1 Thursday, 21 May, 1998
2 (In open session)
3 --- Upon commencing at 9.08 a.m.
4 (The accused entered court)
5 (Witness entered court)
6 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Good morning, ladies and
7 gentlemen. Today we will continue with our work.
8 Registrar, would you please call out the number of the
10 THE REGISTRAR: IT-95-14/1-T, Prosecutor
11 against Zlatko Aleksovski.
12 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Appearances, please. For
13 the Prosecution, Mr. Neimann?
14 MR. NIEMANN: If Your Honours please, my name
15 is Niemann and I appear with my colleagues
16 Mr. Meddegoda and Ms. Erasmus for the Prosecution.
17 JUDGE RODRIGUES: For the Defence,
18 Mr. Mikulicic?
19 MR. MIKULICIC: Good morning, Your Honours.
20 My name is Goran Mikulicic and I represent the Defence
21 together with my colleague, Mr. Joka.
22 JUDGE RODRIGUES: We have a long day today.
23 In order to organise ourselves, I will tell you that we
24 have to have a break at 10.00 because we have the
25 Deputy -- the Chief Registrar here, so we will work
1 until 10.00, and then we will have a break of ten
2 minutes, then we will continue at 10.40 until noon.
3 After that, we will have a 20-minute break until 12.20,
4 until 13.30, then we will have a break of ten minutes
5 and we will work from 13.40 until 2.15, as I announced
7 Is this okay? Good day to our simultaneous
8 interpreters, the technicians. Is everybody ready?
10 Okay. In that case, Mr. Niemann?
11 MR. NIEMANN: Thank you, Your Honours. I
12 wonder if there has been a mis-translation because Your
13 Honours I think said that we would have a break at
14 10.00 for ten minutes and then continue at 10.40, which
15 wouldn't be right, if that was the case. Did Your
16 Honour say longer than ten minutes?
17 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Of 40 minutes, from 9.00 to
18 10.00. Yes, 40 minutes. Thank you very much.
19 JUDGE NIETO NAVIA: Just for the record, the
20 meeting at 10.00 is with the Under Secretary General of
21 the United Nations.
22 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Let it go in the record
23 that the 10.00 meeting ... of the Secretary General of
24 the United Nations and then we will make a 10-minute
1 Good day, Professor Bilandzic, and
2 Mr. Mikulicic, please go ahead.
3 WITNESS: DUSAN BILANDZIC
4 Examined by Mr. Mikulicic (continued)
5 MR. MIKULICIC: Good morning, Your Honours,
6 my learned colleagues of the Prosecution, and
7 Professor, good morning.
8 Q. Today we will continue with your testimony,
9 and we will pick up where we left off yesterday.
10 Professor, yesterday you started on the
11 subject that in the history of the territory of the
12 former Yugoslavia is known as the happening of the
13 people. These were mass gatherings of the population
14 in certain parts of the Republic of Serbia and the
15 autonomous provinces of Kosovo and Vojvodina, and you
16 started to talk about who organised those gatherings
17 and for what purpose.
18 So please, would you continue your testimony
19 from there?
20 A. The social processes, as you know, are often
21 hidden, the forces which are preparing social processes
22 often come out with false slogans and false
23 manipulative ideas.
24 The "happening of the people" in the
25 beginning was conceived as a movement of democratic,
1 i.e. this movement was supposed to topple bureaucratic
2 structures which lasted for 40 years so that a new
3 cultural revolution would bring in fresh blood by
4 destroying old structures.
5 However, it quickly turned into -- very, very
6 quickly turned into an all Serbian national movement
7 which quickly reached the very last village, the very
8 last man in Serbia, in Bosnia, and Croatia, so that we
9 could say that somewhere around 1988, 1989, a
10 Pan-Serbian national movement was formed in order to
11 save Yugoslavia and Communism. Milosevic, at one
12 moment in that heated atmosphere, stated that force
13 will have to be used and perhaps even war in order to
14 save Communism and Yugoslavia.
15 I personally think, even though we are here
16 broaching a subject that is not really a part of
17 historiography because we don't have the distance. As
18 a historian, as a rule, I wouldn't, according to rules
19 of science, I really wouldn't be able to go into this
20 because there is no time distance.
21 But I think that the military leadership and
22 the Serbian leadership thought that they would achieve
23 their goals without war. Why? In 1988-1989, the
24 advantages on the side of the military leadership and
25 Serbia were frightening in relation to their political
1 opponents, meaning the military leadership. Serbia had
2 at their disposal four or five instruments which were
3 very powerful.
4 First, as I said, Serbs in the whole of
5 Yugoslavia were in a national euphoria, and they were
6 united to a man. Also, they had the JNA, the Yugoslav
7 army, which was ready ideologically to defend the two
8 supreme human values, and these were Communism and
9 Yugoslavia, they were ready to defend that. The person
10 who has the army on his side and the military
11 leadership, and Serbia thought they had the army on
12 their side, could count -- they could rule Yugoslavia.
13 The third factor which was in the hands of
14 the military and Serbian leadership was the League of
15 Communists of Yugoslavia. The League of Communists of
16 Yugoslavia was the ruling party, and they have the
17 greatest influence and power in that party, and that
18 person can easily rule Yugoslavia.
19 The next factor is the international
20 community, the East and the West were very interested
21 to maintain, to preserve Yugoslavia, so they could
22 count Milosevic and the military leadership could count
23 on the solidarity of the international community. Not
24 to them as people, not Milosevic as a politician, but
25 Yugoslavia, yes.
1 So those who had those elements in their
2 hands, the national movement, the army, the League of
3 Communists, the international solidarity, the NATO
4 pact, the Warsaw treaty, which were then still
5 existing, I'm talking about 1988, they could count that
6 even without war, they could force their opponents to
7 accept the political programme of Milosevic and the
8 political programme was to recentralise Yugoslavia and
9 to leave, abandon the constitution from 1974.
10 However, the threat by such very powerful,
11 predominant forces, did not work. The Slovenes,
12 Slovenia, the League of Communists of Slovenia, was
13 pretty aggressive, pretty fearless in its approach
14 towards the army already in 1988. They went ahead with
15 reforms quite bravely towards the abandonment of
16 Communism and quite strongly came out against the
17 policy of Serbia and the army.
