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B92 Focus, May 2004.


“No ethnic cleansing in Kosovo”

Canadian diplomat claims NATO war crimes
| May 20, 2004.

Diplomat James Bissett was Canadian ambassador to Yugoslavia from 1990 to 1992. During his tenure, he watched as Yugoslavia began to break up and war broke out, first in Slovenia, then in Croatia, finally in Bosnia. During that time, Bissett met regularly with Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic and other leaders. He gave the following interview to Canada’s Edmonton Journal on May 18, before making a speech at the University of Alberta.

James Bissett
James Bissett

Canada participated in a series of NATO-sanctioned war crimes against Yugoslavia, charges a former Canadian ambassador to the Balkan country. 

To this day, Canada has failed to admit the pretences behind the bombing campaign that led to the NATO occupation of Kosovo had no substance, James Bissett said Tuesday in an interview before making a speech at the University of Alberta. 

NATO and the United States claimed that more than 100,000 ethnic Albanians had been killed as the result of Serb genocide, Bissett said. 

To stop that alleged genocide and ethnic cleansing, NATO engaged in a 78-day bombing campaign against Yugoslavia, which destroyed military and government facilities before targeting factories, bridges, TV stations and power grids. Finally, the Yugoslav government gave in and allowed NATO troops to enter Kosovo. Forensic investigation teams followed. 

"The forensic experts found fewer than 2,000 graves and many of the people in those graves were Serbs," Bissett said. "There were more civilians killed in Serbia by the NATO bombing campaign." 

Bissett claims there wasn't even a concerted campaign of ethnic cleansing on the part of the Yugoslav government. What actually happened was that 200,000 ethnic Albanians fled their homes as a result of fighting between the Yugoslav army and the Kosovo Liberation Army, Bissett said. The KLA was a terrorist guerrilla organization that provoked reprisals against Muslim Albanian villages by murdering Serb officials and police officers, so it could tell the world the Serbs were engaged in a genocidal campaign. 

Today, the few remaining Serbs of Kosovo are paying the price for that duplicity. Bissett said 2,000 Serbs have been murdered in Kosovo and 1,300 Christian churches and monasteries have been bombed, burned or destroyed. 

On March 17, another lie sparked more violence aimed at Serbs. Three ethnic Albanian boys went swimming in a river, and when two drowned, the third boy told his parents the boys had been driven into the water by a Serb man and his vicious dogs. By the time the boy admitted his story was a lie, it was too late. 

All this anti-Serb violence had taken place while an army of 18,000 NATO troops stood by and did nothing to protect the Serbs or their property, said Bissett, who was an outspoken opponent of NATO action during the run-up to the 1999 bombing campaign. 

Bissett was Canadian ambassador to Yugoslavia from 1990 to 1992. During his tenure, he watched as Yugoslavia began to break up and war broke out, first in Slovenia, then in Croatia, finally in Bosnia. 

During that time, Bissett met regularly with Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic and other leaders. 

"It's time to speak out about Kosovo but it seems to be a forgotten place," he said. "Only Pakistan and a few other nations have spoken out about it. Canada has said nothing." 

Bissett was brought to Edmonton by local members of the Serb community. He admits he often speaks on behalf of partisan groups but claims that helps counterbalance stories that have demonized Serbs for years.

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