LILIC TESTIFIES AT THE HAGUE TRIBUNAL
www.slobodan-milosevic.org – June 19, 2003
Written By: Andy Wilcoxson
On Tuesday, June 17, 2003 Zoran Lilic began to give his testimony at the so-called “trial” of Slobodan Milosevic.
Zoran Lilic has held the highest offices in Serbia and Yugoslavia. Mr. Lilic was the President of the Serbian National Assembly, the President of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and the Deputy Prime Minister of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
The testimony of Zoran Lilic is certainly the most important testimony that the Milosevic “trial” has seen.
Two things were apparent from watching Lilic. The first obvious fact is that Slobodan Milosevic is not a war criminal. The 2nd obvious fact, contrary to media reports, is that Mr. Lilic was not and is not “in the hip pocket” of President Milosevic.
Indeed, Mr. Lilic was critical of Milosevic on some matters. First of all, Lilic believed that Milosevic, as the SPS President, allowed the JUL to have too much influence during the time that the SPS-JUL-ND coalition was formed.
Lilic was also critical of the Kumanovo Agreement. Mr. Lilic favored a different plan that had been put forward by Helmut Kohl.
It is therefore incorrect that the media should portray Mr. Lilic as “Milosevic’s puppet.” Zoran Lilic is his own man, with his own opinions, which as we see above do not always coincide Slobodan Milosevic’s views.
When it comes to the subject of war crimes it was apparent that the prosecution had made a mistake in bringing Lilic to testify. Lilic proved to be a much better witness for the defense than for the prosecution.
From the outset of his examination-in-chief it could be seen that Preident Lilic’s statements were not what the prosecutor was looking for. For example, Mr. Nice was trying to get Lilic to explain the phrase “all Serbs in one state.” Mr. Nice obviously wanted Lilic to say that this referred to some “greater Serbia plan,” instead Lilic explained that the Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) allowed all Serbs to live in one state and that the statement, “all Serbs in one state” meant that the SFRY should be preserved at all costs.
Mr. Nice also unsuccessfully attempted to get Lilic to say that Milosevic “controlled” the leadership and the military forces of the SAO Krajina and Republika Srpska. Lilic explained that Milosevic did not control anybody over there, and when he did try to exercise influence over them it was always to try and get them to accept peace agreements.
At this point, in spite of efforts by Mr. Nice to change the topic, Lilic went into the events in Srebrenica. Lilic explained that nobody from the authorities of either Serbia or the FRY could have had anything to do with what happened there.
Lilic explained that Milosevic’s reaction to Srebrenica was that of shock and extreme anger when he heard what had happened there. Lilic said that it was obvious that there was no possibility that Milosevic could have had anything at all to do with Srebrenica, or any other wartime event in Bosnia and Croatia.
On the subject of Srebrenica, it should be noted that it is the “sweetest plum” in the prosecution’s false indictment. Srebrenica is where the genocide charge emanates from.
When Milosevic cross-examined Lilic on the subject of Srebrenica, Lilic further explained that when the FRY authorities inquired about Srebrenica the Republika Srpska leadership was just as surprised as anybody to hear about what had happened there. Lilic explained that this meant that individual criminals, and not any government controlled forces, had perpetrated the crimes that occurred in Srebrenica. Not only does this testimony jive with the claims that Milosevic made in his opening statement, but it also jives with the report of the Dutch Government.
When Milosevic opened the cross-examination he began by asking Lilic about Kosovo. Zoran Lilic is probably the best suited person to talk about Kosovo and the position of the FRY government there. As the Deputy Prime Minister of the time Lilic took numerous fact finding missions to Kosovo. As a high official in the Government of Yugoslavia Mr. Lilic was privy to all manner of intelligence reports.
During cross-examination Lilic explained that the Yugoslav and Serbian authorities took exceptional care to protect Kosovo’s civilian population. In fact so much care was taken that the Albanian terrorists knew that by mingling themselves with civilians that they would be able to flee from the authorities without being touched, because the authorities were under orders never to fire on the terrorists if doing so would endanger civilians.
Mr. Lilic explained Slobodan Milosevic’s position was that all citizens and ethnic groups should be equal. Lilic stated that it was President Milosevic’s firm conviction that nobody in Yugoslavia should live as a second class citizen because of their ethnicity.
Mr. Lilic went on to explain that the Serbian and Yugoslav authorities always differentiated between Albanian terrorists, and regular Albanian civilians. He explained that orders were issued that human rights need to be respected, and that all soldiers and police were given copies of the Geneva Conventions to ensure that this happened.
Mr. Lilic explained that the V.J. and MUP protected Albanian civilians precisely from the Albanian terrorists who were seeking to break Kosovo away from Serbia. Lilic explained how both Albanians, and non-Albanians were under threat from the KLA terrorists. Lilic stated that normal Albanian civilians who wished to live as peaceful law abiding citizens of Yugoslavia were under the greatest danger from the KLA terrorists.
