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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
B92: And, why had the Seventh battalion been
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
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
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
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
Pavkovic: No, no. The Army stands by the
legally elected governmental institutions, and these
institutions represent the country. And we defend
B92: Tell me, do you sometimes talk to president
Pavkovic: No. Contact with him stopped after
president Kostunica spoke with him [as newly elected
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.