www.slobodan-milosevic.org - February 14, 2005

Written by: Andy Wilcoxson

Vladislav Jovanovic took the stand at the trial of Slobodan Milosevic on Monday, February 14th. Jovanovic is a career diplomat with more than 40 years experience in the diplomatic corps of Yugoslavia. He served as both the Serbian and Yugoslav Foreign Minister in 1991 and 1992.


Jovanovic began his testimony with his recollections of the Hague Conferences on Yugoslavia held in 1991. According to his testimony, the European Community had offered to provide facilities so that the leaders of the Yugoslav republics could find a peaceful way out of the political crisis that was facing the country.


Jovanovic testified that he had gone to France with Slobodan Milosevic to meet with former French president, Francois Mitterrand.


Mitterrand told them that Serbia would have a very strong position at the upcoming peace conference. He said that history and international law were on Serbia’s side. Mitterrand added that Robert Badinter, who was to chair the conference, was his personal friend and that he considered that Serbia and France to have the same interests.


Unfortunately, things did not turn out the way Mitterrand said they would. The European Community did not act in good faith. Instead of trying to find a negotiated political settlement to the crisis, Lord Carrington, the president of the conference, determined that Yugoslavia was in a state of disintegration, and that all of its federal units should be turned into independent countries.


When Serbia and Montenegro refused to accept the disintegration of the country, sanctions were imposed against them.


During the conference, the Yugoslav government submitted three very simple questions to the arbitration commission, through Lord Carrington. They asked:


- Is secession legal?


- Who has the right to self-determination, peoples or territories?


- Which borders can be internationally recognized, internal administrative borders or external federal borders?


Unfortunately, according to Jovanovic, Lord Carrington reformulated the questions before handing them over to the commission and they were gutted of all of their substance.


Jovanovic testified that Germany, Austria, and the Vatican strongly backed the secessionist regimes in Slovenia and Croatia. He said that they granted recognition to those republics before the peace negotiations had been concluded.


Jovanovic said that the premature recognition of those republics torpedoed the peace process, and took away any incentive that Slovenia and Croatia had to remain at the negotiating table. After all, they had what they wanted, why should they stay at the negotiating table?


Lord Carrington, who was doing his level best to destroy Yugoslavia, has even come to acknowledge that this premature recognition was a mistake.


Jovanovic testified that certain actions of the German diplomatic corps gave Croatia reason to further provoke and intensify the war. He made reference to the statements of Hans-Dietrich Genscher, and Helmut Kohl where they said that intensified armed conflict would accelerate international recognition of Croatian independence.


Jovanovic said that these statements, although aimed at threatening the JNA and the Federal Yugoslav Government, had the effect of encouraging the Croats to provoke further war.


To draw further attention to the destructive role played by Germany, Jovanovic pointed out that Genscher had asked for Croatian independence to be recognized on June 23, 1991 – two days BEFORE Croatia declared its independence from Yugoslavia.


Jovanovic also drew attention to the actions of Cardinal Sodano, who on the Vatican’s behalf, circulated a memorandum to various governments encouraging recognition of Croatian independence before the end of the peace conference.


Jovanovic also testified about cease-fire violations by the Croats. To bear this out an intercepted telephone conversation was played. The conversation was between Franjo Tudjman and JNA chief Veljko Kadijevic. Kadijevic is calling Tudjman to demand that he respect the cease-fire agreement he had signed at Igalo.


The intercept also cast doubt on the credibility of Ante Markovic, who testified against Milosevic as a prosecution witness. From the intercept it emerges that both Tudjman and Kedijevic regarded Markovic as a failure who blamed everybody else for his own shortcomings. About the only thing that Tudjman and Kedijevic agreed on was that Ante Markovic was “a son of a bitch.”


Jovanovic’s testimony exposed the absurdity of the indictment against Milosevic. Jovanovic pointed out that Serbia was not a party to the conflicts in Slovenia, Croatia, or Bosnia, and that Milosevic, who was the president of Serbia, did not have control over anybody in those wars.


Jovanovic, who was a diplomat at the time, testified that Milosevic supported the Vance Plan in Croatia, and the Cutliero Plan, the Vance-Owen plan, the Owen-Stoltenberg Plan, the EU Action Plan, and the Dayton Accords in Bosnia.


The fact that Slobodan Milosevic and the Serbian government supported all of these peace plans, all of which eliminated any possibility of “greater Serbia,” totally refutes the prosecution’s thesis that Milosevic was trying to create “greater Serbia.”


Jovanovic also made note of the FRY’s statement that it had no territorial ambitions towards any of the former Yugoslav republics. The FRY made that statement when it promulgated its constitution in 1992.


Jovanovic also recalled Radovan Karadzic’s support for the Vance-Owen plan. Jovanovic had been sent to deliver a letter from Milosevic, Cosic, and Bulatovic, to the Bosnian-Serb Assembly prior to President Karadzic’s trip to Athens. The letter urged the Bosnian-Serb Assembly to support the Vance-Owen plan. Karadzic also urged the assembly to support the plan before he went to Athens with Milosevic to sign the plan.


Unfortunately, Bijlana Plavsic did not support the plan and she accused those who supported it of being traitors. She managed to convince the Bosnian Serb assembly to reject the plan. Of course it emerged later who the traitor really is.


The main points of Jovanovic’s testimony are that Serbia was not a party to the conflicts in Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia. Also that Serbia, and Milosevic personally, supported every peace initiative to come down the pike, and that all of those peace initiatives negated any possibility to create greater Serbia.


At this point it is worth noting that the entire indictment against Milosevic hinges on the concept of a “Joint Criminal Enterprise.” The prosecution alleges that Milosevic led a massive conspiracy aimed at creating an ethnically pure greater Serbia. Therefore, under the concept of “Joint Criminal Enterprise,” he is being charged with every alleged crime that is said to have arisen from the pursuit of the alleged conspiracy.


The main pillar of the indictment is the “Joint Criminal Enterprise.” If the conspiracy theory contained in the indictment is wrong, if there was no conspiracy to create an ethnically pure greater Serbia, then the entire indictment collapses. Everything in the indictment rests on the existence of a conspiracy.


Milosevic’s defense strategy is clear. Milosevic is destroying the prosecution’s conspiracy theory. Everything Milosevic does is aimed at refuting the idea that a conspiracy, or “Joint Criminal Enterprise,” even existed in the first place. It’s all very simple, if there was no conspiracy, then Milosevic, and the entire Serbian political leadership, are innocent.


It seems that the Judges are either unwilling or unable to understand Milosevic’s very simple defense. Judge Bonomy said today that “it didn’t matter who started the war,” and Judge Robinson said that Milosevic was “beating the point to death” when he was asking Jovanovic questions aimed at showing that Croatia and Slovenia, through their illegal secession and attacks on the JNA, started the war conflict. Mr. Nice intervened at one point to say that it didn’t matter, as far as the indictment was concerned, whether the secession of the republics was legal or not.


Well it does matter, in fact it’s the only thing that matters. If the Serbs didn’t start those wars, if the wars came about because of the belligerence of the other side, then the thesis of a massive Serb conspiracy is seriously called into question. After all, no Serbian conspiracy could be dependent on the actions of the opposing side.


Mr. Jovanovic will continue his examination-in-chief on Tuesday.



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