1 Thursday, 2 February 2006
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 --- Upon commencing at 8.04 a.m.
5 JUDGE ROBINSON: Will the Registrar call the case, please.
6 THE REGISTRAR: Good morning, Your Honours. This is case number
7 IT-02-54-T, the Prosecutor versus Slobodan Milosevic.
8 JUDGE ROBINSON: Thank you.
9 Mr. Nice, you're for the OTP, and who is with you?
10 MR. NICE: Today I am assisted by Ms. Dicklich as ever, Mr. Coo,
11 Ms. Kotseva, Ms. Dragulev, Ms. Rebecca Graham and Mr. Randall, all of whom
12 have been involved at various times in various ways in the exercise of
13 trying to obtain documents.
14 JUDGE ROBINSON: Thank you. And for Serbia and Montenegro?
15 MR. OBRADOVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, on behalf of the
16 government of Serbia and Montenegro, today we have the honour of appearing
17 before you, and we are Mr. Svetislav Rabrenovic, secretary in the office
18 of National Council for Cooperation with the International Criminal
19 Tribunal; then we have Mr. Vladimir Cvetkovic, as of recently a colleague
20 of mine in the embassy of Serbia and Montenegro in The Hague and who
21 personally acted upon a request from the Prosecution in a matter we'll be
22 discussing today and he will be able to tell you more about it and expound
23 our positions.
24 My name is Sasa Obradovic. I'm the first secretary of the embassy
25 of Serbia and Montenegro in The Hague.
1 Your Honour, I should like to take advantage of this opportunity
2 right at the outset of this morning's session to request that the
3 discussion about the documents be conducted in closed session, or private
5 JUDGE ROBINSON: Thank you. Thank you.
6 MR. OBRADOVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you.
7 JUDGE ROBINSON: We have motions filed by the Prosecution for
8 relief under Rule 54 bis, and we also have a motion for protective
9 measures filed by the government of Serbia and Montenegro. Today's
10 hearing will last approximately an hour. Each side will have 20 minutes
11 to present its arguments, and we'll also set aside time for a reply and
12 for any other ancillary matters.
13 The Chamber had directed the parties to focus their attention on
14 certain issues which we identified, and I expect the submissions to be so
16 [Trial Chamber confers]
17 JUDGE ROBINSON: Mr. Obradovic, may I just seek a clarification
18 from you. Are you asking that the entire hearing be in private session or
19 just those portions of it in which reference may be made or will be made
20 to the documents?
21 MR. OBRADOVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour, for asking
22 the question. It's a technical one. At this point in time, bearing in
23 mind the confidentiality of these proceedings and the confidential
24 information that both sides have presented in their written submissions,
25 we are not in a position in advance to foresee when and how long we're
1 going to need to go into private session. That is why we should like to
2 request that the entire session this morning be held in private session,
3 closed to the public, so that we can freely present our views and
4 positions, which don't only have to do with confidential documents which
5 the Prosecution is seeking from us but relate to the confidentiality of
6 the proceedings and relationship and cooperation between the organs of
7 Serbia and Montenegro in these matters.
8 JUDGE ROBINSON: Thank you. Mr. Nice.
9 MR. OBRADOVIC: [Interpretation] You're welcome.
10 MR. NICE: I had intended to start in open session, if there was
11 no objection, but I can recognise that it may be quite difficult to
12 partition the hearing out between those parts that need protection and
13 those that don't, because many of the filings that would be referred to or
14 may be referred to are of themselves confidential, as is the underlying
16 JUDGE ROBINSON: Very well. We'll have the hearing in private
18 [Private session]
11 Pages 47783-47815 redacted. Private session.
6 [Open session]
7 JUDGE ROBINSON: Mr. Milosevic, please continue.
8 WITNESS: BRANKO KOSTIC [Resumed]
9 [Witness answered through interpreter]
10 Examination by Mr. Milosevic: [Continued]
11 Q. Good morning, Professor Kostic.
12 A. Good morning, Mr. Milosevic.
13 Q. Yesterday, where we left off, you said that this session of
14 Slovenia entailed fewer problems because there were no inter-ethnic
15 conflicts in Slovenia. I wanted us to look at the comments on that topic
16 by Borisav Jovic in this film, and I asked for that short clip to be
17 played. Can it be done now, please.
18 [Videotape played]
19 JUDGE ROBINSON: There is a problem with the sound.
20 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] There should be sound. This is
21 something different, nothing to do with my clip. I would like them to
22 play Jovic with sound.
23 [Videotape played]
24 THE INTERPRETER: "[Voiceover] At the same time it means a lot of
25 destruction and a lot of victims.
1 "[Previous translation continues] ... the attack. All they
2 needed was the nod from the most powerful republic, Serbia, but they were
3 in for a surprise.
4 "I said very clearly then that it's pointless to discuss and
5 disagree with Slovenes and to wage war with them because the Slovene
6 situation is clear. They have an ethnically pure republic, no territorial
8 "It doesn't bother us at all if they leave Yugoslavia."
9 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation].
10 Q. Thank you. The rest does not bear on the topic.
11 So, Jovic said the same as you?
12 A. Well, Jovic also said that there were no inter-ethnic or civil
13 disputes in Slovenia. The problem of war did not arise, and the problem
14 was much simpler, generally speaking, because the population was
15 homogenous. I believe over 95 per cent of Slovenes.
16 Q. That is clear.
17 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] But I want to point out to you,
18 Mr. Robinson, this translation is completely wrong, because Jovic does not
19 say at any point that Serbia had no interest in it. That is again a
20 forgery. We were not able to hear it. If you really want to hear what
21 was said, let the interpreters interpret what he said in the Serbian
22 language, and what was written in the subtitles is absolutely not correct.
23 This is not the first example of this. It just goes to show that
24 this entire series is completely falsified.
25 JUDGE BONOMY: All we have, though, is the translation by the
1 interpreter, which is accurate, is it not?
2 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] I did not listen to the
3 interpretation. I listened to what Jovic said in Serbian, but I looked at
4 the subtitles in English, and it's completely incorrect.
5 JUDGE BONOMY: But the interpretation into English in the
6 transcript does not make any reference to Serbia. So you shouldn't be
7 concerned about it.
8 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] I'm concerned about the fact that
9 this was exhibited, whereas the translation in subtitles is completely
10 wrong. You could see that back when Mr. Nice played a film in which you
11 can see what I was saying about Kosovo Polje and the translation was
12 completely incorrect. Mr. Robinson made interpreters do it and redo it
13 twice in order to show that the subtitles were completely wrong. But let
14 us move on now.
15 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]
16 Q. Please, Professor Kostic, tell us very briefly what happened at
17 the Ohrid meeting and what was written in the Ohrid peace declaration of
18 the 22nd of July, 1992 [as interpreted].
19 A. The Ohrid meeting was attended by the full Presidency of the SFRY
20 and all presidents of republics or, alternatively, presidents of
21 Presidencies of republics of the former Yugoslavia. The Ohrid declaration
22 that was adopted at that time, true in the absence of Mr. Tudjman who
23 walked out on that session, appealed to the same principles that the
24 European Community upheld at the time and that we in the Presidency had
25 agreed and harmonised several times, the same principles that we at the
1 session of the Presidency of the 5th of September agreed unanimously and
2 which Mr. Mesic presented at the inaugural conference of The Hague peace
3 conference on the 7th September in The Hague.
4 Q. In tab 20 --
5 MS. UERTZ-RETZLAFF: Your Honour. There is a mistake in the
6 transcript. We are talking about the Ohrid declaration and it's 1991, but
7 in the transcript it says 1992.
8 JUDGE ROBINSON: Thank you, Ms. Uertz-Retzlaff. That's noted.
9 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]
10 Q. So in tab 20, you have this Ohrid declaration. We are not going
11 through the entire text. It says: "We have to put a stop to the use of
12 force which has taken human lives and continues to do so and moves us ever
13 further from our vital interests. These interests are democratic
14 development, respect for individual and collective rights and civil
15 liberties. All this can be achieved only in peace. We, the participants
16 in this meeting between war and peace, declare that we are unanimously and
17 categorically in favour of peace."
18 This is basically the spirit of the Ohrid meeting and declaration.
19 Is that expressed here?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. And then in the penultimate paragraph, it says: "The president of
22 the SFRY Presidency, Stjepan Mesic, and the president of the Republic of
23 Croatia, Dr. Franjo Tudjman, demanded the unconditional withdrawal of the
24 Yugoslav People's Army to garrisons, which was not accepted by the
25 majority of participants in this meeting and hence they have not assented
1 to including this in the text of the statement." Is that correct?
2 A. That's true. Mr. Tudjman and Mr. Mesic both continued insisting
3 that the Yugoslav People's Army should withdraw into its barracks, and at
4 the same time they obstructed the decisions and conclusions adopted
5 several times by the SFRY Presidency to first disarm all the paramilitary
6 units whose number already exceeded the total number of JNA personnel in
7 the whole territory of Yugoslavia.
8 Q. What paramilitary units are you talking about?
9 A. Well, the police force in Croatia over two months increased from
10 17.000 to 19.000. In addition to that, the Home Guards Corps was set up.
11 We're still talking about the time when Yugoslavia was one country, all
12 the system was functioning, all the institutions. The JNA and the
13 Territorial Defence were the only legal armed forces. At that time,
14 Croatia set up the Home Guards Corps, the ZNG, and then they massively
15 armed them and their citizens with illegally smuggled arms. They armed
16 members of the HDZ, the Croatian Democratic Union, on the basis of their
17 political affiliation.
18 And of course, withdrawing the JNA into barracks at the time when
19 there was serious tensions and inter-ethnic conflicts in certain areas of
20 Croatia, especially those areas with majority Serb population, withdraw of
21 the JNA into barracks would have certainly met physical destruction of the
22 Serb people in those territories and complete ethnic cleansing.
23 Let me point out this: Because of the refusal of Croatia and
24 Slovenia, and later some other republics, to send their recruits to the
25 JNA, the Yugoslav People's Army was decimated practically, in terms of
1 personnel. And with the available personnel, we were unable to protect
2 the population in Western Slavonia using the army.
3 What happened to that population? Since we were unable, we did
4 not have the capacity to put the army there to act as a buffer, Croatian
5 units ethnically cleansed those areas, first 28 villages and then the
6 rest. They torched all their houses, destroyed all their property, and
7 created a situation which made it impossible for anyone to return. That
8 was still 1991 when Croatia -- when Croatia was still acting as it acted
9 within Yugoslavia as a single state, and it lasted until the 27th of
10 April, 1992.
11 Q. What did the Presidency do to stop the conflicts in Croatia?
12 A. We did a lot. We adopted a lot of conclusions, but few were
13 implemented. We came out with many communiques, adopted a lot of
14 conclusions, made appeals and noted frequently that the leadership of
15 Croatia and Croatian paramilitary units do not abide by a single
16 cease-fire agreement. They were blocking the barracks of the JNA which
17 were stationed there according to peacetime establishment. Barracks were
18 under blockade. Power could not be supplied, food, and other necessities.
19 Parents gathered around the barracks. Parents of the officers of the
20 Yugoslav People's Army gathered outside the barracks to appeal to their
21 children to surrender.
22 Such an inappropriate attitude to the JNA as the legitimate armed
23 force of the SFRY would not have been suffered by any other army or any
24 other military leadership the way it was suffered by the military
25 leadership of Yugoslavia.
1 Q. Did there ever come a proposal about the future of Yugoslavia
2 prepared by the Presidency commission? I believe it was on the 5th of
3 September, 1991.
4 A. Yes. I have already mentioned that agreement. Later, it grew
5 into a harmonised proposal by the entire SFRY Presidency, and we in the
6 Presidency, chaired by Mr. Stjepan Mesic, had agreed to present that
7 agreement through Mr. Stjepan Mesic at the inaugural meeting in The Hague
8 of the peace conference on 7th September, 1991. There were four basic
9 principles that were agreed and harmonised, and Mr. Stjepan Mesic
10 presented them at that conference.
11 The first, respect of every nation's right to self-determination,
12 including the right to secession and forming unions.
13 Two, democratic expression of the will of every nation and
14 republic to exercise their status in keeping with their real interests.
15 Third, the principle of equality that constitutes equality of all
16 options. No imposition of anyone's will and no use of force.
17 Four, the principle of legality, which is -- which presupposes
18 that political agreement should be legalised and a procedure instituted
19 for its implementation. Every solution should be equal and reasonable,
20 acceptable to all, and it should be implemented with mutual agreement and
22 Mr. Mesic writes about these principles on page 226 of his book.
23 In order not to take too much of your time, if you look at these
24 principles carefully, these four principles were all seriously --
25 JUDGE ROBINSON: Let's move on to something else.
1 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]
2 Q. The basic question I asked you was what did the SFRY Presidency do
3 to stop the war in Croatia? I'll make it more specific. How many
4 decisions on cease-fire were adopted by the SFRY Presidency? How many
5 agreements on cease-fire involved the Presidency?
6 A. Over about eight months the Presidency adopted 14 cease-fire
7 agreements. Each of them, even when they did not directly involve the
8 Presidency, included Mr. Veljko Kadijevic, federal secretary for national
9 defence. And every time before a cease-fire agreement was concluded,
10 Mr. Kadijevic was authorised by the Presidency to take part in this work
11 and to conclude a cease-fire agreement. Regrettably, although each of
12 these agreements required two pre-conditions; immediate cease-fire, and as
13 a second point the obligation of Croatia to lift the blockade of JNA
14 barracks, and I said earlier that over 1.000 army personnel was blocked in
15 those barracks, the Croatian authorities never complied.
