Documents of the Supreme Defense Council show that Belgrade provided financial support to the war efforts of the Serbs in Bosnia and Krajina (3)

The minutes of the Supreme Defense Council meetings admitted into evidence at the Momcilo Perisic trial show that Belgrade provided more than just personnel and logistical support but transferred vast sums to the Serbs in Bosnia and Krajina and their armies. The relevant minutes of the Supreme Defense Council meetings can be accessed here

Stenographic records of the FRY Supreme Defence CouncilStenographic records of the FRY Supreme Defence Council

At the meeting of the Supreme Defense Council on 10 February 1993, the federal prime minister Radoje Kontic complained that he was ‘getting into a panic’ because the army ‘has placed new demands that are around 800 million dollars this year’, adding, ‘the Republic of Serbian Krajina requested 341 million dollars per month, and the total budget of the FRY amounts to 320 billion per months’. Finally, Kontic complained that ‘if there is a need for helping the Republika Srpska, we have to do it again from the fund for special purposes because the Army has no funds for such purposes. I can assure you that in four to five months we will face a situation where Topcider [printing enterprise] will not be able to print that amount of money. The situation is more than tragic.’

At the 9th meeting of the Supreme Defense Council in June 1993, Slobodan Milosevic said, ‘We gave 19,000 billion as military aid in the first quarter [...] the war option in Bosnia is exhausted […] now that a half of Bosnia has been offered to them, I think it is the time for the peace option. We are not able to finance a war option any longer’. The minutes of the Supreme Defense Council meetings nevertheless show that Milosevic continued to finance ‘the war option’ in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

At the 17th meeting of the Supreme Defense Council in early 1994, the Chief of the VJ General Staff Momcilo Perisic spoke about the requirements of the VJ: 2,325,000,000 dollars, with about 850,000,000 going to the VRS and SVK. Almost 27 million dollars were earmarked to cover the payroll for about 16,000 officers. According to the minutes of the 19th meeting of the Supreme Defense Council, the Bosnian Serbs expected the FRY to give them 522 million dollars. The money was supposed to pay for ‘equipment, scientific research work, construction of military facilities and configuration of terrain, housing construction and strategic war reserves’.

At the 22nd meeting of the Supreme Defense Council held on 11 July 1994, defense minister Pavle Bulatovic delivered the message from the VRS and the SVK: ‘Unless they receive assistance, this state will bear responsibility for their future’. After the Bosnian Serbs rejected the peace plan tabled by the Contact Group, Milosevic said at the Supreme Defense Council meetings held in August and September 1994 that ‘they have never acknowledged the great sacrifice made by our people!’.‘The biggest moral tragedy is – during three years all these 11 million people in the FRY gave their utmost. Really. There are no examples in the world that some nation expressed such solidarity with a part of its nation out of the borders! And after all, it turns out that we owe them something?!’, Milosevic said.

General Perisic often used ‘security threats’ to the FRY as an argument in support of a continued financial support to the Republika Srpska and the Republic of Serbian Krajina. At the 27th meeting Perisic said: ‘If you put it like this: we cannot provide means since we don’t have them; we won’t even give them this thing – it will speed up the process of disintegration of the Army, loss of territory. It reflects, in several important ways, to the security of the FRY’.

At the 30th meeting of the Supreme Defense Council on 9 December 1994, Milosevic conditioned the continued financial support to Republika Srpska on their signing the peace agreement. ‘I propose to immediately notify our dear associates from the Army that we will decided that the budget is going to be 2.5 billion under one condition – that they persuade their friend, headed by Ratko Mladic, to sign the peace agreement immediately. The sanctions against us would be lifted and there would be no problem for the Army to have the budget of 3 billion...Then you can spend it on salaries, combat readiness, or whatever you like!’ Perisic replied: ‘I am a general and why should I persuade Mladic to do that? It is easier for four of you Presidents to persuade another President!’

The VRS continued to receive funds even after the Dayton agreements were signed. In the minutes of the 56th meeting of the Supreme Defense Council on 5 September 1996, Milosevic is recorded as saying: ‘We are providing them with material aid now. Now we need to help those guys considered as loyal officers by the General Staff. They should be treated like that...They should be given salaries in order to prevent those idiots from Pale to strengthen and in order to prevent them from manipulating with those children’. Finally, the conclusions from that meeting state that ‘by the end of 1996 additional finance need to be secured for the VJ budget in amount of 2,788,544 dinars gross to provide monetary assistance for the salaries of non-commissioned and commissioned officers who have completed their education at the Military Schools Center in Banja Luka’ and the same amount for the following year.

Finally, at the 58th meeting of the Supreme Defense Council on 21 November 1996, Perisic presented an account of the financial support to the VRS for that year. ‘The extraordinary costs that we had are as follows: we spent 4 million dinars on control of weapons, 46 million dinars on flights, 120 million dinars on default interests […] 22 million dinars on increase of combat readiness, 4 million dinars on prevention of cattle disease. We spent 6 million dinars on salaries of persons from the RS Army.’

General Momcilo Perisic is charged with providing personnel, logistic and financial support to the Serb armies in Bosnia and Croatia; this support contributed substantially to the crimes committed by the soldiers of those armies in Sarajevo, Srebrenica and Zagreb. The trial was completed on 31 March 2011. The judges indicated that the judgment would be delivered ‘in due time’.