clerical-fIt was always US policy to break up Yugoslavia

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Have you seen the Emperor's Clothes JUDGMENT! Video? It proves the Western media lied about Bosnia.

Learn more about JUDGMENT! here.


"Nothing is Forever..."

In 1992 the US ambassador called for dissolving Yugoslavia.

* Jan 21st 1992 interview in Croatian newspaper DANAS with US ambassador to Yugoslavia, Warren Zimmermann. *

Comments by Jared Israel
Editor, Emperor's Clothes
[Jared Israel's Comments were written in June 2000
and reposted with minor changes 10 February 2003]


Last week the Yugoslav Parliament voted to dissolve the country. In other articles, Jela Jovanovic and Petar Makara discuss this setback for all Yugoslavs.[1] In the interview and commentary below, former US Ambassador to Yugoslavia, Warren Zimmermann, makes clear where the US stood on this pivotal issue over a decade ago.

-- Jared Israel, 10 February 2002


[ ]

The following interview is important. Many have argued that the U.S. opposed the breakup of Yugoslavia. Warren Zimmermann was US Ambassador to Yugoslavia during the key period, when Slovenia and Croatia were fighting to secede. In the interview posted below he makes the real U.S. position quite clear.

"Nothing Is Forever," was the title the Croatian newspaper, Danas, gave the interview. And Zimmermann made clear exactly what was not to be forever:

"We are aiming for a dissolution of Yugoslavia into independent states peacefully."

A week before the interview a key event occurred. Europe recognized secessionist Croatia and Slovenia as independent states. Balkans scholar Raju Thomas refers to this as "a new method of aggression: Diplomatic Recognition."

  • "Surely then the real aggression in Yugoslavia began with the western recognition of Slovenia and Croatia. The territorial integrity of a state [Yugoslavia] that was voluntarily created and which had existed since December 1918 was swept aside. In 1991, new state recognition policy proved to be an inventive method of destroying long-standing sovereign independent states. When several rich and powerful states decide to take a sovereign independent state apart through the policy of recognition, how is this state supposed to defend itself? There can be no deterrence or defense against this form of destruction." (Raju Thomas, "Nationalism, Secession and Conflict: Legacies from the Former Yugoslavia.")
  • The U.S. did not immediately endorse the European move. Does this mean the U.S. opposed secession? I think the U.S. policy was two-faced. The U.S. government paid lip service to peaceful solutions and withheld recognition of Slovenia and Croatia, but at the same time, US officials and covert agencies worked to dismember Yugoslavia in a manner aimed at producing a Bosnian nation-state run by Islamic Fundamentalist proxies under the thumb of the US.

    Zimmermann's interview in 'Danas' supports this view. Is the interview accurate? If an Ambassador is seriously misquoted he would respond in order to correct the record; but Zimmermann never denied or corrected any part of the interview. We know no reason to question its accuracy.

    Moreover, subsequent US actions dovetail with the views expressed here. For example, consider this from Zimmermann:

    • "It appears to us that he [Bosnian Islamic Fundamentalist leader Izetbegovic] needs help in his effort to resist the partition of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and I believe it would be tragic if someone from the Croatian side would try cooperating with Serbia in the dismemberment of Bosnia-Herzegovina."

    Later, when the Bosnian Islamist leader Izetbegovic signed an agreement with Croatian and Serbian leaders to peacefully partition Bosnia, Zimmermann met with Izetbegovic and 'helped' by persuading him to renege on the deal and demand instead a unitary Bosnian state under Islamist control. Izetbegovic did renege, as Zimmermann asked, and this launched the Bosnian civil war.

    It is important to remember when reading this interview that Zimmermann was speaking for the world's only Superpower. Whatever Zimmermann said would be read carefully by all sides. As you shall see, he used the interview to encourage Croatian chauvinism, Kosovo Albanian secessionism and, in Bosnia, Islamic Fundamentalism, the very forces that Nazi Germany allied with in Yugoslavia during World War II.

    Zimmermann said he was against destabilization; but talk is cheap and every diplomat knew a united Yugoslavia was the key to stability in the Balkans. Zimmermann spoke of peace but he unleashed the dogs of war.

    My comments, which appear frequently, begin with the bracketed phrase, [Jared comments].

    Here is the interview.

    -- Jared Israel.


    "Nothing is Forever. . ."
    An Interview with Ambassador Warren Zimmermann
    ['DANAS', 21 January 1992]


    [Zimmermann:] First of all, I have to point out that the US and the American people exceptionally appreciate the Croatian people and sympathize with you for all you have been through in the past few months. We know you have been a victim of a Serbian and Army aggression, and in that situation you reacted with great courage and dignity. I am not saying this as a compliment to the fighting abilities of Croatia - though they are considerable - but I wish to point out that a great deal of restraint was demanded of Croatia. I refer to the lifting of the siege of military barracks, which was in our opinion one of the keys to the possibility of a stable peace. This also goes for honoring the cease-fires, which is always a critical issue. I would also point out the agreement to the UN peace plan, which all the sides have accepted. In all these matters, the people and government of Croatia showed its extraordinary worth.

