War is not decided on by soldiers General Momcilo PeriŻic, Chief of General Staff of the Yugoslav Army: General Momcilo PeriŻic, Chief of General Staff of the Yugoslav Army, is a commander about whom only a little is known to the general public. Those who do know him well, know that he is prudent and courageous, a man of high morals, somebody who inspires deep respect. General PeriŻic is a strategist, a military leader and above all, a patriot, humanist and intellectual. We can see in him all the features which had adorned famous Serbian warriors and military leaders throughout our history. He graduated from the Military Academy first and the General Staff School and the National Defense School subsequently. In the meanwhile, he won a bachelor's degree in psychology. He has occupied almost all command posts in his military career so far. He was appointed to the post of Chief of General Staff of the Yugoslav Army on 26 August 1993, by the decision of the Supreme Council of Defense. He is the youngest-ever Chief of General Staff of the Yugoslav Army. TUMULTUOUS TIMES QUESTION: Mr.PeriŻic, ever since your appointment as Chief of General Staff, there have been rumours about your dismissal, and some media have swooped down on you. Who is bothered by General PeriŻic? Who wants to have you dismissed and why? I'm being attacked in the media by the people who are probably acting under the influence of those who would want to bring the military into a position of inferiority, and through me, they are attacking the military as an institution, wishing for it not to serve exclusively to the interests of the state, the people, the society as a whole, but to the interests of some individuals. I'm not sure that those who want me to be dismissed from this post know our people's situation. It is quite another matter whether they are the people who are prepared to sacrifice themselves, their amenities, for the sake of their people's defense. Another thing, it seems that the wish to come to power at any cost is so strong that the assistance of influential factors is accepted non-critically. In that context, knowing that the military is the basic factor of the state and stability in these tumultuous times, they want to destabilize the military by attacking me and get it to work towards their own aims. QUESTION: How much influence do America and Germany have in all this? The ongoing conflicts in the territory of the former SFR of Yugoslavia reflect the interests of the big powers, including America, which is a big power indeed, and Germany which wants to become one. However, not only the interests of these two powers are involved. Also Turkey, as well as other European countries, have their interests in this region. They are not even trying to cover them up. On the basis of the moves made on the international scene, you can identify them easily. We are appraising the mechanisms and possible scenarios for the implementation of such interests, and we are accordingly taking action towards maintaining the security of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. GREEN TRANSVERSAL QUESTION: Mr.PeriŻic, is that the reason why a unitarian Bosnia would suit either side? Yes, of course. A unitarian Bosnia would suit the both, although the Germans and Americans alike have their own separate strategic interests, which explains why they are in a manner of speaking so ruthless to the Serbian people. QUESTION: I think that the reasons of the Americans are somewhat different. Namely, that they want to facilitate the creation of a Muslim state with the aid of a unitarian Bosnia. Many people don't understand why the Americans are helping the Muslims in Bosnia. They are doing so for two main reasons. First, they want to ingratiate themselves with the Islamic states, from which they are getting many economic benefits, by standing up for Islam in Europe. Second, they want to create any Muslim state which could serve as a "regulator" for the situation in Europe, with a view to destabilizing Europe in line with their strategic interests and current appraisals. QUESTION: And what is the interest of the Serbian people? The Serbian people are interested in retaining as much as possible of the territory which has belonged to them for centuries, protecting the population and rounding off their own state, as well as in seeing that all other peoples living in the territory of the former Yugoslavia create their own states in their own ethnic lands, so that the controversies the other civilized countries have dealt with in the 18th and 19th centuries could be dealt with now. QUESTION: Zagreb is openly helping the Croats in Bosnia. According to some sources, the Muslims are obtaining weaponry from the Americans and Islamic countries. The Muslim offensive has been launched. Do you think that the Serbs can resist the attacks launched by the Muslim-Croat federation with the resources at their disposal and the morale they have, can they defend themselves and their territory? The Serbs in this region are supported by no country in the world like the Muslims and Croats are supported. They are in a very, very difficult position. However, in the history of wars, no people were ever defeated if they were resolutely struggling for survival. The Serbs have demonstrated in the course of history that they have always been fighting