18 The leading forces in Croatia, the League of
19 Communists of Croatia, took the position of waiting,
20 not provoking, but also not providing, not giving
21 strong resistance, thinking that Serbia and the army
22 would give up the ultimate instrument, meaning war.
23 But the masses were already quite heated up,
24 there was a lot of nationalism, chauvinism. This is a
25 state where normal human reasoning is lost, rational,
1 normal, cool thinking does not function in the fire of
2 nationalism. So as this mass rose up, it spontaneously
3 also pulled the leadership into war, and this
4 leadership didn't need much, and that's how the war
5 broke out, which, as I would like to say again, is not
6 really part of history. These are very recent events
7 which a historian, according to the rules of his
8 profession, should really not go into.
9 Q. Professor Bilandzic, in these events, what
10 was the role of Bosnia-Herzegovina?
11 A. Bosnia and Herzegovina, i.e., its political
12 structure, the elite, for 20 years before the war
13 succeeded in emancipating itself from the federal
14 political centre and functioned just like the other
15 republics, Serbia and Croatia; namely, it's necessary
16 to know that the first 20 years after the war, the
17 leadership of Bosnia-Herzegovina agreed to listen, to
18 be obedient to the federal administration, but in the
19 last 20 years, it won for itself the position which was
20 similar to the position of Serbia, Croatia, and
21 Slovenia in the sense of its identity, integrity, and
22 individuality. In that sense, it was quite strong.
23 When these events started that I am speaking
24 about, there was the belief that the so-called
25 anti-bureaucratic revolution, this is another name for
1 the "happening of the people," so that the
2 anti-bureaucratic revolution will spill over from
3 Serbia into Bosnia-Herzegovina because there is about
4 31.3 percent of Serbs in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
5 However, I think that the citizens of
6 Bosnia-Herzegovina who were really divided among
7 themselves already in their daily life, from drinking
8 coffee in a cafe or drinking a glass of water
9 somewhere, they avoided Muslims -- Muslims, Serbs, and
10 Croats avoided each other's company, avoided
11 socialising, so that this mutual fear had the effect,
12 or was acting also in the direction that they did not
13 provoke one another in order not to start the fire. So
14 that the streets, the people in Bosnia and Herzegovina,
15 tended towards spontaneous, unorganised, a tendency to
16 put off the conflict until the emissaries came, started
17 to come from Belgrade, both to Bosnia and to Croatia,
18 to organise these people against, as it was said,
19 separatist, anti-Yugoslav, anti-Communist forces in
20 Croatia and Serbia.
21 When these people sensed that Serbia will
22 place themselves at their defence, including the
23 possibility of war, they quickly accepted the appeal,
24 the call, the invitation of the leadership. The
25 military and Serbian leadership very quickly created
1 its own parties, national parties, because you know in
2 Yugoslavia, in the former Yugoslavia, Communist
3 Yugoslavia, there were no other parties. When new
4 parties started to appear, they were all down to one,
5 they were nationalist, even chauvinist, aggressive,
6 propelled by hate, the passion of hate, so that very
7 quickly these parties were formed, Serbian, Croatian,
8 and then after that, finally Muslim parties.
9 As far as politics is concerned, of the other
10 republics towards Bosnia, they are different from the
11 ones conducted by Serbia. I stated yesterday that from
12 the 1840s until the present day, Bosnia was defined in
13 all documents of Serbia as Serbian land, and Croatia
14 had at least three positions on Bosnia-Herzegovina in
15 the course of history.
16 Yesterday I spoke about how, in
17 Austro-Hungary during the annexation of
18 Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Croatian political elite
19 supported the stance that it was better to hand Bosnia
20 over to Serbia than to leave it under the rule of the
21 Turks. The Croatian Communists were absolutely very
22 hard-line supporters of the 1974 constitution and for
23 the fact that Bosnia has to be preserved. The Croatian
24 radical nationalists had absolute pretensions of ruling
25 in Bosnia, but these forces are marginal, these are the
1 remnants of the quisling independent state of Croatia
2 which, as you know, was created by Hitler and
4 In other words, the Croatian public opinion
5 and the Croatian social policy was generally -- when I
6 say "social," I mean it's an imprecise category, but we
7 could say the public opinion, except the extreme
8 radical nationalists, Croatia was in favour of
9 Bosnia-Herzegovina as a sovereign state. And this, out
10 of a fairly simple reason, namely, if, from a
11 historical perspective the conflict between Croatia and
12 Serbia was the fiercest conflict, similar to the
13 conflict between Germany and France, and you know that
14 in 70 years, three wars were conducted by Bismarck,
15 Kaiser Wilhelm and Hitler.
16 The conflict between Serbia and Croatia is
17 similar, but until this last war, there was not -- such
18 a conflict didn't actually take place, but Croatia, in
19 the context of the conflict between itself and Serbia,
20 has an ideal buffer, an ideal republic, an ideal state,
21 which is called Bosnia-Herzegovina. It is a vast
22 mountain which divides -- separates two opponents which
23 stand one facing the other but cannot jump over Bosnia
24 and Herzegovina. From these geopolitical and
25 historical reasons, the vast majority of the Croatian
1 people is in favour of a stable sovereign and
2 independent Bosnia and Herzegovina.
3 This has been the case for almost 100 years.
4 However, the ultra nationalist option was aspiring for
5 Bosnia-Herzegovina as Croatian land, and that is the
6 ideology of the so-called Greater Croatia.
7 Q. Professor, the national question in the
8 former Yugoslavia and thereby in Bosnia and Herzegovina
9 as well, according to the views that you presented to
10 us yesterday, is one of the very important
11 disintegration factors in terms of the former
12 Yugoslavia. Could you clarify on that perhaps?
13 A. Very briefly, because I spoke at length
14 yesterday, the classes of citizenry that we, the
15 Communists, used to call the bourgeoisie and the
16 intelligentsia, are the protagonists of national ideas
17 and national projects. However, on the territory of
18 the former Yugoslavia, from the mid-19th century
19 onwards until the present day, history has shown that
20 the bourgeoisie could not resolve the national question
21 because, as I said, state ideas clashed.
