Last week, Serbian Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin became a target of U.S. Ambassador Kyle Scott’s criticism. “Unfortunately, months of work to improve Serbia's image in the US can be undermined with one statement," the American diplomat said recalling Vulin’s recent statement saying “The age of shame is over” and “It’s time to reclaim our self-respect.” Vulin was speaking about retired general Vladimir Lazarevic who commanded Pristina Corps of Yugoslavia Army in 1999 and was convicted by Hague Tribunal. EADaily’s correspondent applied to experts for comments to find out why the aggressor country makes claims to its victim.
Vladimir Putyatin, Assistant Professor at Department for History of Southern and Western Slavonic People, at Lomonosov Moscow State University, believes that the Balkans and Serbia have always been interesting to U.S. The Serbian leadership have been experiencing Washington’s permanent pressure recently over Belgrade’s unwillingness to support sanctions on Russia as well as over European integration process that is linked to Serbia’s accession to NATO (on the example of Montenegro), Putyatin explained.
“Accession to NATO is a very painful and disputable issue for the Serbian community that still remembers bombings of Yugoslavia in 1999 and Kosovo independence that followed them,” the historian said. He thinks the problem is still there and recalls the recent tweet by Ambassador Scott with a reference to Washington Post’s article. “Serbian defense minister praises convicted war criminal,” the U.S. ambassador wrote. He meant Serbian retired general Vladimir Lazarevic who was convicted in The Hague and spent 10 years in prison.
“He is a really symbolic figure, since the general fought against Alban separatists in the region, many of them are respectable Kosovan politicians now. However, U.S. retains its uncompromising stance and keeps forcing its ‘indisputable’ viewpoint, according to which, Serbs should come to terms with the bombardments of 1999. recognize themselves not just defeated, but guilty in all ethnic conflicts in the territory of Yugoslavia, forget about their soldiers that fought for Serbia’s interests and accede NATO that did so much to ruin Yugoslavia and the modern Serbian state,” the Russian expert said.
His Serbian colleague, philosopher and political analyst Milan Damjanac believes that the U.S. ambassador’s statement pursued several goals, two of which are worth discussing. First, Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin became a target because of modernization of the Serbian army, including through acquisition of Russian weapons. “That public statement should become a clear warning for the Serbian minister. He needed to show who controls the situation,” Damjanac said. The second goal of the U.S. diplomat’s statement was to remind Serbs that they are a defeated party and to save “Serbia’s good image” in the world, they need to accept the fate of the defeated country. The expert believes it is a regular threat i.e. Serbs are warned that they cannot chose the old path and question the victory of Western forces.
“In fact, Serbia is making steps that are not welcomed by Washington, since those steps may help returning Russia’s interests to Balkans. This must be stopped. Army rearming and public praising of war veterans shows that Serbia has not put up with its position of a defeated state and will seek revision of results of the 1990s’ war, as well as will not accept the role of ‘the villain of the piece.’ Perhaps, this is the most important step by the Serbian government, as it can have a positive impact on Serbian education and culture. This may put an end to opportunistic education and culture we have been tolerated for as many as 20 years,” Damjanac said.
As to the interference into Serbia’s domestic affairs by the U.S. diplomat, the expert explained this with nervousness of the West that seeks to regain control over the Serbian establishment. “The West has got used to the situation where it controls everything and responds to an insignificant effort of Serbia to get rid of its status of a colony. In this sense, there is no international law, because some rules are applicable to U.S. while others apply to the rest countries. This is neocolonialism and supremacy of rampant hypocrisy,” Damjanac said. Besides, mass media openly protect that inequality before the law, he said. “Double standards have become the official shameless policy of U.S. and not just towards Serbia. This shows its nervousness and readiness to retain its leadership in the world by all means possible. Such a high level of hypocrisy can no longer be concealed. This will put an end to the international law and all the institutions of the system ruling in the world, by unveiling their true face that rests on the power and interest of Big Power and transnational corporations,” Milan Damjanac said for conclusion.