Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by Serbian Unity Congress


  1.  Since issuing our last statement on 24 March 2000 our experience in working with a great number of decision makers in this country and abroad, including the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Members of Parliament is that some of these people are still not adequately acquainted with the problems in the Balkans. There are too many who are ill-informed and without knowledge of the basic facts. These people would not know if the information they are being given by Ministers is correct or not.

  2.  Before the civil war in the former Yugoslavia started in 1991, Yugoslavia was an under-developed country. It was, however, more economically advanced and had a higher standard of living than other countries in Eastern Europe. In 1991 industry and the economy had to re-adjust, then it slowed down. Raw materials could not be imported, basic commodities and spare parts were in short supply so the manufacturing industry was being crippled. Exports were only 16-18 per cent of what they were before the break-up of Yugoslavia. The income of the people and their purchasing power fell dramatically. Inflation in 1993-4-5 reached staggering proportions. Bread bought in the morning would be a higher price in the afternoon! Political isolation, economic embargoes and sanctions, coupled with NATO bombing devastated the country. Sanctions were not lifted after the bombing of Yugoslavia ceased, but were tightened instead. The Yugoslav authorities could not buy the necessary equipment and parts from the EU countries with their own money for re-construction of the war damage. The damage caused by NATO bombing alone is estimated at $30 billion. This figure was provided to us by the independent body G17. The overall losses are, however, estimated at $97 billion.

  3.  Sanctions and destruction of the country by NATO bombing had devastating consequences on the people of Yugoslavia. People in urban areas were hard hit, particually the elderly, the sick and children. Routine medical examinations, laboratory analyses and operations could not be performed due to the shortages of electricity and run-down equipment. The birth rate of the Serbs over the last eight years has fallen to an alarmingly low level. Things are not better now even though some humanitarian aid is arriving. In some hospitals the doctors do not have disinfectants or even soap with which to wash their hands. The death rate of the elderly has increased dramatically due to the lack of money to purchase food and medication. During the winter 1999-2000 the death rate of the people in a radius of 60 miles to Belgrade in the age bracket 55 years plus rose by 67 per cent. (This information was provided by the Institute of Gerontology, Belgrade.) It is hoped that the new, democratically elected government in Yugoslavia will do much to alleviate the suffering of impoverished people. This, However, will not occur until sanctions have been completely lifted. The United States, whilst they have lifted some sanctions, have not lifted all. Outer embargoes are still in place. For example, JAT, Yugoslav National Airlines, has not been granted a licence to fly to the United States. Our opinion is that Yugoslavia could emerge from the present difficulties within five to eight years, if left to her own devices, not subjected to further political pressures from outside, interference and threats.

  4.  The Yugoslav government and Serbian people must not be held responsible for the break up of Yugoslavia and for the civil war. Serbian people have been denied their aspiration to live in one country which they rightly could have expected being the founders of Yugoslavia after the First World War. The international community, however, encouraged and supported others to break away and have a separate state. A political solution should have been sought before recognition of the break-away states. Germany played a pivotal role in the break-up of Yugoslavia. She supported Croatia from the outset, was the first to recognise her and instigated other countries to do the same. The lack of willingness to find a political solution for the former Yugoslavia has been re-inacted again in the civil war in Kosovo. There was no possibility for the parties involved in the inter-ethnic conflict to negotiate the proposals in Rambouillet, France. The Rambouillet Agreement, was a package to the Yugoslavian Government "take it or leave it", an ultimatum. The international community at large failed to detect the ethnic nationalism and aims of Kosovo separatists. Their strategy was, and still is, to provoke the Serbian security forces to such an extent that they will retaliate. This could cause a humanitarian crisis and NATO intervention would become a necessity. If such a strategy were to be accepted by the international community for solving other inter-ethnic conflicts in the future, it may well be taken as a prescription by others for their separatist aims and to achieve statehood. (Basque in Spain, Corsica in France.)

  5.  NATO's air-strikes hit not only military, but targets of no military significance whatsoever. It bombed roads, bridges, hospitals, power stations, university compounds, radio and television stations, car manufacturers, commuter trains and even a tobacco factory. The destruction of five bridges over the river Danube left 600,000 citizens of Novi Sad without water as the city water supply systems were built into bridges. In Belgrade supplying water was difficult after the electricity plants were bombed. The bombing of oil refineries, chemical plants, ammonia storages etc, caused a huge ecological disaster, particularly in Novi Sad and Pancevo. The Pancevo Chemical Plant alone released 1,600 tonnes of vinyl chloride, 15,000 tonnes of ammonia, 800 tonnes of hydrochloric acid, 250 tonnes of liquid chloride, large quantities of dioxin and 100 tonnes of mercury. For days after the bombing the whole area was covered in a thick black acrid smoke. The uncontrolled release of toxic gases, radioactive and other dangerous substances into the atmosphere and soil, will stay in the ground and water table for many years to come. This has caused a vast ecological catastrophe with long lasting consequences. The people of Serbia suffered great psychological damage and are still greatly traumatised by the bombing after one and a half years.