22 Perhaps you noted yesterday -- I don't know
23 how clear I was, though -- but I tried to explain two
24 key points as far as the resolution of the national
25 issue in Yugoslavia is concerned. That is the point
1 when, as the Habsburg monarchy fell apart, the southern
2 Slavs of Austro-Hungary, who were about 8 million
3 citizens, which is two times bigger than Serbia and
4 Montenegro put together, established their own state.
5 Now, what did I call it? The Slovenes, the Croats, and
6 the Serbs, yes.
7 That state, twice as big as Serbia and
8 Montenegro, was a competitor to Serbia. So we had two
9 southern Slav states which Serbia could not accept.
10 With the support of the great powers of the entente,
11 they broke up that state.
12 The other point is the establishment of the
13 Banovina of Croatia in 1939. So from this you can
14 discern the silhouettes of three states: Slovenia,
15 Croatia, and a Greater Serbia. But this was seven days
16 before the Second World War broke out, so nothing could
17 really be done.
18 Now, the Communists come to the fore, the
19 Communist party of Yugoslavia, and this is an
20 historical paradox. The bourgeoisie cannot resolve the
21 national question in Yugoslavia because they fight
22 between themselves, they are imbued with nationalist
23 ideologies. In comes a factor which is un-national,
24 which is denying the existence of nations, for which
25 nations is a foreign category. They have a globalist
1 view of the world. For them, a national state is of no
2 importance at all. The nation state is the product of
3 capitalism; it is something foreign, it is something
5 Q. What nation state?
6 A. Any nation state. The Yugoslav, never mind.
7 Croatian, nerve mind. Serbian, never mind. And what
8 is important? The world proletarian revolution is
9 important, Lenin's idea continues. According to the
10 project of the Communist party of Yugoslavia and where
11 we are going to place the borders between the future
12 states is quite irrelevant. So it is precisely these
13 kind of un-national nihilist thinkers or political
14 ideologies who disregard and underestimate the
15 existence of the nation state. They act
16 as supra-national arbitrators that can reconcile the
17 quarrelling nations and delineate their borders.
18 Bearing in mind that they should delineate them in such
19 a way that these peoples should follow the party that
20 is going to resolve this for them. This is a globalist
21 vision, this is a vision of Communists, and that is why
22 the Communists were the only ones who were in a
23 position to settle the conflict between the different
24 nations of Yugoslavia and to create a federal community
25 which functioned quite well until it was historically
1 exhausted, rather, until the utopia of Communism was
2 historically exhausted. It fell for different reasons,
3 not because of the national question.
4 As a vision, as a utopia, and particularly as
5 a reality, it was unnatural because it trampled upon
6 the individuality of the citizen, it turned the
7 community into a god, and the citizen was nothing and
8 that is why Communism failed.
9 But I tried to explain that yesterday. The
10 Communists, although they resolved the national
11 question well in Yugoslavia, as they broke the Greater
12 Serbian and Greater Croatian ideologies, they could not
13 create a sound and stable society because as they
14 intimately adhered to the hope and idea and the
15 profound conviction that nations were withering away
16 and that a socialist society would come into being,
17 well, that was their mistake.
18 Q. Professor, when I mentioned the national
19 issue on the territory of the former Yugoslavia, I
20 primarily wanted you to explain to us what the
21 relations were between different nations in
22 Yugoslavia. Were they homogenous? Were they in a
23 state of conflict? Please compare the Serbian and
24 Croatian nations on the one hand and, on the other
25 hand, the relationship between these two nations and
1 the Muslim nation.
2 A. One cannot say, without getting a certain
3 impression, that this was actually the continuing state
4 of affairs in international relations in Yugoslavia.
5 This was a very stratified thing.
6 There was the period of the struggle against
7 Stalin and Stalinism from 1948 until the 1960s, that
8 was a rather monolithic period. There were times when
9 certain nations or their elites, for practical reasons,
10 kept quiet and even pretended that they had friendly
11 relations with other nations, aware of the fact that in
12 the given situations when the great powers were in
13 favour of keeping Yugoslavia and, from 1918, from the
14 very first days of Yugoslavia, the great powers were,
15 on the whole, in favour of Yugoslavia, with the
16 exception of Hitler's Germany.
17 However, my basic premise is, and I think
18 that it is valid, I think it is valid -- now, it is a
19 question of proving it -- we can say that the main
20 motto of the Serbian nation in Yugoslavia is the
21 following: We are either in favour of a Greater Serbia
22 and Yugoslavia or no Yugoslavia. Whereas the Croats
23 thought the following: We are in favour of a federal
24 or confederal Yugoslavia or no Yugoslavia at all. So
25 this is a clash of two state ideas, two visions which
1 co-existed in the hope, for a certain period of time,
2 that a compromise would be found.
3 Would it be possible to reach a compromise?
4 It seemed possible at given points in time. I tried to
5 explain that yesterday.
6 You see, the Serbs in Yugoslavia are not like
7 Russians in the USSR. Russians were the majority
8 people in the USSR, Serbs were 36 percent of the
9 population in Yugoslavia, and, in addition to that, the
10 centre, from a civilisational, cultural, and industrial
11 point of view, was not in Serbia but in Croatia and in
12 Slovenia, so these two nations are more developed than
13 the Serbian nation which makes it difficult for Serbia
14 to play a leading role, a role of hegemony. There is a
15 kind of balance of power.
16 So, for example, when King Alexander imposed
17 his dictatorship, a pro-fascist dictatorship, if we can
18 call it that, it is interesting that the Yugoslav idea
19 of fascism did not succeed. Why? This was not the
20 case of Germany. The German people could have one
21 Fuhrer, the Spanish people could have one Caudillo, the
22 Italian people could have one Duce, but in Yugoslavia,
23 you could not find that kind of a single person, it
24 cannot be the King. Why? Because within six nations,
25 you cannot find one person who will be the Fuhrer. So
1 in Yugoslavia, parliamentarianism cannot function
2 either because it suits Serbia. Can you not establish
3 fascism because fascism grows on the premise that there
4 is one nation only and that was not the case of
5 Yugoslavia. So that is why it continued to exist with
6 this kind of balance of power that I mentioned and also
7 with the support of the international community.
