MON, 16 OCT 1995 22:44:00 GMT
AIM Ljubljana, October 12, 1995
Greatly exploited was the recent short stay of the last American Ambassador to the former Yugoslavia, Warren Zimmerman, in Ljubljana where as a guest of the magazine "Nova revija", he spoke about the American and his personal views of the causes and consequences of the disintegration of Yugoslavia, the creation of new states, their relations to the "rest" of the world and of that world to them, the war still going on in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina and which started in Slovenia. Few, either past or present politicians can boast of having given so many interviews in so short a space of time. In most of them, as in the lecture itself, Zimmerman answered questions which actually resembled accusations, although the answers did not look like an excuse at any moment. In his answers, Zimmerman simply interpreted the American strategic interests in this part of the world. Actually, Zimmerman just shattered delusions and confusions, some real and some consciously instilled into the minds of people. If for no other reason, his visit and his words clarified everything that had happened and different interpretations coming from all quarters, to a much larger extent.
Thus, to the claim that in his texts he writes that Slovenia began the war, and that the military intervention of the Yugoslav People's Army in Slovenia got a green light during the visit of American Secretary of State, James Baker, to Belgrade, he replied: "That can be viewed from two aspects. Slovenia took over control of the borders of Yugoslavia over which products from the West reached Yugoslavia. I am not convinced that that started the war. I should like to go back a bit further and point out that a political act on the part of Slovenia opened up that issue. In no case do I wish to defend the Yugoslav Army for its behaviour in Slovenia. I think it over-reacted. Even less do I wish to defend the Federal Army for its actions in Croatia where it is responsible for the deaths of a large number of people. When, in June 1991 James Baker came to Belgrade, his position in the talks with the Slovenian and Croatian leaderships was clear: the USA would prefer Slovenia and Croatia to remain in Yugoslavia and if they cannot do that, let them at least wait for the negotiations on solving the overall problem to begin. I think that that was not an unreasonable demand, although the visit was very late. It would have been much better if Baker had come several months earlier..."
One of the more frequently asked questions referred to the possible agreement between Slovenia and Serbia to the effect that Serbia would let Slovenia peacefully leave the federation. "I do not know whether such an agreement existed. I am convinced that Milosevic was pleased that Slovenia left. That way he could peacefully devote himself to his only objective - Croatia. In other words, it suited Milosevic and his ambitions for forming a greater Serbia, that Slovenia had left the game. Milosevic, namely, attacked Slovenia without any serious grounds both because of the unheld meeting which he tried to organize and the economic blockade and some other things. Not one of those actions made sense, except if it was not meant to intimidate Slovenia and, at the same time, convince it that it had nothing more to expect within Yugoslavia, that it could no longer live in it."
More about the war and the blame for the war: "I think that war was not unavoidable, in any case, it was possible that it would break out, irrespective of what Slovenia did. There would have been many more possibilities for preventing the war if Slovenia and Croatia had been more patient and had accepted the proposed Constitutional changes. I should clearly like to emphasize the following: Slobodan Milosevic was the main factor in the dismemberment of Yugoslavia. He destroyed Yugoslavia with his unjustified attacks on Slovenia in 1989 and Croatia in 1990, by the economic boycott of the mentioned republics, his break-in into the reserves of the National Bank of Yugoslavia and the appropriation of almost US $ 2 billion and finally, by his twofold attempt to destroy the institution of the Federal Presidency. All these and other misdeeds are the acts of a man who despised Yugoslavia and Constitutional changes which were not to his liking".
In every conversation Zimmerman repeated several times that he was no longer an official of the American administration, and that he was making these assessments in his own name. When asked why the USA, if they already knew who was to blame for the war, and if they had already called him (Milosevic) to task several times and indirectly accused him of war crimes, were still negotiating with him, Zimmerman answered that everyone was aware that negotiations were being conducted with a "cut-throat, but that that cut-throat had brains. It is only efficient to negotiate with someone who has brains, because only brains can result in the implementation of what has been agreed upon".
Zoran Odic, AIM