  6.  In the war in Bosnia in 1994 and 1995 NATO dropped 10,800 depleted uranium missiles which is about 3 tonnes of nuclear explosives. As a result of this bombing areas in Bosnia such as Hadzici, Bratunac, Milici, Vlasenica, Han Pijesak, Sokolac, Pale, Vogosca, Rogatica are contaminated with uranium. Up to now between 300-400 people in these regions have died from leukaemia and radiation related illnesses. Animals are also affected. We raised this matter in the past but had no response. In the 78 days of war against Yugoslavia NATO dropped 29,581 DU missiles in Kosovo and south Serbia. This represents about 10 tonnes of nuclear explosives. In the Serbian Province of Kosovo, 112 sites are now contaminated, most of them close to the border with Macedonia and Albania, in a line—Prizren, Djakovica and Pec. In Serbia the contaminated places are at Bujanovac, and several others six kilometres south of Vranje. Also contaminated is a place in Montenegro, Azra in the Pennisular of Boka Kotorska. The reason that the first cases of leukaemia are now detected in NATO troops who served in Bosnia is that depleted uranium has a prolonged action, takes time to manifest itself, 2-5 years. Depleted uranium ammunition leave behind shrapnel, small particles and fine dust known as uranium oxide. Those particles get into the air, over a wide distance, stay in the soil, and seep into the water, then by different means, mainly by inhalation, and food and water, get into the body where it affects vital organs. The first deaths of soldiers in Italy, Portugal, Spain, the Czech Republic, and cases of leukaemia in France, the Netherlands and Germany are only the beginning of the consequences of the irresponsible and reckless action of NATO in Yugoslavia. I am of the opinion that this is only the beginning of a major humanitarian disaster which will sprout death for decades to come.

  7.  It is a commonly held belief by Serbs in the homeland and diaspora that the Hague Tribunal is one-sided, biased and politically motivated in its alleged pursuit of justice. The countries who were involved in breaking-up the former Yugoslavia, now use the Hague Tribunal to wash their hands of the wrong-doings they themselves committed. Most Serbs are of the opinion that the Hague Tribunal has no right to try Mr Slobodan Milosevic. It would be impossible for him to have a fair and just trial after extensive lobbying by the various sides involved in the civil war in the former Yugoslavia, after much mis-information and the demonisation of the Serbs by the media in general in recent years. Mr Milosevic should answer to the Serbian people and be tried in a Yugoslav court only. If politicians and decision makers in the west responsible for killing more than 2,000 innocent people, many of whom were children, for using illegal cluster bombs and for the destruction and contamination of the country would be subjected to a trial themselves, then Serbs would likely agree to the Serbian decision makers being sent for trial to the Hague. All the main officers and judges at the Hague are from the West or have been appointed by countries who intervened in Yugoslavia and did damage to the country.

  8.  The United States and Germany are not only encouraging, but aiding the separagraphgraphtist aims of Montenegro from Yugoslavia. Croatia is particularly interested in having a weaker Yugoslavia as a neighbour. In 1999 Montenegro received funds of $54 million from the United States. In the same year started to use the German mark as a parallel currency to the Yugoslav dinar, and then dropped the dinar in favour of the DM. The Deutsche Bank sent thirty four a half tonnes of coins to aid the circulation of the German Marks in Montenegro. The consignment arrived by a Dutch carrier at Cilipe Airport, Dubrovnik, on the 5 November 1999, and was then transported immediately from Croatia to Montenegro. This operation could only have been done with the full knowledge and approval of the German Government. During the sanctions on Yugoslavia, Milo Djukanovic, the President of Montenegro, a staunch advocate of separagraphgraphtism, was deeply involved with others in sanctions busting, smuggling petrol, cigarettes, alcohol, etc. The West used him to help oust Milosevic, and to break-up Yugoslavia further. If Montenegro leaves the Yugoslav Federation that will make way for Kosovo to break away from Serbia and Yugoslavia, which is the aim of some powers in the West.