    [Jared Comments:] Zimmermann's reference to the secessionists' "restraint" is false. While pretending to observe a cease-fire, the secessionists provoked and attacked Yugoslav troops in their barracks. Zimmermann lies throughout the interview. His words are best read not as accurate information but as evidence of US intentions.

    [DANAS:] Still, everyone wonders why the recognition has been delayed?

    [Zimmermann:] I have to admit that at this moment the recognition of Croatia is not on our agenda. But this does not mean that this temporary American approach will be around forever. We have always tried to approach recognition in a way that would contribute most to a permanent peace, and that same approach has been taken by Cyrus Vance and Lord Carrington.

    [Jared Comments:] Obviously he is promising US recognition - just not yet.

    [DANAS:] What does that mean in terms of time?

    [Zimmermann:] I cannot tell you the exact date. But that is certainly something to be kept in mind, and something we are thinking of, but we are also always wondering what kind of benefit that would bring Croatia while the war is still going on and while Croatia is still being occupied by enemy troops. We thought the best way for the JNA [Yugoslav Army] to leave Croatia was the one proposed by the UN, as it specifically states that the JNA must leave Croatia. We also believe that we can do the most to make this plan work is if we keep the possibility to pressure Serbia, Serbian and JNA leadership as much as possible. We are doing that decisively, and I believe we are in a much better position to do that now, as we have not recognized Croatia yet. That way, we have preserved authority and credibility with Serbia and the Army that we would not have if we had followed Germany and recognized Croatia. I believe what we are doing is beneficial to achieving true Croatian independence.

    [Jared Comments:] The US was withholding formal recognition not out of a desire to hold Yugoslavia together but out of a desire to destroy it in the most efficient and profitable way.

    [DANAS:] So you wish to preserve your influence?

    [Zimmermann:] Yes, but I also want to add that this does not mean in any way that Serbia or the JNA have any right of veto in the American recognition policy. This is not the case.

    [DANAS:] Many claim that you generally support Europe, but at the same time aren't too confident about the European policy?

    Zimmermann: I wouldn't say so. I know that Lord Carrington believes that recognition of Yugoslav republics that have requested it could be premature in these circumstances. We have tried to clear a path that I believe could lead to the result you want, which is a truly independent Croatia, free of occupation and enemy forces.

    [Jared Comments:] Zimmermann refers to the Army of Yugoslavia, a country to which he was U.S. Ambassador, a country which included Croatia, as an enemy force. Amazing.

    From the legal point of view, the Croatian secessionists who had declared, six months earlier, that Croatia was independent, simply had no case. The Yugoslav constitution included explicit legal requirements for secession that Croatia did not follow. Moreover, from a moral point of view, the JNA would have had as much justification in waging an all-out war against the Croatian secessionists as Abraham Lincoln did in waging such a war against the US secessionists a century earlier.

    In both cases, the secessionists represented the most racist forms of society at the time. In the case of the US it was slavery, in the case of Croatia the secessionist movement modeled itself on the Croatian Ustashe, arguably the worst fascists of World War II. [2]

    The Croatian secessionists were Serbophobic. They attacked ordinary Serbs with murderous violence. They brought back the same flag as the W.W.II Croatian Ustashe, the same black uniform, the same coin, the same fascist straight-arm salute. And they slaughtered the same people.

    It is this illegal and fascist movement on which Mr. Zimmermann lavishes such passionate praise.

    Just for the record, unfortunately the JNA did *not* wage all-out war against secession. This was for many reasons, not least of which was that, under pretense of being neutral, the European Community had pressured Yugoslavia into making the militant Croatian secessionist, Stjepan Mesic, the President of Yugoslavia. Mesic, a close aid of the Croatian fascist, Franjo Tudjman, boasted that he would be the last president of Yugoslavia, and he made good on his promise. This would have been the same as if England forced the US to accept a southern secessionist as President just before the US Civil War.


    [Zimmermann:] We very decisively told the Serbian and Army leadership that they have to honor the obligations they accepted and completely leave Croatia. We also said - and I think we have been able to do it with more authority since we have not recognized Croatia - that the recognition of Croatia by European countries cannot be the reason for Serbia or the Army to try reversing Croatia's independence or imposing solutions on Croatia by force.

    [DANAS:] This is maybe a personal question. You are the American Ambassador, but it is hard to say which country you are the Ambassador to. Does Yugoslavia still exist?

    [Zimmermann:]  That is a very good question, and a question that is very hard to answer. We are now precisely in that situation where a world is dying and another, different world is struggling to be born. In other words, it is a transition and as I said many times before, our main concern in it is peace. While these changes are going on, our foremost task is to contribute that they happen in a peaceful, rather than violent, environment.

    [Jared Comments:] As subsequent events demonstrated, 'Peace' meant the US and its proxy forces could do whatever they liked but the Yugoslav Army was not allowed to fight back.

    [Zimmermann:] It is inevitable that these changes are accompanied with uncertainties. I am an Ambassador accredited with the government of Yugoslavia. But at the same time, it is completely clear that we do not recognize Branko Kostic, who usurped the right to speak on behalf of the Yugoslav Presidency. Since he made that attempt I have not had any contacts with him, nor do I intend to ever contact him. Most of the duties I perform in Belgrade and Yugoslavia are reduced to relations with the Republics, which my government considers extremely useful. There are many gray areas from a legal standpoint, but this is natural in times of transition.

