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Tuesday, January 16th 2001.

Guest: Lieutenant General Nebojsa Pavkovic, Yugoslav Army Chief of Staff

Host: Tamara Pupovac

 

B92: It is my honor and pleasure to present to you the Yugoslav Army Chief of Staffs, Lieutenant General Nebojsa Pavkovic, in our studio for the first time. Mr. General, good afternoon and welcome.

Pavkovic: Good afternoon. Thank you.

B92: How do you feel as our guest?

Pavkovic: Fine. Like in any other studio.

B92: In today's program, we will try to cover all issues that we perceive as current and interesting to our public. Despite your numerous testimonies, I think that October 5th is the most compelling introductory topic for this discussion. You have presented your version of events on several occasions, therefore I will not refer to all the details that are more or less common knowledge. The question for me is: How could somebody, who has arranged for the public appearance of Slobodan Milosevic right after September the 24th in Banjica, at the moment when the regime claimed that there was no winner and that a second round of elections would take place, change his mind and recognize Kostunica as a president, only several days later?

Pavkovic: First of all, there was no public appearance of Slobodan Milosevic in Banjica. We had an official graduation ceremony of second lieutenants at the Military academy, an event which takes place every year at the same time in Banjica. For the first time, the president wished to be present at such an event and in accordance with the usual procedure and military protocol, this celebration - the graduation of second lieutenants - took place.

B92: At this point, did you not think that this was, in a way, pre-election campaigning for the second round of the elections?

Pavkovic: We did not know the results of the presidential elections. At the time, I believe, counting was still taking place and there were no official results nor announcements that a second round would take place. Therefore, we had no need to postpone this activity, since it practically can not be postponed, given the fact that the second lieutenants were graduating to take their respective posts. Otherwise, the idea was to hold and conclude the ceremony on time. The entire activity was undertaken with this is mind.

B92: To answer personally and honestly, did you at any point feel as if you were taken advantage of in any way, particularly since the end of the NATO aggression up until September 24th? Of course, in your public appearances, you have been claiming that you showed up wherever your position called for you to do so. Nevertheless, do you feel as if someone has exploited you for some sort of political purpose?

Pavkovic: I do not feel that I have been exploited for political purposes. I stated on several occasions that I have often appeared in situations connected with certain celebrations and anniversaries, of municipalities and units or marking the completion of work tasks at Yugoslav Army sites. In accordance with protocol and the rules of my service regarding duties and honors, on several occasions I have been an officially present, along with other state officials. For instance, I was in Aleksinac, at an opening ceremony dedicated to the rebuilding of our country after the [NATO] aggression. I was also present at the dedication ceremony for reopening the bridge in Novi Sad and Negotin, where former president Milosevic presided as head of state.

B92: Yet, do you still hold firmly to your statement that all of this was really connected with your job? And what would you say to the fact that most people did not perceive it this way, but rather as showing support for the regime?

Pavkovic: At this point, some opposition leaders and their respective parties were began creating tension between myself and the Army, by saying that the Army sided with the regime and with Slobodan Milosevic and that we would defend this regime, etc.. This is despite the fact that I have often mentioned in my statements that the Army is a Federal institution, together with its legal bodies and institutions of power, and that the Army would stand by their side for as long as they are in power. Of course

B92: Many people did not expect this. I think that at the time, president Milosevic did expect it. Now we see in the newspapers and through the testimonies of Rade Markovic, head of the National Security Service, that many people expected that you would get involved, that it was your duty to do so. How did you really make up your mind? How did you reach this decision on October the 5th? We still had no confirmation that Kostunica was a president... the thing you said only a moment ago about Banjica... O

Pavkovic: I was not to reach any hasty decision in a case like this one. I had been saying back then, as always, that the Army will not interfere with the electoral will of the people and that it will not turn against its own people. Furthermore, the Army would only have gotten involved in the conflict if there had been a threat of a civil war. Of course, after all the things that happened in Serbia, this was the last thing we needed - civil war. Therefore, the appearances I made and the things I had said at that point corresponded to reality. We had been following up the situation prior to the elections and during the elections, and as you know, the elecowever, I felt at that point that the Army, as a Federal institution, was betrayed in a way, since it had not been informed on time. You have to understand that we could not have fortold any results, although I myself and the Army were under pressure to do so...