8 In this context, Bosnia and Herzegovina is a
9 special case which contributed -- how should I put
10 this? -- to Yugoslavia and its life in several
11 directions. First of all, during the Second World War,
12 this was the fortress of Tito's army together with
13 Croatia. It is these two republics that were the
14 mainstays of the partisan war because we saw yesterday
15 that after three months in 1941, the partisan movement
16 was defeated in Serbia. After the war, Bosnia and
17 Herzegovina was exploited as the Yugoslav Ruhr because
18 it had many mineral resources.
19 Serbs and Croats -- I tried to explain this
20 yesterday -- in this republic, they accepted what the
21 Second World War brought forth. There was no other way
22 out because the Greater Serbian idea and the Greater
23 Croatian idea was defeated in Bosnia because Bosnia was
24 the land that was supposed to belong either to a
25 Greater Croatia or to a Greater Serbia, and since the
1 Communist movement broke this up, this was no longer
2 the case.
3 As far as Muslims are concerned, they were a
4 rather strong pillar of support of the Yugoslav -- I'm
5 not going to call it Unitarian concept, I'm not going
6 to call it that, but of Titoism, if that is what we are
7 going to call it, of the constitution of 1974. They
8 supported that until they came to realise that this
9 could not remain as such, that -- they realised that
10 Croatia and Slovenia were leaving Yugoslavia, and if
11 they were to stay, they would have the same status as
12 Albanians in Kosovo, and I think that was of decisive
13 importance when Izetbegovic decided to seek a
14 referendum and independence.
15 There is one more thing I have to add. Until
16 this war, Croats and Muslims were, you know, whatever a
17 person says before this Honourable Court has another
18 side to it, so one has to choose one's words very
19 carefully. Not in order to avoid an answer but because
20 of the complexity of the situation involved.
21 What am I trying to say? The Muslims and the
22 Croats were political allies from the annexation of
23 Bosnia-Herzegovina until -- until this last war.
24 Political allies.
25 But, on the other hand, at the same time, in
1 a way, culturally, civilisationally, religiously, they
2 were alienated from each other. They did not live
3 together. They did not live close to one another.
4 These were two communities which had political
5 interests. They were threatened by Greater Serbian
6 ideas, so they were close to each other politically but
7 at an intimate level, so to speak, their lives were
9 Q. When speaking of the political alliance
10 between the Croats and Muslims throughout history from
11 the annexation of Bosnia into the Austro-Hungarian
12 empire and until the recent war that was waged in
13 Bosnia and Herzegovina, to the best of my knowledge,
14 this fits within your thesis that a sovereign Bosnia
15 and Herzegovina always suited Croatia except for this
16 extremist minority precisely for that reason, and those
17 were probably the reasons why there was political
18 cooperation with the Bosnian Muslims. Is that thesis
20 A. I think it is correct. Although I cannot go
21 into this, what happened later, but if we are judging
22 history, yes, that was the case.
23 Q. When speaking about this national question of
24 the territory of the former Yugoslavia, is it true that
25 actually the essence of the national question from the
1 very inception of Yugoslavia, that is to say, 70 years
2 ago, and practically until these recent events, that
3 this was, in fact, a smouldering conflict between the
4 Serbs and Croats in this area for quite a period of
6 A. Yes. May I just add one more thing. You
7 have probably heard of a phenomena such as a greater
8 France, a greater Germany, greater Bulgaria, Greater
9 Serbia, greater, greater, greater. There is not a
10 single nation, once it is born, I mean, there is no
11 need to explain what a nation is, but there is not a
12 single nation that does not aspire for a sovereign
13 state. This is the 19th century I'm talking about.
14 And this national phenomenon is something that
15 destroyed Europe, after all.
16 If you look at the French revolution, for
17 example, you could hardly find a German who would say
18 that he was a German. But in 1848, when this spring of
19 nations came to the fore, then, in the mid 19th
20 century, everything somehow moved into nationalism.
21 After all, you know, Europe lost world
22 leadership because of these nationalisms that were
23 exhausting one another, that led to bloodshed in the
24 first world war and the Second World War. It is
25 nationalism that stood behind all of this, primarily.
1 Q. Professor, when you explained to us yesterday
2 and today from a historiographer's point of view of the
3 events in Yugoslavia, you said that in that area, there
4 were always two fundamental processes, one was one of
5 integration and one was of disintegration. Could you
6 just tell us to what extent did these processes prevail
7 over one another over the past 70 years?
8 A. It is difficult to answer this question
9 without falling into oversimplified explanations. Very
10 often, nations and peoples do not what they wish but
11 what they have to do, and often they work against
12 themselves while thinking that they are working for
13 themselves. What am I trying to say?
14 I said that most of the southern Slavs lived
15 within the Austro-Hungarian empire, the Croats for
16 about 900 years and they were under Vienna and Budapest
17 although they had the status of an autonomous kingdom.
18 But they hoped that as they get out of this monarchy,
19 there would be fraternal relations with Serbia, and at
20 a given point of time, they got carried away. They
21 thought it was possible. However, this did not turn
22 out to be the case, and there was disintegration.
23 The Communists claimed that they had
24 established fraternity and unity among all the nations
25 of Yugoslavia and that this was the most monolithic
1 state on the planet because, until yesterday, people
2 were killing one another and now they turned into
3 brothers who have expressed a high degree of solidarity
4 from various points of view.
5 But if I were to simplify things to the end,
6 I could say that Yugoslavia was included and excluded,
7 included into and excluded from, smaller or bigger
8 European integration. For example, from 1918 until
9 1941, it was an element of the European Versailles
10 system. From 1941 to 1945, these lands were part of
11 Hitler's new order. From 1945 onwards, Yugoslavia
12 shared the fate of others, rather that it had to adjust
13 to blocs, although it was a non-bloc country. So these
14 two blocs kept it alive.
