In order to “bring to reason” Karadzic, Krajisnik and the other Bosnian Serb leaders who were “too scared to think rationally”, Slobodan Milosevic and Dobrica Cosic “spoke words that were music to their ears” – witness Vladislav Jovanovic claims. That is how, as Jovanovic explains it, phrases as “ethnic borders”, “living in a single state”, “legalization of the factual situation” etc. found their way into the minutes from the sessions of the Council for the Harmonization of State Policy

Vladislav Jovanovic, defense witness for MilosevicVladislav Jovanovic, defense witness for Milosevic

In the first half of the nineties Vladislav Jovanovic was the foreign minister of Serbia and FRY and in the second half he was Yugoslavia’s permanent representative in the United Nations. During that period, four prime ministers followed in succession as heads of the government in the republic and the federation, but Jovanovic, as the prosecutor noted today, was the “constant” and a “trusted associate of the accused” Slobodan Milosevic throughout the decade.

Despite his high rank, Jovanovic claims to have been kept in the dark about many things prosecutor Geoffrey Nice grilled him about in the cross-examination. For instance, Jovanovic was “not aware” of the support provided by Serbia to the Serbs in Croatia and BH; he “did not know” about the JNA’s shelling of Dubrovnik; he “had no knowledge” of the fact that the JNA was arming the Bosnian Serbs; he “had no information” about whether Milosevic ever “publicly condemned Mladic and ordered an investigation into Srebrenica events.”

The prosecutor, however, does not believe that. Several times today, he put it to the witness that his claims were “absurd”, that he “did not tell the truth”, that he was “leading the Chamber astray” and that he was doing that “in order to protect the accused” Milosevic.

Jovanovic rejected the prosecutor's suggestions and at one point retorted sharply that the prosecutor did “not have the right to call him a liar”. The witness applied to the Chamber for protection and listed witnesses who could corroborate his statements. Presiding Judge Robinson explained to him that it was not the duty of the Chamber to call witnesses to corroborate his testimony; if the accused wanted to do so, he could.

The prosecutor continued tendering into evidence numerous documents whose authenticity the witness was compelled to confirm, much as he was reluctant to do so, as those were diplomatic dispatches addressed to him, UN Security Council resolutions submitted to him or minutes from the meetings he had attended. Among the documents were several minutes from the sessions of the Council for the Harmonization of State Policy, held in 1993 and attended by the top leaders of the FRY, Serbia, Montenegro, Republika Srpska and the then Republic of Serbian Krajina.

When asked by the prosecutor “whose views were harmonized there”, Jovanovic tried to explain that those were in fact efforts to help the “inexperienced” Milan Panic, American businessman picked by Milosevic to head the Yugoslav federal government in 1992. Panic “acted independently” and “could not find his way around” there, and he had to be “harmonized with the views of the federal and republican bodies”. The fact that Panic really was “out of line” and that he had to be “harmonized” is highlighted by a quote from a speech he made at one of the sessions of the Council. The then FRY prime minister says that he has just been informed that “the ethnic cleansing has begun and that 15,000 Muslims have been expelled from Sanski Most” by the Serbian authorities and forces there.

The prosecutor read out some other portions of the minutes from the sessions of the Council for the Harmonization of the State Policy, where the then president of the FRY Dobrica Cosic and the accused Slobodan Milosevic speak about the “ethnic borders” and the long-term goal of “life in a single state” and about the time it would take to “bring the legal situation in line with the factual one” – to legalize what has been captured by war and ethnic cleansing.

After hearing those quotes, Jovanovic expanded his explanation about the need to “harmonize Panic” with an explanation of a “therapeutic role” the Council played. He explained that Cosic, Milosevic and others spoke like that in order to “soothe the frustrated Bosnian Serb leaders who were afraid Izetbegovic was going to trick them.” Karadzic, Krajisnik, Mladic and other Pale leaders were “too afraid to think rationally,” the witness claims. That is why Cosic, Milosevic and Jovanovic himself “spoke words that were music to their ears in order to bring them to reason.”

Milosevic will conduct and complete the re-examination of Vladislav Jovanovic tomorrow.