16 A very specific conclusion of this kind was also adopted by The
17 Hague Conference on the 18th of October, attended by all eight members of
18 the Presidency. It was also attended by Mr. Tudjman and by you,
19 Mr. Milosevic, by Mr. Cyrus Vance, Lord Carrington, Mr. Hans van den
20 Broek. It was also unanimously adopted by the SFRY Presidency to have a
21 cease-fire, but then already on the 5th of November, 1991, at the next
22 Hague Conference, Lord Carrington began the session by saying that the
23 conclusions of the 18th of September were not observed and the -- Croatia
24 did not abide by the agreement.
25 Q. Were there some -- was there some pattern into it?
1 A. The pattern was that the Croatian authorities unlawfully became
2 renegades from the Yugoslav constitution. They threw out the Serb people
3 from their own constitution, whereas the Serb population of Croatia
4 expressed their desire to observe, to abide by the Yugoslav constitution
5 and to remain within Yugoslavia. In this conflict, the Croatian
6 authorities tried to impose their will on the Serbs in Croatia by use of
8 I don't have to invent any of this. Mr. Mesic himself says in his
9 book that every time Croatia launched an initiative or an action, a
10 reaction followed by the other side. The indictment refers to it as the
11 Serbian Bloc, where I say that it cannot be called a Serbian Bloc. It can
12 only be called supporters of the Yugoslav option.
13 So every action of Serbs in Croatia was provoked by prior action
14 of the Croatian authorities.
15 Q. What you said about the Serb bloc, that it's a misnomer, it should
16 be called supporters of the Yugoslav option, was that something you were
17 advocating or was it the valid constitutional arrangement?
18 A. It was the valid constitutional arrangement.
19 Q. Was it your constitutional obligation to protect it?
20 A. Yes, it was our constitutional obligation. Not only of us who
21 were in favour of preserving Yugoslavia, but those who opted for secession
22 as well. I told Mr. Drnovsek and Mr. Mesic at the time that their
23 behaviour and their engagement and their work in those days, despite the
24 fact that they signed and gave the same oath at the federal parliament as
25 I did, their behaviour cannot be qualified otherwise but treason.
1 Q. Throughout this time -- you were at the head of the Presidency
2 until mid-1992, for quite a long time after the peacekeeping forces
3 arrived and all conflicts were halted. Throughout this time, did a
4 situation arise in which the JNA carried out an action, first initiated an
5 action, or did it only respond to what the Croatian forces were doing?
6 A. The JNA took no offensive action at that time. I was one of those
7 who very often spoke out in public to say that if the Croatian armed
8 formations and the Croatian authorities, even after so many cease-fires
9 and even after having undertaken so many times to lift the blockade of the
10 JNA barracks, failed to carry out this obligation, I will advocate that
11 the JNA finally take offensive action and lift the blockade on the JNA
12 barracks by force. Not to take over territory or to take over Croatian
13 towns, but simply to use force to enable our soldiers to be taken out of
14 those blocked barracks.
15 Only in the area of Karlovac did the JNA move forward, did it
16 advance, but it only reached the outskirts of the town. And I think that
17 that barracks was liberated through fighting.
18 What was happening in the areas of Dubrovnik and Vukovar in my
19 deep conviction was a very firm commitment by the Croatian leadership to
20 spread the flames of war to other territories in Yugoslavia. Dubrovnik
21 borders with Montenegro, and Vukovar is on the border with Serbia. We had
22 military barracks in both areas. The effort of the Croatian leadership
23 was aimed at spreading the flames of war to Montenegro, Serbia, and
24 Bosnia. I think that through its decisive action, both on the territory
25 of Dubrovnik and the territory of Vukovar, the JNA prevented Tudjman from
1 carrying out this intention. Unfortunately, however, we did not manage to
2 stop the spreading of the flames of war to Bosnia-Herzegovina, primarily
3 because of areas in Bosnia-Herzegovina, mainly in Western Herzegovina, but
4 also in Posavina, bordering with Croatia, were inhabited primarily by
5 Croats, so that the paramilitary formations from Croatia could infiltrate
6 the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina through these Croat inhabited
8 Q. Professor Kostic, what you have just explained now, was this the
9 main characteristic of the engagement of the JNA on Croatian territory
10 while you, as part of the Presidency, were part of the Supreme Command?
11 A. Yes. That was what the JNA engagement was all about. What it
12 says in this indictment is all topsy-turvy. Had we had a plan to create a
13 Greater Serbia, had there been some kind of secret joint criminal
14 enterprise, the Rump Presidency, as they called it, would not have called
15 on the United Nations to send its peacekeeping forces on that territory in
16 order to withdraw the JNA from those areas and avoid further conflict.
17 The main purpose of calling on the peacekeeping forces was for them to
18 protect the Serb population which had, up 'til that time, been protected
19 by the JNA.
20 JUDGE BONOMY: Mr. Kostic, what was the longest period that any of
21 the contingents of the JNA were blockaded in barracks? Can you give me an
22 example of one that was blockaded for a lengthy period?
23 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] To tell you the truth, I couldn't
24 give you any precise information right now, but I think that the barracks
25 in Sisak, Karlovac, Jastrebarsko near Zagreb, and some other peacetime
1 locations remained under blockade for quite a long time, as did the
2 barracks in the Vukovar, until a really serious conflict broke out there
3 between the JNA and the Croatian paramilitary formations. I think, if I'm
4 correct, it lasted three or four months if not five.
5 JUDGE BONOMY: Thank you.
6 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]
7 Q. So several months, you say.
8 A. Yes. I think that some barracks were blocked for as long as seven
9 months, because the final lifting of the blockade and the withdrawal from
10 the barracks on the territory of Croatia took place only after the last
11 cease-fire was signed in which Mr. Cyrus Vance participated. This was one
12 of the pre-conditions for the peacekeeping forces to be deployed in
13 Croatia, and that was already in January or February 1992.
14 JUDGE BONOMY: Can you tell me, then, what was your principal
15 motivation as a member of the Presidency in not directing the army to take
16 action to remove these blockades?
17 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I can tell you that. We were aware
18 that issuing such an order to the JNA, which had artillery, projectiles,
19 an air force, and so on and so forth, but the Croatian side had more armed
20 men. The JNA, however, was far superior in technology and weaponry.
21 Therefore, had the JNA initiated offensive action in order to reach all
22 those towns and lift the blockade of the barracks through fighting, this
23 would have involved large-scale destruction, possible large-scale civilian
24 casualties among the population, and possibly casualties among our own
25 soldiers. The only reason that prevented us from issuing such an order
1 was the desire to achieve this aim through peaceful means and save
2 people's lives.
3 There was 14 cease-fires. After each one, we expected the
4 Croatian leadership and armed formations to finally agree to lift the
5 blockade on the barracks without fighting.
6 Mr. Bonomy, I have to tell you that we were under intense moral
7 pressure. I myself was under intense moral pressure as a member of the
8 Supreme Command. There was pressure from the mothers and parents not to
9 mobilise new conscripts, but we also had to bear in mind the fate of the
10 conscripts who were living in those barracks in conditions worse than
11 those in concentration camps.
12 JUDGE ROBINSON: Who broke the cease-fires?
13 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] At the time, we were all in the
14 Presidency. It was the Presidency of the SFRY that negotiated the
15 cease-fires. We were the civilian Supreme Command. When an imminent
16 threat of war was declared on the 1st of October -- may I continue?
17 JUDGE ROBINSON: Yes. Just tell me briefly, can you, how were the
18 cease-fires broken and who broke them? Or is it brokered?
19 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Every time --
20 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Mr. Robinson, there's been a
21 misunderstanding. Your question was who broke the cease-fire. However,
22 the interpretation that the witness heard was who agreed the cease-fires.
23 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I said that while the Presidency was
24 working in its full composition it issued decisions on the cease-fires and
25 agreed --
1 JUDGE ROBINSON: What I'm interested in finding out is not who
2 made the cease-fires, how they came about, but how they came to an end.
3 Who broke or breached the cease-fires?
4 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Every time, they were broken by the
5 paramilitary formations of Croatia, as I said yesterday, with abundant
6 assistance from outside. Everything was done to continue the war clashes,
7 because this was the only way that Croatian territory could be freed of
8 the Serbian population living there.
9 I can show you several statements issued by the staff of the
10 Supreme Command stating who had broken the cease-fire and how. If we have
11 time, we can look at a tab containing statements after the 18th of
12 October, after the joint session at The Hague Conference, which was
13 attended by all the members of the Presidency and the decision on a
14 cease-fire was issued. After this, we have statements by the Supreme
15 Command and the Presidency of the SFRY that only 24 or 36 hours later
16 Croatian paramilitary formations breached the cease-fire 124 times. There
17 were 124 violations which large numbers of soldiers killed on the JNA
19 JUDGE ROBINSON: Yes, Mr. Milosevic, continue.
20 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]
21 Q. Do you remember the session of the SFRY Presidency of the 1st of
22 October, 1992 [as interpreted]?
23 A. Yes, I remember it well.
24 Q. Who participated in that session?
25 A. Six members of the Presidency. Only Mr. Drnovsek and Mr. Mesic
1 were missing. The representatives of Croatia of Slovenia, that is.
2 Q. At that session attended by six members of the Presidency and held
3 on the 1st of October, was any evaluation made of the situation?
4 A. We tried more than once to convene a session of the Presidency
5 before the 1st of September [as interpreted], but we could not do so
6 because Mr. Mesic kept obstructing, failing to turn up.
7 JUDGE BONOMY: Mr. Milosevic, the transcript's becoming a bit of a
8 mix-up, I think. This is October of 1991, I think, not 1992, and we
9 started off talking about a meeting on the 1st of October and now the
10 transcript is talking about the 1st of September. So ...
11 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Mr. Bonomy, we are talking about the
12 meeting of the Presidency of the 1st of October.
13 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] 1991. I only wanted to say that
14 previously there had been several unsuccessful attempts to hold a meeting
15 of the Presidency, because the leadership of Bosnia and Herzegovina
16 insisted that the Presidency meet as soon as possible due to the highly
17 dangerous situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina. We were unable to gather all
18 the members of the Presidency, and we finally met on the 1st of October,
19 1991, in the composition I have just described. Six members were present,
20 and only Mr. Drnovsek of Slovenia and Mr. Mesic of Croatia were absent.
21 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]
22 Q. And what conclusions did you arrive at on the 1st of October?
23 A. As we had several times previously, we again concluded that the
24 security situation was extremely difficult, that there was an imminent
25 threat of war and civil war, but for the first time we concluded that the
1 country was actually in an imminent threat of war.
2 Q. So this was the session where the Presidency for the first time
3 concluded that there was an imminent threat of war.
4 A. Yes. This was a unanimous decision of all six members of the
5 Presidency, which constituted the two-thirds majority required by the
6 rules of procedure of the Presidency.
7 Q. At that point in time, was there actually an imminent threat of
8 war in the state?
9 A. Not only was there an imminent threat of war, there was already a
10 war going on with the paramilitary formations of Croatia.
11 Q. You have just explained this. On the 1st of October, six members
12 of the Presidency, with a two-thirds majority, issued a conclusion that
13 the country was facing an imminent threat of war, and you say, and this is
14 not in dispute, that there actually was a war already going on.
15 In these indictments, and also we have heard from some witnesses
16 about the Rump Presidency. Have you heard this expression?
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. That's what some media called it.
19 A. Not only the media but also the leadership of the secessionist
20 republics. They kept using this term. Not only that, but they openly
21 stated that we had in this way perpetrated a military coup; a coup d'etat,
22 that is.
23 Q. What was the legal basis after the Presidency, with a two-thirds
24 majority, concluded that the country was facing an imminent threat of war?
25 What was the legal basis for the continuation of the work of the
1 Presidency in this composition?
2 A. After Tito died in 1980, this problem arose. The problem of
3 extreme nationalism and inter-ethnic conflict existed before. They did
4 not arise only in the 1990s. So that in 1984, the Presidency of the SFRY
5 issued a special decision amending the rules on the work of -- on the
6 procedure of the Presidency. And according to this decision, if there was
7 an imminent threat of war, the Presidency could meet regardless of whether
8 it had the necessary majority to issue decisions. Two, three, or four
9 members of the Presidency could hold a session if the others were unable
10 to attend or were absent, and they could issue valid decisions, qualified
11 legal decisions. So that constitutionally, the Presidency was authorised
12 to issue decree laws if the parliament was unable to meet.
13 Q. All right. Now, let's find the link in that chain now and see
14 whether it follows a logical evolution of events.
15 On the 1st of October, you, within a two-thirds majority, assessed
16 that the country was in a state of imminent threat of war.
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. After 1984, you have a rules of procedure for the Presidency where
19 it says that when there is imminent threat of war, the Presidency works
20 with as many members as it has. So those are two points.
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. Was that the legal grounds for continuing the work of the
23 Presidency in any composition?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. In paragraph 63 of the Bosnian indictment, it says that: "On the
1 3rd of October of 1991, four members of the Presidency of the SFRY from
2 Serbia Montenegro -" it says Borisav Jovic, Jugoslav Kostic, doesn't
3 mention Kosovo and Vojvodina here, Sejdo Bajramovic, Ibrahim Kostic, the
4 three of them, therefore, and you yourself - "assumed the function of the
5 SFRY Presidency circumventing the roles and responsibilities of the
6 Presidency members from Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and
8 Now, please, explain this to us. Since this is what it says
9 there, I've read it out to you, it's paragraph 63 of the BH indictment,
10 does this mean taking over the function of the SFRY Presidency, or was it
11 a case of the legal performing of that function by its legally elected
13 A. First of all, the observation made and the formulation as it
14 stands in the indictment is completely incorrect and wrong. It was not a
15 matter of assuming the function of the SFRY Presidency, taking over its
16 function, but it was continuing the work of the Presidency in its
17 functioning in a legal, constitutional manner on the basis of assessments
18 made that a state of imminent war existed, which the Presidency made
19 according to its rules of procedure at a previous meeting on the 1st of
21 Q. You mean the 1st of October.
22 A. Yes, I mean the 1st of October.
23 Q. All right. Fine. Now, what happened? Because it says on the 3rd
24 of October 1991 the four members of the SFRY Presidency, et cetera,
25 assumed the function. What happened on at that day the 3rd of October,
1 the date quoted in this paragraph?
