided, not a city besieged.
The other characteristic these two commissions have is their genuine international composition, an important obstacle for those who would detract from their work by using the underhanded technic of labeling these commissions as purely “Serbian” affairs and thus automatically making them “guilty” of pro-Serbian bias.
Like I mentioned previously, the majority of experts who took part in the work of the commissions are foreigners from North America, Asia, Africa and Europe. To question reports of these commissions is to question the individual value and professional expertise of people who are not stigmatized by being Serbs.
For example, Raphael Israeli is currently teaching Islamic, Chinese, and Middle Eastern History at Hebrew University. Holds Ph.D. in Chinese and Islamic History from the University of California, Berkeley in 1974. Since 1974 Lecturer and then Professor of Islamic and Chinese History at Hebrew University, with sabbatical periods spent at York University in Toronto, the University of Pittsburg’s Semester at Sea program, Harvard University, Boston University, Australian National University in Canberra, Melbourne University, and Naruto University in Japan. Fellow of the Jerusalem Center since the 1970s. Author of over 50 research books and a dozen edited books, and some 100 scholarly articles in the fields of Islamic radicalism, Islamic terrorism, the Modern Middle East, Islam in China and Asia and Europe.
Laurence French, his colleague from the commission holds a Ph.D. in cultural psychology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and an M.A. in school psychology from Western New Mexico University. Pursued postdoctoral studies in “minorities and criminal justice education” at the State University of New York-Albany and completed the post-doctoral prescribing psychology program including the national exam. Served honorably in the U.S. Marine Corps and is a life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars; the Third Marine Division Association; and Disabled American Veterans (DAV). He is a licensed clinical psychologist (Arizona); a Fulbright Scholar (University of Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina – 2009-2010); and was a Visiting Endowed Chair of Criminology and Criminal Justice at St. Thomas University, Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada. In 2018, he won a Marquis Who’s Who Lifetime Achievement Award. He has over 300 publications including 20 books. His major areas of research interest are international and comparative social, human and criminal justice; Native American and minority issues; police and criminal psychology, neuro-clinical, and forensic psychology.
Gideon Greif specializes in the history of the holocaust Period and World War II, Modern Jewish history, history of the Concentration and Extermination Camps, particularly Auschwitz, Majdanek and Jasenovac. Professor Greif worked as a professor, lecturer, and researcher at universities in Tel Aviv, Vienna, Austin, Miami, and other places. For years he has been the Director of the Germany and Poland Desk within the European Department of the Yad Vashem in Israel, has edited various publications, worked as a historian, pedagogue, lecturer, and senior researcher at this world-renowned institution.
Professor Roger Byard is counted amongst the finest global authorities of forensic medicine. He holds the Chair of Pathology at The University of Adelaide and is a Senior Specialist Forensic Pathologist at Forensic Science SA in Adelaide, Australia. Has a specific interest in forensic pathology research and has published over 1,000 chapters and papers/short communications/letters in peer-reviewed journals, in addition to ten texts. In addition to his basic medical and other post-graduate qualifications, Professor byard is a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), a Doctor of Medicine (MD), and a Doctor of Science (DSc).
Adenrele Shinaba is a high-level official of the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Nigeria and holds the rank of general. Through cooperation with the world’s leading security and police agencies, especially training in the field of counter-terrorism, he has become one of the key people in the fight against the largest terrorist organization in Africa, Boko Haram. Throughout his career, among other duties, he performed those of a DPO at the Divisional Police headquarters, Ogbomosho, in 1995, Commissioner of the Police Counter Terrorism Unit at the force headquarters, Abuja, in 2008, Commissioner of Police at the Federal Capital Territory Police Command. In 2012 he finished his extremely rich and honorable career as the Commandant at the central federal Police Academy at Wudil, Kano. He is an expert on security, crime investigation, counter-terrorism, and the Boko Haram terrorist organization.
Giuseppe Zaccaria was a professional journalist from 1975. He worked for Il giornale, Il Messaggero and La Stampa. For more than twenty years, he covered the main events in Europe and the Middle East as a foreign correspondent for La Stampa. As a war correspondent, he covered the first and the second Gulf War, the Afghanistan crisis, as well as the war between Israel and Lebanon in 2006, and all conflicts in the Balkans (former Yugoslavia). He interviewed many presidents and leaders, such as Muammar Gaddafi, Mandela, and all the main politicians in the Balkans, including Slobodan Milošević – managing to get the only interview given to a foreign journalist in over a decade – in 2000. Author of a number of books such as Noi, Criminali di guerra (We, the War Criminals), a book about war crimes in Bosnia, for which he was awarded the Hemingway Prize.
Patrick Barriot, member of the Sarajevo commission, coming from France, is a specialist in anesthesiology, intensive care, and disaster medicine. He has participated in and completed the international training course of the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) Team. He had a career in the French army where he was successively assigned to the emergency medical service of the Paris Fire Brigade, to the 11th Paratrooper Division, to the Civil Security Intervention Unit N°1, to the Forward Surgical Unit N°7 (war in former Yugoslavia). Afterward he became a chief medical officer of Civil Security Intervention Units and medical advisor to the prefect in charge of Civil Security.
These are shortened biographies for just some of the individuals who participated in the work of the commissions, and whatever we might think of them, one way or the other, there is no doubt collective amount of experience and knowledge these commissions gathered for the sake of research is impressive and far from easily dismissed.
Now we come to the crux of the matter. Commission for Sarajevo established that nearly three thousand Serbs have been killed in Sarajevo during the war. For the sake of comparison, the initial number of dead in Srebrenica case, per claims of Muslim leadership, was between two and a half thousand and three thousand, as well. Furthermore, Sarajevo commission report clearly indicates the Bosnian capital is an ethnically cleansed city. Parts with Muslim majority were cleansed during the war, as early as 1992 and 1993, while the rest was indirectly cleansed when the international community, that is the western powers, arbitrarily gave all parts of Sarajevo controlled by Serbs over to the newly established Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Muslim-Croat entity.
This is something often overlooked with all the distraction provided by Srebrenica, but today, though Serbs still work there, there is just about, to the best of my knowledge, around ten to fifteen thousand Serbs permanently living in Sarajevo with a strong tendency to relocate into the East Sarajevo, the Serbian part. To put things into context, the city of Sarajevo today has around 250.000 citizens while Sarajevo canton, the city of Sarajevo and its outlying settlements, has a population of nearly half a million, at least according to census from 2013. In comparison to the prewar situation, where Serbs made around 30% of the Sarajevo population, today there are barely 2.5% of them.
On the other hand, when discussing Srebrenica, the most important achievement of the commission are scientifically and professionally established facts about the suffering of all victims from both warring sides. Criminal-forensic reconstruction of key events provided facts about the ethnic cleansing of Serbs during 92-93 and the massacre of 1500-3000 captured Muslim soldiers, who were subsequently shot, the vast majority of them, while a smaller group of several hundred was exchanged. Furthermore, the commission concluded this crime does not correspond to the UN definition of genocide thus providing confirmation that there was no such thing as genocide in Srebrenica. Crimes occurred, no one ever disputed that, not from Serbian side or otherwise, but genocide did not.
Valentin Inzko, former High representative to Bosnia and Herzegovina, more akin to a colonial governor, just before he left his position this year, amended the Criminal law on state level by prohibiting denial of the so-called genocide, which can be taken as either an attempt to further destabilize the situation in the already shaky country or as an indicator that works of both commissions, especially that for Srebrenica, struck a chord. Consider what is said, a foreign representative, not a citizen and definitely not someone who was elected by people in Bosnia, unilaterally makes a decision and has the power to push that decision without regard for the Parliament of an internationally recognized state, without any sort of discussion or debate. This act alone is against everything a democratic constitution should uphold, not to mention all those ad nauseam lauded international documents of basic human rights and freedoms. It would be only normal that a random individual, presented with this situation, came to a conclusion that Bosnia and Herzegovina is nothing more but a colonial fief, for it cannot at the same time be sovereign and independent and yet receive its laws from a single foreign bureaucrat. The illusion of one and reality of the other can coexist, but both as reality cannot.
No matter what laws foreign third rate diplomats might impose, in the supposedly sovereign and independent country of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the fact remains there was no genocide in Srebrenica, nor was there any sort of Serbian aggression, but brutal civil war, in significant part stoked by outside influences.
- 4. Can you explain to use where (downtown, suburbs, hills, etc.) the Bosnian Serbs lived and where the Bosnian Muslims lived and why is that important in both the case of Sarajevo and Srebrenica.
Let me start with Sarajevo, for I am familiar with that city in more detail. After all, it was my birthplace. In terms of population distribution, the urban part of Sarajevo and its rural surroundings had significant communities of Serbs, Croats and Muslims.
Unlike the Ottoman period, when there was a somewhat more clear separation, Muslim population being urban while Serbs predominantly rural, before the war, like I already mentioned, there was a significant number of Serbs living in the urban part of Sarajevo. It was they who played a critical role in developing Sarajevo from an Ottoman town into a recognizable European city of the nineteenth century. This is important to those who are interested in wartime events surrounding Sarajevo to understand from the very beginning Serbs were never some sort of invaders or outsiders to Sarajevo, but were in fact its autochthonic inhabitants.
One should take into consideration that one of the first eparchies of the Serbian Orthodox church, after it received its autocephaly from Constantinople in 1219, was formed on territory which would roughly correspond to contemporary eastern Bosnia. If there were no Serbian nor Orthodox people there, what would be basis for creation of such church administrative unit? Rastko Nemanjić, who would later become known as Saint Sava, one of key figures in Serbian history, was supposed to receive, being a prince of the Serbian royal line, region of Zachlumia which encompassed southern parts of both modern Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia.
Furthermore, one of the oldest religious structures in Bosnia and Herzegovina is the Old Orthodox church in Sarajevo, built on the foundations of a previous Christian temple, dating from the fourth century AD.
I mention all of this to simply point out Serbs have lived on territory of what is today Bosnia and Herzegovina before it became known as such. They did not appear out of nowhere nor did they commit any sort of aggression, as current narrative would like us to believe. For all intense and purposes, given the fact that oldest records regarding Serbs in these lands stretch back to seventh and eighth century AD, they are autochthonic people of both Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Once Serbs are understood in their rightful place, as inhabitants of Bosnia and Herzegovina for more than a millennia and as citizens of Sarajevo since its inception, there can be no argument about aggression nor can there be a claim Sarajevo was a city under siege, at least not in the way it is portrayed by Muslim and western media.
It is far more correct to observe Sarajevo, during the civil war, as a city divided between people that, just years before were its citizens. Breakneck demagoguery through which Serbs somehow became the bad guys in the story of Sarajevo and came to be observed outside the context of the city’s history is nothing else but a fabrication with very few connections to real history and events.