    [DANAS:] Are you encountering the same difficulties while meeting with the military leaders?

    [Zimmermann:] I recently met with General Adzic, and I met with General Kadijevic right before he resigned. I believe it is exceptionally important to maintain contact with the Yugoslav military leadership, as they have to know our position. And our position is clear: we believe that the Army is primarily responsible for the war in Croatia.

    Hence they have an enormous obligation to honor the UN peace plan, and to show restraint in Croatia. And in Bosnia-Herzegovina as well, which is turning into a dangerous place. If we weren’t talking to them, we would not be able to tell them all these things.

    [DANAS:] Many unconfirmed stories indicate that you prevented total war on several occasions, using this type of influence?

    [Zimmermann:] There is exaggeration in that. But I can say that the US has always used the measure of influence it has to promote peace, not war. That is why I say that we are most concerned with the possibility of a war breaking out in Bosnia-Herzegovina. We think it would be a horrible tragedy which could have consequences on the situation in Croatia, which at the present time looks promising.

    [DANAS:] Does that mean you support Izetbegovic’s plan?

    [Zimmermann:] Let me try to elaborate on our policy towards Bosnia-Herzegovina. We firmly believe that the territorial integrity of every republic must be preserved, and we clearly said to the Serbian government and the Army leadership that we will never recognize any conquest in Croatia. Equally important is the territorial integrity of Bosnia-Herzegovina, which is most threatened at this moment by the Bosnian Serb leadership, which is attempting to tear away a piece of it. We consider that extremely dangerous, and we said so to the Army and the Serbian leadership.

    [Jared Comments:] Note how Zimmermann places matters upside down.

    He speaks of maintaining the integrity of 'Bosnia' as if it were a national entity. But historically a country called 'Bosnia' never existed. An administrative unit called 'Bosnia' (similar to Rhode Island or South Dakota) was created by the Tito government. That's it.

    With this in mind, consider his statement that the US supports "the territorial integrity of Bosnia-Herzegovina, which is most threatened at this moment by the Bosnian Serb leadership, which is attempting to tear away a piece of it."

    In fact, the Islamic Fundamentalist forces in Bosnia were trying to tear a piece away from a real nation, recognized for 70 years - Yugoslavia. This violated international law. The Islamists wanted to justify their secession (that is, theft of territory) by holding a referendum. The Serbs boycotted the referendum. The Islamists held it anyway, and won; but this violated the Yugoslav constitution, which required the approval of the three major ethnic groups before extreme action could be taken. Moreover the secessionist movement only existed based on foreign intrigue, personified by Mr. Zimmermann. The Islamists would never have dared to push for secession without the promise of outside (U.S.) help and in practice Mr. Zimmermann prodded Islamist leader Izetbegovic into starting the Bosnian civil war.

    The Bosnian Serbs had had grim experience with Islamic Fundamentalism during W.W. II. Islamic Fundamentalists were important supporters of the Nazis in Bosnia. They formed their own SS Division. They helped slaughter hundreds of thousands of Serbs.[3]

    The Islamist leader Alija Izetbegovic was a pro-Nazi Islamic Fundamentalist youth organizer during the War.

    Knowing the horror that would follow if foreign-backed Islamists once again ruled Bosnia, the local Serbs wanted to stay with Yugoslavia. These Serbs, mainly farmers, owned the majority of land in Bosnia. The Serbs wanted to make sure that if Bosnian Islamists seceded, the Serbs would not be forced to live under their rule.

    [Zimmermann:] As for Mr. Izetbegovic, we heard that some call him a Muslim fundamentalist. We know what fundamentalism really does, as we were its victims in Iran. That is why we do not believe that Izetbegovic is some sort of fundamentalist. Actually, it seems like he is a moderate politician who is trying to do the best in a difficult situation.

    [Jared Comments:] The reasoning here is charmingly ostrich-like: Proof by Rejection of Negative Consequence. 1) Fundamentalists are terrible. 2) It would be terrible if Izetbegovic were a fundamentalist. 3) Therefore Izetbegovic is not a fundamentalist.

    Fortunately Izetbegovic wrote a book about his beliefs. It is called "The Islamic Declaration" ("Islamska deklaracija"). Here's an excerpt:

    "... The first and foremost of such conclusions is surely the one on the incompatibility of Islam and non-Islamic systems. There can be no peace or coexistence between the "Islamic faith" and non-Islamic societies and political institutions. ... Islam clearly excludes the right and possibility of activity of any strange ideology on its own turf. Therefore, there is no question of any laicistic principles, and the state should be an expression and should support the moral concepts of the religion. ..." (p. 22)

    It is ironic that Zimmermann uses Iran as the example of what Izetbegovic is not. Actually, Izetbegovic was especially fond of the Iranian Fundamentalists. Moreover, the US encouraged Iran to smuggle arms and terrorist trainers into Bosnia during the fighting, despite an embargo on importing arms. When challenged about this at a Congressional hearing, Ambassador to Croatia Peter Galbraith confirmed that the US had indeed approved the shipments.

