Friday, September 23, 2005

Back with a lot of new stuff!

My last post on here was sometime in May or June. I said then the site would resume in July. It's been a little longer than that, but the site is finally back. I've uploaded some "Myths and Facts" about Yugoslavia, below. They largely concern the myths surrounding Serbia's 1989 constitutional amendments - ones dealing with Croatia and Bosnia, and the rest of the Kosovo issue, will hopefully follow in the coming weeks and months. Not all the posted "Myths" are answered, just those with links (others are nearly finished or not yet written up). I decided to upload it all even though the overall project is yet to be completed. Because of that, if you don't already know basically what is claimed to have happened in the former Yugoslavia then you may find this a little too complex and detailed - in the future I aim to add in little summaries of what is said and what really happened to make it easier to understand.

Anyway, regardless of all that, I hope you find the posts useful and informative.

The Destruction of Yugoslavia: Myth and Fact

Below is a work-in-progress expose of the anti-Milosevic and anti-Serb myths surrounding the destruction of Yugoslavia, which are repeatedly endlessly in the West. If you have come to this page believing Milosevic to be the fascist-style nationalist he is portrayed as in the West, then please begin by reading these excerts from his speeches.

Persecution of Non-Albanians in Kosovo

MYTH: Protests by Kosovo Serbs and Montenegrins in the 1980s against persecution by Kosovo Albanians were nationalist and orchestrated by Milosevic.
MYTH: Serbs, Montenegrins and other non-Albanians were not really being persecuted in Kosovo, that was just Serb nationalist propaganda.

Milosevic’s Rise to Power

MYTH: Starting in April 1987, Milosevic rose to power by exploiting a wave of anti-Albanian Serbian nationalism.
MYTH: Milosevic’s famous words, “Nobody must beat you”, were a nationalist rallying cry.
MYTH: Milosevic staged the events that allegedly prompted him to say “Nobody must beat you”.
MYTH: In the so-called “Anti-Bureaucratic Revolution” Milosevic overthrew the governments of Vojvodina and Montenegro, replacing them with his puppets.
MYTH: In November 1988 Slobodan Milosevic had the popularly elected Albanian leaders of Kosovo removed and replaced with his hand-picked puppets.
MYTH: The 28 June 1989 celebration in Gazimestan of the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo was nationalist.

The 1974 Constitution

MYTH: Serbs only objected to the 1974 constitution because it gave the provinces real autonomy, and they wanted a centralised state that they would dominate.
MYTH: Only Milosevic and Serb nationalists objected to the 1974 constitution and sought change.

The 1989 Amendments to Serbia’s Constitution

MYTH: The 1989 amendments to Serbia’s constitution abolished Kosovo’s autonomy.
MYTH: The 1989 amendments to Serbia’s constitution affected in a negative way the rights of the Albanians of Kosovo.
MYTH: Those Albanians that supported the amendments and opposed separatism were Serb puppets, genuine Albanian leaders were opposed. (This Myth is already busted within this Myth)
MYTH: The 1989 amendments to Serbia’s constitution were not approved by the necessary two-thirds majority in Kosovo’s Assembly.
MYTH: The 1989 amendments to Serbia’s constitution were illegal.
MYTH: Milosevic passed the constitutional amendments unilaterally, without the agreement of the rest of Yugoslavia.
MYTH: Despite abolishing the autonomy of the (previously) autonomous provinces of Kosovo and Vojvodina, Milosevic kept their places on the Presidency of Yugoslavia in order to create a “Serbian bloc” of votes that he controlled, with which to dominate Yugoslavia.

The Federal Government of Yugoslavia

MYTH: The Federal Government of Yugoslavia was Serb-dominated.

The Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA)

MYTH: The Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) was Serb-dominated.
MYTH: Through the course of Yugoslavia’s break-up non-Serbs were gradually purged from the JNA, and it became a Greater Serbian army.

The “War” in Slovenia

MYTH: The Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) attacked Slovenia in June 1991.
MYTH: Slovene armed forces were the legal forces of the Slovene state.
MYTH: It was the Serbs that ordered the JNA to move against Slovenia.

Myth: Milosevic controlled a "Serb bloc" on the Yugoslav Presidency, which he aimed to use to dominate Yugoslavia.

MYTH (in full): Despite abolishing the autonomy of the (previously) autonomous provinces of Kosovo and Vojvodina, Milosevic kept their places on the Presidency of Yugoslavia in order to create a “Serbian bloc” of votes that he controlled, with which to dominate Yugoslavia.

