Geert Lovink on Tue, 30 Mar 1999 10:17:20 +0200 (CEST)

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Syndicate: News and Human Rights Satements

Mlatisumina 26, 11000 Beograd, FR Yugoslavia
Tel/fax (+381 11) 432 572 or 344 1203. E-mail: bgcentar@eunet.yu


The massive air strikes against Yugoslavia do not only destroy army
installations. They also take human lives and ruin the economic
infrastructure of our impoverished country. In the long run, however, the
biggest collateral damage will be the shattered possibilities for
democracy in Serbia. We fear that the only durable result of the
undeclared war will be a permanent state of emergency, legal and
spiritual, this time with the support of the bewildered majority, which
has always sided with the government in times of extreme adversity and
danger.  Democratic and economic transition in Serbia is the only real
cure for the Kosovo problem and hope for achieving stability in the

Our long-standing criticism of the policies of the Serbian regime and
especially its human rights record is well known. However, we regard the
NATO's decision "to use violence for humanitarian reasons" as a sign of
incompetence and impotence of the US and EU policies in regard to Kosovo,
rather than an unavoidable move after all other efforts had failed. Air
strikes signify the defeat of the international community's long-standing
policy towards Serbia, which has been exclusively based on negotiating
with Mr. Milosevic and pressuring him to deliver peace.

There will be no real peace and stability in the region and there will
certainly be no peace in Yugoslavia unless Serbia embarks on the road to
democracy and market economy. However, it appears that the international
community has never seriously considered this option. There has been no
real effort to promote and assist the position of those in Serbia that
have been endeavoring to put their country on the road to democracy.  On
the contrary, economic and political isolation of FR Yugoslavia has been
maintained although it has been clear that this immensely aids
authoritarian and xenophobic extremists. In the atmosphere of war and
national calamity these enemies of democracy will feel no inhibitions and
will meet with little resistance. Occasional maladroit attempts to
"assist" democracy and human rights in Serbia by vague promises of money
to individuals and groups have only exposed non-governmental organizations
in Yugoslavia to accusations of cupidity and treacherous service to
foreign enemies. A fresh and very unfortunate example is the introduction
in the US Senate of a "Serbian Democratization Act" in the wake of the
first night of bombings!  The air strikes erased in one night the results
of ten years of hard work of groups of courageous people in the
non-governmental organizations and in the democratic opposition, who have
not tried to "topple" anyone but to develop the institutions of civil
society, to promote liberal and civic values, to teach non-violent
conflict resolution. The emerging democracy in Montenegro is in peril and
will be hard to maintain now. The Kosovo problem will remain unsolved and
the future of democracy and human rights in Serbia uncertain for many
years.  However, we still hope that it is not too late for all the parties
involved to come to their senses and try to resolve this situation through
negotiations and without further violence.

For the Centre,

Professor Vojin Dimitrijevic,
Former Vice-Chairman of the UN Human Rights Committee