After March 24 1999, when NATO started bombing


Dictator in the Hague, 4 July 2001

Dear friends,

Some of you are wondering what is happening to us and do we find ourselves confortably after ten years of constant struggle against forces of destruction but once again uneasy as our country fills up the World News.

Even today our ex-dictator in front of UN Hag Tribunal for war crimes, well aware of the global “media beast’s” amplifying effect, tried to use it by announcing his non-recognition of Tribunal, “because it has not been set up by General Assembly of UN but only by the Security Council”.

It really sounds unbelievable, - could this be the argument for 200 000 dead, 2 million refugees and destruction of reasonably good country of Yugoslavia (which needed changes, not destruction), etc. etc., devastated economy, impoverished people, humiliated nations, and Serbs most of all.

It sounds all ridiculous, but such a stupidity is not the least of our troubles.

The overall happiness with 5th October 2000 “revolution day” gradually faded away as the expectated changes scratched only the surface; they remained mostly symbolic (which is important in the long run) but the framework of our short lives makes them only cosmetic.

Mr Kostunica’s “legalist” argumentation in a society with long standing pathology, destructive lawlessness, Mafia rules deeply ingrained, sounds superficial. The social changes theorised by political annalist’s to be brought about by confronting “reforming” and “stabilising” forces puts the question: Stabilising what? Lawlessness, murder, steeling, criminality of all kinds, destructive forces which shaped the social structure (transitional process Balkan way) to which “legalist” argument gives chance to consolidate.

The chosen people (Milosevic’s close circle) exceedingly rich, (one has nothing against rich people but the question is who got rich and how) got also their popularity supported by hidden privatisation; even of housing(buying flats in good location for few dollars by ex-priviledged tennants) which concreted up the inertia of old socio-spatial structure and also much deeper pathologies.

The new set of laws by reformist government look to slow and weak (mouse against the elephant) and raises a wide suspicion that it would ever be implemented; how would be nationalised for instance TV stations which were producing hate speech and supporting kitsch subculture etc.etc.

Stabilising social structure of the society which produces Milosevics means stabilisation of “unsuitability producing machine”.

Otherwise we are in good health (but quite worn out), Milan has hundreds of students to attend, we both additionaly to our jobs and NGO activity lecture at Alternative Academic Educational Network, engaged in environmental action on various levels, many new visions are at stake, but at the moment one can hardly see the means.

Warmest regards,
Sonja and Milan

Sonja & Milan Prodanovic, Ecourban Workshop Belgrade, Supilova 11, 11000 Belgrade, Serbia, YU
tel/fax +381 11 750 876 - e-mail: ecourban@eunet.yu

Message 24 June 1999

Dear friends,

Seizure of NATO bombing relieved us here in Belgrade about the immediacy, but left us in a specific state of vacuum and with a great uncertainty about the future.

We are choked by the pictures we receive via satellite TV dominated by horrible evidence of atrocities by Yugoslav militia and paramilitaries conducted in Kosovo, and withdrawal of YU armored vehicles with soldiers waving flags and bottles singing (on withdrawal !?). All combined with home TV full of congratulations "we won", medals to heroic generals and officers, and our dictator not concerned at all for being endowed for war crimes enthusiastically announcing the reconstruction of the country.

Pleased that the monstrosities of the war are stopped make us concerned equally with retaliations, despite KFOR heavy presence, over Serbian civil population and Albanians in Kosovo which are called collaborators even by BBC commentator.

After incredible bombardment, which as we envisaged didn't hit the regime, with bitterness we wander how one should name all of us who worked hard and a wit great courage, lobbying all this years, since summer 1991, for peace and right of voice of pluralistic multiethnic civil open society.

We are the victims on the ground, expelled from the community by extremes of the regime, from the air by bombs (ecological and psychological impacts are catastrophic) and now international community imposes on us all the collective guilt and a consequent punishment by exclusion from any dialogue of NGO-s and academic

All in all, this produces a really schizophrenic context in which we have to think our immediate tomorrow with no sugar in shops, no petrol on pumps and no money in pockets.

It gets more depressing to think of coming summer with yet another year without any holidays and of approaching winter with no heating; and then what about prospects with status quo (lawlessness) institutions where we still earn our wages (read humanitarian aid), where new "patriots" are mushrooming.

The first session of Yu Parliament after bombing one smells the internal exterminations, just proving how little the regime is hurt, but how disadvantaged are we, the seeds of otherness and a community which could generate reconciliation inside the country but more so across the region.

We then listen Mr. Clinton saying "no help to Serbia until dictator is in power", also stressing "we are not going to get him, you Serbian people should see how to achieve a change".

The grim realty as poor country is getting poorer (and Serbia is devastated economically and financially) the change to liberal democracy is less likely, poverty produces distribution of misery and the economy of rationing, and hunta type authoritarian dictatorship with this finale of military intervention.

Of course one resists and considers the urge for a change either by free elections,- which means unfortunately within a framework of brainwashed xenophobic "patriotic" population who "have beaten NATO", without the free media to promote alternative (or at least to make people aware what happened), and without the control over ballot boxes and counting.

Even if elections won the question is the seizure of power, as in 1996 local elections; the four political parties in power are actually the fractions of a single block, a continuation of single party system.

The threshold of democracy has not been crossed.

The alternative and opposition parties are slowly consolidating but in three blocks:

All fragmented with numerous leader dominated parties and NGO groups, disunited, disorganized (with no real resources to travel within the country to promote, even to have a reasonable premises).

So even with a great dissatisfaction of vast majority of population about the real economic issues (with average income of metal worker of DM 41'8 a month, many work without any salary), the "patriotic" rhetoric like a drug dominates media and minds and we fear the future months.

The alternative to this, a much more constructive and legitimized, a visible support of intentional community to the alternative democratic forces, to provide long standing civic society active NGO-s, enclaves of
free media and alternative democracy promoting projects conceived even before the bombing started, and dispersed but not really ruined in these events.

But in this state of vacuum with all the focus just on Kosovo, the next catastrophe can happen in the core of the country, we fear that this scenario is not enabling us "to clean ourselves own house" but rater
that we will be swept away as well.

We plea for understanding and for a strongly structured support.

Sonja & Milan Prodanovic
Ecourban workshop
Supilova 11
11000 Beograd,
Serbia, Yu
Tel fax +381 11 750

e-mail: ecourban@eunet.yu

Belgrade, June 1st 1999

Dear Tulle,

thanks for latest mail, It is now 5. in the morning we did not have the electricity all day yesterday, I do not know when will it o off again so I use the time.