Once this becomes understood, it is clear that Serbian political and military authorities had no other choice but to blockade Muslim parts of Sarajevo. To do otherwise would be to invite a strategic disaster. It was clear, by propaganda of the time, that Muslims considered themselves the only “true” inheritors of entire Bosnia and Herzegovina. Actions of their forces on the ground, especially in the Muslim majority municipalities of Sarajevo indicated clear intent and willingness to enact ethnic cleansing where possible so as to change population distribution in accordance with this vision of Muslim Bosnia. This is a good moment to remind our readers of extensive links between Alija Izetbegovic and his political party with the Muslim Brotherhood, deemed a terrorist organization by Christian and Islamic countries alike. Influences of the Brotherhood can be noticed in the Islamic Declaration, work by Izetbegovic which serves as useful insight into his vision for Bosnia and Herzegovina. In considerations of events in Bosnia this connection should not be overlooked and is rather important when it comes to understanding the nature of war and its participants.
To ignore all these indicators would be to leave Serb population both in Sarajevo and around it to the mercy of enemy forces and their foreign volunteers. There was simply no other option but to blockade Sarajevo and keep hold of Serb majority parts of it.
However, when we talk about Srebrenica, Muslims were in a majority according to the census from 1991. Rough ratio was 2:1 in favor of Muslims. Unlike Sarajevo, Muslim population made up the majority within the urban core of Srebrenica, with the roughly the same population ratio of 2:1, though overall number of people living in this urbanized part of the municipality was relatively low, numbering around 5.500 in total.
From this we can conclude the majority of Serbs lived in villages in the countryside. Unlike Sarajevo, where foreign journalists and governmental representatives who supported Izetbegovic could not feign ignorance of Muslim troops, Srebrenica was proclaimed a demilitarized zone and that narrative survives to this day, despite the unquestionable fact the town served as operational HQ for the Muslim 28th division under command of Naser Oric.
The enclave was, just like parts of Sarajevo, quickly cleansed of Serbs and was for the majority of war used by Muslim forces within as a staging ground for attacks against Serbian civilian targets and military supply and communications lines.
There is no need here to write about alleged genocide, I have already written an earlier text on that subject and many people here and otherwise have written far more extensively and went into more detail than me regarding this subject. It is enough to point out that until 1995 Srebrenica enclave was firmly in control of Muslim forces, unlike Sarajevo, and Serbian forces limited themselves to defensive actions. Muslim forces in Srebrenica continuously attacked and provoked, all the while being provided safe haven of the “demilitarized” zone and protection of Dutch peacekeepers.
There are several conclusions to be taken from information provided above, both in cases of Sarajevo and Srebrenica.
First, Serbs are autochthonic to both regions and their respective urban cores. Whatever one thinks of the Muslim population, whether considering them indigenous population or Islamized Serbs, the fact of Serbian population presence in both central and eastern Bosnia is not something of modern origin but has historical continuation from before Bosnia and Herzegovina even got its name.
Second, given the overwhelming evidence for the continued existence of Serbs in Bosnia, the nature of war within Bosnia and Herzegovina cannot be classified as aggression but rather civil war, for it was not a small minority of Serbs who refused to recognize the authority of Sarajevo but the majority of them. The overwhelming majority of the Serbian people identified the remains of Yugoslavia as their country and aspired to unify with it. Given it was not possible to preserve Yugoslavia from separatist actions, they then acted to create a political entity of their own given that historical experiences proved Serbs suffered greatly in times when they had no state of their own. In the end, if Croats and Muslims could secede from Yugoslavia then Serbs could secede from Bosnia as well. To talk about aggression one has to work with terms such as state and state borders. There was no such thing as a Bosnian state at the start of the civil war simply because a rough third of the population in Bosnia, Serbs that is, did not recognize developing changes as legitimate nor inclusive of their interests. It should also be noted that fighting between Muslims and Croats started not long after the initial clashes, with Croatian leadership looking to secede as well in order to join Croatia.
In certain situations there can be talk about treasonous behavior if a small number of individuals act against the state, but once we are dealing with hundreds of thousands of people who reject state organization, that is something different, and if we add to that a complex population composition of Bosnia and Herzegovina itself and understand an entire nation refused to give state authorities legitimacy, things delve ever further from the simple narrative of “Serbs who betrayed Bosnia”. It should be understood that acts of Croats and Muslims in the prewar Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina directly impacted constitutivity of the Serbian people, attempting to reduce Serbs to a status of observers while their fate was decided by the other two communities. To remain politically relevant in their own country Serbian people had to organize creation of their own political and territorial unit. Take note that the first Muslim military formation, organized by the SDA party, was already established in the summer of 1990, near town of Foča.
For the purpose of presenting a hollow picture of multicultural Sarajevo, and thus Bosnia and Herzegovina, Muslim leadership adopted several known Serbs from the capital within its ranks, such as Jovan Divjak and Mirko Pejanovic, but these were token Serbs and their very prominence, such as it was, actually indicated lack of any sort of multiculturalism within the Muslim political and intellectual elite who claim, to this day, Bosnia, and Sarajevo especially, are representative of a multicultural state.
Third, events in Sarajevo and Srebrenica only mirrored happenings all over Bosnia and Herzegovina with the implication that seeds of civil war which erupted at the start of the nineties were planted much earlier and that outside factor, though very active, was not the only catalyst for the events which transpired. Seeds I mention can be understood as “unsettled” scores from the Second World War and its ugly repercussions on the local population.
Given the format of our interview, I will not go deeper into it, there are far better sources than I on this issue, but the region of Srebrenica, so well-known today, was a site of gruesome crimes during the reign of the Independent State of Croatia, crimes against Serbian population committed by Croats and their Muslim allies. Sarajevo itself was a transit point for trains carrying Serbian prisoners to their grisly fate in Jasenovac.
For the sake of “brotherhood and unity” (bratstvo i jedinstvo) of the previous, socialist Yugoslavia, a lot of things were “swept under the rug” and the simple fact is Serbs were, undoubtedly, a nation which suffered the most in this period, despite the claims of Tito’s regime.
However, official policies usually run near the surface while collective memory runs deep. Atrocities of the WW2 were not forgotten, transmitted in both written, rather controlled, and oral fashion, which was at liberty to clearly state both victims and culprits. Since that period Bosnia and Herzegovina has been more and more transformed into an artificial state with diverging communities. Given opportunity each of these communities, except Muslims, would rather choose to separate than to further integrate into a more centralized country.
- 5. Can you summarize the conclusions made by these two reports. Specifically, are we any closer now to know not only the true number of Muslims killed and the exact circumstances of their deaths (genocide or combat) and, even more crucially, do we now know how many Orthodox Serbs were murdered in and around (Mt Igman for ex!) the cities of Sarajevo and Srebrenica.
When we talk about conclusions made by these two commissions I believe it would be best to cite the conclusions of the commissions themselves as a way to answer this.
When it comes to Srebrenica, members of the commission agree that until now “it had been a widely accepted interpretation that the killing of 8,000 Muslim males resembles the genocidal crimes committed by the Nazis who systematically separated Jews and other minorities from the rest of the population only to subsequently murder them. The findings of the Commission demonstrate that a crime of such a nature has not taken place. Moreover, the Commission has found that Muslim forces of the ARBiH 28th Division inside Srebrenica formed a military column of more than 12,000 army members which broke through formations of the Serbian army and headed towards Muslim territory. Attacks on this column, which caused the death of approximately 4-5 thousand members of the ARBiH 28th Division, can be considered legitimate military actions. However, the execution of 2,500-3,000 military prisoners, including several hundred male civilians from the Potočari compound, besides several hundred exchanged soldiers, does constitute a war crime. The commission does not have any doubts about the criminal nature of these killings. It cannot be found, however, that these murders were committed with any other intention than to eliminate a military threat in the wake of the military assault of Croatian and Muslim forces on Serb territory (“Operation Oluja”). Concerning the existence of a special intent to destroy a protected group, the findings of the ICTY are not conclusive. The Commission was not able to identify a single case in which the judges at the ICTY had discussed any other motive for the killings other than genocide. The chambers of the ICTY have not once discussed the fact that the Serbs had been subject to genocide committed by the Croats with the assistance of the Muslims during World War II and that the Serbs in more than 150 settlements in and around the Srebrenica region had been subject to brutal assaults and ethnic cleansing by Muslim forces in the years 1992 and 1993 and even 1995. It has interpreted the massacres in the Srebrenica region as an open message towards all Muslims in Bosnia that they would await the same fate. The commission has demonstrated that there is no evidence of such intent. Bearing in mind the variety of different contexts, it became clear that precise numbers of diverse manners of deaths could not be given; therefore, we have tried to give as accurate estimates as possible. The Commission considers that, in the light of all of the facts of its investigation, the term “genocide” cannot be attached to those tragic events.”
As we can see, regarding the realistic number of Muslim dead in Srebrenica, figure between 2.500 to 3.000 comes closest to the truth. Combat circumstances claimed between four and five thousand Muslim soldiers as they tried to break out through Serbian lines and into the Muslim controlled territory.
Regarding Sarajevo, best answer to your question will be provided by the conclusions in the commission report, which I provide a link to, while here emphasizing the most important parts.
In terms of responsibility for the war, members of the commission agreed that the “newly internationally recognized state RBiH committed an act of aggression against the SFRY by attacking its army – the JNA – in the sense of Article 3 (d) of the Definition of Aggression under United Nations Resolution 3314. The “smoking gun” of this aggression is the “Directive to protect sovereignty and independence of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, strictly confidential № 02/2-1,” of 12 April 1992. The Directive referred to the SDS, the legal political party of the Serb people with 72 seats in the RBiH Parliament as the “enemy,” and directed the ARBiH troops on the ground to attack the JNA and Serb Autonomous Regions with Serb population. Militarily and politically, the “Directive” was nothing less than a declaration of war against the SFRJ and its federal institution the JNA, as well as against the Serb people of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Also, the new Croatian state made huge efforts to transfer the war to Bosnia and Herzegovina, in order to bring Muslims onto their side against the Serbs with the aim of obtaining a part of the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina for themselves as a result of the war”.
When it comes to activities around Sarajevo, the VRS (Vojska Republike Srpske – Army of the Republic of Srpska) “chose the strategy of blockading Sarajevo in order to coerce the Muslim leadership to accept their terms of peace, by which the Republika Srpska was expected to receive territorial, political, and cultural autonomy. The RBiH government strategy was to deny any political and cultural autonomy to the Serbs of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and to preserve Bosnia and Herzegovina as a unitary state. Any attempt at reasonable autonomy and constitutional rearrangement was seen by the SDA as an “ethnic division.” This strategy was selfish and retrograde in nature, and ran counter to the wishes of a very sizable portion of the population. The ARBiH (so called Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina) was keen to preserve the whole of Sarajevo under its control for a variety of strategic political and military objectives, not least of which was to project Sarajevo as the symbol of unitary Bosnia and Herzegovina. In the ensuing struggle, the VRS succeeded in keeping a considerable part of Sarajevo under control.”
