Transcript of January 30, 2002 proceedings
By adding three lies, one does not get the truth – only a bigger lie. All three indictments really have a running thread – to use a statement I’ve heard used here – which is the ongoing crime against Yugoslavia and against my people. This here is obviously a colossal abuse of power to fabricate an historical forgery in which those who advocated the preservation of Yugoslavia would be charged with its destruction; those who defended the country would be accused of crimes; and those who advocated and committed secession, advocating separatism and terrorism, would be given amnesty – because they were backed by forces that wanted to establish control over the Balkans, so as to be able to use this strategic position to establish their control elsewhere.
As we’ve heard, you spoke of three connected events. How come the authors of this so-called plan, of which they speak so self-assuredly, only got around to making allegations about Bosnia and Croatia after ten years? Furthermore, these claims are absurd and nonsensical, primarily because the entire policy of the Serbs, Serbia and me personally was in regard to Croatia and Bosnia focused on peace, not war. We had used all our influence to achieve peace as soon as possible.
At the very beginning of the conflict in Croatia, we advocated a political solution. Based on that proposal, the UN Protected Areas were established and the situation calmed down immediately. On March 24, 1992, the late Croatian leader Tudjman spoke to his nation from the Ban Jelacic Square [in Zagreb], saying literally: “There would not have been a war had Croatia not wanted it, but we judged this was the only way to achieve independence.” There would have certainly been no war had Croatia not wished for it. Serbia never participated in that war anyway. It was an internal conflict.
Why did Croatia want war? Most certainly not in order for the Croatian people to use their right to self-determination and secession (Macedonia, for example, claimed that right and separated from Yugoslavia), but to achieve its goal of expelling half a million Serbs from Croatia – Serbian Krajina – who for centuries lived there on their own land, and not as occupiers.
Until the arrival of that Croatian regime that wanted war and so admitted publicly, Croatia had a Constitution describing it as a state of Croats, Serbs and other peoples residing therein. That Constitution had been changed. Serbs lost their rights and their constituent status in Croatia, and they rose in rebellion. At the time, few in Serbia even knew that Serbs lived in some part of Croatia.
You speak of the plan according to which, with German support, Croatia was prematurely recognized at the end of 1991, without waiting for a political solution, which sparked a confrontation in which Serbia – I repeat – only contributed in finding a peaceful solution as soon as possible. Even the Croatian government never accused us of that conflict, and now I hear, here, today, that we had some sort of a plan for that?
There was, in fact, a plan – a clear plan aimed against a state that was, I would say, at the time a model of future European federalism. That state was Yugoslavia, in which multiple nations lived in a federation, on equal footing, successfully, with the ability to prosper, develop, and show the entire world that coexistence was possible.
All the time we fought for Yugoslavia, for the preservation of Yugoslavia. After all, all the facts prove that what I am saying is true. Only the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, which now exists, retained its ethnic makeup. There were no expulsions, from the beginning to the end of the Yugoslav crisis. All other republics had changed their ethnic makeup. Half a million Serbs were expelled from Croatia and we all know what happened in Bosnia, not to mention other parts of Yugoslavia.
Therefore, I would say this is a malicious, utterly hostile process aimed at justifying the crime against my country and use this court as a weapon against my country and my people.
Look at Bosnia-Herzergovina. Over there, we tried from the very beginning to secure peace. What happened to the Cutillero Plan, which everyone had backed? Islamist Bosnian Government rejected it at the urging of the U.S. Ambassador and the conflict began. How can Serbia be accused of anything in Bosnia, when it is well known that, attempting to use our influence for peace, we not only backed all the peace proposals, but tried to help implement them?
In 1993, in Athens, there was a meeting at which the Vance-Owen Peace Plan was signed. Everybody signed it. I went to Pale with [Greek Prime Minister] Mitsotakis and former Yugoslav president Dobrica Cosic, and we advocated the acceptance of this plan. Unfortunately, it was rejected – on May 3 or May 5, 1993, I don’t remember exactly. Even then we initiated a blockade of the Serb Republic, in order to force its leadership to accept the peace plan. This was Serbia’s role – to attempt to achieve peace. We had constantly emphasized that the only formula for achieving peace in Bosnia was to equally protect the interests of all three peoples in Bosnia-Herzegovina: Serbs, Muslims and Croats. The Dayton Agreement succeeded because that formula was accepted – because the national interests of all three peoples were protected equally.
Now I hear that Dayton was supposed to discuss Kosovo. That is nonsense. The Dayton talks were convened to establish peace in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and no one even thought of addressing the issue of Kosovo. It has been an internal issue of Serbia, and no one could have even dreamed that someone would attempt to internationalize it.