15 When this European structure collapsed from
16 Berlin to Vladivostok, Kamchatka, the Kuril Islands. I
17 don't know, when the entire empire fell apart. At that
18 point the external forces that kept it together fell
19 apart, but without the collapse of the Soviet empire,
20 without Gorbachev and Yeltsin, I doubt that the
21 disintegration forces in Yugoslavia could have won the
22 establishment of independent states, Slovenia, Croatia,
23 Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia. I doubt it. So the
24 main determining factor which governed the entire life
25 of Yugoslavia was the international one, after all.
1 But disintegration forces became stronger in the
2 process. It is wrong to think that Croatian
3 separatists, that Croatian separatists are the main
4 disintegrating force. That is wrong. I mean, they are
5 a disintegrating force but they are not the main
6 disintegrating force.
7 If you are to read new versions of the
8 history of Yugoslavia today and the new versions of the
9 history of Serbia in Belgrade, they have proclaimed
10 that Yugoslavia was the greatest tragedy of the Serb
11 people. Dobrica Cosic, a man who enjoys the reputation
12 as the father of the nation, he said that Serbia
13 strangled itself in 1918 as it entered Yugoslavia.
14 Why? Because as it entered Yugoslavia, it lost its
15 identity, and it gave itself to a utopia, and therefore
16 did not manage to have a respectable state of its own
17 in this area. Milan Nedic, Serbias main quisling in
18 the Second World War, also wrote about this, that the
19 creation of Yugoslavia was a tragedy for the Serb
21 So it is not only the Croatian separatists
22 can be blamed for everything. I think that they are
23 even of a lesser importance.
24 MR. MIKULICIC: Your Honour, as I wish to
25 observe the rules that you have set this morning,
1 perhaps this would be an appropriate point to take a
3 JUDGE RODRIGUES: We are going to continue at
4 40 minutes past 10.00.
5 --- Recess taken at 9.57 a.m.
6 --- On resuming at 10.50 a.m.
7 (The accused entered court)
8 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Please excuse us for the
9 delay, but as I did mention, we had a meeting with the
10 Deputy of the Under Secretary of the United Nations,
11 and that is why we are a little late.
12 Mr. Mikulicic, go ahead.
13 MR. MIKULICIC: Thank you, Your Honour.
14 Q. Professor, before the break, you mentioned
15 and you spoke about the disintegration processes which
16 were taking place in the last 70 years in the territory
17 of Yugoslavia; sometimes stronger, sometimes weaker,
18 but always present.
19 In your opinion as a history expert and from
20 the point of today's distance, was it essential that
21 Yugoslavia disintegrated in the way that it has done,
22 meaning that a war had to happen?
23 A. This is a problem that is on the minds of all
24 the political elites, the scientists, the peoples of
25 former Yugoslavia, whether war could be avoided.
1 Historians should not give a decisive answer
2 to this question because social processes which differ
3 from natural processes, cases cannot repeat themselves,
4 so that is why it is very difficult to answer this
5 question. But with certain reserves, I would say the
7 The conflict between Serbia and the Yugoslav
8 army on one side, and Croatia and Slovenia and other
9 republics on the other side, came about for two
10 reasons: First, the Serb people found themselves
11 before a dilemma in 1989-1990, that Yugoslavia could
12 possibly break up.
13 They faced the dilemma then, i.e. the
14 conviction, that with the break-up of Yugoslavia, the
15 results of the First and Second Balkan Wars from the
16 First and Second World Wars would be cancelled out
17 because these wars had brought a fourfold increase of
18 the territories under the control, especially between
19 the two World Wars, under the control of Serbia. This
20 spectre, this vision that the victims of four previous
21 wars would be cancelled out, was a very powerful force
22 acting in order to prevent the disintegration of
24 Secondly, the branches of the Serbian people
25 are strong in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. There
1 was about 570.000 Serbs in Croatia and in Bosnia
2 1.310.000 people. In the event of a break-up of
3 Yugoslavia, according to the consciousness, the
4 understanding of the Serbian leadership, these people,
5 or this part of the Serbian people, would come under
6 the regime of independent states and they would be
8 So these are two reasons that very powerfully
9 affected Serbia and its wish to prevent, at any cost,
10 the break-up of Yugoslavia, not only the break-up but
11 also to prevent the abandoning of the constitution of
12 1974 because that constitution of 1974 was
13 confederative. So in order to prevent this, to prevent
14 the break-up of Yugoslavia, the only way was to
15 revitalise the Communist composition, because this was
16 ideal, it is the best, the most functional mechanism of
17 control over society, regardless of what kind of a
18 society that is.
19 In history, it had shown itself to be as
20 ideal for control of society, Communism, so that it was
21 pre-determined that Serbia and the JNA must, on one
22 side, support the Communist system and then, on the
23 other hand, prevent democratisation because
24 democratisation in itself leads at least towards
25 confederation. So, for example, that is why Serbia
1 wanted the prime minister of the federal government,
2 Ante Markovic, to be replaced because he did have very
3 strong support from the United States which believed
4 that democratisation -- or that it would preserve
5 Yugoslavia by transferring it over to a Western
6 democratic regime. This was the concept of the prime
7 minister, and this was what was also rejected.
8 On the other hand, Slovenia and Croatia had a
9 growing movement in order to achieve two goals: to
10 gain as much independence as possible, confederation at
11 least, on the one hand, and then, on the other hand, to
12 cross over into Western parliamentarianism which did
13 not suit Serbia.
14 So these are these two concepts which are
15 mutually conflicting and which led to war.
16 These are theses which could be defended.
17 What is difficult to explain and to defend is the fact
18 of why the international community did not wake up in
19 time in order to prevent this war and, secondly, why
20 democratic forces within Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia,
21 Bosnia, Macedonia did not join together against the
22 forces of war. This is pretty difficult to explain.
23 If democratic liberal parties of all the
24 peoples of Yugoslavia had joined into an alliance, and
25 this was the idea of the federal government headed by
1 Markovic, with the support of the international
2 community, the war possibly could have been avoided.
3 Q. But under the circumstances, when the attempt
4 by Ante Markovic failed, in such a situation, when
5 Slobodan Milosevic came to power in Serbia, and you
6 said earlier that he had a vast machine supporting him,
7 in such a situation and taking into account the ideas
8 which the then Serbian leadership declared, in your
9 opinion, in such circumstances was war inevitable or
10 perhaps not inevitable?