FACT: As already explained, the autonomy of neither Kosovo nor Vojvodina was abolished by the 1989 constitutional amendments. It was therefore perfectly natural that they keep their own independent federal representatives, which the Federal Constitution said that they should have. The representatives of Kosovo and Vojvodina continued to be elected by the Kosovo and Vojovodina assemblies respectively, and were not appointed by Milosevic, who had no control over who they were or what they did.

Kosovo’s representative on the Presidency, for example, continued to be Sinan Hasani (who had previously been President of the Presidency of Yugoslavia) for a few months, and then in May 1989 the Kosovo Assembly elected a new representative, Riza Sapundzija (another ethnic Albanian), ( the highest ranking Kosovo economist. ( Riza Sapundzija answered to the Kosovo Assembly, not Milosevic, and the same applied to Vojvodina’s representative. The representative of Vojvodina was certainly a Serb, as the majority of Vojvodina’s population was Serbian, but it is an absolutely racist assumption to assume that as a Serb he must have been a puppet of Milosevic. Vojvodina’s rulers and representatives throughout the 1980s had been Serbs, but had opposed the constitutional change that Milosevic had supported whereas many prominent Slovenes, Croats, Macedonians, and others had supported them, and in 1990-1 Bosnia’s representative to the Yugoslav Presidency, Bogic Bogicevic, was also a Serb, but, like all representatives, he obeyed the government that chose him, not the President of Serbia.

Montenegro’s representative on the Presidency, Nenad Bucin (until March 1991), is also alleged to have been part of this “Serbian bloc” controlled by Milosevic, again with no validity. Nenad Bucin was a liberal reformer who advocated participation in government by non-communists, and had been democratically elected to his position by a referendum of the Montenegrin populace in 1989. ( He answered to the Montenegrin Assembly and government, and how exactly Milosevic could have “controlled” him is beyond me. That Montenegro often had similar positions to Serbia is hardly surprising, given their shared support for the preservation of Yugoslavia, and does not make them puppets of Milosevic, any more than the Macedonian government was a puppet of Milosevic when it made a joint statement with Serbia in July 1990 declaring support for the preservation of federal Yugoslavia. (Balkan Tragedy, p.447, note 29)

The claim of Milosevic’s detractors that he created and controlled a “Serbian bloc” on the Yugoslav Presidency, and Croatia, Slovenia and the others had to secede to escape domination by this “Serbian bloc”, is therefore without any basis. Serbia had just one representative on the Presidency of Yugoslavia, out of a total of eight, and could not have dominated Yugoslavia even if it had wanted to.

Myth: Milosevic passed the constitutional amendments unilaterally, without the agreement of the rest of Yugoslavia.

FACT: The whole of Yugoslavia supported and agreed to the amendments to Serbia’s constitution. In October 1988 the Central Committee of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia (LCY), which included prominent leaders of all the republics and provinces, had declared its support for the amendments that had been formulated by Serbia’s Constitutional Commission, with even Slovenia, ruled by the secessionist-leaning Milan Kucan, agreeing to the amendments then. (Balkan Tragedy, p.94) Yugoslavia in its entirety supported the amendments and, as a conclusion adopted at a joint session of the Federal Assembly on March 1st 1989 said, “[considered] that the amendments on the constitution of Serbia adopted by the Serbian Assembly [secured] the necessary unity of all socialist self-management forces in the Republic of Serbia and [were] in line with the positions of the 13th Congress of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia”. ( The 13th Congress of the LCY, which took place in 1986, had come out firmly in favour of amending the 1974 constitution, including allowing Serbia to amend its constitution to sort out its problematic relationship with the autonomous provinces, ( and the LCY, including its Croatian (and anti-Milosevic) President, Stipe Suvar, firmly supported the amendments. (

Myth: The 1989 amendments to Serbia’s constitution were illegal.

FACT: The 1989 amendments were perfectly legal, and consistent with both the constitution of Serbia and the constitution of Yugoslavia. Changes to Serbia’s constitution required the agreement of both autonomous provinces, and this was received in late March - on March 21st 1989 the Assembly of Vojvodina agreed, and the Assembly of Kosovo followed on March 23rd, with an overwhelming vote (by 175 out of 187 delegates present) in favour. The amendments were then passed on March 28th by the Assembly of Serbia. The correct constitutional practice was followed to the letter.

On June 27th 1990 the Constitutional Court of Kosovo, after a request by an Albanian academic and lawyer, decided to initiate a procedure to assess the constitutionality of the consent given on March 23rd 1989 to amendments to Serbia’s constitution, and a month later, on 27th July 1990, a draft decision was formed annulling the consent to the amendments. ( Some of Serbia and Milosevic’s detractors, including Mr. Nice, Milosevic’s prosecutor at the Hague Tribunal, claim that this shows that the consent to the amendments, and the amendments, were illegal.

