Day of remembrance for victims in NATO aggression marked (Politika/Novosti/Tanjug/RTS)
Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic attended the central state ceremony of the 20th anniversary of the NATO aggression and the Day of Remembrance of the victims in the bombing tonight in Nis. Addressing the gathering, Vucic said that the death of 2,500 civilians during the NATO aggression, and especially 79 children, will always be a crime for us. For them, even if they want to admit it, it is just a mistake. We will never agree to that. Our people are not a mistake. We are a numerically small nation, a nation ready to sacrifice, but also reconciliation, he said. Vucic said that in 1999 we had almost no friends, we were faced with a coalition of rich and powerful who had a clear goal of defeating us, taking from us part of our territory and giving it to somebody else. He pointed out that Serbia today is ten times stronger than in 1999, and stressed that our country, like the Phoenix bird, recovered from both sanctions and aggression. He expressed gratitude to the Serbs from Kosovo and Metohija as the best among us, who are guarding their hearth and their Serbian name, and expressed the hope that they will not fall to anyone to attack and kill them. Vucic said that Serbia decided that we will not be part of the NATO Pact, noting that we do not threaten anyone, but only want to protect our country. Members of the government of Serbia, Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia-Herzegovina Milorad Dodik, Patriarch Irinej, Serbian Army Chief of Staff Milan Mojsilovic, President of Republika Srpska Zeljka Cvijanovic, Ambassadors of Russia and China in Belgrade, Alexander Chepurin and Chen attended the memorial of the Day of Remembrance for Victims of NATO aggression. NATO aggression lasted for 78 days, and it was completed by signing the Kumanovo Agreement on 10 June 1999. More than 2,500 people were killed and more than 1,000 were injured.
SPS: NATO intervention fails to resolve Kosovo issue (Beta/Tanjug/Novosti)
NATO’s air strikes 20 years ago failed to accomplish the intended purpose of resolving the Kosovo issue, leaving permanent tensions in its wake, the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) stated.
The SPS said they believed that the only achievement of the intervention that never gained
international recognition, and was challenged by the UN Security Council, were the forcible secession of Serbia’s southern province, the forcible relocation of 200,000 non-Albanians from Kosovo, 2,500 civilian victims and enormous material damage. “The Angel of Mercy”, as the operation was called in Serbia, left behind 15 tons of depleted uranium, which is why nearly 300 children are diagnosed with cancer every year, while the cancer mortality rate has risen by 36 percent since 1998,” said the SPS.
NATO states: The day when diplomacy failed (Beta/Danas)
In a Joint Statement of Condolence, released on 24 March, eight western countries said they regret the civilian casualties during NATO intervention against FR Yugoslavia, twenty years
ago. We remember 24 March as the day when diplomacy failed and we sincerely regret the civilian casualties during the 1999 events, said the Joint Statement of Condolence of representatives of embassies of Canada, France, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States of America State. “We share the pain with all those who lost their loved ones in the wars from the 1990s,” the embassies wrote on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the NATO bombing of former Yugoslavia.
Dacic: Serbia fosters good relations with Latin American countries (RTS/Tanjug)
Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said on Saturday that our country pays great attention to relations with Latin American countries. Bearing in mind that among the Latin American countries there are many countries that are traditionally friendly and have not recognized the unilaterally declared independence of Kosovo and Metohija, it is necessary to foster good relations with them, Dacic said noting that Serbia participates in all events and international conferences organized in these countries. Today I am concluding the visit to Argentina hosted by the United Nations Conference on South-South Cooperation, he said. Argentina is and will remain our friend and will continue to support Serbia. We expect further development of our cooperation, as well as the return visit, Dacic said. Yesterday I was in Uruguay, where I had an excellent meeting with the foreign minister of that country. Also, Uruguay is a great friend of Serbia and will continue to support us. Tomorrow I go to visit Paraguay. Paraguay is a country that has not recognized the unilaterally declared independence of Kosovo but voted for Kosovo’s admission at the last Interpol vote. We will have a serious conversation with them and clarify the whole situation. We were told clearly that there were pressures of the US, Germany and other countries. Bearing in mind our traditionally good relations, I hope that they will not change their position on Kosovo and Metohija.
Tadic returning to DS (Beta/Novosti)
The Social Democratic Party (SDS), led by Boris Tadic, decided to merge with the Democratic Party (DS). Tadic, a former president of Serbia and leader of the DS, left the party in 2014. “In these circumstances with the fight against Vucic’s regime… the association of parties that share the same values and political orientation… is necessary for the opposition,” Tadic said.
He suggested that the united DS should be the mainstay of civic, pro-European opposition parties.
Nearly 80 percent of Serbians oppose NATO membership; 64 percent wouldn’t accept NATO’s apology – poll (Beta/B92)
Seventy-nine percent of Serbian citizens are opposed to their country joining NATO and 64 percent would not accept the western military alliance’s apology for the 1999 bombing. This is according to a public opinion poll conducted by the Institute for European Affairs NGO, on the occasion of the upcoming 20th anniversary of the start of NATO’s aggression against Serbia. The poll also showed that Serbia’s accession to NATO was supported by about 10 percent of citizens, mostly those “with high school and university diplomas.” At the same time, most Serbians believe the reasons for the bombing were “military, political and economic interests of the United States and the West.”
OHR: B&H must adopt a law against the denial of genocide (N1)
“It is regretful that Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) still lacks a law that bans the denial of genocide and the country’s leadership should work on adopting it,” the Office of the High Representative (OHR), told N1 on Friday. When asked whether the OHR plans to impose such a law, the Office said that the need for the adopting it is more than obvious. The newly elected B&H authorities have the opportunity to show their commitment to the rule of law and good governance and to adopt all the relevant laws, the OHR said.
