KOSOVO’S EUROPEAN UNION MONITORING MISSION CHIEF TESTIFIES IN MILOSEVIC’S DEFENSE
www.slobodan-milosevic.org - March 2, 2005
Written by: Andy Wilcoxson
The Milosevic trial heard testimony from two defense witnesses on Wednesday. Mirko Babic, a Macedonian medical technician, who provided medical treatment to Albanian refugees during the Kosovo war, and Dietmar Hartwig, the head of the European Monitoring Mission in Kosovo from November 1998 until March 19, 1999.
The first witness of the day was Mirko Babic. Babic provided direct medical treatment to Albanian refugees in the refugee camps in Macedonia. He was in the camps everyday throughout the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia.
As a first-hand eyewitness, Babic did not see a single Albanian who had been beaten or shot by Serbian security forces. According to his testimony the most common medical complaint was respiratory ailments, people would gets colds, sore throats, bronchitis, etc… None of the Albanians showed any traces of having been physically mistreated.
Babic said that the Albanians initially said that they were fleeing Kosovo to escape the NATO bombing, but they changed their story later and began to say that the Serbs had chased them out and violently mistreated them. Babic said that one elderly Albanian man even told him that the KLA had chased him out of Kosovo.
Like the previous two Macedonian witnesses, Babic witnessed the activities of the Western media vis-à-vis the refugees.
Babic saw a group of refugees stealing a stretcher from the medical supplies. Then he saw them put a perfectly healthy man on the stretcher and a Western news crew filmed it. After the camera crew had finished, the man jumped up from the stretcher, and all of the people involved in this little production smiled and said their good-byes to each other.
Babic witnessed a CNN camera crew staging a phony exodus of refugees over a hill. A large group of refugees were gathered together and the camera crew filmed them coming over a muddy hill. The camera crew recruited elderly people and small children to be part of this group. The camera crew separated the children from their parents and then paired them up with the old people who the children did not know. The result was that the children would cry. The CNN crew even went so far as to instruct the old people to pull out their handkerchiefs and act like they were crying too.
Babic protested to the police, and they broke-up this particular production. The witness identified CNN and the BBC as being the most responsible for rigging false news footage.
Babic corroborated the testimony of earlier witnesses, and said that the Albanian refugees mistreated the Roma refugees. He said that the Roma had to be taken to separate camps in order to save them from the Albanians.
In cross-examination Mr. Nice tried to paint Macedonians as Albanian-hating racists who mistreated the Albanians. The witness defended his country and pointed out that Macedonia took in all of those Albanian refugees even though it could not financially afford to do so.
Mr. Nice said that the Albanians were not given proper medical care in the Macedonian camps. To prove his point Mr. Nice played a CNN broadcast where CNN claimed that eight Albanians had died in the camps for want of medical treatment in one day alone.
Under re-examination from Milosevic, Babic pointed out that only one refugee died in the camps the whole time, and not due to lack of medical care. CNN had lied when it reported that eight refugees died in one day.
The next witness on the docket was Dietmar Hartwig. Mr. Hartwig was the head of the European Union Monitoring Mission (EUMM) in Kosovo from November 1998 until March 19, 1999, when the mission was evacuated due to the impending the NATO bombing. Mr. Hartwig is an officer in the German army, and has recently returned from a mission in Kabul.
Mr. Hartwig was the top EU monitor in Kosovo. Every EU monitor in Kosovo reported directly to Mr. Hartwig. He was in regular contact with Ibrahim Rugova, and with other leading Kosovo-Albanian personalities, including the KLA and its leadership. He was also in contact with Serbian and Yugoslav officials, international and local journalists, as well as various NGO’s.
As the top man in Kosovo, it was Mr. Hartwig’s job to compile daily, weekly, and monthly reports for the European Union regarding the authentic situation on the ground in Kosovo. To accomplish this task Mr. Hartwig relied on field reports that his EU monitors submitted to him, as well as his own contacts and personal experiences.
When the EUMM was evacuated ahead of the NATO aggression, Mr. Hartwig returned to Germany. He was shocked to see the Western media coverage regarding Kosovo. He told the tribunal that there was a massive contradiction between the reality on the ground and the media’s reporting.
