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August 17, 1992
. Vreme News Digest Agency No 47
Serbia in a Broken Mirror

Between Dresden and Nuremberg

by Milan Milosevic

The political holidays went on while in the heat of the summer all media wavelengths spoke of concentration camps, ethnic cleansing, war crimes, possible military intervention in Bosnia, and as the hardest decision the Security Council can make approaches, Serbian politics are in a state of total confusion.

Those who calmly and heedlessly talked of the "exchange of civilians" now have to face the fact that this "exchange" has taken on the form of a war crime. Milosevic, along with his associates, finds himself on the list of those against whom charges may be made for war crimes by an International Court, whose formation has been proposed to the United Nations by "Helsinki Watch". This initiative could possibly be a chance to get out of the mechanism of collective guilt and collective reprisal; after this Belgrade would be closer to Nuremberg than Dresden.

Resolution 771, which speaks of a demand for all sides, under the "threat of force", to stop with their violations of human rights and which announces an investigation, is for this reason probably more interesting to Belgrade than Resolution 770 which talks of the military securement of humanitarian aid.

There is a wide-spread feeling that Serbia will become the subject of collective reprisal, and Belgrade another Dresden, and this has been accepted with fatalistic indifference. There are no signs that anyone has made any preparation for the protection of the inhabitants of Belgrade. One general, as if with the aim to comfort, announced to VREME that not a single city has been left without successful air defence. Cosic made the announcement that any intervention on the territory of Yugoslavia will be met with fierce resistance. This atmosphere of the homogenization of the attacked works well for Slobodan Milosevic.

When war politics is in question, more than in any other country on the former Yugoslav territory (except Sarajevo before the outbreak of war in Bosnia), there existed in Serbia an opposition to the regime, but this great capital was never activated because of the ideological torture by which the catastrophic policies of the regime were proclaimed as the only possible protection of the cousins, even though this protection brought down the cousins' houses around their heads....

News came through from the concentration camps, whose existence was at first negated; then there was an attempt to show that they were ordinary prisoner-of-war camps, with the extracted admission that drunken guards were known to abuse their position.

An extremely painful impression has been left, in spite of the fact that there was quite convincing proof that on the territory of the FRY itself there were no camps apart from those for refugees. There has been no adequate answer to the horrific charges which will be brought against a generation, and the only answer could have been an energetic investigation accompanied by extensive humanitarian action...

The humiliation worthy of respect that the Yugoslav Prime Minister, Panic, is being subjected to at the moment, could be capitalized one day. At present his position of negotiation is limited by the company that surrounds him, the manner in which the FRY was proclaimed, though this proclamation, like the elections that followed, was rushed under the pretense that it would facilitate communication with the world. Now everyone maliciously watches him all on his own.

The Serbian radicals, probably on a tip from some general, constantly repeat the demand that Milan Panic find a commander for the army. Bozovic undermines his concept of rapid privatization. The radicals criticized his intention to recognize Croatia in the Federal Assembly.

The first local test has still not been passed - the Law on Amnesty which was roughly attacked by representatives of the Serbian Radical Party and Colonel Milan Milivojevic in the name of the Union of Veterans from the 91-92 war.

A large number of political factors consider that sovereignty is lost and that an international protectorate practically established, all with the beating of breasts and "a return of dignity" and that this will be broken by some European conference. When Panic went to Tirana he announced the initiative for talks between the Yugoslav Government and the Kosovo Albanians in Belgrade, in the presence of Greece as an authorized observer from the European Community, in practice accepting the demand which Cosic and Milosevic rejected in talks with Lord Carrington.

The Albanian political leaders of Kosovo persevere with secession, counting on coming to a separate state by boycott, and in this way they put the political powers in Serbia which are prepared to do something to ensure the civil and basic political rights of members of the minority, in a very difficult position.

Thirty percent of the half million refugees which have taken refuge in Serbia have nowhere to go, and the Serbian authorities, according to the announcements of some politicians in Belgrade, intend to settle them in Kosovo. From ecclesiastical circles it has been leaked that Cosic was the one who insisted that the church relics from the monasteries in Kosovo and Metohija be removed to a safe place because of the danger of an uprising at any moment. This caused alarm among the Kosovo Serbs who think they will be left in the lurch.

DEPOS (the umbrella organization, consisting of several oppositional parties and institutions) has published a document on the territorial integrity of Serbia which contains the position of minorities, and this was announced two weeks ago by Vojislav Kostunica (leader of the Democratic Party of Serbia) in an interview given to VREME's reporter. Serbia would be divided into areas - like Srem or Sumadija - which would have a certain level of functional autonomy and local self-management, but this self-management would not have a social status.

The rights of minorities, which in practice are less than those in theory, according to DEPOS would be more easily achieved in the four areas where the concentration of a minority is significant. In Metohija there would be 83 and in Kosovo 81 percent Albanians, in Southern Raska 78.5 percent Moslems would live, and in Northern Backa (a part of Vojvodina) 60 percent of all the Hungarians. In Metohija the Albanian language would be equal to Serbian, and in Northern Backa the Hungarian language. In these areas there would be no obstacles to the organizing of university courses in these languages. The number of civil servants of each nationality would reflect the national composition of each area.

The problem is simple and unsolvable, and if Serbian politicians continue to make it known every day that not a single change in border by force will be tolerated, they can use the loss of unification with the Serbs in Bosnia or Croatia as an argument to keep Kosovo as part of Serbia, and vice versa. The hopelessness of this calculation has been obvious for a long time, but unfortunately the option of a civil state in the post-communist unraveling in Yugoslavia has been defeated with consequences that are tragic for both the former state and all its citizens.

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