Geert Lovink on Tue, 11 May 1999 19:17:46 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> (fwd) IWPR's Balkan Crisis Report, No. 30, 11 May 1999

Date: Tue, 11 May 1999 10:13:21 +0100
From: Tony Borden <>


MILOSEVIC'S VICTORY. Under whatever flag foreign troops may come to
Kosovo, Dejan Anastasijevic argues that there's no doubt who will remain
in control in Belgrade.

YUGOSLAVIA'S SELF-BLOCKADE. Pressure on the second republic grows as the
Yugoslav Army moves against the Montenegrin economy. Ljubinka N. Cagorovic
reports from Podgorica.

MEDIA ON MESSAGE. Serbian TV's message depends on the day: with a
diplomatic opening, anti-Western rhetoric cools. But the solidarity
for China has no bounds.


IWPR's network of leading correspondents in the region provide inside
analysis of the events and issues driving crises in the Balkans. The
reports are available on the Web in English, Serbian and Albanian;
English-language reports are also available via e-mail. For syndication
information, contact Anthony Borden <>.

The project is supported by the European Commission, Swedish International
Development and Cooperation Agency, Press Now and the Carnegie Corporation.

For further details on this project and other information services and
media programmes, visit IWPR's Website: <>.

Editor: Anthony Borden. Assistant Editing: Christopher Bennett, Alan Davis.
Internet Editor: Rohan Jayasekera. Translation by Alban Mitrushi.

"Balkan Crisis Report" is produced under IWPR's Balkan Crisis Information
Project. The project seeks to contribute to regional and international
understanding of the regional crisis and prospects for resolution.

The Institute for War & Peace Reporting (IWPR) is a London-based
independent non-profit organisation supporting regional media and
democratic change.

Lancaster House, 33 Islington High Street, London N1 9LH, United Kingdom
Tel: (44 171) 713 7130; Fax: (44 171) 713 7140;

The opinions expressed in "Balkan Crisis Report" are those of the authors
and do not necessarily represent those of the publication or of IWPR.

Copyright (c) 1999 The Institute for War & Peace Reporting <>.



Under whatever flag foreign troops may come to Kosovo, there's no doubt
who will remain in control in Belgrade.

By Dejan Anastasijevic

Even without last week's horrible blunders--the cluster bombing of an
open air market in Serbia's southern city of Nis and the accidental
missile attack on the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade--it seems increasingly
clear that NATO's bombing campaign against Serbia is going nowhere.
Far from a declaration of weakness, Yugoslavia's announcement of the
withdrawal of some forces from the province may in fact be a signal
of victory.

Six weeks into the bombing campaign, ethnic Albanians continue to flee
Kosovo, Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic refuses to allow NATO in,
and the only visible achievement is the devastation of Serbia's
infrastructure and economy. Even senior NATO officials, notably Gen.
Klaus Naumann, have recognised that the air campaign has failed to
halt the ethnic cleansing or remove Milosevic from power.

The West's miscalculations continue. The threat of force did not make the
Serbian strongman back down. He did not seize the initial wave of attacks
as a perfect excuse for getting rid of Kosovo. Subsequently the Serbian
masses have failed to rise up and topple the tyrant. Now, some analysts
suggest that Milosevic is in fact mad, a Nero-like character fiddling
for his own pleasure while his country burns.

Far from being mad, however, Milosevic has outwitted the Western powers
in a series of well-calculated moves, and now stands a good chance of
victory. Though he may eventually lose Kosovo, it seems increasingly
likely that his hold on power in Serbia will be cemented well into
the next century.

The West's key mistake was to threaten Milosevic with air strikes while,
at the same time, ruling out the deployment of ground troops.

It was the threat of ground troops, and not air strikes, that Milosevic
really feared, and for that reason he started massing his forces along
the border with Macedonia and Albania months before the NATO offensive.
The Albanians' initial rejection of the Rambouillet agreement gave him
an extra couple of weeks to lay mines and build additional fortifications
along NATO's potential entry routes via Macedonia and Albania.

In order to protect his rear, Milosevic also had to deal with Kosovo's
hostile Albanians, many of whose leaders had been calling for bombing
for many months. Hence the need to remove the population.

It is now clear that Belgrade prepared the ethnic cleansing of Kosovo,
code-named Operation Horseshoe, months in advance--to be executed in
the event of NATO bombing. As a result, while NATO war planes were busy
attacking Serbian anti-aircraft defences and empty barracks in Belgrade,
Yugoslav Army and paramilitary forces in the field were able to cleanse
large swathes of the province of its Albanian population.

The expulsions were thus not simply wanton acts of retaliation motivated
by ethnic hatred, but well-prepared moves with a military rationale.
The refugee crisis has also destabilised Macedonia and Albania and
obliged NATO to become involved in a humanitarian effort of providing
food and shelter, further undermining the alliance's ability to prepare
an invasion.