Please be free to uses our letters as you like, sign our full names, some of our letters were printed in England in some local labor papers, also we would be glad to promote Republika web site:


Day before yesterday we had a heavy missile explosion near our house, some windows jumped out in neighboring houses, our house is ecological and only ground floor, it was at 4 im the morning,

Sonja jumped and neighbors ot out to the street, by it seems that I have a strong nerves, I carried on sleeping. At least we are testing our nerves. regards,


Sonja & Milan Prodanovic Ecourban workshop Supilova 11 11000 Beograd, Serbia, Yu Tel fax +381 11 750 e-mail: ecourban@eunet.yu

Mon, 31 May 1999

From: Milan Prodanovic Organization: NGO

To: Tulle Elster

Dear friends,

Two weeks ago we sat down to write a "message form Belgrade" but.. we were caught up and paralyzed by shocking anxiety of diplomatic irrationality and with the strategy of imposing a collective, unexpected, random punishment from the sky, but equally from the state "patriotic" TV screens pointing to the "internal enemies".

As it is clear on a 67th day of bombing that contradictions and possible disagreements between UN and NATO, how far should one go ignoring our plea from the very beginning to stop the bombing and to use the other more effective means to suppress this monstrous regime and its allies, the situation on the ground shows signs to become desperate, in building up another humanitarian catastrophe.

So, it is getting harder and harder to understand the notions of "humanitarian help", concept of justice, etc.. as implemented by actions we are witnessing at the moment, actions allegedly intended to introduce democracy and a secure a lasting and stable peace in Balkans and reintegration of SEE region.

The indictment of our dictator raises the same dilemmas struggling to understand the real effects of it to our lives and everyday patterns. Last ten years of war, sanctions etcÉ have produced numerous war criminals operating at a grass root level supported by state and cultural institutions and anchoring the atmosphere of long lasting lawlessness.

Such an experience makes us doubt that the indicting the leader would mean much at all. Who is going to indict thousands more criminals and Mafioso business chiefs who emerged in last ten years of war and who are marking everyday life, shaping social patterns with aggression, fraud and main all kinds of crime a normal practice.

The other "helpful" message, "bombing action is not against Serbian people, it is only against the regime", is just topping up the dilemma and making us getting used for the last two months of nightmare of daily routine of air raids sirens and bursting missile detonations all around, to state TV reduced to a sandwich news: layer of bombing and a layer of fake politicians, to civilian casualties explained as mistakes (collateral damage).

The solidarity with people of Sarayevo of few years ago, and population of Kosovo now, makes us not complaining for inconveniences of not having electricity, no water in taps, for being reduced back to Neolithic fireplace culture. All of it could be bearable if we see the "light at the end of a tunnel".

But the experience of Bosnia just does not indicate a light prospects, added by today's experience of the real course of events of fake "patriotic" slogans dominating our institutions, our places of work, our streets and squares. It is hard to face colleagues when attempting to mention democracy, market economy, ecology and human rights without being labeled as enemy's (western) agitator.

It is even harder to understand the horrible rumors of possible finale of international security forces securing the return of Albanian refugees to Kosovo, while in Serbia dictator remains the main "guarantor" of peace besides the indictment.

The example of considerations of realpolitik of Mr. Westerndorf does not give us much optimism: "Would peace be possible if we negotiated with Milosevic again? Certainly - but it would just as certainly be a short peace.

It may appear that realpolitik requires that the international community deal with Belgrade, but that would be a short-term vision.

Milosevic will not be able to afford the reconstruction of his bombed country without international help. That help - É. must be made conditional on a clear commitment from Belgrade to fully democratize the FRYÉ.."

A well known disastrous scenario from the last ten years (Krajina, Bosnia, etc..) of destruction and human sufferings, of "governors of war" as chief negotiators and peace makers legitimizing thousands of little chiefs which penetrated institutions down to the grass root "demos" distorting the intended democratization process.

Surely, the present scenario can not nearly be the best way to introduce democracy and the germs of civic society, not even save the expelled civilians in tents from the harsh winter?

The same dilemma comes again when listening the rumors about the plan of fast recovery and reconstruction of Balkans, when observing the rapid changes every day on the ground, - the revival of forgotten people in the role of civilian defense activists, the peoples army protagonists, self security agitators etc.. as organized force marking the distribution patterns of war economy and money circulation.

As the schools and universities do not work, and without the free media, the liberal intellectual elite is dispersed, meaning the systematic striping of free ratio and "idiotization" of society.

That would not be helpful even to the goodwilling people in the West, except for the Mafia businessmen who make trouble even to the western societies.

The recent talks about Structural Adjustment Plan for the Balkan economies, industry, infrastructure etc.. we are sure would not be successful without a considerations whiich would include a RECONSTRUCTION OF CULTURE.

The thorough catharsis and a reconstruction should simultaneously include the renewal of University, the reform of the whole educational system on the lines of sustainable economy, civilized cities, elaborated civic life patterns with the projects to start in a wide and comprehensive partnerships within a multiple layers of European and Worlds institutions and networks, NGO-s, etc..

Still, even the effort of trying to understand is the sign of life.

Sonja & Milan Prodanovic Ecourban workshop Supilova 11 11000 Beograd, Serbia, Yu Tel fax +381 11 750 e-mail: ecourban@eunet.yu

Date: Fri, 28 May 1999

From: Milan Prodanovic Organization: NGO

To: Tulle Elster

Dear Tulle,

electricity just came and I jumped to see the post, concerning your letter, thanks a lot, of course I will read it all, I have the interest if electricity lasts that long, to print it. I run (out) of toner-ink and we are gradually getting short of paper also.

Sonja and me have an invitation to go to some conference on Health and Environment (NGO Anped - Northern alliance for sustainable development), but I do not know in what way to get out of the country, of course I mean to return after few days, but military authorities say only for the state interest (who is to define it).

Answering your question, who is the opposition in Serbia, there is no political life at the moment, independent media is closed some time ago, now even state TV (with all the war propaganda for very strong stomachs), political parties are mainly in standstill, democratic party mr. Djindjic (our coalition partner, - when I say we I mean Civic Alliance Party, but what is a party if we do not meet, just by phone in small groups,

I am frequently in contact with Mr. Nebojsa Popov, you probably remember him from Tuzla, the Chief editor of Republika), democratic party is on heavy attacked, stoned by hooligans (paid by the regime).

The best solution would be after the comprehensive Balkan conference organized by EU or UN, to establish some kind of protectorate which would enable a regular elections, by regular I mean to sort out the media, organize the round table, the institution we never had in ex Yugoslavia and which is a essential for transition.

Then to elect a constitutional assembly to set up a constitutional law and a legal state, and only then, with such a framework to organize free elections.

We can not talk of leaders, we need to change a system.

Concerning Albanian victims, of course Sonja and me are deeply moved, but we have the experience of Srebrenica in Bosnia, and many other disastrous experiences, the endowment of Milosevic I feel is just a political game with Russians, we are surrounded with many more war criminals here in Serbia, but also Mr. Tudjman is no better and many others by the line of command to the top.

Still, this endowment does not help us much, University does not work, bridges are smashed, electricity comes and goes and that is going to last not just this summer and we do not see the betterment.