B92: From which side [were these pressures coming from]?

Pavkovic: Well, there had been pressure from certain DOS leaders (Democratic Opposition of Serbia). Besides that, the Serbian Patriarch Pavle addressed me in a letter letters and so on... Nevertheless, I do think that we succeeded in proving that we were absolutely neutral in this situation, as we would have otherwise made a mistake in both cases. Thus, the moment we learned the real results, everything was clear to us. Also, my meeting with Mr. Kostunica ended with me telling him that, according to the official results, we had learned only then that he was the new president of FRY, and that he was now in command of the Army in war and peace, and that the Army puts itself under his command. Also, that the members of the General staff and myself will act in accordance with the decisions he reaches regarding our future status and activity. Following this, his first order to me was to ask that the entire Joint Chiefs of Staff would to show up at his inauguration - which we did.

B92: One final question, and then we will move on to other topics. Given the fact that DOS election headquarters were sending copies from all polling stations to president Putin in Moscow, did it ever strike you that these might be worth taking a look at? Or, that some of your officials might go through these ballots in order to avoid all the tension that had arisen and establish what the current state of affairs was? Or, at least, to get a complete picture of the outcome of elections in Serbia and how the citizens of Serbia voted?

Pavkovic: It is not the Army's business to interfere in the election process. We have been following up the reports released by DOS Electoral headquarters; we have been following up the reports released by Left-wing Electoral headquarters. They were different. And, at the end of the day, why would we pass an early judgment? What would have happened if the Army had decided to proclaim a winner in advance, either the one or the other? I think there would have been no benefit in this for the Army. And, at get involved and that the Army would do everything in order to protect the regime of Slobodan Milosevic, - were false.

B92: A lot of people are inclined to claim that you did this because you were in reality cornered, that some of the officers had refused to comply with orders; and that on the other hand, the Army is really the people itself, boys the age of 18 who, as we saw, voted predominately for Kostunica?

Pavkovic: The Army does not consist only of soldiers serving their regular military service. This is a smaller part. It also consists of professionals, but I do have to tell you that the claims that there were disagreements between the Generals within the General staff and commanders at all levels are unsustainable. As a matter of fact, we had an absolutely common stance on all of that: the Army should simply not interfere with the electoral will of the people in any way. Accordingly, these claims are utterly without foundation and the question of whether somebody did or did not comply with orders is a matter that can now be analyzed. The Army is a very complex organization that functions in accordance with certain laws and rules. But there has not been a single instance of contention within the Yugoslav Army, nor did anybody mention the possibility that the Army might have gotten involved in order to protect the regime, given that they legally lost the elections.

B92: And just one more detail in connection to this story, a detail that, it seems to me, has shocked a lot of people. You recently stated in an interview with "Blic News" that you actually had contacts with Bogoljub Arsenijevic Maki in those critical days. What can be the topic of discussion between a general and a man for whom a warrant has been issued, of a - so to say - popular rebel?

Pavkovic: This contact had been established spontaneously and by chance. I was much more intrigued by the things he told me - that they were prepared to attack the Army in the cities throughout Yugoslavia. I then asked him why. He said: 'In case Milosevic gives an order to use the Army and if the Army is used against the people protesting over the failure to recognize the elections.' I told him that the Army certainly would not get involved in anything like this. Secondly, I asked him which forces he planned to use for these attacks and he replied that there were certain armed groups that have exercised using various devices, and that they will not attack the Army, but assault our technical equipment. I then told him that it was certain that these [attacks] would not take place without having major consequences but that there said that we made a pact. So be it, a pact in the sense that I said that the Army will surely not interfere in this, and he understood it in his own way. However, I do respect what they did. I was later on taken by surprise by the fact that they were quite militant after all, that indeed they were armed. All sorts of things were happening in the town on that day. But luckily, as you know, everything passed peacefully and without any incidents.

B92: And, is it true that Maki is supposed to become an advisor for the Yugoslav Army?