At the same time the SDA’s (Stranka demokratske akcije – Party of Democratic Action, main Muslim political party) “strategy was calculated to drive the Serb community out of Sarajevo. The SDA aided and abetted crimes committed against the Serb population of Sarajevo by numerous criminal gangs and ARBiH regular units. These included arbitrary arrests, incarceration in concentration camps, torture, rape, and murder. Coupled with the systematic anti-Serb propaganda and ethnic pressure, these crimes constituted a systematic ethnic cleansing campaign, which culminated in the exodus of Serbs from Sarajevo after the Dayton Peace Accords. This campaign took a terrible toll on the Serb community in Sarajevo. As a result of the targeted campaign of terror and intimidation, the vibrant pre-war Serb community in Sarajevo totally ceased to exist”.
Commission established that around 3.000 Serbs, civilians to be more precise, were killed in Sarajevo while 800 were categorized as missing. 260 of those are still searched for. During the war Muslims forces organized 211 camps and imprisonment installations for Serbs within those parts of Sarajevo under their control.
It is important to note, per findings of the commission itself, that when we speak about missing Serbs in Sarajevo, attention should be given to the fact that in some cases entire families went missing, thus preventing reporting as there was no one to report the case, which thus indicates the number of missing persons might be even higher.
- 6. What about those atrocities committed by Serbs? I think that we can all agree that such atrocities did take place. If so, who was involved, who gave the orders, what was the goal?
Without a doubt, as stated numerous times before by different sources, crimes happened on all conflicting sides and Serbs are not an exemption.
For example, in city of Prijedor the first casualty claimed by war was a Serbian police officer Radenko Đapo, who was shot on the evening of 1st May at 21:30. Afterwards, members of Đapo’s family killed four innocent Muslims, Rasim and Ismeta Šahinović, Jusuf Kučuković and Mumin Ramić in an act of revenge. Croatian media at the time falsified the number of victims, by claiming seventy Muslims were killed. Today we can see the entire context of these events and understand the prior motivation of the murderers without excusing their crime. As we can see here those involved were closest family members of the murdered police officer, there were no orders and the goal was simply revenge.
We can talk here about Srebrenica as well, given its prominence in the last three decades and point out that majority of Serbs and their investigations of the events in that part of eastern Bosnia, including these latest international commissions, never denied crimes happened. Different investigations, divided by time and access to information might have differing views on the number of dead but there was always understanding crimes did happen, though not in such radical extent that they could then be defined as genocide.
A lot of possible situational individual crimes could have happened and probably did during the breakthrough attempt of the 28th Muslim division which was headquartered in Srebrenica. As forces of the Army of the Republic of Srpska were moving into Srebrenica, Muslim units, which data accessible to the commission places at more than 12.000 strong, were preparing to conduct a forced march through the territory of the Republic of Srpska so they could reach Tuzla, under control of Muslim-Croat Federation.
This breakthrough was characterized by constant and high intensity combat between Muslim forces and Serbian units, where troops of the 28th division suffered heavy casualties during this entire operation. There is no doubt in such a situation there were those soldiers of the ARS who outright executed captured Muslim combatants without regard for contemporary rules of war. We can all agree these are crimes, no question asked, though they need be placed into the context of the Srebrenica itself where for three years Serbs were suffering constant attacks on civilian and military targets while unable to strike back at the offenders.
Many of the soldiers who fought in the ranks of the Army of Republic of Srpska were native to eastern Bosnia and regions around Srebrenica. It is not without basis to believe some of them, probably a good number, had members of family who died at Muslim hands either during Ustaše reign of terror or more recent attacks by forces under command of Naser Orić. Revenge as a motive is far from unconceivable, and though it does nothing to reduce the crime they committed or its nature, it presents their wrongdoing in its place within the wider context. Furthermore, the investigation conducted by the commission for Srebrenica clearly points out in its conclusion there were several occasions of executions of Muslim war prisoners, though number of those who died under such circumstances, at most, ranges between 2.500 and 3.000 POWs while the minimal estimate ranges between 1.500 and 2.000 men.
In the aftermath of the breakthrough operation and liberation of Srebrenica there were several locations Muslims prisoners of war were gathered, and this took some time as the initial column which left Srebrenica for Tuzla partially disintegrated during the operation with forward elements forging ahead and failing to wait for the rear units to catch up. On several occasions, while Muslim troops from the column vanguard were entering friendly territory, rear units were being cut off and encircled by Serbian forces.
One of the gathering sites for Muslim prisoners was in the building of agricultural cooperative in village of Kravica where Muslim POWs managed to take personal weapons from one of the Serbian guards, killing him in the process, while wounding another one. Remaining twelve guards started firing indiscriminately upon the mass of prisoners killing the majority of them in the process. Several captives managed to flee. This event is, to the best of my knowledge, listed as an execution of Muslims prisoners. However, we can see, after taking stock of relevant details this cannot be considered something which might be, in layman’s terms, classified as classic war time execution.
Serbian soldiers which opened fire did not do so out of hatred or because they were commanded, but primarily due to concern for their own safety. One of their comrades was killed, another one was wounded, prisoners had managed to gain possession of a fire arm and numerical superiority was clearly in Muslim favor, for we are talking about several hundred of prisoners and less than fifteen guards. There was no order from the higher command instances, there never was some grand plan of extermination which guided actions of soldiers of the Army of the Republic of Srpska, what we had, at least in this instance, are people who reacted in panic, obeying in all probability instinct for self-preservation.
There were other crimes which can be considered executions in true sense of the word, given that Muslim prisoners were killed without trial though in many cases, and this is true for all sides in the war, culprits for these crimes were and remain unknown to this day.
We can observe another example, the events in vicinity of Sanski Most, to be more precise in village of Hrustovo. Just like in many other parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, within wider municipality of Sanski Most we have both Muslim and Serbian population. Though majority population was Serbian, villages Hrustovo, Vrhpolje, Kamičak and Jezerci were completely Muslim. These villages were located around Golaja forest where members of the Green berets, a Muslim military unit, spent the previous half a year in training.
In the first elections held in Sanski Most, Serbian Democratic Party (SDS-Srpska demokratska stranka) won the majority. Middle of May 1992 saw an attempt of armed takeover by elements of Muslims from police force together with armed civilians from urban settlement Mahala, which was repulsed by the Serbian units. Fighting moved from the city center into the Mahala itself, a part of the Sanski Most populated by Muslims. In attempt to assist forces in Mahala, military unit from aforementioned Muslim villages attempted to pass through Serbian controlled territory but was driven back.
After this event, over broadcast by radio Sana, members of the Muslim paramilitary units were invited to surrender their weaponry in exchange for amnesty. Given this call was rejected, Serbian forces initiated, and by radio announced, weapon confiscating operation. This was a routine operation, enacted many times before in many places around the world. Confiscating operation proceeded in good manner during the first half, with no issues, however, somewhere in the middle of the Hrustovo village, as Serbian military units were passing by the local Muslim graveyard, Almaz Zukić, hidden behind a gravestone opened fire on the column and killed four soldiers.
This one event triggered a backlash from the Serbian forces who proceeded to capture and summarily execute a number of Muslim military age men who were believed to support Green berets and Muslim operations in the area. There is no doubt a crime happened in Sanski Most at the start of the war, however, it is clear from the events and wider context this was not some cartoonish event where Serbian forces enter Muslim village and kill everyone they find.
To even consider such a scenario is to either be ignorant of the facts or to willfully ignore them. It is clear Muslims themselves were armed, they already attempted to take control of the city by force and one can suppose there already had to be casualties on both sides by this point, which only heightened the already existing tension.
- 7. What do you make of the theory that the Empire had agents around Milosevic and that they were used to orchestrate a number of massacres of non-combatants (wounded soldiers or civilians) in order to create a pretext for a western intervention. If possible, can you now name the names of such suspected CIA/DIA/MI6/etc. agents inside the Yugoslav authorities? (I was told one at the very top level at least).
In all honesty, my knowledge on this topic is rather limited, however it seems highly likely, if not only natural, that foreign intelligence agencies had their people and local turncoats embedded within power structures of previous Yugoslavia, in its entirety, including political and military hierarchies of Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, that is union of Serbia and Montenegro.
Given his behavior in the last two decades, if not longer, it is not unthinkable to presume Milo Đukanović, current president of Montenegro, was from the very onset of Yugoslav crisis a foreign asset. This is not supported by concrete evidence, however, he shifted through a lot of political and ideological stances in his career, which is not that surprising for a politician, however, he is likewise suspected of criminal undertakings and connections, especially when it comes to smuggling of narcotics. Furthermore, Montenegro has developed, during his reign, a negative image as a country drugs travel through on their way further to Europe and North America from Afghanistan and Kosovo*.
Just in 2021 there were at least three important occasions, connecting Montenegro and its citizens with large drug busts, one in Montenegro itself, another one in Spain and one in United States where Vladimir Penda, a Montenegro citizen was convicted to five years in US prison for attempt to smuggle 18.000 kilograms of cocaine into the country.
What connects regimes in Kosovo*, Montenegro and Afghanistan, before its fall, is the narcotics trade and, by this point in time, a public secret that official authorities are those who are actually participating and facilitating this trade. Given that all three cases here mentioned are products of US geopolitical engineering they undoubtedly are part of extensive foreign US intelligence network. We should not forget CIA used the drug trade to fund its secret foreign wars and operations and is probably still using the same methods today.
Under two decades of American domination in Afghanistan, narcotics production skyrocketed and Montenegro, it would seem, became a very important distribution point in the global chain of drug trafficking. When we take everything listed above into consideration, and clearly pro-Western disposition of Milo Đukanović reign, I would be very surprised if he turned out to be unconnected with US, and possibly other western intelligence agencies.
We should keep in mind Đukanović was a prominent figure, though less so than today, in the time of nineties and dissolution of ex-Yugoslavia. Using their people on the inside for purposes of engineering false flags as pretexts for involvement of western powers seems very reasonable to me, given the purpose of intelligence agencies and the nature of wars which lead to demise of Yugoslavia, especially once we take into consideration wider geopolitical events, such as dissolution of Soviet Union and need to reinvent NATO so as to preserve decades old power structures connecting US and EU on political, geopolitical, military and economic levels, with a lot individual and corporative interests invested in its survival.
- 8. Can we hope that another International Commission will be created to investigate the true fate of Serbs in Kosovo (not just the Racak false flag, but also about the massacres of Serbian civilians by Albanian thugs under the approving eye of NATO!).
First and foremost, this would be a question for the political elite and leadership in Serbia, and I am sure there are those within that elite who would be against such an endeavor. I am sure your readers are well aware there is a group of people who can be for all intense and purpose considered a contemporary Serbian fifth column. They are extremely pro-western and pro-EU with often visible manifestations of disdain and hatred for their own people, what Zoran Ćirjaković, in Serbian political discourse, calls autochauvinism.
Highly liberal, in its worse sense, people who fall into this category find Serbian tradition, history and national identity as something primitive and degenerative while clinging to newly minted western “values” without any sort of introspection or critique. If I am being honest, I believe those who truly trust in these new values for values sake are very few in number, while majority is composed of people who are in it for personal gain and of individuals who harbor pathological hatred for their own nation and its rightful interests.