Some Western diplomatic sources have acknowledged that NATO had details
of operation Horseshoe as early as January--that is, almost three months
before it began--but still failed to consider the potential scale of
the catastrophe. When the West finally began debating a ground invasion
of Kosovo, by April, Milosevic was already well prepared for such an

Continuing to exclude the possibility of a ground invasion, West has left
itself with two simple options: either prolong the bombing indefinitely,
hoping that Milosevic will eventually break down, or return to the
negotiating table to face an emboldened Milosevic.

For now, the West seems intent on pursuing both strategies at once. Again,
Milosevic is ahead of the game--signalling that he is ready to do business
with the West. He has released three captured US soldiers; allowed
moderate Albanian leader Ibrahim Rugova to go to Italy; and indicated
that he may even be ready to allow foreign troops into Kosovo, provided
that they do not enter as part of NATO.

He has also enabled Russia to return to the centre of international
diplomacy, which is enough to earn him Kremlin's eternal gratitude. And
the West appears to have reduced its demands: Milosevic no longer has
to pull all his troops out of Kosovo in order to stop the bombing but
according to last week's speech by Bill Clinton, "substantial withdrawal"
would be enough. Hence Milosevic's latest offer to reduce his forces
in Kosovo.

The most likely outcome therefore appears to be a negotiated settlement
by which NATO countries enter Kosovo under a UN banner, accompanied by
a contingent of Russian troops under separate command.

Not only will Milosevic have chosen the timing of the deal, but he should
also have some say in the numbers and the mandate of the peacekeeping
force through the Russian and Chinese seats in the UN Security Council.

Although Milosevic would also need to accept the right of the Albanians
to return, many can be expected not to do so. And in any event, he will
be getting a far better deal than that which he rejected in Rambouillet.
Once again, he will emerge as a "factor of stability in the Balkans",
and a "guarantor of peace".

The price of his victory will be paid by Serbia itself and especially
by those Serbs who have opposed Milosevic. The country's industry and
infrastructure have been devastated and Milosevic's position has never
been stronger.

Milosevic will be able to boast that he has stood up to the most powerful
military alliance in the world. Some Serbs may dare to ask whether
enduring the bombing campaign was worth it. But Milosevic's police,
fresh from Kosovo and empowered by draconian laws passed during the war,
will ensure that the question will not be asked too loudly.

Dejan Anastasijevic is a journalist with the Institute for War & Peace


Pressure on the second republic grows as the Yugoslav Army moves against
the Montenegrin economy.

By Ljubinka N. Cagorovic in Podgorica

In the latest escalation of the conflict between the Belgrade and
Podgorica, the Yugoslav Navy has ordered the closure of Montenegro's
main port in Bar. This move raises the stakes, striking directly at
the economy of Serbia's junior partner in the Yugoslav federation.

Montenegrin analysts fear that the closure of the port is but the latest
example of the creeping coup against their republic which began when
Gen. Milorad Obradovic became head of the Yugoslav Army in Montenegro at
the beginning of April. They believe that the Yugoslav Army is gradually
taking control of all the most important aspects of Montenegrin life.

"If the port is closed for a long time, then we would apply pressure
so that it opens again as soon as possible," said Dragisa Burzan,
Montenegro's deputy prime minister. He points out that the Yugoslav
Army has already closed the port on several occasions, but that on
each occasion it was re-opened after a few days.

The Yugoslav Army has already used the port of Bar to launch a
surface-to-air missile at NATO war planes, despite the wishes of
the Montenegrin authorities who are determined to remain neutral
in the conflict.

"A long closure of the commercial port could prove catastrophic both for
the citizens and for the economy, and especially for supplying Montenegro
with humanitarian aid," said Jusuf Kalamperovic. the republic's Minister
for Sea and Transport. The ban applies both to commercial and passenger

According to Kalamperovic, a ship loaded with timber for export is
waiting to sail out of the port, and a ship containing raw material
for Montenegro's aluminium-production plant, one of the republic's
most important companies with 4,000 employees, is waiting to disembark.

"Unless the port of Bar is opened soon, the KAP [the aluminium-production
plant] will halt production," said Mihailo Banjevic, chief executive of
the aluminium production plant.

According to Banjevic, a ship that was to transport 1,000 tonnes of
aluminium is unable to leave port with the result that the plant is unable
to pay its debts to the electricity utility and to the mines. If the port
remains blockaded for a long time, he fears that it will result in closure
not only of the aluminium production plant, but also of several more
factories dependent on its work.

In addition to the financial losses inflicted directly on the Montenegrin
economy, the blockade is having an indirect effect, namely the gradual
subjugation of Podgorica to Belgrade. President Milo Djukanovic's
government finds its room for manoeuvre more limited by the day.

The Socialist People's Party (SNP), the party of Milosevic loyalists in
Montenegro, has published a draft resolution calling on the republic's
parliament to condemn the NATO "aggression". It is also demanding that
parliament reaffirms that the Yugoslav Army is the principal armed force
in Montenegro, exclusively responsible for all military formations in
the republic.

