International Committee to Defend Slobodan Milosevic
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Slobodan Milosevic's Cross-Examination of
Croatian President Stjepan Mesic: PART III
Because the transcript of the cross-examination is 150 pages long we have
broken it into 12 easy to read segments. If you wish to read the whole thing
at once go to: http://emperor.vwh.net/icdsm/more/mesic.htm
1 Q. You arrived on the 5th of December in the Croatian parliament.
2 You thanked them for their confidence. This was on the 5th of December,
3 1991. And you made a notorious statement to the effect that you thought I
4 have performed my task. Yugoslavia is no more. Is this so, Mr. Mesic?
5 We saw it on the video we played here a few days ago, and all of
6 Yugoslavia knows about this. You said: I think I have performed my task.
7 Yugoslavia is no more.
8 A. An excellent question. I will explain what this was about. The
9 Croatian parliament elected me to be the Croatian member of the Presidency
10 of Yugoslavia. I went to Belgrade, where first, for several months, I was
11 not allowed to take up my duties because the Federal Assembly was unable
12 to meet. After that, the Serbian bloc boycotted my election as president
13 under --
14 JUDGE MAY: Mr. Milosevic, let him finish. You've asked him a
15 question. Let him give his explanation.
16 A. Finally, under pressure from the international community, I was
17 elected president. Croatia adopted a decision on its independence.
18 Croatia, in agreement with the international community, postponed its
19 secession from Yugoslavia by three months. This time period had elapsed.
20 Yugoslavia no longer existed. The federal institutions were no longer
21 functioning. I returned to Zagreb, and that's precisely what I said.
22 Because I did not go to Belgrade to open up a house-painting business. I
23 went there as a member of the Presidency of Yugoslavia. Since Yugoslavia
24 no longer existed and the Presidency no longer existed, I had performed
25 the tasks entrusted to me by the Croatian parliament and was reporting
1 back, ready to take up a different office. What was I to do in Belgrade
2 when the Presidency no longer existed?
3 Q. Very well, Mr. Mesic. This is truly worthy of admiration, your
4 explanation of what you said, but you haven't told me whether you actually
5 said: I have performed my task. Yugoslavia is no more.
6 A. The accused is a lawyer. He understands very well what I'm
7 talking about. My task was to represent Croatia in the Federal
9 Q. There is no need for you to repeat this. You said this in the
10 Croatian or Serbian language, or whatever you want to call it, and
11 everybody understood it. Your explanation now is obviously an attempt to
12 make this statement relative, but this is no longer important.
13 [Trial Chamber confers]
14 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]
15 Q. In your public statements, or rather, in Tudjman's public
16 statements on Ban Jelacic Square on the 24th of May, 1992, said "There
17 would have been no war had not Croatia wanted it. But we thought that it
18 was only by war that we could win the independence of Croatia. That's why
19 we had a policy of negotiations behind which we were setting up military
20 units. Had this not been so, we would not have reached our goal." Is
21 this correct, Mr. Mesic?
22 A. I think that this could have been reported only by the Serbian
23 press, because it simply does not correspond to the truth. We know who
24 was in control of the press in Serbia. It was the accused, Slobodan
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 Q. Unfortunately, a few days ago we watched a video of this, and we
2 saw this speech on Ban Jelacic square, taped on video. Tell me, please:
3 Do you know that when the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was founded and
4 the new constituted was promulgated on the 27th of April, 1992, a
5 declaration was adopted on the goals of the new common state, that is, the
6 Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, according to which, and I quote verbatim:
7 "Yugoslavia has no territorial pretensions towards any of the former
8 Yugoslav republics." Are you aware of this?
9 A. I don't know what the declaration on the establishing of the
10 Federal Republic of Yugoslavia says, but I do know everything that was
11 done to cut off parts of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina and annex them
12 to Serbia.
13 Q. Mr. Mesic, you're telling us fairy tales about Karlovac, Karlobag
14 Virovitica boundary. When did you ever hear any official of the Republic
15 of Serbia referring to this border, and when did any body or organ of the
16 Republic of Serbia or anyone in Yugoslavia raise this issue and talk about
17 such a boundary? This is a pure fabrication that you are launching here.
18 Where did you get this idea?
19 A. It's quite understandable that those who perpetrated aggression
20 did not make such statements, but the Serbian minister, who was in the
21 government, one of the ministers of Mr. Milosevic, visited this boundary
22 with Vojislav Seselj, the Chetnik Vojvoda or leader, to show how far the
23 interests of Serbia reached.
24 Q. What minister are you referring to? And if a minister visits a
25 spot, if he goes to a certain municipality, does he go to a boundary or
1 does he mark a boundary? Was he marking a boundary there?
2 A. You understand very well that if someone visits Croatia,
3 especially an official, he should visit the official organs of the
4 Republic of Croatia.
5 Q. What municipal organs are you referring to if someone is visiting
6 a municipality? I didn't know you were a police state of that kind, that
7 someone visiting a municipality in Croatia would have to report to the
9 A. I was not paid to teach the accused Croatian laws. I was paid to
10 implement them.
