NOTHING IS FOREVER, Part II

Borba100 at SPAMaol.com Borba100 at SPAMaol.com
Sat Jun 3 01:56:44 MDT 2000


NOTHING IS FOREVER - INTERVIEW WITH WARREN ZIMMERMAN, LAST US AMBASSADOR TO
SOCIALIST YUGOSLAVIA  - PART II

DANAS: Washington used to firmly advocate human rights in Kosovo, but now
there is only mention of Croatia.

Jared comments: This is hyperbole. Washington's real concern about Croatia
was that it not work against the Islamists in Bosnia. Indeed, Washington
hired the MPRI, a semi-private military outfit made up of 'retired' officers
and CIA types to train the Croatian army which continued to be used primarily
against Serbian civilians.

Zimmerman: I am glad you asked that question, so I can clarify things. The
violation of rights of Albanians in Kosovo in my opinion is the worst
violation of human rights, and at this moment, there is none worse in Europe.
It was somewhat peaceful in Kosovo last year, but the basic colonial nature
of Serbian control has not changed. We have not lost interest in that issue,
and we will not lose interest until it is solved. I cannot imagine a final
political solution coming out of The Hague and Brussels that would only deal
with Croatia. It has to encompass the rights of everyone; thus also the
problems in Kosovo.

Jared comments: Zimmerman was the Ambassador to Yugoslavia. Coming from him,
this is a clear statement of support for Kosovo secessionism. Why? Because a)
there was a strong secessionist movement in Kosovo at the time; b)
international law, expressed the Helsinki Accords, forbade the redrawing of
national borders. However, international law did allow for self-determination
for colonies. So by calling Kosovo a colony Zimmerman was making a sneaky
argument for secession.

In fact, Zimmerman's statement is nonsense.

First, Albanians were not oppressed in Yugoslavia. Ethnic Albanian unrest was
based on beliefs: they wanted to recreate the World War II entity, Greater
Albania, and they wanted Kosovo to be Serb-and-"Gypsy"-free. In this sense
their attitude had much in common with some whites in the segregationist
south. Many news articles during the 1980s report that it was Serbs, not
Albanians, who were oppressed in pre-1989 Kosovo. (2)

Colonialism means exploitation: the Colony is organized to serve the needs of
the Imperial Power. Thus in the African colonies, railroad lines were built
fanning out from coastal ports so that raw materials could easily be taken
out of the country. Everything is best in the Imperial country. Everything is
worst in the Colony.

This was dramatically not the case in Kosovo; Kosovo was poor, but not due to
exploitation. As engineers Tika Jankovic and Petar Makara point out, the
engineering school in Pristina (Kosovo) had the finest modern equipment,
whereas the engineering school in Belgrade (inner Serbia) had to make do with
pre-World War II equipment as late as the 1970s. (3)

Such anecdotal evidence is supported by the NY Times. The following was
written in 1984, before the Times adopted an anti-Serbian policy:

"Yugoslavia's Albanians: Poor, Proud and Prolific
By Michael T. Kaufman

..."The thrust toward republic status, for example, is in large measure
motivated by the clause in the Yugoslav Constitution that technically permits
any republic to secede.

"As explained by a knot of [Albanian] students in Pristina, this right to
withdraw could pave way for creating a greater Albania, linking Kosovo with
the present Albania... with the capital shifting from Tirana to Pristina...

"The students had no answers as to how such a nation could support itself...

"[U]nder the complicated transfer arrangement, Kosovo receives
70 percent of its budget from the richer components of the Yugoslav
union...." ('New York Times', October 5, 1984)
DANAS: Croatia and Slovenia offered a year ago the confederacy solution akin
to what Izetbegovic is proposing today. But the clock cannot be turned back.

Zimmerman: Obviously, it is too late for that now. We are aiming for a
dissolution of Yugoslavia into independent states peacefully, and when any
new union is constructed – if it is constructed – it would have to be founded
on sovereign decisions. In other words, it has to be built from the bottom
up, rather than from top to the bottom.