Montenegro is deeply divided not only over the attitude towards the
NATO intervention, but also over the future of the Serbian-Montenegrin

The most outspoken critic of Belgrade and the SNP is Novak Kilibarda,
Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the People's Party. He is being
charged by the Yugoslav Army as a "threat to the defensive capacity of
the country" for stating that: "NATO cannot be an aggressor, because it is
an alliance." While reserving his support for independence, Kilibarda has
called for a change in the relationship between the two remaining Yugoslav
republics. "Yugoslavia as a confederation of Serbia and Montenegro would
be the best solution, given that this federation has proved to be
impractical," he told SKY SAT / MONTENA television.

NATO's first strike against a non-military target--a bridge in the village
of Murino in the Plav municipality was destroyed recently, killing four
civilians, including two children--has added to Montenegro's internal
dilemma. NATO considered the bridge on the river Lim a legitimate target
since its destruction cut off a possible supply route of fuel to Kosovo.

"NATO believed that the bridge could be used for the movement of armoured
units of the Yugoslav Army to Kosovo. But there are many other ways to
stop them elsewhere, and not in the middle of the village", said Deputy
Prime Minister Burzan. Despite the ever increasing tensions between Serbia
and Montenegro, Prime Minister Filip Vujanovic expressed optimism in the
talks with the representatives of the tourist industry in Montenegro that
the Kosovo crisis will be solved soon.

"The lords of war and peace in Belgrade must finally understand that this
destruction ought to stop," he said.

Ljubinka N. Cagorovic is a journalist in Podgorica.


Serbian TV's message depends on the political mood. With a diplomatic
opening, anti-Western rhetoric cools. But the solidarity for China knows
no bounds.

By a journalist in Belgrade

Television has long been the most powerful medium in Serbia. During
the past month and a half of war, it has also proved to be the most

NATO bombing, the destruction of transmitters and intermittent
electricity supplies have taken most television stations off the air,
if not permanently, then at least for several hours at a time. The largest
television stations, with many studios and large numbers of employees,
have fared the worst.

Since the Aberdareva Street headquarters of Radio Television Serbia was
bombed, most of the station's employees have been on enforced vacations.
News broadcasts are now prepared in several different locations in
improvised studios.

The first, second and third channels of state television have effectively
ceased broadcasting. However, state television's flagship evening news
programme still goes out at the usual time on private stations linked to
the regime, such as Studio B, Palma, Pink, and Art, though these stations
also now broadcast with weakened signals.

State television continues to broadcast via satellite, but only the
minority who possess the necessary dishes can watch it. Nevertheless,
according to the television supplement of the official daily Politika, the
crews of the Radio Television Serbia are the "only ones with an exclusive
right to record current events and the effects of the criminal bombing
of NATO forces".

The news invariably reflect the message which the state wish to convey
to the population. In the past two weeks, the diplomatic initiatives of
Russian special envoy Viktor Chernomyrdin and prospects of a negotiated
settlement have merited special attention.

Before Saturday's bombing of the Chinese embassy, news readers had begun
to moderate or omit many of the abusive names used to describe leading
Western statesmen and NATO officials. At the same time, the vitriol
aimed at opposition leaders, in particular Zoran Djindjic and Vuk
Obradovic, has been increased, which, many analysts believe, may be
a harbinger of things to come.

Leaving prime-time news to state television, the remaining private
municipal and local stations focus on entertainment, in an attempt
to help their viewers get through the hours of bombing.

After 10:00 PM, they broadcast films and series, most of which come
from the United States and South America. Most of the films are pirated
recent productions portraying the violent reality of American society,
corruption among politicians, the influence of the Mafia and the
moral bankruptcy of the West.

In addition to criminal and political thrillers, stations broadcast many
hours of comedy and South American soaps, such as the popular Kasandra,
which is devoid of any political content--an apparent attempt to distract
viewers from the reality around them. Television Politika specialises
in children's programming, screening cartoons from the early morning
until late at night.

A special curiosity is the 24-hour re-broadcasting of the Chinese news
and entertainment satellite station CCTV-4 on TV Kosava, a private station
owned by Marija Milosevic, the daughter of the Yugoslav president. The
station halted regular programming after NATO bombing destroyed the
building housing its offices and studio.

The Chinese re-broadcasts began before the embassy bombing and clearly
indicated where the sympathies of the Yugoslav state leadership lie,
as well as perhaps their political and state role models. However, it is
interesting that this Chinese programme with a lot of sharp commercials
and slick music actually comes across as pro-Western, with news broadcasts
modelled on European and American stations.

Special NATO bombs which are designed to short-circuit Serbia's
high-voltage power network have cut electricity supplies and made
all forms of mass communication difficult. Much of Serbia regularly
finds itself without electricity, and hence without television.

Radio stations have proved more resilient. As a result, portable radios
have become more important than television sets. Since the celebrated
independent station B-92 was banned and taken over by the regime, the most
listened to station in Belgrade has been Radio Pancevo, whose broadcasts,
even in the current conditions, remain informative, rather than

The author is an independent journalist in Belgrade.


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