In both cases we are talking about people who could be considered label Serbs, they wear Serbian names, were born to Serbian parents, or possibly to mixed couples, live and work in Serbia, but have no connection nor willingness to create a connection with the history of their people, its tradition and customs. Despite the existence of this group, it is my belief Serbian state and national part of the elite should be capable enough and have that level of political influence to finance organization and work of such a commission, with the important fact they would have an overwhelming national support for such a project, not only from Serbs in Serbia proper, but from Serbian people around the globe.
Regarding technical issues for possible creation of a commission for Kosovo and Metohija, and need for such an undertaking, my opinion is that it cannot hurt the Serbian case, only strengthen its position and position of Serbian state in contrast to the Albanian side. Like you pointed out, this commission, if made following the template of those working on cases of Sarajevo and Srebrenica, would have to go into historical circumstances and cover topics of both Serbian victims murdered by the so called Kosovo Liberation Army and the events leading up to the NATO aggression, which would have to, by natural hierarchy of events, include Račak false flag.
Just like Republic of Srpska, Serbia would in this manner, by neutral approach based on existing evidence and professional expertise, entrench its position by placing relatively unassailable set of facts which all those who wish to support Albanian arguments and actions would need to disprove, which is highly unlikely. The ground work is already there, for Serbia has significant amount of information, regarding terrorist activities of Albanians in Kosmet before, during and after the war which are already processed and take form of a report, called the White Book which is partitioned into two segments, one dedicated to general terrorist and criminal activities of the Albanians, while the other one provides biographies of prominent Albanian criminals and terrorist.
Another important venue of work for the proposed commission would be effect of depleted uranium, from NATO weapons, on ecological system in Serbia with special emphasis on human population, and not just in Serbia but in Montenegro and even Bosnia and Herzegovina. Work on this issue has already begun in 2018 with a commission on NATO bombardment and use of depleted uranium. Work of this body could be integrated within the wider scope of possible international commission for Kosovo and Metohija.
In general, research body of this type could and should be organized, with emphasis on participation of established foreign experts. Furthermore, I believe Serbia would find significant number of allies, in form of individuals and organizations, for purpose of seeing this project through, even in those countries which could be considered historically inimical to interests of Serbian people.
One such case could be Italy whose contingent of soldiers, serving both in Bosnia and on Kosovo and Metohija, suffered greatly from different aggressive forms of cancer. By 2016 cancer claimed life of 331 Italian soldier while 3.764 of them, a staggering number to be sure, developed cancer as consequence of exposure to depleted uranium. This theme was actual in Italy only two years after NATO aggression concluded, for as early as 2001 Italian prime minister was requesting NATO officials explain the connection between deaths of Italian soldiers and increased rate of cancer development. This could serve as a bridging point between efforts of the Serbian authorities and, if not Italian government per se, then at least those parts of Italian society keenly interested in this topic.
In conclusion, logical and good reasons for creation of commissions like those in Republic of Srpska, or similar bodies, are numerous and could only further strengthen and cement position of Serbia in the dispute with the West, for let’s not delude ourselves, the main source of strength, and possibly the only one, for Albanians on Kosovo and Metohija is the multi-formed support of the West.
Without it, there would have been no KLA “victory” on Kosovo in the war of 1999. Without pressure from, most prominently, Washington, London and Berlin, it’s a question how many countries, recognizing Kosovo* as independent state today, would do such a thing of their own volition and it would be only a question of time before this occupied part of Serbia would be, either by force or by other methods, liberated and returned back into the fold of the Serbian state.
- 9. Why, in your opinion, did the West single out the Serbian nation and decide to destroy its state, viciously persecute it, break the Serbian nation about while triggering a huge exodus (can you tell us how many Serbs were displaced by NATO in total)?
Even attempting to answer the first part of your question is a complex task but I will attempt it, however, let me first pay attention to the second part of this question for things are clearer there. If you don’t mind, I would just like to point out NATO countries were never alone but always used local populations for their dirty work, such as Muslims and Croats in Bosnia, Croats in Croatia and Albanians on Kosovo and Metohija.
This was, of course, to the benefit of those populations, or to be more precise, their elites and regional geopolitical goals. Croats wanted, from the start of the last century, ethnically clean state where percentage of Serbs, for they were seen as the largest problem for Croatian politicians and statesmen, would be so low it would be, practically speaking, as if Serbs never lived at all in what is today Croatia. Muslims from Bosnia, after rejecting their Serbian origin and accepting Islam as both religion and national determinant set their sight on the entirety of Bosnia and Herzegovina as their rightful claim, thus proclaiming themselves as sole true inhabitants and inheritors of medieval Bosnia, delusion which in itself could be a topic of another full interview, and by such actions degraded Serbs to a nation somehow foreign to Bosnia and Herzegovina and in practice would reduce them to status of second class citizens. In case of Kosovo and Metohija, Albanians, since the very start of their Greater Albania idea perceived southern Serbia as part of this great unified Albanian state and were more than interested in serving as boots on the ground for NATO, or more precisely US, UK and Germany.
In terms of numbers, before the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, almost 500.000 Serbs lived in what is today Federation of BiH, according to the census from 1991. Census from 2013 showed only about fifty thousand of them remained, which is roughly speaking, a loss of about 430.000. During operation Storm, Croatian forces ethnically cleansed around 250.000 Serbs from Krajina and other parts of Croatia where Serbs were in majority. Near the end of war in Bosnia, another 120.000 Serbs was forced out of their homes when western parts of Krajina in Bosnia fell in September of 1995. When we talk about Kosovo and Metohija, population dynamics from the start of the last century were a product of long Ottoman rule and status of Serbian people was further exacerbated by more than forty years of communist rule which was actually far more pro-Albanian than pro-Serbian and covertly complicit in silent ethnic cleansing of Serbs from Kosovo.
March pogrom from 2004 might be best known event of open ethnic cleansing of Serbs from Kosovo, when more than 4.000 Serbs was driven from their homes, together with other non-Albanians, almost 1000 houses were burned to the ground together with 35 Orthodox religious sites, 19 first class monuments of culture and 16 churches. Priceless monuments, manuscripts, icons and paintings from Orthodox cultural sphere and medieval period, things Westerners would claim is heritage of not only Serbian people but mankind itself, were burned, desecrated or destroyed and are gone forever, just as German Luftwaffe deliberately targeted National Library of Serbia in 1941 destroying over 350.000 books including unique medieval manuscripts, not to mention other priceless historical and artistic relics and records.
In contrast to open nature of this event, Serbian population was pressured for a far longer period to leave Kosovo. Results of census from 1921 show an interesting data, where number of people who declared as Orthodox Christians was around 90.000, however, people who said their mother language was Serbian numbered a bit more than 130.000, while Muslim population numbered, in total, 317.000 but number of those whose language was Albanian was close to 220.000 people.
This census was interesting because it did not have a declaration of nationality as one of its components. If we take language as indicator of national belonging, in the 1920s we can see there was, roughly speaking, two Albanians for every Serb on Kosmet. Difference for sure, but not a drastic one. Census from 1981 showed that almost 210.000 Serbs and around 1.230.000 Albanians were inhabiting territory of Kosovo and Metohija. In census from 2011 number of Albanians was increased by 400.000 while number of Serbs who by that point still lived on Kosovo was around 25.000, ten times less than three decades earlier.
By information available, we can talk about a conservative estimate of more than 150.000 Serbs who were forced from Kosmet by mixture of Albanian attacks, indifference of the Tito’s regime and later on, aggression of western powers. In conclusion, during the dissolution of ex-Yugoslavia, and this is a rough estimate, between 950.000 and 1.000.000 Serbs were victims of ethnic cleansing which is by far the largest number of displaced people and refugees belonging to a single nation or religious affiliation from the former common state. One should also keep in mind majority of these events took place over a time period of just ten years. In all four cases this was done with understanding and support of western countries.
Regarding the first part of your question, there are several possible answers and maybe truth could be gleaned from certain synthesis of these, to a greater or a lesser extent, differing views.
In his recent book, “The Virtue of Nationalism”, Yoram Hazony links the fate of the Serbian people in the nineties with philosophy of Immanuel Kant and worldview of European Union, developed from Kant’s ideas. Special emphasis is given over to Kant’s notion of historical progress in three stages. According to Hazony, elites in US and especially EU see their own political sphere as place where historical progress as described by Kant advanced the furthest, and where, in our present day, national state and nation itself have been transcended the most. For you see, nation is bad. This “uplifting” is linked with moral maturity so, in this rather retrograde and chauvinistic view, Europeans, who believe in Kant’s idea, see only European Union as place where this moral maturity has been reached.
Serbs, being a nation of European origin are scorned and looked down upon by the “better” western nations exactly because they are held to a higher standard, unlike Muslims in Bosnia or Albanians on Kosmet, who are seen as on a lower state of historical development and thus, literally, incapable of higher moral judgment and behavior we usually associate with adult and serious people. Basically, Serbs and Albanians could commit the same crime, in same extent and in both the same space and time, and yet, only Serbs would be eligible for punishment because “they should know better”.
Despite fair traction this theory does crate, Hazony idea becomes more susceptible to critique once we take into consideration that it was primarily US and not EU states leading the demonization and aggression against Serbian people, though certain EU members were not that far behind.
In his own words, Hazony admits United States are, when considering Kant’s phases of historical progress, perceived as still on a step below European Union, exactly because they display, or at least did display during Trump, characteristic of a nation state with active nationalism as its driving force. Though Hazony’s notion might not be watertight in all of its aspects, it could be useful for partial understating of motives driving certain European countries in their aggression towards Serbs.
In one of my text translated for Vinyard of the Saker, I approached this question from a more ideological point of view, arguing that internal changes, influenced by historical baggage particular to United States and Western Europe, in US and generally Western political values system played an important role in process of Serbian demonization.
There can be no doubt a certain cultural shift happened within United States in the second half of the twentieth century. This shift did not encompass entirety of American population, but it was more prominent in urban than rural areas, and this divide still exists and is even being duplicated all over world where people have accepted western values as guiding principles for shaping of society. Without need to go deeper into this particular subject, I believe most prominent features of this cultural shift are growing atheism, advocacy for abortion and feminism, promotion of homosexualism and promiscuous behavior, especially within population of young women, development of “white guilt” complex and more recently attempt to normalize transgenderism or “fluidity and infinity” of genders, as if it is natural or socially acceptable.