Dodik plans to reject adoption of laws that would sanction those who deny genocide (Radio Sarajevo)
President of the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD), Milorad Dodik, and at the same time, the Chairman of B&H Presidency, announced that they plan to reject all the initiatives for the adoption of laws that would sanction those who deny genocide, war crimes and court rulings. “It would not be the first time for us to reject such a thing” Dodik said on Friday.
Dodik added that “the participation of SNSD in government at the state level with parties from the Bosniak and Croat peoples does not mean they are a part of a coalition. We cannot elect Bosniaks nor can they elect Serbs. There is no coalition, but only a need to respect the Constitution. We are representatives of the constitutive Serb people and our positions are clear,” Dodik concluded.
B&H will ask Croatia not to dispose nuclear waste at border (Srna)
The B&H Presidency will ask Croatia to exclude Trgovska Gora in the municipality of Dvor, near the border with B&H, as a location intended for the disposal and storage of radioactive and nuclear waste. Croatia is required to provide another adequate location for the storage of radioactive and nuclear waste in its territory, which is not near the border with B&H, reads the conclusion adopted today by the Presidency of B&H. B&H Presidency Chairman Milorad Dodik will send a letter to the President and Prime Ministers of Croatia, Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic and Andrej Plenkovic, in order to inform them on the aforementioned B&H’s request. With this conclusion, which is submitted to the media, the B&H Presidency entrusts caretaker Ministry of Foreign Affairs of B&H to inform through the diplomatic and consular missions the EU Member States and international organizations dealing with environmental issues, on the above mentioned issue and the B&H’s request. Within its competences, the B&H Presidency is going to insist on full protection of all the rights that B&H is entitled to under the rules and norms of international law. According to the National Program for implementing the strategy for disposal of radioactive waste, used sources and nuclear fuel, adopted by the Government of Croatia, a radioactive waste disposal site is planned to be built on Trgovska Gora in Cerkezovac, the municipality of Dvor, at the very border with B&H. The strategy stipulates disposal of all current and future medical and non-medical radioactive waste in Croatia, including a part of the waste from the Krsko Nuclear Power Plant in Croatia. On May 27, 2016, the House of Peoples of the B&H Parliamentary Assembly adopted the Resolution on non-acceptance of the construction of storage and landfill of radioactive waste, used sources and nuclear fuel and opposing the activities related to the construction of the warehouse and landfill on Trgovska Gora.
Dodik convinced Croatia will give up on disposal of nuclear waste at border with B&H (Srna)
B&H Presidency Chairman Milorad Dodik voiced his belief that the Republic of Croatia will give up its intention to dispose nuclear waste at the border with B&H, because it would, as he pointed out, further contaminate not only the relations in the region that desperately needs stability, but also the lives of the residents of that part of B&H. “The information I have is that the implementation of such a plan, made by Croatia, would affect not only the current residents of that part of Republika Srpska (RS) and the Federation of B&H, but also those who are not yet born, thus we, as responsible people, should do everything to prevent such scenario from happening,” said Dodik, at whose initiative the B&H Presidency passed decision to ask Croatia to exclude the location of Trgovska Gora in the municipality of Dvor, near the border with B&H, as a location intended for the storage and disposal of radioactive and nuclear waste. Dodik stated in his Srna interview that by deciding to dispose nuclear waste at the border with another country, Croatia violated not only the environmental protection conventions, but also those related to cross-border cooperation. “Croatia is EU member state and, precisely because of this fact, I believe that through diplomatic activity we will be able to explain to people in the EU and to the organizations dealing with environmental protection that the National Program for implementation the strategy for management and disposal of radioactive waste adopted by the Croatian Government is aimed against the lives and health of more than half a million people in B&H,” Dodik concluded.
Chief of Croatian Intelligence Agency hopes accusations of espionage to be clarified with B&H (Hina)
After a three-hour session of the Croatian parliament’s Home Affairs and National Security Committee, which discussed and adopted security services’ reports for 2018, Security-Intelligence Agency (SOA) head Daniel Markic told reporters that he believed that he would clarify, together with the leadership of Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) security-intelligence agency OSA, accusations that Croatian agents had recruited and armed radical Islamists in B&H.
Markic resolutely dismissed the accusations by B&H Security Minister Dragan Mektic that SOA had recruited members of the Salafi movement to plant weapons in Muslim places of worship so that they could be discovered by police following tip-offs as evidence of Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic’s earlier claims about thousands of radical Islamists in B&H.
“It is interesting, even shocking what is going on in B&H… So far, we have cooperated in the fight against terrorism with OSA, and SOA has only one interlocutor in B&H – OSA… I hope we will clarify the matter,” Markic told reporters. He dismissed accusations that Croatian services had recruited and armed radical Islamists in B&H. “That definitely did not happen and I dismiss the accusations. SOA has naturally talked with those people and will continue to talk with them for the sake of our own and our neighbors’ security, and the security of the EU and NATO” he said. “We pointed to a person that was suspicious and said what that person was doing. We talked with H.C., we know who it is, and we informed the partner agency in B&H about it. “We received a clear answer from OSA but I leave it to them to comment,” he said, declining to reveal OSA’s answer and noting that he was willing to declassify SOA’s findings if necessary. He also dismissed accusations that SOA had sought cooperation from a number of persons in Croatia, threatening to deport them to B&H if they refused. Markic said that he would not meet with Mektic, who is in Zagreb for medical treatment. “We do not cooperate with Mr. Mektic, he does not seem to have control over the intelligence community in B&H,” he said, adding that he was worried by the return of people who had fought on ISIL’s side to B&H.
