Belgrade Forum for a World of Equals
Belgrade, February, 2014.
15 years since NATO aggression against Serbia and Montenegro, Interview with David Stockinger, editor of „Werkstatt Blatt“, Austria
D.S: You are president of „Belgrade Forum for the World of Equals“. How and why was the Forum founded? What is the political character and the goals of this organization?
Z.J: In 2001, a group of independent minded intellectuals founded the Belgrade Forum for a World of Equals as an independent, non-partisan, non-profit association. In fact, it was reaction to the NATO 1999 military aggression and subsequent October 5th, 2000 coup. We realized that it was the overture of global interventionism, overthrowing of legitimate governments, imposing rule of might instead of rule of law. Our objectives have been and still are: promotion of peace, freedom, law and justice, democratization of international relations, sovereign equality of countries, nations, and individuals. We stand for protection of human rights in their entirety – social, economic, cultural, educational, political and other rights as enshrined in the Universal UN Declaration on Protection of Human Rights. Our method is publishing books, articles, organizing conferences, round tables, press conferences. Forum is the member of World Peace Council (WPC) and maintains close cooperation with other organizations with similar orientation, on national and international levels.
On March 22nd and 23rd this year, Belgrade Forum organizes International Conference „Global Peace vs. global interventionism and imperialism“, on occasion of the 15th anniversary of NATO aggression against Serbia (FRY). Together with many friends, peace and solidarity activists, from all over the world, we will recall that this criminal act left about 4.000 dead and about 8.000 seriously wounded, that direct economic damage was valued at about 120 billion of US dollars, that destructive effects of missiles with depleted uranium continue to indefinitely cause so far unknown deceases, deformations and deaths. It will be opportunity to send from Belgrade the message that these crimes must not be repeated anywhere in the world.
D.S: 15 years ago NATO bombed SR Yugoslavia; 14 years ago there was a coup against socialist government of Slobodan Milosevic on 5.October 2000. In this time you have been Minister for foreign Affairs. From the 90-ies (until now) western medias and politicians created a hateful campaign against Serbia as „the evil of Europe“. Our organization „Solidarwerkstatt Österreich“ was very active in the anti-NATO demonstrations in 1999 and asked for solidarity with Yugoslavia. How do you see the development of SR Yugoslavia and later Serbia politically, economically and in foreign relations since October 5th, 2000?
Z.J: The Belgrade Forum is grateful to the friends of „Solidarwerkstatt Osterreich“, as well as to all other independent minded people in Austria and all over the world, for their moral support and solidarity with people of Yugoslavia who have been victims of the criminal military NATO aggression 15 years ago. Serbia and Serbs have been satanized by western media, portrayed as new Nazis. Why? So many lies have been produced to justify imperial and revanchist policies of certain western countries towards Serbia. Yugoslavia was abolished by EU/USA, Serbia and Serbian nation fragmented; economy ruined and handed over to multinational corporations. Officially present rate of unemployment is 25%, out of which about 50% are young people up to 30 years of age. Every day army of about 800.000 jobless grows for new 600 unemployed. At the same time employment in public (non-productive) services has been growing by 1.800 employs monthly believed to be loyalists of the ruling parties! Most probably, this has been part of preparations for the new extraordinary elections which have been just announced for mid March this year. Back, 15 years ago there were 9.000 employees in Serbian state administration. Today there are 30.000! Foreign debt of Serbia amounts today to over 30 billion euro, or 60% of GDP, 20% higher than officially acceptable. Serbia’s indebtedness is below red line. Rationalizing of bureaucratic apparatus and of public spending is almost unimaginable having in mind extent of party-racy in all spheres of public life.
All governments since 2000 have been described as pro-western but the revanchist anti-Serbian policy of the West has hardly changed. The West supports pro-western governments in Serbia (like everywhere) but definitely not pro-Serbian policies and interests. In 2008 Albanian leadership in Pristine, in fact, leadership of the former terrorist UCK, proclaimed unilateral, illegal independence of Serbian Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija. NATO and EU member governments were first to recognize this unilateral and illegal act violating all basic principles of UN and OSCE Charters, Serbian constitution and UN SC resolution 1244. The so called „status neutral“ EULEX has been engaged in creating institutions of this phantom state and leading EU member states in creating and equipping (arming) its „security forces“. Today, same governments continue to blackmail Serbia to waive all rights to the Province of Kosovo and Metohija in exchange for the beginning of negotiations for membership in EU! Formally, Serbia is militarily neutral, but unilateral concessions to NATO, USA and EU, are beyond those provided to NATO by its full member countries!
I believe that Serbia should upgrade its formal neutrality to substantial and constitutionally defined. To achieve this, to secure balanced international position, it is necessary to expand bilateral relations with Russia, China, India, with countries all over the world, which support Serbia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and which do not attach any political strings to economic or other fields of cooperation.
