PHOENIX, ARIZONA Topic: BALKAN AFFAIRS
BELGRADE, Jan. 26, 1997 - The WASHINGTON POST, quoting AP and Yugoslav TANJUG news agencies, reported on Jan. 26 that Dr. Nikola Koljevic died at a Belgrade military hospital nine days after shooting himself in the head. CNN's Jan. 25 Web edition carried a REUTER's report which cited the same Yugoslav source.
Nikola Koljevic, 60, had been comatose since his Jan. 16 suicide attempt at the Bosnian Serb headquarters in Pale, when he shot himself in the head. He underwent brain surgery in Belgrade last week. He was evacuated to Belgrade, capital of neighboring Serbia, in a French helicopter provided by the NATO-led peacekeeping force in Bosnia.
During the war Koljevic, thanks to his excellent English and his moderate image, was often chosen by the Bosnian Serbs to represent them with international office.
PHOENIX, Jan. 26 - So the Bosnian war has claimed another victim - Dr. Nikola Koljevic, a Shakesperean professor-turned-accidental warrior. Rather than write a lengthy eulogy about a lost friend and a proud patriot whose tragic death would have rated Shakesperean verses, I have decided to share with you some of the, until now unpublished notes, from my diary. That way, my fallen friend's words will be his own eulogy.
The preceding words, in Serbian cyrillic, were written in Dr. Koljevic's own hand at his office in Pale, Republika Srpska, on July 13, 1995 - on the inside cover of his then newly-published book, "Otadzbinske Teme" ("Themes About Fatherland").
For those who don't read Serbian, here is a translation:
As it turned out, Nikola Koljevic was never to see the "resurrection of Serbdom" or taste "our victory" in his lifetime on this Earth. On the contrary, he was a witness of a defeat and humiliation of the Serbs in Bosnia. And of betrayal by one of Koljevic's former friends - Serbia's president, Slobodan Milosevic, whom he was the only one of the Bosnian Serb leaders to address with a familiar "ti" form ("tu" in French, or "du" in German). And of the tragic exodus of the 70,000 Sarajevo Serbs in early 1996, which followed Milosevic's betrayal at Dayton.
All of which may have added up to the reason this kind and honorable man decided to take his own life.
But in his lifetime, Koljevic WAS a witness to "the strength of our spirit." And he had tasted Serb victories, albeit only the short-lived ones. And he WAS one of the protagonists of a heroic struggle of the Serbian people west of the river Drina against all the world powers. And in his afterlife, he may be smiling once again, looking down from the heavens at the Serbian people in Belgrade and elsewhere in Serbia, continuing his fight for justice and freedom.
May God rest his soul!
PALE, Bosnia, July 13, 1995 (Thursday)
Dr. Nikola Koljevic - (a dinner/meeting at his Pale office - 20:00 to 0:00)
Visit to Srebrenica
"We want to show the world how quickly we can establish civilian authority there," Koljevic explained. "And as a member of the RS government, I want to be photographed with the Muslim civilians, assuring them that nothing bad will happen to them." But one of the phone calls shattered this plan. ZM took the call, then put the receiver down when he was finished. "There are no civilians left any more," ZM announced. "Mladic had shipped them all out already." "Damn it!" Koljevic said. Then after collecting his thoughts, "I think we should still go as representative of the civilian government." He called Dr. Radovan Karadzic to sound him out about the idea, given the new circumstances which have arisen. Karadzic agreed that Koljevic should go.
Throughout the evening, Koljevic was making or receiving calls in connection with his planned trip to Srebrenica tomorrow. It took at least 30-40 calls.
One of them was from Philip Corvin, "an American poet," as Koljevic put it. Koljevic showed me a poem Corvin had scribbled in his notebook in connection with Croatias attack on Western Slavonia. "Corvin has just been declared as persona non grata in Sarajevo by the Muslim government."
"They figure that he is too sympathetic to the Serbs," Koljevic explained. When Corvin doesnt write poems, he is the head of the UNHCR civilian affairs.
As it turned out, by about 23:00, Corvin started to waffle about participating in the expedition to Srebrenica, even though he was quite enthusiastic about it earlier in the evening. "They got to him," Koljevic commented.
"Probably the American government," he speculated. "Corvin is supposed to go home soon, so he is probably nervous about upsetting them."
"But how did they find out?" Koljevic wondered out loud. "They must be listening to our conversations," he muttered, answering his own question.