11 A. It's difficult for me to reply to that
12 question. Yes and no. I am not avoiding an answer,
13 but it is difficult to answer that question because an
14 irrational situation was created, a situation of
15 euphoria, a situation where the masses and the
16 leaderships tended towards conflict.
17 I think the opponents of Milosevic, extreme
18 opponents, also very easily -- easily hoped for a
19 solution without war, and this is an irrational
20 situation where a normal political mind disappears.
21 Still, I am more prone to the thesis that the
22 army, which was a party army, you know that the army
23 was the so-called seventh republic in Yugoslavia. The
24 representative of the army was always a member of the
25 presidency of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia,
1 the Communist party of Yugoslavia. Each republic had
2 its representative at the leadership of the Communist
3 party. The army had its own representative. It had
4 the status of a so-called republican party
5 organisation, separate for 50 years from society,
6 exclusively tied to Tito, ideologically very
7 indoctrinated, brought up on anti-liberalism, and the
8 conviction that Western imperialism is the only enemy
9 of Yugoslavia, except in the period of the conflict
10 with the USSR.
11 So that the Defence Ministers, Mamula,
12 Kadijevic, and their statements are taken from
13 interviews and written directives for the army, are
14 full of the thesis that Western imperialism is
15 anti-Communist, anti-socialist, anti-Yugoslav.
16 The war plans of the Yugoslav People's Army
17 were always made, except maybe until 1969-1970, were
18 always made with the supposition that an attack on
19 Yugoslavia is only possible from the West so that the
20 army, until the end, remained an ideological army which
21 has supreme value to the state of Yugoslavia and to
23 So this coincided with the leadership in
24 Serbia and an alliance was made between these two main
25 factors and they went into war.
1 MR. MIKULICIC: Your Honours, the Defence has
2 finished its questions and passes the word to the
3 learned colleagues from the Prosecution.
4 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Thank you, Mr. Mikulicic.
5 Mr. Niemann, do you have any questions?
6 MR. NIEMANN: Thank you, Your Honour.
7 Cross-examined by Mr. Niemann
8 Q. I have listened with interest to your
9 presentation which, I must say, I found very balanced.
10 Just touching on the last question that you
11 raised there. I agree with you that the JNA was
12 committed to preservation of Yugoslavia. But would you
13 agree with me, during the course of 1991, that it was
14 less committed to that cause and more committed to a
15 Serbian cause?
16 A. I will try to respond.
17 The military leadership, until the summer of
18 1991, was more in favour of Yugoslavia. However, you
19 probably heard the President of Yugoslavia, his name
20 was Jovic, he was a Serb, he published a book on the
21 disintegration of Yugoslavia; and at a dramatic moment,
22 there was a conflict, a verbal conflict, between the
23 military leadership and the Serbian leadership. The
24 Serbian leadership said, told Kadijevic and the Chief
25 of the General Staff Adzic, "Let Slovenia go, let a
1 part of Croatia go. Place yourselves in the regions
2 held by Serbs in Croatia and we will defend a new
3 Yugoslavia, a third Yugoslavia, which will comprise
4 Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Vojvodina, of course
5 Bosnia-Herzegovina, and a part of the territory of
6 Croatia populated by Serbs."
7 So Adzic then said, "So you are breaking up
8 Yugoslavia. I will arrest you now," he told them. But
9 when the army had its debacle in Slovenia on the 27th
10 of June in 1991, when their action was a failure, it
11 failed, I think it was compromised as a military power,
12 and having seen that without Serbia it cannot really go
13 on further with this idea of preserving the entire
14 Yugoslavia, sometime in those days it definitely
15 crossed over to the Serbian side.
16 Q. I think that would be evidenced by the fact
17 that when it left Slovenia, it did so in such a way
18 that it really had no intentions of returning, and I
19 speak of the JNA. That would be right, wouldn't it?
20 A. Yes, that's true.
21 Q. In fact, I think, as an historian you would
22 agree with me that armies are the sorts of creatures
23 that require political leadership, and that with the
24 breakdown of the presidency in Yugoslavia, the army
25 found itself without political leadership and it turned
1 to Milosevic as its political leader; would you agree
2 with that as a statement? I speak in the period of
4 A. You're absolutely right.
5 Q. It's true, isn't it, that certainly from the
6 perspective of President Milosevic, there was no doubt
7 in his mind that he had captured the control of the
8 army, of the JNA?
9 A. I absolutely agree with you.
10 Q. Professor, another area that I would like to
11 talk about is, you spoke of the historical attempts at
12 compromise between the very disparate interests of both
13 Croatia and Serbia. Was another such attempt at that
14 compromise a meeting that was held at Karadjordjevo on
15 the 10th and 11th of March of 1991?
16 MR. MIKULICIC: Your Honours, if you permit,
17 the Defence objects to the Prosecutor's question
18 because this question exceeds the framework of the
19 testimony of Professor Bilandzic as the expert about
20 the historical events which preceded the war on the
21 territory of the former Yugoslavia. These events that
22 my learned colleague, the Prosecutor, would like to ask
23 questions about are part of another area which is not
24 the subject of the testimony of our expert witness, and
25 the Defence did not ask him any questions about that.
1 So that in this way, the Prosecution exceeds the
2 expertise of the witness, Professor Bilandzic, with
3 their questions.
4 MR. NIEMANN: Might I respond to that, Your
6 Your Honours, cross-examination is a matter
7 at large. If a witness comes before the court and can
8 assist the court in matters which are known to the
9 witness and he can comment upon or if the Prosecutor or
10 Defence counsel wish to embark upon some line of
11 questioning which is relevant to the issues at hand, in
12 my submission it is not appropriate to merely say
13 cross-examination should be limited only to those
14 matters raised in the course of testimony. I have
15 reason to believe that the Professor can assist us with
16 some of the answers to these two questions, and it
17 touches upon matters which, in the course of my closing
18 address, I will urge upon Your Honours are important in
19 understanding the conflict that ultimately developed in
21 So for those reasons, Your Honours, I submit
22 that the line of questioning is appropriate.
