www.slobodan-milosevic.org - February 6, 2005

Written by: Andy Wilcoxson

The trial of Slobodan Milosevic resumed on Monday with the continued testimony of Prof. Branko Kostic, the former Montenegrin representative in the SFRY state presidency.

Kostic began the day by testifying about the adoption of the Vance Plan. He explained that Croatia did not want to adopt the plan, nor did Milan Babic want to adopt the plan. Kostic explained that Milosevic eventually won over the Krajina Serb leadership to support the plan.

Under the Vance plan, UN Peacekeeping troops would control the areas of Croatia where the Serbs were the majority or a significant minority. These areas, called “UN Protected Areas,” were demilitarized.

Under the Vance Plan the Krajina Serbs gave their weapons to the UN peacekeepers. UN peacekeepers put the weapons in warehouses and kept the access keys.

Kostic testified that he could not think of a single instance when the Krajina Serbs violated the Vance plan. Unfortunately, he could not say the same thing about the Croatian side.

The witness commented that the Vance Plan was completely incompatible with any plan to create “Greater Serbia.”

In 1992 Milan Babic, the Krajina-Serb president, announced that the RSK would be annexed to Serbia. Milosevic produced the response from the Serbian assembly. The Serbian government rejected Babic’s declaration uniting Serbia and the RSK. The Serbian government expressed its view supporting the UN mission and held that a political solution had to be negotiated with the Croats.

The fact that Serbia rejected territory when it was offered proves beyond any doubt that neither Milosevic nor Serbia had any territorial aspirations towards Croatia or any other republic. This one fact alone negates the entire thesis put forward by the indictment. Prof. Kostic testified that Milosevic never advocated any form of “greater Serbia.”

The indictment accuses the JNA of “occupying” Croatian territory. Prof. Kostic repeated many times during his evidence that the JNA was the only legal armed force in Yugoslavia, and as such could not be accused of “occupation” on its own territory.

Neither could the Krajina Serbs be accused of occupation. Milosevic read out a passage from Lord Owen’s book “Balkan Odyssey” where he states that the Krajina Serbs had been living on that territory for several centuries. The Krajina Serbs could not be accused of occupying Croatia any more than the Dutch can be accused of occupying Holland.

The fact that the Vance Plan totally disarmed the Krajina Serbs, as well as the fact that Croatian paramilitary groups had the JNA blockaded in its barracks is further proof that there was no occupation.

Kostic pointed out that everything the Krajina Serbs did was in response to Croatian or foreign provocations. None of it was instigated by a mythical Serbian conspiracy as is alleged by the prosecution. When Croatia announced that it was suspending the Yugoslav constitution, the Krajina Serbs responded by establishing autonomous districts (the SAOs) in which Yugoslav law did apply.

When the European Community reneged on its promise not to recognize the secessionist republics and offered to illegally grant Croatia recognition, the Krajina Serbs responded by announcing their secession from Croatia.

Kostic also gave testimony about Dubrovnik. He testified that the JNA had not had an armed soldier in Dubrovnik for decades before the war. He explained that the General Staff of the JNA made the decision to remove Croatian paramilitary forces in Dubrovnik after the Croats launched attacks from there.

Kostic credited JNA action in Dubrovnik with stopping the war from spreading into Montenegro (which borders Dubrovnik).

The indictment accuses the JNA and the Serbian leadership of undertaking a conspiracy to expel the Croatian population from 1/3 of Croatian territory. Kostic conceded that there were instances when Croats were mistreated, but he insisted that such incidents were isolated and did not come about at the initiative of the Yugoslav or Serbian leadership. To prove this point he showed the court statistics that Croatia was 77.9% Croat and 12.2% Serb in 1991 vs. 89.6% Croat and 4.5% Serb today.

The statistics prove that Croatia ethnically cleansed the Serbs. The indictment has the facts turned completely upside down. To bear this point out Milosevic read-out a passage from Lord Owen’s book where he calls Croatia's Operation Storm the biggest ethnic cleansing operation in all of the Balkan wars.

The indictment says that Milosevic controlled the JNA, several paramilitary groups, the SFRY state presidency, and the Krajina-Serb leadership.

Professor Kostic dismissed the assertions dismissed by the indictment as total nonsense. Kostic testified that Slobodan Milosevic was the president of Serbia and as such he did not control the JNA, the SFRY presidency, or the Krajina Serb leadership. Kostic, who was a member of the SFRY state presidency himself, said that Milosevic neither had de jure nor de facto control over these institutions.

Kostic testified that Milosevic was opposed to paramilitary groups. He said that Serbian paramilitary groups were always under the control of Milosevic’s political opponents, such as Vuk Draskovic, who hoped to use these units to forcibly overthrow Milosevic. Kostic added that the vast majority of war crimes committed by Serbs could be attributed to these illegal paramilitary formations.

Kostic will resume his testimony tomorrow. He is expected to testify about Bosnia.

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