The experience of Bosnia after all the sufferings is not great, we have been in November in Zenica establishing a green network of Balkans, their life is awful despite all the sufferings and the presence of peace keeping forces, anyway,

BICE BOLJE yours Milan

Sonja & Milan Prodanovic Ecourban workshop Supilova 11 11000 Beograd, Serbia, Yu Tel fax +381 11 750 e-mail: ecourban@eunet.yu

Date: Thu, 27 May 1999

From: Milan Prodanovic Organization: NGO

To: Tulle Elster

Dear Tulle,

thanks for your letters and various articles, I am eager to read all reasonably good comments on Serbia from democratically minded people in the world, although there is a lot of it at the moment.

I am very busy with various things, I try to have a good coment/article in every issue of Republika which still comes out and it is the only independent paper at the moment, as the regime probably thinks it is to intellectual and very few people reed it.

Also, I have an old mother in Novi Sad, the city is heavily bombed all these days and I go there in a very tortuous way as bridges over Danube are smashed, I was there yesterday.

Also, and that is my very important activity, a few professors who do not agree with the disastrous law on university started an alternative academic network, 300 students enrolled and I see that as the germ of our future University (if we get rid of Miloshevicis regime).

By the way, you asked how can one get rid of it without bombs, - well, it is a long story, it last ten years, there were forces in ex-yugoslavia who were for transition to democracy, market economy, human rights etc.. they never got any meaningful support from the world powers, instead, the governors of war were the main negotiating subjects.

The extremely complex national question in ex-Yugoslavia has never been seriously discussed but there has been a rush for early recognition of secessionist states etc...

We believe that Miloshevic is most responsible for the war, instead into democracy, in order to maintain power of his lumpen-elite he pushed the country into the war but on the other sides there were also small Miloshevicis (small Marshall Titos) wowere helped to realize their power.

I can go on but it is not time now as have to go to some meetings, times are very dynamic, even this morning we had sirens, luckily we have electricity now.

I am glad to have communication with you, I will put you on my mailing list although I have not written the messages lately.

Sonja & Milan Prodanovic Ecourban workshop Supilova 11 11000 Beograd, Serbia, Yu Tel fax +381 11 750 e-mail: ecourban@eunet.yu

Date: Wed, 26 May 1999

From: Milan Prodanovic Organization: NGO

To: tulle.elster@peacelink.nu

Dear Tulle,

it is nice to reestablish contact, for a start have some messages we have been sending in the last two months since this crazy bombing started, I did not send you a message immediatelly after you phoned as even now we have an air raid siren and jet plains flying over Belgrade with an antiaircraft fireworks and detonatons at a distance. yours, Milan Prodanovic

Message 27th March 1999

Dear friends,

We are witnessing at this very moment the military action of NATO over Yugoslavia (rockets and bombs are bursting around us in Belgrade every minute while we sit in our basement studio with E-mail).

As we have already stated on many occasions such an action of bombing will only strengthen the present disastrous regime. The military intervention will be misused by the regime's media to create a "stampedo" xenophobia and give additional impetus to already growing extreme nationalism.

The UN sanctions helped only the junta group to accumulate greater financial and property power over the rest of the local community, war criminals have not been even caught and not sued by Hague tribunal which is more then inefficient.

Money laundering via Cyprus banks and elsewhere, and other Mafia type of activities which we are sure could be stopped by the West, have not even been tackled.

Human sufferings and disaster will continue and even worsen. The evil can not be fought with a negative action of bombing and more sanctions, but only by the positive engagement in improving communication and free media, and by the greater support to democratic forces and individuals which still exist in Serbia, which kept alive the solidarity and support to the similar groups in the newly created states in the region even during the most dramatic moments.

The only effective way for the real democratization is not by "from above" diplomacy with bombing and hi-tech action from a distance, but with a much more concrete, intensive, efficient activities on the ground and in the "grass route" environment.

And with a much stronger visible support for democratic forces (peace activists, credible and respected highly professional individuals and independent intellectuals who stood against the war crimes since the beginning of social restructuring, articulated NGOs lobbying for civil society issue, independent media, democratic political parties).

We strongly believe that bombing of military targets in Serbia will not achieve a desired changes towards the stability and a real democratization in Balkans (and ex-Yu).

The source of the real trouble are the junta type of nationalistic regimes in Belgrade, Zagreb and elsewhere (including the Albanian tradition of tribal nontolerance) and in other regional centers were a post-communist "monarchs" engaged in the national-communism adventures.

Recent elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina are the sad profile of the dominance of the nationalistic forces despite the terrible human sufferings during the civil war, and despite the considerable political, military and humanitarian involvement of the international community.

The transition pattern in Balkans (and elsewhere) took a disastrous route due to a complete failure of the way in which it as been handled and managed from the centers of power.

Instead of giving an adequate support (integrative economic/banking/market/cultural/ institutional etc..) to improve however slim democratic standards and civilization achievements and remains of the multicultural society (not completely destroyed in the Yugoslav type of selfmanagement socialism), the international community negotiated with (and in that way recognizing them) the "governors" of war.

Sonja & Milan Prodanovic Ecourban workshop Supilova 11 11000 Beograd, Serbia, Yu Tel fax +381 11 750 e-mail: ecourban@eunet.yu

Message 24th April 1999

Dear friends,

The everyday life in Belgrade for majority of us is really becoming more and more unreal/surreal with detached meanings from senses, some kind of post-modern war game experience.

As these pilots in sophisticated jet planes in the sky also detached from targets seen only on the screen, as some exam questions on which they gave relatively precise answers so far, made us on the ground also detached, living a relatively normal life, going to market, to shops, going by public transport to city center, seeing friends and having meetings in small groups, getting even used to a regular daily siren sound and detonation of explosions at a distance.

Additional detachment comes with listening radio Free Europe, and what an abstraction, we hear from Prague about destruction of parts of our city or other cities in Serbia. We listen about barracks, bridges, security forces headquarters smashed, or by mistake (in the end the unperfect man still commands the technology) some housing areas or columns of poor Albanian refugees trying to reach safety.

We hear dictator's home is also hit, as if someone is joking with us, making us believe that one thought he will be at home, or was it just a symbolic action.

Also, the assault to regime's TV headquarters made some poor young security guards and other junior technicians staff tragically killed, while the editors appeared over ruins an hour later shouting in front of cameras against the NATO aggressors. Tragedy and hypocrisy?

How can one believe now to Mr. Clinton's message (communicated by leaflets thrown from the plain, today, in the era of internet and satellite TV): "America is not against Serbian people, the bombing is only against the regime".

Is the bombing the way to get rid of the regime all these years; surely it can not nearly be the best answer?

How can we then believe to promised and a good willing reconstruction help?

It is very hard to think of politics at this moment as we meet only in small groups. The war propaganda makes E-mails jammed with of all sorts of desinformation, even with E-mail our voices are outnumbered.

The schools and universities do not work, the regime has taken up the streets and squares providing a populist mass happenings in "turbo-folk" music and the fake patriotic (read hatred, nationalistic, xenophobic propaganda) spectacles with enormous loudspeakers that the whole city center roars the aggression to our ears.

Away from reality one can only try to think about a long term reconstruction of country, cities, economy..

The whole industry of Serbia anyway needed a full scale reconstruction, adaptation to contemporary post-modern, post-industrial requirements, to much of the production lines were for arms manufacturing or for some other military goods.

