bosnia report
New Series No. 9/10 April - July 1999
 
Solidarity with the Kosovars
by Vaclav Havel

On the NATO mission in Kosovo:
Serbian theatre directors who have staged my plays for decades, and who like me, have written me this: `What have we done to you for you to bomb us?' I would like to tell them through this channel that they have done nothing to me, of course, but that their regime is slaughtering their fellow citizens, a large group of their fellow citizens, through its military forces. And doing that to the Albanians is the same as doing it to me. That is the fundamental principle: if anybody is being hurt, I am being hurt. That is the principle of general hu man solidarity which crosses the frontiers of states and regions.

* * *

On Slobodan Milosevic:
I don't know if you watch Serbian TV. That is such unparalleled propaganda that it suppresses the very basics. Most Serbs are completely ignorant of the slaugh ter of those Albanians, most Serbs believe their heroic nation has been attacked by vicious capitalists. That's horrible. That makes us see again the huge power that you i.e. journalists, the independent news media, which are completely banned in Serbia - have. That nation is being massaged, some chords are being struck which are traditional and emotional in Serbian society - i.e. a feeling of national pride and a certain sense of togetherness. But should we just look on, then, while this man wages one war after another as he has been doing for a decade? That's simply impossible. This intervention had to come one day, and in my opinion it came too late rather than too soon. The Kosovo negotiations have gone on for a year. Do negotiations take precedence? That's nonsense, you know. The negotiations had completely exhausted all the options available. And, I feel, the argument that he has been strengthened shouldn't hold. It's as if you had said that the victorious Wehrmacht campaign in Poland had strengthened Ger man cohesion and loyalty to Hitler.

* * *

On potential Czech involvement in NATO's military operation:
We can't be one who hopes others will help him but who will not help anybody himself. Simply, that would be suicidal - with such an attitude we would bar the way for all other NATO membership candidates. I think we should fulfil the com- mitments that follow from that membership, that many governments of many demo cratic states have arrived at, and I know our army has expert special units - professional, prepared and able to participate in a potential action.

* * *

On Yugoslavia and the pundits:
First, I don't like it when, once things explode and a war is on, 2,000 wise men suddenly turn up, eaÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÔ ch spinning this or that theory - how it should have been done - and everybody is an old Yugoslavia hand, an old Kosovo hand. For 10 years they didn't take any notice. The conflict simply ripened for 10 years. Every perceptive observer must have known that something, an explosion, was brewing, should rightly have taken interest, brought forth initiatives, et cetera. Now, suddenly, we have remembered Yugoslavia is a friendly country. And what were we doing before?

Secondly, they confuse the old and new Yugoslavias. To them the word `Yugoslavi a' largely connotes the Dalmatian coastline, where all Czechs used to vacation. That is not Yugoslavia at all. That is Croatia, which has long since become independent. Dubrovnik, Split, the places dear to us, old beautiful monuments, were bombed by Mr. Milosevic, I would like to point out. When people say that Yugoslavia was supportive of us in '68 [...] was that just Serbia alone? It was just as much Kosovo Albanians, Croatians, Slovenians, or Macedonians. Then it was a different Yugoslavia from what it is today. This is plain demagogy, some one saying that as if we had been age-old friends only with Belgrade.

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