You cannot, in any way, link Serbia or the Serbian policy with any kind of crimes. You especially cannot legally claim, ten years later, something that no one ever alleged about us, even then. We were accorded only respect and appreciation for the gigantic efforts Serbia and the Serbian policy made to achieve peace.
Speaking of Bosnia, do you know that 70,000 Muslim refugees sought sanctuary in Serbia during the Bosnian conflict? Do you think someone would flee their home and take refuge in the very territory from which they were endangered? How many lives did we save, how many of your hostages did we rescue from Bosnia – from UN peacekeepers to pilots – and how many peace treaties did we insist on and make possible? Eventually, we were the most responsible for the success of the Dayton talks and the peace that ensued.
It was a total peace, a complete relaxation of tensions, and then… I will tell you how it all began in Kosovo. Because of the plan to establish control of the Balkans, the territory of the former Yugoslavia, efforts were made to destabilize Kosovo at precisely the time when it seemed everything would be resolved peacefully.
In November 1997, there was a summit meeting in Crete of all heads of state and governments of South-eastern Europe. Back then, we discussed – at our initiative – the elimination of barriers, tariffs, integration within south-eastern Europe and improving our mutual cooperation. I had a direct dialog with the Albanian Prime Minister Fatos Nano. We spoke of normalizing our relations, eliminating visas and tariffs, developing transport and trade links, et cetera. Fatos Nano and I went before the TV cameras and he then said, after talking about cooperation and improving our mutual relations, that Kosovo was an internal Serbian matter. This was a promise of peace, of peaceful solution to all these problems.
But this was an alarm for all the powers that continued to act criminally against my country, trying to destabilize Yugoslavia and intervene the way they did. A month or two afterwards, we received a letter from [German Foreign Minister] Kinkel and [French Foreign Minister] Vedrine saying they were worried about the situation in Kosovo. For ten years since the time you claim Serbia “seized” control of its own territory, there were no murders, no expulsions, no plunder, no arson, no arrests in Kosovo. We did not have a single political prisoner in Yugoslavia – not one. Kosovo had 20 newspapers and other publications in Albanian which one could buy at every street corner. Not a single issue, not a single copy, was ever banned. Albanian political parties, even separatist ones, worked freely. Someone here said we tolerated them. No, our view was that everything should be permitted – except violence.
Then the powers behind Yugoslavia’s destruction and occupation rounded up criminals throughout Western Europe and sent them to Kosovo to establish a terrorist organization. They began terrorist attacks in the spring of 1998. Then they were crushed. By the fall of 1998, they were completely eliminated, surrendering by the truckload the weapons they had smuggled in.
Within that year, they mostly killed Albanians. I do not have specific figures with me, since I did not know I would be given a chance to speak today. I was notified of my appearance here only yesterday, and I did not know what would be discussed. So I do not have all the specific information, but I will tell you what I do have. Two and a half times…
Mr. Milosevic, please allow…
… more Albanians than Serbs were killed by the terrorists in 1998. They killed Albanian police officers, postal carriers, forest rangers, even retirees – only because they received their retirement checks from the state. They were attempting to strike terror in the hearts of Albanians as well as kill Serbs. We protected our citizens – both Serbs and Albanians – from terrorism, and this operation was completed by the fall of 1998. Then [US envoy] Holbrooke came to demand a Verification Mission in order to create a pretext for attacking Yugoslavia. Let me tell you….
Mr. Milosevic, allow me just a minute. Please. Just one minute. I will not take away your time, I will certainly give it to you. Even this International Tribunal whose legality you dispute is giving you the opportunity to fully state your case. It seems to me, first of all, that you are ready to start with the trial – even today, as it seems. This goes to your credit. You are ready. But I have to take you back to the… Please, try not to completely lose sight of the issue we are discussing today. We are not the Chamber that will conduct your trial. We understand well that your central idea is quite contrary – that this is a victimization of your country. It has been heard and understood.
It would be good for you, Mr. Milosevic, not to deceive yourself about the Chamber that will try you. You have the same amount of time as the prosecutor here. As the chairman of this Chamber I guarantee that. Please, do not lose sight of the topic we are discussing, then.
You have a thesis you are attempting to defend, and you have that right – and will have that right. However, I have to remind you that this Appeals Chamber is facing an important procedural question. It may not be important to you, but it is to us, since we are trying to safeguard the norms of just and equitable procedure. What we would like to know is if you would like your trial for Kosovo to be separate from the trial for Bosnia and Croatia, or if you would prefer them to be unified. I understand that you might answer this in a roundabout way. I will, of course, permit you to speak. You are a defendant who has good mental health and clarity of thought. Therefore I ask you to try and answer this question. Thank you in advance. You have the floor again.
