As clearly demonstrated by ensuing developments, NATO aggression of 1999 against Serbia (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) was the beginning of a series of aggression and interventionism. This has evolved into a dominant global trend of use of force, accompanied by huge problems such as the devastation of sovereign countries, massive influx of refugees, spreading of terrorism and militarization of international relations. Adding to this prolonged financial and economic crisis, the continuous deepening of the gap between the developed and the developing parts of the world and the growing distrust and confrontation, the resulting outcome is a global instability. After NATO aggression on the FRY, there followed the assault of the “coalition of the willing” comprising mainly NATO members and the occupation of Afghanistan in 2001. Next was the armed aggression against Iraq.
The “willing ones”, led by the USA, invaded Afghanistan in order to crush Al-Qaeda and those responsible for the attack on the World Trade Centre in New York and the Pentagon in Washington. In parallel, the fight against terrorism spread onto the territories of other states, notably - neighbouring Pakistan and also onto Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and some other countries. In reality we have witnessed is the unprecedented expansion of terrorism in the Near and Middle East, Africa and its subsequent spill-over to Europe – ranging from Turkey through France and Belgium to Spain and the United Kingdom. Up to now.
Since the first attack of “the willing”, hundreds of thousands of Afghan civilians, including women, children, wedding parties, doctors and medics have been killed. The production of heroin in occupied Afghanistan skyrocketed for more than 40 times over. As for Pakistan, many people have been killed as the victims of both - terrorists and “the willing” ones fighting the terrorists.
When it comes to Iraq, we have to recall that the aggression, also without the Security Council mandate, was launched under the false pretext of searching for the weapons of mass destruction. The crimes committed in infamous Abu Ghraib, Basra, and the hundreds of thousands of killed civilians were, in cold blood, declared to be the victims of “worthy causes”! Neither Clinton, or Albright or Blair ever took to explain what causes could justify hundreds of thousands of killed civilians, women and children!
Then followed attacks by individual NATO members against Libya, in breach of the United Nations Security Council mandate, that continue to the present day. Among the casualties of the latest attacks of the United States armed forces on Libya were also two Serbian diplomats. Today, our hearts and minds go to them and their families and the Serbian diplomacy; they are also the victims of the globalized interventionism inasmuch as were the victims of NATO aggression in 1999. In one form or another, external aggressions kept relentlessly spreading to Yemen, Mali, Somalia, Syria, up to the coup in Kiev. The blueprint for all of them was established in 1999 and 2000 in Serbia (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia).
A new “democratic” standard: the might above the law
The military interventionism by the US-led NATO has developed into a global phenomenon. Its goal is also global – to forcibly introduce full control over all major resources on the planet, from geopolitical, infrastructural and economic ones to natural and human resources, by means of violating all norms of the international relations and by devastating international institutions that happen to be in the way of the ruthless greed and expansion.
The force of the law is replaced by the right of the might, as demonstrates the motto of NATO after the aggression on Serbia (the FRY) in 1999. “The might should be above the law” – is an excerpt from the US strategy presented in the famous letter Willy Wimmer addressed to Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, dated 2 May 2000. Thus the way was paved for the globalization of authoritarianism, this time dressed in the dress of democracy.
And what these “fighters” for democracy, civilians, human rights and minority rights, protectors of the self-proclaimed “national interests” have left behined? In short, they left chaos; millions of killed and wounded, tens of millions of refugees and displaced people; warring nations, tribes, religions; devastated communities and state territories torn apart; the so-called Islamic State and the globalized terrorism; militarization; the arms race; the global distrust and confrontation.
Equality and partnership without wars
Our friend Zahari Zahariev from Bulgria, has voiced a warning about the risk of global conflict. We hope and make all what we can to avoid it. Our hopes and expectations are stemming from the profound changes in the global constellation of power shifting in favour of the forces of peace, cooperation on an equal footing, observance of the international law and, most notably, observance of the principle of sovereign equality and the restoration of the role of the United Nations as the umbrella organization of the global community of nations. The era of the one polar world order and the system of liberal corporative capitalism are on an irreversible path to history; we hope and believe that, together with them, also go NATO as their key lever and the relic of the Cold War. Still, in spite of this, we must not ignore the fact that the minds of the ideologues of ‘exceptionalism’ and ‘missionary role’ do not function in the same fashion as the minds of ordinary people. Judging by their classifications of ‘the good’ versus ‘the evil’, of ‘friends’ vs. ‘foes’, ‘justice’ vs. ‘injustice’, ‘terrorists’ vs. ‘moderate opposition’, or their definitions of ‘fighters for freedom and democracy’, we cannot help concluding that there is still a big number of ‘strategists’ who believe that any means is allowed in the defending of privileges in international affairs and grabbing other people`s assets.