    [Zimmermann:] It appears to us that he needs help in his effort to resist the partition of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and I believe it would be tragic if someone from the Croatian side would try cooperating with Serbia in the dismemberment of Bosnia-Herzegovina. That would mean that Croatia is destroying the very principle on the basis of which it won international support for its struggle.

    [DANAS:] There are some very clear desires to that extent in Croatia.

    [Zimmermann:] I read some hints to that effect in the Croatian press, so I have to say that the dismemberment of Bosnia – no matter who does it – cannot win the support of the United States. We would consider that a policy of destabilization and a violation of international principles that could lead to very unpleasant consequences in our relations.

    [Jared Comments:] This is Theater of the Absurd. International law says nothing about alteration of borders within a state. It only forbids the destabilization inherent in altering national boundaries - which is precisely what Zimmermann is supporting by insisting on the unimpeded creation of a new state of Bosnia.

    [Zimmermann:] I believe, therefore, that if there is a tendency in Croatia to team up with Serbia in a break-up of Bosnia, that tendency must be overcome.

    [DANAS:] American foreign policy is often based on two interlocking principles – a carrot and a stick. What would be a carrot and what would be the stick in this situation?

    [Zimmermann:] That is a good question, and I will try to give a very specific answer in regard to the war in Croatia. When the war is over and when Croatia restores its full sovereignty upon the Army’s withdrawal, that carrot and that stick have to exist for the other side as well.

    [Jared comments:] The Orwellian rewriting of reality is a special feature of the New World Order, of which Zimmermann was an architect. Note how casually he employs the technique:

    "...when Croatia restores its full sovereignty upon the [Yugoslav] Army's withdrawal..."

    This suggests that Croatia was a functioning sovereign nation until it was occupied by the (foreign) Yugoslav Army (JNA). In reality, Croatia was never independent. The closest it came was the (Fascist-Clerical) 'Independent State of Croatia,' a German-Italian-Vatican puppet monster that only existed during World War II, after the German Nazi invasion of Yugoslavia.[4]

    And as for the JNA, it had troops garrisoned in *all* parts of Yugoslavia. Thus it was not the JNA which had invaded sovereign Croatia, it was Croatian fascists who were trying to rip off a chunk of sovereign Yugoslavia. And this at the behest of foreign powers - notably Germany and Austria - plus the Vatican (the same three sponsors as in World War II!) and, alas, a new sponsor, the U.S. of A.

    [Zimmermann:] The stick would be that the United States or any other Western country - to the best of my knowledge – will never recognize any violation of Croatia’s territorial integrity. In other words, the Croatian borders will remain as they were before the war, there will be no changes of borders by conquest. That stick would also be what I mentioned a moment ago. No one will support any violent re-establishment of Yugoslavia.

    [Jared comments:] Does this sound like the man is opposing the breakup of Yugoslavia?

    [DANAS:] Any Yugoslavia?

    [Zimmermann:] Any kind of Yugoslavia.

    [DANAS:] Even the smallest one?

    [Zimmermann:] We told Serbia and the Army clearly that we will not recognize Serbia as Yugoslavia’s successor, that we will not recognize any so-called Yugoslav government that is in fact just another Serb government.

    That is why I do not wish to have any contact with Mr. Kostic, and why the American government challenged the credentials of the Yugoslav delegation a few days ago at the OSCE conference in Prague. But allow me to finish my previous answer about sticks. Carrots are important, too, they form a part of this reality. There are some problems with the rights of the Serb population in Croatia. We do not think the way Serbia and the Army approached those issues was justified, they went about it in a completely wrong way. But the problem exists and I think that Croatia, if it wants a stable peace, should be ready to grant a significant political autonomy to the Serb areas in Croatia. We welcome as a good sign the fact that the Croatian assembly passed the Minority Law, which is a great step along that road. I hope that Croatian government will continue being so flexible, as it seems to me that a maximum degree of political autonomy on the local level in Serb-inhabited areas will be necessary. This is already a part of the UN peace plan on a provisional basis, as well as Lord Carrington’s plan, which counts on a longer time frame. We think that every Serb leadership needs to be able to say that Serb rights in Croatia are completely protected with international guarantees. That would be in the interest of Croatia as well, as it would take a significant problem off the agenda.

    [Jared comments:] A number of points about this.

    First, as we shall see below, the Croatian regime had launched a massive campaign of terror against Serbian residents. Zimmermann is suggesting that Serbia be induced to accept the breakup of Yugoslavia by dangling the carrot of less violence towards Serbs in Croatia.

    Second, Zimmermann avoids a discussion of the actual, day to day terror that was being directed against Serbs in Croatia. Instead he expresses concern and wishes and hopes for better treatment. The value of such US expressions of concern became clear three years later when the US planned, led and provided air cover for the eviction, carried out by the Croatian Army, of over 250,000 Serbs, mainly farmers from the Krajina, which was claimed by Croatia. This was the worst act of genocide in Europe since W.W.II.[5]

    To get an idea of the anti-Serb hatred whipped up by the Croatian government throughout this period, read the following excerpt from a speech delivered by Croatian President Tudjman after the anti-Serb campaign culminated in the violent eviction of the Serbian population of the Krajina section. Here's Tudjman:

    [Start Tudjman Quote]

    "And there can be no return to the past, to the times when they the Serbs were spreading cancer in the heart of Croatia, cancer which was destroying the Croatian national being and which did not allow the Croatian people to be the master in its own house and did not allow Croatia to lead an independent and sovereign life under this wide, blue sky and within the world community of sovereign nations...They [i.e., the Serbs driven from their homes by the Croatian Army] didn't even have the time to take with them their filthy foreign currency or their knickers."
    -- Franjo Tudjman on Croatian Radio, transcribed by the BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 28 August 1995

    [End Tudjman Quote]


    [DANAS:] Washington used to firmly advocate human rights in Kosovo, but now there is only mention of Croatia.