23 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Professor Bilandzic said
24 that this whole question is very complex and it is hard
25 to stay exclusively within the framework of the facts
1 because events have a certain internal dynamic and they
2 become part of a system, so I think that the Defence
3 will have the opportunity later to ask more questions,
4 if they so wish. So the Trial Chamber accepts this
6 Mr. Niemann, you may continue.
7 MR. NIEMANN: Thank you, Your Honour.
8 Q. Professor, do you wish me to repeat the
9 question or do you remember it sufficiently to answer
11 A. Unfortunately, I don't have any information
12 about Karadjordjevo, but as far as I know from the
13 media, that accord or non-accord was never published
14 anywhere, as far as I know. This matter between these
15 two in Karadjordjevo, they discussed the division of
16 Bosnia. As far as I know, there are no documents about
17 that, but I really don't know.
18 Q. Fair enough. I know you weren't in
19 attendance at the meeting, but you did perform a
20 function as a consequence of that meeting, did you not,
21 in terms of representing Croatia?
22 A. I have to say that there's a lot of
23 mystification about this. This is a conversation among
24 several people, intellectuals of Serbia and Croatia,
25 the main topic of which was whether war can be avoided
1 and how it can be avoided.
2 Since I was absolutely against any kind of
3 division of Bosnia and Herzegovina, I obstructed that
4 idea that it should be discussed, and that whole
5 conversation came down to the problem of whether both
6 sides recognised the results of the people's liberation
7 war and the socialist revolution. These results are
8 the decisions of Avnoj in 1943, the decisions of the
9 five constitutions and the constitution of 1974. Since
10 the Serb side negated the validity of the Avnoj
11 decisions from 1943 and particularly the constitution
12 of 1974, I withdrew from the group. At that time, I
13 was already retired. I did teach at the faculty, but
14 only in the graduate school.
15 So I have to say that a debate was conducted
16 similar to the debate today where the central question
17 is whether one should adhere or not to the decisions of
18 Avnoj and the constitution of 1974.
19 So I repeat that my very decisive stance,
20 that as soon as I saw that the expert group from Serbia
21 had that stance, I withdrew from those talks, and I
22 never took part again in any kind of talks about the
23 eventual division of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
24 Q. But, Professor, it is a fact, isn't it, that
25 there was a meeting between Presidents Milosevic and
1 Tudjman in Karadjordjevo, and it is a fact that as a
2 consequence of that, a commission was established, a
3 commission made up of representatives from both Croatia
4 and Serbia, to draw up plans on how Bosnia could be
5 divided? There's no question about that, is there?
6 A. I repeat that a group, Croatian group -- and
7 I did have influence there to a large part --
8 absolutely refused the continuation of any kind of
9 talks concerning the violations of inter-republic
10 boundaries and which concerned the validity of the
11 decisions of Avnoj and the 1974 constitution. Things
12 ended there. I resigned from the continuation of the
14 Q. Professor, you shouldn't think that I'm in
15 any way attacking your integrity. I know that you
16 resigned and I know that you were concerned about the
17 fate of the Muslims and that you made this known to the
18 political leadership at the time. That's true, isn't
20 A. I publicly came out against the radicalism,
21 both Serb and Croatian, because, as I know, for 50
22 years I was a Communist, and I didn't accept the
23 concepts about the division, so that's why I resigned.
24 Q. Yes. In no way do I imply any criticism of
25 you. I am merely endeavouring to elicit the facts.
1 But the fact of the matter is that following the
2 meeting between Presidents Tudjman and Milosevic, you
3 were assigned, as a member of this commission, to
4 endeavour to reach agreement with the Serbs on a
5 division of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and that your
6 concern at the time was the fate of the Muslims.
7 A. Yes. As soon as I saw what was happening,
8 from kind of historical curiosity, I accepted to take
9 part in the talks. But as soon as I saw the stands
10 which do not recognise the achievements of the people's
11 liberation war and the national revolution, I refused
12 to participate further. That is all.
13 Q. Of course. You did go so far, though, as to
14 give your views on the fact that the Muslims would be
15 the victims of any such division, but those views
16 weren't accepted, were they, by the political
17 leadership of Croatia?
18 A. Actually, when I was resigning, I said that I
19 could not take part in this undertaking, and I cannot
20 say what happened afterwards because contacts probably
21 continued. But through other people, probably more
22 direct, probably through diplomatic channels or
23 directly -- I'm really not familiar with that.
24 Q. Now, I accept fully, having heard you give
25 your testimony, that you could have participated in
1 this exercise of the commission without fully
2 appreciating the consequences, and then, very
3 honourably, you resigned from it when you did. But the
4 reality is that it was a division of Bosnia-Herzegovina
5 between Serbia and Croatia, wasn't it? That was the
7 A. Well, bear in mind that this was about three
8 or four months before the war, and in my own mind, I
9 thought that this was a game of delay tactics because,
10 in my mind, this was so irrational that intimately I
11 could not believe it, that this was their true
13 First of all, I think they wanted to gain
14 time and delay the conflict between Croatia and the JNA
15 in Serbia and, in a way, some kind of political
16 cunning. I repeat, this was irrational for me, so
17 that's why I gave up on the whole thing. What happened
18 afterwards, what kind of ideas were presented, how this
19 process evolved further, that I don't know.
20 Q. Professor, perhaps unwittingly but very sadly
21 the international community itself further contributed
22 to the problems in Bosnia-Herzegovina, didn't it,
23 because the Vance-Owen Plan, the Vance-Owen Peace Plan,
24 was something which more or less accorded with what was
25 hoped and intended as a consequence of the
1 Karadjordjevo meeting in 1991; do you agree with me?
2 A. I would say that the international community
3 either unwittingly or quite consciously gave rise to
4 the conflict, but let me tell you how.
5 The basic premise of President Bush and of
6 the European Community was the following: We are in
7 favour of the unity of Yugoslavia but with the right to
8 self-determination. That was it, more or less.