There are a number of fatal flaws with this argument, however. For one thing, this decision was just a draft, and was never accepted or signed, so Kosovo’s Constitutional Court never actually declared the consent to the amendments illegal. Secondly, and more importantly, the Constitutional Court of Kosovo did not have the right to assess the constitutionality of changes to the constitution of the Republic of Serbia, which belonged to the Constitutional Courts of Serbia and Yugoslavia. The Constitutional Courts of Yugoslavia could not assess the legality of actions, only the legality of legal documents - in this case, the constitution of Serbia - and the Constitutional Court of Kosovo could not assess the legality of the constitution of a higher territorial unit, Serbia. ( So the decision, even if it had been accepted, wouldn’t have had any legal validity.

The Constitutional Court of Yugoslavia, which had an equal representation of all the Republics and Autonomous Provinces, in fact reviewed the legality of all the constitutions of the constituent units of Yugoslavia in 1989-90, and found almost all of them - including Serbia’s - to contain minor contraventions with the federal constitution, but found everything in the Serbian constitution relating to the provinces, that had been changed by the amendments earlier in the year, to be perfectly legal and consistent with the federal constitution. (

Myth: The 1989 amendments to Serbia’s constitution were not approved by the necessary two-thirds majority in Kosovo’s Assembly.

FACT: On March 23rd 1989 the Assembly of Kosovo met to discuss the proposed amendments to Serbia’s constitution. After a long debate, in which dozens of delegates took the floor to express their misgivings, or, more often, their support, the matter was put to the vote, and out of 187 delegates present (3 were absent), 175 voted in favour, 2 abstained, and just 10 voted against. The Assembly of Kosovo represented the ethnic make up of the population, so over 70% of its delegates were ethnic Albanians, and it overwhelmingly approved the amendments to Serbia’s constitution.

During the testimony of Vukasin Jokanovic, the Kosovo Assembly’s then President, on Wednesday 1st December 2004 at the Hague Tribunal, video clips and photos of the March 23rd Assembly session were shown, proving that this amount voted in favour. (

Myth: The 1989 amendments to Serbia’s constitution affected in a negative way the rights of the Albanians of Kosovo.

FACT: The Albanians of Kosovo continued to have exactly the same cultural and national rights after the amendments to the constitution of Serbia as before. The amendments, as the (Albanian-dominated) Provincial Committee of the League of Communists of Kosovo concluded on February 28th 1989, “[did] not jeopardise the autonomy of the provinces or the equality among peoples and minorities” ( Amendment 27, for example, explicitly stated that “the languages of nationalities shall be in equal official and public use in the territories of the Autonomous Provinces”, ( and Kosovo Albanians continued to have full cultural autonomy and rights as a nationality of Yugoslavia.

The idea that these amendments were anti-Albanian or negatively affected Albanian rights does not even make sense. One of the members of the Constitutional Commission that prepared the amendments, Professor Surija Popovci, was a Kosovo Albanian, and he appeared on television prior to the 23rd March session of the Kosovo Assembly, which overwhelmingly agreed to the amendments, to declare his support for them ( Prominent Albanian leaders such as Sinan Hasani, then Kosovo’s representative on the Presidency of Yugoslavia and a former President and Vice-President of the Presidency of Yugoslavia, and the Albanian leaders of the Kosovo Communist Party and government, also all supported the amendments. ( Is this at all consistent with the notion that they rescinded or restricted the rights of the Albanian people?

Serbia's Constitutional Amendments and the Autonomous Provinces

Below is a detailed explanation of what the five amendments to Serbia's constitution that pertained to the autonomous provinces were actually about, and what they changed:

Amendment 29 concerned the mechanism for ensuring that the provincial constitutions were in line with the republican constitution, which they legally had to be. Under the 1974 constitution the provinces had the power to amend and change their constitutions without Serbia having any say, but there was no mechanism for ensuring that these constitutions did not illegally violate the republican constitution. Under Article 402 of the 1974 constitution the Constitutional Court of Serbia was supposed to inform the Assembly of Serbia, which was then to inform the provincial assemblies, if it found the provincial constitutions to contravene the republican constitution. Under the 1974 constitution, however, the provincial assemblies were then to decide for themselves whether to eliminate what was unconstitutional and illegal in their constitutions, and Article 402 said nothing about what would happen if the unconstitutional provisions remained. The new Amendment 29 filled that hole - if the provincial assemblies did not remove any contraventions within a year of being informed of them, then the contravening provisions automatically ceased to be applied. The provinces were thus given a one year tolerance of unconstitutionality in their constitutions.

