Feuilleton: 25 Years of NATO Bombing of Serbia (26): Draskovic's Rushing, Chernomyrdin's Rebukes, and Chomsky's Warnings

NATO bombardovanje Srbije
Source: Večernje novosti

Written for Kosovo Online by: Dragan Bisenic

On Monday, April 26, the Federal Government of Yugoslavia decided yesterday to sue NATO countries and their leaders at the International Court in The Hague. "NATO countries have undoubtedly committed an aggression against a country in accordance with what is defined by the UN resolution from 1974," the federal government announced. Two experts were named to represent the Yugoslav authorities in this process.

Legal experts are divided on the possibility of Yugoslavia's success in this process.

"At this point, the most important thing is evidence of war damage," said the Dean of the Faculty of Law, Oliver Antic. After that, the government can take steps towards national and international institutions. Yugoslavia will accuse NATO and the aggressor countries before the Hague Tribunal, but also before specially created arbitration institutions. Such institutions could be created based on the agreement of the interested countries, explained Antic.

Yugoslav citizens as individuals and Yugoslav businesses and companies will take steps in national institutions of NATO countries according to their legislation. For the governments, the responsibility lies with the Hague Tribunal for war crimes, but Oliver Antic does not advise using this institution because it is a "political instrument" and "cannot be independent."

The International Court in The Hague is indeed a legal institution and it is the main court of the UN. Its main goal is to resolve conflicts between states peacefully. The jurisdiction of this court is optional as the parties must agree on the court's jurisdiction. For example, no country can sue the USA because it withdrew its consent to the agreement after losing a case against Nicaragua. France also did not give its consent. The Netherlands did give its consent and could be sued for its soldiers' participation in the aggression against Yugoslavia, explained Antic.

Lawyer Toma Fila said that only the UN Security Council can declare a country an aggressor. "There are the USA, Great Britain, France, and it is impossible to expect such a decision. Without an official declaration of a state as an aggressor, it is very difficult to award war damages," said Fila.

Other experts are skeptical. "The USA has rejected international law as an expression of Cold War institutions, but we have no other basis. We must present a bill for war damages, as it is also psychological pressure on the aggressors," said Professor Smilja Avramov.

President of the Democratic Party of Serbia Vladan Batic, a professional lawyer, called on all citizens of Yugoslavia to accuse the NATO member countries that participated in the aggression. Prominent lawyer, Vojin Dimitrijevic, said that the Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia failed to access the International Court in The Hague "because socialist Yugoslavia never accepted its jurisdiction for ideological reasons." This mistake has not been corrected in the last ten years, added Dimitrijevic.

The next day, on Tuesday, April 27, Vuk Draskovic said that the President of Serbia, Milan Milutinovic, "fully supports" his views on stopping the bombing and a peaceful solution.

Draskovic added at today's press conference that the Yugoslav government is ready to accept the deployment of UN peacekeeping forces, with possible participation of NATO troops, if the Security Council deems those forces should be the basis of the peace mission.

Draskovic explained that he met with President Milosevic a few days ago, and "got the impression that he is ready to accept a solution based on the UN Charter and the decisions of the Security Council."

"I am not Mr. Milosevic's lawyer, but I hope I have conveyed his personal opinion and the opinion of the Federal Government," said Draskovic.

"I could be against the participation of NATO in the UN peacekeeping forces in Kosovo, but if the Security Council thinks otherwise, I must respect that because it is the reality. All NATO countries are UN members and Serbia has no right to dictate what they will accept or not," said Draskovic. Draskovic announced that he had a phone conversation with Russian special envoy Chernomyrdin, "who personally supported" Draskovic's statements.

Draskovic, who has been the long-time president of the opposition party Serbian Renewal Movement, said in a special interview on TV Studio B two days ago, "Yugoslavia cannot defeat NATO, and Russia will not start World War III." "Serbia cannot oppose the rest of the world," said Draskovic.

In a conversation with the leader of Libya, Moamer al-Gaddafi, the second Deputy Prime Minister of the Federal Government, Zoran Lilic, who is a member of the Socialist Party and former president of SRJ, proposed a four-point plan. First is the cessation of all military operations, second is the formation of peacekeeping forces in the region with several countries, excluding those that participated in the conflict, third is the return of refugees, and fourth is autonomy for Kosovo within Serbia.

There are two different versions and it is not clear whether Draskovic is speaking on behalf of his party or the Government. Draskovic admitted that the most difficult issue is still the same: the presence and deployment of foreign troops in Kosovo. The Socialist Party, along with a group of left-wing parties together with the Serbian Radical Party of Vojislav Seselj, strongly oppose the deployment of NATO troops and troops of countries that participated in the attacks on Yugoslavia.

