Part of the introduction from KOSOVO WAR POETRY
The war in Serbia and Kosovo - A tragedy doubled
The most powerful military alliance
the world has ever known, conducted the most intensive bombing campaign in the
history of warfare against Serbia, the poorest and most miserable country in
For eleven weeks the war dominated the media. Since then the immense tragedy
and crime of the war have faded from public view. Yet the desperate human
consequences, and the long-term costs remain. The moral and military principles
which guided the NATO campaign go unchallenged and unexamined.
Starting on 24 March 1999 the war was a 78 day concerted action by the air
forces of 13 of NATO’s 19 member nations. It was the first time in the fifty
years’ existence of NATO that its forces had been used aggressively - in
direct conflict with the terms of its own treaty which specifically recognises
the United Nations as the principle organisation responsible for peace and
security in the world.
The entire area
of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia is now, at the outset of the twenty-first
century, one of immense human suffering and political uncertainty far worse than
the situation before NATO flew in on its so-called humanitarian mission.
The negotiations in Rambouillet, near Paris, in early 1999, on
the status of Kosovo might have been prolonged till agreement was reached.
Instead, NATO demanded that Kosovo should be allowed a referendum on total
independence and insisted that NATO forces should occupy both Kosovo and Serbia.
It was impossible for Milosevic to sign such an outrageous document.
Interestingly, NATO, in its desperation to end the war, agreed to drop two of
Serbia’s suffering before 24 March
Serbia was the victim of "ethnic cleansing" as well as a
perpetrator. At the start of 1999 there were 500,000 Serbian refugees in Serbia
purged from Croatia (with the backing of the United States) and from Bosnia.
The effects of the bombing of Serbia
In eleven weeks the NATO air forces flew over 36,000 sorties and dropped over
23,000 bombs and missiles on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia,
Vojvodina, Kosovo, and Montenegro). These included 400 cruise missiles, cluster
bombs, and highly toxic depleted uranium bombs.
Targets included the military forces, bases and equipment of the Serbian
army. In addition the bombing damaged or destroyed 144 major industrial plants
including all Yugoslavia’s oil refineries, fuel storage facilities, car and
motorcycle factories, pharmaceutical and fertiliser factories, rubber factories.
The bombing of some of these released large quantities of dangerous chemicals
into the environment, created an oil slick on the Danube 20 kilometres long, and
put 600, 000 people out of work.
Damaged or destroyed were several thousand homes (mainly in Belgrade, Nis,
Cuprija, Aleksinac and Pristina), 33 clinics and hospitals, 340 schools, 55 road
and rail bridges. The River Danube was blocked; some of the bridges were
hundreds of miles from the scenes of the racial expulsions and were vital trade
links to the rest of Europe. Also attacked were 12 railway lines, 5 civilian
airports, 6 trunk roads, 10 TV and radio stations and 24 transmitters; power
stations were put out of action; sewage treatment plants were damaged; water
supplies were cut off.
Five thousand civilians were injured; 1400 adult civilians were killed, 600
children were killed, 600 military and police personnel were killed. As a result
of the murder, harassment, violence, and destruction of homes carried out by the
returning Kosovo Albanians there are now about 150,000 further refugees (mainly
Serbs and Roma) in Serbia who have fled from Kosovo. "Ethnic
cleansing" has not been halted. There are now 10,000 unexploded bombs
scattered throughout the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Serbia is now the most
polluted, damaged, distressed, politically unsettled, and poverty-stricken
country in Europe. It is an humanitarian disaster area and has the highest UNHCR
budget of any country in the world.
NATO’s targeting was
not focused on the military enemy. In fact it became ever more widespread and
desperate. No reasonable person could accept that the targeting of civilian
infrastructure was anything other than a war against the innocent Serbian
civilian population. It brought not peace to Serbia, but death, destruction and
misery. The war which NATO leaders claimed was humanitarian used the most
advanced military technology to achieve a result that was simply barbaric.
Peace has emphatically
not returned to Kosovo. The political situation there is more confused and
uncertain than it ever was before. This is in spite of the best efforts of 4,500
foreign troops, 3000 members of an international police force and hundreds of
members of humanitarian organisation who are all trying to solve "the
The Kosovo problem, January 2000
The key to beginning to solve the
problem is the question of who will run Kosovo.
NATO countries agreed that Kosovo would
remain part of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Serbia therefore expects to
be consulted on the running of the country, but is effectively ignored.
The returning KLA which
is now officially disbanded as a military force, and is not elected, took
immediate control of the running of the country from early June 1999. The KFOR
military force regards itself as the keeper of the peace and the organiser of
the state. The elected Democratic League of Kosovo is also sidelined.
In addition there are
over 300 non-governmental and governmental organisations dealing with housing,
and other basic necessities and offering counselling and comfort.
In the most brutal way
possible the returning refugees have made it clear that they cannot, do not and
will not accept themselves as having anything to do with the Serbian authorities
which have so abused them in the past.
Agreeing a political
settlement acceptable to the people of Kosovo is the first step to a long-term
solution of the crisis. The tragedy continues.
Extracts from text of introduction from KOSOVO WAR POETRY
Copyright © David Roberts 2000
Free use for personal study only. Multiple copies are only permitted with the
written permission of the author. See the Contact section of this web site.
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Kosovo War Poetry
Copyright © David Roberts 2000
Free use for personal study only. Making multiple copies is only permitted with the written permission of the author.
See the Contact section of this web site.
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