According to Article 300 of the 1974 constitution of Serbia, there were certain areas where laws were supposed to be passed and applied uniformly for the whole of the Republic of Serbia. The separatist-leaning provincial governments had often sabotaged laws that pertained to the whole of the Republic by simply not implementing them, however, and under the 1974 constitution there was no way of making them apply or enforce the republic-wide laws that that very constitution said they were supposed to. Amendment 31 therefore gave republican bodies certain authority in the provinces for enforcing laws that applied to the whole of the republic. The provinces still retained full authority and autonomy regarding the passing of their own laws, and their autonomy was in no way affected there, the republican bodies just received the authority necessary to ensure that laws that applied to the whole of the republic were actually implemented by the provincial governments, and not ignored or sabotaged.

What it was that was regulated uniformly throughout the whole of the republic of Serbia was explained in Amendment 33: the equal use of languages, protection against pollution of the land, social policy and laws (relating to marriage and so on), property rights, and a number of other things which naturally have to be uniform across a state. What Amendment 33 specified as uniform across the republic was in fact the same as what had been specified as uniform across the republic in the 1974 constitution, only now, with Amendment 31, such uniform regulations would actually be implemented.

Amendment 43 restored an important state function to Serbia - that of protecting the constitutional order in times of crisis. The Presidency of Serbia was now to be in charge of state security when the constitutional order was threatened, and Amendment 43 regulated what the Presidency could do in terms of protecting the state order in times of crisis, including, if deemed necessary, empowering republican organs to take over the management of crucial areas across the whole of the republic. Article 296 of the 1974 constitution had said that in the area of national defence when there was an emergency the republican authorities could communicate directly with municipal authorities, bypassing the provincial organs (, but under that constitution Serbia had basically lost all its state powers regarding national defence and security. This was shown most dramatically in 1981, when Kosovo erupted in Albanian separatist riots, threatening the security and constitutional order of the Republic of Serbia, but the police forces of said Republic had to wait for days for permission to enter Kosovo and restore order. Amendment 43 made sure that such a bizarre and dangerous situation would not be repeated, by restoring to Serbia the essential state function of safeguarding national defence and security - matters which are clearly of absolute importance to the whole of the Republic - in times of crisis. The provinces, lest there be any confusion, still had absolute autonomy in this area in normal times, retaining their own autonomous and independent police and internal security forces, but now when the constitutional order and security of the Republic was threatened the Republic could respond as a unified whole.

Amendment 47 dealt with another important matter: how the constitution of Serbia could be changed. Under the 1974 constitution a paradoxical situation had been created whereby the Republic of Serbia had no say over what went on its autonomous provinces, and said provinces could change their constitutions at will, but those provinces effectively had a veto power over changes to the constitution of the Republic of Serbia. The lower territorial unit had more powers here than the higher territorial unit - the tail was wagging the dog. This was clearly a paradoxical situation, and Amendment 47 set out to fix it in a fair and just manner. The effective veto power of the provinces was substituted for a complex procedure for changing the constitution of Serbia. If consensus was not achieved between the republican and provincial assemblies over amendments to the republican constitution, then the matter would be postponed for six months, during which the Assembly of Serbia could not effect change. If consensus was still not reached after that period, and one or more of the provinces still objected, then the changes could be effected only through a democratic referendum. ( The provinces thus still retained major power regarding changes to the republican constitution, just losing the power of total veto. Point 2 of Amendment 47, it should also be noted, explicitly stated that "Changes to the constitution of Serbia cannot alter the position, rights, and duties of the autonomous provinces established by the constitution of the SFRY”, so Serbia could in no way abolish their autonomy now they had lost veto power.

Myth: The 1989 amendments to Serbia’s constitution abolished Kosovo’s autonomy.

FACT: On 28th March 1989 the Serbian parliament passed forty-one amendments to its constitution. The main reason for these amendments was to bring the Serbian constitution in line with the federal constitution, which had been changed the previous November, and just five of the said amendments - amendments 29, 31, 33, 43 and 47 - actually had anything to do with the autonomous provinces of Serbia, Kosovo and Vojvodina. All these amendments did was rectify the unworkable and contradictory situation created by the 1974 constitution, which had denied Serbia existence as a functioning state, and the autonomy of Kosovo (or Vojvodina, Serbia’s other autonomous province) was in no way abolished or “revoked” by them.