By the end of the night, it was agreed that they all meet at Koljevics office at 11:00 tomorrow morning.
Cyrus Vance, Dragan Zivanovic (alias Daniel Boier)
For example, Koljevic said that Cyrus Vance was one of the few gentlemen whom he had met during the three and a half years of negotiating with the various diplomats.
"Let me tell you," he said, "weve seen our share of diplomatic riff-raff. But Vance was different." Koljevic went on to describe the various meetings and dinners he had had with Vance at his house in Geneva.
"I didnt know Vance lived in Geneva," I interjected.
"He does not. But his friend and partner from Paris let him use his place."
An expression of curiosity passed across Koljevics face. He looked at me. "Does the name Dragan Zivanovic mean anything to you?"
"Dragan Zivanovic?" I repeated. "No. Ive never heard of him."
"Thats Vances friend to whom I was referring. He is quite well off; lives in Paris where he is known as Daniel Boier. He is supposed to have direct access to Clinton."
Koljevic started to shuffle through a mound of paper on his desk. He pulled out two pages. "Here!" he declared triumphantly. "Read this."
It was a letter by Radovan Karadzic dated June 8, 1995, addressed to President Bill Clinton. I read it carefully. Karadzic proposed a peace conference to settle the Bosnian war. The rest of it was emotional dribble; obviously not a piece professional diplomatic correspondence.
"Did this Dragan Zivanovic write this?" I asked.
Koljevic nodded, looking at me enigmatically. "And we understand that the letter was delivered to Bill Clinton personally."
I meant to say "whoopee-do," but restrained myself. "Want to you know why I suspected that Zivanovic wrote this?" I asked.
"Because it was written with too much emotion; too much emphasis on historical ties and traditional friendships, and not enough on current interests. Ive seen dozens of letters like this written by Serbian-Americans. But until now, Ive never seen one written by the CIA. Or whatever other U.S. government scribe."
"So you think that Zivanovic works for the CIA?"
"Ive told you that I dont know the man. But I can tell you that this letter has been written for Serbian consumption. And since you told me that Zivanovic wrote it; that he is a friend and partner of Vances; and that he has access to the U.S. President - you can probably conclude the rest..."
Koljevic nodded pensively.
"No friend of Vances or Clintons can be a true friend of the Bosnian Serbs," I speculated. "Id be counting my fingers after shaking hands with people like that."
Koljevic pondered my comment carefully.
"Would you like some palacinkas?" he asked.
"Thats my favorite desert," I replied.
Koljevic placed the order.
Koljevic said that his brother, who used to live in Sarajevo, managed to get out and now lives in Novi Sad (Serbia). His brother, a playwright, has never been very active in politics. Which is why he was surprised to have received an invitation to attend a party at the British Embassy in Belgrade celebrating the Queens birthday. During the cocktail reception, Koljevics brother was approached by the British ambassador, Ivor Roberts, and given the following message, as if in passing: "The Queen would have no objections if the Serbs in Bosnia were to settle the territorial disputes on the ground." Koljevic figured that that was the British governments "green light" for the Bosnian Serb Republic to launch its assault on the Muslim enclaves in Eastern Bosnia (Srebrenica, Zepa and Gorazde). Which, of course, the Bosnian Serbs did in July.
Koljevic predicted the end of war "in one to two months; six months on the outside." I could not help but recall similarly optimistic predictions by Karadzic in November 1992, September 1993 and May 1994. He also talked about the current offensives on Srebrenica and Zepa bringing the Bosnian war "to a boiling point."
I said that was fine as long as the military toughness was accompanied at the same time by a "velvet touch" on the diplomatic front.
MOUNT JAHORINA, Bosnia, July 14, 1995 (Friday)
Dr. Nikola Koljevic (a breakfast/meeting at Jahorina - 8:30 to 10:40)
I woke up early, around 8:00, considering how late wed gone to bed (I had stayed up till past 2 AM, making notes and some phone calls). Just as I was stretching in bed, there was a knock on the door. "Sorry to disturb you, but Prof. Koljevic would like to have breakfast with you. Hell be here in about 10 minutes."
Well I wasnt quite ready in 10 minutes. But the icy cold shower did speed up my usual morning routine (there was no warm water this year, as there wasnt last year; or in 1993. I figured that was done on purpose - to make the visitors to this military hotel discern the difference between it and the civilian establishments).