Of note, as well, should be an address by American general Wesley Clark from 2007 where he clearly states that “what happened at 9/11 is we didn’t have a strategy, we didn’t have a bipartisan agreement, we didn’t have American understanding of it and we had instead a policy coup in this country. A coup, a policy coup. Some hardnosed people took over the direction of American policy and they never bothered to inform the rest of us. I went through the Pentagon ten days after 9/11. I couldn’t stay away from mother Army. I went back to see Don Rumsfeld, I worked for him as a White House fellow in the 1970s, all of this is in the book, and I said am I doing ok on CNN, he said, yeah, yeah fine, he said, I read your book, and this is the book that talks about the Kosovo campaign, and he said I just want to tell you nobody is going to tell us where or when we can bomb, nobody. He said I’m thinking of calling this the floating coalition, what do you think about that…I went downstairs, I was leaving the Pentagon and an officer from the Joint Staff called me into his office and said I want you to know sir we are gonna attack Iraq…I came back to Pentagon six weeks later and saw the same officer and said why haven’t we attacked Iraq? Are we going to still attack Iraq? He said, oh sir it’s worse than that…he pulled up a piece of paper of his desk and said I just got this memo from Secretary of Defense office, says we are going to attack and destroy the government in seven countries in five years. We are gonna start with Iraq and then we are gonna move to Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran…I realized then, it came back to me, a 1991 meeting I had with Pail Wolfowitz…I said to Paul, and this is 1991, I said Mr. Secretary you must be pretty happy with performance of the troops in the Desert Storm and he said, well, yeah but not really, the truth is we should have got rid of Saddam Hussein and we didn’t…But one thing we did learn, he said, we learned we can use our military in the region, in the Middle East, and the Soviets won’t stop us, he said, we’ve got about five or ten years to clean up those old Soviet client regimes, Syria, Iran, Iraq, before the next great superpower comes on to challenge us.”
There are several moments needed unpacking here. In terms of ideological positions of United States and Serbian people, we find that as the former is leaving behind, through embrace of neoliberal globalist ideology, notions of religion, traditional family and values, nation, state and national sovereignty, latter is emerging from communist political regime to be finally free to express all those characteristics of a nation.
Given the uniqueness of American history, with specific emphasis on slave trade and slave ownership, complex of white guilt becomes one of the main driving forces of the new ideological transformation where white people, white men to be very precise, become exclusively identified, very subtly in the beginning, as sole perpetrators of aggression and oppression towards peoples from other races or religions and women. We can currently see in the United States the final form of this ideology, in shape of critical race theory, notion of whiteness and similar ideological concepts with little of value in them.
It was enough that Serbs are a white nation, overwhelmingly Christian, mostly conservative, to be presented as a complete opposite to ideas developing in the US. They fitted the described white villain perfectly for the needs of US political and media elite to demonize and dehumanize Serbs so as to make Americans indifferent to even open and documented crimes against Serbian people.
The fact that both wars in Bosnia and Kosmet placed Serbs against Muslims only further cemented villain position of Serbian people given, almost automatic, designation of Muslims as victims and those being harmed in the context of dissolution of Yugoslavia.
At the same time, it would seem, there was another sort of transition, or at least, this transition was maturing within United States, and that was transformation into an imperial state or project. The political system of liberal democracy, and the underlying ideological system, lauded ad nauseam by western officials for decades now, became not only a way of ordering one’s own country but an ideological foundation for the new global imperial construct where US would become the center while other countries, depending on their relation to this center, would take places closer to it or on the periphery.
The unprecedented moment in history of USA, that unipolar moment which some intellectuals and politicians believed would last forever, made Washington the supreme arbiter on a whole number of issues, not due to its exercise of wisdom, but due to its undisputed global power.
It is my opinion this heady moment made it actually rather easy for American political elites to sell the notion of an American empire to the people, while being very careful to avoid any sort of more classical language linked with imperial ambitions, the ideological foundations of the US as a republic were still very present in the population, as they are even today though, by this point in the story, the divide within US is obvious to all who are willing to observe events and trends in America.
As long as US citizens enjoyed material wellbeing in form of cheap goods, high standard and ideological wellbeing in form of debatable global impression of United States as best place for life and work, they were rather tolerant to foreign adventures of their government. The only issue American public was very sensitive to was escalating US casualties in these distant wars, so it was necessary to additionally characterize these wars as either fight against terrorism, fight for democracy, freedom, human rights and whatnot, while in their core, these wars remained imperial aggressions.
Several moments from the earlier Clark quote clearly display something we could call imperial hubris in relation with other peoples and states around the world. Take for instance the moment when, after war against FR Yugoslavia, Donald Rumsfeld demands nobody will tell or prevent United States to use force whenever and wherever Washington sees fit. List of seven countries in five years reads as if one is listening to historical campaigns of roman generals who conquered one after another country for the glory of the empire. Paul Wolfowitz comment, from as early as 1991, clearly places ex-Yugoslavia with other “Soviet client regimes” needing a cleanup, because of its political system but also due to its connections to Russia.
US officials might say Soviet Union but that should be always read as Russia, for Russophobia in the West is centuries old and the mother nation to US, United Kingdom, was and still is a well-known center of it. Fact that Serbs were the only people within ex-Yugoslavia interested in preserving it, even in its diminished state, as a union of Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina, would present problem for the American political elites for even name of Yugoslavia would remind people around the world on communism, socialism and time period before United States unipolar moment.
Furthermore, due to Serbophobia as an offshot of Russophobia, Serbs were perceived as “Little Russians” and had to be prevented from developing their own stable political system and functioning economy, let alone consider giving them chance to actually gather themselves into one single political entity. A strong Serbia in the Balkans would become a strong center of Russian influence and Washington could not allow that.
It’s a saying that history has a sense for irony and it is truly ironical how everything United States, their western allies and local clients did only succeeded in cementing already existing Rusophilia within Serbian people and in part charted course of the Serbian state towards Moscow and lately Beijing as well. Despite necessity of Serbia to keep balanced approach to both West and the East, its relative economic dependence on EU and need to at the same time struggle with hostile foreign influences, especially regarding Kosmet and Republic of Srpska, and restore its industrial and economic infrastructure, it is still, without a doubt the most friendly country in the Balkans towards Russian Federation, and that is on the official state level.
Affection towards Russia, Russian people, its culture, history and tradition is, in my personal opinion, far greater once we start discussing feelings of ordinary people, everyday Serbs who have experienced on their own skin violence and hypocrisy of the West and who, in terms of supranational integration projects, might be far more ready to willingly accept and support Serbia’s accession to Eurasian Economic Union or Shangai Cooperation Organization then European Union.
One should keep in mind, as well, wider geopolitical events prior to dissolution of Yugoslavia. With fall of the Soviet Union and disappearance of its military block, the Warsaw Pact, NATO found itself as an organization suddenly void of purpose. Countries counted among enemies until yesterday were already petitioning Bruselles for membership in the EU and even NATO, troops and arms deployed across Western Europe over night lost their main enemy, Berlin Wall fell and West and East Germany reunified into one federal republic. NATO officials, especially those at the very top, had to react quickly and find a new mission for this now obsolete military alliance, and wouldn’t you know it, there were these pesky barbaric Serbs, in that dark part of Europe, where grudges are old and bad blood runs deep, a very fitting place to use and rebrand NATO as a bulwark of civilization against all those phenomena, recently rejected by scholars of the new imperial project as evil, whether those are nationalism, nation state, national sovereignty, traditional values, traditional family and similar offences to the brave new world.
If we just imagine for the moment that dissolution of Yugoslavia was a peaceful affair, justifying further survival of NATO might be far harder point to sell to euphoric European public that lived to finally see “the end of war” so to speak. North Atlantic alliance simply had to survive, for it was possibly the most important tool of American control upon its European “allies” and influence on their domestic policies. To give up on NATO was to give up on already laid infrastructure which was, even in that moment, actively in process of being transformed into its imperial equivalent, the foundation of the world empire that was yet to come.
So, in conclusion, Serbian people might have been targeted by Western powers in general for several overlapping reasons, both on political, geopolitical and ideological plain. United States, it would seem, was in the seventies and eighties entering a certain ideological shift, probably in the beginning influenced by weakening of the Soviet Union, and then catalyzed by its fall in the last decade of the previous century. This transformation was from a republic with nation state characteristics into an empire with globalist appetites.
Globalist ideology, its ripe form we are seeing today, was developing at the same time, supported by Western political and intellectual elites together with big corporative business interests. I have omitted to mention in greater detail part big business played in the creation of the world such as it is today, especially the large international corporations, though make no mistake, their influence was of critical importance.
Unlike their political counterparts, economic elite was in majority driven, at first, by will to accumulate as much income as possible. This always meant expanding to new markets and deforming legal norms so as to best suit interests of these companies, as we had opportunity to see around the globe and within the West itself, especially the United States during the last five years, where tech monopolies have reached such scale that complete censorship of a sitting US president and all those supporting him does not cause unified outrage, but is greeted with cheers by half of the population and very large chunk of political and administrative officials. No concrete or serious action is taken against any corporative entity involved in this scandal and they continue to operate in modus of business as usual.
High fluidity of personnel transfers between political and corporative sphere has increasingly linked these two parts of social life that it sometimes becomes rather difficult to observe where one begins and other ends. Military-industrial complex is a perfect example, however, this phenomena is present in other parts of both political and corporative scene, where members of one administration, just after they finish time in the office become members on the board of large companies, or vice versa.
Certain level of interconnectedness is necessary by the very nature of human society, though what we have today in US has gone above and beyond and we can talk, with little margin of error, about American oligarchy, which historically, corresponds with imperial political structure. In its drive to incorporate the East within its own sphere of influence, Western powers attempted to spread their own values, political system and physically incorporate ex-communist countries within their own economic, political and military arrangements. When Paul Wolfowitz speaks of an opportunity window of 5-10 years, I do not believe he is conveying only his personal opinion but the general consensus in the West at the time.
Time was limited and things had to happen fast. Enter Serbs who, of all people in the ex-Yugoslavia, and even Europe of that time, seemed to resist certain aspects of the new global ordering, in part due to incompatibility of ideological foundations and in part due to historical experience. Serbs and Serbia needed to be broken and humiliated, which is another characteristic of imperial regimes, for they tend to, so to speak, take political challenges rather personally and lash out in force driven by hubris.
Enemy is not just an enemy, he is more than that, he becomes symbol of resistance, a very dangerous thing for the imperial center for where one nation may resist, so might others in time, and thus needs to be dehumanized and destroyed so none would think of following its example or even recognize any sort of value in the struggle against imperial ambitions. Illustrative of this is the cover of the Times magazine from 1995 when NATO was bombing Serbs in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The title read “Bringing Serbs to heel” and we all know that you bring to heel a misbehaving or a dangerous animal. It serves as a window into understanding how were Serbs perceived by the West then, and I would argue, partially even now.
- 10. Next, whom do you see as the main culprits? US? UK? Germany? The Papacy? NATO? Islam? Please describe to us whom you see as the worst enemies of the Serbian nation today?
As with your previous question, this one is complex as well and if I wanted to give you the shortest possible answer I would have to say either all above or some combination of them. Though, once observed in more detail it becomes unquestionable that first three countries you mentioned, United States, United Kingdom and Germany bear the brunt of responsibility and I use this opportunity to place this responsibility within elites, political and otherwise, of these countries, not their populations in general.
Historically speaking, Islam and Papacy could, in different moments, be seen as main sources of crimes against Serbian people, or for that matter Orthodox people in general, however in the case of troubles befalling Serbs in the nineties and even today, previously named three countries are far ahead of any other possibly conceived enemy. For reasons mentioned in the earlier answers Berlin, Washington and London were and remain central hubs of demonization of Serbs and Serbia, especially by insistence on the narrative established in the last decade of the twentieth century.