  9.  The Governments of NATO who instigated intervention into Yugoslavia, are not fulfilling the main terms of UN Resolution 1244 and the Kumanovo Military-Technical Agreement. They are acting in Kosovo as an occupying force and do in the Provinces what they wish. They are in breach of UN Resolution 1244 as follows:

    —  The sovereignty and integrity of the Republic of Serbia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia has been systematically undermined and broken (Resolution 1244, paragraph 10.8).

    —  There is total disregard for human rights of Serbs, Slavic Albanians, Romas, Turks, Gorans and other minorities.

    —  Albanian extremists have not been disarmed and demilitarised (paragraph 9b).

    —  Properties and personal possessions of citizens in Kosovo have not been safeguarded and guaranteed. Conditions for the safe return of refugees and flow of humanitarian aid has not been met (paragraph 9c).

    —  There is no freedom of movement, and no public order (paragraph 9d).

    —  The borders between FRJ with Albania and Macedonia are not secure and properly guarded (UN Resolution 1244, paragraph 9g).

    —  The Resolution states that after one year 1,500 Yugoslav army and Police should return to Kosovo. Without any explanation this has not been allowed. (UN Resolution 1244, paragraph 4.6.10, and Military Technical Agreement, paragraph 4).

  10.  Since NATO entered Kosovo on the 12 June 1999, as at today there have been 5,681 violent incidents and abuses of human rights against the ethnic minorities. Every day Serbs and non-Albanians are being murdered, kidnapped and intimidated by Albanian extremists. Bombing of properties, stoning and robberies take place as we write this statement. By January 2001, 1,197 Serbs, Romas, Slavic Albanians, Turks and Gorans have been killed, recent victims were an elderly Serb couple who had their throats slashed in their home in Obilic on the 29 December 2000. 1,314 kidnapped, some of whom are now presumed dead. One of the last kidnapped was a Serb Zoran Stankovic in the village of Rakovac. We have drawn attention of the plight of the kidnapped citizens to the Foreign Office and other bodies, but to no avail. Even moderate Albanians who do not co-operate with these extremists, suffer at their hands. KFOR and UNMIK deal only partially with the perpetrators of these crimes, almost all cases remain unsolved. M Bernard Kouchner, the out-going head of the United Nations Civilian Mission in Kosovo, admitted on the 13 January 2001, in his farewell speech in Pristina that "UNMIK had failed to protect the non-Albanian population in Kosovo". He further admitted that more than 100,000 Serbs had left the Province since the arrival of NATO troops.

  11.  The border between Albania and Macedonia and Kosovo is not properly guarded. Since June 1999 to mid-January 2001, an estimated 450,000 Albanians from Albania proper and Macedonia have got into Kosovo, and now live there illegally. This will upset further the demographical balance, and certainly make a multi ethnic and peaceful Province even more difficult to achieve. Some of these Albanians are responsible for the present crime rate in Kosovo. They are involved in smuggling arms, drug trafficking and prostitution. It is a fact that one of the main routes for the drugs trafficking from the middle east to the west is via Albania and Kosovo. Illegal immigrants are also being smuggled via Kosovo and Bosnia to the Western Europe.

  12.  To date 112 Churches and cultural monuments have been completely or partially destroyed. They are of immense historical and spiritual importance for the Serbian nation, and the continued destruction of these sacred monuments is looked upon by Serbian people with anger and bitterness. We are dismayed to learn that recently the Italian General, Carlo Cabiogioso, military commander in Kosovo, has given the task of protecting these Serbian Churches to the Kosovo Protection Corps. This is in contravention of UN Resolution 1244, whose terms were that the Serb Police should come and guard these religious monuments after one year. Some of the Albanian members of this Kosovo Protection Corps are the same people in the KLA who destroyed these Serbian Orthodox Churches in the first place. Only ten days ago another Church in Kosovo, the Church of Saint Nikolaj in the village of Opterusa was destroyed. The churchyard has been turned into a parking lot. The aim of the Albanian extremists is to destroy everything that is proof of Serbian Orthodox Christianity, history and culture. Urgent action needs to be taken to safeguard the remaining Churches in Kosovo. They are not only important for Serbian culture but for our common European heritage.