    [Zimmermann:] I am glad you asked that question, so I can clarify things. The violation of rights of Albanians in Kosovo in my opinion is the worst violation of human rights, and at this moment, there is none worse in Europe. It was somewhat peaceful in Kosovo last year, but the basic colonial nature of Serbian control has not changed. We have not lost interest in that issue, and we will not lose interest until it is solved. I cannot imagine a final political solution coming out of The Hague and Brussels that would only deal with Croatia. It has to encompass the rights of everyone; thus also the problems in Kosovo.

    [Jared comments:] Danas is engaging in distortion. Washington's real concern about Croatia was that it not work against the Islamists in Bosnia. Indeed, Washington hired the MPRI, a semi-private military outfit made up of 'retired' officers and CIA types to train the Croatian army which continued to be used primarily against Serbian civilians.

    As for Zimmermann, he was the Ambassador to Yugoslavia. Coming from him, this is a clear statement of support for Kosovo secessionism. Why? Because a) there was a strong secessionist movement in Kosovo at the time; b) international law, expressed in the Helsinki Final Act, which the U.S. signed, forbids the redrawing of national borders. However, international law does allow for self-determination for colonies. So by misdescribing Kosovo as a colony, Zimmermann was endorsing secession.

    Why was Zimmermann's statement false?

    First, Albanians were not oppressed in Yugoslavia. Ethnic Albanian unrest was based on beliefs and instigation: some ethnic Albanians wanted to recreate the World War II entity, Greater Albania and wanted Kosovo to be Serb-and-"Gypsy"-free. In this sense their attitude had much in common with some whites in the segregationist south. Many news articles during the 1980s report that it was Serbs, not Albanians, who were oppressed in pre-1989 Kosovo.[7]

    Colonialism means exploitation: the Colony is organized to serve the needs of the Imperial Power. Thus in the African colonies, railroad lines were built fanning out from coastal ports so that raw materials could easily be taken out of the country. Everything is best in the Imperial country. Everything is worst in the Colony.

    This was dramatically not the case in Kosovo; Kosovo was poor, but not due to exploitation. As engineers Tika Jankovic and Petar Makara pointed out in the interview, "Nightmare with the Best Intentions," the engineering school in Pristina (Kosovo) had the finest modern equipment, whereas the engineering school in Belgrade (inner Serbia) had to make do with pre-World War II equipment as late as the 1970s.[8]

    Such anecdotal evidence is supported by the NY Times. The following was written in 1984, before the Times adopted an anti-Serbian policy:

    "Yugoslavia's Albanians: Poor, Proud and Prolific
    By Michael T. Kaufman ('New York Times', October 5, 1984)

    ..."The thrust toward republic status, for example, is in large measure motivated by the clause in the Yugoslav Constitution that technically permits any republic to secede.

    "As explained by a knot of [Albanian] students in Pristina, this right to withdraw could pave way for creating a greater Albania, linking Kosovo with the present Albania... with the capital shifting from Tirana to Pristina...

    "The students had no answers as to how such a nation could support itself...

    "[U]nder the complicated transfer arrangement, Kosovo receives 70 percent of its budget from the richer components of the Yugoslav union...."

    The NYT's claim that Kosovo received 70 of its budget from the richer components of Yugoslavia (and mainly from Serbia) is correct. What is false, however, is the suggestion that Kosovo was a *republic* with a right to secession. It was not. Kosovo is part of Serbia.


    [DANAS:] Croatia and Slovenia offered a year ago the confederacy solution akin to what Izetbegovic is proposing today. But the clock cannot be turned back.

    [Zimmermann:] Obviously, it is too late for that now. We are aiming for a dissolution of Yugoslavia into independent states peacefully, and when any new union is constructed – if it is constructed – it would have to be founded on sovereign decisions. In other words, it has to be built from the bottom up, rather than from top to the bottom.

    [DANAS:] All Croatian politicians agree that it is necessary first to secure independence and sovereignty, and only then decide on future links.

    [Zimmermann:] I recall the words of Pierre Lavalle, prime minister of the Vichy government who made a tremendous mistake by collaborating with the Germans but still said something very wise: "Governments come and go, but the geography is eternal. France will forever remain Germany’s neighbor." Croatia will remain a neighbor of Serbia, and I hope it will be possible to soon normalize the relations that geography makes inevitable.

    [DANAS:] De Gaulle thought otherwise. Many were surprised by the news that you spent the New Year’s eve at a peace demonstration with the Serbian opposition. Some said immediately that this is the sign that both sides – the UN and the US – want a different Serbia and different Serbian leaders.