DANAS: All Croatian politicians agree that it is necessary first to secure
independence and sovereignty, and only then decide on future links.

Zimmerman: I recall the words of Pierre Lavalle, prime minister of the Vichy
government who made a tremendous mistake by collaborating with the Germans
but still said something very wise: "Governments come and go, but the
geography is eternal. France will forever remain Germany’s neighbor." Croatia
will remain a neighbor of Serbia, and I hope it will be possible to soon
normalize the relations that geography makes inevitable.

DANAS: De Gaulle thought otherwise. Many were surprised by the news that you
spent the New Year’s eve at a peace demonstration with the Serbian
opposition. Some said immediately that this is the sign that both sides – the
UN and the US – want a different Serbia and different Serbian leaders.

Zimmerman: I went to this vigil to show our strong support to cessation of
hostilities, and I think Mr. Vance had the same reasons. The peace movement
in Serbia is a sort of an opposition. It does not accept war. It opposes the
government responsible for that war. We support them in their demands for
peace. We consider it especially important – not only in Serbia - that the
political opposition is free to act. But in Serbia, this is not the case.
Opposition leader Vuk Draskovic was just indicted for some things that
happened at the March 9 demonstrations last year. The media, especially
television, are hostile to all opponents of the government, and that will
have to change if Serbia has any aspirations towards democracy. On that
occasion, we did not support any specific party [except for being against the
one chosen by the people – PM] but we advocated democratic norms and values,
values of peace and free press.

Jared comments: Zimmerman's support for Vuk Draskovic is interesting. Before
the Croatian and Slovenian secession, Draskovic was a Tarzan Nationalist - a
real chest beater and it was in this guise that he opposed Milosevich who was
for the continuation of Yugoslavia. But then Draskovic advocated a policy of
non-resistance when the Yugoslav Army was attacked in its barracks, and when
Serbs were attacked as well.

Note also how Zimmerman uses his continued presence in Belgrade: he
encourages the breakup of Yugoslavia and threatens Belgrade if it tries to
stop it.

DANAS: Your statements have been frequently attacked in Belgrade and in
Croatia...

Zimmerman: And Slovenia and Montenegro...

DANAS: But which one of your critical remarks would you say again in regard
to Croatia?

Zimmerman: Croatia is a democratic state, but it is a young democracy tempted
by war.

Jared comments: This is amazing.

This new 'democratic' state was a conscious imitation of the Independent
State of Croatia, notorious in World War II for creating Jasenovac, the first
death camp, in which about a million Serbs, 'Gypsies', Jews and antifascists
were killed using the most horrifying methods.

The new Independent State of Croatia, under Franjo Tudjman, a holocaust
denier, brought back the Fascist Croatian flag, the currency, the army
uniforms, and the straight-arm salute. It renamed streets after leaders of
the Ustashi fascists; its constitution defined Croatia as a racial state (a
state of ethnic Croats, not, like Serbia, a state of all its citizens,
regardless of ethnicity.)

The 'democratic elections' took place in an atmosphere of terror and with
vast sums pumped in from Germany and other Western sources and from
pro-fascist Croatians abroad. The HOS (Croatian Military Group) harassed and
killed Serbs and opponents of the regime. The method of identification was
straightforward. First, everyone was ordered to sign a pledge of allegiance.
Serbs and antifascists who refused to sign this pledge to the resurrected
Ustashi state were first fired from their jobs, then fired at.

The loyalty oath did not ferret out all the undesirable elements. So the HOS
ordered everyone to display the Croatian (fascist) checkerboard flag in their
window. This flag is the Croatian equivalent of the swastika. Then the HOS
went from street to street and harassed or beat up or killed those (whether
Serbian or Croatian) who refused to display the flag.

The HOS dynamited the homes of undesirables, often with the people inside.
Jews lived in fear. Tens of thousands of Serbs were driven out - perhaps
300,000 even before the forced exodus from the Krajina in 1995.