Pavkovic: No, that is not true. He told me that he does not even like the army, that he does dislikes the uniform, that he detests it all. This is exactly how I thought of him. I saw him as a man who cares about his people a lot; he desired for change to occur, he is happy about the fact that change took place and wants to follow up on the developments with his friends from OTPOR. And, of course, anybody who is not sufficiently supportive of the further development of the democratic processes in our country will be subject to their scrutiny. I have been somewhat surprised with their organization.

B92: Moving to another topic, I would say that you experienced media exposure in '98, first as a commander of Pristina Corps, then of the Third Army, and then during the NATO aggression. The thing that interests me is the fact that at a certain point, General Momcilo Perisic objected to the policies leading to the conflict with NATO. As an experienced field officer, did you point out the consequences of this type of conflict and the fact that casualties among civilians and military were inevitable, as well as the fact that war against this type of military machine is virtually impossible to win?

Pavkovic: I was not in a position to make nor do I make suggestions to anybody regarding this issue. At that time, I was the commander of the Third Army, I was a member of the extended Chief of Staffss, but at the time, I did not participate in the meetings of the Supreme command, until the beginning of the aggression. Therefore, nobody even asked me about this, nor was the overall climate compelling us to consider the issue of whether or not to oppose NATO. We knew what NATO was; we knew how strong it was. According to intelligence assessments, we knew what preparations were being considered and we were determined to not fail our country in defending it, no matter what the costs were. The decision to defend the country had not been taken by general Pavkovic. It was made by our highest state authorities and the people in the Parliament. This means that the failure to come to an agreement and reach accord in Rambouliett and all that took place after that, came as a consequence of that [decision].Thus, we had to either accept that or

B92: Very well, but I have mentioned Mr. Perisic for the very reason that he is also a professional soldier who, at a certain point said: the policies you are pursuing are insane and it will lead us to war against the entire world.

Pavkovic: I would now rather not go into an analysis of all that, since that is the issue of the price one had to pay if one would accept what was being offered. I want to say that both myself and the people I had under my command were prepared to give their lives for this country. To defend it the way we learned in schools and the way our ancestors did.

B92: So, you are convinced that this was a war for the country, not a war for Slobodan Milosevic?

Pavkovic: Of course it was, but this is not the question one should pose. We knew how strong NATO was, but the Third Army, that was in Kosmet (Kosovo), in the south of Serbia, the area under its responsibility at that time, had approximately 180.000 people. Our main strategic task and objective was to protect our people to the best extent possible during the strikes from the distance and the air, and to protect our equipment. Also, to respond in the case of a ground offensive. Knowing that NATO was very sensitive to possible losses, we knew that NATO would not perform this kind of ground attack without having serious guarantees that this could be done with as few casualties as possible. Therefore, they [NATO] expected that the beginning of the aggression, the bombing of our country, would trigger a massive rebellion of Albanian terrorist forces in Kosovo territory. The size of the rebels was estimated at around 10 a way. But there was a lot of hesitation and uncertainty on what was to follow. Yet, as soldiers, we accepted it. I am often asked what would have happened were I a commander or general Lazarevic, or my second commander Nikolic. If we had called upon the Army to stay in Kosovo and to continue defending it, would the soldiers have held out? According to the information I had, I am sure that 90% of the soldiers would have stayed. But, the question is what would have happened to the rest of our country.

B92: And, who was to blame for the destruction and victims until that moment?

Pavkovic: The one who bears the guilt is certainly the one who decided to perform the aggression against our country. Let us now skip the discussion about the ultimatum from Rambouliett and what it anticipated. I will only say that it did, after all, allow for NATO troops to enter the entire territory of our country, not only the territory of Kosmet. In this case, the territory of Kosmet was actually entered by United Nations forces, although they are actually NATO soldiers, who are present only there. And everything that was agreed upon failed to convert to reality. Deep inside, I was convinced that the International community would not meet its obligations to the end.

B92: Sometime ago I posed this question to a high official of the SPS [Socialist Party of Serbia] and now I will ask you: Do you think that a man from Prizren, Pec or Djakovica feels relieved because NATO is not in the whole of Yugoslavia? So, somebody who has been left homeless...