After shaving using the equally icy water, I walked out onto the terrace in front of the hotel. It felt good to be in the warm sun. Since more than 20 minutes had elapsed since that knock on the door, and there was still no sight of Koljevic, I decided to go in and look for him. There he was, having a smoke in one of the back rooms and chatting with the staff. "Oh, youre up?" he said, sounding surprised. "Hope you didnt mind meeting me so early?"
I explained that Ive been up already on my own, and had been waiting for him outside on the terrace.
We sat down at a table inside the restaurant inside the hotel, and had a breakfast of bacon and eggs. Since there was no milk, we both drank tea with it. We were obviously the only "guests" at the hotel. At least at that hour, anyway.
By about 10:30, ZM sauntered into the hotel on foot, wearing a blue jeans top and bottom outfit. "I am ready for our trip to Srebrenica," he declared.
We drove off to Pale.
Dr. Nikola Koljevic (a meeting at his Pale office - 11:00 to 11:45)
More Telephoning re. Srebrenica
After we arrived at Koljevics office, he continued to work the phones where he left off the night before. But it was becoming increasingly obvious that his Srebrenica trip plans were unraveling. First, the departure was delayed from 11:00 to 13:00. Eventually the trip was called off altogether.
In the meantime, ZM and a different driver took me in a VW Golf to the new Pale government building. Thats where I was first supposed to see some people before going in to meet with Karadzic.
Dr. Nikola Koljevic (a discussion in the dining room after the Churkin dinner - 23:00 to 23:45)
Koljevic said that Churkin was as arrogant as ever. "He only came to collect some diplomatic points for himself," Koljevic opined. Churkin wanted to have the Dutch peacekeepers from Srebrenica released, so that he would get the credit for it. "(Aleksa) Buha and he are now making a statement for the press about it," he added.
Koljevic said that during dinner, Churkin hardly touched his food. "He made it seem as if it wasnt good enough for him," Koljevic said, without trying to hide his contempt for the Russian.
After that, Koljevic and his entourage again gave me a ride back to my hotel on Mount Jahorina. [...]
THIS WAS OUR LAST MEETING...
BELGRADE, December 4, 1995 (Monday)
Dr. Nikola Koljevic (a meeting at the "Hotel Slavija" - 9:15 to 10:15)
Kostunica, Serbs in Diaspora
"I am very mad at (Voja) Kostunica and at the Serbs in the Diaspora" (meaning yours truly, too), was the first thing Koljevic said after we had greeted each other.
Koljevic then argued that Kostunica (who is a constitutional lawyer) did not understand the provisions of the new Bosnian constitution. "He is causing me problems by saying that wed sold out our people," Koljevic lamented.
"Thats what I think, too," I replied.
"But youre both wrong!" Koljevic exclaimed passionately. "This is the best plan of all. Its better than the Coutillierys plan (March 1992); better than Vance-Owen plan (May 1993), better than Contact Group plan..." (July 1994).
TiM Ed.: I could not help but notice that he did not mention the Owen-Stoltenberg plan (September 1993), which the Serbs had accepted but the Muslims turned it down. Bob Dj.
As for Sarajevo, Koljevic said that what the Serbs (i.e., Karadzic and Krajisnik) did in Sarajevo "was a stupid thing anyway." And that "Karadzic and Krajisnik were too hung up about Sarajevo."
TiM Ed.: I presumed that he was referring to the shelling of the citys civilian population (about which I have also criticized Karadzic as far back as Nov/92), and the insistence that Sarajevo, rather than Banja Luka, become the capital of Republika Srpska. But Koljevic never said anything like that while Karadzic and Krajisnik were solidly in charge, I also noted. Bob Dj.
"Whats going to happen with Karadzic and Mladic?" I asked.
"Theyll have to go," Koljevic replied.
"And Krajisnik, too?" I asked.
"Well see about him," Koljevic said.
"Which will then leave you as President, wont it?" I asked.
"I guess so," Koljevic said. "But the parliament will have to decide on that." "Sure," I thought without saying anything. "The parliament called Milosevic."
"The international community thinks that, because I speak English well and have taught Shakespeare at American universities I am somehow different that Karadzic or Krajisnik," Koljevic added. "Thats nonsense. I believe in the same things as Karadzic or Krajisnik."
Srebrenica Attack, Gorazde and Brcko Corridors
Koljevic said that attacking Srebrenica and Zepa was a mistake. "We should have provided to the Muslims a land corridor from them as we now did in Gorazde," Koljevic said. "Eventually, they would have seeped out of the enclaves on their own." He predicted that that would happen in Gorazde.
