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South Slavic: November 2, 2000

2 November 2000, Volume 2, Number 40

The Next Issue Of "South Slavic Report" Will Appear On 23 November.

Interview with Zarko Rakcevic, chairman of the Social Democratic Party of Montenegro, by Sabina Cabaravdic of RFE/RL's South Slavic Service. Part II. Part I appeared on 26 October.

Zarko Rakcevic: That is right. Depending on where the crimes, murders, and terror were. Many people are now making excuses and trying to justify their behavior at the time. Many would like to erase what has happened. Most of us in Montenegro today do not want to live with the burden of those horrible crimes committed in Dubrovnik, Mostar, and Sarajevo. But the fact is that some people from Montenegro were involved in those crimes.

Sabina Cabaravdic: You have mentioned a catharsis for Serbia. Many think that a catharsis cannot take place there without bloodshed. Do you agree?

Zarko Rakcevic: I hope that the rule of matters completing a full circle will not have to be applied to this epicenter of evil. To be frank, I have never been among those who blame the policy of Greater Serbia for all the bad things that have happened in Southeast Europe. There were many factors involved.

I do not think that only one side should be blamed for everything that happened in the region of former Yugoslavia. One side clearly has the most responsibility, but not all of it.

Let me say again: I would not like the circle to come back to its epicenter. That is because at the epicenter are those institutions, individuals, and political parties that put a saddle on Milosevic's horse and helped him ride towards Greater Serbia. He is a mere exponent of a policy, a man who mounted the horse. I must admit that I find it unfair when I see those institutions, individuals--like for instance the Academy of Arts and Science--writers' organizations, and parties who were behind Slobodan Milosevic at Gazimestan [in Kosovo in 1989] now washing their hands [of him.

Their hands are] covered with blood, but they distance themselves from Milosevic, pretending to be newly-made Europeans and democrats. I believe that those who inspired the crimes, and not only the executors--and there are so many of them--should be brought to justice and held responsible for their heinous crimes.

Sabina Cabaravdic: When do you think Serbia will be ready to face what happened in Vukovar or Srebrenica, for example?

Zarko Rakcevic: That, I think, should come to pass in the next two or three years. Someone might find that too long.

Sabina Cabaravdic: I do not think that is long enough.

Zarko Rakcevic: I think that the political and general scene in Serbia will be quite dynamic over the next few months. I believe that something new must arise. I have already said that I have my reservations about that, but I also think that Serbia is in such an agony that they will have to rely on economic and other aid from the EU and U.S.

It is sad to say, but those really democratic forces in Serbia are some small parties with only some 10-20 percent of the electorate behind them. I am not talking about the DOS. I am talking about political parties that I have already mentioned and that I consider genuinely democratic, and sincerely devoted to the democratic values of modern civilization.

I hope that process will start combined with international aid, which will, of course, implicitly include some rules that will have to be obeyed--not some conspiratorial rules, as some often claim, but some normal rules of life.

With my previous experience and knowing the history of Serbia, I have no doubt that the process will be very dynamic. Many will switch sides and even accuse others of having inspired those horrible crimes.

Sabina Cabaravdic: You have just raised an important issue. What should be done with those with a past who have now become democrats overnight? Especially, what should be done with the journalists who took part [in the Milosevic regime] and now they claim that they simply had to work for a living? Should they be forgiven? Should they be allowed to continue to work? Or should one refuse to forget?

Zarko Rakcevic: These ideas are really complex. I believe that a denazification is necessary, and I am saying precisely what I mean. We were brave enough in the early 1990s to say that what was going on in Serbia was a sophisticated Nazism. We can repeat it now when the situation has changed, when we think that Serbia needs denazification. Serbia needs decontamination. The ground is polluted.

I think that the Serbs badly need denazification because of the horrible burden that will otherwise continue to be associated with the Serbian people and Serbia. The denazification is necessary for peace and stability in the Balkans. Any attempt to ignore this or to sweep it under the rug cannot succeed.

Someone will have to do it in Serbia; Serbia needs a Nuremberg of its own. Otherwise, a project for a Greater Serbia will rise again like a vampire in a year or two.

I do not like to do it, but we often compare Serbia with Germany between the wars. According to scholars, after the defeat in the Great War, the German people failed to recognize the causes of that defeat, which helped the Nazi movement gain ground in the thirties. I hope that there will be enough readiness, first of all in Serbia, but also in the international community, to understand how dangerous a general amnesty might be or if we let things go by the boards.

Sabina Cabaravdic: You mean a general amnesia?

Zarko Rakcevic: That's right. That would be bad for Serbia and for the Serbs. A catharsis is possible only if they face up to the evil and the crimes that were committed [in their name]. We should not allow people to call themselves democrats who demonstrated against Milosevic in central Belgrade but were perfectly willing to send to Kosovo the police who were brutally ranged against them. Those people cannot be democrats. I do not think that Serbia can become a part of Europe without denazification and decontamination.

Sabina Cabaravdic: What do you think will be going on in the Balkan states on this day in 2010? How do you see every one of these states?

Zarko Rakcevic: I can only talk about what I would like to see happen. I have already answered that question in part. I hope that a prevailing Social Democratic idea in Europe will take root in the Balkans, in a region where different civilizations, empires, and religions met and meet. I hope that there will be enough wisdom to make the principles of internationalism and the European idea dominant in all the new states of the region.

Therefore, in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro-- and I also hope in Serbia--I hope that there will be a sort of a commonwealth of independent states based on the same principles as the European Union.

There is no more Yugoslavia, but I do believe that there can be normal relations between the newly created states. That, however, can be done only by those with a certain background, a clear conscience, and an open soul, and by those who are ready to build something up. That cannot be done by those whose hands are covered with blood, who destroyed things and spread hatred. That is the future of the region that I believe in and that I wish for.