The Mystery of Paragraph 3460

Ivica Dačić, Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Serbia, is too deft a politician to not be aware of the consequences of what has been said.

And this is the fact that prevents me, most of all, in my wish to understand the reasons for his sudden and unexpected estimate that the international policy, led against the state led by Slobodan Milošević, was completely wrong. Almost fictional and misused, only so that it could be used as a suitable basis for the introduction of severe economic sanctions.

Dačić referred to a first-instance verdict of the International Tribunal for war crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia in The Hague, in the trial against Radovan Karadžić, in May this year.

More specifically, to a part of the dispositive of the court covered in paragraph no. 3460, which does not contain an assessment of the organized criminal group, whose members were former Serbian political leaders in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. That means that the Milošević’s regime had nothing to do with the then wars in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, or direct connection with the crimes committed in Kosovo, therefore, that the charges against Yugoslavia were wrongful and false.

Therefore, concludes the new Deputy Prime Minister of Serbia, Milošević should be erected a monument.

Dačić’s interpretation of the case file was immediately disputed by the Serbian lawyers, with two simple formal assessments that Milošević could not have been convicted in proceedings against another person, and that the long-term trial against him was suspended due to his death in the Hague detention centre and thus ended without a verdict.
However, even more important is that the content assessments, such was Dačić’s assessment from a few days ago, were rejected immediately after 2000. The then prime minister, Dr. Zoran Đinđić, understood the attitude towards all the dead, murdered, exiled individuals during the Yugoslav wars and lost opportunities, prospects and ambitions due to devastated economy, therefore, the attitude towards the Yugoslav wars of the preceding century, as the limit beyond which the future begins.

Renowned expert, historian Dr. Latinka Perović, says that he understood the process in both short-term way, as the extradition of Milošević, and the long-term way, as asking of questions about our own mistakes and responsibility for the tragic wars.

Establishing Slobodan Milošević’s personal responsibility for violation of international military law and committed war crimes before the Hague Tribunal was a precondition for getting out of the international isolation and restoring Serbia to the world.
Đinđić expected to be able to achieve a national consensus on that, but that did not happen. Therefore, he was accused, as the prime minister, that his government intended to surrender the former head of state to the Hague Tribunal, on the one hand, and on the other hand, with almost the same political enthusiasm, he was accused that the whole procedure of Milošević’s extradition was suspiciously slow and evasive.

Đinđić was the only one who could make a decision and cut the Gordian knot. That afternoon, at a press conference, he said that the former president was handed over to the Hague Tribunal. If he had not done that, the new isolation and the loss of our moral credibility would have followed. Even more, Đinđić added, the world would have started to ask a question of whether we have begun to express solidarity with Milošević.

The political principles of the Serbian authorities on the rights of all to live in a joint country were already known by then, even the agreements of Milošević and the late Croatian president Dr. Franjo Tuđman on the division of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Therefore, the reasons for the beginning of wars.

At the same time, the Hague Tribunal obtained a series of top-secret documents, the minutes of meetings of the Supreme Defence Council. The Chief of Joint Staff of the Yugoslav Army, General Momčilo Perišić, later said that no military decision in the Republic of Serbian Krajina or the Republika Srpska, despite having their own political power, was made without the consent of the then Yugoslav state leadership. However, the path to consent led through the meetings of the Supreme Defence Council. In line with the decision and the decree of the President of Yugoslavia, in November 1993, Perišić signed a decree 3087-1, through which the 30th Personnel Centre of the Yugoslav Army was formed. This decree was an evidence for the Hague Tribunal that the army of the Republic of Serbian Krajina and the Republika Srpska formed part of the Yugoslav Army. More precisely, salaries, allowances and other financial obligations were paid through such neutrally appointed personnel centre and all the necessary status issues of the Yugoslav army officers who were deployed and who participated in military operations in Bosnia and Croatia regulated.

This is why the new political assessment of the role of Slobodan Milošević, at the beginning of this week, in mid-August 2016, more than thirteen years since the assassination of Dr. Zoran Đinđić, is so unusual.

Ivica Dačić, I repeat, is too deft a politician, thus he won’t express such assessments and proposals on monuments by accident and just casually. And this happens only a few days before the visit of the US Vice President Joe Biden to Belgrade. An influential and perhaps the most important of a series of high visits to Serbia in recent months. Biden is an expert for the region, a prominent opponent of Milošević’s politics and wars, and probably the first high US official to visit and encourage a democratic Serbia, immediately after the Milošević’s fall.

This visit was of a similar character. Biden brought three messages, all three significant for Serbia. On the necessity of continuing the dialogue with Priština, on the important role of Serbia in the stabilization of the region and the encouragement in negotiations on joining the European Union.

Dačić’s unusual assessment of different Milošević’s role in the Yugoslav wars is obviously intended primarily for the domestic public.

Primarily for the diversion of attention. Brussels dialogue with Priština will have to be continued. However, on first place, the agreed will have to be implemented. Biden visited Priština a day after Belgrade. He asked two questions – why the agreement on the formation of the community of Serbian municipalities in Kosovo is not being implemented and why the agreement on determining the border with Montenegro was not complied with. This will force Serbia to fulfil the already accepted obligations, first of all the obligations related to the newly opened European negotiating chapters on judiciary related to the issue of Kosovo.

Another reason would most likely be the forthcoming presidential elections in Serbia. Tomislav Nikolić’s mandate expires soon. Most likely, his candidacy will be supported by the ruling party of the Prime Minister Vučić. However, this may not be sufficient for him to win. Dačić’s assessment of the Milošević’s role with a simultaneous proposal to erect a monument may be a political platform for the candidacy of Nikolić’s challenger in the election, and it is probably intended for that.