  13.  The International Community has failed to contain the nationalism and separagraphtism of the Albanians in the Serbian Province of Kosovo. It has been lenient to the Albanian extremists, even encouraged them. The KLA was only ever partially disarmed. The military structure of the KLA was not dismantled but incorporated into a new organisation now named the "Kosovo Protection Corps". Proof of this can be seen in recent incidents in southern Serbia, where several Serbian policemen have been killed. The same military tactics, formation, insignia, and even the same people who previously belonged to the KLA, now attack again the Serbian security forces on the other side of the border from Kosovo. "Presevo Valley" is referred to by the Government and in debates in Parliament as the only part of south Serbia under attack by Albanian terrorists. This is not correct. Albanian extremists are attacking Serbian Security Forces throughout the length of the border area, which is 220 kilometres long, in a line—Presevo, Bujanovac, Medvedja. The situation in southern Serbia is much more grave than is presented to the House.

  14.  The Government and Foreign Office are grossly exaggerating the numbers of civilians killed prior to NATO entering Kosovo. The Minister for Europe, in correspondence with this organisation states that 10,000 civilians were killed by Serbian security forces. Several teams of international forensic scientists, have examined 156 sites in Kosovo and found 2,788 bodies. We deeply regret the loss of any life but so far claims of mass graves have proved unfounded and wildly exaggerated. We have asked the said Minister for Europe on two occasions how many of those 2,788 bodies found in Kosovo, were: (a) Albanians killed in combat battle with Serbian security forces; (b) Albanians and Serbs killed by NATO bombs; (c) Serbs killed by Albanian terrorists. We have not received any reply to this question, either from the Minister, or from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. These results are logged and the Foreign Office must know about them. The Government is manipulating the number of civilian casualties in order to justify the bombing of Yugoslavia and to cover up it's own misdeeds. Mr William Cohen, the US Defence Secretary, claimed on the 16 May 1999 that 100,000 civilians had been killed in Kosovo by Serb security forces. The Prime Minister has been heard to quote this figure too.

  15.  The international community is doing nothing to provide safe and secure conditions for the return to Kosovo of the 280,000 Serbs, Slavic Albanians, Romas, Gorans and Turks who have been driven out of their homes. I was in Kosovo in May 2000 and my impression is that UNMIK and KFOR, whose mandate is to guarantee the safety of persons and their property are more often ready to help non-Albanians move out of Kosovo than help the refugees get back. As KFOR and UNMIK are not able to protect the existing minorities in Kosovo, as just stated by M Kouchner on 13 January 2001 (paragraph 10), it follows that they are not able to make conditions right for the non-Albanians to return to their homes. The United Nations bodies and KFOR are not dealing firmly enough with extremism and terrorism in the Province. To do so would be to have the Albanians against them, and consequently that would cause casualties. The success of the British troops in Kosovo can be judged by the fact that before they arrived in the Province 46,000 Serbs lived in Pristina alone, now after one and a half years, just a few hundred remain.

  16.  The Serbs did not take part in the elections in Kosovo on the 28 October 2000. This was because they had not been able to express their own free will, choose their candidate and canvas for them. Non-Albanians were denied their basic human rights. Serbs cannot even go to Church on Sundays nor go to the graves of their loved ones without the protection of KFOR. The election was unfair and undemocratical, and in contravention of UN Resolution 1244. It was carried out in an atmosphere of murder, brutality and intimidation by Albanian extremists on minorities. 280,000 refugees "ethnically cleansed", were not able to vote in these elections. However, several of the 450,000 Albanians who have got into Kosovo illegally, did vote. The election was forced unfairly on the non-Albanian population by M Bernard Kouchner, the administrator of Kosovo, whose ambition was to have the first elections in Kosovo before being relieved from his duties.

  17.  The Press and the media in general are lacking in reporting events in Kosovo. Many events about the recent elections in Serbia, some even trivial, had publicity, whilst murders, kidnapping and the general plight of the non-Albanian people in Kosovo had hardly any news coverage. There is a huge difference in the quantity and quality of news broadcast prior to and during the intervention of NATO in Yugoslavia, and now. News on Kosovo is sporadic, without follow ups and in-depth reporting. The BBC and other media give the impression to the public that they are present in Kosovo, and what isn't reported upon does not happen. The BBC did not report on "ethnic cleansing" of the non-Albanian population, after NATO entered Kosovo and now. There is no news of how the refugees and their children are surviving in the numerous refugee camps in Yugoslavia. We did, however, see much concern when the Albanians and their children were affected. We believe that the spin doctors of the Government are marginalising the problems in Kosovo in order to present to the public that intervention into Yugoslavia was a "success story". Also one part of the "patriotic press" does not want to write about the inability of KFOR and the British troops to control the situation in the Province as they don't want to undermine the British Army.

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