2 A. Well, immediately after the 1st of October, we had intended to
3 hold a new meeting of the Presidency on the 2nd of October, and I was
4 personally called up by Mr. Bogic Bogicevic and Mr. Vasil Tupurkovski, and
5 they asked me defer the meeting to the 3rd of October, to postpone it.
6 And I consulted the other members of the Presidency and accepted their
7 proposal. So we convened that meeting for the 3rd of October, we
8 scheduled it for the 3rd of October. However, neither Mr. Tupurkovski nor
9 Mr. Bogicevic turned up on the 3rd of October, and of course faced with a
10 situation of that kind we had -- could do nothing else but, on the basis
11 of what we had already established and assessed on the 1st of October,
12 that we go on with a normal session on the 3rd of October.
13 Now, Their Honours, the Judges, don't have enough patience ...
14 JUDGE ROBINSON: What is on the transcript there?
15 Mr. Milosevic, please continue.
16 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Well, the witness interrupted when
17 he saw you conferring, so he thought it best to stop what he was saying,
18 to have you hold your consultations after which he could resume.
19 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]
20 Q. So, Witness, you were interrupted in giving your explanation.
21 A. Yes. I thought it was very important for the Judges to hear this
22 detail that I'm going to present regardless of the fact that they don't
23 have all the patience to hear all the details which convincingly speak of
24 the fact that there was no plan for a Greater Serbia nor was there any
25 joint enterprise afoot but what was afoot was the existence of a plan on
1 the violent secession by the protagonists of that secession against the
2 constitution. And this is one of the details which I think is very
3 important for you to hear and which will show how much even the most
4 obvious matters are being distorted and shown to be in an untruthful
6 And here it is: Mr. Mesic, speaking about the 1st of October and
7 speaking about the 3rd of October, said that we had conducted a military
8 putsch. Mr. Mesic says quite literally, and I'm quoting him here, the
9 following. We can find that in page 269 --
10 Q. It's tab 73.
11 A. That's right, tab 73, but it's easier for me to follow it in my
12 book. This is what Mr. Mesic says: "However, on the 1st of October the
13 situation of an imminent threat of war was not mentioned but what is
14 stated in the statement as well, the Presidency of the SFRY of the
15 competent federal organs was informed that the political security and
16 safety situation in the country was highly serious and dramatic, and that
17 there was the threat of an all-out civil war from breaking out."
18 And Mr. Mesic goes on to say: "In the statement, there is no
19 mention of an imminent threat of war and on the basis of that we can see
20 that invitation to a previous session was forgery, was false, but this
21 cabinet went on with the decision that their function and action was not
22 falsely presented." And he's referring to us who supported the Yugoslav
24 Now, in that same statement that was published by Tanjug on the
25 1st of October, both for the international public and for the domestic
1 public, which is quoted by Mr. Mesic himself only eight lines below what
2 he's just quoted, it says the following, quite literally: "It was
3 assessed that there was obvious -- that there was the obvious danger of
4 armed conflicts expanding to Bosnia-Herzegovina and engulfing Montenegro
5 as well whereby new areas of conflict would be opened in the country."
6 And then, from the statement published in Tanjug on the 1st of October, it
7 says: "It was assessed that this was a serious threat and would create
8 even more serious inter -- inter-ethnic conflicts and that Yugoslavia was
9 facing a war -- the danger of a war."
10 Now, Your Honours, Judges, if we have such obvious matters on such
11 important matters such as the 1st of October Presidency decision which
12 Mr. Mesic and this indictment attempts to portray as being a putsch, and
13 if such untruths and obvious falsities are presented, then you can only
14 assume how many -- how much falsehood there is and untruths there are in
15 Mr. Mesic's books and in his statements and in the indictment itself,
16 because the authors of the indictment quite obviously did not take the
17 trouble to compile the indictment both in Belgrade and Sarajevo and
18 Podgorica and Ljubljana and Skopje but they compiled and drafted it in
19 Zagreb and they made a plagiarism of Mesic's book but Mesic calls us,
20 those of us who were in favour of the Yugoslav option, he calls us the
21 four-member band or group -- gang of four, and the gentleman compiling the
22 indictment referred to us as the undertakers of a joint criminal
24 JUDGE BONOMY: The question to which that interminable answer
25 related was what happened on the 3rd of October. Can I take you back just
1 slightly on that to the 1st of October. Is there a tab here in which we
2 see recorded the decision of the 1st of October?
3 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, there is. In my book --
4 JUDGE BONOMY: No, no. A formal document. Is there a decision of
5 the Presidency, properly recorded, minuted decision about the imminent
6 state of war and, therefore, a determination that it was appropriate for a
7 meeting to take place and decisions to be made by smaller numbers?
8 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Mr. Bonomy, Mr. Kostic quoted the
9 decision in very precise terms in his book. I don't have the original
10 document here, just as I don't have many other original documents.
11 JUDGE BONOMY: But Mr. Mesic's complaint seems to be that the
12 decision wasn't properly recorded, and what I'd like to see is the record.
13 Now, it seems such a major, important decision that one might expect it to
14 be available to the Tribunal in its proper formal form.
15 Now, are you telling me you don't have it, and we've just to look
16 at books written by people for the material?
17 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Mr. Bonomy, a decision is one thing,
18 a decision by which the Yugoslav state Presidency in 1984 regulated the
19 question of how and in what way the Presidency should function under
20 conditions of an imminent threat of war, and in that sense I mentioned
21 that decision as the grounds, the legal grounds and framework for the
22 continuance of the work of the Yugoslav state Presidency. However, in
23 that decision no mention is made of any separate decisions nor is there
24 the obligation of bringing in separate decisions, but at the time when the
25 Presidency assesses, evaluates, therefore, that the country is indeed
1 facing imminent war, then at that point in time the Presidency starts
2 functioning under such conditions.
3 Now, you're asking of me -- or, rather, to do that whereas the OTP
4 can come by those documents more easily than I can. But it's not a
5 question of somebody writing that down in a book. It is an official
6 statement which was published by Tanjug, the Yugoslav news agency, on the
7 1st of October 1991 for the domestic public and the international public.
8 And in my book --
9 JUDGE BONOMY: Mr. Kostic --
10 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] -- in my book you have literally --
11 JUDGE BONOMY: I follow that. But, Mr. Kostic, we are bombarded
12 in this Trial Chamber by official documents of various state organs of
13 various parts of the former Yugoslavia, and it seems to be a trait that
14 the most minute decisions are recorded in some formal document, and here
15 we have a massive decision that there is an imminent threat of war and a
16 much reduced composition of the Presidency can act in that situation. Are
17 you telling me that you don't in that situation make a formal record for
18 the federal record purposes of the assessment that that was the situation
19 and that therefore a smaller number of the Presidency could act?
20 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Mr. Bonomy, we are discussing two
21 matters here. Quite obviously, I'm not a lawyer myself and I can't
22 discuss it on a par with you in the legal sense when it comes to this
23 matter, but a moment ago you said yourself that Mr. Mesic was objecting
24 and saying that a decision had not been taken. I think that's what you
25 said a moment ago, words to that effect, whereas I didn't address those
1 complaints and objections by Mr. Mesic. All I was saying is that
2 Mr. Mesic was claiming that in the statement that I quoted, there was no
3 mention of an imminent threat of war being in existence --
4 JUDGE BONOMY: Okay, but --
5 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] -- and he's quoting that passage.
6 JUDGE BONOMY: But could you answer my question: Is there no
7 formal decision written down and kept in the archives, federal archives at
8 that time, by the Presidency - at least the numbers that were able to
9 assemble - that there was an imminent threat of war and that therefore
10 future decisions could be made by a smaller number? Is there no formal
11 record kept of that?
12 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I said a moment ago that there is
13 the decision about how the Presidency functions and makes decisions in
14 circumstances of that kind. But in that 1984 decision, it was just an
15 assessment of there being an imminent threat of war situation. I don't
16 think there's a separate decision because there was no need for a separate
17 decision to exist because the situation -- an assessment of the situation
18 was brought in in the presence of six Presidency members on the 1st of
19 October. It was these people who assessed that situation as being such.
20 JUDGE BONOMY: I understand -- I understand all of that, and I
21 understand that we can all -- the people who were there can all write
22 books about it, give their versions, but it would be nice to have the
23 formal record just to confirm it. Anyway, it doesn't look as though it
24 exists from your answer, so let's move to something else.
25 JUDGE ROBINSON: We will take the first break at 11.00 for 20
2 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation] L.
3 Q. Professor Kostic, is this assessment, this appraisal of the
4 existence of a situation of the imminent threat of war, was that
5 established on the 1st of October, and was it published in an official
6 communique or official statement issued by the Presidency after having
7 held that meeting?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. What you quoted, is that the official statement, the official
10 communique of the Presidency?
11 A. Yes. It was the official communique broadcast by Tanjug. In 1992
12 I had already withdrew from political life -- withdrawn from political
13 life. I wasn't in a position to be able to come by such documentation,
14 but this is the original text quoted by me and published and broadcast by
15 Tanjug on the basis of an official Presidency communique.
16 Q. So is that the official Presidency communique statement where it
17 states what you said, that the country was faced with imminent threat of
18 war, was it published and printed, not just an agency piece of news, a
19 news item by Tanjug?
20 A. Yes, it was, it was officially published.
21 Q. So the printed media, the electronic media, and that same
22 communique and statement as quoted by Mr. Kostic can be found in the
23 newspapers of the 2nd of October, and that, too, is a public document
24 because the Presidency thereby informed the public about the position it
25 had taken.
1 A. I have a recording of the entire press conference held at the
3 Q. Of course you do. But the essential point is, is that how it was
4 made public from the Presidency meeting? Was that an official Presidency
5 communique that you gave?
6 A. Yes.
7 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] I shall do my best to get hold of a
8 copy of the newspapers and to attach that as an exhibit.
9 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]
10 Q. All right. Now with respect to the quotation from paragraph 63
11 that I read out, and I don't wish to read it out again, the four of you,
12 did you go beyond the duties of -- and go beyond what the members of
13 Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia do? Did you circumvent
14 the roles and responsibilities of the Presidency?
15 A. No. All the meetings, including the 3rd of October session and
16 all the following Presidency sessions, not only Mr. Mesic as president but
17 all the members of the Presidency received invitations to attend. They
18 received all the accompanying documents. They were regularly informed,
19 and even if Mr. President does claim that it was a putsch, that -- whereby
20 we excommunicated the other Presidency members, I should just like to
21 remind you of the fact that 15 days after that, in The Hague, a meeting of
22 the Presidency of the FRY was held before The Hague Conference and at that
23 Presidency meeting it was Mr. Mesic that presided over the meeting as
24 president of the Presidency.
25 Q. So two weeks after that 3rd of October date, when you allegedly
1 went ahead and went -- and conducted a putsch, he chaired a Presidency
3 A. Yes, correct. And not only that, but asked by journalists whether
4 he was the new -- whether I was the new Presidency president, I said no.
5 I said if Mr. Mesic were to appear tomorrow, he would preside over the
6 Presidency meetings as president, but if he was not present, then in his
7 absence it would be the vice-president who chaired the Presidency
9 Q. How about the Presidency members who continued to work; you,
10 Jovic, Bajramovic and Kostic? Did you agree on all issues or was there
11 any disagreement?
12 A. Far from it. We had differences on many issues.
13 Q. But what was the key joint position of those members of the
14 Presidency who continued to work?
15 A. Our key joint commitment was to preserve Yugoslavia and to work
16 for it, and failing that, to preserve life in a joint state to the extent
18 Second, to find a peaceful solution to the Yugoslav crisis and not
19 to dispute any nation's and any republic's right to self-determination and
20 secession provided it is done in a constitutional and peaceful way.
21 The third issue on which we all found ourselves on the same
22 wavelength was that the Yugoslav People's Army should not be used as a
23 force to topple any government in any republic that was elected at multi-
24 party elections but to use instead the Yugoslav People's Army either as a
25 buffer or as a protector of any nation or part of a nation that finds
1 itself in jeopardy and possibly to lift the blockade of the barracks in
2 Croatia if it is not done otherwise.
3 Q. Could you give us an example of the differences among the four of
5 A. Most of them were between Mr. Borisav Jovic and me. Of course,
6 not on the four issues on which we all agreed. But otherwise, we had
7 plenty differences. For instance, the election of Mr. Mesic was one thing
8 we didn't agree on. He gave his vote for and I didn't. He had his own
9 convictions and I had to respect them. I think that's only democratic.
10 Also, with regard to the 14 cease-fire agreements, after all of
11 them expired and our soldiers were still blocked, I advocated that the
12 General Staff's proposal to use force to lift the blockade of the barracks
13 should be accepted. Mr. Jovic was against.
14 Also, at the time when we were working in a reduced composition,
15 only the four of us, decisions were made by the Presidency to send into
16 retirement a great number of generals. The first group included 28
17 generals. The second group was even larger. We did not agree on that.
18 Mr. Jovic calls my engagement in the retirement of these generals
20 We had other differences as well but they were marginal compared
21 to the important issues on which we did agree.
22 JUDGE BONOMY: Mr. Kostic, whether you the only member of the
23 Presidency who favoured using force to lift the blockade?
24 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Well, I have to say that Mr.