By referring to this terrorized territory as a "young democratic state"
Zimmerman made perfectly clear that he approved of the HOS actions. His mild
rebukes were cosmetic: made for the sake of appearance.

The American media suppressed the the news about Croatia. Most people never
learned there was an anti-Serbian terror.

There were a few exceptions to the press blackout. One was an article in the
'New York Times' which I have posted after the interview. It appeared rather
late, in 1997, well after Croatia had finished purging 600,000 Serbs. The
article is a bit odd. The writer, Chris Hedges, suggests that fascists were
just then becoming powerful in Croatia, whereas this had actually happened
years earlier, in 1990, '91 and '92. Perhaps Hedges wrote the article in the
early 1990s and the Times editors held it back until the fascists had
completed their Western-assigned tasks: declaring independence and driving
out the Serbs. In the article Hedges fails to mention the 600,000 or so Serbs
driven out of Croatia during the first half of the decade. An oversight.

Most of these people live as destitute refugees in Serbia.

Take a look at the pictures I've posted below and then we'll return to
Zimmerman and see how he offers criticisms which whitewash Croatia's
terrorist purge of Serbs and government critics.

 [Note: A picture goes here. It cannot be duplicated in this email post, but
you can check it out at http://emperors-clothes.com/interviews/nothing.htm ]

CAPTION: Above is Ante Pavelic, Ustashi [Fascist-Clerical] leader of World
War II Nazi Croatia shown with his Fascist flag `

[A second picture goes here. It cannot be duplicated in this email post, but
you can check it out at http://emperors-clothes.com/interviews/nothing.htm ]

CAPTION: Here is the committee that ruled Croatia at the time Zimmerman gave
his interview. Notice that the old Ustashi flag is above them, on the left,
and the re-issue is on the right. The men are: General Josip Boljkovac;
General Martin Spegelj, who made the remark that "[The Serbian city of] Knin
must be butchered...including children in the cradle;" Stipe Mesic, whom the
European Community imposed on Yugoslavia as its last President. (Though Mesic
was part of Franjo Tudjman's fascist machine, he has been recycled as the
much hailed "liberal" President of Croatia. His uncle was SS Officer Marko
Mesic) and General Franjo Tudjman, then President of neo-fascist Croatia.
Tudjman's book 'Wasteland' suggested that Jews, not the Ustashi, slaughtered
the Serbs at the Jasenovac concentration camp complex.

In 1943 Tito, head of the Yugoslav partisans, proclaimed an unusual policy:
any Croatian Ustashi (Fascist) officer who came over to the Partisan side
would keep his rank. Seeing that Italy had crumbled and that their beloved
Nazi Germany was destined to lose, large numbers of Ustashi made the switch
to the Partisans between 1943 and 1945, thus joining the winning side. There
is evidence that Franjo Tudjman forged papers, making it appear that he had
been an anti-fascist during the war, when in fact he was a fascist, from a
fascist family.

Now back to Zimmerman.

Zimmerman: That is why it is difficult to be overtly critical. But as you
will soon become a universally recognized state, it seems that the issues of
free press, political opposition and minority rights will come under closer
scrutiny than they have been until now. War can be an excuse for limiting the
freedom of expression, though I personally think it is hard to find
circumstances that would justify such actions. Once the war is over, that
excuse will no longer exist, and it will be very important for Croatia to
re-examine all its standards against the international and European
principles and then firmly adhere to them. Allow me to mention two examples
where I was disappointed. It seems that a certain number of Serbs living in
Zagreb and Croatia are leaving the city and the country, including those who
have advocated moderate policies and were not nationalists. They could be a
significant part of Croatian democracy, and if they are leaving due to
intolerance I hope that will soon be overcome. The other case has already
been solved, but I mention it because it was very important both to me and to
Cyrus Vance. It regards the siege of the barracks, when the families of JNA
soldiers were treated in an unfair manner. But personally, I have full
confidence that the Croatian democracy will grow and expand. The United
States has a very positive opinion about the current developments.