The most dangerous ones are the ‘shadow structures’ and the powerful ones who deem that history, which refuses to voluntary accept its own end, may be destroyed, punished or at least halted. They deny everything and everyone that pose an obstacle to the lawlessness and the sheer egotism they had used over the past decades and centuries. It is slowly dawning on them that they can no more rely on privileges and ‘exceptionalism’ in international relations, yet not wish to relinquish them voluntarily. Russia, China and other BRICS countries, just like the majority of states in the world community do not accept to submit to anybody else’s will. So, are the proponents of the ‘exceptionalism’ theory going to concede to equality and partnership in global affairs, or are they going to reach for the weapons including, maybe, the nuclear ones, in a bid to preserve the old and to acquire new privileges? Are they going to admit the true goals of their continuous military expansion to the East since 1999, ranging from USA Camp “Bondsteel” to ‘rotating commands’ and the so-called missile defense shields deployed along the Russian borders? The future peace and stability depend on the answers to these and similar questions.
Those who have been enjoying impunity while trampling the fundamental principles of the United Nations Charter, generating chaos and ‘low-intensity conflicts’, toppling and appointing leaders of other nations, those who pay no regard to the legitimate interests of other nations and states, those used to making others pay for the failures of their own policies, and those used to always have the last say, even deceiving their own people and the world public, will certainly not stop short of taking chances! And this is precisely the source of a great danger.
Shortly after NATO aggression of 1999, on Serbian territory near the town of Uroševac, was built the largest US military base in Europe, some say the largest in the world outside the US soil, Camp “Bondsteel”. This was the first in the chain of the mushrooming American military bases. The next three bases were erected in Bulgaria, whereas the additional four in Romania. The chain continues up to the so-called anti-missile defense shields in Poland, Romania and some other countries, creeping closer to the borders of Russia.
Europe of today hosts more American and NATO military bases than at the pinnacle of the Cold War! The Berlin Wall is long gone, as is the Warsaw Pact, there is no more Soviet Union or the two confronting social systems, or the ‘axis of evil’. So, what could be the objective of the skyrocketing number of foreign military bases in Europe, the amassing of troops and military hardware on European soil, the militarization of the process of political decision-making, the militarization of the media, and the growth in military spending? Is there a plausible answer to these questions?
Given that we are under domination of pro-NATO oriented media, worldwide and especially in Europe, including Serbia, and being burdened by the growing social and economic problems, we have less and less possibility and time to spare to reconsider the veracity of messages sent from TV stations, NATO newsrooms and other militarization-dominated places. We should ponder the objective of the introducing of airspace control ranging from the Baltic Sea to Anatolia, in a line resembling the times of the Roman Empire. These all are significant new moments that deserve to be taken into account.
A consequence of 1999 NATO aggression against Serbia (the FRY) was the militarization, not only in terms of physical buildup of weaponry and troops, but also in terms of militarization of the process of political decision-making. European institutions, national and regional, have increasingly been morphing into global tendency of making decisions in narrow circles in the matters like military spending, new foreign bases, privileges and immunity of NATO troops, up to the matter of membership to military alliances and the question of war and peace. Washington concept of democracy was introduced as universal obligation for all, especially for countries in transition. Wherever is not accepted voluntarily, it is imposed by subversive methods and force.
The funds are being allocated to weapons, while millions of people leave their homes in the Middle East seeking jobs in Europe. They are not sluggish lazy people seeking easy life, as maliciously depicted, nor ones striving to disrupt the Europeans’ wellbeing. These are people expelled from their homes as collateral of actions of the West and their Arab allies, they are people struggling to survive and in search for the daily bread. These people have no alternatives for survival. This is why they cannot be stopped by fences or patrols, on land or at seas. The West holds the key to their plight. That key is - stop aggressions, wars, interventions! First of all, the West should stop funding, arming, and training of terrorists! Disrupt supplying of the so-called “moderate opposition; tell conservative regimes in the region not to finance and arm ISIS! Instead of making deals with Turkey, they should resort to investments and development of the countries in the Middle East and Central Asia, and thus offer to younger generations a different, better alternative than the one offered by the ideologists of jihad.
It should be noted that Russia and China have already evolved into global factors in international economic and political relations. The establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Development Bank with some 60 signatories, the BRICS Development Bank, and some other brand new institutions and projects of global relevance (such as the 21st Century New Silk Road) are clearly witnessing that the era of monopoly in regulating international affairs has ended.