25 Jugoslav Kostic and Mr. Sejdo Bajramovic, when we discussed this, did not
1 voice their opinions, whereas Mr. Jovic was emphatically against. But
2 again, you see, when we had this disagreement about the retirement of the
3 generals, Mr. Jovic tried everything to bring the issue of the second
4 group of generals back on the agenda, which I categorically refused. The
5 other two members of the Presidency abstained from saying yea or nay, and
6 then I gave my irrevocable resignation to the post of vice-president,
7 telling them I cannot go on working under those conditions, and after that
8 Mr. Jugoslav Kostic and Sejdo Bajramovic both came to see me, confirming
9 that I wasn't doing anything on my own initiative, alone, that they agreed
10 with me. Mr. Jovic was at that time in China. He thought that everything
11 should pass through him, but later he abandoned his demand.
12 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]
13 Q. All right. Those are examples of your differences. But
14 concerning the main issues, your commitment to preserving Yugoslavia, et
15 cetera, you agreed on that?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. Was it also your constitutional obligation?
18 A. It was. Let me also say that concerning the preservation of
19 Yugoslavia, when the first Yugoslavia was established, Serbia and
20 Montenegro were the only recognised states who invested their statehoods
21 into their new -- into that new state.
22 Montenegro had its statehood recognised at the Berlin Congress in
23 1848, and I fought until the end for preserving that Yugoslavia.
24 JUDGE ROBINSON: We will take the break now for 20 minutes. The
25 next break will be at 12.20, or one hour after we -- Mr. Kay?
1 MR. KAY: Tab 33 is the Presidency statement of 1st of October
2 concerning imminent threat of war.
3 JUDGE ROBINSON: All right. Thank you, Mr. Kay.
4 JUDGE BONOMY: Is that the one that was said to be 73? The actual
5 statement is 33?
6 MR. KAY: Tab 33, yes.
7 JUDGE ROBINSON: It's translated, yes. All right. We'll have a
8 look at it, if necessary, after the resumption.
9 We will break for 20 minutes.
10 --- Recess taken at 11.04 a.m.
11 --- On resuming at 11.27 a.m.
12 JUDGE ROBINSON: Mr. Milosevic, please continue.
13 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, please.
14 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]
15 Q. Tell me, Professor Kostic, did the Presidency of the SFRY in that
16 composition, after the assessment was made of the imminent threat of war
17 when was Presidency was working in a reduced composition, did it adopt any
18 decisions? Did it adopt a single decision ordering some offensive
19 engagement of the JNA or the armed forces of the SFRY?
20 A. In that entire period, the Presidency working with four members
21 did not pass a single decision that would order the JNA to take offensive
22 action. Not only that, it did not avail itself of the constitutional
23 possibility to make decrees with the force of law, to abolish political
24 parties, replace leaderships, or to eliminate democratic rights. The
25 Presidency did not adopt a single decision of that kind, although such a
1 constitutional possibility existed.
2 Q. What was the content of the decisions passed by that Presidency?
3 Can we go through them? What are the most important decisions taken by
4 the Presidency in the period we are reviewing, from the 3rd of October
6 A. We can go tab by tab, but I could also say simply, very briefly.
7 All the main decisions taken by the Presidency, both in its full
8 composition and its reduced composition, are: The election of Stjepan
9 Mesic as president. The second decision was to dismiss the December class
10 of trained soldiers. The decision on 13 concluded cease-fire agreements
11 and attempts to resolve the Yugoslav crisis by peaceful means. Then the
12 decision to shift to the method of work under conditions of imminent
13 threat of war, which paralysed the highest leadership of the state and the
14 Supreme Command of the JNA, which was the Presidency. The decision to
15 send a request to the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the
16 Security Council to send peace troops, peacekeepers to crisis areas in
17 Croatia to enable the JNA to pull out from those territories. Also, we as
18 the Presidency passed a decision to be the sponsors of the peace
19 conference on Yugoslavia regarding events in Bosnia-Herzegovina on the 3rd
20 of January. Also, the decision on the withdrawal of JNA units and
21 temporary relocation from Slovenia to other areas until a political
22 solution is found. And, of course, our decisions to pull out the Yugoslav
23 People's Army from other territories of the former Yugoslavia at the time
24 when other republics were taking their decisions on independence, such as
25 withdrawal of the JNA from Macedonia, which was carried out without any
1 conflict because there were no Macedonian paramilitaries and no attacks on
2 the JNA.
3 JUDGE ROBINSON: May I ask you, Professor, did the Presidency in
4 its reduced membership have the same powers as the Presidency in its full
6 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No. The Presidency in its full
7 composition had less authority, fewer authorisations than the reduced
8 Presidency. When the Presidency is working under conditions of imminent
9 threat of war, it also assumes in part a legislative role, but we didn't
10 take advantage of that.
11 JUDGE ROBINSON: So it would have been entitled to order an
12 offensive by the JNA.
13 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes. So under circumstances of
14 imminent threat of war, the Presidency can work in its full composition as
15 well, and even as such it has greater authority, greater authorisations.
16 In The Hague, on the 18th of October, the Presidency was in its
17 full composition. It was chaired by Mr. Mesic. But since the conditions
18 were those of imminent threat of war, they had greater authority.
19 JUDGE ROBINSON: Yes, Mr. Milosevic.
20 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]
21 Q. In paragraph 65 of the Bosnian indictment, it says: "On the 22nd
22 of October, 1991, or around that date, Slobodan Milosevic, together with
23 other members of the joint criminal enterprise, continued to advocate for
24 a unitary Serb state governed from Belgrade, Serbia. On the same date,
25 the Rump Presidency called for the mobilisation of reservists in Serbia
1 and other regions that want to stay in Yugoslavia." "Other regions" under
2 quotation marks, and the "Rump Presidency" also under quotation marks.
3 Mr. Robinson did not use the term that you heard in the
4 interpretation. He didn't say a "Rump Presidency," he said "reduced."
5 A. Yes. It's a better term.
6 Q. "Reduced" is a correct term, whereas "rump" is derogatory.
7 Tell me, please, can a unitary state in Yugoslavia be the same
8 thing [as interpreted]?
9 A. No way.
10 Q. Did you hear from me or my close associate or any of those people
11 who allegedly were with me in the so-called joint criminal enterprise, did
12 you hear ever from any of us anything about a unitary Serb state?
13 A. Never.
14 Q. Could you comment on this allegation that I, together with other
15 members of that joint criminal enterprise, continued to advocate for a
16 unitary Serb state governed from Belgrade, Serbia? How does it sound to
17 you, that somebody on that day continued something that it seems from
18 other allegations he never stopped doing anyway?
19 A. I think it's a nonsensical allegation. I can say nothing about
20 it. Maybe the authors of the indictment can better explain what they
21 wanted to say with this. I don't see what you could have continued to do
22 on at that day even if you had been doing it.
23 Q. For example, during the testimony of academician Kosta Mihailovic,
24 Mr. Nice accused me and the leadership for not accepting the confederate
25 state as proposed by Slovenes and Croats. Similar testimony was given by
1 other witnesses, such as Mesic.
2 What, in your view, was the point of that proposal for
3 confederalisation; and do you believe that this proposal was realistic,
4 acceptable, a serious one?
5 A. I think that even the most prominent protagonists of aggressive
6 secession, the very top echelons of the Slovene and Croatian leadership,
7 have already confirmed in their public statements themselves that the idea
8 of confederalisation was only the first step towards independence and
9 secession from Yugoslavia, the establishment of an independent Croatian
10 state. They persisted on that path. Mr. Tudjman stated publicly that war
11 could have been avoided if they hadn't insisted on an independent Croatia
12 and its secession from Yugoslavia.
13 It would also be good to look at some statements of Mr. Mesic
14 while he was the right hand of Mr. Mesic [as interpreted] in 1992 and 1993
15 and later president of Croatia, and his very different approach to the
16 issue in 1999 -- sorry, 1990, when he was the leader of the opposition
17 party in Croatia.
18 Q. It would be useful to look at that, but before that I want to read
19 to you a brief part of the transcript of Mesic's testimony. Pages 10546
20 and 10547. "[In English] Slovenia and Croatia, assisted by
21 Bosnia-Herzegovina and Macedonia, we proposed to have a confederal system
22 because the model of a federation as the one that existed could not be
23 sustained. That is what I always emphasise. The three cohesive factors
24 were no longer there. And the only possible thing was a confederacy.
25 However, until the present day, Serbia did not respond to our proposal to
1 opt for a confederal solution, to reach an agreement on this, to come to a
2 consensus and not act through the army and have solutions imposed on us.
3 We could not accept Croatia, Slovenia, and other republics to be treated
4 the way Milosevic treated Vojvodina, Montenegro, and Kosovo. We could not
5 accept that kind of federation, and that is precisely what he wanted, a
6 firm federation.
7 "That is what I wish to say by way of an explanation. What was
8 said was that confederation could not exist. They even said that there
9 was a confederacy in the United States of America. Well, true, but it did
10 not fall apart. But it did function and it -- and there is proof of
11 that." Et cetera.
12 [Interpretation] So he claims in his testimony that he had
13 advocated a confederation, that it was a principled view of theirs, but
14 let us clear up this first. He says that what "he" wanted - he being me -
15 was a firm federation. Did anybody talk about a firm federation?
16 A. I know that I personally worked for at that time and many times
17 later for a functional federation, not a firm one. For what we have now
18 in Serbia and Montenegro is neither a federation nor a confederation. It
19 is an extremely unfunctional creature. Every union presumes that two
20 entities that are sovereign invest part of that sovereignty into that
21 union and work together.
22 Q. So did I advocate a firm federation?
23 A. No.
24 Q. Mesic says that their approach was to propose a confederation.
25 Let us look now at his statement given on television regarding the issue.
1 I think it was in 1997.
2 A. 1999.
3 Q. You're right, 1999.
4 A. It was in October 1999, on Montenegro TV.
5 Q. Let us play the clip briefly.
6 [Videotape played]
7 THE INTERPRETER: "[Voiceover] The Croatian contribution is this:
8 Croatia had lived for a long time without having a separate state. The
9 Croatian people always lived in states that were more or less imposed on
10 it; the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, both the first and the second
11 Yugoslavia. But throughout there always existed an aspiration on the part
12 of Croats to have -- to achieve their state. That ambition was never
13 satisfied so that it could be taken for granted like it is the case with
14 many European states in which there was never such insistence for
15 independence. But Croatia was in a different position. On one hand, we
16 had Milosevic's pressure, and on the other hand the aspiration to have a
17 state. Would a confederation be an objective? That is a big question.
18 That would probably be a -- not an objective but a means to reach a goal,
19 and the goal was independence."
20 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]
21 Q. So he says here that the confederation was the means to reach an
22 end and the end was independence.
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. Can we say that this proposal for confederation was a serious one?
25 A. We did not regard it as such, and that's why we refused to accept
1 it as a solution at the time.
2 Q. What can you say about the mobilisation of reservists, the reasons
3 for the mobilisation in the time and in the conditions in which it was
5 A. Earlier in my testimony, I have said several times that the
6 Yugoslav People's Army, despite all the crises and the war in Yugoslavia,
7 especially in Croatia, was decimated. First because Slovenes stopped
8 sending their recruits to the JNA, and they were followed by Croats, then
9 Kosovo Albanians stopped sending their soldiers to the JNA. So the army
10 remained decimated. And this additional mobilisation that was undertaken
11 was a measure to reinforce the army and enable it, but not enable it for
12 offensive action, because I've already said we had never taken such
13 decisions nor did we accept such proposals from the general command staff.
14 This additional mobilisation was only supposed to fulfil the gap
15 that appeared due to the absence of recruits from Slovenia, Croatia, and
16 Kosovo. We also had a special reason to do it, because practically on the
17 4th of October, Tudjman proclaimed general mobilisation in Croatia.
18 Q. And what was the content of the order issued by the Presidency on
19 the 18th of October? Is that the session of the Presidency chaired by
20 Stjepan Mesic held in its full composition in The Hague?
21 A. Yes. That was that session. We held it before the session of The
22 Hague Conference. I've already said that all eight members of the
23 Presidency were there, as were President Tudjman and you, Mr. Milosevic.
24 The leadership of the international community was there also.
25 Q. Is this found in tab 37? It's an order issued by the Presidency
1 of the SFRY held in The Hague, urgent and unconditional cease-fire.
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. It's very brief. It's in tab 37. It says: "The SFRY Presidency
4 at its session held in The Hague issued an order for an urgent and
5 unconditional cease-fire, said a statement by the chairman of the Dutch
6 Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
7 "The SFRY Presidency issued this order at the beginning of the
8 latest round of the International Conference on Yugoslavia, which is being
9 held at the highest level in the Dutch capital today.
10 "The cease-fire will come into force at 1300 hours Yugoslav time,
11 1200 hours Central European Time, concludes the statement."
12 JUDGE BONOMY: Mr. Kostic, this is an example. Is there an order
13 somewhere behind this statement, or was the order simply given orally?
14 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Well, you see, Mr. Bonomy, we were
15 all in The Hague when this session was held. I really do not know whether
16 there is a written order. All I know is that as the date was practically
17 the same day, 1300 hours, and the order was issued by telephone to the
18 General Staff to cease urgently and unconditionally all armed activity.
19 And Mr. Tudjman was supposed to issue the same order to his paramilitary
20 formations, but in view of what happened later, I'm not sure that he did.
21 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]
22 Q. This is a statement by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
23 because they also attended the session. You yourself said van den Broek
24 was there. Was this implemented?
25 A. None of it was implemented. The first two points of that order
1 which was issued orally were adopted unconditionally. At The Hague
2 Conference, Mr. Tudjman even attempted to impose conditions on point 2
3 pertaining to lifting the blockade on the barracks. And he was
4 interrupted by Lord Carrington. The conditions he wanted to impose they
5 later did impose, and they did not lift the blockade on the barracks.
6 Q. Tell me, please, the statement issued by the SFRY Presidency to
7 the public on the 19th of October, 1991, which is found in tab 38, what is
8 it about? Let's take a look at the first sentence. "The SFRY Presidency,
9 President Tudjman and in the presence of President Milosevic, agreed to
10 issue the following orders to their forces:
11 "Immediate and unconditional cease-fire.
