Greek complicity in Bosnian crimes
by Takis Michas
Perhaps the most shocking part of the multi-volume, seven-thousand-page long Dutch report of the Srbrenica massacre - which led to the recent resignation of the Dutch government - is contained in the third volume. Entitled ‘Intelligence en de oorlog in Bosnie’,this volume deals with the involvement of foreign secret agencies and foreign powers in the war in Bosnia. Its author , Professor Cees Wiebes of Amsterdam University, has had for five years unrestricted access to the Netherlands intelligence community and to various foreign archives and the archives of the United Nations. Morever more than 90 foreign intelligence officials were interviewed for the project.
Aficionados of Greece's Balkan politics will find lots of interesting new material in the Dutch report, although it deals only with the years 1994-5. This was the period, however, when some of the worst atrocities were committed in eastern Bosnia, including the massacre of 8,000 Bosnians at Srebrenica in July 1995.
Greece's support for Milosevic's Serbia under the Mitsotakis government which ruled Greece in the early 1990's was restricted - notwithstanding the occasional breaking of the UN-imposed oil embargo - mostly to the symbolic level. However it seems that under the subsequent PASOK government of Andreas Papandreou , Athens' pro-Milosevic policies took a more sinister turn. As the report indicates, during that period Greece was not content with simply providing humanitarian assistance or even encouraging its oil tycoons to break the UN-imposed fuel embargo on Serbia. It also provided military assistance to the Bosnia Serbs and to indicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic.
‘There were lots of weapons transferred from Greece’, Professor Wiebes told me in the course of a telephone interview, ‘to the port of Bar in Montenegro; from there they would find their way to the Bosnian Serb Army.’ The weapons consisted mostly of light arms and ammunition. Another aspect of Greek military assistance took the form of leaking NATO's military secrets to the Bosnian Serbs. ‘NATO officials were very reluctant to share intelligence with either the Turks or the Greeks’, said Professor Wiebes, ‘ because they were afraid that intelligence would leak to either the Bosnians or the Bosnian Serbs. At some point NATO simply stopped sharing intelligence with the Greeks.’
Equally interesting were the activities of a contingent of Greek paramilitaries who were fighting in Bosnia as part of the Drina Corps under indicted war criminal General Mladic. As it was reported at the time, this group of Greek paramilitaries were in close contact with the Greek intelligence agencies, providing the latter with info concerning military developments on the various fronts of the war. According to the Dutch report, the Greek paramilitaries took part in the Srbrenica massacre and the Greek flag was hoisted in the city after it had fallen to the Serbs. The report bases its findings on telephone intercepts of the Bosnian Serb Army provided by Bosnian intelligence. . ‘One of the intercepted messages’, Professor Wiebes told me, ‘was from General Mladic, who asked for the Greek flag to be hoisted in the city’ - presumably to honor the Greek lads.
The presence of Greek paramilitaries and the hoisting of the Greek flag in defeated Srebrenica were reported at the time by some Greek and foreign media. The Greek government, however, vehemently denied the allegations. Moreover, throughout the war in former Yugoslavia the Greek authorities ignored consistently the open and public recruitment of paramilitaries in Greece, who were going to fight against the UN-recognized legal government of Bosnia.
The Dutch report comes a few months after the revelation that Slobodan Milosevic had 250 (!) accounts in various Greek banks during the years 1992-6. The money was used to secretly finance Serbian military operations in Bosnia and Kosovo in the 1990's. The revelations were contained in a document from the United Nations War Crimes Tribunal, asking the Greek authorities to assist in opening the accounts. Throughout the 1990's the Greek banking authorities had repeatedly denied foreign press reports concerning the existence of Milosevic's secret funds in Greece, while leading Greek judges had publicly refused to cooperate with Carla Del Ponte, chief prosecutor at the Tribunal.
This comment was published in The National Herald, 13 May 2002. Takis Michas is a journalist living in Athens. His book Unholy Alliance: Greece and Milosevic's Serbia has just been released by Texas A & M University Press.