Jared comments: So after the fascist regime has done its job - driven out the
Serbs and intimidated pro-Yugoslav forces - it will have to adopt a slicker
appearance so as to fit the look of European 'democracies.' But as for 1992:
"The United States has a very positive opinion about the current
developments." That says it all.

DANAS: You mentioned Mr. Cyrus Vance. He was a US Secretary of State, so some
claim he is only the extended arm of Washington right now.

Zimmerman: He is, of course, a representative of the UN Secretary-General,
but also a very respectable American and a former official of the American
government, which I think all the leaders of the Republics that he had met
understand very well. This does not sound like a bad thing to me.

DANAS: Some sort of dual guarantee?

Zimmerman: I wouldn’t use that term, but I would say that the US government
completely supports everything Vance does on behalf of the UN. The Yugoslav
crisis is a great challenge for the UN. If the peacekeepers come – and we
hope they will – that would be the largest endeavor the UN have ever
undertaken. I don’t even have to mention the challenges and complexities they
will face. Let us hope this endeavor will be successful, but in order for
that to happen, all sides must honor their obligations.

***

(1) The invasion of Serbian Krajina by Greg Elich at
http://www.emperors-clothes.com/articles/elich/krajina.html

(2) Kosovo Before 1989 - What Really Happened? at
http://www.emperors-clothes.com/interviews/tika.htm

(3) 1980's news stories about Kosovo at
http://www.emperors-clothes.com/articles/benworks/1980news.html

(4) The 'NY Times' article on Croatia is posted after the fund-raising appeal.

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Fascists Reborn as Croatia's Founding Fathers
By CHRIS HEDGES

The old fascist marching songs were sung, a moment of silence was observed
for all who died defending the fatherland, and the gathering was reminded
that today was the 57th anniversary of the founding of Croatia's Nazi-allied
wartime government. Then came the most chilling words of the afternoon.

"For Home!" shouted Anto Dapic, surrounded by bodyguards in black suits and
crew cuts.

"Ready!" responded the crowd of 500 supporters, their arms rising in a stiff
Nazi salute.

The call and response -- the Croatian equivalent of "Sieg!" "Heil!" -- was
the wartime greeting used by supporters of the fascist Independent State of
Croatia, which governed the country for most the Second World War and
murdered hundreds of thousands of Jews, Serbs and Croatian resistance
fighters.

Today, in the final day of campaigning before local elections on Sunday,
supporters of Croatia's Party of Rights used the chant as a rallying cry. But
the shouts of the black-shirted young men -- and the indifferent reactions of
passersby -- illustrated a broader aspect of this country's self-image.

President Franjo Tudjman and his Croatian Democratic Union party rose to
popularity and power on the strength of its appeals to Croatians' national
pride. Now, six years after the war that won Croatia its independence from
Yugoslavia, Mr. Tudjman's party continues to cast the World War II fascist
fighters as patriots and precursors of the modern Croatian state.

The Party of Rights took only 7 percent of the vote in the last election, but
it is the closest ally of Mr. Tudjman, who is reported to be suffering from
cancer but who has still campaigned actively.

Perhaps no other country has failed as openly as Croatia to come to terms
with its fascist legacy. While the French celebrate a resistance movement
that was often dwarfed by the widespread collaboration with the Vichy regime,
and while the Austrians often act as if the war never happened, the Croats
have rehabilitated the Croatian fascist collaborators, known as the Ustashe.

The Ustashe was led by Ante Pavelic, the wartime dictator whose picture was
plastered on walls in Split in preparation for the rally.

"A majority of the Croats oppose this rehabilitation," said Viktor Ivancic,
editor in chief of the opposition weekly, The Feral Tribune. "But they are
afraid. These neo-fascist groups, protected by the state, are ready to employ
violence against their critics."

Ustashe veterans receive larger pensions than old Partisan fighters, who
waged a savage fight against the German and Croatian fascist armies. Former
Ustashe soldiers are invited to state celebrations, like the annual army day,
while Partisan fighters are ignored. And state authorities have stood by as
pro-Ustashe groups have dismantled or destroyed 2,964 of 4,073 monuments to
those who died in the resistance struggle, according to veteran Partisan
groups.