SOA estimates that around 1,000 B&H nationals have fought on the side of ISIL. “Maybe 35% of them have returned, 30% have possibly been killed but we will check everything with our partners,” said Markic.
Croatian President says Croats are the oldest constituent people in B&H (Hina)
Croats are the oldest constituent people in B&H and one of the pillars of the modern Croatian state, President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic said on Saturday at Open Day for Croats from B&H in her office. “You are not guests, newcomers or an ethnic minority in B&H but its oldest constituent people which wants nothing more than peace and equality as the other two peoples in the common homeland of B&H” she said, adding that B&H is not a state of one but three constituent peoples, which has been “a fact in B&H for decades and centuries.” This fact “guarantees your constitutional rights and we have the duty to defend, interpret and promote that fact,” she said. “That is the threshold of your constitutionality and equality, and there is no retreating from that threshold. Together with you on that threshold stands Croatia.” Grabar-Kitarovic said Croats in B&H had the right to elect political representatives who would “legitimately represent them at all government levels,” as well as the right to ethnic, cultural, educational and media institutions and the right to the equal use of the Croatian language.
In demanding those rights, Croats demand “nothing more than others” and that is the best way to preserve Bosnia as a state and that is how European values are built into B&H, she added.
She went on to say that B&H Croats, along with their “fellowmen and all patriots in Croatia” and expatriates, “are one the pillars of the modern Croatian state and our victory in the Homeland War.” The President said her meeting with Croats from B&H was “an expression of the continuity of the policy of building national unity” as set out by Croatia’s first President, Franjo Tudjman. “Not just you Croats who live in Bosnia as its native people, but also Croats who emigrated from Bosnia, as well as those who emigrated from Croatia, are part of the indivisible Croatian being.” She called for the establishment of mechanisms for connecting Croats in Croatia, B&H and abroad so as to make it possible to put all “national resources to use for demographic renewal and survival in our homelands, the boosting of our economy, and political and cultural recognition in the world. That’s the goal of my policy, Croatian unity and a strong Croatia which will be also your safe support and a good neighbor,” Grabar-Kitarovic said.
B&H is the Croatian people’s second homeland and Croats have been present in B&H more than a thousand years as well as “having done everything for the survival of B&H as a state,” she added. The President said Croatia had made “the biggest possible political and military contribution” to B&H’s defense and survival, and that B&H Croats voted for B&H’s independence at a 1992 referendum and agreed to the creation of the Federation entity to contribute to “cooperation, peace and trust.” She said Croatia had provided for hundreds of thousands of displaced persons from B&H during the 1990s war, “without looking at their faith or ethnicity”, and that it had facilitated humanitarian aid and “the armament of all defense forces.” Some in B&&H forget or suppress that, she added. Grabar-Kitarovic pushed for more intensive accession negotiations between the EU and B&H, provided that Croats are an equal people. The EU needs B&H and its accession would be of great political, cultural and security value, she said. The EU and other influential international stakeholders “will make a big mistake with unforeseen consequences” if they do not back B&H’s European journey, she added. “The journey isn’t simple, but we want to and are willing to help, and you Croats in B&H are the guarantee that the end goal can be achieved.”
Croatia marks 10 years of NATO membership (Hina)
Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic visited the NATO headquarters in Brussels on Friday, where the tenth anniversary of Croatia’s membership was marked, and met with Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, supporting his candidacy for a second term. “With its membership in the alliance, Croatia has expressed willingness to participate in the common defence system and to contribute to peace and stability,” Plenkovic said at the anniversary ceremony. Croatia has proved to be a reliable partner over the past ten years, participating in operations in Afghanistan, Kosovo and Iraq, and in recent activities in Lithuania and Poland, he added. In the year also marking NATO’s 70th anniversary, Plenkovic recalled the importance the alliance had in strengthening international security after WWII and said that, with its enlargement policy, it had contributed to Europe’s security. He said Croatia had supported a Membership Action Plan for B&H as it wanted its neighbor to take the NATO journey, and that it had been among the first to ratify the accession protocol for North Macedonia, adding that he would have been pleased had it joined NATO together with Croatia and Albania. Plenkovic welcomed the gradual increase of the defense budget to 2% of GDP, 20% of which should go to modernize defense capabilities.
We are very well aware of what it means to be a member of the alliance. In the 90s, Croatia was faced with the aggression of Slobodan Milosevic‘s Great Serbia regime, as were other countries of the former Yugoslavia, he said. We are very aware of all that collective security guarantees and how much easier it would have been to confront the challenges that threatened our territorial integrity, the large-scale destruction, the war destruction which claimed the lives of many of our fellow citizens and left many wounded, and some are still unaccounted for. For us here, it’s a matter of the recent past, as if it happened yesterday, which is why we appreciate our NATO membership all the more, said Plenkovic. He recalled what former US President George W. Bush said in Zagreb in 2008, when the political decision on Croatia’s accession was made: From now on, no one will take away your freedom again. That message still echoes in our public and best embodies NATO’s value, said Plenkovic. Speaking of his meeting with Stoltenberg, he said he told him that Croatia supported his candidacy for another term as NATO secretary general. We support him because we believe he is doing a very good job. He is Croatia’s friend. He was in Croatia six months ago. The dialogue is continuous. We talked about Croatia’s contribution to NATO’s capabilities and everything awaiting the alliance in this anniversary year, Plenkovic said. Croatia joined NATO on 1 April 2009. Since 2003, more than 6,700 Croatian troops have participated in NATO-led operations, missions and activities.