In regards to all of these events NATO was more of a useful tool than actually an independent actor in its own right. We have seen, particularly once Trump took the office that US, with several other countries, is the main financier of the entire project while majority of European countries are more or less enjoying a relatively free ride. It is only natural that Washington has the leading and concluding word in terms of NATO activities given US are paying the bill, so to speak, though even that is not the only reason for dogged reliance and obedience to US demands and plans by the European countries.
In my opinion, another important reason is ideological transformation of, mostly, Western European countries which are by this point Americanized to a significant degree and it is more than proper to ask the question are these countries even European as that was understood seventy, a hundred years ago, or does European today means American ideology promoted by those born on the European continent.
The worst enemies of the Serbian people and state today is a dual category. We have the outside adversaries, which remain the same capitals as for the last thirty years, and even before that. London, Berlin, Washington. None of them have significantly changed their stance on Serbia in the issues that matter the most. Serbia holds military exercises with NATO countries, officially is interested in joining the EU, has large volume of trade and economic activities with European countries, but when it comes to preservation of Republic of Srpska in Bosnia and Herzegovina, or question of Kosovo and Metohija and its peaceful reintegration into Serbia, neither UK, US nor Germany have moved even a bit.
Many domestic and foreign political analysts often repeat that for these countries question of Kosmet is a finished thing, and yet they are still pressuring Belgrade to recognize political abomination that is Kosovo* and criminal process which lead to its creation. Two process outlined above, process of cooperation with the West and process of constant attacks upon stability of Serbia by those same Western states cannot coexist forever, excluding some rather unique circumstances, and something will have to give in the long run.
Single scenario where I can see preservation of current state of affairs between Serbia and the West is implementation of Resolution 1244, return of Serbian security personnel and structures back to Kosovo and Metohija and its reintegration with significant autonomy for the Albanians without interference from western capitals and their advocacy being limited to support of Albanian autonomy.
The way things are now, this is nothing but, to use an American saying, a fever dream. Return of Serbian security structures to the province would definitely entail return of other mechanism of the Serbian state, which would be perceived by both the West and their local Albanian henchmen as defeat due to the fact that for the last two decades entire drama around Kosmet has been built on presumption of winner takes all, and from the worldview of Washington and rest of the company, Albanians were supposed to be the winners. The abysmal state of affairs in the so called “Republic of Kosovo” today calls into question all efforts by Albanian elites and their western sponsors to build a credible state.
Involvement of highest Albanian political officials with criminal activities, especially narcotics trafficking is well documented, outlook for the average Albanian is bleak given the impoverished state of economy and development with official demographic figures being nothing but a smoke screen given that many Albanians, especially the younger ones, have migrated to Europe or further West. The heyday of Albanian demographic peak, from the early nineties is long in the past, if it was accurate even then, and though exact number is unknown, experts today are usually referring to an overall Kosovo* population of somewhat more than one million people.
West has invested a lot in the Kosovo* project but the pickings are slim, at least when it comes to the development of corruption-free state institutions or universal recognition of Kosovo* as an independent country. Despite these slim results, western powers cannot come to terms that return of Serbian authorities to Kosovo would improve situation precisely due to the zero-sum game both them and Albanians are subscribed to.
However, as world changes around us and balance of powers comes into greater flux than in decades before, it seems that Serbia might simply act in accordance with its universally recognized right by Resolution 1244 and move into Kosmet with its own security and military elements. That event alone would put an end to any sort of pretense Kosovo* is a state as all others and the two decades long charade would be, in large part, thrown into chaos. West could try to militarily intervene, but these are not the 90s anymore.
Hotspots are arising both in the core of the West and on its periphery, hotspots created, largely due to western meddling and attempts to increase its influence across the globe, hotspots with tendency to backfire, like we saw with Afghanistan.
Besides the foreign adversaries, one must always keep in mind domestic enemies of the Serbian people and state, largely located in Belgrade itself, but financed by mostly western money through grants of differing natures, all of them supposedly for development of democratic institutions, journalistic integrity and good practices, civil society and what not, but it, roughly speaking, boils down to advocacy of foreign capitals interests within Serbian society without any regard for consequences of those interests upon Serbian people and the country.
They might even be more dangerous adversary for it is through them that different manner of subversive messages and ideas are being introduced into society, with aim of its transformation, all under demagogic cover of freedom, human rights, promotion of individualism and other buzz-words that have come close to losing all meaning in the last twenty years.
- 11. Serbia has been a candidate for EU membership for a long time now. How do you see this issue? Will Serbia ever join European Union?
Serbia and its aspirations for the membership in the European Union should be observed from several perspectives. First one are requirements placed upon Belgrade on its road to full membership, the second, advantages Serbia would receive from membership and the third is evaluation of the European Union itself, in terms of its internal stability and external influence.
Problems appear as soon as we take into consideration the first issue, given that EU has requested from Serbia adjustment of its internal political and legislative system and its external policies with that of the EU, despite offering nothing except, ever more vague, notion of membership.
Adjustment of internal political and legislative norms means introduction into Serbian society all those ailments that have been burdening societies in the West for decades now, all those “values” that inevitably lead to dissolution of family as the basic building block of society, to introduction of different pathologies as desirable behaviors, to culture wars and similar phenomena, foreign to Serbian culture and tradition, and which are to, in significant measure, to blame for current state of the western civilization.
In his recent Valdai conference speech, Russian president Vladimir Put clearly pinpointed these so-called values as main causes of social disintegration and further called out some of them as being close to “crimes against humanity”. Main point is that these “values” are not being promoted as organic parts of the society for we have seen over and over again that even societies in the western countries, or at least part of them, react negatively to these ideological constructs, let alone other societies across the globe. They are forced upon society through use of legal norms whose acceptance is one of the key features to positive assessment from EU regarding advancement by candidate country on the road of accession.
Two new laws introduced, but subjected to current and ongoing critique, to Serbian legislature are laws regarding same-sex marriages, which is seen as just an entry point into further legalization of homosexuality, further increase of presence for LGBT propaganda and adoption of children, and law on gender equality which tempers with basics of Serbian language introducing foreign terms and concepts unknown to Serbian language and its historical and organic development while forcing those foreign concepts into everyday use, which is nothing other than a characteristic of imperialistic ideology and mentality.
When it comes to foreign policy, Brussels demanded Serbia coordinates its stance towards China and especially Russia with that of the EU itself, that is, to introduce a wide range of sanctions to Russia and to decrease the level of economic cooperation with China, which is a request bordering on either highest hubris or idiocy for it presumes Serbia would sacrifice its own political standing in the world and economic development for the sake of EU Russophobia driven purely by ideological reasons.
Russian Federation and China are some of the most important, if not key, allies Serbia has today. The scope of cooperation between Moscow and Belgrade, especially in terms of arms trade, is extensive, as is with China as well. Russia provides, by means of Balkan stream Serbian branch, natural gas to both Serbia and countries in Central Europe. By connecting Hungarian and Serbian gas pipelines, Belgrade becomes important transit area for Russian gas which itself, as we can see in the current energy crisis in Europe, is of critical importance to the entirety of the continent. By severing ties it developed over the last decade with both great Asian powers, Serbia would be only damaging itself, just like Bulgarians shoot themselves in the foot in 2014 when they, for the sake of EU, sabotaged South Stream gas pipeline that was supposed to carry Russian natural gas to Central Europe.
Furthermore, one of main conditions placed before Serbia for entry into EU is, euphemistically called, normalization of relations with Kosovo*, that is full recognition and, if not support, then indifference towards its aspirations to join different international institutions such as Interpol or United Nations. This would be equal to political suicide of any political party at power at that moment and would undermine internal stability of Serbia itself, while going clearly against popular will and Serbian interests, and not only Serbian but interest of other countries that find themselves in similar situations as Belgrade. Despite all concessions Serbia made up to this point, and they have been substantial, Resolution 1244 is still applicable and valid.
Provocations of Albanians from Kosmet have only worsened over time and escalated in the last couple of months. To those following situation it is clear Albanians from Kosmet did not fulfill a single obligation from the Brussels agreement. To repeat, not a single one, and were not in any way penalized by the West, but that is only to be expected. On the other hand, Serbia is pressured over and over to give more ground, to further erode its own position, while at the same time Serbian cultural heritage on Kosovo* is under threat of destruction or theft and people, who live in ghettos, are submitted to repeated harassment by the quasi-government operating there.
To normalize relations with Kosovo* would actually mean legitimization, by Serbian authorities, of everything that happened in Kosovo and Metohija, not only after its self-declared independence but even prior to that. All the crimes, the entire “freedom fighting” narrative, NATO aggression, wide scale economic devastations and thousands of dead, organ harvesting from Serb prisoners and other minorities on Kosmet by Albanian criminals today turned politicians, all of that and even more would be recognized as legitimate foundation of an independence.
For its own sake, both in terms of political stability and collective self-respect, Serbia can only insist Kosmet be reintegrated within its borders, anything else which would further Albanian attempts at gaining recognition would have deep and long lasting consequences for Belgrade.
The second issue which should drive Serbia’s accession to EU are advantages it would receive from membership, however, as we have seen in the previous point, advantage in advancement regarding legislative system, overall functioning of society and development of some higher values is simply not there.
To be direct, European Union is not interested in preservation and strengthening of autochthonic European peoples, in any way imaginable.
Whether it be in biological sense, with fertility rate which can sustain domestic population or make it grow slowly, whether it be in sense of preservation of cultural achievements of the Europeans, or their millennial traditions, religion, particular languages or anything else. All those who mention the theory of Great Replacement are deemed conspiracy theorist, as a way of being mocked and driven to the fringes of philosophical and political arena, but we have seen recently Tucker Carlson, possibly the most popular US journalist currently, use this exact term in reference to what is happening in United States regarding large influx of South American migrants into the country.
Whatever someone says, let us, for the sake of this issue, dispense with any sort of ideology and observe natural flow of affairs. Due to the low fertility rates, autochthonic population declines in number as its gets older while at the same time, high fertility rates and vigorous influx of new arrivals increases the migrant population while lowering its median age. If this process is not reversed or arrested through different policies and is left to its own devices, the replacement of native population with migrant one stops being a conspiracy theory and becomes a stark fact, a natural affair of things.
This exact process is underway in Europe, and it would seem, now United States. People arriving to both the Old and the New World have little in common with native populations, and this is not a judgment regarding quality of one or the other culture framework, it is a simple and clinical observation. Migrants arriving in Europe are mostly those from Africa, Middle East and greater Asia, while those coming to US are, as far as I can observe, from South and Central America, though migrants from other parts of the globe are not rarity. In both US and Europe, we find native populations with negative fertility rates, growing older, and younger migrant populations more vibrant in terms of demographics.
Traditions, religion, issue of morality and cultural differences between these populations are clear. In this situation, replacement is only a matter of when not if. European Union, a project supposedly, by European nations and for European nations does nothing to improve situation of native people, on the contrary, it only exacerbates the current crisis with its policies formed on ideology.