Spokesperson of the Socialist Party, Ivica Dacic, explained that the approach has not changed. "We will defend our country in every way. We are against the deployment of foreign ground troops on our territory. We think that would be an occupation of our territory which is actually NATO's goal. NATO is not interested in the fate of Serbs and Albanians. They are only interested in the territory and occupation," said Dacic.

He emphasized that only the presence of a civilian UN mission is possible, with the participation of Russia and without NATO and other countries that participated in the aggression.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Zivadin Jovanovic said that now is the right time to find a diplomatic and political solution. Later, it will be difficult for everyone, especially NATO, to return and stop the escalation. If the escalation does not stop, the situation will be worse than in Vietnam. It must be clear that NATO cannot win against united people. For NATO, there is no possibility of victory," said Jovanovic. He added that Yugoslavia is ready to return the number of security forces to peacetime levels after stopping the bombardment.

Draskovic's position was not helped by the fact that Chernomyrdin contacted him, as Chernomyrdin had criticisms of his public statements.

"Draskovic stated that the Yugoslav leadership is not against NATO's participation in the international presence in Kosovo. However, I knew that Milosevic had not yet decided on such a step and that we had just begun to consider this issue. What was behind Draskovic's statement? As it turned out - there was absolutely nothing, all that was his personal opinion!

"So why stir the waters," I couldn't resist in the conversation with Draskovic. "We are conducting very complex negotiations and there is no need to rush ahead. Everything can be said in another way, especially since I am preparing to discuss this with the American leadership." Draskovic began to justify himself, explaining that in the end, that is how it will be, which is clear to all thinking people.

"When that happens, then state it, but until then stick to reality," Chernomyrdin rebuked him.

However, Draskovic continued to criticize the next day, while Slobodan Milosevic, on the occasion of the Statehood Day of Yugoslavia, visited the Monument to the Unknown Hero on Avala and laid a wreath. In the book of remembrance, he wrote a sentence in honor of the fighters for freedom and defense of the countries from aggression.

The Chief of the General Staff, General Dragoljub Ojdanic, congratulated Milosevic. "We expect that reason will dominate in the international community and that this force will change by finding a peaceful path to solving the problem. I sincerely believe that we will soon start rebuilding and developing a free SRJ," wrote General Ojdanic. He added that people defend the homeland determined to win for the truth and justice, paying tribute to the victims and great destructions."

Other state officials also congratulated Milosevic, emphasizing the determination to defend the country and freedom.

President of the Serbian Renewal Movement and Deputy Prime Minister of the Federal Government Vuk Draskovic repeated his criticism of his coalition partners in the Government for the third time. Draskovic spoke about journalism and journalism at this time. "Yesterday, censors came to TV Studio B. What are they doing there? Censors - out! I am not satisfied with the journalists. They are not brave, they do not criticize what is not good. I'm not talking about state media, but about independent media. State media do not decide based on media freedom, but on the basis of party directives. This is not a war to defend the Socialist Party and the Yugoslav Left. We cannot tolerate this. We have the right to say what they are doing, because they proclaim ruins as the defense of the country. More various states – less freedom," emphasized Draskovic.

President of the Democratic Party and former ally of Draskovic, Zoran Djindjic, said that he agrees with Draskovic's opinion, but believes that it is nothing more than Draskovic's private opinion. Draskovic stated that the President of Serbia, Milan Milutinovic, agrees with his stance. President of "New Democracy" Dusan Mihajlovic says that Draskovic's opinions are not new and that Draskovic's party had proposed a similar solution before the bombing.

A reaction came from Montenegro from Miodrag Vukovic, from Djukanovic's party. He said that Draskovic acted responsibly, but too late.

On Wednesday, April 28, the Presidency of the Serbian Radical Party announced that the unity of the people and the determination to defend the country cannot be broken by some politicians who offered themselves to the NATO aggressor at the most difficult moment for the people and the state. The Serbian Radical Party, led by Vojislav Seselj, is the second largest party in the Assembly of Serbia, after the left coalition and its coalition partner in the Government of Serbia. This sentence refers to the Deputy Prime Minister of the Federal Government and President of the Serbian Renewal Movement, Vuk Draskovic. Draskovic and Seselj are "old enemies" who have longstanding disagreements on most issues. At the beginning of political pluralism in Serbia, both belonged to the same party and were close friends. Draskovic negotiated participation in the Government of Serbia after the last elections, but his condition was the exclusion of Seselj's party from the government.