Pavkovic: It is surely not easy. I am not saying it is easy. During the last five or six years, I shared these people's destiny. We knew what the possible developments could be. However, when you get guarantees from such a worldwide organization, one that otherwise cares about global security, and they let you down, then this is something completely different. Something that results in a situation like the one in Kosovo, where almost all of the Serbs and Montenegrins and other non-Albanians have been practically exiled.

B92: We lost the media war long before the attacks actually started or several days after it began, after the whole world saw pictures of Albanians going across the Yugoslav-Albanian border. Whose decision was it to expel the civilian population from Kosovo?

Pavkovic: I would not agree with you that this media war was lost before the attacks even started. I can certainly not accept this. I am actually a witness to those developments. There were no refugees: neither before the beginning of the attacks, nor several days after it.

B92: I said - during those first days of the aggression.

Pavkovic: Getting the people from Kosmet territory to start moving - and I say people, since they were not only Albanians, but also Serbs and Montenegrins and other non-Albanians - at the moment when bombs and missiles started falling on the cities, on civilian targets, and when Albanian terrorist forces started their attacks against the military and MUP (Ministry for Internal Affairs) - in a combat environment so unsafe, it was only normal to transport people. This was absolutely normal and understandable. We, as the army, did everything to protect people, to direct them to places where they would be safe to the greatest extent possible. There were no decisions to prevent them from leaving; as they have been leaving towards Montenegro, and

B92: I am referring to testimonies in front of TV cameras of people having been expelled and all of them having been deprived of their personal ID's at the border.

Pavkovic: I am not aware of all the details of the entire process. I am a soldier and, when I was there, I did not deal with those problems. All I was concerned with was defending the territory. However, everything was well orchestrated over there. We have been aware of this. People coming, television crews being set up and recording, interviews being given, etc. We believe this to have been well-organized propaganda.

B92: Was there ethnic cleansing?

Pavkovic: Nobody did that, nor did it cross our minds to ethnically cleanse, because then we would have been the only ones left in the territory of Kosmet. And when you are left on your own, then the aggressor has no reason to take any precautionary measures. Then they can strike our units wherever they want. Accordingly, we did all we could in order to protect the Albanian people in Kosmet, and, as you know, apart from the victims caused by the aggressor's air force attacks against the civilian Albanian convoys, there were no other significant civilian casualties.

B92: But, there are pits in Kosovo, Hague investigators are claiming. These were documented and pictures have been taken.

Pavkovic: What are they claiming?

B92: That there are so-called mass graves. Even Bernard Kouschner claimed at the beginning that 11.000 civilians had been killed, although it later turned out not to be true. In your opinion, have Albanian civilians been killed in Kosovo?

Pavkovic: That I certainly do not know. I am sure that something like this did not take place. I know that since Walker arrived in 1998, all of those teams conducted investigations and observed the situation, but there were no particular problems regarding that issue. The thing Kouschner stated...

B92: He stated that after coming to Kosovo, where Hague investigators are now working.

Pavkovic: There certainly have been victims, and there were casualties on both sides. The thing I do know is that the Army firmly observed all the terms of the Geneva Convention and the International agreements. So, when it comes to casualties on both sides, we certainly followed the set procedures correctly.

B92: How about the war crimes?

Pavkovic: I am not aware of any such thing.

B92: Nevertheless, the Hague Tribunal has indicted four high officials of the former regime. We saw that Biljana Plavsic was secretly indicted, they say that there are a lot of these secret indictments. Are you, maybe, afraid of a Hague Tribunal secret indictment?

Pavkovic: I have no reason to be afraid. The indictments that were issued were a part of the process that occurred during the aggression and targeted a certain number of our officials and politicians. I think there was a certain political pressure against these people. I do not know and I would not want to comment on things I do not know.

B92: The discussions on the issue of the Hague Tribunal have intensified during the last few days and weeks. What is your attitude? Do you approve of say, the move of Biljana Plavsic, who said: "I shall go there and prove that I am innocent" or support the view that our citizens should not be extradited to the Hague?

