Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić paid a visit to Prague a few days ago. Miloš Zeman, his Czech counterpart, greeted him at the Hradčany castle. This would be nothing out of the ordinary; hundreds, if not thousands, of such visits occur every day around the world.
Zeman’s statement, on the other hand, was unprecedented. “I beg forgiveness from the Serbian people,” he said, referring to the Czech Republic’s admittedly symbolic participation in the shameful NATO air strike on Serbia in 1999, which was not mandated by any international law.
The goal of NATO’s Allied Force operation, which lasted 78 days (from March 24 to June 20, 1999), was to put an end to the activities of Yugoslav armed forces in the autonomous region of Kosovo against the terrorists of the Kosovo Liberation Army (UÇK). Serbian troops eventually left Kosovo. Human Rights Watch claims that the bombing killed over 500 civilians on Serbian territory, not in Kosovo.
The corporate, global media launched a massive propaganda campaign in which civilian casualties in Serbia were portrayed as “side effects.” The military aggression, disguised as a humanitarian intervention to conceal its heinous nature, was carried out by 19 NATO countries, including Poland, which had only recently joined the alliance. Only Greece, a traditional ally of the Serbs in the Balkans, refused to join the alliance.
Zeman apologized for his compatriots’ participation in the bombing of Belgrade and other Serbian cities, emphasizing the Serbs’ support for the Czechs during difficult periods in their history (1938 and 1968): “We paid you back with bombs. It was a constant source of pain for me. Please forgive us.” He alluded to the fact that the Czech Republic was admitted to NATO literally on the eve of the operation, and he confessed that the political class lacked the courage to prevent Czechia from participating in the invasion.
These words of the Czech president fill me with shame, sadness and embarrassment as a Polish citizen who knows people from the former Yugoslavia. My country, then ruled by arguably the most destructive right-wing government since 1989, eagerly and zealously supported an aggressive intervention aimed at turning Albania into a client state for the US, establishing the largest nest of most hideous crime and gangsterism with a massive American military base at its heart – the “free” and “democracti” Kosovo. The war on Yugoslavia was actively lobbied for by Poland’s then-President Aleksander Kwasniewski, who ostensibly represents the Left. This only adds to the humiliation!
Miloš Zeman has long advocated for a change in Czech policy toward Kosovo. He believes that the Czech Republic’s recognition of this region’s independence was a terrible mistake that must be rectified. Other members of the Czech Republic’s political elite and the liberal media in Prague oppose, if not mock, the Head of State in this regard. I’d like to see the Polish government or President take a similar initiative. However, I am well aware that this is not possible. Our political class lacks courage, and there are very few traces of independent thought, let alone positions, to be found.
This article was originally published at Strajk.eu.
Photo: The Czech president Miloš Zeman (source: Kremlin.ru)
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