A much more thorough reconstruction, not just the renewal of economy, jobs, infrastructure is needed and that includes the patterns of actions leading to a deep catharsis (maybe the German experience of denazification could be useful). It is hard to envisage at the moment the concrete sequences of RECONSTRUCTION OF CULTURE which is an ultimate goal and should be the first step.

That includes the renewal of our University, the reform of the whole educational system on the lines of sustainable economy, cities, overall civic life; the projects we believe have to start in a wide and thorough partnerships within multiple layers of European and Worlds networks, NGO-s, involving all the good knowledge available within the region.

To friends in Europe and in the World we appeal, we hear that along the usual type of humanitarian aid (food, hygiene etc.,) of course is needed, but there was never a great shortage of food in Serbia, also people managed to survive in difficult circumstances.

What Serbia does need is more than pure survival, it needs a thorough Enlightenment, the set of processes which Europe passed through in previous centuries, but not the second-class subculture exports, but the genuine enlightenment program adapted to home reality.

The modernization within the real-socialist project has been a failure, so a much deeper rethinking would mean clearing up of the numerous layers of thought burdenss.

A promotion of patterns of selfliberation seeks the comprehensive program of education, only a good knowledge and understanding of the locality might lead towards the open society and sustainable democracy.

Sonja & Milan Prodanovic Ecourban workshop Supilova 11 11000 Beograd, Serbia, Yu Tel fax +381 11 750 e-mail: ecourban@eunet.yu

Message 13th April 1999

Dear friends,

What we were afraid of, just happened!

The missile attack hit the passenger train causing civilian casualties.

With the horror of Kosovo refugees and the assassination in the very centre of Belgrade of one of the leading journalists, initiators of independent media, the owner of the magazine "The European" etc., Mr. Slavko Curuvija (rest in peace!!!) by unknown murderers, is all adding to the spiral of violence.

NATO planes and rockets from the sky, the retaliatory ethnic cleansing of Kosovo and now down to the "grass roots assassinations" of free media exponents makes us repeating and appealing for who knows how many times, about our ten years of our horrible experience of civil war.

That experience just confirms that nothing worthwhile, and surely not democracy, has been, nor could be introduced by force, as one type of force produces different type of force, all bursting into a spiral of violence.

The Kosovo crises (as well as the previous crises in Bosnia, Croatia etc.. were the questions of evolution of democracy in Serbia (and elsewhere) questioning again whether democracy can be at all introduced by that kind of forcefull intervention from outside.

High tech "video war game" from a distance is answered with "door to door" action of paramilitary groups on the ground, homogenization of masses manipulated by mass media for too long period of ten years of all sorts of reactionary "brain washing" starting to show the results on the streets of our cities.

But equally, the international community, mainly the peace making bureaucracy, failed to achieve in this long period even an understanding (not to mention their own disagreements and trade off's) complexity of this after all an European region.

Parallel to this, the local democratic forces, peace activists and experts, along with elaborated grass-root NGO movement, trying to build a parallel civil, ecological society were almost ignored, marginalized or picked up as a "spice" to a different diplomatic and now the strategic conflict management.

It is a desperate moment for a serious rethinking and emergency support to those who are still capable to contribute to bringing the peace, reconciliation and democracy to suffering civilians in the wider region.

Sonja & Milan Prodanovic Ecourban workshop Supilova 11 11000 Beograd, Serbia, Yu Tel fax +381 11 750 e-mail: ecourban@eunet.yu

Message 5th April 1999

Dear friends,

Thanks for your concern about us.

The bombing is continuing and increasing its destructive effects;

This is the 12th day that buildings in central Belgrade are smashed, the headquarters of security forces, some barracks, factory plants, fuel stores, some bridges nearby etcÉ.

We understand (hear but do not have any official news) that pictures of Kosovo civilian exodus are horrible, favoring the need for NATO intervention to stop ethnic cleansing (as if there was not recent experience in Croatia and Bosnia), but for us it is strengthening the false NATO - Milosevic dilemma/confrontation.

As people in Yugoslavia do not see these pictures, it makes life horrible to anyone who concerns himself as "democratic force" of Serbia being exposed to various dangers and threats.

The nationalistic, xenophobic homogenization on streets of Belgrade is increasing and getting an early stage of militancy when "masses" smashed windows of foreign cultural centers, embassies, offices of western airlines, Macdonald restaurants (symbol of American fast food) etc.. suspicious neighbors look for "spies", the wartime psychology at work.

The "voices of democratic Serbia" attempting to think out the optimistic scenario have no chance to say even a word against the leader and a clique who actually produced all this.

From a basement studio with the bombs and rockets bursting around and nationalistic homogenization roaring at its peek, (this morning the spokesmen of Ministry of Foreign Affairs commenting last night bombing said "here one has now 11 million Milosevics and 11 million Milutinovics") one feels like on a field study research testing conjecture of democratic transition of Serbs on a case study of Belgrade under bombing, refuted and leading to deeper frustration and desperation.

Proclaimed state of war forbids all free media, the rest is engaged in vulgar propaganda which increases number of Internet learners and short wave radio listeners (Radio Free Europe in Serbian and BBC in English) but that is just a drop in a sea of ignorance, irrationality and disorientation.

Rationing imposes the distribution structures as a lasting force (anti-market) while citizens from a shelter in need for stroll and fresh air bump on to the "patriotic" pop-folk-concerts on the main square, throwing the chance-walker into a homogenized masses roaring against western powers.

Russian pop-groups (some kitsch imitation of Beatles) is a novelty, and today even some MP-s from Russian Duma exercised their singing abilities with Serbian patriotic songs, while Russian monks with Mother Marie's icon walk over the Danube bridge ridiculing the symbolics of religious procession. If it was just a video-game one could laugh, but it all is now becoming to sad and dangerous reality.

The human suffering in Kosovo is coupled with a growing frustration of democratic forces in Belgrade, helpless and in a great danger to show any meaningful sign of resistance.

Our paper "Republika" (paper for civic selfliberation) came out today from printers, it will reach only subscribers by post (if post works) as there is no public sale, it is on Internet (only in Serbian) but very few people here have access to computers.

We see the way out only with immidiate stopping the military action on all sides and preparing for the international conference staged by EU or UN, preceded by a serious internationally stirred analysis and debate about the last ten years of war and its genesis, trying to answer the questions how the transition has been handled in this extremely sensitive region, who participated, how the concept of territoriality is misused, what is definition of ethnicity, where is the place of multiculturality etc..

Could the concept of ethnic territories be a basis for a peace implementation in Balkans, who was representing groups as the main negotiators, where have been the serious peace and democratic forces, prominent peace leaders, democratic and civil society NGOs, lobbyist experts on history, international law. How the elections have been handled, what was the role of media, is the Internet and satelite TV enough to introduce Open Society and democracy.

Already in early 1990s there were prepared documents relevant even today on issues about transition of ex-Yu. Among these efforts there was an equally elaborated document to the solution to how to resolve the "Kosovo Knot".

