Interview with Krsljanin: ‘Serbia is an occupied country’
Published Oct 17, 2010 10:26 PM
On Oct. 5, 2000, a coup engineered by U.S. imperialist agencies and
supported by Western European imperialist governments overthrew the Socialist
Party government in Yugoslavia led by Slobodan Milosevic. At the time —
only 16 months after a vicious 79-day U.S.-led NATO air war against the people
of Yugoslavia — there was much confusion even among progressive and
anti-war forces in the imperialist countries due to the overwhelming
anti-Milosevic propaganda in the corporate media. The following interview by
Cathrin Schütz with former Milosevic aide Vladimir Krsljanin throws light
on those events and the developments in Serbia in the last 10 years.
Ten years ago, on Oct. 5, Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic
was overthrown. What is hidden behind this “democratic revolution for
freedom” celebrated by the Western media and politicians?
For 10 years Serbia had successfully resisted the war against Yugoslavia,
which began in the early 1990s. After NATO’s war of aggression against
our country ended in 1999 without a clear victory, London and Washington
carried out a vast special operation to overthrow Milosevic; it was the mother
of all subsequent “color revolutions.”
Through a presidential decree, Bill Clinton gave the CIA carte blanche to carry
out a coup in Yugoslavia. Enormous sums were invested in political parties,
NGOs [non-governmental organizations] and media. The fragmented opposition [to
Milosevic and the Socialist Party of Serbia] was unified under foreign
guidance. A coalition of 18 parties under the umbrella called the
“Democratic opposition,” or DOS, formed with one goal: overthrow
William Montgomery, the person later named as U.S. ambassador to Belgrade, set
up a specially equipped office in Budapest [in neighboring Hungary]. Opposition
activists attended courses that were run by CIA agents. The so-called student
group known as “Otpor” (Resistance) used the slogan “Gotov
je” (He is finished) to conduct the election — this was all a
project of Western intelligence agencies.
How did the overthrow take place?
In the Yugoslav presidential election on Sept. 24 the incumbent Milosevic
obtained 15 percent fewer votes than Western-backed candidate Vojislav
Kostunica. However, since neither of these two leading candidates won an
absolute majority, it should have come to a run-off ballot. The DOS parties
claimed that Milosevic had falsified the elections and Kostunica was victorious
in the first round of voting. Otpor led violent street protests.
DOS wanted to prevent the runoff, although they would have won for sure.
Milosevic refused to accept a resignation without a second round of voting.
At the height of the dispute, the Supreme Court issued a strange decision:
Because of rumors of irregularities in the first ballot, all votes from the
southern Serbian province of Kosovo were simply canceled. Of course, the vote
in those districts would have to be repeated.
With Kosovo’s votes cancelled, Kostunica’s vote share increased to
more than 50 percent. Milosevic acknowledged the decision and on Oct. 5
congratulated Kostunica’s victory. This step, which had barely been
reported, was buried in what was a media-constructed “popular
uprising.” As Otpor set the Parliament on fire, the Kostunica forces
immediately and completely seized the government apparatus. With this coup they
avoided a controlled handover of power.
It was thus not simply an electoral victory for the
The years-long image of Milosevic as a “dictator” in the Western
media would have appeared absurd if he were simply removed by a Democratic
vote. The West didn’t want to risk this loss of credibility. Mainly
though, the “revolution” needed to be carried out violently to
shorten the time until the new regime could allow far-reaching Western
interventions in the state and economy, thus making the transformation
After Oct. 5, government offices and businesses were occupied by so-called
crisis units, and those previously in charge were dismissed. After a few months
40,000 officials had been illegally removed from office. Today’s economy
minister, Mladjan Dinkic, began his illustrious career by using machine guns to
take over the National Bank.
Dinkic’s party, G17 Plus, was originally set up as an NGO by the West.