Serbia as a small peace loving country should not join NATO which is imperial, aggressive alliance. NATO records and objectives have nothing in common with Serbia’s records and objectives. Wherever intervenes, NATO leaves behind hundreds thousands dead, crippled, devastated economies and human environment, chaos, terrorism, ethnic and religious conflicts, fragmentation of states... Present situations in Afghanistan, Irk, Libya and elsewhere, mirror real aims of NATO’s its „humanitarian “and „democratic“ substance of its objectives.
So called “responsibility to protect” is a mere smoke curtain for leading powers of NATO to occupy and rob other countries of their wealth. Member countries, especially smaller ones, are there simply to provide mercenaries in service of imperial powers.
D.S.: The „International Court for Crimes in former Yugoslavia “in Den Haag is still working. President Milosevic an many other Serbs died there. Russian officials call for closing this court. In my point of view this court never had the task to determine the truth and ensure justice, but only to legitimize the policy of the Western powers against former Yugoslavia and Serbia. Is my assumption correct?
Z.J: Hague tribunal, in my opinion, has been a key tool of leading NATO governments to pass on responsibility for the destruction of Yugoslavia and for crimes committed during 1999 aggression, from NATO leaders as real culprits to Serbia and Serbs as victims. In a broader sense, it is a tool to impose obedience and dictatorship in international relations. Although established by UN SC it has been financed by private sectors, some Arab countries, Soros Foundation, among others.
In spite of the fact that civil wars in Bosnia and Croatia started by violent secessions led by the leaderships of those former Yugoslav Republics, supported by the leading NATO/EU countries, primarily by governments of Germany, Great Britain and USA, Serbia (FRY) was accused for apparent aggression. UN SR for Bosnia Yasushi Akashi reported in May 1992 that there was no evidence of Yugoslav Army’s presence in Bosnia. He noted, however, that there was sufficient evidence of Croatian troops present in Bosnia and involved in armed clashes there. This report, however, reached Security Council members only after the most severe UN sanctions were imposed on Serbia (FRY). Akashi’s report was, apparently, mishandled by UN administration (“administrative mistake“). Only Serbian top political and military leaderships have been tried by Hague tribunal. Many of them, as you mentioned, died in Hague before reaching the end of trials, including former Serbian and Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.
Serbian politician Vojislav Seselj spent, up to now, full 11 years in Hague prison and his hearing has not as yet been finished!? Actually, it is questionable if it will ever be concluded. Two weeks ago it was announced that Seselj got a cancer and that now is undergoing chemotherapy!
Hague tribunal had refused to investigate the cases of NATO crimes against peace and stability, against civilians, human environment and many others. The documentation on human organ trafficking in Kosovo and Metohija officially submitted to the Tribunal had been destroyed! Following the imitative of the Swiss lawyer and MP Dick Marty, Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted report and resolution demanding through investigation. Report indicated involvement of Hashim Tachi, among others, in human organs trafficking. There have not been either results, or signs of political will to pursue the investigation. Instead, there was initiative from influential circle in Washington to award Hashim Tachi with Nobel Prize for Peace! Croatian generals accused of ethnic cleansing and indiscriminate killing of Serbs in 1995, have been acquitted by Hague Tribunal! Ethnic cleansing of hundreds of thousands of Serbs from Croatia and massive killing of Serbian civilians while taking refuge from Croatia are not worth of being sanctioned! Is it, really, just a „double standards justice“? Or „winner’s justice“? Or, it is a shame of the civilization we happen to live in?
D.S: Since 2012 Serbia has a new government. Same forces like before 5.Oct. 2000 are back in power again. Obviously Serbian people were sick of „Democratic Party“- governments and former president Boris Tadic. On the other side the current government describes „European Integrations“ as one of their priorities. Are there changes in daily policy compared with the western pushed neoliberal „Democrats“? What is the role of SPS, your former party, especially?
Z.J: All the time since so called „democratic changes “of October 2000, whoever wins elections, governments have been formed by western power centers. Serbian democracy has “genetic” error. It was prepared by „Stelt“ bombers, „Tomahawks “and cursing and depleted uranium missiles, cluster, graphite and other bombes. Effects of „humanitarian“ and „smart“ achievements are still visible through the ruins in the center of Belgrade and felt in functioning of „democracy“ amassing unemployment, malnutrition, the worst health services… Democracy installed by tens if not hundreds of millions of US dollars, Deutche marks, British Pounds, Norwegian Crowns, reinforced by „independent“ mass-medias and by hundreds of foreign financed so called NGO-s, has been „changes-proved“. So far.