12 "Immediate unblocking of all JNA barracks and JNA facilities in
14 "Evacuate all blocked barracks and JNA facilities as soon as
15 possible; evacuate in the direction leading out of Croatia at a pace which
16 is to be agreed upon at the meeting of the tri-party working group in
17 Zagreb," and so on.
18 Please be kind enough to explain this a little bit. The SFRY
19 Presidency and President Tudjman agreed. Is this the essence?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. And I was present there?
22 A. Yes, you were present. I have to point out that throughout this
23 period you played a very prominent role as a strong political authority
24 whenever agreements were made. After the 1st of October, many
25 protagonists of the international community bypassed the SFRY Presidency
1 except when it was not possible to do so. For example, when dealing with
2 the General Staff and the role of the JNA in all this, concluding
3 cease-fires and so on. However, the immediate commander of the armed
4 paramilitary forces in Croatia was President Tudjman, and the Presidency
5 was the other side, the commander of the JNA.
6 Q. So what was the nature of my presence at these agreements?
7 A. I think, as in some other cases, your presence was your political
8 support as someone with authority to assist the resolution of the crisis.
9 Q. Was it aimed at finding a peaceful solution or at raising tensions
10 and conflicts?
11 A. I have to say that all your efforts, as was also seen after my
12 withdrawal from public and political life, all your efforts were aimed at
13 searching for a peaceful solution, at reaching agreements. And you
14 confirmed this somewhat later in the case of the Vance Plan, because you
15 and Mr. Cyrus Vance advocated the adoption of the peace plan for Croatia
16 and the Krajina, not to mention your later advocation of the Cutileiro
17 plan in Bosnia and other peace proposals that were put forward after I was
18 no longer a member of the Presidency, not to mention Dayton, and so on and
19 so forth.
20 Q. And what was concluded at the session of the 21st of October?
21 It's in tab 39A. The date is the 21st of October, 1991, and it refers to
22 a session of the SFRY Presidency.
23 A. At every session, we had occasion to evaluate and to inform the
24 public about every cease-fire that was concluded. As you see, not a
25 single barracks had had the siege lifted. What's more, some of these
1 blockades were even strengthened, and an unusual gesture in diplomatic
2 practice occurred which brings into question the impartiality of the
3 international community. The four principles that Mr. Mesic had put
4 forward at the inaugural session of The Hague Conference on the 7th of
5 September had all been trampled on, especially the third one, which says
6 that every option was to be treated equally and that nothing could be
7 imposed on anyone by force.
8 What is special about this statement is that none of the
9 obligations undertaken by Tudjman at The Hague Conference in relation to
10 the cease-fire had been carried out.
11 Q. In the fourth paragraph of this document, you mention a letter
12 that you sent. It says: "It was emphasised at the session that the
13 stipulations of Dr. Franjo Tudjman, president of the Republic of Croatia
14 in commanding the Croatian Armed Forces were unacceptable and contravened
15 the positions and the decision adopted on 18 October 1991 in The Hague.
16 Thus prompted, the SFRY Presidency addressed a letter to Lord Carrington
17 and to the chairman of the EC Council of Ministers van den Broek, pointing
18 out that establishing peace, unfortunately, depends exclusively on the
19 Republic of Croatia implementing agreements, and the behaviour of the
20 Armed Forces. It was also pointed out ..." and so on.
21 And then: "Concern was expressed by the SFRY Presidency because
22 of the situation in which JNA members found themselves in the barracks
23 that were under siege, as well as several members of their families in the
24 Republic of Croatia."
25 What were the responses to this letter that you sent, and were
1 there any positive developments after this or not?
2 A. No. There were no positive responses. We really expected that
3 the European Community, as it had promised at the very outset, would use
4 its influence and authority to get the Croatian and Slovenian leaderships
5 to search for political solutions peacefully. None of this was achieved,
6 and I believe that on the 5th of November, at the next session of The
7 Hague Conference, Lord Carrington expressed this very well. He opened the
8 session by stating that the conclusions of the Presidency of the 18th had
9 not been carried out and that Croatia had not lifted the blockade of the
10 military barracks of the JNA on the territory of Croatia.
11 Q. And what is there in tab 40? What is the content of the
12 Presidency decision on mobilisation?
13 A. This is a detailed answer to one of the questions put by Judge
14 Bonomy as to who violated the cease-fires.
15 First it speaks of the blockade of the work of the tripartite
16 working group.
17 Q. What was that group?
18 A. At The Hague Conference of the 18th of October -- or, rather, the
19 Presidency meeting, with all the members present, it was agreed that there
20 should be an unconditional cease-fire and an unconditional lifting of the
21 blockade of the barracks. The modalities and manner of the withdrawal of
22 the JNA from the territory of Croatia was to be discussed at the
23 tripartite working group and agreed in that group. However, the Croatian
24 leadership procrastinated and started imposing conditions on the lifting
25 of the blockade, at the same time failing to respect the cease-fire.
1 And at the beginning of the next page, at the top of the next
2 page, that is at the bottom of page 495 and the beginning of the next
3 page, it says that: "On the -- between the 20th and 21st of October,
4 1991, members of the armed formations of the Republic of Croatia carried
5 out 34 attacks on JNA units and facilities. In these attacks, 12 JNA
6 members were killed and 37 were wounded, of whom 11 seriously and 26
7 slightly." There were 24 attacks, that is. Although, according to the
8 decisions from The Hague, Croatia had been required to lift the blockade,
9 it had not done so. Moreover, some garrisons, Zagreb, Karlovac and
10 Sibenik, the blockades have been intensified."
11 "The regular supply of food, electricity and water is still
12 blocked and hindered in the barracks and military facilities of the
13 Republic of Croatia. At a meeting of the tripartite working group in
14 Zagreb, the representative of the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of
15 Croatia refused to allow the lifting of the blockade of barracks to be
16 placed on the agenda and said that this issue could only be discussed on
17 condition that the evacuation of JNA units from Croatia be discussed
18 first. It is a known fact that under the decision adopted in the Hague,
19 the blockade of the barracks was to be lifted immediately and the blocked
20 barracks and facilities were to be evacuated as soon as possible following
21 a schedule that was to be agreed at a meeting of the tripartite group in
23 Q. In the fourth paragraph, under the title "Obstruction of the work
24 of the tripartite working group," it says: "Members of the armed forces
25 of the SFRY have completely observed the cease-fire order of the 19th of
1 October, 1991. They were never the first to open fire, and they only
2 fired back when they were forced to defend themselves."
3 Is this the situation obtaining at the time?
4 A. I have to say that throughout this time, throughout the time of
5 the crisis on the territory of the former SFRY, the JNA acted with extreme
6 restraint. Hardly any army anywhere in the world could have shown so much
7 patience and restraint.
8 Q. And towards the end, you say: "The armed forces will comply with
9 the Presidency decision of the 18th of October."
10 A. They always found ways to not comply with anything we had agreed
11 on. You can see that here. It says clearly: "The decision adopted in
12 The Hague specified that only the blocked garrisons would be evacuated.
13 The Republic of Croatia, however, still requests that JNA units withdraw
14 from all the garrisons and facilities in the territory of that republic."
15 Q. Let's dwell briefly on the issue of mobilisation. In paragraph
16 65, it says: "The Presidency called for the mobilisation of reservists in
17 Serbia and other regions that want to stay in Yugoslavia." That's in this
18 quoted paragraph.
19 Was this full or partial mobilisation? What did it imply? On
20 whose initiative was this decision made? Does what it says in paragraph
21 65 of the indictment hold water?
22 A. This is completely incorrect. The Presidency could never have
23 made such a decision, the calling for mobilisation in Serbia. At the
24 request of the staff of the Supreme Command, the Presidency called for
25 raising the manpower levels, because the generation of September and
1 October of 1990 who were completing their training, which lasted for a
2 year, were being sent home. Had we wanted to wage war and engage in
3 offensive action, we would not have let two generations of already trained
4 soldiers go home.
5 Q. Now, in this Presidency decision is there any mention made of
6 Serbia? Because in paragraph 65 of the indictment, it said that
7 reservists -- "called for the mobilisation of reservists in Serbia."
8 A. No. There's no formulation like that at all.
9 Q. All right. Fine.
10 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] I apologise, Mr. Robinson; I omitted
11 to ask that these documents that we've already been through and quoted
12 from be tendered into evidence as exhibits.
13 JUDGE ROBINSON: Yes, they may be exhibited.
14 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]
15 Q. Otherwise, on page 68, line 20 of the transcript, it says: "Can a
16 unitary state in Yugoslavia be the same thing?" And I said "Was a unitary
17 state of Serbia and Yugoslavia one and the same thing or can they be one
18 and the same thing?" So I should like to ask that that be put right in
19 the transcript.
20 JUDGE ROBINSON: Yes.
21 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]
22 Q. At whose decision was this decision on mobilisation made?
23 A. At the proposal of the federal secretary for national defence,
24 that is to say general or, rather, the commander of the supreme -- supreme
25 General Staff, Veljko Kadijevic.
1 Q. You mean the Chief of Staff.
2 A. Yes, the Chief of Staff.
3 Q. In tab 77, now, we have General Kadijevic's statement of the 22nd
4 of October in the Presidency session. Do you have that?
5 A. Yes, I do.
6 Q. Now, these proposals by General Kadijevic were adopted by the
7 Presidency, were they? Which were they? Were they the three adopted
8 decisions that were incorporated into the decision we quoted earlier on?
9 A. Yes, that's right.
10 Q. Tell us now, please, the decisions made by the Presidency of the
11 22nd, were they offensive in nature, of an offensive nature or defensive
12 in nature?
13 THE INTERPRETER: Could the witness repeat his answer, please.
14 JUDGE ROBINSON: Please repeat your answer. The interpreter did
15 not hear it.
16 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I said that it is quite clear from
17 the formulation and the contents of these proposals for measures to be
18 taken that they were of a defensive nature, not offensive.
19 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]
20 Q. Professor Kostic, did you take part at The Hague Conference on
21 Yugoslavia in the autumn of 1991?
22 A. There was -- there were a number of Hague conferences. I took
23 part in three of them. The first inaugural meeting of The Hague
24 Conference, on the 7th of September, I attended that one, and the 18th of
25 October meeting as well, and the 5th of November meeting, 1991. I
1 attended those three.
2 Q. What was your attitude towards the proposals presented by Lord
4 A. Well, I, for example, stemming from my own personal views and
5 positions and my desire to settle the conflict peacefully, to settle our
6 political crisis peacefully, but also stemming from our right that if
7 certain republics wish to secede, then those who wish to remain living in
8 a common state, joint state, should be given equal treatment, at least
9 equal treatment as those who wish to secede and are seceding in a forcible
10 manner. So it was along these lines and in that sense that I was rather
11 reserved vis-a-vis the first chapter of The Hague document.
12 And let me also say that Lord Carrington at the very outset did
13 not attend -- invite the Presidency of the SFRY to attend the conference
14 at all, and then we sent September a sharp-worded letter of caution in
15 which we stated that even if the presidents of the republics did agree,
16 that the decision -- that the decisions would not be fully valid because
17 it is not up to the presidents of the republics to decide such matters but
18 it was up to the Presidency as the head of state to decide such matters.
19 Now, the first chapter of The Hague document left open the
20 possibility in practical terms that of the six republics of the former
21 SFRY six independent and sovereign states be automatically constituted.
22 Yugoslavia would be wiped off the political map at The Hague Conference.
23 Serbia and Montenegro already at that time expressed their desire to
24 continue living together in a joint state, and at The Hague Conference,
25 similarly, that right of theirs was challenged precisely by the leaders of
1 the secessionist republics, and thereby the third principle was trampled
2 upon, the third principle from the joint appearance that Mr. Mesic
3 publicised at the inaugural conference of the 7th of September in The
4 Hague, and that was that all options should be taken on an equal footing.
5 Q. Do you remember the amendments tendered by the then president of
6 the Presidency of Montenegro, Momir Bulatovic and I myself?
7 A. Well, that amendment followed on the steps of the 18th Presidency
8 session held on the 18th. Mr. Carrington didn't -- Lord Carrington did
9 not give me the floor, did not allow me to speak at The Hague Conference,
10 and after that meeting there was an amendment that followed. In fact,
11 there were two amendments. One was sent by you and Mr. Bulatovic, and the
12 second amendment was sent in by the Montenegrin Presidency, but the
13 substance of those two amendments was almost identical. It said that,
14 along with acceptance of everything stated in the first chapter of The
15 Hague document, you went on to propose that there should be another point
16 included which would read roughly as follows -- I have it somewhere but to
17 paraphrase it, there was just one sentence, and it was this: To recognise
18 the rights of those who wish to continue living in a joint state to do so,
19 just as the right of those secede was recognised; that they be treated
21 Q. So to be treated equally, those who wished to step down from
22 Yugoslavia and those who wished to remain in Yugoslavia?
23 A. Yes, that's right.
24 Q. Was that something that was not principled, to ask for the same
25 treatment, those wishing to leave and those wishing to stay? Was there
1 anything wrong with that?
2 A. That was a very principled stand and position. And let me say
3 again, the position adopted unilaterally -- or, rather, unitedly in the --
4 that was a stand that was fully endorsed by the Presidency.
5 Q. So you mean the Presidency of this SFRY, including Mesic as a
6 member and all the rest, accepted that position whereas later on this was
7 not incorporated into the Hague document, and we asked for the equal
8 treatment of those who wished to remain as well as those who wished to
9 leave. That was rejected.
10 A. Yes. They rejected it and I had the impression that Lord
11 Carrington was willing to adopt that amendment which would provide for
12 equal treatment for those wishing to secede and those wishing to stay in
13 the same state, however it was rejected -- I don't know who, but it was
14 rejected by the republics and leaderships of the republics which had opted
15 for secession.