These five amendments restored to Serbia certain state powers in the spheres of national defence and internal affairs when the constitutional order was threatened; ensured that laws that pertained to the whole of the Republic of Serbia were actually implemented, and not sabotaged by provincial governments; made sure that provincial constitutions could not be in illegal contravention with the republican constitution; and substituted the provinces’ effective veto power over changes to the republican constitution with a complex mechanism, whereby if consensus over change was not achieved after six months, then the change could only be effected through referendum. ( (Page 35174 onwards)) Kosovo’s autonomy was barely affected by the amendments, which just restored some essential state functions to Serbia, let alone abolished. As Stipe Suvar, the Croatian head of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia (and opponent of Slobodan Milosevic), said at the time, “the amendments relate to five or six issues, and it is quite normal that Serbia receives competence over them as a state… that is, unless we allow two provinces to grow into states and become states." (

Kosovo continued to have its own Assembly, Executive Council, Constitutional Court, police force, and all the autonomous rights and powers it had had before. Its direct relationship with the federation, and position as a constituent unit of the federation, was also completely unchanged, and Kosovo continued to function as an autonomous province and constituent unit of the Yugoslav federation. Immediately after Kosovo’s Assembly approved the amendments in March 1989 it returned to regular issues, such as its own economic policy, and the Assembly, and all of Kosovo’s autonomous institutions, continued to function exactly as they had before. On May 5th 1989, for example, Kosovo’s Assembly re-elected its then President, Vukasin Jokanovic, elected a new representative on the Presidency of Yugoslavia, Riza Sapundzija, and held multi-candidate elections for the Presidency of Kosovo. Later in 1989 there were even new elections for the Assembly, in which approximately two-thirds of Kosovo’s citizens voted, and this new Assembly continued to function as usual, electing, for example, a new President of the Assembly, Djordje Bozovic. (

Myth: Only Milosevic and Serb nationalists objected to the 1974 constitution and sought change.

FACT: The leaders of the Republic of Serbia had been objecting to the 1974 constitution, and its creation of essentially independent quasi-republics out of Serbian territory, practically since it had been issued. The “Blue Book” prepared by Serbia’s leadership in 1976-7, for example, warned that the 1974 constitution was splitting Serbia into three separate states, that the economic unity of Serbia was being destroyed by the provinces’ uncoordinated and independent economic policies, and that the question would begin to arise as to whether the Serbian people was “on an equal footing with the other peoples of Yugoslavia [and were] exercising their historical right to a national state within the Yugoslav federation”. ( The “Blue Book” was suppressed, but Serbian leaders brought up the matter again in the 1980s. Ivan Stambolic, elected leader of the Serbian party in 1984, for example, campaigned for amendments to Serbia’s constitution, which the other republics eventually agreed to in 1986. It was in fact Ivan Stambolic, Milosevic’s immediate predecessor, that set up the Constitutional Commission that formed the amendments that were passed in 1989, and he presided over its first meeting in 1986. (

Objections to Serbia’s status under the 1974 constitution were nothing new, then, and not only had Serbia sought amendments for some time before Milosevic, but the constitutional amendments that were passed in 1989 can actually be directly attributed to Milosevic’s predecessor, Ivan Stambolic. Milosevic therefore cannot be blamed - as he is - for the alleged negative consequences of the 1989 constitutional amendments. The idea that the 1989 amendments to Serbia’s constitution were motivated by nationalism, or that Milosevic was a nationalist for wanting them effected, also no longer makes sense, as Ivan Stambolic and Dragoslav Markovic (who prepared the “Blue Book”), were both prominent liberals (and are still lauded in the West as such), and later opposed Milosevic, even accusing him of nationalism. It was also not just Serbs that saw the necessity of constitutional amendments - see “MYTH: Milosevic passed the constitutional amendments unilaterally, without the agreement of the rest of Yugoslavia".

Myth: Milosevic staged the events that allegedly prompted him to say “Nobody must beat you”.

FACT: Milosevic’s detractors claim that the events which prompted Milosevic to say “Nobody must beat you” were all stage-managed by Milosevic. They claim that the Serbs, as part of Milosevic’s elaborate plan, deliberately attacked the police in order to get them to “beat” them, thus enabling Milosevic to say his famous and allegedly combative and threatening words, “Nobody must beat you”.