    [Zimmermann:] I went to this vigil to show our strong support to cessation of hostilities, and I think Mr. Vance had the same reasons. The peace movement in Serbia is a sort of an opposition. It does not accept war. It opposes the government responsible for that war. We support them in their demands for peace. We consider it especially important – not only in Serbia - that the political opposition is free to act. But in Serbia, this is not the case. Opposition leader Vuk Draskovic was just indicted for some things that happened at the March 9 demonstrations last year. The media, especially television, are hostile to all opponents of the government, and that will have to change if Serbia has any aspirations towards democracy. On that occasion, we did not support any specific party but we advocated democratic norms and values, values of peace and free press.

    [Jared comments:] Zimmermann's support for Vuk Draskovic is interesting. Before the Croatian and Slovenian secession, Draskovic was a Tarzan Nationalist - a real chest beater and it was in this guise that he opposed Milosevich who was for the continuation of Yugoslavia. But then Draskovic advocated a policy of non-resistance when the Yugoslav Army was attacked in its barracks, and when Serbs were attacked as well.

    Note also how Zimmermann uses his continued presence in Belgrade: he encourages the breakup of Yugoslavia and threatens Belgrade if it tries to stop it.

    [DANAS:] Your statements have been frequently attacked in Belgrade and in Croatia...

    [Zimmermann:] And Slovenia and Montenegro...

    [DANAS:] But which one of your critical remarks would you say again in regard to Croatia?

    [Zimmermann:] Croatia is a democratic state, but it is a young democracy tempted by war.

    [Jared comments:] This is amazing. This new 'democratic' state was a conscious imitation of the Independent State of Croatia, notorious in World War II for creating Jasenovac, the first death camp, in which about a million Serbs, 'Gypsies', Jews and antifascists were killed using the most horrifying methods.

    The new Independent State of Croatia, under Franjo Tudjman, a holocaust denier, brought back the Fascist Croatian flag, the currency, the army uniforms, and the straight-arm salute. It renamed streets after leaders of the Ustashi fascists; its constitution defined Croatia as a racial state (a state of ethnic Croats, not, like Serbia, a state of all its citizens, regardless of ethnicity.)

    The 'democratic elections' took place in an atmosphere of terror and with vast sums pumped in from Germany and other Western sources and from pro-fascist Croatians abroad. The HOS (Croatian Military Group) harassed and killed Serbs and opponents of the regime. The method of identification was straightforward. First, everyone was ordered to sign a pledge of allegiance. Serbs and antifascists who refused to sign this pledge to the resurrected Ustashi state were first fired from their jobs, then fired at.

    The loyalty oath did not ferret out all the undesirable elements. So the HOS ordered everyone to display the Croatian (fascist) checkerboard flag in their window. This flag is the Croatian equivalent of the swastika. Then the HOS went from street to street and harassed or beat up or killed those (whether Serbian or Croatian) who refused to display the flag.

    The HOS dynamited the homes of undesirables, often with the people inside. Jews lived in fear. Tens of thousands of Serbs were driven out - perhaps 300,000 even before the forced exodus from the Krajina in 1995.

    By referring to this terrorized territory as a "young democratic state" Zimmermann made perfectly clear that he approved of the HOS actions. His mild rebukes were cosmetic: made for the sake of appearance.

    The American media suppressed the news about Croatia. Most people never learned there was an anti-Serbian terror.

    There were a few exceptions to the press blackout. One was an article in the 'New York Times' which I have posted after the interview. (4)

    The Times article appeared in 1997. This is a bit odd. Why? Because the writer, Chris Hedges, suggests that the Croatian fascists were just then becoming powerful, whereas they had already taken over by 1991 - that is, six years earlier. And he writes of the attacks on Serbs, but by 1997 virtually all the Serbian residents - about 600,000 total - had been killed or driven out of the Krajina and Croatia proper. The last big expulsion (from the Krajina) was in 1995 - two years before the article appeared. Hedges' article exposes the fascist character of the Croatian leaders but he doesn't even mention the expulsion of these hundreds of thousands of Serbs! My only explanation is that Hedges wrote the article in 1990 or 1991 and the Times suppressed it until after the Croatian fascists had completed their NATO-assigned tasks. Perhaps someone can think of a better explanation...

    The article is worth reading. It paints a picture very different from that of Mr. Zimmermann's.[9]

    Take a look at the pictures I've posted below and then we'll return to Zimmermann and see how he offers criticisms which whitewash Croatia's terrorist purge of Serbs and government critics.

    Above is Ante Pavelic, boss of the World War II Nazi State of Croatia. On the wall is his Ustashi [Fascist-Clerical] flag.

    The men in this picture ruled Croatia when Zimmermann gave his interview. Above them on the left is the old Ustashi flag, symbol of the regime which Hitler called "Our Nazis."  On the right is the current flag, with the same design.

    From left to right: General Josip Boljkovac; General Martin Spegelj, who made the remark that "[The Serbian city of] Knin must be butchered...including children in the cradle;" Stipe Mesic, whom the European Community imposed on Yugoslavia as its last President. (Though Mesic was part of Franjo Tudjman's fascist machine, he has been recycled as the much hailed "liberal" President of Croatia. His uncle was SS Officer Marko Mesic.) And General Franjo Tudjman, then President of neo-fascist Croatia. Tudjman's book 'Wasteland' suggested that Jews, not the Ustashi, slaughtered the Serbs at the Jasenovac concentration camp complex.