against stronger enemies and taking their fate in their own hands. The Serbs never wanted to seize something belonging to other people; they were always defending their own possessions only. Unfortunately, the Serbs are now completely isolated and they are in a more difficult situation than ever before. They are now resolute, ready to fight for their territorial integrity and their bare existence. In military and organizational terms, the Serbs are capable of defending their ethnic territory using the resources at their disposal even without outside help. QUESTION: We often hear assertions that Yugoslavia's state policy is geared to peace. Does that mean that the Serbs from the other side of the Drina don't want peace or is a misunderstanding involved? The people of the Serb Republic and the FR of Yugoslavia have not been divided. I think that the leaderships of the Serbian people will find ways and means of settling the political differences. Professional soldiers have realized that the intention of the foreign factor is to provoke a conflict between the political leaderships, and through that conflict, also a conflict on the military side. That's a wrong assumption. QUESTION: Mr.PeriŻic, in the event of large scale clashes in the territory of the Serb Republic, would the FR of Yugoslavia give military support? In my capacity of Chief of General Staff of the Yugoslav Army, and under the Constitution, it is my duty to defend with the Yugoslav Army the territorial integrity, sovereignty and freedom of the citizens of the FR of Yugoslavia, and any involvement of members of the Yugoslav Army outside the territory of the FR of Yugoslavia is a matter to be decided on by the present state. SITUATION IN THE REPUBLIC OF SERB KRAJINA QUESTION: What do you think about the situation in the Republic of Serb Krajina and the efforts being made towards reintegrating Krajina into the Republic of Croatia? Croatia has had a historic opportunity to set up, with the aid of the foreign factor and through its secession, a democratic state of the civil type in which also the Serbs would be a constituent nation under the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia. However, since Croatia was dazzled by nationalist interests which border on Fascism, the Serbs were accorded no rights. They stood up for their vital interests and they didn't want to be pulled out of the former Yugoslavia forcibly and live in an Ustashi-run state which has been exterminating them for centuries. In any case, like any other people, the Serbs, too, have the right to self-determination. QUESTION: What developments do you anticipate in the territory of the former Yugoslavia? IIn pursuing their aims, America and Germany will try to achieve such aims in the territory of the former Yugoslavia also by resorting to the strategy of low intensity war, step by step. They will try to avoid a higher intensity war since in that case, there would be a danger of many other countries being involved. In the event of many countries being involved, it would not be possible to control that war and the conflict could acquire large proportions. Being aware of this, they are provoking internal contradictions to the extent they can keep under control and channel towards the achievement of their aims. The creators of the "new world order" want to go further east and if the Serbian people stand in their way, they will circumvent that people temporarily because of their strong resistance, but they will never give up their aims in this region. They will have prepared by then also new scenarios for settling the Balkan issues. The achievement of their aims will depend among other things, also on the conduct and resistance of the Serbian people as a whole and their leaders. Many leaders in the entities formed in the territory of the SFR of Yugoslavia are not world policy makers, but implementers of the international policy aims instead. QUESTION: Can you be more specific? There is no need for that. All of them are recognizable. After all, also the attacks on the Yugoslav Army are being launched with that objective in mind. I think that sanctions will be lifted sooner or later and that the FR of Yugoslavia will open up to the world. As in the past, the interests in the Balkans will remain unchanged mostly. The Serbian and Montenegrin people will certainly remain in this region regardless of the existing difficulties and losses, and the FR of Yugoslavia will be able to define its interests and pick the friends and countries with which it will cooperate, taking also in account the conduct of others while the FR of Yugoslavia was kept in isolation unfairly. QUESTION: Mr.PeriŻic, what do you think about the recent recognition of Alija Izetbegovic's Government, i.e., Bosnia, by Russia? Is that indicative of a weakness of Russia's official politics or of something else? That is the Russian diplomats' current appraisal of Russia's interests in the Balkans. QUESTION: Was that a good opportunity for the Serbs to learn that there is no love in politics and that we must be more pragmatic? The Serbs are what they are and their history is more painful than that of any other Balkan nation. They haven't learned much from their history. We belong to a people with a soul, a heart and who are remarkably well-intentioned. We have a heart because in the event of