The only source for this reading of events are comments that Solevic, an organiser of Kosovo Serb rallies who was present then, is said to have made to the BBC for their “Death of Yugoslavia” documentary. This documentary presented him as saying that two trailers full of stones had deliberately been parked near the Cultural Centre, which the Serb protestors threw at the police in order to provoke an aggressive response. There is quite a major problem with this single piece of evidence, however - Solevic never said what the documentary claimed, and his words were misrepresented by the BBC. (,

Solevic had in fact explicitly said that the stones were there to “broaden the pavement”, and “wasn’t for the police”. He did indeed describe the Serb citizens reaching the stones and throwing them at the police, but only after they had been attacked, at which point they “started fleeing”, came across the stones, and threw them at the pursuing police. The claim that the Serbs provoked the police with the stones therefore only makes sense if you completely reverse the chronology of events. The Federal Secretariat of the Interior actually established a commission to look into what happened at this meeting, and found that the police had acted coercively and unlawfully, and concluded that the behaviour of the gathered citizens “cannot be assessed as negative or extremist. There was no significant violation of law and order." (

The idea that the citizens knew of the stones’ presence, and that Solevic had planned their retreat to them, is also contradicted by what he actually said: “We didn’t know what was going on. Our people started fleeing”. Solevic’s words also refute the idea that Milosevic had planned this - he describes Milosevic being informed of the events as passing on a “hot potato” which Milosevic couldn’t “pass… to anybody else”. The sole piece of “evidence” for the claim that the events of April 24th 1989, therefore, is actually solid proof that that claim is not true.

In fact, even if we put aside Solevic’s actual account of the events, and the Federal investigation into the matter, the idea that the whole thing was staged still makes no sense. Milosevic is alleged to have prepared all these events in order to enable him to respond with “Nobody must beat you”, and rally the crowd with nationalism. But Milosevic’s “Nobody must beat you” was said to a small group of people within earshot, who had come up to him and said to him “We are being beaten, President. The police is beating us” ( - it was only a little later that loudspeakers were rigged up on the window to enable Milosevic to address the whole crowd. Why, if he had engineered all this havoc in order to say those words, did Milosevic just address them to a handful of people nearby, and not to the whole crowd? That clearly doesn’t make any sense.

And then there is what Milosevic said to the whole crowd once the loudspeakers were set up. Having allegedly engineered the perfect moment for a combative and nationalist speech, did Milosevic then make such a speech? No, he just calmed the people down, saying that “we have to work to hear out all your delegates… allow us to hold a meeting, not a rally. There will be no use from any rallies.” ( After those words, order was restored completely, the citizens gathered outside gradually dispersed, and the meeting inside proceeded (for another thirteen hours). Once again, the facts are inconsistent with the anti-Milosevic propaganda.

Myth: It was the Serbs that ordered the JNA to move against Slovenia.

FACT: The decision to resume control over the border postings that Slovenia had illegally taken control of was taken and implemented by people of all the different Yugoslav nations, not the Serbs, and the most important figures involved were, in fact, Croat and Slovene. The border postings issue was discussed in the Federal Presidency in June 1991, but the so-called “Serb bloc” (the representatives of Serbia, Montenegro, Vojvodina and Kosovo) - amongst others - did not favour resuming control over the border through use of the police or army. The representative of Serbia, Borislav Jovic, was somewhat resigned to the inevitability of Slovene secession, given its near unanimous support in that republic, and, though condemning their unilateral separatist acts, did not back the idea of re-taking control over the border. But his views were ignored, and when the Presidency was out of session the Federal Prime Minister, Ante Markovic (a Croat), signed an order empowering the Defence Minister (Kadijevic, a Yugoslav) and the Interior Minister (Petar Gracanin, a Serb) to “deploy the frontier units of the JNA with the aim of safeguarding the state frontiers at the border-crossings” (Destruction, p.154-5) in a joint action with the Federal Police. Gracanin then told the commander of the Fifth Military District (which covered Slovenia, most of Croatia, and part of Bosnia) to provide troops and transport to accompany federal police units, first to barracks in Slovenia, and then to the border posts to which they assigned. (Destruction, p.35) That commander was Konrad Kolsek, a Slovene, who then spent the night with his Deputy, General Andrija Raseta (a Serb), planning the details of the operation (the Chief of Staff of the Fifth Military District, meanwhile, was a Macedonian). The commander of the 13th (Riejaka) Crops of the JNA, which Slovene Defence Minister Janez Jansa warned the Slovene leadership when the operation began “was on its way”, was headed by another Slovene, Marijan Cad.

The Serbs therefore had nothing to do with the ‘war’ in Slovenia - the order to take over the border crossings was issued by a Croat without the agreement or even knowledge of Milosevic or the so-called “Serb bloc”, and was implemented by a Slovene JNA Commander. In fact, at the time the Slovenes did not even claim that it was the Serbs that had attacked them - Slovene President MIlan Kucan accused Markovic to his face of having attacked Slovenia, while Milosevic, far from creating this ‘war’ in Slovenia, told Markovic that he had needlessly started a war over customs revenues. Markovic tried to explicate himself from this mess by claiming that the JNA had acted autonomously and not under his instructions, but the record, including the order with his signature published in the Federal Gazette, speaks for itself.

Myth: Slovene armed forces were the legal forces of the Slovene state.

