THE YUGOSLAV CRISIS:
ACTING ON COMMON CONSENT

TO THE MEMBERS OF BALLARAT APEX CLUB
Address: 10. 7. 1992.

Introduction

 

I would like to express my admiration for the humanitarian interest shown by the Ballarat Apex Club in a problem of human suffering half a world away on the other side of the globe; that you as active members of this community, with many urgent demands on your time, should still want to understand the real course of events in Bosnia is impressive and encouraging, because it signals a desire for the truth. There are three sides at least to every story and Bosnia is no different:

- first of all there is the history inherited from the past,

- then there are the events on the stage that we see unfolding on our television screens, and thirdly

- there are the events that take place backstage - behind the scenes we might say.

In what follows I will not be presenting either my personal point of view nor that of the Serbian Orthodox Church, but rather I will outline the conflict as it is seen by the Serbs of the former Republic of Yugoslavia.

 

Whose “Common Consent”?

 

Serbs do not feel that the people of the whole world are against them. They see rather that the top world leaders have, with the assistance of their obedient servants in the international press agencies, disregarded all internationally agreed procedures and laws relating to the drawing up of international borders. Indeed in an interview John Major, the British prime minister, has said: "We are not acting on any international laws or even precedents; we are acting on common consent". Now, Serbs do not simply accept this because as the victims they are forced to ask "by whose common consent are Mr. Major and his colleagues interfering in such a way as to create more problems than they solve"!

 

Twisting of reality

 

This clique of world diplomats now running the show in the Balkan has failed to follow the very rules it has used elsewhere (for example in the unification of Germany) because the Serbs must be presented as the baddies and their legitimate claims entirely ignored. This twisting of reality to suit the fancy of the Western power brokers is the real cause of the human misery in Bosnia-Hercegovina. Because, the administrative boundaries of the Republics of Yugoslavia were arbitrarily drawn up by a few of Tito's stooges and were never meant to function as international borders - they were only for internal administrative purposes. The forced and speedy recognition by the West of Croatia and Slovenia as nation states had caused significant suffering even before the altogether ludicrous recognition of Bosnia.

 

Misconception of the fact

 

From the outside, the situation in the Balkan’s conflict presents itself as a conflict between a large entity called Serbia and a smaller one called Bosnia, with aggressors from the Serbian side taking over territory that belongs to the Muslim population of Bosnia. Mixed in with the Muslims, as victims on this superficial reading, are the Croats. This is a total misconception of the fact of the matter. If you look carefully at the combatants: Serbian, Croatian and Muslim, as they flash onto your television screens from time to time, you will not be able to tell them apart. We do not have in Bosnia an ethnic conflict between a Middle Eastern Muslim population and a Caucasian Croat population and a Slavic Serbian population. The people of Bosnia are of the one ethnic stock and this includes the Serbs. The press fails entirely to admit in its reporting that the Muslims of Bosnia are ethnic Serbs or Croats, in most cases forcibly converted to Islam by the Turks during their five hundred year occupation of the Balkan.

Furthermore, and this is crucial, the reporting fails to mention that it was the so called "aggressive Serbs" of the Bosnian conflict who, a bare fifty years ago, were herded by Croatian Ustashi thugs into Nazi style concentration camps and butchered in the hundreds of thousands.

 

Double standards

 

This observation forces us to the following conclusion: the Serbs of this war are Bosnians and there is no way that any settlement can be reached unless this be incorporated into the thinking of those constructing a solution.

Let me explain some of the double standards employed by the world leaders in "solving" the Yugoslav crisis. The so called peace brokers have practically functioned as warmongers. Involved in the thinking planning and action of world leaders at the beginning of the Yugoslav crisis were specific terms which we should examine: the principle of territorial integrity versus that of self determination. In the beginning the "peace brokers" held that the territorial integrity of Yugoslavia was a false claim and must be set aside in the interest of the self determination of the Croatian and the Slovenian peoples.

Then, having manufactured two new states, the politicians said enough was enough and no self determination was to be allowed to the Serbs. Instead the territorial integrity of Bosnia must be held sacred and the right of Serbs to self determination entirely dismissed. Here, the categories of majority and minority become important. The Muslims were sympathetically described as the forgotten minority of Yugoslavia, whose rights were being trampled on by the majority of Serbs. Solidarity with this minority was the key point of world leaders support for Muslims, but when it came to the Serbs again the double standard was brought into play and we hear no more about sympathy for the minority underdog, because in Bosnia the Serbs are the minority and the Muslims the majority. So, when assessing the position of the Serbs, the world leaders again invoke the democratic rule of the majority to justify Muslim claims over Serbian rights and territory.

This is the true story in contrast to the fairy tales you are fed by the media.

Thank you.

 

Srboljub Miletich

Secretary to the Diocese