11 Q. Mr. Mesic, you are a university graduate. Did you ever learn
12 about the rights of peoples to self-determination, and do you know that
13 volumes and volumes of books have been written on this topic? Do you know
14 about this?
15 A. I think this question is pointless. Of course I do. Of course I
16 know about the right to self-determination. This is going too far.
17 Q. Well, then answer me, please: Where did you get the idea that, as
18 you said, the Serbs in Croatia do not have a right to self-determination?
19 Where did you get the idea, as you said on page 2 of your statement, that
20 according to the constitution of 1974, Yugoslavia was a confederal state?
21 You know yourself that this is untrue. Show me a single constitutional
22 provision to this effect. Is this correct or not, Mr. Mesic?
23 A. The Presidency of Yugoslavia was established as a confederal
24 institution because all decisions were made for the most part by
25 consensus, and the accused knows this very well. He also knows very well
1 that according to the constitution of 1974, the republics were called
2 states, and he also knows that, by virtue of their association into
3 Yugoslavia, they also had the right to disassociate themselves from
4 Yugoslavia. When a threat arose that Croatia and Slovenia might suffer
5 the same fate as Kosovo, Vojvodina, and Montenegro, Croatia made use of
6 its right to disassociate itself, and the Badinter Commission confirmed
7 this. Of course the Serbs have a right to their own state. That state is
8 the Republic of Serbia. But it is well known that national minorities
9 cannot ask to secede from the Republic of Croatia. They could ask for
10 that but they could not realise it, because the Republic of Croatia was
11 recognised in the borders established by Avnoj and the accused knows this
12 very well.
13 Q. Do you know that according to the Yugoslav constitution, it was
14 the peoples and not the republics that had sovereignty? Do you remember
15 that even the coat of arms of Yugoslavia had five torches, represented
16 five peoples: The Serbs, the Croats, the Slovenes, the Macedonians and the
17 Montenegrins, and then later on a sixth torch was added when the Muslims
18 were declared a constituent people? Are you aware of this, Mr. Mesic?
19 A. The constituent elements of the Federation were the republics,
20 plus two autonomous provinces: Vojvodina, and Kosovo. Those were the
21 constituent elements of the Federation. Symbolism is one thing, but
22 constitutional provisions are quite another.
23 Q. You assert that in the constitutions of Yugoslavia and the
24 republics, it was not the sovereignty of peoples that was the starting
25 point but the territory of the republics established in 1945; is that what
1 you're claiming? I just want to be clear so as not to waste time.
2 A. I have said what I had to say about the constituent elements of
3 the Federation. Croatia had the right to self-determination, and the
4 Serbs in Croatia had the right to protection, to protection of their
5 collective rights and of their status as citizens of the Republic of
7 Q. Very well. Let us proceed, then. Let us proceed at a faster
8 pace, so please answer me yes or no: Is it correct that all the
9 constitutions of Croatia, until the amendments introduced by you in 1990,
10 had a provision about the Serbs as a constituent people, not a ethnic
11 minority, as you have just said? For example, the constitution of 1945,
12 1963, 1974, the constitutional amendments of July 1990. So these
13 amendments of July 1990 for the first time left out the Serbs as a
14 constituent element of the Republic of Croatia. I'm referring now to the
15 constitution of the Republic of Croatia. Did all the constitutions
16 contain a provision about the Serbian people as a constituent people in
17 Croatia; yes or no?
18 A. One cannot reply to this question with yes or no. The
19 constitutions were enacted in different periods of time, in different
20 situations, and in different international environments. The
21 constitution, therefore, had different provisions at different points in
22 time. For example, the Yugoslav and the Croatian constitutions had a
23 provision which other constitutions, for example, do not contain, that
24 there are two kinds of groups: Narodi and Narodnosti, two kinds of
25 peoples, plus ethnic groups. The constitution was further developed up
1 until 1990.
2 Q. So the fact that the Serbs were left out of the constitution was
3 a development.
4 Do you know that on the 14th of May, 1887, the Croatian parliament
5 enacted a provision on the use of the Cyrillic alphabet? Are you aware of
7 A. I was not aware of that particular piece of information, but I do
8 thank the accused for having given me this piece of information. That is
9 truly meaningful for me.
10 Q. And do you know about the rest, that what the constitution -- what
11 the assembly of Croatia adopted in 1887 was abolished in 1990 by your
12 parliament? They abolished the Cyrillic alphabet as an official
13 alphabet. Do you know about that? You went 150 years backwards. Do you
14 know that?
15 A. Yet another piece of information, very important to me, as a
17 Q. All right, Mr. Mesic. Do you remember an entire series of laws,
18 not to mention taking over symbols, the symbols of the Nazi state of the
19 independent state of Croatia, for example, the law on the Academy of
20 Sciences and Arts, the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts? In article
21 1 it says that it is the legal successor of the academy from the period
22 from 1941 to 1945. The budget for 1991 does not envisage a single dinar
23 for the schools of Serbs in Croatia, but it does envisage money for
24 Italians, Czechs, Ruthenians, and other national minorities. The law on
25 the government allows the government to take measures against so-called
1 disobedient municipalities. The only executive government in Europe that
2 has the right to dissolve municipalities. The law on education refers to
3 the Croatian language only, and so on and so forth?
