Belgrade Forum for a World of Equals

23 years since the beginning of NATO aggression on Serbia (the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia)

Edited by RR

In keeping with the tradition maintained over all suceeding years, the Belgrade Forum for a World of Equals is marking March 24, remembering this day in 1999 when the NATO Alliance’s illegal and criminal aggression against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (the FRY) began, thus paying tribute to the fallen defenders of the motherland and civilians killed.

This aggression was the first war on European soil waged since the end of World War II. As the bombs dropped and cruise missiles fired by the most powerful military machine in the history of civilization were busy destroying a small European country, they also destroyed the European and global security system based on the United Nations Charter, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Final Act and the Paris Charter. To this day, Europe and the world still suffer the severe consequences of that destruction. In the process, NATO allied with the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), a separatist-terrorist formation, as its infantry wing, thus boosting separatism and terrorism throughout the region. [Example, Macedonia, Montenegro, the Presevo Valley of Serbia – RR.]

On March 23, 2022, at 11:00 a.m., representatives of the Belgrade Forum, together with its partner the Club of Generals and Admirals of Serbia and other patriotic-oriented organisations, will lay a wreath at the monument to Serbian children killed during the aggression in Tašmajdan Park. During the ceremony, Dragutin Brčin, Director of the Belgrade Forum, will address the audience on behalf of the Forum. Next, around noon, representatives of the Belgrade Forum and the Club of Generals and Admirals of Serbia, together with other patriotic organizations, will pay tribute to all victims of NATO aggression at the Eternal Fire monument in Novi Beograd. On the occasion, General Luka Kastratović, Ret., President of the Executive Board of the Club of Generals and Admirals of Serbia, will address the audience.

The Belgrade Forum invites all patriotic organisations and individuals that cherish the memory of the fallen members of the Serbian military and security forces and all those killed in the aggression to join these events and thus pay their respect to fallen defenders and civilians. At present, we are witnessing calls for the observance of international law and blaming other countries for violating it cynically made by the USA, the UK, Germany and NATO as a whole, that is, exactly the same countries and bodies that had themselves illegally attacked the FRY without a UN Security Council decision, the same ones who intentionally used missiles filled with depleted uranium and other banned weapons to deliberately and indiscriminately bomb our country’s infrastructure and civilian targets, killed children, women, hospital patients and other civilians, and who openly conducted smear campaigns against the Serbian people as a whole in the global media.

The marking of the beginning of NATO’s 1999 aggression against our country is another opportunity to recall all its crimes and atrocities and to remind our public, especially the youth, of the horrors and destruction the aggression caused, as well as of other consequences several of which are yet to be remedied. The precedent of aggression executed without UN Security Council approval was reused in the subsequent aggression in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria. NATO’s aggression against the FRY in 1999 was a stepping stone in bringing to life the strategy of its military expansion to the East, closer to Russian borders, which is the root cause of the current Ukrainian crisis.

During 79 days of unrelenting attacks on the FRY, from March 24 to June 10, 1999, the mass-scale assaults of NATO aviation and naval forces launching missiles and other weapons from the air, sea and land, in collaboration with the terrorist ethnic Albanian KLA, the regular army of the Republic of Albania, mercenaries recruited and financed by Western states, and instructors and special operation units of the leading Western states indiscriminately killed members of the Yugoslav Armed Forces and law enforcement agencies of the Republic of Serbia, as well as civilians, including children, and destroyed cultural monuments, churches and monasteries, devastated military, economic, strategic and traffic infrastructure, business facilities, civilian facilities and institutions, schools, kindergartens, hospitals and even the public broadcaster Radio Television of Serbia (RTS), killing 16 of its employees. Over the course of this aggression NATO carried out 2,300 airstrikes on 995 facilities throughout the country, and 1,150 fighter planes launched some 420,000 projectiles with a total mass of 22,000 tons, including depleted uranium weapons.

About 4,000 casualties were estimated, of whom some 3,000 were civilians and 1,031 members of the army and the police. 89 children were killed. In total, more than 12,000 people were wounded, of whom about 6,000 were civilians, including 2,700 children, and 5,173 soldiers and police officers. 25 persons are still listed as missing.

Since the precise list of civilian casualties has not been established yet, the Belgrade Forum reiterates its appeal to state authorities to finally see to this sad task being completed. In their attacks on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, NATO forces employed approximately a thousand aircraft (fighters, fighter-bombers, bombers, spy planes, etc.); the largest share in the air attacks being the forces of the USA, UK and Germany, albeit with significant roles in the aggression also played by other members.

The air assaults destroyed and damaged 25,000 residential buildings, disabled 470 km of roads and 595 km of railways. They also inflicted damage to 14 airports, 19 hospitals, 20 health centers, 18 kindergartens, 69 schools, 176 cultural monuments and 44 bridges, while leaving an additional 38 civilian targets totally destroyed. Among the latter, of special significance are the destruction of two oil refineries (in Pančevo and Novi Sad), the demolition of the Avala Broadcasting Tower, the building of the Serbian Radio and Television, the Petrochemistry Complex in Pančevo, the bombing of bridges in Novi Sad, the Zastava automobile factory in Kragujevac, the embassy of the People’s Republic of China and many other civilian targets. Estimates are that some 38% of targeted facilities were of a civilian nature. The war damage was estimated to be about $100 billion.

During the bombing of the territory of the Republic of Serbia, ammunition banned under the Geneva Convention was routinely used, with in total 15 tons of uranium dumped on Serbia. As a direct consequence of missiles filled with depleted uranium, in 2015 Serbia was announced to be the top-ranking country in Europe in terms of mortality from malignant tumors. In addition, about 1,000 cluster bombs were dropped on 219 locations in an area of 23,000 square kilometers. killing a large number of civilians. As a result of that, from the end of the aggression until 2006, six people perished from detonated cluster bombs throughout the territory of Serbia and Montenegro, while an additional 12 were wounded.

In all likelihood, all those who fell victim to the delayed effects of missiles with depleted uranium, unexploded cluster bombs and other lethal means will hardly ever be accurately accounted for. The Belgrade Forum invites competent state authorities to ensure the continuation of the work of special bodies tasked with determining the consequences of the use of depleted uranium weapons and other means and methods employed during the NATO aggression.

The aggression ended on June 10, 1999, upon the signing of the Military-Technical Agreement in Kumanovo and the subsequent adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1244, which established a truce and temporarily transferred the administering of Kosovo and Metohija to the United Nations. Pursuant to this Agreement, the FRY Army, the police and the administration of the FRY and the Republic of Serbia, withdrew on an interim basis to the territory of central Serbia. Along the withdrawal of the army and police, about 250,000 Serbs and other non-Albanians from Kosovo and Metohija fled to central parts of Serbia. This made Serbia the country hosting the largest number of refugees and internally displaced persons in Europe, after this and other wars that marked the violent and forcible breakup of Yugoslavia.

It is cynical to the extreme to take to accusing other countries of crimes that the leading NATO states have continuously committed themselves. It would serve them well if, at least as late as today, as they stand accusing others, they halt for a moment and remember their own misdeeds, repent and remedy all the injustices they have done to our country as well as to others, most notably to Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya and others. Never forget. See you on March 24, 2022.