16 Q. In paragraph 85 of this alleged Croatian indictment, it says the
17 following: "As of the 1 August 1991 until at least June 1992 --" that is
18 to say it was the period where you were -- you led the Presidency; is that
19 right? It says in Croatia there was a situation of armed conflict, and
20 there's a full stop there. "Up to the 7th of October, 1991, that conflict
21 was an internal one. From the 8th of October, 1991, an international
22 armed conflict and partial occupation existed in the Republic of Croatia."
23 Now what is it that happened on the 7th or 8th of October, 1991,
24 that the situation in Croatia which you've just described to us in all the
25 events suddenly turned into an international armed conflict and partial
1 occupation, as it says here?
2 A. Well, on the 8th of October, the Croatian leadership proclaimed
3 that the deadline had expired, the three-month deadline that had been
4 granted, it had been an erroneous interpretation of the Brioni
5 Declaration, in fact.
6 Q. When we looked into the Brioni Declaration, it had nothing to do
7 with Croatia, those three months.
8 A. Yes, but at the time they proclaimed their independence -- they
9 had proclaimed their independence, and this formulation given in the
10 indictment read out by you a moment ago is highly incorrect and actually
11 nonsensical, all the more so since in the indictment itself there is a
12 separate count or paragraph - unless I'm much mistaken, I think it's 110
13 or 109 - in which it is claimed that Yugoslavia had existed up until the
14 27th of April, 1992, when the constitution of the Federal Republic of
15 Yugoslavia was replaced by the constitution of the Socialist Federal
16 Republic of Yugoslavia. So in the indictment, to claim that up until the
17 8th of October, 1991, that conflict had an internal -- was of an internal
18 nature and after the 8th of October international nature, although I'm not
19 a legal man myself or an expert in international law, as far as I'm
20 concerned that is quite nonsensical.
21 Q. Now, do you know in what manner the Constitutional Court of
22 Yugoslavia reacted to the decision taken by the Sabor of the Republic of
23 Croatia, or its Assembly, the decision on the dissolution of the state
24 ties between the SFRY adopted on the 8th of October, 1991, the unilateral
25 act of the 8th of October? How did the Constitutional Court react to
2 A. I think that the Constitutional Court of Yugoslavia, unless I'm
3 much mistaken, on the 12th of November, or around that date, or the 20th
4 of November perhaps, discussed the issue and decided and ruled that that
5 was unconstitutional and invalid, what the Croatian leadership had
7 Q. Please take a look at tab 86 now, please, and in that tab you will
8 find the decision taken by the Sabor or Croatian Assembly, where it says
9 the 8th of October, 1991, where it says Croatia is abolishing all state
10 relationships which, based with the other republics and provinces made up
11 the SFRY up until that date. So that's the decision. I don't want to
12 quote it in full, but you have the document of it there and it is tab 86.
13 And in that same tab you have the decision on the constitutionality -- on
14 assessing the constitutionality of Croatia's decision to sever ties.
15 A. If you're referring to tab 86, I must say I don't have that tab in
16 my binder.
17 Q. Well, that's a technical error then on my part, I assume.
18 A. Yes, I do have it, I do have it.
19 Q. All right, fine. Tell us now, please, in view of the text of the
20 decision by the Constitutional Court, who moved proceedings before the
21 Constitutional Court against the Republic of Croatia and its severance of
22 any ties with the SFRY and the decision adopted on the 8th of October?
23 A. It was the Federal Executive Council that took those steps and
24 initiated those proceedings, led by the president or, rather, the Prime
25 Minister, Ante Markovic.
1 Q. Tell us now, please, to the best of your knowledge and your
2 understandings, according to the attitude of the Presidency, did the armed
3 conflict indeed change its nature when Croatia proclaimed its
5 A. I've already said, although I'm not an expert in legal matters,
6 any form, especially not international law, I would say that that
7 observation seems to me to be slightly ludicrous, although I'm a layman,
8 as I say.
9 Q. Now, the JNA was there. It was in its garrisons. It was
10 stationed throughout the territory of the former Yugoslavia. How long did
11 the JNA and prior to that the army of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia spend on
12 that territory, the territory for which it is claimed the international
13 armed conflict broke out there?
14 A. Well, the army was deployed throughout the territory and therefore
15 also on the territory of Croatia for a full 70 years, when the first
16 Yugoslavia was in existence and when the second Yugoslavia came into
17 being; throughout that time. And on the 8th of October, it was still the
18 sole constitutional armed force of the country, the country that was
19 Yugoslavia still.
20 Q. What can you tell us about the agreement to withdraw the JNA from
21 Croatia and the applications of that agreement, its implementation?
22 A. Well, we didn't have the intention in Croatia or anywhere else to
23 impose a solution by using the JNA on anyone, but to all intents and
24 purposes in Croatia, for example, and at the beginning in Slovenia and as
25 later happened in Bosnia where we did intend to pull out and withdraw
1 certain units of the Yugoslav People's Army, we were prevented in doing so
2 because those units of the JNA, which in peacetime were to be found on the
3 territory of Croatia, had been blocked for several months.
4 Q. All right. Fine. Now, a moment ago you told us how long the army
5 remained on the territory of Croatia. Tell me now according to the
6 Presidency decision and attitude and your personal attitude, could the
7 JNA, that JNA that had been there for decades, could it, on the basis of
8 the fact that Croatia had proclaimed its decision, which we can see was
9 rejected by the Constitutional Court, but based on Croatia's
10 proclamations, could it automatically become an occupying force?
11 A. No, it could not because, according to the constitution, it was
12 the sole constitutional armed force.
13 Q. But it found itself there, it happened to be there. These people
14 took their decision and suddenly it had the role of an occupier, having
15 been there for 17 years.
16 A. Not only was it not an occupier in those barracks, but it was
17 itself occupied by Croatia's paramilitary forces.
18 Q. But was it able physically to withdraw?
19 A. No. That's why I'm saying it could not have physically withdrawn,
20 because it was under a blockade. It was under siege.
21 Q. In paragraph 108 of the Croatian indictment, we have mention of
22 the fact that Tudjman, Kadijevic, and Milosevic were in Geneva with Vance.
23 The agreement called for the lifting of blockades of the barracks and the
24 withdrawal of the JNA forces from Croatia, and something is quoted there.
25 It says: "units under their command, control, or political influence."
1 That is the quotation. Can you explain that to us, please?
2 A. Well, it's the same explanation that I gave a moment ago when we
3 were discussing the Presidency meeting prior to The Hague Conference on
4 the 18th of October, when they were in full composition. In those
5 agreements at the time, we had the participation on behalf of the SFRY,
6 Mr. Kadijevic; and on behalf of the Croatian military forces, you had
7 Mr. Tudjman attending. And similarly, as insistence was made then on this
8 occasion too, and many times later, insistence was made on your
9 participation regardless of the fact that in the formal sense, in the
10 formal legal sense, you did not have the competence and authority to do
11 so. However, all the actors in the international community that were
12 included in trying to solve the Yugoslav crisis and trying to assist in
13 it, their attitude towards you was towards a man who enjoyed high
14 political authority and influence. So I think that this formulation
15 reflects that, because the political influence is stressed there.
16 JUDGE ROBINSON: Mr. Milosevic, we'll take the break now for 20
18 --- Recess taken at 12.23 p.m.
19 --- On resuming at 12.47 p.m.
20 JUDGE ROBINSON: Mr. Milosevic, please continue.
21 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]
22 Q. So what is the purpose, the meaning of this agreement, especially
23 in the part that relates to the lifting of the blockade of the barracks
24 and the withdrawal of the JNA?
25 A. The basic purpose of that agreement is to finally start doing what
1 was envisaged by the previous 14 agreements. Every one of those
2 agreements began with that demand, and it was a requirement for bringing
3 UN peacekeepers. If you mean the Cyrus Vance agreement.
4 Q. Yes, yes. And speaking of an army that's been in a territory for
5 70 years and that is currently under blockade in its barracks and is
6 unable to move, can it be considered an occupier?
7 A. That's a bit ridiculous.
8 Q. And can Krajina Serbs be considered occupiers in the area of
9 Krajina? Let's say a Krajina Serb who leaves his house in which his
10 family had been living for hundreds of years. If he leaves his house to
11 protect his family from attackers coming from hundreds kilometres away,
12 can he be considered an occupier as opposed to the person who is attacking
13 him who is treated as a fighter against occupation?
14 A. It is a well known fact that Krajina Serbs had lived there for
15 hundreds of years. So that's a ridiculous proposition, like many others
16 that can be found in the indictment. I had the impression, reading the
17 indictment, that this -- if a tsunami had happened before the indictment
18 was written, it would have been one of the charges against you.
19 Q. When was the last time Mesic chaired a Presidency session in The
21 A. The last time that Mr. Mesic chaired a full Presidency session was
22 on the 18th of October in The Hague.
23 Q. All right. Let us play just another brief clip from that
24 television programme that was shown on Montenegro television.
25 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Could you play the clip.
1 [Videotape played]
2 THE INTERPRETER: "[Voiceover] You say that Croatia had ambitions
3 to create its own independent state. Do you think that the fear of Serbs
4 from that independent Croatia was justified in view of the history, the
5 Jasenovac camp, the Independent State of Croatia, the iconography, and the
6 rhetorics of the Croatian Democratic Union, especially if we bear in mind
7 Tudjman's statement?"
8 THE INTERPRETER: The sound is gone.
9 "[Voiceover] Well, that statement of his will continue to be paid
10 for by our people. A person, especially a president of the state,
11 shouldn't even think that, let alone say it aloud. I have to say, for the
12 sake of truth, on one side there were misgivings among the Serbs, and that
13 fear was of a recreation of that independent state of Croatia that was
14 everything but independent. It was a creature of the Third Reich, the
15 powers of the axis; Germany and Italy."
16 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]
17 Q. Were you able to hear?
18 A. I heard.
19 Q. Could you comment on what he said?
20 A. Well, here, answering the question from the anchor whether Serbs
21 in Croatia had reasons to fear, Mr. Mesic confirmed that they did indeed
22 have reason to be afraid because there were many things that reminded them
23 of what had happened in the Independent State of Croatia, when Croatia was
24 not actually a state but a creature of the Third Reich, as he said.
25 Q. You said a moment ago that he chaired a session on the 18th of
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. And we saw in the paragraph that was quoted that on the 7th of
4 October some international armed conflict happened. Explain to me,
5 therefore, how is it possible for a president of an occupied state to
6 chair a session of the Presidency of the -- which is a Supreme Commander
7 of the occupying force?
8 A. I cannot explain that.
9 Q. Then please read the second half of the penultimate paragraph --
10 JUDGE ROBINSON: [Previous translation continues] ... occupying
11 force, because an occupying army is a particular concept in the law of
12 armed conflict. But as used in the indictment, does it mean anything
13 other than that the Serb forces were there?
14 It's not clear to me, because you have used the term several
15 times, so you attach importance to it, and I'm not sure whether that
16 significance is to be gathered from the indictment.
17 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Well, Mr. Robinson, paragraph 85
18 says: "From 8 October 1991, there was international armed conflict and
19 partial occupation in the Republic of Croatia."
20 I don't attach importance to it because it's correct but because
21 it's absurd, because it begs the question of whether an army that has been
22 legally on the territory of its own state for 70 years can become an
23 occupier overnight and whether the local people can become occupiers on
24 their own doorstep. How can it be used in a serious text -- at least,
25 Mr. Nice pretends its serious. How can that term be used if it's pure
2 JUDGE ROBINSON: Very well. It just wasn't clear to me the sense
3 in which you were using it. For example, in paragraph 109, there's a
4 reference to "the areas occupied by Serb forces." And further on, there
5 is a reference to "the Serb-occupied areas," and "the territory of the RSK
6 remained under Serb occupation."
7 It's not clear to me whether all of that translates into an
8 occupying army, but we need not debate that now. Please proceed with the
10 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] All right. We can also ask the
12 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]
13 Q. Was it under some sort of Serb occupation; and if so, in what way?
14 A. I can only say what I have already repeated several times here.
15 In the area of Serbian Krajina in Croatia, where the majority population
16 was Serb, the Serbs had lived several hundred years. I don't know how it
17 is even possible to talk about those Serbs there who had their property,
18 houses, as somebody who occupied the territory. That's one.
19 And second, in those places where there was JNA presence, we
20 cannot talk about the JNA as an occupying force unless we accept the
21 language of Mr. Mesic and others from the secessionist republics who
22 called the Yugoslav People's Army an occupying army. But in practical
23 terms, until --
24 JUDGE ROBINSON: Mr. Milosevic, in paragraph 109, the line I just
25 read: "The territory of the RSK remained under Serb occupation." I think
1 "occupation" there, it seems to me, means habitation. Well, on the face
2 of it, but it's a matter to be determined.
3 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Well, that there was Serb habitation
4 there for centuries is not in dispute. But in my terminology and my
5 language, "occupation" means something quite different. If that is
6 considered occupation when I occupy my house, then your interpretation
7 would be correct. Then it is not something that could be a charge against
8 someone. How can somebody be charged with occupying their own home? Why
9 did it find its place here at all then?
10 JUDGE ROBINSON: Please proceed. Proceed with the questions.
11 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]
12 Q. Professor Kostic, please read the second half of the penultimate
13 paragraph and the last paragraph on page 294 of Mesic's book. That's tab
14 73. What does Mesic say, how he participated in the convoy of ships to
16 A. Could you repeat the page number again?
17 Q. Page 294 of his book. Read the second half of the penultimate
18 paragraph, beginning with the words: "As a result of the commitment of
19 the most prominent intellectuals ..." and the last paragraph on that page.