Seselj's party in the press release emphasized that such "behavior and opinions have encountered unanimous condemnation of public opinion, which confirms the unity and determination of the people to defend against NATO criminals."

Vuk Draskovic spoke in the last three days about the need for compromise with the international community and the possible Yugoslav acceptance of armed forces in Kosovo. Draskovic also sharply criticized his coalition partners, the Socialist Party and the Yugoslav Left, for "abusing national resistance and monopolizing the media."

Interestingly, Seselj had more criticisms of state media a few days ago.

The Serbian Radical Party announced that NATO's aggression is not a result of the crisis in Kosovo and Metohija, but of NATO's criminal intentions to occupy one state and people. "The war could have been stopped immediately. Only a decision to nullify the intention to occupy Serbian territory is necessary." This party repeated that "no serious person in Serbia and SRJ ever accepts the presence of foreign troops."

The short public campaign of the Deputy Prime Minister was initially without another official reaction. The Federal Government had a meeting yesterday, but the topics from Draskovic's speech were not on its agenda. It is not known whether Draskovic was at that meeting because he was not in the TV report. The Federal Government discussed internal issues.

Advisor to Vuk Draskovic for foreign policy issues, Predrag Simic, further explained that Yugoslavia can expect a return to the political process under the auspices of the UN. Simic reported on a possible scenario for ending the bombing of Yugoslavia and the start of negotiations. "Returning negotiations to the UN means a loss for NATO. NATO maintained unity at the Summit in Washington, but with divided interests for Kosovo. At the same time, the Western alliance opened the door to the Russian initiative and diplomatic efforts of Viktor Chernomyrdin. We have no illusions that this interest will be completely divided, but we do not rule out a compromise between them. The next development of events is seen at the G-8 meeting. After that, we can expect a compromise between the American-NATO, European, and Russian blocks. If everything develops normally, we believe that Yugoslavia could protect its elementary interests," said Simic.

It is interesting that the Yugoslav Ministry of Foreign Affairs has so far not reacted to Draskovic's proposals. Minister of Foreign Affairs Jovanovic said two days ago that now is the "right time to stop the bombing and start the peace process."

However, at the end of the day, the President of the Federal Government, Momir Bulatovic, as expected, appeared with a statement about the dismissal of Vuk Draskovic, "due to causing damage to the reputation of the federal government." It remained unclear whether he was dismissed because he actually caused damage to the "reputation" of the government or due to dissatisfaction with the Russian mediator.

President of Serbia Milan Milutinovic and the leader of the main party of Kosovo Albanians, the Democratic Union of Kosovo, Ibrahim Rugova, met again on the same day, Wednesday, April 28, reported TV Serbia late in the afternoon. Milutinovic and Rugova met in Pristina. This was the first meeting since the beginning of the bombardment. Rugova gave a statement for television.

"We are working together as well as with the international community in finding a political solution for a safe and peaceful Kosovo," Rugova stated. This statement was first shown in the news at 7:00 PM tonight and it is possible that Rugova gave a broader statement.

In the official statement, it is emphasized that both sides agree to intensify discussions on a political solution for Kosovo. This solution must be broad autonomy in terms of the rights of all minorities, and the dialogue must be conducted directly, between the two parties. The goal of these discussions should be the creation of a temporary provincial government that will manage the province until the final political resolution of the status of Kosovo. The structure of the temporary government corresponds to the ethnic structure of the province. Negotiations should be conducted with representatives of Albanian political parties in Kosovo. The statement mentions that representatives of the international community could attend these discussions as observers.

That both sides are very close to an agreement was also confirmed by the spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nebojsa Vujovic. This agreement could be signed very soon, said Vujovic. The subject of the discussion is the temporary government of Kosovo. On the Serbian side, the agreement will be signed by two deputy prime ministers - Nikola Sainovic on behalf of the federal government and Ratko Markovic on behalf of the Serbian government.

That both sides are working very intensively is shown by today's editorial in the newspaper "Politika," reacting to reports from Tirana that Ibrahim Rugova is under a death threat from the KLA. The commentator claims that it is now clear that "the interests of the Albanian minority are not identical with the terrorist mandates of Thaçi and company."

Rugova is still in Kosovo and he is the main obstacle to extremists in safe shelters in Albania and to all who will fight in Kosovo to the last Albanian. The death threat to Rugova is a terrorist act against any peaceful solution and a treat for all who want cooperation and agreement with Yugoslav officials in an attempt to stop the war in Kosovo, the commentator assessed. Discussions on the temporary government for Kosovo began two weeks ago.

Before this meeting, Rugova met several times with Yugoslav and foreign officials.