When he was in Kosovo, he had occasion to see how the media and certain Western NGO’s reported inaccurately. Mr. Hartwig personally went to the Pristina Stadium when he heard media reports that the Serbs had a concentration camp there to imprison Albanians. He testified that he did not find any evidence of any camp there.
On another occasion Serbs were accused of massacring Albanians in Srbica and burying the bodies in a mass-grave. Mr. Hartwig went to the spot, and found out that 40 Albanians had indeed been killed, but not by the Serbs. An eyewitness told him that the Albanians had killed each other in a blood feud.
Mr. Hartwig said that the KLA provoked clashes, and that the Yugoslav Army and Serbian Police only responded to provocations. It was Hartwig’s opinion that the Serbian response was always carried out in a disciplined fashion.
The witness expressed concern over the fact that reports he sent to European capitals regarding the situation in Kosovo were not reflected in the official publications of those governments. He said that when he took over as head of the mission his colleagues told him that there was an ongoing contradiction between what was reported to EU governments and what those same governments told their people.
On the basis of the information that Hartwig received as chief of the EUMM in Kosovo, more Albanians were killed by other Albanians than by Serbian forces. Mr. Hartwig told the tribunal that there was absolutely no reason for NATO to intervene in Kosovo against the Serbs in 1999.
Hartwig said that stories of Serbian atrocities against Albanians were contrived in order to provide NATO with a reason to attack Yugoslavia. He said that the media demonized the Serbs in order to serve the needs of politicians who were keen on attacking Yugoslavia.
The witness accused the media of failing in its mission to hold politicians accountable. He said that the media acted as servants for the politicians. He also accused them of biased an inaccurate reporting on Kosovo. Mr. Hartwig said that the media reported every nasty thing the Albanians said about the Serbs without question, because they wanted to give NATO a pretext to attack.
In all of Mr. Hartwig’s time in Kosovo, up until he evacuated five days before the NATO aggression, he never saw or received any reports of Serbian security forces expelling Albanians from their homes. Nor did he have information about any other mistreatment perpetrated by Serb military or police against Albanians.
Mr. Hartwig, as the EUMM chief in Kosovo, was in regular contact with both Serb and Albanian leaders. Hartwig testified that the Serbs wanted to find a peaceful solution that was equitable for everybody in Kosovo. Whereas the Albanians wanted to establish a mono-ethnic Albanian-dominated Kosovo that would be linked-up with Albania.
He said that Albanians would refer to Western Macedonia as the “Macedonian part of Albania,” and that they called southern Montenegro, the “Montenegrin Part of Albania.” He said that one Albanian leader told him that the Albanians wanted a Kosovo that was “not with the Serbs” and “not under the Serbs.” In other words, the Albanian intention is to get rid of the Serbs and break Kosovo away from Serbia.
Mr. Hartwig described the KLA as an underground army. He said that the KLA’s activities were aimed against peace, and against peace negotiations.
Mr. Hartwig testified that the KLA were always the ones who provoked clashes. He said unequivocally that the Yugoslav Army and Serbian police never provoked any fighting.
He went on to testify that the army and the police restrained themselves from carrying out retaliation or revenge attacks against the KLA. He said that Gen. Lukic was very keen to abide by the Milosevic-Holbrooke agreement so that Serbia could not be accused of negotiating in bad faith.
Mr. Hartwig said that the Serbian police did their best to protect the lives of civilians. He testified that he never saw or received any reports of Serb forces attacking civilians in Kosovo. He said that there were cases when civilians would get caught in the cross-fire between the police and the KLA, but that the KLA was always the one who started the fighting, usually by ambushing the police.
The witness testified that the UNHCR exaggerated the number of IDP’s in Kosovo. In one case they reported a group of 3,000 IDP’s near the Macedonian border, but when EUMM observers arrived to checkout the scene they only found 400 IDP’s.
In other cases the UNHCR would say that a certain number of IDP’s had fled from a certain village, and the number of IDP’s they reported would be two or three times more than the population of the village.
Mr. Hartwig explained that the EUMM was not the same thing as the KVM. The European Union established the EUMM, and it was in Kosovo first. The KVM came on the scene later, it was established by the OSCE and William Walker headed it.
Mr. Hartwig will continue his testimony when the tribunal
sits again next week.
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