Twenty years after NATO bombing: MNE has become a NATO member state (Pobjeda)
Twenty years have passed since the NATO intervention in Yugoslavia called “Merciful Angel” or “Operation Allied Force” was launched. NATO’s air strikes were meant to force Slobodan Milosevic’s troops to withdraw from Kosovo, but nothing could make the then-Yugoslav President Milosevic accept any peaceful compromise. NATO leaders then decided to literally force him do it and launched air strikes on Yugoslavia without the UN Security Council’s authorization, writes Pobjeda daily. Ahead of the first air strikes, Milosevic informed the citizens of Yugoslavia that he had proclaimed a state of war on the whole territory of a two-member Federation. The government of the smaller member of the Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia (Montenegro) refused to accept the state of war and conflict with the world’s most powerful military alliance – NATO. However, on 24 April 1999, the first NATO air strikes were launched on the territory of Montenegro. Of all the consequences that Montenegro suffered, the most severe one happened in Murino on 30 April 1999 when six innocent civilians were killed, among them three children. During the 78-day NATO bombing, Montenegro’s cities were not devastated. Seven civilians in total were killed, while Serbia still doesn’t know the exact number of victims. As for the military structures, 274 soldiers of the Army of Yugoslavia/NATO lost their lives and 26 soldiers of the Kosovo Liberation Army. NATO’s intervention was officially over on 11 June 1999 after which Montenegro decided to be master of its own future and regained its independence on the referendum held on 21 May 2006. Two years ago, this country became the 29th NATO member state now is steadily moving towards the European Union.
On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of NATO bombing, Prime Minister Dusko Markovic said that Montenegro today, as an independent country and part of a large Euro-Atlantic family, and a future EU member, decides about its own future, but it respectfully remembers innocent victims of intervention from the times when our country didn’t have control over the events that were happening. “Twenty years have passed since the intervention of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. On that occasion, six innocent civilians, among them three children, lost their lives tragically in the north of Montenegro, in Murino. The State of Montenegro will never forget the innocent victims. Montenegro neither wanted not led to the 1999 NATO intervention. Montenegro was at that time part of another state and the system in which it had no control over the events that surrounded it,” Markovic told in a statement.
He also said he wanted to show reverence for the victims and send message for the future remembering the difficult times. “When we remember these tragic events, we should be more than ever aware of the importance of unity and concord. We can have different opinions, but preserving our fundamental values and solidarity are principles that should encourage us to contribute to the progress of our country every single day,” concluded Markovic.
Protest continues: “Odupri se” movement biggest in Montenegrin history (TMN)
The sixth protest in the campaign “Odupri Se – 97,000” (Resist!), the series of the most massive civil protests in Montenegrin history, gathered more than ten thousand citizens from all parts of Montenegro in Podgorica last night, the organizers said. “Our empty refrigerators and pockets are our policy” said one of the speakers Maja Jovovic, a representative of the mothers, former users of benefits for mothers for three or more children, who were abolished by the Constitutional Court’s decision. Jovovic pointed out that Montenigrin President Milo Djukanovic cannot read, because demonstrators do not endanger the state, but “rescue the state from him.” “Unemployment, pensions, salaries and electricity bills for ordinary citizens are the reasons for protesting!” said Jovovic. He also considered abolishing benefits for mothers with three or more children. “In the multitude of lies and deception, there is a deception of over 22,000 mothers. Two years ago, mothers hungered for 11 days for injustice and violations of the Montenegrin Constitution. We are still on the street, and we will be until the laws in Montenegro are respected! We will be in the street until everyone asked resigns,” Jovovic said. Nikola Grdinic, a manager of small and medium enterprises and a free citizen, was also summoned to the assembled. “I believe that the protest is the basis of the revival of this country and that everything must go from the street. Not just this street, but from all our cities, north, south, east, and west. The protest is a reflection of the culture of a nation. The protest has become a way of life in Montenegro. It is the first step to breaking this regime, but also announcing the control of every future government.” Grdinic asked the demonstrators to rate the work of “the president of the Ramada Assembly,” the “self-contained prime minister and his fears” and the “self-proclaimed president.” Loud whistles followed the questions by the crowd. “These are not our institutions. We are a legislative, executive and judicial authority. We are a state! We are Montenegro!” said Grdinic, stressing that “the greatest act of patriotism is here.” On behalf of the Student Initiative of Montenegro, a student of the Faculty of Dramatic Arts at Cetinje, Minja Novakovic, was convened. The speech started with a mini performance with a chair because she “grew up in a society that teaches us to sit, listen, and suffer.” “Tonight, I refuse to sit! I stand here in the name of all students and young people of Montenegro. We do not want us and our parents to fear. When they say at work, ‘Watch out what your boy or girl is doing in protest,’ I say, ‘I just watch!’ I’m worried that I do not let them threaten me. I take care of my right to freedom. I keep my power to a dignified existence” she said. On behalf of the students, she said she wanted an educational system that would make her a specialist. “I want to create a future in this country. I do not want to suffer from the collective depression imposed on us by this society. It’s enough! We are responsible and fearless! Let everyone hear us, ‘Students are here!'” Minja said, urging her colleagues to join them in large number on Sunday in front of the Montenegrin Assembly. The actor Slavisa Grubisa read the “Free Citizens’ Declaration” in which the demands for resignation at previous meetings are listed. We recall, in the previous protests, the resignation of Council members and general director of Montenegrin Radio Television, Bozidar Sundic, was requested. Irrevocable resignation was also demanded by Supreme State Prosecutor Ivica Stankovic, Chief Special Prosecutor Milivoja Katnic, and director of the Agency for the Prevention of Corruption of Sreten Radonjic. The protest organizers also demand the resignation of Prime Minister Dusko Markovic and Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic. Grubisa emphasized that “opposition parties’ unity and close cooperation are essential in this process. Among the free citizens, from the first day in protest, and representatives of the parliamentary opposition from the Democratic Front, Democratic Party of Montenegro, Socialist People’s Party, Social Democratic Party, Demos, URA Civic Movement, Labor Party, United Crna Gora, as well as Independent Deputies. There are also with us non-parliamentary parties, trade unions, students, academics and doctors, and we will be even more. It is a protest of all citizens, and everyone is welcome.” The protest march moved to the Freedom Street, next to the Prosecutor’s Office building, then the Boulevard of St. Petar Cetinjski near the Central Bank, the Assembly, and the President’s building. Passing by each institution, loud sounds were heard, and demonstrators screamed: “We are a state!” And “Leave!” In front of the Assembly, the citizens turned to the police with the transparencies “And your children deserve better” and “This police work for citizens.” The walk continued through the bridge of Blazo Jovanovic, where the column stopped short by the Elektroprivreda of Montenegro, with the chanting of “Raise the electricity bills, you’ll hear a storm.” Then the column went to Moscow Street next to the RTCG building, and the Boulevard of Revolution and the Street of Ivan Vujsevic returned to Boulevard of St Petar Cetinjski and the same way back to Independence Square. The meeting concluded on behalf of the organizer Denis Mekic, addressing the citizens who did not join the protest yet. “Every one of you, who call your chief to check if you voted in the elections, all of you who have been told that your job is threatened, that your child’s future is threatened in this country, all those who are threatened by intimidation – your salary does not give you any Prime Minister or President, but us, citizens. Citizens will continue to pay you as long as you work for them, for your Country”. With the message: “We’ll see you on the street proudly and without fear!” The organizers called for the next protest, scheduled for Saturday, March 30 at 6 pm at Independence Square.
Protests are legitimate, election results must be accepted (Pobjeda)
Citizens of Montenegro and the region have the right to protests just as the EU citizens have it, but we must stress that Montenegro had democratic elections, its president was elected on those elections and one must accept the presidential election results, said Gunter Krichbaum, Chairman of the Committee on European Affairs of the German Bundestag. He said he understands dissatisfaction of Montenegro citizens but pointed out that Montenegro has been steadily moving towards the EU and once it becomes its member state, the citizens are going to feel great benefits of the membership, that is, the standard of living will be much better. “The EU protects its citizens and guarantees all rights and freedoms.” According to him, it’s evident Montenegro has achieved progress in Chapters 23 and 24. “We are waiting for the European Commission’s Report on Montenegro but we can already note that a lot has been done in the area of the rule of law, and there’s still a lot of work to be done. The progress is evident, it’s enough just to compare Montenegro 5 years ago and the one we have now. No one can deny the fact you’re making progress.” Mr. Krichbaum reiterated that Montenegro won’t be lacking Germany’s support: “Reforms require time and in this context Montenegro will enjoy support of Germany and the EU, not only in terms of funding but the necessary expertise as well.”
Greek President demands full new name implementation, threatens with EU veto if we fail to do so (Republika)
Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos warned Macedonia that Greece will still block its European Union accession unless all “traces of irredentism” are expunged from the country.
As regards the Republic of North Macedonia, we support its European perspective. But, a precondition for this perspective is that they fully and sincerely respect European laws and international law, and this includes the Prespa treaty. It must be interpreted and implemented in a way that will leave no trace of irredentism. Any contrary tactics would block the European integration process of North Macedonia, Pavlopoulos said in his comments on the day of the Greek uprising. Under the Prespa treaty, while NATO membership can be secured with just the name change, Greece will expect minute implementation of the new name domestically, within Macedonia. The treaty also provides that Macedonia will give a new, Greek approved description of national monuments and will open its history books to Greek re-interpretation.
Meta and Bushati: Grateful to the US, NATO for intervention in Kosovo (ADN)
Albanian President Ilir Meta has reacted to the commemoration of 20th anniversary of NATO bombing campaign against Serbia in 1999, expressing gratitude to the US and NATO for the contribution to Kosovo’s freedom. “20 years ago, NATO decided to intervene to impose peace by ending the genocide and ethnic cleansing and preceded Kosovo’s Independence that strengthened the peace and stability in our region. Always grateful to the US and NATO for this extraordinary contribution,” stated Meta. Former foreign minister Ditmir Bushati, also reacted to the commemoration of 20th anniversary of NATO bombing campaign against Serbia and stated that “20 years ago, NATO launched the air strikes campaign to rescue Kosovo from ethnic cleansing orchestrated by Serbian forces after the failure of the peace talks at Rambouillet. March 24, 1999 will remain in our collective memory as the Euro-Atlantic family was all in the support of the Albanians fighting for freedom, paving the way for the creation of Kosovo as a state. Creating Kosovo’s state was also a genuine product of an international liberal order based on human rights and respect for minorities. Many discussions took place in more specialized international institutions about the reasons for this intervention and the legitimacy of this interference when the UN Security Council was blocked, but it was essentially a humanitarian intervention. Today, some consider the international liberal order as a misty idealistic amalgam. Others have lost trust in the effectiveness of its instruments. However, NATO’s intervention and the creation of the Kosovo state are even more powerful reasons for us Albanians to learn the right lessons from history without remaining a hostage of it,” stated Bushati.
INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES
West failed to learn lessons of Yugoslavia tragedy, Russia’s NATO mission says (TASS, 24 March 2019)
BRUSSELS. Western states did not learn the lessons of the Yugoslavia tragedy 20 years ago when the country was targeted by NATO bombings, Russia’s permanent mission to NATO told reporters on Sunday. “March 24 is certainly a tragic date in Europe’s modern history. This day exactly 20 years ago a temptation prevailed to solve challenging and very sensitive inter-ethnic and inter-religious problems in Yugoslavia not by meticulous diplomatic efforts, but by simple and quick methods of ‘military surgery’ bypassing international law and without the permission of the United Nations’ Security Council,” the permanent mission said. “Then as a result of bombings and missile attacks critical civilian infrastructure facilities were destroyed and civilians became ‘collateral damage’ for NATO. An attack on the Chinese embassy cannot be explained either,” it said. Russia’s NATO mission emphasized that today “conflict potential in the region remains along with the problem with international recognition of Kosovo.” “Unfortunately, the steps in Iraq and Libya showed that the lessons of those dramatic events in the Balkans were not taken into account either,” it stated.
NATO’s operation in Yugoslavia launched under fake pretext – Russia’s EU envoy (TASS, 24 March 2019)
BRUSSELS. NATO started its war in Yugoslavia on March 24, 1999 without the UN Security Council’s backing under pretext of a staged incident in the Racak village, which was described by international media as the mass killing of Albanians by the Serbian military, Russia’s Permanent Representative to the European Union Vladimir Chizhov told TASS.
“This was a pure provocation, which was just used as a pretext to start the bombings,” said Chizhov, who took part in Russia’s diplomatic efforts to settle the crisis. According to him, the bodies of the Kosovo Liberation Army’s fighters, who had died earlier, were disguised as those of civilians, while the results of international forensic tests were hidden from the broad public.
“A trigger of the West’s military intervention in Yugoslavia [and now they have stopped speaking about it] was an incident in Racak, where even not a burial site but just a pile of unburied corpses was found. This was allegedly a scene of mass killings of Albanian civilians,” Chizhov said. The head of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Kosovo mission, a US national, rushed to report about this on TV and “the ball started rolling.” However, a group of Finnish forensic experts carried out an independent autopsy at the request of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). It showed that the bodies had the signs of regular use of firearms. “There were traces of rifles on the shoulders, clear traces of gunpowder on the fingers, and moreover bullet holes were found on the bodies, but not the civilian clothes on them.” “A clear conclusion followed that these are not civilians. These were fighters of the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army, combatants, who were dressed up after their death. Their commanders, by the way, today hold government positions in the self-proclaimed Kosovo Republic,” the diplomat said. The most interesting part of the story was the fate of the Finnish experts’ report, Chizhov said. “A brief version of this report was sent to the International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia to Special Persecutor Carla Del Ponte, who later made it public in the UN. But this was only a descriptive part, and no one has ever seen the full document with all this evidence. It was compiled, but was not published, it just disappeared and was lost,” he stated.
20 Years of Illegal Warfare (The American Conservative, by Daniel Larison, 24 March 2019)
Today marks the twentieth anniversary of the start of the 1999 U.S./NATO bombing campaign of what was still Yugoslavia. It was a watershed moment in U.S. foreign policy in that it was the first time that the Atlantic alliance had waged a war at the insistence of the United States, it was the first in a series of wars that the U.S. waged over the last two decades that was completely illegal under international law, and it was an aggressive U.S. military campaign waged against another state without even token Congressional approval. Many of the worst features of early 21st-century U.S. foreign policy were already on display in the Kosovo war, which has since been treated as a “good” intervention because it eventually forced Serb forces to withdraw from part of their own country. President Clinton got away with waging a blatantly illegal war more than two months, NATO was transformed from a nominally defensive alliance to one willing to attack its neighbors, and Western governments launched the first of several attacks on sovereign states without authorization. Whenever interventionists have wanted the U.S. to strike at another government, they have understandably cited Kosovo as proof that Washington can ignore the U.N. and the requirements of the Charter. The Kosovo war paved the way for the eventual recognition of Kosovo independence over the objections of Serbia, and the illegal military intervention in Yugoslavia’s affairs provided a ready-made precedent for other states to imitate. The August 2008 war between Russia and Georgia was partly the result of the war and the later recognition of Kosovo, and the sharp deterioration of U.S.-Russian relations in the 2000s began with that war. Recognizing Kosovo’s independence without Serbian consent created the excuse for Russia to recognize the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia after the August 2008 war, and they took full advantage of it. The claim that the U.S. respects and upholds international law has never fully recovered from the decision to attack another government over an internal conflict. In the years that followed the U.S./NATO intervention, the war was excused as “illegal but legitimate,” but subsequent interventions have shown us that there can never be a legitimate intervention that tramples on international law. If the international “rules-based order” is under strain today, that is happening in part because the U.S. and its allies chose to run roughshod over the U.N. Charter and wage an aggressive war against another state that posed no threat to any of them.