FACT: Slovenia did not and could not legally have its own army, and the force it used to attack the JNA was an illegal separatist army. This illegal army was based on a legal institution, the Territorial Defence of Slovenia (TO), which existed in each Republic. The Territorial Defence, however, was legally subordinated to the JNA, and an integral part of it, not a separate Republican army, as it is sometimes portrayed. The commanders of each of the TOs were supposed to be appointed by the JNA, but in September 1990 Slovenia adopted an illegal amendment declaring its authority over the TO, and then in October 1990 illegally dismissed its then head because he supported Yugoslavia. They then set about building up the TO forces into a new republican army, and arming them with illegally smuggled arms. The Federal Government, headed by the Croat Ante Markovic, warned Slovenia not to do this, and demanded that they reverse this process and restore the JNA's legal authority over the TO, but to no avail. The Slovene separatists were bent on unilateral and armed secession, regardless of what the other peoples of Yugoslavia thought. This they eventually achieved in June 1991, when they used these illegal forces to attack the JNA, the only legal armed forces of Yugoslavia.

Myth: The Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) attacked Slovenia in June 1991.

FACT: In June 1991 Slovenia illegally declared itself an independent state, and, despite promising not to to the US Ambassador to Yugoslavia, proceeded to illegally take over its border posts. In response to this illegal and unilateral action, the JNA was ordered to assist the Federal police in peacefully resuming control over the borders of Yugoslavia in the Slovene federal unit, which is what it attempted to do. Just 2,000 unarmed troops were moved from their barracks in Slovenia to assist the police in this limited operation. The order to take over the border posts was published openly in the Federal Gazette a day before it went into operation, and the Slovene President, Milan Kucan, was directly informed by the JNA of what they were going to do, including the lines of their planned troop movements. Kucan even requested privately to the Commander of the Fifth Military District of the JNA, which included Slovenia, that they not do the operation on the day of their independence celebrations (which the JNA did not). The JNA was not expecting any violence at all in carrying out this policing action. But the Slovene separatists were planning otherwise. As soon as the JNA moved, Kucan gave the order for the Slovenes’ illegally armed and formed separatist forces to attack the JNA. JNA barracks were surrounded, roadblocks set up to block the JNA’s path, and armed attacks launched on the largely unarmed JNA conscripts. The Slovene propaganda machine, meanwhile, sent out the message that the plucky little democratic Slovene nation was being attacked by the JNA-Communist aggressor, a story which the media instantly picked up. In this so-called “JNA aggression”, forty-four JNA soldiers were killed and a hundred and eighty-seven wounded, “of whom the vast majority were conscripts, still in their teens”. Slovene casualties were in single figures. (Destruction, p.166)

Myth: The Federal Government of Yugoslavia was Serb-Dominated

FACT: To justify their illegal secession from Yugoslavia, Croatian and Slovenian separatists claimed that Yugoslavia was “Serb-dominated”, and their propaganda portrayed themselves as small nations escaping the oppressive grip of a dominant nation, the Serbs. The reality was that the Federal Government of Yugoslavia was always multi-ethnic and multi-national, and, if anything, Serbs were under-represented in the Yugoslav leadership. This was true at the time of the break-up, and throughout the existence of the second Yugoslavia. The Prime Minister of Yugoslavia at the time of its destruction, from January 1989 to his resignation on 20th December 1991, was Ante Markovic, a Croat who had formerly led Croatia. His two Deputy Prime Ministers were Zivko Pregl, a Slovene, and Aleksander Mitrovic, a Serb. His Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Federal Customs and Finance - Bodimar Loncar, Zvonko Poscic and Branko Zekan - were all Croats (a Serb was Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs), while his Minister of Justice was a Macedonian, Vlado Kambovski. A Serb, Peter Gracanin, was Minister of Internal Affairs, while the head of the Federal Internal Security Service, and Gracanin’s under-secretary, was a Croat, Zdravko Mustac. The Federal Defence Minister was a Yugoslav from Croatia, Kadijevic, and his two deputies were a Slovene, Stane Brovet, and a Croat, Josip Greguric. The Federal Minister for Trade and Industry, Nazmi Mustafa, was an Albanian.

The Federal Government of Yugoslavia was clearly therefore not “Serb-dominated” - out of the key federal positions listed, six were held by Croats, three by Serbs, two by Slovenes, one by a Yugoslav, one by a Macedonian and one by an Albanian. One might even say that it was actually the Serbs that had grounds to complain about the distribution of posts in the Federal Government - the 1980s had seen three Croat Federal Prime Ministers in succession, while each time Serbs had had to make do with having one of the two Deputy Prime Ministers and some ministerial posts, even though the Serbs were the largest nation of Yugoslavia, with 36.2% of the population, and the Croats just second largest, with 19.7% of the population.