Hypocrisy after 12 days of bombing is expressed on BBC, trying to justify bombing that it was in the name of solving the humanitarian crisis in Kosovo, while the parliaments of the NATO countries are quarreling who should take the refugees and very slowly giving the money (negligible comparing to cost of plains and rockets) to humanitarian organizations.

Enjoy Easter Holidays and live in peace while we have to hope for better times for cooperation.

Sincerely Sonja & Milan Prodanovic

Sonja & Milan Prodanovic Ecourban workshop Supilova 11 11000 Beograd, Serbia, Yu Tel fax +381 11 750 e-mail: ecourban@eunet.yu

31 May 1999

Towards A Post-Milosevic Era

by Sonja Biserko/Tony Borden


’’Serbia is in shock and will inevitably see the indictment of Milosevic as part of the NATO attack. But in the task of renewing the country, it is in fact a lifeline’’.

The indictment of Slobodan Milosevic and four of his closest associates marks a historic moment for the Serbian people. But it also presents them with a crucial challenge: Serbia now needs to look inward to consider the issue of its responsibility for a decade of atrocities in the Balkans.

For the first time in a legal setting, and with he imprimatur of the United Nations Security Council which established the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, the true nature of the Greater Serbian programme has been laid bare.

There is no equalising, no relativisng, no excuses. The indictment charges the head of state, the head of the republic, the commander of the army, the Interior Minister, and another senior deputy.

It lists the names of 340 Albanians killed in incidents in March and April in Kosovo and refers to the systematic deportation by the state of more than 740,000 of its own citizens.

As investigations continue, the charge sheet will surely be amended and expanded. The list of victims, and of the accused, will grow. But even these tragedies are only the culmination of a policy of aggressive nationalism which brought the destruction of Yugoslavia and war, massacres and expulsions for a decade.

It also fuelled rival nationalisms elsewhere in the region, blocked economic development and impacted the course of regional and international relations.

Milosevic was elected head of state three times. During this time, most opposition attacked the regime for its failure to achieve Greater Serbian aims, rather than the fundamental goals themselves or even the horrible means used.

The issue of electoral and media manipulation aside, all those in Serbia who lent support to the regime, to the broader ruling establishment and to the implementation of its designs are, to different degrees, also implicated -politically, if not criminally.

As such, this is indeed an indictment not of the Serbian people as a whole but of the extremist programme so many subscribe to. This will not be easy to come to terms with.

It is an extraordinary circumstance for a country to have its sitting president indicted for war crimes. How did he get there? How long will he stay? No society could handle such a deep question readily, especially at a time of war.

The leadership in Belgrade will reject the indictment as merely another weapon in the West's propaganda arsenal. It will deride the court as "Madeleine's tribunal", referring to US Secretary of State Albright. It will also mock it:

Deputy Prime Minister Vojislav Seselj, leader of the ultra-nationalist Serbian Radical Party, has even joked that he was offended by the indictment of so many of his senior colleagues since his name had been omitted.

More seriously, the regime will paint the tribunal generally and this charge in particular as a collective indictment of the Serbian nation: "Yet more proof that the world is against us".

This fits in neatly with the heavy propaganda about the NATO bombing campaign. And it continues long-standing arguments, even from representatives of the democratic opposition, that the court is not about international law and justice but about criminalising all Serbs.

These responses are unfortunate and in the short-term damaging. Rammed home through the regime-controlled media, they prevent people from confronting the reality of the Greater Serbian programme, and the truth about what it continues to do in Kosovo in their name.

But such a rejection of the tribunal should be taken seriously, and addressed with care rather than derision. Having reached such a critical moment, it is vital to try to be supportive rather than dismissive of Serbian society as the indictment forces it to undertake this painful process of reconsideration and understanding.

Part of this is simple refusal. The scale of what has occurred, and the reality of what Serbia is responsible for, is not easy to admit.

Another element is fear. The establishment around the regime includes business interests, political supporters, war-profiteers, Mafia operators, and a whole range of other people and institutions with a stake in the status quo.

A proportion of this establishment will conclude that it has gone too far down the road with Milosevic to turn back. They will believe, or convince themselves, that they can continue to resist. As a result, they will up the stakes, escalate the war in Kosovo and turn on their domestic opponents.

War against Albanians can move on to civil war within Serbia and Montenegro. Conflict will erupt with others within the establishment who have profited through Milosevic but now feel it is time to distance themselves from him and work out a way to deal with the West.

They may put out various signals internationally, to try to demonstrate that they can become reliable partners in the future. There is no way to predict how substantial this group is, and how serious such a conflict may become.

Some within the opposition have spoken about Milosevic as a criminal for many years. During the massive street demonstrations of 1996-97 some even paraded effigies of the Serbian leader in a prisoner's outfit.

But now that the issue has come home so directly, it can no longer remain merely rhetoric and political theatre. It will take courage for fresh voices to open up the debate, and given the danger of expressing any alternative views now, it is unlikely that this will happen soon.

The West, too, is part of the problem. For whatever reasons, the indictment comes nearly a decade after the story began, even though the problem was evident from the start.

Like Serbian society, the West itself has itself prevaricated over Milosevic, at times portraying him as a factor of stability, at others muddying the issue of responsibility and making easy "all-sides-are-to-blame" arguments, and now, as the West seeks to justify its own war, crudely vilifying and stereotyping Milosevic, the regime and Serbs.

Such hesitation and hypocrisy actively contributed to the war and to the widespread confusion within Serbia and internationally about the nature of the Serbian national programme.

The international community can help by committing itself to long-term solutions throughout the region. This would mean developing a fresh and broad framework for democratisation and development.

It would mean completely rethinking the problem of ethnic nationalism and mechanisms to resolve the overarching tension between sovereignty and minority rights.

It would mean coming to clear conclusions in its own mind about the war aims and strategy, and maintaining a firm consensus on the issue of war crimes and justice - including the arrest of the many indictees still at liberty in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

All of these measures require the creation of a permanent international conference on the Balkans, to incorporate the viewpoints and support the strategies of a wide array of actors, not just the extremist leaders.

For Serbia, whether or not Milosevic is ever put on trial, the crucial requirement is to open an honest and deep debate over the indictment itself. That means a serious consideration of Serbia's responsibility for the events in the Balkans.The options are stark and the choice is dramatic. Serbia is cornered, and the society is in shock.

The country can continue on the path towards isolation, destitution and continued war. Or it can look to new forms of politics and new relationships, within the region and with the West.

In that task, the indictment of Milosevic is not just another Western attack but in fact a lifeline. To build a future, Serbia must come to terms with its recent and terrible past.

Sonja Biserko is director of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia. She is now living outside the country. Anthony Borden is executive director of the London-based Institute for War & Peace Reporting.

IWPR's network of leading correspondents in the region provide inside analysis of the events and issues driving crises in the Balkans. The reports are available on the Web in English, Serbian and Albanian; English-language reports are also available via e-mail.

