Montenegrin editor calls for denazification in the Federal Republic
by Charles Fenyvesi
The press in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia must end its `shameful silence' and take up the issue of Serbian crimes against humanity and the responsibility of the leaders, says Milka Tadic, editor of the independent Montenegrin weekly Monitor. The reason is that the Serbian nation needs to be made aware of `what was done in its name in Kosova'. Otherwise, she argues, there can be no progress toward democratization.
A leading journalist in the region once comprising Yugoslavia, Tadic minced no words in an interview last week with RFE/RL Watchlist. Early in a wide-ranging conversation she offered the term `denazification' to sum up what she believes must happen, starting with the conviction of those responsible for war crimes. She drew parallels with the process that took place in West Germany after 1945.
`I know we did horrible things,' she said, `beginning in the late 1980s when Serbia launched its propaganda war against Slovenes, Croatians, Bosnian Muslims, and ethnic Albanians. When I spoke to some of my neighbours, I didn't recognize them.' She was reminded of what she had read about the racist hysteria in Hitler's Germany in the 1930s, before he started the war.
Tadic deplores `the hatred for others' that she said many, perhaps even the majority of Montenegrins, along with Serbs throughout Yugoslavia, developed in the early 1990s. That hatred was accompanied by mindless worship of the leader, President Slobodan Milosevic. She believes that the mood has changed since then, and now no more than 20 percent of Montenegrins - though a higher percentage of Serbs in Serbia ü persist in their views. But, she added, unfortunately many now opposed to Milosevic are critical of him only because he lost four wars - and not because he started them.
Tadic said she believes that in her native Montenegro the process of denazification already began in spring 1999, when President Milo Djukanovic rebuffed his erstwhile ally Milosevic and declared Montenegro neutral in Serbia's war with NATO. Another sign she sees that the process is under way is `the friendly reception' given to Kosovar Albanian refugees by many, if not most, Montenegrins. She thinks it matters that `we helped others who were in trouble' who were clearly `not our kind.' She would like to see the process continue with Montenegro formally apologizing to its neighbour Croatia for joining Serbia's war after Zagreb's declaration of independence [Djukanovic made such an apology on a visit to Croatia in June 2000].
She is confident that sooner or later, one way or another, `Montenegro will go its own way. You can'tnegotiate with Milosevic. He thinks he is the only one to make decisions. To run away from such a man and such a state is what we learned in the past 10 years that we have to do. For us, there is no other way. We will have to make new connections with Bosnia, Croatia, Slovenia, and Macedonia.'
Asked whether Milosevic might respond to Montenegro's declaration of independence with yet another war, she pursed her lips and sighed. Much depends on how strong his opposition will be in Serbia, she said, and whether he will be afraid of them. But on the other hand, in the past Milosevic started wars whenever he was in trouble on his own home ground. `He is unpredictable,' she said with a shrug. In Montenegro, the human-rights situation is definitely improving, Tadic said. `It's much better than two and a half years ago.' Minorities are not abused, and the independent press and the opposition are much freer. Her weekly, which she describes as her country's first independent paper, was bombed twice earlier in the decade. But that was when Djukanovic was on Milosevic's team. During the Kosova war, Monitor refused military censorship, and the Serbian military stationed in Montenegro responded by threatening to draft the journalists. One of the founding editors was convicted for violating the press regulations of Belgrade's martial law, she said, and he fled the country. But now he is back. She concluded, with a smile: `We learned in the past 10 years how to fight them.'
Tadic's clarity of vision and deep-felt convictions are signs of a radical rejection of Milosevic's genocidal wars and gross violations of human rights. Her words offer encouragement to former friends of the former Yugoslavia that the alternative to Milosevic is not another Milosevic.
This article is reproduced from RFE/RL Watchlist, No. 36, 7 October 1999