In terms of economic prowess, European Union is far from what it used to be and we can see now that both the EU integration and introduction of the single currency benefitted Germany the most, while negatively impacting other European countries with special emphasis on those from Eastern and Southern Europe, which in fact, for most instances, became a source of labor and destination for “foreign investments” by the countries from the West of the continent, which in fact do little to improve the overall economic situation within these states.
Older core EU states, such as Germany, France and until recently UK operate on premises of parasitic economic model for they are replenishing their own, material and human needs, by drawing both from other parts of Europe, and further, which only has detrimental effect on those European countries struggling with falling birthrates, stagnating economy, undeveloped industry and decreasing population. Brain drain, one of the best known effects of these processes, to which many a conference has been dedicated in the EU, is caused by the European Union itself and promotion of Germany as European “economic” engine.
In terms of security, affairs remain as they were in the last three decades, EU is a midget with limited capacity to independently act in the global arena and after the recent debacle where US intelligent services were with impunity spying on most important European leaders, such as Merkel and Macron, it would seem EU is incapable to provide certain expected features of internal security for its top political brass, let alone the majority of its population.
Specter of Islamic terrorism, plaguing western Europe for a long time now cannot be exclusively blamed on the terrorist themselves, for in this case, neoliberal policies regarding migration and ideology of multiculturalism, upon which Bruxelles insists, have contributed to inflammation of the problem, and EU technocratic elite is to bear it’s part of the blame.
When discussing internal stability of the EU, as our third issue, we cannot avoid to mention the structural crisis which has plagued this supranational entity for a while now, which can be most simply described as problem arising from ever growing tendency of the European Union to take over sovereign competencies of its member states and unwillingness of these countries to allow this. The most illustrative representation of this crisis can be found in the escalating confrontation between, on one side, Bruxelles and the EU political elite, and on the other, member states of Poland and Hungary which have, only in the last three to four years defied instructions of the European Union on number of issues, most prominent being refusal to accept migrant quotas, resistance to implementation of LGBT ideology and propaganda in their societies and insistence on primacy of their national laws over the “universal” laws of the Union.
Poland has recently raised the stakes by proclamation of its highest judicial body that Polish constitution takes precedent over the common legislative norms of the EU, which in itself can be seen as a rather significant challenge to the structure of the European Union as we know it. Without need to get into details of the current issue, it is enough to understand the main quarrel is, basically, over who will be the sole possessor and user of the principle of sovereignty, that is, who will be responsible to answer to whom in the political hierarchy of the European continent.
For the unelected elite in Bruxelles, European Union has, or should have, the sole monopoly over decisions related to creation and shaping of political and legislative EU framework. Basically, in this state of affairs, what are member states today would become imperial provinces tomorrow. On the other hand, different political forces across Europe stand in opposition to this vision and still insist national state is the most natural and appropriate holder of sovereign rights on its own territory.
European Union, for them, is not a utopia into which all nations and countries in Europe should drown themselves in, but a useful framework for more efficient cooperation in local matters and stronger representation on the global stage. Lastly, it should be noted it was not European Union which created its member states, but sovereign European countries who built up first European community and then EU.
My personal opinion is, once we take all of the above into consideration, that EU does not offer anything to Serbia, except possibly, a fading glamour of being a EU member state and there is no real advantage to participating in this supranational organization, in particular if country is willing to preserve a certain level of independent action on global and local stage.
By this point it is clear that EU is suffering from what seems to be a deepening crisis and simply has no strength or capability to integrate the remaining parts of the continent into its political structure. French president Macron, with all of his failings, was at least in this regard honest when he pointed out in 2019 that there will be no French support for further enlargement until EU resolves its own internal issues and question of its own reform. This position further cements the view many people in the Balkans are entertaining currently, reflected in opinion that two decades of myriad reforms, adjustments and liberalizations were all for naught and that the promised prize of membership looks less and less attractive as the years go by.
The current situation, both within EU and in terms to its international presence and prestige, depicts a rather different Union from what we have been accustomed to hear from its propaganda outlets. It is a dysfunctional system where Bruxelles, aiming to become sole and true political and legislative central authority, has been forced to use threats and coercion against member states which refuse to accept the ideological mores and “values”, someone proclaimed “European”, incompatible with their tradition and culture or quietly accept gradual hollowing out of their constitutional and sovereign rights. All illusions are gone by now and I hope Serbia will never become a member in the Union as it is today, and furthermore, my hope is that if EU is incapable of transforming into something of service to European nations it will disappear given that the current structure has become a detriment, not an advantage, for peoples of Europe.
- 12. The town of Prijedor has been mentioned lately in association with another charge of genocide. Can you tell us what actually happened there and why this, relatively sudden, appearance of a new genocide accusation.First and foremost, so it is clear from the very start, there was no such thing as genocide committed against Muslim population in Prijedor.
Today, one way or another, a lot of people around the world, and in the West specifically, have come to understand many things they were told about events in Srebrenica, things they have might blindly believed because they believed to source, simply were not true and moreover, understanding that Srebrenica did not exist in a political or historical vacuum is today more clear than it was in the time when BBC, CNN and other western news agencies held sway over the media space and still seemed as respectable and professional organizations dedicated to the journalistic mission.
It is of importance to note political Sarajevo has been attempting, for a while now, to transfer genocide narrative from the local setting of Srebrenica onto the state level of Bosnia and Herzegovina with claims genocide against Muslims was committed on the entire territory of the country, or at least those parts controlled by Serbs. Even that mockery of justice, the kangaroo court in Hague was clear there was no evidence whatsoever of genocide perpetrated on country wide base and that therefore claims of Muslim leadership are false, though here Bosnian Muslims have displayed the same characteristic as the court in question, selective approach to the issue at hand.
Narrative about so-called genocide in Prijedor should be observed within framework of this greater initiative to make Srebrenica, so to speak, state wide. Claims about crimes in Prijedor come at the moment when Srebrenica narrative is starting to show signs of being worn out and losing impact it had decades ago.
Data from census conducted in 1991 depict Prijedor as a town with more or less equal number of Serbian and Muslim inhabitants. Number of Serbs in the city was 13.987, while Muslims numbered 13.388. The rest of the population, around 20% of the entirety of inhabitants was composed out of those who identified as Yugoslavs, Croats and other national minorities. The entire municipality, city and its surrounding area, numbered in 1991 more than 112.000 people with national composition closely reflecting that found in the urban center.
There was 47.581 inhabitants who were Serbs, while Muslims had a very slight majority of 49.351. Given this national composition, and the volatility of the situation just before war started, it is relatively easy to assume situation in Prijedor was, mildly said, complicated. In the first multi-party elections, Party of Democratic Action (Stranka Demokratske Akcije – SDA), the main political force of the Bosnian Muslim won in Prijedor. As soon as levers of political powers were in their hands, recomposition of cadres began, where Serbian officials, especially in the security structures were replaced by Muslims.
By the moment Serbs in Prijedor took decisive action, on the 30th of April 1992, the entire Headquarters of the Territorial Defense for Prijedor was composed exclusively from Muslims. As it was mentioned earlier, situation in Prijedor was tense though it was the one city where clashes began latest of the entirety of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
In the wider context it is important to understand war in Croatia was already underway, Yugoslavia was disintegrating and international community of that time had already recognized sovereignty and independence of both Slovenia and Croatia. Both of these states have proclaimed their independence, such as it was, almost a year prior to events in Prijedor, that is on the 25th of June 1991. Prijedor, being located in the north-east Bosnia and Herzegovina, close to border with Croatia, served as one of locations from which Muslims went to receive training from newly created Croatian forces and to participate in the war within Croatia itself. Many of those trained by Croats then returned to Bosnia and Prijedor.
By 3rd March 1992 Bosnia and Herzegovina had declared its independence from Yugoslavia, following an invalid referendum and complete boycott of both it and political processes by the Serbian people and its leadership in Bosnia. It is of importance to note that prior to events in Prijedor, from their own perspective and perspective of the strongest international powers at that moment, both Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina were independent countries. Those who took issue with new status of both Croatia and Bosnia were Belgrade and Serbs in general, but in this moment, very little attention is given to their interests and protests.
Already at this period there was a number of refugee Serbs, from Croatia, living in Prijedor, whose presence and experiences rather unsettled the Serbian population as did the general development of the situation. Another aspect of the wider events, which due to its importance, must be taken into consideration is the fact troops from Croatia proper, not units of Bosnian Croats, were already crossing the state border and targeting areas populated by Serbs.
On 3rd March 1992, two months prior to events in Prijedor, local mixed force of Muslims and Croats, assisted by military units from Croatia, took control of Bosanski Brod, town and municipality on the very border between Bosnia and Croatia. Unlike in Prijedor, in Bosanski Brod two largest, almost identical in number, groups were Serbs and Croats. What followed was a massacre of Serbian population in nearby village of Sijekovac where around two hundred Serbian civilians were murdered by Croats and Muslims in different manner. On the 23rd of March, town of Višegrad, in eastern Bosnia, is taken by the Muslim forces while some ten days later Croatian forces will capture Kupres where crimes against Serbian population are committed as well.
Besides local Croat forces, units of the regular Croatian army were present in the town of Livno, located in western Herzegovina. Another northern border town, Derventa, was captured in this period by units of regular Croatian army. Odžak is taken by regular Croatian army units on 18th of April which is followed by crimes against local Serbian population. Only two days later clashes begin around Sanski Most, and day after that in Bosanska Krupa. At the moment when first clashes begin in Sarajevo, majority of central Bosnia is in hands of the combined Croat-Muslim forces. Majority of the mentioned towns is located in the northern part of Bosnia and Herzegovina, very close to the state border with Croatia.
This is of importance because, as we have seen, Muslims and Croats at the very start of war combined their forces and efforts against Serbian population in the north Bosnia where, for all intense and purposes, state border ceased to exist as a meaningful category given the intensity and scale of constant intrusions by the regular Croatian forces. So far we have proclamations of independence by Slovenia, and more importantly Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. These proclamations were recognized as legitimate, first and foremost by western countries, and insistence of political Muslim elite in Sarajevo was for a civic Bosnia and Herzegovina, where everyone would be treated as equal citizen in rights and obligations. At the same side we have actions of military units from Croatia which directly and unquestionably violate the newly proclaimed sovereignty and independence of Bosnia by direct attacks on its territory and citizens, overwhelmingly Serbs. Muslim leadership remains silent and furthermore, facilitates these attacks by participating in them through its paramilitary units.
This fact alone is enough to lay to rest any notion of multicultural state interested in wellbeing for all of its citizenry. From the very start, Serbs have been perceived by both Croat and Muslim political leaders as the “disruptive” factor and were targeted for outright elimination, in one way or another.