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23 May 1999


"In Climate of Fear, a Belgrade Serb Documents the Horror of Kosovo"


Much of the time in Belgrade, it feels as if nothing is happening in Kosovo. People complain endlessly about the NATO bombing, and they talk politics all day, but there is a large hole in the conversation. Barely anyone mentions Kosovo, let alone the horrors that are occurring there.

Natasa Kandic is one rare exception. She is a slight woman, with dark circles etched under her eyes behind glasses. A sociologist by profession, she heads the Humanitarian Law Center, a nongovernmental group that has been documenting human rights violations in Yugoslavia since 1992, and supplies material to the international war crimes tribunal in the Hague.

As the political climate and restrictions on news media here have made it impossible to publish material about human rights violations, Ms. Kandic has resorted to writing and E-mailing a newsletter to friends and news and human rights organizations.

"Intellectual society has changed here," she said, sitting calmly in her modern offices in Belgrade drinking a mug of coffee. "People saw only the bombs here, without thinking what is happening in Kosovo and who is the person organizing it."

She is one of the few Serbian intellectuals to have maintained close collaboration with ethnic Albanians on human rights issues and last year won a prize for her work on democracy and civil society, awarded by the United States and the European Union.

She attributes the fact that she is practically alone in her research on Kosovo to the climate of fear that has paralyzed the intellectual community in Serbia, and the success of the state propaganda.

Human rights and civic groups have always been allowed to operate in Serbia, tolerated by the Government while they have remained small. "But for the first time people feel fear," Ms. Kandic said. In recent weeks, she said, several hundred people in Serbia, including a number of her own employees, have been invited by the police for an "informal talk.

They were questioned about their work for the tribunal at the Hague, and about other organizations and intellectuals. Several people have received anonymous letters full of abuse and threats.

A swastika, along with graffiti calling staff members "NATO's spies," was daubed on the walls of the Fund for an Open Society, which receives funding from the Soros Foundation.

In everyone's mind, Ms. Kandic said, is the fatal shooting of a well-known publisher, Slavko Curuvija, after he received threats and was denounced on state television. With representatives of the international community largely gone from Belgrade, Curuvija's death cowed everyone else."Two days was enough to establish silence," Ms. Kandic said.

Milosevic has also been skillful at turning the NATO bombing campaign to his advantage, exploiting the genuine outrage people feel to block out all memory of why the bombing started. "Official propaganda succeeded in convincing people that it is aggression, and that the national task is to defend the country," she said.

Sonja Licht, head of the Fund for an Open Society Yugoslavia, said a great majority of people "refuse to talk about" Kosovo. She gathered 27 democracy and human rights activists in Serbia to sign a statement condemning both the NATO bombing and the "ethnic cleansing" of Albanians from Kosovo, but even that was difficult.

One journalist who is close to some of those who signed said, "They fought over every word." In the end at least two people refused to sign the statement because they objected to the inference that "ethnic cleansing" was perpetrated by "Yugoslav forces" rather than only "paramilitaries." Ms. Kandic refused to sign because it did not go far enough.

Many of those working for nongovernmental organizations accuse the West of betraying them and destroying the civil society they were trying to create. The few organizations that do function concentrate on the humanitarian needs of Serbs.

Ms. Kandic, virtually alone, is pressing for international support for the people left in Kosovo, and she has won respect among Serbs and Albanians alike.

Last week she sat reading a letter sent by an Albanian friend in the southern Kosovo town of Prizren. It was printed to disguise the writing and signed with just two initials. The author described the hunger, fear and isolation of the people left in the town and begged for international aid organizations to come.

"If they do not come we shall die," the letter said.

Ms. Kandic said then that she had already decided on her next trip, but some in Belgrade say Ms. Kandic is too reckless for her own good. Soon after NATO began its bombing campaign, when foreign journalists were expelled and Albanians were fleeing Kosovo, Ms. Kandic got into a taxi and persuaded the driver to take her to Pristina, the capital of Kosovo.

"I had a human and professional obligation to go," she explained. She had an office in Pristina, with six local staff members, as well as many friends and colleagues in Kosovo. Her first aim was to help them escape, but she was also determined to document what had happened since March 24, not least because a colleague and close friend, the human rights lawyer Bajram Kelmendi, had been arrested by the police and was later found dead along with his two sons.

In one recent newsletter, she described the fear that gripped members of her staff as she helped them escape Kosovo. She wrote how she found her office ransacked, the computers gone and one of her lawyers "at his wit's end from terror."

"I had known he lived in fear that someone might come, knock on his door and kill him," she said, "but the terror I saw in his eyes made up my mind then and there to depart immediately."

New York Times

MAY 20, 1999

Some Serbs do back NATO

Bombs aside, once a Milosevic opponent, always an opponent. by Vladimir Petrovic

It has been almost a month since the NATO bombings of Serbia started, and every morning I have to take a good look at my face in the mirror. Because, even at its worst, with black rings under the eyes and three days' stubble, it is still irrefutable proof that I exist.

I am an ethnic Serb, and - contrary to the laws of Serbian nature as portrayed by the Western media - I am still pro-NATO and anti-Milosevic. In fact, though my family and friends remain in Belgrade, I strongly support the current NATO bombardment of my country, if only as a necessary precondition for a ground attack aimed at removing the malignant source of almost all the evils that have befallen Serbia and its neighbors during the past 12 years - the dictatorship of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.

From childhood, if I thought of myself as a Serb, it was exclusively in terms of belonging to some kind of European, or Western context, not the Eastern, or communist context. This, incidentally, was the main reason, notwithstanding considerable qualms and practical difficulties, I left Belgrade a month ago and came to Prague. I simply didn't want to find myself on the wrong side of the border, or, should I say, on the wrong side of the front line when NATO came marching in.

What's more, I'm neither alone nor a rare exception to the media stereotypes about tribal Serbs. Those who share my convictions aren't some tiny, well-educated cabal estranged from the "common people."

Yes, I admit, I'm a writer and translator, presumably an intellectual. But what about my cab-driver friend who, in downtown Belgrade on the first night of NATO air strikes, hurt his leg in a fight with a security guard after spray-painting graffiti like "WELCOME NATO" and "MILOSEVIC IS A TERRORIST"?

I suspect that, in case of a landing by NATO ground troops, if openly and unambiguously directed at the regime in Belgrade and not against "the Serbs," many of my compatriots will be able to appreciate the difference.

Of course, it's only natural that even the pro-Western segment of Serbian society is infuriated by the airstrikes. The bombing is perceived as a meaningless exercise of indiscriminate power. It's unrealistic to expect any other reaction, considering the media-fueled nationalist frenzy and overwhelming pressure in society to conform.

Anyone who speaks out now, and maintains pro-Western leanings, is branded a traitor. But once the West lays its cards on the table, this is bound to change.

Given a clear choice between "Fight for Milosevic and be rewarded with more oppression and poverty" or "Give it up now, and we'll help you get rid of Milosevic's lot" many Serbs will think twice. (Let me remind you, it has been years since Milosevic's party managed to pull in more than 35 percent of the vote.)