There are no major international problems that could be solved without an equal participation of Russia and China. I also hold this to be the presumption for a just and sustainable solution of the status of Kosovo and Metohija, in line with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244. The deals tabled by the commissionaires in Brussels and Washington requesting Serbia to renounce her constitutional order, homeland, historical identity, and adherence to UNSCR 1244, for the sake of a ‘realism’ and ‘European agenda’ can hardly amount to anything else than an apparent simulacrum and an illusion of an ersatz solution.
The revision of history was not triggered, but instead accelerated by NATO 1999 aggression. The process history revision involves great many interests and participants, but a special role has been assigned to the Hague Tribunal. This is a mechanism that, among other things, aims to replace the historians and leave its own – or rather, NATO’s – version of history, in particular a part refereeing to the last decades of history of former Yugoslavia. For the vast majority of people in Serbia, the Hague Tribunal is but an extended arm of NATO, one that does not dispense justice but instead pronounces verdicts, primarily against the members of the Serbian peoples.
Tomorrow, on March 24rth is 17th anniversary of the beginning of the NATO aggression. Tomorow the Hague tribunal is scheduled to pronounce the sentencing of Radovan Karadžić, formerly the first President of the Republic of Srpska. Although not proponents of the conspiracy theories, we deem it is not mere coincidence that the sentencing of Radovan Karadžić was scheduled on the anniversary of the beginning of the aggression against Serbia (the FRY). “Coincidence” is aimed at diverting the public attention from yet another public exposure of NATO crimes committed against the Serbian nation and citizens 17 years ago, onto the sentencing of President Karadžić. From tomorrow onwards, we are expected to engage in commenting the verdict and the regional animosities the verdict stirs, so to cast a shadow over the tributes paid to thousands of victims in Serbia and Montenegro, to avoid hearing the people still voicing their concerns on the devastation of civilian facilities, use of weapons filled with depleted uranium, use of cluster, graphite and other illicit bombs, to avoid seeing and hearing of the crimes performed by NATO against Serbia, the region, against Europe and the system of international relations.
The statistics reveal that, out of 89 persons convicted by the Hague Tribunal to the total of 1,380 years of prison, 67 are Serbs, which make more than 2/3 of the total number of the convicted, to 1,125 years of imprisonment; 14 are Croats, sentenced to 183 years; five are Bosniaks sentenced to 41 years; two are Albanians sentenced to 19 years; and one is Macedonian sentenced to 12 years of imprisonment. Is this the reflection of reality of civil wars in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia? Who is responsible for the crimes committed against the Serbian people in Sarajevo, Eastern Bosnia, in Croatia`s operations “Flash” and “Storm”, and other locations!? Who has been convicted for trade of human organs taken from abducted Serbs, how was it possible that documentation on such horrible crimes disappeared while under custody of Hague Tribunal!?
Aggressor-friendly reform of the Army
On this 17th anniversary of NATO aggression a special merit is addressed to our Army, its soldiers and generals who have professionally and patriotically defended the country and the nation. The toll of the struggle took 1,008 soldiers and policemen. Today, we remember them, as well as more than 2,500 killed civilians, among whom there were more than 80 children. We pay tribute to all of them and express our condolences to their families and relatives.
Immediately after the aggression, our Army had undergone so called reform. Almost all generals and admirals who led the defense against NATO aggression were retired. Let us recall the executors of this reform. It was directed by NATO generals headed by British general Beak and French general Holland, in the capacity of advisors to then-minister of defense, Boris Tadić!
The reform’s outcome is best known to members of the Serbian Army. Part of the “reform” was disarming the Army. American Ambassador was supervising this operation while American company US Steel has melted all tanks, howitzers and other heavy-duty weaponry in the Smederevo Steelworks, yielding the cheapest and highest quality steel. Once smelting was over, the US Steel said it was no more profitable for them to operate Smederevo Steelworks, packed their bags, and left, leaving behind empty factory and some new debts!
Let us recollect what the goals of the aggression were. Deployment of US troops in the Balkans, notably in the territory of Serbia, as the first step in building the chain of US military bases closer to the Russian borders. Expansion to the East was pronounced NATO doctrine. In fact it was not quite original, because infamous “Drang nach Osten“doctrine was German, much older doctrine. In 1999 NATO has also provided a blueprint for the new type of military interventions in any part of the world, disregarding basic principles of International Law and the role of UN Security Council. The aggression against Serbia (FRY) was unique for, at least two, additional reasons. First, NATO took in alliance terrorist organization called KLA. And, second, it convinced its European allies, to take part in a war which in fact was the war against Europe! In the meantime, foreign analysts have revealed that banks and corporations from NATO member countries, over the period from 2001 – 2011, had sucked out over $ 50 billion through the so-called privatizations. The most valuable enterprises located in the Province of Kosovo and Metohija, built by funds of Serbia and former Yugoslavia, fell prey to the hands of companies from USA and some other NATO states. Priority right in privatization in the Province of Kosovo and Metohija was accorded to some prominent figures in the Clinton administration, proponents of, “humanitarian intervention”. A coincidence?