On Wednesday, April 28, an interview I conducted with MIT professor and one of the most prominent linguists and scientists who has been very critical of the American establishment for years, Noam Chomsky, was published. He advised that "we should trust Clinton, Schröder, and Blair when they talk about the need to preserve, what they call, NATO's credibility." But when they talk about NATO's credibility, they are not talking about the credibility of Italy, Denmark... They are talking about the credibility of the United States, which means the credibility of the power of the USA. This credibility means that other people should be appropriately frightened." He questioned the ultimatum at Rambouillet. "The Vienna Convention on Agreements - I think from 1970, which was accepted by all states and which says that any agreement or contract that is signed under duress is not valid. That is a general convention of international law." He also stated that "American policy under Reagan and under Clinton represents contempt for the United Nations." "Let's go back a month, in December. They knew they couldn't get permission from the Security Council so they informed the United Nations that they were not competent and simply said: we are authorized to do as we want, without the Security Council. The bombardment is, according to United Nations documents, very precisely marked as a crime when the Security Council met in an extraordinary session to consider the problem of Iraq."

"The UN Charter is clear when it talks about the prohibition of using threats and force that is not approved by the Security Council. The exception is self-defense, which is irrelevant here. That is clear, and that is the basis of international law. On the other hand, the other major pillar of the world order after World War II is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which should guarantee and defend personal rights from repressive states. There is tension between these two principles, and that is where questions of so-called humanitarian intervention arise. The difficult question of international law is whether and when countries have the right to intervene by violating the Charter to protect the rights guaranteed by the Universal Declaration. In Munich, Hitler advocated the right to "humanitarian intervention" in Czechoslovakia, to end the conflict. Most aggressions in history have been justified by the claim or some kind of claim for the need for "humanitarian intervention," said Chomsky.

What is NATO's new role in Europe? Is the reason for this intervention more about the survival of NATO than concern for the Albanian people?

I partly agree with you, but I think that NATO also has a broader purpose. Partly, NATO was an alliance against the East, but also a way to integrate Western Europe under the dominance of the USA. Remember, when it was formed after World War II, there was a justified, significant fear of Germany's rearmament, and that is no small issue. A major task of NATO was to allow West Germany to rearm, but within an alliance that would be dominated by the United States. The policy is, therefore, to curb Russia, to curb Germany, and to ensure that Europe is somehow integrated, but under the dominance of the USA. I believe that is largely what is happening now.

Let's consider another reason for the intervention. Genocide? According to NATO data, 2,000 people were killed, mostly in response by the Serbian army to attacks by the KLA, which was founded and led from abroad. The army has been responding since the summer of 1998 to KLA attacks on police stations and ordinary people. How would the USA respond to attacks on police stations and civilians in New York, by an armed guerilla founded and supported by Libya.

I would not use the term genocide for such operations - that is a way of ultra-right revisionism to cover up and forget the victims of the Holocaust. It is very difficult to say, as it is said, that military intervention was necessary to prevent Milosevic from committing genocide, just as World War II was necessary to stop Hitler. In reality, that did not happen at all. The USA and Great Britain were more sympathetic to, rather than preventing Hitler, and absolutely accepted Mussolini. When Hitler attacked Poland, they declared a "phony war" on him. That's how prepared they were to do something for it. Only when they themselves were attacked did they go to war. Let's add something else to what Clinton and his British hunting dogs call NATO's credibility. Here we return to the laws of the mafia bosses. If someone does not pay the "racket," the boss must establish "credibility" so that others do not come up with the same sympathetic idea. What Clinton and others want to say is that it is necessary for everyone to be appropriately afraid of the "global bully." It is important to know that Clinton's strategic document is called "The Essence of Post-Cold War Deterrence." There the USA presents itself as an "irrational and vengeful force" if its interests are threatened.

How do you explain that most Americans would support sending ground troops to Kosovo?

You have to think about what people are listening to. The audience is being issued commands from Washington daily. By focusing attention only on the disaster, you are forced to think that this is the act of just one evil man who is committing genocide. That is what is being said day and night through our media. It works and most people, accepting that, say: "Let's do something, for example, send troops." The Pentagon and European countries are very opposed to this, mainly for technical reasons. It would be a disaster, I think. It sounds simple - send ground forces - but think about it a little. It won't be easy to even enter Kosovo, and if they do, the troops will face such a guerilla that it threatens to engulf the entire region. That will happen if ground troops are sent. It will be a great disaster.

President Clinton mentioned Bulgaria as an ideal country in the Balkans in his speech in San Francisco a few days ago...

Yes, because Bulgaria does what we want. But nothing is better there. In fact, it's worse than it was 10 years ago. And that is a question connected with Western dominance.