D.S.: In April 2013 Serbia and separatist Kosovo-Albanian authorities in Pristina signed the „Brussels Agreement“ on the „Normalization of the relations between Belgrade and Pristine“. In autumn there were regional elections in the province, which were not boycotted by Belgrade for the first time, but on the other side Kosovo-Serbs in big number ignored those elections. Is there a rift now between Kosovo-Serbs because of the stance of Belgrade authorities? Do you think that the Kosovo issue is and will be a „frozen conflict“ for the next decades?
Z.J: So called Brussels Agreement on principles of normalization, is a dictate to Serbia to relinquish herself of the chunk of state territory - of Kosovo and Metohija. It is not agreement because Serbia was blackmailed, threatened to be once again isolated and remaining Serbs expelled. It is not a compromise because Serbia and 120.000 Serbs in the Province got nothing in exchange for accepting „reintegration“ in phantom „Republic of Kosovo“, except two promises: one, that negotiations for membership in EU will start in January 2014; and two, that remaining Serbs in the Province, for the time being, may not be ethnically cleansed, as it has been the case of their 250.000 compatriots who still, 15 years after, are not permitted to return to their homes in the Province.
Brussels so called negotiations was yet another Anglo-American-German made formula to take the problem out of hands of UN Security Council, thus neutralizing Russia’s and China’s support to Serbia and to push aside UN SC resolution 1244 (1999) which provides guaranties of sovereignty and territorial integrity of Serbia and autonomy for Kosovo and Metohija within the state of Serbia. Essentially, „negotiations“ have been staged as the way to formalize achievement of the objective of NATO 1999 aggression. To legalize usurpation of the state territory with Serbia’s consent, signature and seal.
This cannot be lasting solution: it is not a compromise, but dictate; it is contrary to the basic principles of international law enshrined in the UN and Helsinki Charters; it is contrary to the legitimate vital interests and Constitution of Serbia; it is violation of the UN SC resolution 1244 (1999) binding all members of UN; manipulation to isolate Russia (and China) from supporting Serbia and taking part in finding compromise for the problem wherein Russia obviously has interest, is unwise and shortsighted policy; EU is in long term crises, its foreign and security policy has no perspective if based on dictates and methods of colonial periods, especially with the view of multipolarization of the world relations.
D.S.: What is your opinion about the relations between Serbia and other former Ex-YU countries?
Z.J: Relations with the former Yugoslav Republics and with all neighboring countries should be top priority. To be sound and stable these relations must be strictly based on the principles of reciprocity, non-interference, open borders, and full respect of the rights of national minority. The fact that some neighbors are members of EU and NATO, should not limit our cooperation which, naturally, has many economic, infrastructural, cultural and other advantages.
Serious problem in relations with Croatia is continued discrimination of Serbs, political obstacles for free and safe return of Serbian refugees, unpaid compensation for the property to those who do not wish to returns and, particularly as of late, revival of ustashi-fascist anti-Serbian atmosphere in Croatia. Under Dayton Peace Agreement Serbia have established special parallel relations with Republica Srpska. These relations should be further developed and not treated by anybody as detrimental to the relations with the whole Bosnia and Herzegovina. Serbia should stay widely opened for cooperation with Sarajevo wherever Sarajevo shows interest. With one exception only – not in revising the Dayton Peace Agreement and making unitary state under domination of Moslems (Bosnians).
Serbia being guarantor of the Deyton Agreement, should support Bosnia and Herzegovina as union of three equal, constituent peoples (Serbs, Bosnians and Croats) and two equal entities (Republica Srpska and Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina). Ideas of majorization in Sarajevo‘s institutions, apparently, in the interest of „functional state“, would be, not only blatant violation of Dayton, but step towards renewed conflicts. Nobody should expect Belgrade to exercise pressure over the present leadership of Republica Srpska to relinquish constitutional rights and responsibilities of Republica Srpska as defined in Dayton, in order to please expectations of either Sarajevo, or Brussels and Washington.
D.S: It is obvious that Russia and China become more and more important for the Balkan region. Are those countries and the countries of Eurasian Community an alternative to EU integrations for Serbia? Furthermore Russia and China are traditional political allies of Serbia. Do you think that will be the basis for further and deeper development of cooperation?
Z.J: Let me say firstly, that Russia and China are unavoidable powers in world relations. Recent developments in the world, especially in Europe, Middle and Far East have shown, their influence is growing. The future World order is unimaginable without respecting new distribution of power based on growing economic, political and military strength of Russia, China and some new integrations. It is clear that the world economic crisis cannot be resolved without these two powers, without BRICS and G-20. Processes in solving such crises as, for example, over Afghanistan, Syria, Iran, now Ukraine, could hardly move ahead without direct participation of Russia and in many cases, China.