Washington likely culprit behind Kosovo independence ultimatum, says Lavrov (TASS, 22 March 2019)
MOSCOW. The United States is bound to have encouraged Kosovo to issue an ultimatum-like demand, at the beginning of March, to recognize its independence, Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with NTV channel for a documentary entitled Primakov’s Loop. “A few days ago, in early March, Pristina published its negotiation platform, which is nothing more than an ultimatum and says that Kosovo’s independence must be recognized without any conditions, and the Serbs do not and cannot have the right to influence this decision. Washington “swallowed” it,” Lavrov pointed out. “I even believe that Washington encouraged Pristina to take this reckless step.” According to the Russian diplomatic chief, European countries haven’t voiced their opinions on this demand so far, however, they are unlikely to have any effect on Kosovo. Lavrov stressed that Pristina blatantly ignores the EU’s efforts to mend relations between Serbs and Albanians in Kosovo. Russia’s top diplomat recalled that back in 2008 Western countries unilaterally recognized Kosovo’s independence to justify NATO aggression against Yugoslavia, although there were no objective reasons to suspend the talks between Belgrade and Pristina under the UN auspices. “Nobody was attacking anyone. However, the West’s statements that they were forced to unilaterally recognize Kosovo as an independent state because Serbs were threatening Albanians in Kosovo were absolutely farfetched and unfounded. The course to undermine international law continued in 2011, when NATO members unleashed aggression against Libya brutally distorting UN resolutions,” he added. “In this case, the country was left in ruins just like Iraq, but it is still impossible to “reassemble” it, there are too many problems here.” Lavrov pointed out that the actions that had been taken by the Western coalition fostered and prompted terrorism, global crime, drug trafficking and illegal migration. “This policy to pursue these escapades that started back then is still alive today. It is clear that international law is being further and further substituted with rules, cooked up exclusively for the US and their allies,” the top diplomat concluded.
Twenty years after the bombing – where does the Serbia and NATO stand today? (European Western Balkans, 25 March 2019)
BELGRADE – Yesterday was the 20th anniversary of the beginning of the NATO air campaign against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) and former regime of Slobodan Milošević. Nowadays, Serbia, Kosovo, and NATO member states continue to interpret these events in different ways, although everyone agrees that such thing must not be repeated again. However, in spite of the good relations and cooperation that Serbia has with NATO, problems from the past that are related to 1999 are hindering deeper cooperation. Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić perceives the bombing as “aggression” and he specifies that “we should not be afraid to call things by its real name”. “I am sending a message that such things should never be repeated and that nowadays we need a good and decent relationship with the NATO alliance in order to prevent Serbia from getting into such position again. But it is also important for us that we don’t forget the crimes that have been committed against our people and our children. Someone always stands with its nation, somebody goes that day in Washington and those are different approaches”, emphasized Vučić, who at the time of the bombing of the FRY was the minister of information in the Government of the Republic of Serbia. His position is supported by Ana Brnabić, the Prime Minister of Serbia. “No one should highlight Serbian mistakes. We are aware that we made mistakes, but the bombing in 1999 was the fault of others, not the mistake of Serbian citizens who at the end of the 20th century were the victims of those with whom we fought for freedom and justice in two World wars. For the future, it would be good for them to be aware of those mistakes”, said Ana Brnabić, at a conference dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the NATO bombing of the FRY. On the other hand, Aleksandar Vulin, Serbian Minister of Defense, stated that Serbia fought and defended from “terrorist attacks” and that it did not cause “NATO aggression”. “The time in which the Serbian people learned that the NATO aggression was actually provoked and that the Serbs themselves were guilty of all the evil that they had suffered, is now thing of the past”, added Vulin. On the other hand, he pointed out that Serbia will remain military neutral and will not be a NATO member even if it becomes “the last country in Europe”, just because of the bombing. Montenegrin Prime Minister Duško Marković said on the occasion of the anniversary that “he remembers all innocent victims of intervention”. “Montenegro did not want or led to the intervention of the NATO in 1999. Montenegro was then part of another state and part of the system in which it did not have control over the events that surrounded it”, notes Marković. Officials from Kosovo have a totally different view of the bombing and see it in a positive light, as part of the path for their independence. Thus, the Prime Minister of Kosovo, Ramush Haradinaj, who during the war was one of the leading commanders of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), expressed his gratitude to NATO and the United States of America on the occasion of the anniversary of the bombing. “The NATO air campaign ended the tragedy of Kosovo people, saved a lot of lives and enabled the return of the Kosovars to their homes. These people will be grateful for the rest of their lives to the USA that led NATO, and there is no better friend than one who helps you in difficult times. We didn’t have harder days and we didn’t have a harder time in our lives”, Haradinaj said. On the other hand, many officials of the NATO and NATO member states believe that the bombing was justified and that the action was legitimate. In an interview for Prva TV, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that “NATO tried to stop the violence and fighting which they saw in Kosovo and Serbia” and added that he is aware that these events and this topic are painful and sensitive in Serbia. Two years ago, Stoltenberg expressed regret over the loss of every citizen and his deep condolences to the families. “You have to bear in mind why we did it, and that is because we saw a humanitarian catastrophe taking place. We saw hundreds of thousands of people that were fleeing. We have seen violence against civilians and this is the reason why we reacted”, noted Stoltenberg. He believes that the NATO mission has helped to stop violence, provided humanitarian aid and prevented the humanitarian catastrophe. Stoltenberg added that since then, NATO has been present in Kosovo with the KFOR mission in order to protect the surrounding, including Serb civilians. German Foreign Minister, Heiko Maas believes that Germany had a “responsible approach” and that Berlin then noticed “a great violation of human rights and mass killings.” “I think that NATO’s action was right. I would not want to imagine what would happen there if there was no intervention” Heiko Mass said in an interview for a German newspaper.
What led to the 1999 air campaign?