Silvio Berlusconi, former Prime minister of Italy has publicly divulged that French President confided to him that France had militarily intervened in Libya because she also had a right to get hold of some Libyan oil wells! What a magnitude of altruism in the fight for the “protection of civilians”! One can hardly comprehend such cynicism that politicians use to deceive their peoples by the allegedly righteous motives of military interventions! And their background consists of utter egoism, despoilment and sheer gluttony.
Wesley Clark, NATO commander-in-chief in 1999, in an interview to a US TV station, said that the Pentagon had provided a list of countries the USA was going to bomb in future. When asked why, Clark replied that he assumed because of oil.
The way out is in accepting the new realities in global relations, which do not support the setup of superior and subordinate actors, the privileged and the disenfranchised ones, the “exceptional” and the handicapped. The way out is in restoration of observance of the fundamental principles of international relations and international law, and most notably, in observance of the principle of sovereign equality of all states. In a broader sense, the way out is in strengthening the role of the United Nations and respect of the UN Security Council as the most responsible body for the matters of peace and security; in acknowledging that the multipolarization of global relations is a process that cannot be halted or stopped by any means; in the light of the increased powers of Russia, China and other BRICS countries, it multipolarity is inevitable; in orientation towards democratization of global relations which, in essence, means the recognition that medium and small countries also have a right to own interests; in renouncing the misuse of fight against terrorism so to spread and impose the geopolitical interests of major powers; in cutting the funding, arming, training, and dispatching terrorists to the crisis areas; in paying priority attention to solving growing socio-economic problems in Africa, Near and Middle East and in all other parts of the world, especially, those originating all kinds of extremism, terrorism and international organized crimes.
At present, for peace and security it is vital to identify a peaceful political solution for the war in Syria, while respecting the interests of all political factors, excluding the terrorists of all kinds and of any political ilk.
Terrorism has become a global problem due to double standards, and the misuse and manipulations with terrorism for geopolitical objectives. We learned this lesson in 90-ies during civil war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, when the Western powers, and especially the USA, have directly and indirectly assisted the transfer of terrorists from the Middle East, Chechnya and the Maghreb countries, their subsequent training, arming and organizing into units that fought on the side of forces of Alija Izetbegović. We still vividly remember the “El Mujahedeen” Brigade, whose members posed with severed Serbian heads for photo sessions. These mujahedeen have, later on, redeployed to Kosovo and Metohija, strengthening the troops of the terrorist KLA. The KLA itself was a NATO ally, its ground force infantry in NATO aggression of 1999. Therefore, nobody should be surprised that both Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo and Metohija have continuously been the source locations in recruiting the highest ration of foreign fighters for the ISIS. What else is to be told about the parts of B&H beyond the control of the official authorities of the B&H Federation, but rather under the control of the Wahhabi leadership? More than 60% of Islamic religious institutions have also severed their connections with the official Islamic religious community.
We propose to hold a world conference on fight against terrorism under the auspices of the United Nations. Given its complexity, to eradicate terrorism many decades of multidimensional struggle is needed. That is why, a proposed conference should only launch preparation of World convention on the fight against terrorism. If we seek to avoid new killings and prevent further spreading of terrorism in Europe and elsewhere, this initiative should be considered in the nearest future. Of course, it does not exclude any other initiative which is based on the fact that global problem could be solved by global strategy under the auspices of United Nations.
For Serbia, the way out means establishing and reinforcing genuine neutrality, and in raising this commitment to the level of a basic constitutional principle. Serbia should follow the example of neutral Austria and other neutral European states. Respecting own historic experiences and geopolitical position, Serbia should adopt a policy of balanced foreign policy, full openness for win win cooperation on an equal footing, leaving behind practice of unilateral concessions to any specific country or a group of countries. This is certainly possible providing firm and lasting political will. Serbia`s way out is firm orientation to own interests and capacities, to moral, human, scientific, cultural, geopolitical, natural, and economic resources as the precondition for open, partnership cooperation with all other countries and integrations.
President of the Belgrade Forum for a World of Equals