PUNISHMENT INSTEAD OF REWARD
According to former Serbian and FRY foreign minister Vladislav Jovanovic, international mediators saw Milosevic as a “negotiator who always preferred peace to war and a political solution to a military one, and always tried to find a compromise.” However, rather than to reward Serbia for it, the international community “imposed sanctions on it which it did not deserve at all.”
The testimony of Vladislav Jovanovic, former Serbian and FRY foreign minister, provided the accused Slobodan Milosevic with yet another chance to present his well-known views about who is responsible for the break-up of the former Yugoslavia and all the wars that ensued. Describing Milosevic’s views at the time as “principled and legalist”, Jovanovic confirmed all Milosevic’s arguments about “violent separatism”, first of Slovenia and Croatia and then of Bosnia and Herzegovina. He also confirmed the arguments about the hypocrisy of the European Community which convened the Peace Conference on Yugoslavia, promising to provide its “good offices” to the quarreling republics, only to “side with the secessionists” and declare others – Serbia and Montenegro – “non-cooperative” and imposing sanctions on them.
The judges pointed out several times that the testimony about “who started first” was of “little or no relevance”, warning the accused that his time for the presentation of evidence was not unlimited, and that he was “wasting it on things that have nothing to do with the charges” against him. They also pointed out to Milosevic on several occasions that by asking leading questions he was in fact devaluing the answers given by the witness. Milosevic questioned Jovanovic rather as a teacher would examine his favorite pupil: every question contained an answer.
Although Serbia – as Milosevic said and Jovanovic repeated – “was not in any way involved in the conflicts in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina,” the international mediators invited the then Serbian president to participate in the negotiations on a political settlement. They invited him, Jovanovic said, because “everyone saw in him a negotiator who always preferred peace to war and a political solution to a military one, and always tried to find a compromise that would satisfy the fundamental interests of all three constituent peoples.” “This is what they valued most in you,” Jovanovic concluded.
Milosevic’s efforts to make peace and to find a compromise failed, however, but others are to blame for that. Croatia, as Jovanovic explained, lost interest in finding a peaceful solution after it had been recognized as an independent state, and was awaiting its chance to “solve the Serbian question in another way”, having done it in 1995. On the other hand, according to Jovanovic, “part of the Muslim leadership in BH” deliberately prolonged the war, waiting for the international community to intervene. In the opinion of the witness, the BH leadership “was encouraged to do so from the outside, in order for NATO to have something to do, as it had lost its external enemy in the meantime.”
As a result of the failure of the peace plans “sanctions were imposed on Serbia, which it did not deserve at all - the one that should have been rewarded was punished instead,” Jovanovic concluded at the end of his testimony today. He is set to continue tomorrow.