CEAS announcement-Regarding the frequent fruitful communication of PM and presidental candidate Vučić with NATO GS and the upcoming anniversary of the NATO bombing

The Center for Euro-Atlantic Studies (CEAS) from Belgrade welcomes increasingly frequent and evidently fruitful communication of Prime Minister and presidential candidate Aleksandar Vučić with Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General.

The Prime Minister himself, with respect to the last conversation, praised: “When I finished talking with Stoltenberg, I almost cried the tears of joy. We have worked hard to change the image of Serbia, we have succeeded a little, and today I lived to hear Stoltenberg say - thank you, Aleksandar, for guarding peace and stability, thank you for your patience.”  

This trend is important bearing in mind:  the tensions in the region; presidential campaign in Serbia; the announced transformation of the Kosovo Security Forces into Kosovo Army, and the upcoming eighteenth anniversary of the NATO bombing of the Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia.

We remind you that the government of Prime Minister and presidential candidate Vučić has adopted and to some degree implemented the Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP) with NATO, which includes the obligation on the Government to inform citizens about its cooperation with NATO. At the same time, the Parliament has adopted legislation that allows members of the armed forces of Serbia and others to participate in missions involving NATO. Through funds established by NATO and member states, joint programs are being implemented, such as the one concerning the dismantling of ammunition in the Technical Repair Bureau in Kragujevac.  

Otherwise, with respect to the recent accident in the TRB Kragujevac, when 4 people lost their lives, NATO Secretary General immediately expressed his regrets. At the same time, the people of Serbia were almost unable to learn from our officials and commentators, government and pro-government media, the public fact that Serbia and NATO had been implementing a joint program at TRB.

Given that, in the meantime, a whole new generation of voters has matured, on the one hand, and that the position of the President of Serbia also includes powers related to the Army of Serbia and the National Security Council, we invite all public actors, and especially presidential candidates, to use the upcoming anniversary of the NATO bombing also as an occasion for a more responsible communication to the electorate on the causes, motives, the main actors, human and material losses during the armed conflicts in Kosovo, which preceded and significantly determined the duration of the NATO bombing of the SRY.

This in particular because, as much as we know, the government and candidate Vučić intend to organize in the same period, in the presence of Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu, the handover of MIG aircrafts from Russia. Russian officials and majority of the public in Serbia are still talking about thousands of killed Serbian civilians during the NATO bombing. At the same, the almost do not mention the Kosovo Albanian victims killed during the war in Kosovo.

By applying very precise methods with the crossing of data from multiple sources, the Humanitarian Law Center found, a few years ago, that from 24 March to 9 June 1999, 758 people were killed from the consequences of NATO airstrikes, of which 267 in central Serbia, ten in Montenegro and the rest in Kosovo and Metohija. Of these, 450 were civilians and around 300 were members of the Army of Yugoslavia, the Serbian Ministry of the Interior and the Kosovo Liberation Army.

From the beginning of 1998 until the end of 2000, for example, a total of about 13,500 people were killed in the conflicts in Kosovo, of which about 10,800 Albanians, 2,200 Serbs and 500 Roma and other non-Albanians. 

Already in 9 April 1999, the then UN Secretary-General expressed his “concern regarding the humanitarian tragedy” in Kosovo, about which even the bolder presidential candidates generally talk reluctantly or inaccurately.

We remind that there is a series of testimonies before the Hague Tribunal, on the basis of which rulings have already been passed, which mention the fact that in the areas of responsibility of the current Chief of Staff of the Army of Serbia Ljubiša Diković, a number of crimes were committed against Kosovo civilians that are still unprosecuted.

In view of the above, including a series of confessions of individuals from Serbia before Montenegrin courts about the planning of criminal acts during the election night in October last year in Montenegro,  and growing evidence of involvement of some Russian formally former officials, to the stabilization of which Prime Minister and presidential candidate Vučić  has been trying to contribute, we invite his election headquarters and himself to clearly state their position about the fact that that part of the media that is openly in favor of them refers to most of the publically anti-NATO or pro militarily neutral opposition candidates as the “NATO coalition”.

We insist on this because the mentioned media, for now without a single reaction from the election headquarters of Prime Minister Vučić or him personally, have been doing this not only in a pejorative sense to discourage the voters, but with insinuations that the “NATO coalition” will, in the election night in Serbia, organize incidents with unforeseeable consequences. We think that, by clearly defining who, why, how and how much the “NATO coalition” is, and particularly by stating whether it is an insult or a praise, the presidential candidates would demonstrate their commitment to providing true information to the voters, primarily the magnitude of the contribution of Prime Minister and candidate Vučić to the continued preservation of peace and stability in Serbia and the region, of which he boasts.

Belgrade,

9 March 2017