Pavkovic: My position on this issue is of no relevance whatsoever. I think that the authorities and the Government in our country should reach a decision on that. I personally support the idea that if certain things, which were not supposed to, did occur, everyone should be held responsible for the things they did. I always used to say that, as I am saying it now. And, how this procedure should be implemented is an issue to be decided upon by the state.

B92: Let us talk a little about Montenegro. The session of the Supreme Defense Council has been held. On this occasion, some of the officers in Montenegro have been replaced. Did president Djukanovic demand your replacement during that session?

Pavkovic: He did not. He asked for it neither at the session in Montenegro, nor anywhere else. Anyone can demand anything, but there is also a procedure. After all that has happened we think that there should be no anarchy, and nothing should be done that could violate the existing procedures. General Pavkovic poses no problems here. The idea is to meet a certain procedure. The generals who have been replaced were replaced - that was a normal procedure. At the time of the first Supreme Defense Council -

B92: On that occasion the public was told that the Seventh battalion would be disbanded. According to certain information the battalion has not been disbanded, and one Socialist Party official stated that the Montenegrin public was wholly misinformed to this effect. What is the truth?

Pavkovic: I do not know who is informing whom. I have one commander, I have one decision of the Supreme defense council to obey and I have one command from president Kostunica not simply to disband the unit, but to disperse it, so that it no longer exists as the Seventh battalion of the Military police. These professionals in the Yugoslav Army can not be fired, since they have a certain status within the Yugoslav Army. They have to be relocated to other duties in various units outside and inside the territory of Montenegro - and this procedure is underway. The order to do so ha

B92: And, why had the Seventh battalion been formed?

Pavkovic: I do not know, because there was a need for it to exist, I believe it was formed during the aggression. I did not take part in its formation. The issue was to supplement the Second Army units with the special units it was lacking. That was the military police.

B92: And, according to your opinion, what is the status of the Yugoslav Army in Montenegro?

Pavkovic: Absolutely identical to the one in Serbia. We do not have any difficulties with the Montenegrin authorities. All those issues have been resolved at the Supreme Defense Council. The only problem is that the Deutsche Mark has been introduced as a currency, as a means of payment, so that we have difficulties paying out salaries to our state employees. However, with the direct handling of the issue by Federal government experts this problem is being dealt with successfully.

B92: Have you been following political developments in Montenegro? How do you judge the situation there?

Pavkovic: Journalists are always asking me questions of a political nature. You say that the Army should not interfere in politics, and, yet, you ask me political questions. I certainly do follow events in Montenegro, but the official attitudes we adopt are those of the president of our country, the president of our government and state authorities. After the aggression when these problems in the Republic of Montenegro evolved for the first time, I stated in numerous occasions that the Army would not in

B92: I have to ask one question, perhaps a slightly inconvenient one. I have seen you recently on footage taken in Vukovar back in 1991. So it crossed my mind what it must have been like. In ten years you have been in a few wars, one might say that this was your job. But, it seems that in these wars you have continuously been on the retreat. Does this somehow influence your psyche? Having been in Vukovar... Pakovic: I do not know where you could have seen such footage...

B92: I saw it in a documentary, a film called "Vukovar." It is, really, a document about the way RTS (Radio Television of Serbia) reported at the time, and in one of those frames... I am sure it was you, ten years younger, but still you.

Pavkovic: It was not me, I did not have any commanding duties in Vukovar. I was the consultant with the department of the Federal Secretary for People's Defense that added their expertise along with the Elite Guard unit. I have been directly involved with negotiations about surrenders in that town and I think that I conducted myself properly and professionally. I was also congratulated by both the JNA (Yugoslav People's Army) as well as my adversaries. That is, therefore, the contribution I have made. Whether the Army had been on the retreat or not... You know very well how it all went, and how multinational our state was until it was smashed to pieces, which led to that situation within the JNA, then JA (Yugoslav Army), and now the VJ (current name for Yugoslav Army).

B92: All right, but was it frustrating? Have you, officers, among each other, ever discussed aloud these facts: First we stretch all the way to Knin, then we are out of Knin, then no longer there, we withdraw...