Lilic dismissed as an absurdity that Serbia or Yugoslavia could have had any plan to expel Albanians from Kosovo. Lilic explained that the Serb and Yugoslav authorities had a great desire, and made great efforts to try to engage the Kosovo Albanians so that a peaceful political solution could be found.
Being Yugoslavia’s Deputy Prime Minister at the time Mr. Lilic had access to all manner of intelligence information regarding the Albanian terrorists that were operating in Kosovo at the time.
On the basis of the intelligence information that he had received as the Deputy Prime Minster, Mr. Lilic explained that the United States, and in particular the American ambassador Hill, prepared the KLA terrorists for their “spring offensive” and that this was done with a view to provoke a conflict that would create a pretext for the illegal NATO aggression and the eventual occupation of Kosovo and Metohija.
Lilic went on to explain how the Milosevic-Holbrooke agreement had been abused. Lilic explained how the Kosovo Verification Mission of the OSCE was being used as a cover to further arm the Albanian terrorists. He explained that during that time the Albanian terrorists had received East German weapons, and other high-tech weaponry that could only come to them with the cooperation of foreign governments.
Lilic began to explain about how the KLA would force Albanians to flee from Kosovo to create the false illusion that Albanians were being expelled by Serbs, but at this point the so-called “Judge” May didn’t want to hear anymore.
This same “Judge,” who is so deeply interested in hearing all about what some local yokel says he heard second hand, from God only knows who, off in some village in Bosnia, refused to hear what a high government official knew from the intelligence documents that he was privy to. The so-called “Judge” ruled the information as irrelevant since the Deputy PM didn’t go out into the battlefield and gather the information personally.
This so-called “Judge” must be smoking some good crack to be able to say something as stupid as that. How could any government function if the highest officials always have to gather the intelligence in person? Does George W. Bush know that Osama bin Laden blew up the World Trade Center because he was personally hiding in the cave in Afghanistan listening to bin Laden make the plans? Of course not, but he has the relevant intelligence information, and so he is perfectly competent to say that bin Laden did it.
At any rate, after Kosovo was discussed, Milosevic began to ask Lilic about Bosnia and Croatia. Mr. Lilic explained in no uncertain terms that neither Serbia, nor the FRY, nor any official from Serbia or the FRY had any command or control over the Bosnian Serbs or the Krajina Serbs, and Lilic in view of the positions he held, is in a better position than anybody to know that.
Mr. Lilic proceeded to explain how the conflicts in Bosnia and Croatia evolved and the manner in which the governments of Serbia and the FRY were involved.
First of all Lilic, explained that all of the efforts of Serbia and the FRY were directed towards humanitarian assistance and negotiating an end to the armed conflicts.
Lilic explained that in Croatia the Serbian population was in jeopardy from the Croatian government, and that the Krajina Serbs did not launch aggression on Croatia, but simply defended their own land that they had been living on for centuries.
Lilic explained how Serbia, the FRY, and Milosevic in particular worked tirelessly to achieve the Vance Plan, and that all of Milosevic’s efforts in respect to the Krajina, and the war in Croatia were directed exclusively towards achieving peace.
As for the civil war in Bosnia, Lilic explained in no ambiguous terms that neither Serbia nor the FRY had anything to do with that, and that it was in fact a civil war in Bosnia and, not some sort of aggression by Serbia or Yugoslavia.
Lilic explained that Serbia, even under sanctions, extended humanitarian assistance to the people in Bosnia and to all of the refugees who came to Serbia, irrespective of their ethnicity.
In fact, Serbia even allowed Muslim soldiers from the Army of B-H to come to Serbia as refugees as long as they didn’t bring their weapons. In this case both the R.S. and the Muslim authorities wanted these soldiers handed over to them, but Milosevic steadfastly refused their demands, and insisted that these soldiers be allowed to control their own fate.
Lilic explained that the war in Bosnia broke out when independence was declared on the basis of and illegal and unconstitutional referendum. Lilic said that the first armed attacks of the Bosnian war came from Muslim extremists who were attacking the Serb population in Bosnia.
Lilic explained how prior to the all out warfare that tore through Bosnia that a peace plan had been reached. He told about how the Serbs, the Croats, and the Muslims all negotiated and signed a peace agreement in Lisbon called the Cutilero Plan. Lilic explained that after the agreement was signed that the Muslim President, Alija Izetbegovic reneged on the agreement, withdrew his signature, and the war began in earnest.
Lilic explained that after the war began the Muslim side began to bring in Mujahideens and Islamic fundamentalists from the Middle East to fight against the Serbs.