Who led the "Serb-dominated" JNA

In Yugoslavia’s final years the Federal Defence Minister was Kadijevic, a self-declared Yugoslav from Croatia of a mixed marriage (his father was a Serb, his mother a Croat, and he was married to a Croat), and his Deputies were Admiral Stane Brovet, a Slovene, and Josip Gregoric, a Croat. The Chief of Staff of the JNA was General Blagoje Adzic, a Serb from Bosnia, and his five deputies consisted of one Serb, two Croats, one Slovene and one Montenegrin. The JNA was organisationally divided into three military districts, as well as an additional navy district and air force and air defence fields, and, in fact, most of the top positions were held by Croats at the time. The commander of the First Military District of the JNA (the largest, based in Belgrade) was Anton Lukezic, a Croat, who was succeeded after his retirement by Aleksandar Spirkovski, a Macedonian, while the District’s Chief of Staff was Andrija Silic, a Croat. The commander of the Third Military District (based in Skopje) was Zivota Avramovic, a Serb, and the commander of the Fifth Military District (based in Zagreb) was Martin Spegelj, a Croat, and then, after he retired in spring 1990, Konrad Kolsek, a Slovene. The navy was headed by Admiral Bozidar Grubisic, a Croat, while both the commander of the air force and air defence, Anton Tus, and his deputy, Zvonko Jurjevic, were Croats. The chief of the JNA’s counter-intelligence service (KOS), meanwhile, was a Serb, General Vasiljevic, but his Deputy was General Simo Tumanov, a Macedonian, and Slovenes and Croats held other top positions in the JNA’s security organs ( The head of the internal communist organisation of the army until its dissolution in January 1991, which was a very powerful organisation and contained almost all JNA members, was Admiral Petar Simic, yet another Croat. (

How anyone could possibly call this “Serb-domination” is beyond me - out of the 21 persons in top JNA positions mentioned above 10 were Croats, 4 Serbs, 3 Slovenes, 2 Macedonians, 1 Montenegrin and 1 a Yugoslav.

Myth: The Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) was Serb-dominated

FACT: The Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) was a multi-ethnic and multi-national army of all the peoples of Yugoslavia, and was in no way “Serb-dominated”. It is certainly true that Serbs and Montenegrins (particularly the latter) were over-represented in the lower and middle ranks of the JNA officer corps - they formed 54.3% and 5.2% of such officers respectively in 1990, greater than the Serb 36.2% and the Montenegrin 2.3% of the population of Yugoslavia. It is also true that Croats and Slovenes were underrepresented in those ranks, making up 12.5% and just 2.3% of such officers despite their 19.7% and 7.5% of the population. But this was the result of various historic, cultural and economic factors (link forthcoming), not discrimination or favouring of Serbs. Similar factors, rather than any discrimination, also explain why Macedonians were over-represented in those ranks (being 7.3% of such officers but just 5.8% of the population), why it was in fact largely Serbs from Croatia and Bosnia, not Serbia, that were over-represented in the military, and why Croats and Slovenes were hugely over-represented proportionate to their population in the navy and air force.

This slight disproportion was also confined only to the lower and middle ranks of the professional JNA. JNA regular soldiers were conscripted from all over Yugoslavia and reflected almost exactly the national make-up of Yugoslavia. The JNA was also constitutionally bound to the concept of “brotherhood and unity”, and of reaching as far as was possible national parity in its ranks, which meant that, to even out the national balance, non-Serbs were more likely to be promoted to higher ranks than Serbs. Thus, if one takes officers of all ranks in the JNA military in 1990, one finds that 42.63% were Serbs, 14.21% were Croats and 6.4% were Slovenes, (The Fragmentation of Yugoslavia: Nationalism and War in the Balkans, by Aleksander Pavkovic,
p.132) even though Serbs were 54.3%, Croats 12.5% and Slovenes just 2.3% of the lower and middle ranking officers respectively. “Brotherhood and unity” reached its peak in the top ranks - in late 1990, the High Command of the JNA was only 33% Serb and Montenegrin, but 38% Croat, 8.3% Slovene and 8.3% Macedonian. (The Fragmentation of Yugoslavia: Nationalism and War in the Balkans, by Aleksander Pavkovic, p.131) If one takes even a brief look at the nationality of those holding the top positions in the JNA in Yugoslavia’s final years, one can see that this alleged “Serb-domination” is ficticious - far from “dominating” the JNA, Serbs were actually under-represented in the top ranks of this thoroughly multi-ethnic and multi-national army.