At least, decisive NATO action may substantially raise the rate of desertions and surrender. The story of newfound Serbian unity and willingness to fight to the last is likely to go down as the single most successful invention of Milosevic's propaganda, a bait wholeheartedly swallowed by both the Western general public and self-proclaimed experts.

Indeed, as I've scanned the Western news and commentary over the past month, I haven't found a single exception to the rule. Analysts, journalists, diplomats have rushed to do their part in fear-mongering and hyping various doomsday scenarios, stereotyping all Serbs as somewhat of a cross between SS divisions and poison spiders.

These foreign observers fail to notice an obvious fact:

Even in a society so lightly burdened with rationality, it's quite impossible for such a radical change of fundamental political attitude to happen overnight. There are, in fact very few people able to perform a mental somersault that would suddenly turn them from bitter opponents of Milosevic and his henchmen into avid supporters.

These opponents will return to the scene, emboldened, only if the West demonstrates resolve to remove Milosevic.

As the world is confronted with tragic images of Kosovo Albanians flushed from their homes - stirring still-fresh memories of massive bloodshed in Bosnia - it is easy to forget the Western-oriented Serbs who also feel victimized by more than a decade of Milosevic's national-socialist tyranny.

That's why we urge NATO not to stop, until the job is done.

Vladimir Petrovic is a Yugoslav freelance writer and

translator living temporarily in Prague.

Wed, 5 May 1999


by Serbian writer Bora Cosic

According to the Frankfurter Allegemeine Zeitung, the people of Belgrade have regressed to the level of children, or rather of naughty children. Personally I have a better opinion of children. They are proud, and have a special kind of nobility. Children, for example, are very selective, they don't let just anyone approach and seduce them.

The people who are now taking part in the demonstrations in the squares and on the bridges of Belgrade do not have this child-like nobility, and their anger at the bombs has no relation with the naughtiness of children.

There is nothing easier than burning another country's flag or destroying the effigy of a foreign leader. This is the sort of ethnological reaction that Levi Strauss would have compared to the behaviour of natives towards the spirit of an enemy tribe or of an evil divinity whothreatens them.

For a time my people loved freedom and showed that they were mature. But even in their maturity they were voluble. The Serbian people are proud of everything, even of the very pride they nurture in the depth of their souls. Everyone should be proud of his own soul. But how can we not offend this great gift if we, the Serbs, act in a soulless, cruel way towards a whole people, the Albanians in Kosovo?

My fellow countrymen do not want to hear about this population which is being destroyed.They do not realise that in this way they are destroying their own dignity. This is not a case of child-like behaviour. The people of Serbia, now used as a shield by their dictator, should worry first of all about the weak, desperate members of an entire population in the south of Yugoslavia which has been deported from its own land. They should be ashamed of those crowded, miserable refugee camps which are now the home, or rather the children's room of the Albanian people of Kosovo. People who can only hope in an imaginary father in heaven.

The people supporting Milosevic in Belgrade are blind. They do not realise that that are now faced with a war set into motion from their own city, eight years ago. And if they are now protecting strategic army installations with their own bodies, they forgetthat this is the same army which has systematically destroyed and murdered for many years in their own country.

This army has committed acts of aggression, like the Germany army at the time of Hitler in Europe. In the name of the Yugoslavian flag, one piece of the country after another has been conquered and then destroyed. Later, like at Stalingrad, the aggressors themselves have withdrawn from one defeat to another (in Croatia and Bosnia) to theever-receding borders of Yugoslavia.

Now the war has knocked at the door of my home city, just as it once broke out in Berlin.



April 14, 1999

Remember Bosnia before you think of stopping NATO

by Vesna Ruzicka-Sehovic

Those voices opposed to the NATO strikes and arguing for compromise have forgotten the lessons of Bosnia, argues Vesna Ruzicka-Sehovic:

My heart goes out to Serb civilian casualties. After all, we know what it is like when powerful weaponry pounds your city, your people, family and friends. We have been there.

For 30 months, the capital of Bosnia-Hercegovina, Sarajevo, was under incessant bombardment. Thirty months meant 1,000 days. It also meant 12,500 killed, including 1,600 children. Up to 4,000children in Sarajevo were wounded in 1,000 days and nights. No water, no food, no medicine, no place to hide . . . from what? From guns perched at the mountain above, a favourite weekend outing spot in more peaceful times.

For three long years, a European city was under siege by mighty Bosnian Serb forces, supervised and aided by the J(N)A or Yugoslav (People's) Army.

The political and the military supreme commanders respectively were Milosevic's men on the ground: Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, the former originally from a mountain village in Montenegro, the latter from a mountain village near the Bosnian-Serb border.

Both had an overwhelming hatred for the multi-ethnic, multi-cultural existence that Sarajevo stood for. With troubled family histories themselves they were perfect candidates for Milosevic's plans to "cleanse" anything and everything non-Serb.

Mladic's infamous order to his soldiers manning the heavy artillery pointed at the city below - "pound them until you blow their mind" - stands out as one of the most horrific legacies of this century.

Among others, the main maternity hospital with its delivery roomsand new-born babies was deliberately shelled by Serbian forces, and is still out of action today, three years after the peace accord.The main post office was one of the first buildings to be shelled and burnt down to cut off the city from the world.

Children playing were taken out by snipers like pigeons. Women and men, young and old, buying food at the city market wereblown to pieces on clear, sunny days. From the hillside, targets were being picked out through binoculars with surgical precision.The going rate or reward for shooting a Sarajevan dead on his balcony or in the street, was 100 Deutschmarks.

Imagine your life worth (pounds) 40. But then, sinister cynicism is Milosevic's speciality. And those were the lucky ones.

In Bosnian villages and small towns, Karadzic's Serbs followed a chilling routine: first they would disarm local Muslims or Croats of the few weapons they had, round them up, divide men from women and put them indeserted hangars. Then came the torture and killing, intimidation and rape. Mercy was not on the agenda.

Horror stories we thought were firmly locked in the past resurfaced again, for the first time since the second World War. And so did concentration camps. Serb guards paraded their deadly guns and threatening looks among emaciated and tortured, humiliated victims. Still, this was labelled a 'civil war' with a keep-off warning. The then British Foreign Minister, Douglas Hurd, was especially keen on the word. The third strongest army in Europe, the J(N)A, waging a war against an unarmed population, andthey called it 'civil'?

Then Srebrenica happened, and Milosevic, Mladic and Karadzic had gone one step too far. In summer 1995, 7-10,000 men from the supposedly safe area were brought to execution sites, shot dead and bulldozed over. Some bodies are being exhumed, more are rotting in the ground of Republika Srpska. Many may never be found, their remains decomposed and scattered, their families in a limbo.

I have seen the fields of eastern Bosnia where a skull or an odd human bone was dug up andthrown aside for a Serb farmer to sow his crops. And this was barely three years after the men of Srebrenica were shot like sheep - no resistance, no screams, just deadly silence . .