Pavkovic: I am less familiar with the developments in Krajina and Republika Srpska. I have not participated, nor have I even been there. Of course, certain decisions are always reached in order to protect the region as a whole, the territories with a Serb population, in some cases separated from the main population. In most cases, these were not classical military actions, rather conflicts based on ethnicity. As you know, all that became rather complicated, and it was hard to make all those decisions. However, the commanders at the time certainly had the best perception of events.

B92: Let us come back to the present. Many claim that you have retained your position thanks to Mr. Kostunica and his personal endorsement. On the other hand, for a certain period of time, especially after October the 5th, a part of the political community - the people who are now members of the government, think that you, just as Radomir Markovic, the Head of the SDB, should both leave as people who were supporting the previous regime. Do you think that certain pressure might now arise, from the side o

Pavkovic: You keep asking me that question. It seems that you would also gladly replace me...

B92: Nothing personal.

Pavkovic: ...but first of all, I would say something about the decision of president Kostunica. That decision was certainly his, he had his reasons for reaching it, he is the commander, he decides. I could however reply to your question with another one. Can you or anybody else who has been listening, name one good reason to replace me? What was it that I, as a Chief of Staffss, did against this state or against this people? What did I do against any opposition party, against any opposition leader or any other person - myself or the Yugoslav Army - which would lead someone to call for my resignation?

B92: You know what arguments constitute these demands ?

Pavkovic: I do not know why they are ascribing me with being a symbol of that era. I was a Chief of Staffss during those days for only six or seven months. There are, however, people who have been attacking me and who were the most loyal Milosevic associates for five or six years. And they now charge me with being too close to him. I am a close associate of the head of the state only to the extent which our affairs have to do with the Army.

B92: Yes, but you know very well that the ex-president is being accused of destroying the entire nation, causing a country to become destitute and that he bears the responsibility for this, as much as all of those who were close to him. Among others -yourself.

Pavkovic: What does the Army have to do with that? The Army that always stood aside, that stood aside on October 5th. And, imagine what would have happened if general Pavkovic really misused his function as a Chief of Staffss and ordered the Army to defend the regime and to defend this one man. What would have happened in that case?

B92: What do you think would have happened, apart from the fact that blood would have been spilled on the streets?

Pavkovic: I do not know what would have happened. I can only assume that the events would have taken a different course. And, none of that happened, nobody was harmed, nor did anybody receive any sort of special treatment. And, yet, practically everybody is against me. Do they think that everything will be all right in Serbia, if general Pavkovic is removed? I do not think that I am a problem for Serbia, at least that is not the impression I get. I am demonstrating this by pledging loyalty to president also pledged to Milosevic. When another legally elected president comes, the Army will take his side, no matter who this man is, or which party is at stake. And, this is the professionalism which the Army has kept, which no other organization or any other institution in our country has managed to preserve. And, as you know, the Army has an excellent reputation with our people. It may be possible that I am no good, but it is not possible that I - as the leader am bad, the whole Joint Chief of Staffss is bad, with everything positive taking place at the lower levels. The Army has extraordinary results, we have kept our unity, and we have preserved our code of cond g by whom the decision was reached, nor how it had been done, etc. And now, we are suddenly in a position where we are told we are bad, and that we need to be replaced. On the other hand, there are a lot of individuals both from the opposition and from the vantage point of wanting to promote their own people within the Army, so that they can further pursue their own policies, and things like that. This is an attempt of the party to sneak into the Army, which is the beginning of the politicization of the Army, the thing that, we say was not to take place. We did not int

B92: Are there any differences in how you have communicated with Mr. Milosevic and Mr. Kostunica? Which one of the two is easier to communicate with?

Pavkovic: President Kostunica met with the military organization for the first time. I think that he had held a lot of suspicions at first, he might even have had a certain amount in distrust. We perceive him as the commander and in no single way would we act differently. This is not because we want to flatter or ingratiate ourselves, but because it demands a high level in professionalism to perceive a person as one's commander simply because he was inaugurated and thus became your commander in a day. He enjoys all privileges. We stand absolutely by his side. This contains no dilemma. And the bottom line is that we are showing who we are: This is the people's army, the army that stands by its legally elected institutions. During the previous regime and its government, we were known to cooperate with people who held respective position within the federal state and government - ministers, presidents, directors of companies, etc. These people were mostly from the SPS and JUL (Yugoslav left). I personally also cooperated with people who were in the opposition at the time, but held power in various municipalities. I did not make any distinction. The situation now is completely different. Now we cooperate with people from DOS, and from all the parties, depending on which positions they hold in the state and economy, since we are supposed to cooperate with all of them. We are currently being criticized and we will probably be criticized now from the other side for a

B92: But, a moment ago, didn't you said that there is no reason for the Army to defend the government? Isn't the Army defending the country, and not the government?

Pavkovic: No, no. The Army stands by the legally elected governmental institutions, and these institutions represent the country. And we defend the country.

B92: Tell me, do you sometimes talk to president Milosevic?

Pavkovic: No. Contact with him stopped after president Kostunica spoke with him [as newly elected president].

B92: Mr. Milosevic recently - on Saturday, I think - met president Kostunica and this caused huge public interest. There are some unofficial sources from the cabinet who stated that he actually went there in order to inform himself about his personal security. Thus, are there any military formations that are still guarding the former president?

Pavkovic: I do not know, I was as surprised as everyone else. I have no special information. Like in the last years, the MUP special units provided his protection, while the Army guarded the dwelling in which he was staying - this is as far as I know, unless something has changed. These places have been guarded both when somebody was residing there and when it was empty. That is the essence of it.

B92: There are a lot of questions to which we have not referred to yet, like for instance the reorganization of the Army, the situation in southern Serbia, etc. At the end, we might get your appraisal about the situation in southern Serbia and have you tell us what the chances are for the situation to calm down and to put an end to the terrorism there. Also, how much can the Army really do about it, taking into account the Kumanovo agreement?

Pavkovic: The Army is present outside this zone, on the very outskirts of this zone, ever since the Kumanovo Military Technical Agreement became reality. Ever since then, we have been keeping track of all of the developments very carefully; our intelligence security service cooperates with the other expert services in the country. They know virtually everything about the developments over there, not only at the ground safety zone, but also in the territory of Kosmet. We have always sent timely signals to the relevant officials in our country, telling them what was about to happen and how. That issue can be solved in a very simple manner, by fully implementing the regulations of Military Technical Agreement, according to which a KFOR commander has the power remove all the armed formations from the ground safety zone, all groups and individuals, leaving in the area only the local police troops from our country, Serbia. And, a decision like that would solve a problem of that ground zone. So, the efforts of our state authorities, headed by president Kostunica along with the Serbian officials, is appearing to have success. The intensified actions from Albanian terrorist forces have been stopped. But, the problem has not been solved to t

B92: And, here is our final question. Our diplomacy urged over the last weeks for the reduction of the ground safety zone. Besides, some NATO countries are demanding the same thing, by explaining that the Yugoslav Army and NATO are no longer hostile armies as they used to be. As a soldier, how do you perceive all this and can NATO - tomorrow - become a friendly army to you - who were once at war with it? There are rumors from the state level that we might call for this.

Pavkovic: I was not at war with NATO, I was defending myself from the NATO aggression. The members of United Nation forces are in Kosmet, the KFOR forces. We have never been hostile to these forces. There is a Committee for the implementation of Military Technical Agreement. TheYugoslav Army and MUP units are implementing this agreement quite correctly and responsibly. And thanks to the fact that we did things this way, especially the way MUP units acted by sending only lightly armed local police forces to that ground zone, things turned out as they did. If the police forces had heavy weapons and if they would have confronted the Albanian terrorist forces in this way, the situation would have been completely different. But we

B92: So, as far as I understood, there are no enemies or friends, or are there...? Can NATO soldiers be a friendly army?

Pavkovic: NATO soldiers can certainly be a friendly army when their weapons are not involved and when there is no danger of jeopardizing the integrity and sovereignty of our country.


© B92, 2002