20 A. "As a result of the commitment of the most prominent intellectuals
21 of Croatia that was unequivocally supported by the humane world but also
22 due to the chauvinism of the unpoisoned personality of Belgrade, a
23 humanitarian convoy of ships and vessels was organised to set out on the
24 28th of October from Rijeka, make a stopover in Zadar, Split, and Korcula
25 and set in, if everything goes according to plan, at Dubrovnik on the
1 morning of the 30th of October. I decided to join the convoy to give my
2 support to general solidarity, but also because somehow I was number one
3 in the Supreme Command."
4 Q. Let me ask you about this. He says he was man number one in the
5 Supreme Command, that he was indeed president of the Presidency, so it's
6 not in dispute. How is it possible then for the president of an occupied
7 state, as he put it, to be at the same time number one of the Supreme
8 Command of the occupying force and to set in to places held by that
9 occupying army?
10 A. That is pure nonsense. And although you are telling me I'm going
11 into too much detail in my testimony, but I have to say that while
12 Mr. Mesic was president of the Presidency, he was president of the
13 Presidency as long as it suited him. Whenever it didn't suit him, he
14 appeared paralysed and disabled from performing that function.
15 In all this time as a president of the Presidency, did not have
16 any powers circumventing the authorities of the full Presidency to go and
17 make any international visits. But he did go to Vienna, Berlin, Brussels,
18 Washington, London, The Hague, and he appeared everywhere as president of
19 the Presidency of the SFRY, although both under the constitution and under
20 the rules of procedure of the Presidency, he did not have such powers. So
21 now when he was supposed to join the convoy to Dubrovnik, and he says
22 himself he was bringing volunteers, he presents himself as number one of
23 the Supreme Command.
24 Q. And how is it possible for this number one man in the Supreme
25 Command to go there, and he is at the same time president of an occupied
1 state? Is that possible?
2 A. I can't explain that.
3 Q. Can you read the heading and the first few lines on page 305. It
4 says: "Dismantled Yugoslavia disappears even formally."
5 A. Page 305?
6 Q. Yes, 305. What does he say? Read the title and the first and
7 penultimate points of the sub-heading.
8 A. He said: "Dismantled Yugoslavia disappears even formally. The
9 4th of November until 5th December 1991."
10 Q. So Mesic claims that Yugoslavia disappeared by 5th December 1991.
11 This indictment claims that as of 8th October there existed armed conflict
12 and occupation. What is true?
13 A. Neither is true. What is true is paragraph 110 or 109. That's
14 where I agree with the Prosecution. "Yugoslavia existed as an
15 internationally recognised state until 27th April 1992."
16 Q. And what does Mesic say? You told us in what capacity he
17 travelled to various places; Luxembourg, Belgium, France, his last travels
18 as president of the Presidency.
19 A. Well, he allegedly travelled as president of the Presidency of the
20 SFRY, but from everything he said and from his book, the purpose of his
21 travels was to advance the interests of the Croatian leadership, to secede
22 from Yugoslavia as soon as possible, and to achieve Croatian independence.
23 So he was actually engaging in anti-constitutional activity.
24 Q. And when did the Croatian Assembly withdraw Stjepan Mesic from his
25 post as president of the Presidency?
1 A. I believe it happened on the 5th of December, 1991, in the
2 Croatian Assembly.
3 Q. Let us look at the 5th of December. In what way did Stjepan Mesic
4 make his last report to the Croatian Assembly about the Presidency
5 session? That's the 5th of December, 1991.
6 [Videotape played]
7 THE INTERPRETER: "[Voiceover] ... became a self-reliant and
8 independent Croatian state. I have performed my task. Yugoslavia is no
9 more. Thank you very much."
10 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]
11 Q. What did he say here?
12 A. "I have performed my task. Yugoslavia is no more. Thank you very
14 Q. So he has performed his task and Yugoslavia is no more. The other
15 day you said here that the title of his first book was "How I Toppled
17 A. Yes, that's what he himself said, and then Genscher told him it
18 would not be received well. That's why he changed the title to "How We
19 Toppled Yugoslavia," and then in the final version it was, "How Yugoslavia
20 Was Toppled."
21 Q. So this title has its evolution, but now we've seen the original
22 footage, where he says, "I have performed my task. Yugoslavia is no
24 Let us now look at a clip where he speaks in the Sabor, the
25 Croatian parliament, and it's here on page 296, where I say: "[Previous
1 translation continues] ... [In English] confidence, and you made a
2 notorious statement to the effect that you -- that you -- I have performed
3 my task. Yugoslavia is no more.
4 "Is it so, Mr. Mesic?"
5 [Interpretation] I'll jump over what I asked because we have seen
6 this on the footage.
7 His reply: "[In English] Excellent question. I will explain what
8 this was about. The Croatian parliament elected me to be Croatian member
9 of the Presidency of Yugoslavia." [Interpretation] Then he goes on to
10 explain how he was elected. We've been through all that.
11 And he says: "[In English] ... decision of its independence,
12 Croatia, in agreement with the international community, postponed its
13 secession from Yugoslavia by three months. This time period had elapsed.
14 Yugoslavia no longer existed. The federal institutions were no longer
15 functioning. I returned to Zagreb, and that's precisely what I said,
16 because I did not go to Belgrade to open up a house painting business. I
17 went there as a member of Presidency of Yugoslavia. Since Yugoslavia no
18 longer exists and Presidency no longer exists, I perform the task
19 entrusted to me by Croatian parliament and was reporting back, ready to
20 take up a different office."
21 "Very well, Mr. Mesic. This is truly worth your admiration, your
22 explanation of what you said, but you haven't told me whether you actually
23 said, 'I have performed my task. Yugoslavia is no more.'
24 "The accused is a lawyer, he understands very well what I'm
25 talking about. My task was to represent Croatia in Federal Presidency."
1 [Interpretation] And then I say there's no need for him to mention
3 Well, you have now seen the footage. Is what he says in his
4 testimony correct or is what is correct what we see in the footage?
5 A. Well, there's no doubt that what we have seen in the footage is
6 true. On that same occasion, Mr. Domljan, who was the speaker of
7 parliament, the Croatian parliament at the time, literally said, I quote
8 -- it's on page 320 of Mesic's book --
9 JUDGE ROBINSON: The Chamber will make up its mind as to what is
10 true, what is credible, so move on to another matter.
11 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Very well.
12 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]
13 Q. Tell me, Professor Kostic, how is it possible for a representative
14 of an occupied state for a full two months after the so-called occupation
15 remains the head of state --
16 JUDGE ROBINSON: That's not a permissible question.
17 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Very well.
18 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]
19 Q. We will then move on. Of what Yugoslav republic was General
20 Kadijevic a representative when he was elected as secretary of defence?
21 A. Of Croatia.
22 Q. And until what time did he hold that post?
23 A. Until -- well, just before the end of 1992, he announced that, for
24 reasons of health, he had to resign. Officially, it was the 8th of
25 January, 1992.
1 Q. So how is it possible for a minister from an occupied state to be
2 at the head of an army that is actually occupying that state?
3 A. I have no question [as interpreted].
4 Q. And what was he?
5 A. He was a minister. He was a member of the Federal Executive
6 Council, which is practically the government.
7 Q. And who was at its head at the time mentioned in the indictment,
8 the 8th of October, 1991?
9 A. It was Ante Markovic.
10 THE INTERPRETER: Could there be a pause between question and
11 answer, please.
12 JUDGE ROBINSON: Mr. Milosevic and the witness, the interpreter is
13 asking you to pause between the question and the answer.
14 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Also from Croatia.
15 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]
16 Q. Until when was Markovic the Prime Minister of the federal
18 A. I don't know the exact date, but I think it was around the 20th
19 or the 22nd of December, 1991.
20 Q. Do you remember why Ante Markovic resigned on the 20th of
21 December, 1991?
22 A. Ante Markovic resigned because he did not agree with the other
23 members of the government about the federal budget for 1992.
24 Q. I just wanted that on the record. How was it possible for the
25 representative of an occupied state to be the Prime Minister of the
1 government of an occupying state?
2 A. I really have no answer to that question.
3 JUDGE ROBINSON: Don't answer that. Don't answer that question.
4 Next question.
5 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]
6 Q. In paragraph 110 of the Croatia indictment, it says: "The SFRY
7 existed as a sovereign state until the 27th of April, 1992, when the
8 constitution of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was adopted, replacing
9 the constitution of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia of 1974."
10 Is this correct, or what it says in paragraph 85, or can both
11 statements be correct?
12 MS. UERTZ-RETZLAFF: Your Honour, this is not a question for the
13 witness to answer. This is all about the statehood of Croatia, the legal
14 consequences of certain moves that were made. That's not for the witness.
15 We are actually wasting a lot of time now, for almost an hour on this, and
16 I think it should really be stopped.
17 JUDGE ROBINSON: That issue is not, as the Prosecutor said, for
18 this witness. Move on, Mr. Milosevic, and we really need to make some
19 progress. How much longer will you be with this witness?
20 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] I think at least a whole day.
21 JUDGE ROBINSON: You will bear in mind what I said to you
23 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] I am bearing it in mind, but I think
24 that this a witness is very important. He was at the head of the
25 Presidency practically throughout this whole relevant time period. That's
1 why I feel his testimony is relevant on all points.
2 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]
3 Q. Professor Kostic, what did the SFRY Presidency put forward in the
4 information of the 15th of November, 1991, presented to the Assembly of
5 Yugoslavia regarding the resolution of the Yugoslav crisis?
6 A. I submitted an expose to the Yugoslav parliament. Not my personal
7 view but the assessment of all of us in the Presidency, and we
8 communicated to them our assessment of this situation which was causing us
9 extreme concern. All the efforts towards peace that we had invested and
10 everything we had done through General Kadijevic, who acted pursuant to
11 our orders, was yielding no results. At the same time, we stated that at
12 the Presidency level and at the level of the federal government work was
13 being carried out on parallel tracks. Mr. Ante Markovic as the Prime
14 Minister, and Mr. Budimir Loncar as the foreign minister were failing to
15 carry out their constitutional obligations referring to the preservation
16 of Yugoslavia, as opposed to Mr. Gracanin and Mr. Kadijevic who were the
17 minister of the interior and the minister of defence respectively and who
18 were acting in accordance with their constitutional duties.
19 We expressed our view that this was a very grave situation and
20 that a way out had to be found.
21 Q. And what was the main point of the letter sent to Lord Carrington
22 on the 19th of December regarding the Arbitration Commission by the
24 A. The Presidency expressed its disagreement with its -- with the
25 assessment made by the Arbitration Commission simply because the
1 commission failed to take into account the basic provisions of the
2 Yugoslav constitution which were then valid and in force, one of which was
3 the right of each nation to self-determination, including the right to
4 secession. The Arbitration Commission in this particular case did not
5 recognise the right of the Serbian people in the Republic of Croatia,
6 although even according to the constitution of Croatia, this nation was a
7 constituent nation of the Croatian state until Tudjman's government and
8 the HDZ removed it from the Croatian constitution and gave it the status
9 of an ethnic minority.
10 Q. How did the SFRY Presidency express itself on the 15th of
11 December, 1991, regarding the recognition of Croatia and Slovenia?
12 A. The Presidency evaluated this as a conscious attack on Yugoslavia,
13 as a move leading to further escalation of the conflict.
14 Q. How did the Presidency of the SFRY express itself on the 17th of
15 December, 1991, regarding the criteria of the European Community on the
16 recognition of new states?
17 A. In the same way the Presidency expressed its dissatisfaction,
18 because throughout this time, the time of the Yugoslav crisis, practically
19 until November the European Community had publicly supported the
20 preservation of the territorial integrity of Yugoslavia and the
21 comprehensive solution of the Yugoslav crisis, but evidently when Germany
22 finally managed to impose its own standpoint on the other members of the
23 European Community, a turnaround came about and the European Community
24 completely changed its standpoint. On the 17th of December, it publicly
25 announced and communicated the criteria to the Yugoslav republics,
1 encouraging them to queue up and apply for independence with the European
3 Q. Well, you explained this at length yesterday, so we will not dwell
4 upon it any longer.
5 What was --
6 JUDGE KWON: Professor, if you could explain to me in brief terms
7 the difference of being a constituent people on the one hand and being an
8 ethnic minority on the other hand.
9 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] According to the Yugoslav
10 constitution and according to the constitutions of each individual
11 republic, it was defined. There were two kinds of status, that of a
12 constituent nation and that of an ethnic minority.
13 In Croatia, the two constituent nations of the Croatian Republic
14 were the Croats and the Serbs. All the others were designated as ethnic
16 In Bosnia-Herzegovina, in the constitution of Bosnia-Herzegovina,
17 it was expressly stated that Bosnia-Herzegovina, as a socialist republic
18 within SFRY, was constituted by three constituent nations; the Muslims,
19 the Serbs, and the Croats. And this was in order of their numbers.
20 The difference between the way constituent nations were treated as
21 opposed to ethnic minorities - and I'm referring to Yugoslavia - and this
22 may not be a legal explanation, but the difference was that members of
23 nations that already had a nation state somewhere could not become
24 constituent nations in a Yugoslav republic.
25 For example, the numerous Albanian population living in Kosovo,
1 although they were more numerous than the Serbs were in Croatia, had the
2 status of an ethnic minority on the territory of Serbia, because there was
3 a nation state for Albanians in Albania. Serbs lived in Croatia and they
4 had the status of a constituent nation.
5 The provisions in the constitution of the SFRY and also in the
6 constitutions of the various republics clearly prescribed that the
7 interests of each constituent nation had to be taken into account. One
8 constituent nation, or two constituent nations in the case of Bosnia,
9 could not make any decisions without the approval of the remaining
10 constituent people. There could be no out-voting.
11 I don't know if this answer is clear enough.
12 JUDGE KWON: As long as the rights of the minority people are
13 respected, or to put it differently, unless they are discriminated, I
14 don't see much difference between constituent people and minority.