4 JUDGE MAY: One thing at a time. What is the question,
5 Mr. Milosevic?
6 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]
7 Q. The question is -- the question is: Is it correct that not only
8 through this behaviour and also the combination of this ethnic intolerance
9 towards the Serbs, but it is also through the adoption of many laws, the
10 Croatian authorities instigated nationalism and chauvinism not only in
11 Croatia but also a discriminatory, an insulting attitude towards Serbs in
12 Croatia. Is that right or is that not right, Mr. Mesic?
13 A. Croatia adopted laws that gave equal rights to all its citizens
14 and protect national minorities, all vulnerable groups, actually.
15 National minorities are vulnerable groups, and that is why Croatia favours
16 positive discrimination of all vulnerable groups.
17 Q. Very well. Then give me a comment with regard to these following
18 statements: There are many such laws, and of course they did have to
19 cause concern. For example, a meeting of the parliament on the 4th of
20 October, 1990, the 4th of October, 1990, your own assembly. Damir Majovic
21 says: "Do not trust the Serbs even when they bring gifts." Stjepan
22 Sulimanac says: "Persons who moved in after 1918, who moved into Croatia
23 after 1918, a law should be passed with regard to such persons and there
24 should be protection from them." Then MP Ivan Milas says: "We are going
25 to use a sword in respect of your rights. The day of a final showdown is
1 getting near." Another MP says: "All Serbs should be isolated like Iraq
2 isolated the Kurds. A ghetto should be established for the Serbs." And
3 Praljak, what's his name, one of the helmsmen of the HDZ said in April
4 1990: "Outside the boys are already singing we are going to slaughter the
5 Serbs." And so on and so forth. Is that the right kind of atmosphere,
6 Mr. Mesic? Is that the atmosphere in which the Serbs were supposed to
7 view everything that was happening to them with confidence? And in the
8 meantime you dismissed practically all Serbs from the state
10 JUDGE MAY: One thing at a time. Now, you've read out a series --
11 you've read out a series of quotations which are said to have been made in
12 the parliament.
13 Now, Mr. Mesic, you can deal with that. First of all, do you know
14 if these statements were made, or these sort of statements, and if so, is
15 there anything that you can tell us about them?
16 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] There were different statements that
17 will were impermissible, and it is certain that such statements harmed
18 Croatia. As for Slobodan Praljak, I must say that he was never a member
19 of the HDZ. When the HDZ was established, he was one of President
20 Tudjman's major critics. Now, why were such statements made? I say today
21 as well that they did not work to Croatia's advantage but to its
22 disadvantage. There were rallies of Serbs in various places on the 4th of
23 February, 1990. On the 4th of March, 1990, there was a rally in Petrova
24 Gora of people from Lika, Kordun, Banja Luka, Bosanska Krajina, and also
25 Vojvodina in Serbia.
Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and English transcripts.
* Continued at: http://emperor.vwh.net/icdsm/more/mesic-4.htm
***** Urgent Message from Sloboda (Freedom) Association and the International Committee to Defend Slobodan Milosevic!
The Freedom Association in Belgrade and the ICDSM, based outside Yugoslavia, are the two organizations formed at the request of Slobodan Milosevic to aid in his defense.
Up until now our main work has been threefold. We have publicized the truth about The Hague's phony trial. We have organized research to help President Milosevic expose NATO's lies. And we have initiated legal action in the Dutch and European Courts.
Now our job has increased. The defense phase of the "trial" starts in May 2003. No longer will Mr. Milosevic be limited to cross-examining Hague witnesses. The prosecution will be forced further onto the defensive as victims of NATO's aggression and experts from Yugoslavia and the NATO countries tell what really happened and expose media lies. Moreover, Mr. Milosevic will call leaders, from East and West, some friendly and some hostile to the truth.
The controlled mass media will undoubtedly try to suppress this testimony as they have tried to suppress Mr. Milosevic's cross-examinations. Nevertheless this phase of the "trial" will be the biggest international forum ever to expose NATO's use of racism, violence and lies to attack Yugoslavia.
We urgently need the help of all people who care about what is happening in The Hague. Right now, Nico Steijnen , the Dutch lawyer in the ICDSM, is waging legal battles in the Dutch courts and before the European Court, about which more news soon. These efforts urgently require financial support. We now maintain a small staff of Yugoslav lawyers in Holland, assisting and advising Mr. Milosevic full-time. We need to expand our Dutch facilities, perhaps bringing in a non-Yugoslav attorney full-time. Definitely we must guarantee that we have an office and office manager available at all times, to compile and process evidence and for meetings with witnesses and lawyers and as a base for organizing press conferences.
All this costs money. And for this, we rely on those who want Mr. Milosevic to have the best possible support for attacking NATO's lies.
Here's how you can help...
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