First of all, this is the only time I have not been interrupted, the first time I can say something, and I will use every opportunity to address the public regarding the crime that is being perpetrated against my country. I do this not because of procedure, since procedure does not interest me, but in order to answer the attacks against my country and my people, and the ongoing crimes against them. I want the public to know that after the aggression…
Please wait, Mr. Milosevic. You understand that you have much time at your disposal, but you will have more when the trial starts. This is, of course, not the subject of today’s debate. You have the right to continue. But you are now addressing the people outside this courtroom. Mr. Milosevic, I have to tell you that you will have the right to address the public. The international community created this trial and I certainly wish that all the rules that apply to the prosecution, to you and to the civilization are respected. Today’s debate is about how the trial would take place in front of another Chamber. I have no intention of interrupting you and will subtract the time I used up by my interruptions. You may proceed now.
I want to emphasize that the crime against my country has continued. The most recent Serb murdered in Kosovo that I’ve heard of was killed on Christmas this year. Some 350,000 were expelled from Kosovo under the UN auspices, while Albanian terrorist activities were protected by the UN. Since the arrival of the so-called UN peacekeepers that were obligated by [UN Security Council] Resolution 1244 to guarantee the security of person and property to every inhabitant of Kosovo, Albanian terrorists have expelled 350,000 people and torched tens of thousands of homes. Sometimes they would burn 50, 60, all the Serb houses in villages, in plain sight of the [UN] troops. These are in fact occupation troops, who came [to Kosovo] under the UN banner only to transform themselves overnight into occupiers and allies of the terrorists who killed, who mutilated and butchered so many, and burned so much, and continue to do so even today. And they say they were unaware of it happening.
Can anyone believe that the troops over there could be unaware that tens of thousands of homes were being torched? Can someone damage and destroy. Since the UN troops came, 107 Serbian churches have been destroyed. Can someone destroy an entire church and burn it without the UN troops being aware of this?
This is a “joint criminal enterprise” – of forces who committed crimes against Yugoslavia with the drug-mafia and Albanian terrorists in Kosovo, for the purpose of crimes not only against the Serbs but all other non-Albanians, even Catholic Albanians. Even Albanians who, in any way – such as cashing their retirement checks – showed any loyalty to the Republic of Serbia as their state.
What is happening over there is practically the rehabilitation of a policy led by Hitler and Mussolini. This talk about “Greater Serbia”, this alleged idea that never really existed, is only raised to mask the creation of “Greater Albania” – the very same one as made by Hitler and Mussolini in World War Two. Look at it then, and look at what is being done now, what they want to seize from Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia – tomorrow maybe from northern Greece, when Greek-Turkish relations are strained under orders of the common master.
This is obviously a crime, and the thread running through it is obviously a crime against Yugoslavia. I want to point out that falsifying historical facts is not easy, though. It is not easy even when these facts are only known to a select group of people, and downright impossible when millions, entire nations, know the facts. With all due respect, the real judges in this trial – not you who wear the robes – want to be those who decided to murder children in my country, who launched NATO’s aggression and dropped 25 thousand tons of bombs in 78 days, murdering mostly elderly people, children and women. This is the role they would like to play, but they will not be allowed to be the judges.
The real judge here is the people – not just the people of Yugoslavia, but the peoples of all the countries who care about liberty and equality. Not for nothing do we have a saying that the judgment of the people is the judgment of God. We all face that judgment, not just me – trying to be made into a criminal here, though I deserve recognition instead – but also you, and your employers, especially those who committed crimes against my country.
Since you want me to request something of you, let me demand this: set me free. I demand to be set free because you and the entire world should know by now that I will not run from a fight for my people and my country. I have no intention of running. It does not serve the honor of this institution to keep me imprisoned here, in disgraceful conditions, in order to deprive me of equality in stating my arguments – even if this institution were legal, and you know very well that it isn’t.
For if you didn’t know – and I don’t refer to you in particular, but to the institution – then you would have accepted the motion from the amici curiae to seek advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice on the legality of this tribunal. You did not seek it, because the outcome would be entirely predictable.
Altogether, I think that such a criminal approach, and attempt to cast the victim as the culprit, both in regard to my country, my people and myself, has not yet been recorded in history. With that in mind, I consider it both logical and just to release me immediately. I will not flee, and I am ready to enter any of these debates, since this is one battle which I certainly have an obligation to fight.
[For further information see:
(official SPS website) and
(the international committee to defend Slobodan Milosevic)]