Serbia has traditionally good and friendly relations with both countries. This has been formalized and reaffirmed by signature of documents of strategic partnerships with them. Russia, for example, has devised about five billions US dollars for investments in Serbia in the next three years. These investments will improve modernization of infrastructure, sector of energy, petro-chemical industry. Russia is financing construction of the gas pipe-line „South Stream“ through Serbia which is important for the country’s long term energy-security, but this project adds new quality to geopolitical relevance of Serbia as a transiting and cross-roads (pipe-lines) country. China is also involved in construction of strategically important projects like bridges (Danube), thermo-electric power production, highways and so on. At the recent China – South- East Europe regional Summit in Bucharest, Serbia was treated as highest ranking market for Chinese investments.
Some countries and their regional integrations which have been addicted to monopoly and privileges in less developed countries, have to accommodate to the new realities because Russia and China have become favorable economic and political partners in many countries without political strings. If not, Europe and the World will be faced with tensions, new divisions and even, confrontations. If NATO, for example, as relic of the Cold War era, is not dissolved, if its self proclaimed right to interventions, in fact, aggressive wars contrary to UN Charter and international law, is not abounded, the world will again be faced with new military blocks, arms race - with new serious risks and threats to peace and stability. Europe and the world do not need this.
D.S: European Union sees itself as a new superpower. On the other side EU is in the deepest economic crisis ever. Southern periphery countries like Greece, Portugal, Spain etc. are „re-colonized“ by EU-German fiscal policy. Furthermore we see an increasing militarization of EU sometimes in cooperation with, sometimes autonomic to NATO. Organization „Solidarwerkstatt Österreich“ criticizes EU and asks for a sovereign, neutral, peaceful and social-orientated way of development of Austria. Do you think that is possible, do you think that there is no alternative to EU integrations also for Serbia or it is only propaganda and dogma of the elites?
Z.J: EU highly paid autocracy is hardly objective. They tend to imitate US imperial manners and methods. The fact is that the world crisis has hit EU and USA the most. But it is very risky and dangerous if USA, NATO and EU adopt a policy of transferring the burden of the crises, to other countries, by military means. After all, financial and economic crisis is the baby of their own neoliberal system. Looking for cheap energy, cheap strategic minerals, large markets and strategic communications have reached limits. The time has come to adapt to these limits and not to imitate superpowers, be it by military or financial means.
Any serious country should have alternatives, Serbia included. EU as the only alternative is not advisable. Especially not in the period of fast and profound changes in the world relations. EU does not have record of understanding Serbia’s legitimate interests, even less in supporting Serbia on international scene. Just the opposite. The roles and „impartiality“ of Genschner, Solana, Fischer, Badinter, Petrich, Ahtisari should not be forgotten. Pursuing the policy of „the only alternative“ would be like voluntarily accepting to live with closed ayes, in semi-dreaming state, or even to voluntarily put a stronghold over own neck.
I am convinced that Serbia should stay neutral developing balanced relations with all countries and integrations which accept Serbia as a real partner, who respect its legitimate interest and dignity, according to universal principles.
Serbia needs other partners so much as they need Serbia. Not less, not more. This should be leading approach of Serbia’s foreign policy. But, Serbia has to be responsible towards own potentials - economic, human, natural, cultural, geo-political. To be accepted and respected on equal footing abroad, there is great need to move forward these potentials.
Aggressive NATO with imperial strategy is not a place for peace-loving Serbia. It is better for Serbia to have good neighborly relations with EU than to pay EU membership by accepting dictate and relinquishing own rights towards Kosovo and Metohija as integral part of the state territory. Safeguarding normal relations with all neighbors, including EU, Serbia should more actively expand its relations with Russia, China, India, Brazil, with Asia, Latin America, Africa, with all nonaligned countries. I believe that this is appropriate way for Serbia to, once again, become very prosperous country in economy, ethnology, science, culture, living standard of its citizens. Anyway, there are much better ways to earn and secure decent living, than to render mercenaries to NATO and participate in robbing other countries of their natural and economic richness.
D.S: What is your view for the future regarding relations between Austria and Serbia. Do you think that a cooperation between organizations like „Belgrade Forum“ and „Solidarwerkstatt Österreich“ would be wise for our common struggle against war and imperialism and for souverainism and for a social-orientated welfare state?
Z.J: Serbia and Austria have tradition of fruitful economic, scientific and cultural cooperation. Danube and tens of thousands of Serbs living and working in Austria make Serbia and Austria close, neighboring countries. In the past, the two countries were closely cooperating within European group of nonaligned and neutral countries rendering important contribution to peace and stability process in our continent. We do not need intermediates in investment, or commerce. Austria with its high technology and knowhow, both in industry and agriculture, can play even stronger role in Serbia’s development policy. Two countries can promote joint involvement in third countries, especially in Africa. They should also exchange experiences in maintaining neutrality, which I believe, will be even more relevant in period of profound changes in Euro-Asia and the World.