9 Those forces, that is to say, Milosevic and
10 the JNA that were in favour of keeping Yugoslavia, only
11 came to accept the first part of the sentence: We are
12 in favour of maintaining the unity of Yugoslavia. Full
13 stop. But that is not a full stop. There was a
14 comma. But we are also in favour of the right to
15 self-determination. Those forces that wanted to get
16 out of Yugoslavia, they simply deleted the first part
17 of the sentence, "We are in favour of unity,"
18 et cetera, and they only took the other part of the
19 phrase, "We are in favour of the right to
21 So with this kind of -- how should I put
22 this? -- this possibility of double interpretation,
23 every side sought some kind of support for their
24 plans. For example, the prime minister of the federal
25 government precisely counted on that kind of attitude
1 of the international community, but then others were
2 counting on the right to self-determination, which is
3 legal and legitimate, according to international
5 You see, as far as the Vance-Owen Plan is
6 concerned, it is still not clear to me whether the
7 international community and the European Union, Vance
8 and Owen, did they really support the division of
9 Bosnia? It is hard to believe, in my opinion, because,
10 to my mind, this is not humane, this is not wise, and
11 it would be hard for me to believe that these people
12 lightheartedly accepted this. It's possible, but I
13 really don't know.
14 Q. I have here, Professor, a quote from a
15 television programme which you appeared on, and I have
16 the video, so if you would like to see it, please ask
17 me and I'll show it to you. But you are --
18 A. It's not necessary.
19 Q. You are seen on the programme. When speaking
20 of the Vance-Owen Plan, you said this, and I'll read it
21 out and just ask whether you agree that that's what you
23 When asked about the Vance-Owen Peace Plan,
24 you said: "After they signed the Vance-Owen Peace
25 Plan, the Croats from Herzegovina thought that the
1 division was done." I think you're speaking of them.
2 "We have been given our mini-state of Herceg-Bosna.
3 We can do whatever we want there. We can rename the
4 streets, we can rename the University of Mostar, and
5 Mostar can, at last, be our capital. They thought the
6 battle was over, but they were wrong."
7 I don't ask you whether you agree with them
8 because we know you have made it very clear that you
9 don't agree with the fact that that may be the case.
10 But do you agree with me that's what you said? And is
11 that your belief, that the Vance-Owen Plan did give
12 those people, those Croat people in Herceg-Bosna, that
14 A. The context is exactly what you mentioned,
15 that is criticism of a certain kind of behaviour. But
16 I always thought that this would never actually
17 happen. This is criticism. This is a warning: Don't
18 go that way. That was the intention of that
19 interview. That was the context. A critical attitude
20 towards the policy of the international community and a
21 critical attitude towards the behaviour of the people
22 in Herceg-Bosna. Warning.
23 Q. Sadly, Professor, all that you said came to
24 be true.
25 A. (Nods)
1 MR. NIEMANN: I have no further questions,
2 Your Honour.
3 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Mr. Mikulicic, do you have
4 any questions?
5 MR. MIKULICIC: Your Honour, just one
6 question in order to clarify the time framework of the
7 events that have just been discussed.
8 Re-examined by Mr. Mikulicic
9 Q. Professor, when speaking of the meeting in
10 Karadjordjevo, could you please tell us what the time
11 context is in terms of the events in Bosnia that
12 happened. Was it before the war or before the
13 republics of the former Yugoslavia attained their
14 independence, so could you please give us the time
16 A. This was the time of negotiations between the
17 heads of republics. I don't know how many meetings
18 they had, at least six but possibly even ten public
19 meetings as they were moving the venue of these
20 meetings from Titograd, namely Podgorica in Montenegro
21 and then Bled in Slovenia and then they went to Ohrid,
22 Macedonia, so they were going all over the place in
23 order to find compromises to how they could resolve the
24 Yugoslav crisis.
25 As far as the recognition of states is
1 concerned, this was nine or ten months before the
2 recognition of these states, so this was a period of
3 time when an effort was being made to avoid conflict
4 and war and to save peace.
5 Q. In your opinion, did this meeting, which was
6 one of a series of meetings, while the former
7 Yugoslavia was still formally in existence, can we
8 interpret this as one of the many attempts to try to
9 resolve this by an accommodation of views?
10 A. That interpretation can be accepted but, to
11 the best of my knowledge, exactly what they agreed upon
12 never came out into broad daylight, so we don't really
13 know. I literally have no information about that.
14 Q. But will you agree with the claim that, in
15 terms of time, this was nine or ten months before the
16 former republics of Yugoslavia attained their
18 A. Exactly. Yes, yes, nine months prior to
20 MR. MIKULICIC: Your Honour, no further
21 questions from the Defence.
22 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Professor Bilandzic, the
23 Chamber doesn't have any further questions to put to
24 you. The Criminal Tribunal wishes to thank you for
25 having come here and for having brought your
1 information to us, and we wish you a safe return to
2 your country. Thank you very much.
3 THE WITNESS: Your Honour, I must admit that
4 I am impressed by the professional and human atmosphere
5 before this Honourable Court, and I must say that I
6 have excellent impressions of the moments that I spent
7 with you. Thank you very much.
8 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Thank you very much. The
9 Chamber always tries to create a human and cooperative
10 atmosphere because I think that this is the right path
11 for seeing that justice is done.
12 Mr. Niemann?
13 MR. NIEMANN: Your Honour, might I be
14 excused? I have the other Chamber to go to.
15 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Mr. Mikulicic, you have the
17 MR. MIKULICIC: Thank you, Your Honour. In
18 this situation, now that we have finished the statement
19 of the expert witness, Professor Bilandzic, earlier,
20 before we thought it would, before the Defence thought,
21 I must say at this point in time we don't have further
22 witnesses for the Defence. When the Defence was
23 planning this, we were supposed to have three days for
24 this part of the trial, and we thought that Professor
25 Bilandzic would need about three days. However, we
1 worked more expeditiously than the Defence could have
2 imagined. So for this week, we don't have any further
4 When we meet next time, we are going to have
5 more witnesses of fact.
6 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Mr. Mikulicic, the Chamber
7 wishes to thank you for having made all these efforts
8 and for having done your best to make our work
9 efficient and well-coordinated. It is clear to us that
10 it is difficult to calculate precisely how much time
11 one needs.
12 We are going to adjourn now until the 15th of
14 I wish you a good weekend and wish success in
15 their work to all those who are present. Thank you.
16 --- Whereupon proceedings adjourned at
17 11.36 a.m. to be reconvened on
18 15 June 1998