The identification with the quisling regime does not stop there. The Croatian
currency is the kuna, the same instituted by the fascists. And the red and
white checkerboard on the flag, taken from medieval Croatian emblems,
previously adorned the Ustashe uniform. The President recently proposed
bringing Mr. Pavelic's remains from Spain, where he died in exile in 1959,
for burial in Croatia, a move rejected by Mr. Pavelic's family. And Vinko
Nikolic, an 85-year-old former high-ranking Ustashe official who fled into
exile after the war, was appointed by the President to the Croatian
Parliament.

The transformation is all the more noticeable because of widespread
participation by many Croats in the Partisan guerrilla movement led by Josip
Broz Tito, himself a Croat.

"A huge number of Croats fought the Nazis and the Ustashe," said
77-year-Partisan veteran Milivoj Borosa, who defected in his bomber in 1942
from the Ustashe air force and dropped his payload on a German unit during
his escape to the Soviet Union. "But today, those who should hold their heads
in shame, are national heroes."

The Partisans, who included among their ranks the young Franjo Tudjman,
committed what today is viewed as an unforgivable sin. They built a united,
Communist Yugoslavia. And while the Ustashe state may have been a Nazi
puppet, it had as its stated aim the establishment of an independent Croatia,
although it was forced by the Axis to turn over large parts of Croatia,
including much of the Dalmatian coast, to the Italians.

In the current campaign, President Tudjman sought to reconcile the country's
wartime divisions by arguing that the fascist and anti-fascist Croatians
performed equally valuable service for their country. A general who became a
historian after leaving the Yugoslav Army, Mr. Tudjman is among the leaders
of a revisionist school of history that has sought to counterbalance the
Communists' relentlessly dark view of the fascist years.

But many Croats, especially those who had relatives killed by the fascists,
smolder with indignation over the glorification of a regime that massacred
opponents with a ferocity that often shocked its Italian and German allies.

"You cannot reconcile victims and butchers," said Ognjen Kraus, the head of
Zagreb's small Jewish community. "No one has the right to carry out a
reconciliation in the name of those who vanished."

The climate has become so charged that those who oppose the rehabilitation of
the Ustashe do not dare raise their voices. And there have been several
attacks carried out against members of the Social Democratic Party, the old
Communist party, currently fielding candidates for the municipal elections.
Many of the black-uniformed bodyguards at the rally here fought against the
Serbs as members of The Croatian Liberation Forces, a brutal right-wing
paramilitary unit formed by the party.

The Ustashe supporters also have a powerful ally in the Catholic Church in
Croatia. The church, led during the war by Archbishop Alojzije Stepinac, was
a prominent backer of the Ustashe regime. It forcibly converted tens of
thousands of Orthodox Serbs and did not denounce the government's roundup and
massacre of Jews and Serbs.

During the war, Jews and Orthodox Serbs were subject to racial laws. The
Serbs had to wear blue arm bands with the letter "P" for "Pravoslav" --
Orthodox -- before being deported to death camps like Jasenovac.

After the war, many priests, rather than condemn the brutality of the fascist
regime, went on to set up an underground network know as "the rat line" to
smuggle former Ustashe leaders, including Mr. Pavelic, to countries like
Argentina.

The church, persecuted by the Communists, has now re-emerged as one of the
most powerful institutions in the country, in large part because religion is
the only tangible difference separating Serbs, Muslims and Croats. Several
priests have enthusiastically joined the rehabilitation campaign, portraying
Mr. Pavelic as a pious leader who championed Christian values.

"Ante Pavelic was a good Catholic," said Father Luka Prcela, who has held a
memorial Mass for the former dictator in Split for the last four years. "He
went to mass daily in his own chapel. Many of the crimes alleged to have been
committed by his Government never happened. These stories were lies spread by
the communists. He fought for a free, Catholic Croatia. We have this state
today because of him." ((c) The New York Times, April 12, 1997)

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