Tuesday, November 4, 2003

Milosevic Trial part I: Ante Markovic testifies

politics > former yugoslavia

Extended excerpt from the transcript of Ante Markovic's testimony in the trial of Slobodan Milosevic in the ICTY. Ante Markovic was the last "prime-minister" of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. This excerpt backs up what a lot of people have known for a while. Namely that the division of Bosnia was decided by the nationalist leaders of Serbia and Croatia together...:

Q. And can I now move to Karadjordjevo and the March 1991 meeting between Tudjman and the accused. Following that meeting, did you have meetings with both Tudjman and the accused where they spoke of that meeting?
A. Yes.
Q. There are two ways of dealing with this: You can either, as it's set out in your statement, deal with the way in which their accounts to you had elements in common; or, whichever is most convenient for you, you can tell us item by item -- not item by item -- person by person what the accused and what Tudjman said to you. Can you give us an account of what you were told.
A. As I had received information about the topic discussed in Karadjordjevo, that is, the division of Bosnia and Herzegovina between Serbia and Croatia, and that Milosevic and Tudjman had agreed to carry out this division, and also there was talk of the dismissal of the Prime Minister, Ante Markovic, because he was in the way of both of them in implementing this division of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
At my initiative, I had a meeting with Milosevic in Belgrade and with Tudjman in Zagreb. According to my custom, I spoke to both of them very openly. The results of these talks were that both of them confirmed to me that they had agreed to divide up Bosnia and Herzegovina. Milosevic told me this very soon. Tudjman needed much more time to admit this and to say that they had reached an understanding about it.
They did not have identical interpretations of this agreement.
Milosevic said that Bosnia and Herzegovina was an artificial entity created by Tito, that it could not survive, and that most of the Muslims were in fact Orthodox who had been forced to change their religion. When I asked him directly or, rather, I asked both of them directly, "Do you think --" that's what I said to Milosevic, "Do you think that this will be so simple? Do you think you will be able to do this without bloodshed, without blood up to the knees?" Milosevic said he didn't believe that.
He said that Bosnia and Herzegovina anyway has a majority of Serbs and Croats in the population so that there would be no conflict, and that they had envisioned an enclave for the Muslims, the two of them, and that the Muslims could live in that enclave.
I asked the same question of Tudjman. I said to him, among other things, "Do you think that people who will be born and who will die to the sound of gunfire, that this will not transform Bosnia and Herzegovina into a kind of Palestine? How many victims will there be? How much destruction? How much will be ruined?" Tudjman thought this would not be the way things would happen. He said, "Europe will not allow a Muslim state in its heart. We will gain the support of European. And as for your fears that there will be war there, all I can say is Bosnia fell silently," because in history Bosnia once fell without an armed struggle, so there is this saying in our language that Bosnia fell with a whisper. Tudjman said that the Muslims were anyway Catholics who had been forced to adopt Islam. So each of these men admitted and thought this was something quite normal. Tudjman even asked for my approval and support that Bosnia and Herzegovina should be divided.

So this was a deal, between two people determined to break up Yugoslavia. Two people who proved to entertain totally unrealistic expectations about what would follow.
The whole of the testimony is tremendously interesting, as it points to preperations between Milosevic and Karadjic in creating Bosnian Serb militias and contains this shocking testimony of the most murderous cynicism that personal ambition can induce:

[Markovic]...First I talked to Milosevic and asked him whether he could see what was happening in Vukovar and Dubrovnik. I asked him how he could allow Dubrovnik to be shelled, a famous place like that, important for the culture of this country and for world culture. Milosevic replied, "Who would be crazy enough to shell Dubrovnik? Dubrovnik isn't being shelled." But it was clear, you could see on television that it was being shelled.
I then asked Milosevic to go and see Tudjman, wanting Tudjman to confirm to Milosevic that what I was saying was true and that Dubrovnik was being shelled. I repeated my statement. He replied in the same way, saying that this was impossible, that it couldn't be because were this the case, he would know about it. And Tudjman replied to this quite calmly, "Well, you see what Milosevic says." He didn't say anything in favour of an intervention against the shelling of Dubrovnik.
Q. The inference that you drew from this as a politician on the ground at the time?
A. Well, it imposed itself logically. The conclusion was that Milosevic did wield influence, quite obviously, on what was happening, and Tudjman didn't find it to be in his interest that Dubrovnik should not be shelled, and Vukovar either, or rather, it suited him in the sense of winning over arguments for his emancipation or for his secession and having Croatia recognised.

And finally please consider this assessment of Milosevic's nationalism, which is IMHO very accurate and illuminating:

Q. In all your conversations with the accused - and I think I've probably come to the end of questions about that topic - were you able to discern whether he was a Serb nationalist, in your judgement?, or not?
A. No. No. Slobodan Milosevic used everything he could to ensure power for himself and power over people. And if that was nationalism, well, then he used nationalism. But in principle, he wasn't a nationalist. He was quite simply somebody who was ready to use everything at his disposal to secure power for himself.

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