    In 1943 Tito, head of the Yugoslav partisans, proclaimed an unusual policy. Any Croatian Ustashi (Fascist) officer who came over to the Partisan side would keep his rank. Seeing that Italy had crumbled and that their beloved Nazi Germany was destined to lose, large numbers of Ustashi made the switch to the Partisans between 1943 and 1945, thus joining the winning side. There is evidence that Franjo Tudjman forged papers, making it appear that he had been an anti-fascist during the war, when in fact he was a fascist, from a fascist family.

    Now back to Zimmermann.

    [Zimmermann:] That is why it is difficult to be overtly critical. But as you will soon become a universally recognized state, it seems that the issues of free press, political opposition and minority rights will come under closer scrutiny than they have been until now. War can be an excuse for limiting the freedom of expression, though I personally think it is hard to find circumstances that would justify such actions. Once the war is over, that excuse will no longer exist, and it will be very important for Croatia to re-examine all its standards against the international and European principles and then firmly adhere to them. Allow me to mention two examples where I was disappointed. It seems that a certain number of Serbs living in Zagreb and Croatia are leaving the city and the country, including those who have advocated moderate policies and were not nationalists. They could be a significant part of Croatian democracy, and if they are leaving due to intolerance I hope that will soon be overcome. The other case has already been solved, but I mention it because it was very important both to me and to Cyrus Vance. It regards the siege of the barracks, when the families of JNA soldiers were treated in an unfair manner. But personally, I have full confidence that the Croatian democracy will grow and expand. The United States has a very positive opinion about the current developments.

    [Jared comments:] So after the fascist regime has done its job - driven out the Serbs and intimidated pro-Yugoslav forces - it will have to adopt a slicker appearance so as to fit the look of European 'democracies.' But as for 1992: "The United States has a very positive opinion about the current developments." That says it all.

    [DANAS:] You mentioned Mr. Cyrus Vance. He was a US Secretary of State, so some claim he is only the extended arm of Washington right now.

    [Zimmermann:] He is, of course, a representative of the UN Secretary-General, but also a very respectable American and a former official of the American government, which I think all the leaders of the Republics that he had met understand very well. This does not sound like a bad thing to me.

    [DANAS:] Some sort of dual guarantee?

    [Zimmermann:] I wouldn’t use that term, but I would say that the US government completely supports everything Vance does on behalf of the UN. The Yugoslav crisis is a great challenge for the UN. If the peacekeepers come – and we hope they will – that would be the largest endeavor the UN have ever undertaken. I don’t even have to mention the challenges and complexities they will face. Let us hope this endeavor will be successful, but in order for that to happen, all sides must honor their obligations.


    [Footnotes Follow The Appeal]


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    Footnotes and Further Reading


    [1] See "Was I Born on Mars?" by Petar Makara at
    "The Vote was Illegal!" By Jela Jovanovic at

    [2] "Meet the Croatian Ustashi, the Nazis the CIA Married," by Petar Makara and Jared Israel at

    [3] During the Bosnian war of the 1990s, the US-sponsored side harked back to the Islamic Fundamentalists who flocked to the Nazi cause during World War II. This Nazi past was celebrated in several issues of a Sarajevo weekly in 1997.
    See: "Himmler Was Their Defender: How a Bosnian Journal Celebrated the Nazi SS Past" 

    [4] For some discussion of the Vatican's attitude toward the Croatian Clerical-Fascists during World War II, see John Cornwell's, "Hitler's Pope" at

    [5] "The invasion of Serbian Krajina," by Greg Elich at

    [7] A large sample of news reports are archived in "1980's news stories about Kosovo," at

    [8] Petar Makara and Tika Jankovic are interviewed providing much insight in "Kosovo Before 1989 - Nightmare with the Best Intentions," at

    [9] Chris Hedges' NY Times article on Croatia is posted below. The title, by the way, is his, not ours...

    Fascists Reborn as Croatia's Founding Fathers
    By Chris Hedges
    The New York Times,
    12 April 1997

    The old fascist marching songs were sung, a moment of silence was observed for all who died defending the fatherland, and the gathering was reminded that today was the 57th anniversary of the founding of Croatia's Nazi-allied wartime government. Then came the most chilling words of the afternoon.

    "For Home!" shouted Anto Dapic, surrounded by bodyguards in black suits and crew cuts.

    "Ready!" responded the crowd of 500 supporters, their arms rising in a stiff Nazi salute.

    The call and response -- the Croatian equivalent of "Sieg!" "Heil!" -- was the wartime greeting used by supporters of the fascist Independent State of Croatia, which governed the country for most the Second World War and murdered hundreds of thousands of Jews, Serbs and Croatian resistance fighters.

    Today, in the final day of campaigning before local elections on Sunday, supporters of Croatia's Party of Rights used the chant as a rallying cry. But the shouts of the black-shirted young men -- and the indifferent reactions of passersby -- illustrated a broader aspect of this country's self-image.