any hazard, with arms in our hands, we are capable of defeating a far stronger enemy; we have a soul because we are supporting in our own territory the children and parents of our blood enemies; and we are very unpragmatic because we tend to trust everybody, and among other things, we are also always on the defensive. It is because of these properties of ours that we have been repeatedly experiencing similar things in our history, which shows that to a certain extent, we deserve our existing situation. QUESTION: All aggressors adhere to a certain extent to the "divide and rule" principle. It is being traded on the provoking of international conflicts. What do you think of the security situation in the FR of Yugoslavia and particularly in Kosovo and Metohija? Kosovo and Metohija make up a special phenomenon in which keen interest is being shown by the creators of the "new world order". They were planning for the first spark of secessionism to be ignited in Kosovo and Metohija precisely, but their plan misfired. The Albanian people living in the FR of Yugoslavia are fully aware of how much better off they are in economic and other senses than their patriots in their parent country, so that they can hardly be pushed into their own disaster. Even so, it is not unlikely that if the FR of Yugoslavia fails to behave in line with the international political factor's strategy, Kosovo and Metohija could become a hotbed of crisis. The obstruction to that are actually the interests of the Albanians living in Kosovo and Metohija, who have not allowed themselves to be manipulated so far. Thanks to the extremist leaderships and outside influence, the province Kosovo and Metohija is a latent crisis hotbed which could be activated in a complex situation. The districts of RaŻka and Polimlje are also covered by different spheres of interest. The Muslim territorial claims in Bosnia are geared to the joining of the Gora`de enclave with RaŻka and Polimlje, which is becoming all the more evident. The Gora`de enclave is the stronghold of the Muslim factor and its wish for the Muslim state under foundation in Bosnia to expand and be connected by the green transversal with Albania, via Gora`de and the RaŻka and Polimlje districts. It can be concluded that Turkey would like to establish a link with Alija Izetbegovic's state, through Albania as its partner and collaborator and, of course, the Muslims living in the RaŻka and Polimlje districts. Should that happen, it would mean a disaster for Europe and Serbian people in particular, because the physical link between the Montenegrin and Serbian people would be severed in that case, which would lead to the disintegration of the FR of Yugoslavia. HOW TO AVOID WAR QUESTION: Mr.PeriŻic, can we save our country, our freedom, and avoid fighting, and can we say that we have a strong united army? You are asking me, as a soldier, a general, whether war can be avoided? If everybody shared not only my views, but also those of generals, normal generals of all countries of the world, there would be far less wars, because a professional soldier knows best what war means, which goes even more for a general. If there were no politicians who wish to achieve certain aims through wars, generals would be less warrior generals. This is corroborated among others also by Pentagon whose representatives said on more than one occasion that the crisis in Yugoslavia cannot be settled by a war. Moreover, they even restrained some of their "hawk" politicians, assuring them that such an objective cannot be achieved by martial methods. However, as professional soldiers, my associates and I are aware of the hazards and developments, hazards to our people. We will do our utmost towards preventing a war from breaking out, and we have done a lot so far, assisted also by others of course, towards preventing the war from spilling over into the FR of Yugoslavia. I think that we are one of the few countries that have managed to prevent a war in their neighbourhood from spilling over into them. I think that it would be possible to prevent the war from spilling over into our country if other relevant factors share this reasoning. In the event of a war being imposed onto us, my associates and I, as well as all commissioned and non-commissioned officers, professional soldiers, conscripts and patriots who will join our ranks even without being called up, will defend the integrity and sovereignty of our country. The Yugoslav Army is our country's backbone. Now, in time of peace, it is 100,000-strong and it represents the core of our people's future million-strong army. With such potential manpower, the Yugoslav Army will be able to protect our country's territorial integrity and sovereignty. If we close our ranks, we will be able to defend our country successfully. If we allow the "hawks" and ignoramuses to disrupt our people's unity, to achieve their own aims and to be in the service of war lords, sacrificing a part of their own people in the process, then our total defence capability would be that much smaller. QUESTION: Are you satisfied with the transformation of the military? The transformation of the Yugoslav Army has been completed in the sense of organization and formation, while its modernization is dependent on the country's economic capacity. There are also some other segments undergoing