During the examination in chief, Fikret Abdic was mentioned, because he had traveled to Belgrade and met with President Milosevic. The prosecution had tried to present this like some sort of secret meeting even though it was reported quite openly in the Media, and Lilic confirmed in the cross-examination that this meeting was no secret.
For those of you who don’t know who Fikret Abdic is I would encourage you to research him. Fikret Abdic was the winner of the 1990 elections in Bosnia, but unfortunately Alija Izetbegovic (who lost the elections) managed to take over power from him.
Fikret Abdic is a Muslim of the Croatian ethnicity. He has dual Croat/Bosnian citizenship. Unlike Alija Izetbegovic, Mr. Abdic got along splendidly with the Serbs, and for a time with the Croats until they allied with Izetbegovic.
Fikret Abdic and his Muslim followers in western Bosnia declared independence from Bosnia, signed peace agreements with the Serbs and Croats, and were able to escape the war, until Alija Izetbegovic sent in the 5th Corps of the Army of B-H to attack the Muslim population there, killing them, looting their homes, and forcing the survivors to flee to the Krajina where they lived with the Serbs until the Croats committed genocide with Operation Storm and Operation Flash eliminating nearly all of the Serb population from the Krajina.
Lilic confirmed Milosevic’s claim that Serbia and the FRY’s policy towards Bosnia was exclusively a policy of peace aimed at ending the bloodshed.
Lilic explained that nobody worked harder to bring peace to Bosnia than Slobodan Milosevic. The Government of Serbia, the Government of the FRY, and Slobodan Milosevic personally endorsed the Vance-Owen Plan, the Owen-Stoltenberg Plan, the Contact Group Plan, the Action Plan of the European Union, and the Dayton Accords.
Lilic testified about how hard Milosevic worked to negotiate the Vance-Owen plan, and how hard Milosevic tried to convince the Republika Srpska Assembly to accept the plan. Slobodan Milosevic addressed the R.S. Assembly on 2 occasions to try to convince them to accept the plan.
When the R.S. assembly refused to adopt the Vance-Owen Plan Milosevic was furious. President Milosevic insisted that the Serbia/FRY delegation leave immediately, even though it was a great risk to his own personal safety since it was late at night, and a Muslim attack was feared.
It was precisely the refusal of the R.S. to adopt the Vance-Owen plan that strained relations between Belgrade and Pale, and that lead to the decision of Serbia and the FRY to blockade the Drina River.
Lilic explained how, at Dayton, Slobodan Milosevic saved the Republika Srpska from certain destruction. At the time NATO air strikes were rapidly diminishing the R.S. territory and a failure to reach an agreement at that point would have definitely meant the end of the Republika Srpska.
Through the efforts of Slobodan Milosevic at Dayton the Republika Srpska was recognized, and territory that had been lost over the course of the NATO air strikes was even returned to Republika Srpska.
As the President of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Zoran Lilic served on the Supreme Defense Council together with Slobodan Milosevic (while Milosevic was the President of Serbia). Therefore, Mr. Lilic is in a unique position to be able to see how decisions were taken.
The prosecution has tried to allege that Slobodan Milosevic behaved like some sort of dictator in the Supreme Defense Council. But the testimony of Lilic proves otherwise. Lilic testified that the decisions of the SDC were reached by consensus and that Milosevic didn’t have any more power than any of the other members of the SDC.
The prosecution also alleges that the Serbia and FRY authorities formed and supported paramilitaries and sent them to Bosnia and Croatia, and that Milosevic is responsible for this. Lilic’s testimony again proves otherwise. Lilic stated, and he produced the documents to prove it that the SDC (which Milosevic served on) took a decision that paramilitaries should be disarmed and abolished.
Lilic explained that some opposition parties were forming units, but that the SPS never had any sort of units, nor did the SPS engage in any sort of cooperation with the SDS. Lilic not only being the former head of state, but also being a former member of the SPS himself, would certainly be in a position to know about this.
Slobodan Milosevic asked Lilic point-blank if he knew of any order or any de-facto policy emanating from the Government of Serbia or Yugoslavia, or any officials of those governments that the Army or Police personnel should commit any crimes against anybody. Lilic said that there was absolutely not any such policy, and that the Army and the police were under the strictest orders to combat crime regardless of who the perpetrator was, even if the perpetrator was a soldier or a police officer.
President Lilic’s testimony is the most important testimony that this farce of a “trial” has seen. Historians will be able to read his testimony and see quite clearly that Slobodan Milosevic is innocent. In spite of the best efforts of this illegal tribunal, history will never be able to successfully record the lie that Slobodan Milosevic is a war criminal.
Lilic’s testimony is not yet complete. He will return at a later date to complete his cross-examination, be cross-examined by the Amicus, and be re-examined by the prosecution. No hearing is scheduled on Friday. The next hearing will be on Monday, but other witnesses have been scheduled.
Sequence of Events: