-Q. The year 2014 marks three important anniversaries: the beginning of World War I. with the German backed Austrian declaration of war against Serbia, the Liberation of Belgrade from Hitler-fascists 1944, and the 15th anniversary of NATO-Aggression against Yugoslavia. Do you see and how would you explain the connection between these dates?
Z.J.: All three wars in the 20th century - First and Second World wars and NATO aggression on Yugoslavia in 1999 - have been imperial wars, all started on false pretexts, all have provoked enormous humanitarian, economic and political consequences to cope with over the whole 21st century. Marking those anniversaries in 2014 Serbia pays respect to the millions of fallen compatriots, to all victims fallen for freedom and human dignity anywhere. We all need to strengthen our memory and send the message that such human catastrophes must not to be repeated.
-Q. Is the fact still present in public awareness of Serbia that the country was the target of western aggression three times in one century?
Z.J.: The nation which had lost over one third of its population in the First and over one million in the Second World wars, nation which even 15 years after NATO’s “humanitarian intervention”, continues to pay death toll, certainly cannot and should not forget. It would be uncivilized, irresponsible towards the future to forget.
The Belgrade Forum, independent, non-partisan association of intellectuals, has an important role in strengthening public awareness of aggressive wars against Serbia in 20th century. Under the slogan “Never to Forget” Belgrade Forum is preparing a number of events commemorating the human victims of NATO aggression on occasion of 15th anniversary of its beginning. The central event will be International Conference (Belgrade, March 22nd-23rd, 2014) titled “Global Peace VS. global interventionism and imperialism”. It will be attended by prominent, independent intellectuals, scientist and peace activists from all over the world.
Q.: Has Europe drown lessons from the history of 20th century?
Z.J.: I am afraid, not. I am concerned about militarization of EU and Europe, expansion of NATO toward East. Some European governments, including left oriented, more and more copy USA imperial policy and behavior losing respect for civilization values. Having been hooked on US doctrine of “right to humanitarian interventions”, “obligation to protect”, “struggle against international terrorism” Europe has lost strength and confidence to say no to obviously anti-European policies. Some European Governments compete in who will be more generous in offering concessions and basis to NATO. Behind the curtain of anticommunist rhetoric in various national and EU institutions, revival of neo-fascism and neo-Nazism becomes reality. We are faced with systematic revision of Europe’s history of the XX century. Rehabilitation of Nazis in certain new democracies goes parallel with accusing of veterans of anti-fascist struggle and destruction of partisans monuments.
Revision of history is not objective for itself. If, for example, certain politicians in Hungary seek revision of Trianon’s Treaty of 1920 it is clear that their true objective is revision of borders!
Q.: The objective of NATO war was the destruction of Yugoslavia and the fragmentation of Serbia? Were they successful?
Z.J.: It is true that NATO has destroyed Yugoslavia, economically and as a state, and that has fragmented Serbia and Serbian nation. But, I doubt very much if this is success for anybody. USA and NATO got out of any legal form or system, out of any meaningful control. NATO US led aggression against Serbia (FRY) was the war against Europe, war for embracing Europe so tightly that she can hardly breathe independently even today. Imagine the war against Europe with active participation of Europe! Great Britain was enthusiastic to demonstrate usefulness of her double face loyalty. Germany looked at it as good opportunity to get rid of the suit tailored to her after Second WW, France, Italy and the rest were without weight and influence. “Rambouillet negotiations”, “Rachak massacre”, “horshoe plan”, Hague tribunal and so on, have been parts of an effort to project Serbia as a new Nazi state, to justify sanctions, criminal NATO aggression, to blackmail and finally grab Kosovo and Metohija out of Serbia.
Q.: There is opinion that 1999 NATO aggression was pretext to establish permanent American military presence in that part of Europe?
Z.J.: True. Immediately after NATO aggression USA had established “Bondstil” military base in Kosovo and Metohija, which seems to be Ramstad type military base. It is one of the biggest US military bases in the world. According to the May 2000. report of German politician Willy Wimmer to then Chancelour Gerhard Shroeder, Americans led the 1999 aggression to correct the Eisenhower’s mistake during the Second WW who omitted to locate US soldiers on Yugoslav soil. It is part of military expansion toward Russia, Caspian Basin, Central Asia, Middle East. After “Bondstil”, USA established four bases in Romania, four in Bulgaria and so on. Today, Europe has more foreign military bases on its soil than at the peak of the Cold war era. What for? There are no confronting military blocks, ideologies or systems. Invasion from other planets, for the time being, is not probable.
Q.: What’s the attitude of the actual government towards the aggressors from 1999, are they still seeking EU membership in spite of EU’s commitment to separate Kosovo and Metohjia definitely from Serbia?
Z.J.: Pressures, especially from USA, Germany and Great Britain, to impose on Serbia recognition of unilateral illegal secession of Kosovo and Metohija in exchange for membership in the EU sometime after 2020 is dishonest, revanchist and, counter-productive demand. Solution contrary to UN and Helsinki Charters, to UN SC resolution 1244, to the Constitution of Serbia, is not a solution. USA wanted to take the issue out of hands of UN Security Council to annihilate support to Serbia by Russia and China. So Washington found EU to be apparent mediator between Belgrade and Prishtine. But, can, really, problem of the status of Kosovo and Metohija be resolved by new dictate of the West which coincides with 100 years of Vienna dictate of 2014? I doubt very much.
About 75 percent of the total population of Serbia is explicitly against membership to NATO, while only 13 percent in favor.
Q.: In 1999 I considered the NATO aggression as a "door opening war" for the following ones. In the meantime we witnessed the wars against Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, even Pakistan and many African countries. It is hardly conceivable that Serbia wants to join this terrorist organization.
Z.J.: NATO, in my opinion, is not a place for Serbia. As a relic of the cold war era it should be disbanded. Serbia is a small peace loving country without any imperial objectives. NATO is aggressive, imperial machinery serving the interest of corporative military-industrial and financial capital. Self-proclaimed right of NATO to intervene, to attack any spot on the globe is the source of great danger to peace and stability. NATO leaders seem do not understand that multi-polar world and democratization of the international relations are inevitable, historic trends which cannot be stopped. Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria have been just “creative” repetition of Yugoslavia’s 1999 precedent. But, globalization of the interventionism has to be stopped.
If 1999 aggression on Yugoslavia was a turning point toward globalization of NATO interventionism, then 2013 developments over Iran, Syria, and Ukraine are turning point marking the end of monopoly and the start of multi-polarity and democratization in the world relations.
I support neutrality of Serbia as the best option. If six EU member countries can do without being members of NATO, why Serbia which has been founder and member of nonaligned movement could not?
-Q.: On several occasions the hopes of Serbia in Russian assistance and support were disappointed. But a complete imperialist encirclement in the Balkans couldn’t be in Russia interest. What’s about Serbia’s actual relations to Russia?
Z.J.: Russia has never attacked Serbia in history. They have always been allies. Politically Russia supports Serbia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and implementation of UN SC resolution 1244 on Kosovo and Metohija. Russia has provided soft credit lines for Serbia’s development projects valued at about five billion dollars. Natural gas pipe-line “South stream” crossing Serbia is also Russian financed. While guarantying energy-security this European project will, also, strengthen geo-political position of Serbia. Russia also supports Serbia in defending implementation of the Dayton Peace Agreement on Bosnia and resisting attempts to revise it on account of Serbs (Republic of Srpska) in Bosnia. It is not true that EU membership is the only alternative to Serbia. Neutral Serbia can be a good and very prosperous neighbor of EU, too. Serbia needs to further expand cooperation with Russia, China, India and all other countries which have no political preconditions, which support Serbia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. One principle is particularly important: Serbia needs other partners, as they need Serbia. Not more, not less.
Interview by "Junge Welt", Berlin
Belgrade, December 31st, 2013.
Zivadin Jovanovic : Born 1938, Oparic, Serbia. Graduate of Law, University of Belgrade, 1961. Yugoslav diplomatic service 1964–2000; Federal minister for FA of FR Y 1998-2000; MP of Serbian and Yugoslav Parliaments; Vice-chairman of Socialist Party of Serbia 1997-2002; author “Abolishing the State”, “Kosovo Mirror”, “Bridges”; President of Belgrade Forum for a World of Equals.