Despite its marginal election results, for the last 10 years it has controlled
public finances under successive governments. Dinkic’s first act as a
national bank director was to dissolve the four largest Serbian banks at the
behest of the International Monetary Fund — with the result that the
Serbian banking system is now in foreign hands, and every year 6 billion euros
flow out of the country. I remember Milosevic’s words before the
election: “They are not targeting Serbia to grab Milosevic, but Milosevic
to grab Serbia.”
But beyond the Western propaganda, there was in reality a great discontent
among the population [in 2000]. ... Under the guidance of and in close
collaboration with their foreign sponsors, the opposition understood how to
blame on Milosevic the suffering caused by Western sanctions and NATO’s
war and how to make big promises should they win the elections.
The bombs had destroyed the economy and infrastructure, which aggravated the
social discontent. When the government used up the remaining government funds
for repairing the main road and rail links, the voters felt even more pain and
were susceptible to opposition propaganda that claimed voting out Milosevic
would stop the foreign pressure and increase the standard of living. It is in
this sense that one should understand White House spokesperson Ari
Fleischer’s comments that the war was part of the “regime
change” strategy of NATO and the United States, because it weakened
Milosevic and led to his fall.
Why did the leading Western countries carry out such an aggressive
intervention policy in Yugoslavia and Serbia?
Since the early 1990s there have been not many different wars in Yugoslavia
— in Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Kosovo — it was all one war: that
of the West against Yugoslavia. In this statement I fully agree with Milosevic.
Former U.S. President George Bush Sr., while speaking during the celebration of
German reunification, discussed the elimination of the consequences of the
Versailles Treaty in Europe. A key point regarding Versailles at the beginning
of the 20th century was to weaken Germany in favor of the Eastern European
countries, which Germany had considered as satellites within the “Central
Thus, those in Versailles for the first time recognized Yugoslavia as a state.
Until Yugoslavia’s breakup, Catholic and Muslim groups in Yugoslavia were
used by Western powers to counteract Russian influence, which was based on
historical closeness with Serbs. In the 1990s, however, a resurgent
Germany’s role was to serve as a NATO member to weaken Russia and Eastern
Europe, which was to be transformed into a “Euro-Atlantic region”
— but of course only as a colony. In line with the long-cherished desire
of the British, Serbia especially should be weakened as a potential ally of
With Milosevic it could never happen. Kosovo is now home to Camp Bondsteel, the
largest U.S. military base in Europe, in the area of the proposed major oil and
gas pipelines from the Caspian Sea.
Did Milosevic’s fall pay off for Serbia’s
Immediately after Oct. 5, 2000, the Milosevic-SPS dominated Serbian Parliament
was rendered powerless through the formation of a transitional government.
Early parliamentary elections were held. DOS won a two-thirds majority and
named Zoran Djindjic, the number one favorite of the West, as prime minister,
the most powerful office of Yugoslav politics. Thus, the coup was
Serbia is now an occupied country. Foreign “advisers” are sitting
in government, army, police and secret service. The economy is flattened; the
banking system in foreign hands. Privatization and sale of large companies
bring poverty and hunger to Serbia. The army consists of only four brigades;
the media have been silenced, the politicians corrupted. Montenegro has
separated and Kosovo has declared its independence.
And while before Oct. 5, 2000, the Belgrade District Court tried in absentia
and convicted the NATO leaders of war crimes, sentencing them to 20 years in
prison, the sentence was repealed shortly after the coup. The head of the
government TV station was found responsible for the death of his staff —
those who died from NATO bombs. Afterwards Milosevic and several high-ranking
state officials and generals were delivered to the NATO Inquisition in The
Hague, in violation of the Constitution.
Thus nothing has improved. On the contrary, our remote-controlled president and
the choir of the bought politicians and “experts” talk about great
victories on the road to joining the European Union. But it seems obvious that
this way is not the right way.
Published Oct. 6 in the German daily newspaper Junge Welt. Translated by
Workers World managing editor John Catalinotto.
Articles copyright 1995-2012 Workers World.
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