transformation. The depoliticization of the Army has been carried out completely. However, some advocates of depoliticization of the military now want to be in a position to exert some influence on the military, especially in sphere of staff policy. We are opposed to that, which is often the cause of attacks on us. QUESTION: Who is in charge of staff policy in the military? The Constitution and the Yugoslav Army Law provide accurately who is in charge of staff in various grades and responsible for their promotion. The Chief of General Staff is in charge of staff policy up to the rank of colonel. The appointment and dismissal of general officers is the responsibility of the Supreme Council of Defense. QUESTION: Are you satisfied with the current staff policy? Instead of answering that question, I would ask whether I'm satisfied with the staff structure. We can never be completely satisfied with the staff situation. However, only the best available, verified staff have been assigned to key positions in the General Staff and put in charge of the operative/strategic groups. Nobody has a life mandate for any function, everything is susceptible to changes. GENERALS' MISTAKES QUESTION: Mr.PeriŻic, how important is it for a man in your position, who bears such a great responsibility, to be able to anticipate developments, to see more and further than others and not to be blindly obedient? IIt is very important that key posts are assigned to remarkably capable persons, who besides other characteristics expected of good officers, must also be highly intelligent and capable of anticipating developments. Only such men are capable of leading their soldiers and their people to victory even in the most difficult situations, by making proper decisions. If they are not like that, they tend to make bad decisions and thus lead people to disaster. Unfortunately, we have had many bad examples in our history and in the latest war. I have promised to myself not to speak about the people from this war precisely because many of them were not up to their posts and duties, because they were blindly obedient persons who just awaited orders from somebody above, sacrificing thus the dignity of the people they were in charge of. They sacrificed the dignity of their people and their own dignity. Therefore, the most important requirements of any officer include the following ones: ability to use their own heads, ability to sublime collective sense into decisions, and perseverance and persistence in the implementation of the decisions made, working exclusively in the best interests of their people and their country. QUESTION: Some media have criticized you for the operations you launched in Zadar and Mostar. When some people want to speak against General PeriŻic, they refer to Zadar and Mostar. We are talking here about the people who in the first place don't know or don't want to know the situation in which our sons were in Zadar. This is spoken by people who don't realize what the most lethal part of the population of the Republic of Croatia, which is quite rightly referred to as Ustashe, has done towards driving us out of Zadar as quickly as possible. When the war broke out in 1991, I was serving in Zadar as the commanding officer of the Artillery Training Centre there. The Croats were probably instructed by foreign parties to get rid of the Yugoslav People's Army and they made large scale assaults on its members, using hardened murderers and other criminals released from their own and foreign prisons for such purposes. As the commanding officer with a long experience in command posts, with combat systems and with several thousand reliable men, I could not allow the terrorists to kill my soldiers, so I took action in line with the degree of hazard, towards saving the lives and honour of my soldiers and my people as a whole. I responded amicably to all provocations and strained situations, and tried to find ways and means of settling the crisis peaceably. However, since that turned out to be impossible and they moved to liquidate us physically, we quite naturally responded physically, using all weapons at our disposal, for the purpose of saving our lives. I managed to get my soldiers, weaponry and other equipment out of Zadar. QUESTION: What happened in ^apljina? When the war broke out in Bosnia, I was in the region of Mostar. I took maximum care of the civilian population in my zone of responsibility. Like in Zadar, there were no casualties. The cooperation with the Muslims in my zone of responsibility was a very good one. We were giving them material and other kinds of assistance. Our clashes were with the Croatian units which were transferred to Bosnia at that time. This means that regular Croatian army units were in the territory of the SFR of Yugoslavia, since Bosnia was still a part of the former Yugoslavia then. They accused us then of being an occupying force. There was no logic in that accusation, because the Yugoslav People's Army was then the sole legitimate and recognized armed force in all areas other than Slovenia and Croatia. Therefore, the conflict began when the Croatian units blew up a tank truck full of explosives near our barracks, demolishing a big part of the latter in the process. Eleven civilians and only one member of the Yugoslav People's Army died. In that case, too, I was accused