Radovan Karadzic and his general have been in hiding sincethey were indicted for war crimes by the Hague Tribunal. Their mastermind, president >of Yugoslavia and now of Serbia, Slobodan Milosevic, continued his crusade against the non-Serbs and the disobedient. He started his campaign on Kosovo 10 years ago, harnessing Serbian national pride and turning it into rampant nationalisticextremism, without compromise, without mercy.

His army first attacked Slovenia in the north, gave up and moved down toCroatia causing havoc and destruction, from the beautiful old town of Vukovar to the gem of Adriatic, Dubrovnik.

A year later, Milosevic took his army to the most vulnerable, central republic of Bosnia and Hercegovina. It was believed Bosnia would fall within weeks - God knows how it survived three war years.

In 1995, after 250,000 had died, a peace deal was declared and the West wanted Milosevic to be its guarantor, the "man to do business with". He tricked them into believingthey could not do without him. Regrettably, the man's business is not peace but war.

Kosovo is just the latest "pearl" in his necklace, but would not have been th elast. There is the tiny but proud Montenegro, whose pride Milosevic would like to squash; then there is a Sandzak triangle betweenBosnia, Serbia and Montenegro with a Muslim majority, which he would like to cleanse; lastly, there is Vojvodina in the north, whose autonomy he stripped away at the same time as Kosovo's.

Meanwhile, in Kosovo, the same old story: streams of refugees,torture, rape, mass killings, destruction of homes, looting . . . and endless lies to his own people and to the outside world.

In eight years, Milosevic's policy has resulted in hundreds of thousands of people of the former Yugoslavia being made homeless and dispossessed. But the Serbs stand firmly behind their leader.

There are now voices opposed to NATO strikes, and advocating negotiations and a political solution instead. I would challenge them that they have not done their homework: the majority ethnic Albanian population of Kosovo has pursued and exhausted allavenues of peaceful struggle in the last 10 years.

Living in a European state without freedom of expression, denied the right to teach and learn in their own language, dismissed from positions of any importance and denied all political and human rights, they became increasingly desperate.

The prisons of Kosovo were built for ethnic Albanians. Inside, they were denied justice and left at the mercy of those who imprisoned them. Mercy was not on the agenda.

Though less than 10 per cent of the population, the Serbs of Kosovo have been running the show, and loving every moment.

People usually do not rebel if given their rights and freedom, even under minority rule. Kosovan Albanians never stood a chance with their Serb masters.

When they did finally rise against them, it was out of despair. Life is not worth living, we'd rather die than go on like this, they said.

NATO bombardment will cost the Kosovan Albanian population an enormous price, both in lives and livelihood. But it is the price they consider worth paying for their dignity and for their future.

And so should we. For, if you do not halt evil when it is unleashed far away, it may soon come closer to home.

The Irish Times

Vesna Ruzicka-Sehovic is London Correspondent for the main independent Bosnian daily, Oslobodjenjne.




Deeply disturbed by NATO destruction and the ordeal of Kosovo Albanians, we, the representatives of non-governmental organizations and trade union "Nezavisnost" (Independence), strongly demand from all those responsible for this tragedy to immediately create ground for the renewal of the peace process.

The most powerful military, political and economic powers of the world are for two weeks incessantly killing people and destroying not only military but also civilian objects, blowing up bridges and rail tracks, factories and heating plants, warehouses and basins...

At the same time, in fear of the bombing campaign and military actions by the regime and the KLA, hundreds of thousands of Kosovo Albanians are, in an unprecedented exodus, forced to leave their devastated homes and look for salvation in the tragedy and uncertainty of fleeing.

It is obvious that this is a road to catastrophe, and the peaceful and fair solution to the Kosovo problem through international mediation we have supported for years, today seems more distant than ever.

The past activities of our organizations in the field of democratization, development of a civil society and acceptance of FR Yugoslavia into all international institutions have been under constant pressure and intimidation by the Serbian regime.

We, as members of civil society associations have courageously and rationally fought against war and nationalistic propaganda and in support of human rights. We emphasize that we have always raised our voices against the repression against Kosovo Albanians and demanded the respect of their liberties and guarantees for their rights. We have also requested the return of the autonomy of Kosovo.

We stress that the only connection and cooperation of Serbs and Albanians during all these years has been preserved among civil society institutions.

NATO military intervention has undermined all results we have achieved and endangered the very survival of the civil sector in Serbia. Faced with the tragic situation we have found ourselves in, and in the name of human ideas and values, as well as in accordance with all our past activities, we are demanding:

- immediate stop to the bombing campaign and all armed movements;

- resuming of the peace process with international mediation at the regional Balkan and European level, as well as in the framework of the United Nations;

- share of responsibility between the European Union and Russia and their contribution to the peaceful solution of the crisis;

- end of the ethnic cleansing process and immediate return of all refugees;

- support to the citizens of Montenegro to preserve peace and stability, solveserious consequences of the refugee catastrophe and resume with the democratic processes that are underway;

- we demand that the Serbian and international media inform the public in aprofessional manner and not spur media war, incite interethnic hatred, create irrational public opinion and glorify force as the ultimate accomplishment of the human mind.

We cannot meet these demands by ourselves. We expect from you to support our demands and in your initiatives and actions help their implementation.

In Belgrade, April 6, 1999

* Association of Citizens for Democracy, Social Justice and Support to Trade Unions

* Belgrade Circle

* Center for Democracy and Free Elections

* Center for Transition to Democracy-ToD

* Civic Initiatives

* European Movement in Serbia

* Forum for Ethnic Relations, and Foundation for Peace and Crisis Management

* Group 484

* Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia

* Student Union of Serbia

* Union for Truth about Antifascist Resistance

* United Branch Trade Unions NEZAVISNOST

* VIN-Weekly Video News

* Women in Black

* Yu Lawyers Committee for Human Rights

* EKO Centar


After the NATO intervention against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the massive deportation of the Bosnian and Kosovar populations and the murders of innocent citizens by Slobodan Milosevic and the fascist regime of Belgrade, the Associations "Women of Podrinja", "Women of Srebrenica" and "Amika" (Tuzla) feel the obligation and necessity of addressing to you the following declaration:

In Podrinja and Srebrenica, we have seen and known what the Serbian army and paramilitary police are capable of, as they murder civilians and drive them from their homes. We can easily understand the suffering of the people of Kosova and the Sandjak, today.

We, the Associations "Women of Podrinja", "Women of Srebrenica" and "Amika", will do everything within our means to be at the service of these martyred people and offer them our help.

We appeal to the International Community to do everything possible to help these human beings so as to bring them relief and ease their pain, and to use all their power to bring an end to their sufferings and
deportations as quickly as possible.

We beg and pray all those who still have some humanity, to take all necessary measures and do everything in their power to stop the suffering and deportations as quickly as possible.

We call upon the International Community to prevail against all those who oppose the return of these people to their homes in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, as well as the return of the displaced people to their homes in the Serb entity of Bosnia, so that these human being may regain a decent life, for themselves and all future generations.

Tuzla, 8th April 1999

Women of Podrinja

Women of Srebrenica

Amika (Tuzla)

Til forsiden / Back to front
Epost: tulle.elster@peacelink.nu