Irinej Bulović, Bishop of the Serbian Orthodox Eparchy Bačka in Novi Sad, said in his speech that conflicts should always to be resolved through peaceful means. The Serbian Orthodox Church keeps reminding of the war in its prayers and sermons. Today, people in Serbia have many friends. The peace process will take a long time, because we are living in a post-Orwellian era. At the end of his speech, he consecrated the conference.
Pyotr Olegovich Tolstoy, vice-president of the Russian State Duma, addressed the conference participants on behalf of the Russian parliament and emphasised the historical ties between the Russian and the Serbian peoples. Both peoples should learn from the wars. He himself, has been a journalist on the Russian radio during the Yugoslavia war and has reported at the time. This war has not been an isolated case. Outrage he condemned the double standards of the Western “community of values”. He demanded that all true war criminals must be brought before a court of justice. Without acknowledgment of what has been done, there will be no forgiveness.
Mihailo Miša Gavrilović, lives in the Serbian diaspora in London, spoke about how the Serbs in the diaspora fared in the NATO countries during the war. Propaganda against Serbia has begun some 10 years earlier. They had repeatedly commented against the propaganda. He himself had been on radio and television 800 times between 1991 and 1999.
The head of the Serbian Orthodox Church of Montenegro and Littoral, the Metropolitan bishop Amfilohije Radović, said the conference strikes the heart of Europe and the world, calling for peace and prosperity instead of wars and poverty. He was very happy about the participants from abroad. He himself had been in the area of Pec during the war, he had known exactly what was happening. The war had been the continuation of the Crusades, the Napoleonic Wars, the Nazi era. The totalitarian ideology had come first from the East and comes now from the West. Selfish interests govern the world today. “We need peace, so we should join forces, we should carry that in our hearts.”
Aleksandar Vulin, Serbian Minister of Defense in office, found clear words: For more than 12 years, one was not allowed to speak of NATO aggression. Never in history has such a supremacy been utilised against such a small country. It was shocking that the killed children and civilians were termed as collateral damage. He was happy about the many foreign guests, they should also report. “In 1999, in our darkest hour, when we were attacked by our erstwhile allies, when the whole world was silent, you gave us back hope.” He clearly rejected joining NATO. “Serbia will never enter NATO!” Furthermore: “We will not do to others what has been done to us. What we want is peace, justice, rule of law and freedom.”
Vladislav Jovanović, former Foreign Minister of Yugoslavia and former Permanent Representative of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to the United Nations, said: “In late 1991, Ambassador Warren Zimmermann asked me to meet him and on that occasion he presented a single piece of paper, saying that in case there will be a robust conflict in Kosovo, for which Serbia could be considered responsible, America is ready to bomb Serbia and Belgrade. Then I asked him: ‘This is an ultimatum?’ and he replied: ‘Yes, this is an ultimatum’. That is what Zimmermann said privately. At that time I was Foreign Minister and he wanted to meet me in my office. It was very brief, almost impolite, blunt. This is not the language used in diplomacy. It was still polite, but very harsh. I reminded him of Serbia’s long history with ultimatums, carrying in mind the Hungarian ultimatum and others in our history. And that was the end of our conversation. He did not want to collaborate. Then I told him that I am going to inform President Milosevic. And maybe a month or two after our conversation he was revoked. The State Department was not pleased with the ambassador – he was the only American ambassador in Eastern Europe who did not succeed in eliminating the existing government. After that he decided to leave the State Department and went to Columbia University as a professor or he was simply removed from office. Otherwise, he was a nice man, quite polite, well educated, I met him many times. It was his assignment. To me, that was characteristic, American policy was not very friendly toward Serbia already 10 years back.”
Srđan Aleksić, lawyer, and Velimir Nedeljković, both from Niš, drew attention to the consequences of the contamination of Serbia with the use of extensive DU munitions (depleted uranium); this has verifiably led to significantly increased cancer rates in the affected areas. NATO itself had admitted the use of DU ammunition. So far, 18,000 people have died, the Italian courts have granted the compensation claims of the relatives of the 7,600 soldiers who were in active service at that time and of whom 450 have already died of cancer. Serbia ought to make this claim also. An international group of lawyers is about preparing a lawsuit against the NATO countries. An international prohibition of DU weapons must be demanded, also because of the environmental contamination (ecocide). •
The famous Austrian writer, Peter Handke was awarded with the “Charta of Courage“ by Živadin Jovanović, President of the Belgrade Forum for the World of Equals at the Conference. He was recognised for his intellectual courage in defending truth and justice in times when avarice of power and lies dominated over Serbia.
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