The campaign named “Operation Allied Force” lasted for 78 days and began on March 24, 1999. It was a follow up of the failed negotiations in Rambouillet in February 1999 and in Paris in March of the same year. All this was preceded by conflicts between the military and police forces of the FRY (mostly from Serbia) and the KLA. The operation was unique in many ways because it was the first major use of NATO’s armed force in its fifty-year history and the first time a force was used to implement the UN Security Council resolution without the approval of that same Council. Because of these facts this campaign is controversial in international relations precisely because the UN Security Council has not given its consent. At the time of the NATO bombing in 1999, NATO was composed of 19 members. Interestingly, on 12 March 1999 (only 12 days before the start of the bombing), the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland became NATO members. So, this campaign was the first major test of membership in the Alliance. Current Czech President Miloš Zeman, then Prime Minister was the one who voted in favor of the bombing. He said a few weeks ago that the entire campaign from the current point of view was wrong. “From a certain distance, I can tell you that was the mistake and to a certain extent an act of the power-based arrogance. The Czech Republic was the last member who voted for the bombing, and I unsympathetically remember that process of decision-making”, Zeman emphasized, adding that before the final decision, the Czech Republic sought support from other countries to resolve the dispute through diplomatic channels. On the other hand, speaking about the cause of the NATO bombing, Stoltenberg said that the UN Security Council has on several occasions described violations of human rights in Kosovo and an increasing number of refugees expelled from their homes as a threat to international peace and security. In a statement from 23 April 1999, NATO stressed that military actions are directed not at the Serb people but at the policies of the regime in Belgrade, which has repeatedly rejected all efforts to solve the crisis peacefully. ” In the same document it was stated that Slobodan Milošević must stop all military actions and immediately stop the violence and repression in Kosovo, withdraw all his military, police and paramilitary forces; to accept the stationing of an international presence in Kosovo, to accept the return of all refugees and displaced persons, to allow access to humanitarian organizations and to show the will to work on the creation of a political framework that will lead to an agreement based on Rambouillet accords. At the end of the same statement, NATO underlined that they would continue their operation until the Milošević regime accepts these demands. What was surprising for NATO officials was the duration of the operation because the expected that Milošević regime would crack after a “couple of days”. “NATO and some capitals of member states believed that after several air strikes, Milošević would give up and sit at a table,” said former NATO spokesperson Jamie Shay in an interview for the BBC in Serbian. However, this did not happen – the campaign lasted for 78 days before the Milošević regime gave away and agreed to sit down at the negotiation table. The campaign ended when the Military Technical Agreement was signed at the Kumanovo Airport (known as the Kumanovo Agreement) on June 9, 1999, by General of Yugoslavian army, togheter with Svetozar Marjanović and Police General Obrad Stevanović, and British General Michael Jackson who represented NATO. According to this agreement, hostility between the forces of the FRY and Serbia on one side and NATO on the other side was over. The military and police forces of the FRY have been obliged to withdraw from the territory of the Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohia for a period of 11 days, and a land security zone between Kosovo and the rest of the FRY has also been established. Also, it was planned that the newly formed KFOR forces disarm the KLA members which was eventually done. A day after the signing of the agreement, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 1244.
Serbia and NATO today – good cooperation with certain problems
Today’s marking of 20 years since the bombing has special weight, because NATO is expanding in the region. Thus, Montenegro, with which Serbia was in the federation in 1999, became a member in 2017. Furthermore, last year Allies expressed their readiness to accept the Annual National Programme of Bosnia and Herzegovina, while Kosovo expresses a strong desire to join NATO. Its unsettled status and the fact that four NATO countries do not recognize independence is breaking down the illusion that it can become a member in the near future. In the end, all 29 members signed the Accession Protocol with North Macedonia in February this year and it is expected that North Macedonia become. However, today Serbia is one of NATO’s most important partners in the region. Cooperation between them is growing, which both the officials of Serbia and NATO emphasized on several occasions in recent years. Furthermore, NATO officials have repeatedly stressed out that they respect the military neutrality of Serbia. However, relations are still marked by the consequences of the events in 1999. An illustration of a negative public opinion about NATO in Serbia is a recent survey which shows that 79% of Serbia’s citizens are against Serbia’s accession to the Alliance, while 64% would not accept the NATO’s apology for the bombing in 1999. Citizens of Serbia believe that military-political and economic interests of the United States and the West are the main reasons for the bombing. Among all, one of the main problems is the number of displaced persons from Kosovo. In parallel with the withdrawal of military and police forces, the civilian Serb and non-Albanian population fled from the province due to uncertainty and fear of repression. Thus, the Government of Serbia estimated that about 242,381 inhabitants of Serbian and other non-Albanian nationals had been displaced from Kosovo. This, together with the lack of official estimation of the number of people killed as a result of the bombing, is a major problem for good relations because it allows manipulation of the cause of war and shifting the blame entirely on NATO. The relations with NATO are also controversial because of the use of depleted uranium, which public in Serbia connects with the increase of carcinogenic diseases among the population. The first link between disease and depleted uranium appeared shortly after the bombing, and for that reason, the North Atlantic Council on January 10, 2001, distributed all information and maps related to the use of depleted uranium and also established the Ad Hoc Committee for the Depleted Uranium, which included representatives from FRY. This committee concluded that “there is no scientific link between depleted uranium and health”. On the other hand, in 2018 the Serbian government established a Commission to investigate the consequences of NATO bombing in 1999. The Commission, in cooperation with the Belgrade Public Health Institute, a few days ago published a study among the Serbian children (because the smoking factor is excluded). The study shows that children born between 1999 and 2015 were exposed to a certain toxic factor that caused them to be prone to malignant disease. Although the results do not explicitly mention uranium as that factor, the Serbian public and media are linking it with it.