15 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] With your permission, Mr. Kwon, had
16 you perhaps lived in the territory of the Balkans at any time, and had you
17 by chance lived in that area where the Serb people lived in Croatia, for
18 example, and if you had experienced everything that that peoples had
19 experienced in World War II, then you would understand that difference far
20 better. It is precisely because of that unfortunate destiny and fate that
21 the Serb people suffered during World War II that most -- this most
22 probably had an effect and the Serb people in the constitution were a
23 constituent nation together with the Croatian people.
24 JUDGE KWON: I understand that. My question was rather a
25 practical one. What is the difference in terms of the rights they have in
1 practical terms?
2 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Well, I think I've already told
3 you: All matters of fate and destiny that are decided must be decided
4 with the acquiescence of both or all three constituent peoples. And in
5 cases of national minorities, that is not required, not called for.
6 JUDGE KWON: And that is -- is that provided by the provision of
7 constitutional law -- constitution?
8 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] It must be defined -- defined in the
9 constitution. I can look for it. The Croatian constitution and the
10 Bosnia-Herzegovina constitution, where that is stated.
11 JUDGE KWON: Thank you, Professor.
12 JUDGE BONOMY: One -- one of the attributes you ascribe to a
13 constituent people is the right to self-determination and secession. Now,
14 does that apply to a constituent people as a constituent people of a
15 republic separately from its application to that constituent nation or
16 people as part of the federation?
17 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Mr. Bonomy, I'm afraid that is too
18 complex a question for me to answer, but I'll do my best to answer on the
19 basis of practice, because I'm not a lawyer myself.
20 On the basis of practice and the experience we gained according to
21 the Yugoslav constitution and respect for the Yugoslav constitution and
22 the republican constitutions by the same token, both in the Yugoslav
23 constitution and in the republican constitutions, where there are a number
24 of constituent peoples making up a territorial whole, the basic principle
25 was that one nation, regardless of its number and size, can do anything to
1 the detriment of another people, make any fateful decisions.
2 In the case of Croatia, what happened was this: The Croatian
3 people to all intents and purposes by adopting the new constitution threw
4 out the Serbs, left out the Serbs. They were no longer this constituent
5 people. The same thing happened in Bosnia.
6 JUDGE BONOMY: Can I ask then, to just clear one thing to which I
7 think the answer is obvious but it would be helpful to have it on the
8 record: How many constituent peoples made up the Republic of Serbia?
9 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] The Republic of Serbia was made up
10 just by one constituent peoples, and that was the Serbs.
11 JUDGE BONOMY: Thank you very much.
12 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] But since there were no other
13 constituent peoples in the Republic of Serbia, what was decided was that
14 within the composition of Serbia you had two autonomous provinces; the
15 autonomous province of Kosovo and Metohija and the autonomous province of
17 JUDGE BONOMY: Thank you.
18 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]
19 Q. I should like to ask us to hear a brief statement made by Lord
20 Carrington which I think would fit in very well here within the context of
21 our discussions and deliberations.
22 JUDGE ROBINSON: Mr. Milosevic, I'm advised that the booth is
23 looking for the tape. So move on, and we can come back to it.
24 Oh, it's there now.
25 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Very well.
1 [Videotape played]
2 "This was a war that European leaders believed could have been
4 "The Bosnian Serbs, until comparatively recently, have been in
5 the majority in Bosnia, and then the Muslims, who had a very much higher
6 birth rate, became predominant, the majority population, and this of
7 course was something very hard for the Serbs to swallow, and they made it
8 abundantly plain very early on that they were not prepared to accept the
9 situation in which there was an independent Bosnia under the constitution
10 which then prevailed. And indeed under the constitution which then
11 prevailed, it was not -- it was illegal for Izetbegovic to declare
12 independence because any constitutional change of that magnitude had to be
13 agreed by all three parties."
14 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]
15 Q. I couldn't hear the soundtrack. I was just listening to the
16 interpretation into Serbian. I don't know whether you were able to hear
17 what he said in English.
18 So what is it that Lord Carrington says; that the proclamation of
19 independence was illegal because something like that had to be agreed upon
20 between the three constituent peoples. So when we're talking about the
21 rights of constituent peoples or a constituent people, the right to
22 self-determination, was it possible or was it legal to change the
23 constitution or legal status of a republic without the acquiescence and
24 agreement of the constituent peoples?
25 A. Absolutely not. And I think that Lord Carrington put this very
1 properly: It was illegal.
2 Q. All right. I hope that this explanation given by Lord Carrington
3 has served to clarify your dilemmas.
4 A. With your indulgence, Mr. Milosevic, may I be allowed to say
5 something further? Bosnia-Herzegovina also had a collective Presidency, a
6 collective head of state for the republic, and that Presidency was left.
7 They left because by the representative members of the Presidency of
8 Bosnia-Herzegovina who were the Serb representatives. But then a double
9 yardstick was applied. Alija Izetbegovic was treated throughout by the
10 international community as president of the Presidency of
11 Bosnia-Herzegovina and it never entered into anybody's head in the
12 international community that that -- to refer to that Presidency of
13 Bosnia-Herzegovina as a Rump Presidency because it didn't have any Serb
14 representatives in it.
15 Q. Although Lord Carrington also says that the decision was illegal.
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. And he was the chairman of the Conference on Yugoslavia, the
18 presiding officer. But let's move on to the next topic. What is the
19 meaning and substance of the SFRY Presidency to the Security Council in
20 December 1991, 21st of December?
21 A. Well, when we finally came to realise that all our efforts were
22 not bearing fruit and that the European Community was not giving us the
23 support and assistance the European Community had -- as a mediator, good
24 services had offered us at the very beginning and we received evermore
25 open criticism to the effect that the Yugoslav People's Army and the use
1 of the Yugoslav People's Army was aimed at taking over territory, we in
2 the Presidency arrived at the conclusion that the best solution would be
3 that we as a Presidency, as the Yugoslav state Presidency and the Supreme
4 Command, we address the UN Secretary-General and the Security Council and
5 to have them send the UN peace forces, which would be deployed in the
6 crisis spots in Croatia with the basic task of physically protecting the
7 Serb population living in those areas. And in that case, the Yugoslav
8 People's Army could withdraw from those areas, because it was accused of
9 being an occupying force.
10 So what we wanted was that the UN peacekeepers should take over
11 the role of physical protection for the population, because we considered
12 that the Croatian paramilitary formations would not attack the UN peace
13 forces as they had been attacking the JNA. So that a truce could be
14 established, a cease-fire, and then given those peaceful conditions
15 without mutual conflicts, a political settlement could be sought.
16 Q. On that same day, the 20th of December, you sent an opinion by the
17 Presidency to the Arbitration Commission having to do with the right to
18 self-determination. That was the subject; is that right?
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. And what was the reason for that? You wrote to the Security
21 Council to send in UN forces, and what did you write to the Arbitration
23 A. Well, we said that we disagreed, and we said that the Arbitration
24 Commission failed to take into account the constitutional solutions that
25 we had adopted linked to the rights of each constituent people to
1 self-determination to the right to secession.
2 Q. What did it say in all the constitutions of Yugoslavia? Did it
3 say the people's of Yugoslavia, the nations of Yugoslavia, is that what it
5 A. Yes, the peoples of Yugoslavia, that's what it said.
6 Q. And who were the peoples of Yugoslavia or the nations of
7 Yugoslavia that were enumerated in all the country's constitutions?
8 A. The people of Yugoslavia that were listed in all the constitutions
9 were as follows: The Slovenes, the Croats, the Serbs, the Montenegrins,
10 and the Macedonians. And from 1962 onwards, I believe --
11 Q. It was a little later. It was a little later.
12 A. Anyway, the Yugoslav coat of arms had five torches, symbolising
13 the five constituent peoples. Somewhat later, I think that was in -- in
14 the mid 1960s, the then party and state leadership of Yugoslavia
15 recognised the right of the Muslims as a national right, as a separate
16 entity. So that the Muslims too in Yugoslavia gained the status of a
17 constituent people. And from that moment on, in future constitutions the
18 Muslims are also listed as a constituent people. Of course, that was on a
19 religious basis.
20 Q. That was a little later on, but never mind, it's not relevant to
21 what we're discussing here I won't go into that now, but tell us, at whose
22 initiative was the Vance Plan adopted?
23 A. Well, the Vance Plan was adopted -- or what brought about its
24 adoption was the initiative of the four-member Yugoslav state Presidency,
25 which was in function as of the 3rd of October and continued working faced
1 with the situation of imminent threat of war.
2 Q. In tab 72 do we have a letter by the Yugoslav state Presidency
3 that was sent to the president of the Security Council, inviting the
4 Security Council to send peacekeepers to the country? I think you quoted
5 it in your book on page 133 to 135. It's in tab 72, if I remember
7 A. I've found it.
8 Q. So what was it you asked for at the time? What did you request?
9 A. I don't know whether you want to read it -- me to read it all out.
10 Q. No. Just the elementary points.
11 A. Since we described the situation, the lack of respect of all the
12 truces agreed upon, and we highlight the blockade, and failure to comply
13 by Croatia and the Croatian paramilitaries and forces, we said the
14 following: With our invitation, or in view of everything that was
15 happening and in our call to have the UN peacekeepers come to the Republic
16 of Croatia in the border belt between the territories that are populated
17 by majority Serb population and territories where there is a majority
18 Croat population, we say in such a way that the UN forces would create a
19 buffer zone and separate the two conflicting sides until a peaceful and
20 just solution and one based on international law is found along with the
21 engagement of the United Nations, until the Yugoslav crisis is solved in
22 that way, thereby creating the necessary prerequisites for the Presidency
23 of the SFRY as the Supreme Command of the armed forces of the SFRY makes a
24 decision to disengage the Yugoslav People's Army in preventing
25 inter-ethnic clashes and conflicts on the territory of Croatia.
1 Q. So there you call for the UN peacekeepers to be sent in and the
2 disengagement of the army in view of the fact that the UN peacekeepers
3 would take on the role of protecting the population.
4 Now, when was the plan drawn up, just briefly?
5 A. Well, the plan was drawn up, I think, during the month of December
6 that was. And on the 2nd of January, 1992, I think it was, Mr. Cyrus
7 Vance informed the public that the plan had been drafted.
8 Q. What about the attitude of the authorities in Serbia? My own
9 attitude towards the Vance Plan?
10 A. There was undivided support for the Vance Plan, without any
11 reservations whatsoever.
12 Q. And what about the attitude of the overall -- the entire
13 Presidency towards Vance's plan? This was the initiative. Now, once the
14 plan had been compiled, what did the Presidency think about it?
15 A. Well, the basic substance of Vance's plan was to establish a
16 truce, to establish the physical protection of population in the area;
17 therefore, the Presidency was in favour. So the sense and substance of
18 Vance Plan coincided with our views as to how conditions could be created
19 for a political settlement to be found in peaceful conditions.
20 Q. Now tell me another thing: This striving to have the UN
21 peacekeepers sent to the country, can that be linked up with any intention
22 or intent to expel the Croats from some territory and then to attach that
23 territory to Serbia?
24 A. That's nonsense.
25 JUDGE ROBINSON: Don't answer that. Those are matters for the
2 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Very well.
3 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]
4 Q. Was there any resistance to having the Vance Plan adopted?
5 A. Well, I have to say that at the very outset there was great
6 resistance to the Vance Plan by most of the leadership in the Serbian
7 Krajinas on the territory of Croatia. However, with patient politicking
8 and numerous efforts at persuading them and explaining to them what it was
9 all about -- we had several meetings, one went on for 40 hours, a
10 Presidency meeting with the most responsible representatives of the Serbs
11 from Krajina -- all of them ended up by accepting the plan with the
12 exception of Mr. Milan Babic. And I have to say that at the time during
13 that -- those many hours of persuasion to have them accept the plan, we
14 were greatly assisted by the gentleman from the leadership of Serbs in
15 Bosnia-Herzegovina because they took part in the negotiations. And they
16 were Mr. Radovan Karadzic, for instance, Mr. Koljevic, Mr. Krajisnik, and
17 Mrs. Plavsic. Out of all of those, it was only Mrs. Plavsic who expressed
18 her non-agreement with the plan and gave her support to Milan Babic. Of
19 course, there were also the corps commanders such as Ratko Mladic. He was
20 commander of the Drina Corps at the time. He also lent his support to the
21 plan, and as a general and as a military commander, he cautioned what a
22 war conflict would mean and the sufferings that that would bring.
23 JUDGE ROBINSON: And on at that note, we must end the day's
24 proceedings. We will resume tomorrow at 9.00.
25 MR. NICE: Your Honours, do we know which witness is coming
1 tomorrow? Should we check, perhaps?
2 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Well, with your permission, the
3 witness testifying tomorrow will be Ms. Eve-Ann Prentice. Eve-Ann
4 Prentice. I have to apologise to the witness for interposing
5 Ms. Prentice. I have already explained why I asked her to be interposed,
6 so I apologise to the witness for that.
7 JUDGE ROBINSON: Will she be here all day, all three sessions?
8 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Yes. Well, I assume she'll have to
9 take up the whole day with the cross-examination as well.
10 JUDGE ROBINSON: Very well. We will adjourn. And you should be
11 back on Monday, the 6th, not tomorrow.
12 MR. NICE: If Your Honour thought I was looking a little
13 concerned, I was just wondering whether it would be prudent to ensure that
14 this witness is available. I don't know what the scope of Ms. or
15 Mrs. Prentice's evidence is going to be nor, thus, how long I will wish to
16 spend with her in cross-examination.
17 JUDGE ROBINSON: Yes. Well, in that event, then, you should make
18 yourself available for tomorrow. The Victims and Witnesses Unit will see
19 to that.
20 We are adjourned.
21 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 1.47 p.m.,
22 to be reconvened on Friday, the 3rd day
23 of February, 2006, at 9.00 a.m.