As Yugoslavia unraveled so did its army and by the moment events in Prijedor took place a large majority of both Muslims and Croats have already deserted and formed either paramilitary or military units in Bosnia and Croatia. True enough, certain number of them remained in service, however, YPA (Yugoslav People’s Army – JNA) by the end of 1992 was composed mainly of Serbs and for those units stationed in barracks on the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina, majority of soldiers and officers were actually native to Bosnia itself. This further explains clear warnings of Serbian leadership in Prijedor that attacks on former units of YPA would be considered as a direct declaration of war against Serbian people, or as it was officially formulated, as incentive to begin combat operations in Prijedor itself.
On 29th April a, now infamous, communique by the so-called Minister of Interior Affairs Alija Delimustafić was sent out from Sarajevo, an order which was almost copied to the letter by Hasan Efendić, commander of the Muslim-Croat Territorial Defense forces, which by this point were still referred to as Territorial Defense but were in essence everything but. One copy of the Efendić order was sent to the TD headquarters in Prijedor and the local police station, where it was, it would seem, by sheer luck for the Serbian population, received by a police officer who was a Serb.
These two commands, nigh identical, are characterized by four points which provide instructions regarding actions to be taken against Yugoslav People’s Army, which was by this point, both by Serbian people and Croat-Muslim leadership perceived as Serbian military force.
The most important parts of the communique were the following four points:
- Implement complete and massive obstruction on all road routes, in direct coordination with the Ministry of Internal Affairs, on the territory of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina where units of the ex-Yugoslav People’s Army are initiating extraction of technical material assets.
- Execute blockade of a wider area surrounding military installations from which technical material assets are being removed, by different types of formation and natural obstacles which are to be secured by Territorial Defense of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina units and personnel of Ministry of Interior Affairs.
- Unannounced columns of former Yugoslav People’s Army, without escort of Ministry of Internal Affairs, are to be prevented from leaving their barracks as well as communicating on the territory of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
- Hasten planning and initiate combat on the entire territory of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina while coordinating these activities with headquarters of the Territorial Defense for region, district and Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Within plans for combat activities include extensive plans for protection of population and material goods of the citizens of Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
As we can see from these commands, while northern border is disintegrating under intrusions of Croatian forces, political leadership in Sarajevo is focused on the YPA, or to be precise, those elements of the Serbian people who were active military personnel with access to both knowledge and means to wage combat operations.
As previously stated, by this point, very few Muslims and Croats remained in the ranks of the former common army. Fact that citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina were being murdered by foreign aggressors seemingly had no impact on Muslim-Croatian leadership in Sarajevo, after all, it was just Serbs who were targeted.
After taking stock of the wider context and events happening in the entirety of the country we turn back to Prijedor and events therein. As earlier mentioned, things were starting to develop for the worse before 1992 and Serbs were aware of the possible impact this could have on their communities so, given both positions of power in security structure, chief of the Station of Public Safety and commander for the Police station for traffic control and security, were occupied by Muslims, Serbian police officers formed shadow police stations in secret and after the command from Delimustafić was received conducted a series of preemptive actions to seize most important institutions and strategic locations.
For an uninformed reader it is necessary to understand this level of cooperation between Muslims and Croats was not something new and was deeply unsettling for local Serbian population for it reminded them of Croat-Muslim cooperation during Second World War when Serbian population of Prijedor and surrounding area suffered greatly from Croatian Ustashe and their Muslim underlings, with special emphasis on the fact that the only, to my knowledge, concentration camp created exclusively for children in entire Nazi occupied Europe was located in Jastrebarsko, little town near Croatian capital, some two hours’ drive from Prijedor itself.
After everything Serbs from western part of Bosnia survived at hands of their Croatian and Muslim neighbors during time of the Independent State of Croatia, it is understandable they viewed the reemergence of Croat and Muslim alliance with deep mistrust. Without a single fired shot or single fatality on either side, operation conducted by the Serbian forces was completed with all goals successfully achieved. This was done in the early hours of the 30th April, less than twenty four hours after command from Sarajevo arrived and was read at the last working session of police officers from all nationalities.
On the same day when action was executed all Muslim and Croatian members of the police force were offered an opportunity to retain their positions under condition they sign statement of loyalty to the Serbian Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina (initial name of the Republic of Srpska). Almost all of them refused and the day after, 1st May, saw the first casualty of war in Prijedor, a Serbian police officer Radenko Đapo.
Muslims and Croats were not satisfied with the developing situation and after Serbian units took control, they attempted through use of force to change the situation on the ground. Despite initial success, operation meet with resistance and turned into a defeat after period of intensive fighting in the city itself and its surroundings. Attackers, both Muslims and Croats, were overwhelmingly locals from Prijedor who had family both in the city and the surrounding villages. After their assault on the urban core failed, Croat and Muslim troops either retreated or dispersed into the countryside which prompted Serbian authorities to release a general public notice which can be found on YouTube in original and which is fully translated bellow:
“Muslim and Croatian extremists, lead by Slavko Ećimović who was hiding from authorities for the last fifteen days in nearby settlements, this morning initiated attacks on Station of Public Safety, Municipal Assembly building, the Radio Station and several other important objects in the city. The attacks began from multiple positions and were synchronized, but in short time members of the Serbian army and police encircled the attackers. At this time, crisis headquarters from Prijedor gave an announcement and called upon all Serbian people to make themselves available to the Army of the Serbian Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina and police in defense of the city from paramilitary formations. Despite organized attack from multiple directions, at 04:30 in the morning, the announcement proceeds to say, forces of the Army of the Serbian Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina and police took the initiative and are closing around the attackers and settlements they are located in. There is no need for fear or panic and citizens loyal to the Serbian Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina are asked to display on their houses, in a visible location, white flags. Citizens of Prijedor are informed that Slavko Ećimović was captured this morning, organizer of the assault on Prijedor, who disclosed the plan of attack on the “Žarko Zgonjanin” military barracks, municipality building, police station, radio station Prijedor and some other important objects.”
Now we come to crux of the matter regarding Prijedor and that is the mention of white flags in the context possible to gleam from the above radio announcement. However, those who are trying to sell events in Prijedor as another genocide claim Serbian authorities actually instructed non-Serb population in Prijedor to wear white armbands as a sign of recognition and for the purpose of their elimination.
As we have seen from the radio message by Serbian authorities there was no mention of armbands whatsoever. Peddlers of the Prijedor white bands myth have often implied another radio announcement exists where white bands are explicitly mentioned, though they were never able to deliver the actual recording. Use of white bands is by no means accidental and is used to create a link between imaginary genocide from the civil war in Bosnia and Herzegovina and all too real horrors of the Second World War when white armbands were used both to denote those whom Nazis and their collaborators considered sub-human and those who actually worked with the Nazis and contributed to their war effort.
Members of Ustashe wore white bands, though theirs had the different markings denoting their allegiance to the Independent State of Croatia. White bands have been used by various sides in various conflicts, where they denoted both the victims and perpetrators. During Second World War, in some instances they were used to mark refugees, during civil war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serb soldiers on several occasions wore white bands around their arms as a recognition marker. At the same time, Serbian civilians wore them as well so it is highly likely some individuals might have had white bands, at one time or another, but it is clear there was no official command for Muslim and Croatian population to place white armbands on themselves.
I would also like to draw attention of the readers to the fact that between moment Serbian authorities took control of Prijedor, on the April 30th and the attack of Muslim and Croatian forces on the city, on 30th of May, a full month had passed. This is of great importance because it stands in opposition to those who are supporting the narrative of genocide in Prijedor, given one of their main explanations for the supposed command regarding white armbands is they made identification of Muslims and Croats easier for Serbian forces which were to eliminate them.
However, it goes against basic logic that a party involved in planning elimination of enemy population would wait to do so. This applies especially for Prijedor given the demographic situation and overall context. Propaganda aside, both Muslims and Croats were neither without weapons nor knowledge to use them. As we have seen from the Sarajevo communique they were to seize initiative and attack, as it happened in other parts of Bosnia.
Both Muslims and Croats were openly hostile and if Serbs were truly bent on their elimination in Prijedor it goes against every logic they would wait for their enemies to further organize themselves, consolidate and adapt to the new situation on the ground, and yet Serbs did exactly that, despite having the tactical advantage and achieving victory by surprise. For purpose of the record, if nothing else, it should be noted that during the clashes in summer of 1992, there were several hundred of both Muslims and Croats within ranks of the Army of the Republic of Srpska. Interestingly enough, these soldiers came from families with partisan background, while those serving in Croatian and Muslim units were from those families serving the Independent State of Croatia back in WW2.
In the end it is of importance to note several relevant non-Serbian sources from that time clearly indicate white armbands narrative is, at best, a gross distortion of real events. Roy Gutman, a journalist and Pulitzer prize winner, can be for all intense and purposes considered pro-Muslim and anti-Serbian activist. His writings regarding events in Bosnia speak for themselves, and within them he compares Serbs with Nazis, how very original, while claiming that “genocide” against Bosnian Muslims is the vilest crime against one European people since the holocaust. Mr. Gutman uses many other adjectives for Serbs, none of them flattering or true, for that matter, though it would seem that in all of his literary drivel about Bosnia, Serbs and the civil war, Roy Gutman never mentions any case of white armbands in Prijedor. What are the chances? Just imagine the vampiric relish with which Gutman would have pounced on this piece of information, for there it was, a clear link between loathed Serbs and disgusting Nazis. White armbands. And yet, in relation to Prijedor, no mention of them, ever. To the best of my knowledge, Mr. Gutman wrote all of his articles, later published as a book, while safe and sound in Croatian capital. He never went to the front lines or places he wrote about and satisfied himself with testimonies of supposed Croat and Muslim eyewitnesses. Strange than that not even these eyewitnesses ever mentioned white armbands in Prijedor. Sarajevo newspaper Oslobođenje features an article, from 1992, about camps for Muslim prisoners who had to wear white armbands. Unfortunately for Oslobođenje, video and pictorial material from Prijedor, Trnopolje and Omarska clearly show none of prisoners had any white bands whatsoever, therefore placing this article among propaganda pieces, where it belongs. Final source to consider are records of Croatian Army, that is, its intelligence service, regarding combat operations in and around Prijedor. As we have seen, regular units of Croatian army helped in numerous ways to paramilitaries of both Muslims and Croats in Bosnia. While eavesdropping on Serbian communication during the fight for Prijedor, Croatian military intelligence indeed records use of white armbands, but by Serbs. Soldiers of the Serbian armor column where ordered to display white armbands just before they entered Prijedor to join the combat operations. Croatian reports are clear, white armbands are worn by Serbian soldiers for the purpose of friend-or-foe recognition. No civilians are mentioned at all. During liberation of Derventa, town in northern Bosnia, Serbian troops also wore white bands on their shoulders, as a recognition marker. Even in this short overview of a limited number of non-Serbian sources material evidence and pure logic indicate white bands in Prijedor are nothing but a political creation with political purposes and without any base in reality.
There is no need to sugarcoat anything regarding war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. As wars usually go, it was a bloody affair and Prijedor has its share of traumas from that period but claims that Serbian population and authorities from that part of the country had previously developed a plan to eliminate their Croatian and Muslim neighbors is nothing but a lie, just as are the narratives behind the white armbands and “genocide” in Prijedor.
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