TiM Ed.: This was certainly a different Koljevic from the one who, less than four months ago, was so jubilant when the Serbs took Srebrenica; who spoke about "bring the situation to the boiling point;" and who told me how the British encouraged them, through his brother from Novi Sad, to take the enclaves. Bob Dj.
As for the Brcko corridor, Koljevic was equally confident that the result of the arbitration would be favorable to the Serbs.
"Even if that were the case," I said, "in the meantime, you cannot maintain an air link between Belgrade and Banja Luka, isnt that right?" "No its not," Koljevic said. He insisted that the air corridor will be open even during the 12-month arbitration period.
Investments and Reconstruction
Koljevic said that the Serbs in the Diaspora could help the most with respect to the reconstruction. He said that, while they were in Dayton, they met with an Ohio Serb and a business tycoon (the name did not mean anything to me) "who was worth $300 to $400 million."
He added that the Greeks have already committed several hundred million for rebuilding of the destroyed housing. Koljevic claimed that the British were also anxious to invest in RS (something which Ivor Roberts [the British ambassador] later on denied). Koljevic expected a total of $6 billion to be invested in the reconstruction of Bosnia, of which the Serbs would get $2.5 billion. "The Americans really want to help us," he said.
TiM Ed.: I could not believe his naïveté. It made me sick to think that the Bosnian Serbs, who have sacrificed so much, may be stuck with such a leader. Bob Dj.
"My main goal is to get $400 to $500 million for Sarajevo reconstruction right now," Koljevic said. "Otherwise, I am afraid that well lose our people" (who will leave for Serbia).
"What are the chances that they will stay and fight?" I asked.
"None," Koljevic replied.
Good-bye, British Speech
As we were saying our good-byes, heavy wet snow was falling on the Slavija Square. Passers-by rushed hurriedly looking for shelter along the sidewalks.
"Your appointment with Kostunica has been set for 11:00," G. told Koljevic.
"About that speech in London, which you mentioned earlier," Koljevic said. "Please give everybody there my greetings and tell them that we could use their help now more than ever."
LONDON, December 5, 1995 (Tuesday)
(a meeting at the hotel with XX, a former British intelligence operative - 15:30 to 16:40)
U.S. Green Light "Hint" Re. Srebrenica
XX said that he "knew for a fact" ("I have a copy of the letter") that the U.S. gave the Bosnian Serbs a "green light" to take Srebrenica and Zepa. He said he wouldnt tell me who it was that did it, but that this person had written to Karadzics government and advised them to feel free to attack Srebrenica. But that this "source" had "couched the advice in four layers of disclaimers about how he wasnt sure that this was accurate information."
I said to XX that the Americans werent the only ones trying to con the Bosnian Serbs. "Your (British) government did it, too," I said. "Which only goes to show you that they have all conspired to f... the Serbs, not just the Americans."
XX seemed genuinely stunned about the revelation to do with the British treachery.
Also, check out... Truth in Media Statement on the Kosovo War, "Wither Dayton, Sprout New War?", "On the Brink of Madness", "Tragic Deja Vu's," "Seven U.S. Senators Suggest Ouster of Milosevic", "Biting the Hand That Feeds You", "A Balkan Affairs Potpourri", "Put the U.N. Justice on Trial", "International Justice 'Progresses' from Kidnapping to Murder", "Milosevic: 'A Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery'...", "Kosovo Lie Allowed to Stand", "New World Order's Inquisition in Bosnia", "Kosovo Heating Up", "Decani Monastery Under Siege?", "Murder on Wall Street", "Kosovo: 'Bosnia II', Serbia's Aztlan", "What If the Shoe Were on the Other Foot?", "Serb WW II General Exhonerated by British Archives," "Green Interstate - Not Worth American Lives", "An American Hero or Actor of the Year?" (A June '95 TiM story) and/or "Clinton arme secrètement les musulmans bosniaques", "Kocevje: Tito's Greatest Crime?", "Perfidious Albion Strikes Again, Aided by Uncle Sam"
Or Djurdjevic's WASHINGTON TIMES columns: "Chinese Dragon Wagging Macedonian Tail," "An Ugly Double Standard in Kosovo Conflict?", "NATO's Bullyboys", "Kosovo: Why Are We Involved?", and "Ginning Up Another Crisis"