    President Franjo Tudjman and his Croatian Democratic Union party rose to popularity and power on the strength of its appeals to Croatians' national pride. Now, six years after the war that won Croatia its independence from Yugoslavia, Mr. Tudjman's party continues to cast the World War II fascist fighters as patriots and precursors of the modern Croatian state.

    The Party of Rights took only 7 percent of the vote in the last election, but it is the closest ally of Mr. Tudjman, who is reported to be suffering from cancer but who has still campaigned actively.

    Perhaps no other country has failed as openly as Croatia to come to terms with its fascist legacy. While the French celebrate a resistance movement that was often dwarfed by the widespread collaboration with the Vichy regime, and while the Austrians often act as if the war never happened, the Croats have rehabilitated the Croatian fascist collaborators, known as the Ustashe.

    The Ustashe was led by Ante Pavelic, the wartime dictator whose picture was plastered on walls in Split in preparation for the rally.

    "A majority of the Croats oppose this rehabilitation," said Viktor Ivancic, editor in chief of the opposition weekly, The Feral Tribune. "But they are afraid. These neo-fascist groups, protected by the state, are ready to employ violence against their critics."

    Ustashe veterans receive larger pensions than old Partisan fighters, who waged a savage fight against the German and Croatian fascist armies. Former Ustashe soldiers are invited to state celebrations, like the annual army day, while Partisan fighters are ignored. And state authorities have stood by as pro-Ustashe groups have dismantled or destroyed 2,964 of 4,073 monuments to those who died in the resistance struggle, according to veteran Partisan groups.

    The identification with the quisling regime does not stop there. The Croatian currency is the kuna, the same instituted by the fascists. And the red and white checkerboard on the flag, taken from medieval Croatian emblems, previously adorned the Ustashe uniform. The President recently proposed bringing Mr. Pavelic's remains from Spain, where he died in exile in 1959, for burial in Croatia, a move rejected by Mr. Pavelic's family. And Vinko Nikolic, an 85-year-old former high-ranking Ustashe official who fled into exile after the war, was appointed by the President to the Croatian Parliament.

    The transformation is all the more noticeable because of widespread participation by many Croats in the Partisan guerrilla movement led by Josip Broz Tito, himself a Croat.

    "A huge number of Croats fought the Nazis and the Ustashe," said 77-year-Partisan veteran Milivoj Borosa, who defected in his bomber in 1942 from the Ustashe air force and dropped his payload on a German unit during his escape to the Soviet Union. "But today, those who should hold their heads in shame, are national heroes."

    The Partisans, who included among their ranks the young Franjo Tudjman, committed what today is viewed as an unforgivable sin. They built a united, Communist Yugoslavia. And while the Ustashe state may have been a Nazi puppet, it had as its stated aim the establishment of an independent Croatia, although it was forced by the Axis to turn over large parts of Croatia, including much of the Dalmatian coast, to the Italians.

    In the current campaign, President Tudjman sought to reconcile the country's wartime divisions by arguing that the fascist and anti-fascist Croatians performed equally valuable service for their country. A general who became a historian after leaving the Yugoslav Army, Mr. Tudjman is among the leaders of a revisionist school of history that has sought to counterbalance the Communists' relentlessly dark view of the fascist years.

    But many Croats, especially those who had relatives killed by the fascists, smolder with indignation over the glorification of a regime that massacred opponents with a ferocity that often shocked its Italian and German allies.

    "You cannot reconcile victims and butchers," said Ognjen Kraus, the head of Zagreb's small Jewish community. "No one has the right to carry out a reconciliation in the name of those who vanished."

    The climate has become so charged that those who oppose the rehabilitation of the Ustashe do not dare raise their voices. And there have been several attacks carried out against members of the Social Democratic Party, the old Communist party, currently fielding candidates for the municipal elections. Many of the black-uniformed bodyguards at the rally here fought against the Serbs as members of The Croatian Liberation Forces, a brutal right-wing paramilitary unit formed by the party.

    The Ustashe supporters also have a powerful ally in the Catholic Church in Croatia. The church, led during the war by Archbishop Alojzije Stepinac, was a prominent backer of the Ustashe regime. It forcibly converted tens of thousands of Orthodox Serbs and did not denounce the government's roundup and massacre of Jews and Serbs.

    During the war, Jews and Orthodox Serbs were subject to racial laws. The Serbs had to wear blue arm bands with the letter "P" for "Pravoslav" -- Orthodox -- before being deported to death camps like Jasenovac.

    After the war, many priests, rather than condemn the brutality of the fascist regime, went on to set up an underground network know as "the rat line" to smuggle former Ustashe leaders, including Mr. Pavelic, to countries like Argentina.

    The church, persecuted by the Communists, has now re-emerged as one of the most powerful institutions in the country, in large part because religion is the only tangible difference separating Serbs, Muslims and Croats. Several priests have enthusiastically joined the rehabilitation campaign, portraying Mr. Pavelic as a pious leader who championed Christian values.

    "Ante Pavelic was a good Catholic," said Father Luka Prcela, who has held a memorial Mass for the former dictator in Split for the last four years. "He went to mass daily in his own chapel. Many of the crimes alleged to have been committed by his Government never happened. These stories were lies spread by the communists. He fought for a free, Catholic Croatia. We have this state today because of him."

    [End New York Times Article]

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