of causing various destructions. What was actually involved, was the destruction of military targets and targets used for launching attacks on my soldiers and Serbian population. It would be worth to mention on this occasion the rescuing of the surrounded soldiers and civilians in the municipality of ^apljina and subsequently from the ^apljina barracks which were surrounded by about 4,000 members of HOS, the regular Croatian army, and where they were in the danger of being killed. When I took over the command of the Bileca Corps, I took on also about 270 people who were captured or gathered in ^apljina by HOS. They were Serbs, Croats and Muslims. I took action towards having these people released peaceably, but that didn't work, so that we launched a combined offensive in the course of which all members of the Yugoslav People's Army, as well as the civilians surrounded by the HOS units, were rescued without a single casualty. We moved people to an area under our control and inflicted heavy losses to the Croat side. It took us 15 days to prepare this offensive and we carried out in only half an hour. We rescued all people and there were no wounded or killed on our side. We inflicted heavy losses to the other side, and these losses were admitted and announced on the Croatian television. Be it as it may, had Pero Markovic, the then town mayor, taken my advice, all this would have been settled peaceably. All of these people who were surrounded by the Croats know that General PeriŻic sent them a message saying that he will rescue them at any cost and they can testify that I have kept my word. It was a remarkably successful military operation planned by my associates collectively and it was carried out so brilliantly, that I believe that it will be studied by our young officers in the future. QUESTION: Did you receive orders after this operation to return to the FR of Yugoslavia? Following the ^apljina operation, I was ordered by the General Staff (on 25 April 1992) to return to the FR of Yugoslavia. I didn't want to do that because the people of Herzegovina were not organized for fighting the enemy and they were in a very big danger. In anticipation of developments, I stayed there until 28 May, by which time I had made the people of Herzegovina fully fit for defending themselves. For the sake of truth and an objective insight into our history, I drew up a record of facts, which was signed by my successor and myself. It is still in my possession. I'm saying this because many of those who are attacking the Yugoslav Army, as well as myself, are trying to shift the developments into some other periods of time. QUESTION: Andric said: "There are times when sensible people fall silent, fools began to speak out and scoundrels become rich". You came out of the war virtually with a dictaphone in your possession. What do you think about the war profiteers? In this war, most men under my command, as well as under the command of others, who even without asking for reasons, went to the western parts of the then SFR of Yugoslavia for the purpose of defending Yugoslavia, fared the worst. Far from their homes, they had to fight the enemy and in doing so, most of us lost our tangible possessions. The only possessions many of them were left with were what they had on them. When I came out of this war, my most valuable possessions were a watch and a dictaphone and I'm happy not only for myself, but because I've shared the lot of the men under my command. Unfortunately, I'm still sharing their lot even now, while then and even now, some people are getting rich on Serbian blood here and there, far behind the front lines, presenting themselves even as heroes, which shows how much the system of values has been disrupted. I was fully aware of the responsibility involved when I assumed this duty. I know that by accepting this duty I have shortened my soldier's life, that I'm in for no tangible gains and that my only satisfaction is in preventing that which has been or is being prepared for my people from being done. Of course, that calls for some kind of asceticism and I'm often referred to as an ascetic. Be it as it may, in such historic times, true professional soldiers, as well as high officials, must behave as ascetics. I assumed this duty fully consciously. It astonished me to learn that there are people who had come to the head of the system in the most difficult times, and instead of helping their people, they are turning the calamity of the latter in gains for themselves. LEISURE TIME QUESTION: A personal question. What do you do in your leisure time? I have less and less leisure time. I used to read 3-4 books a month on average, that is to say, a couple of thousand pages. Sadly enough, I'm now able to read just one book monthly. I'm very fond of books. I used to own several thousand books, and none when I came out of the war. However, thanks to my friends who know how much I like books, I have renewed my library, so that now I have several hundred of them. QUESTION: What are you reading now? I'm reading Antihumanism by Emil Vlaiki at present, as well as professional literature, of course. QUESTION: Mr.PeriŻic, how important is affection in your life? Remarkably important. Affection for man in the first place. I'm a man who has opted for a military career out of love for man and I'm performing this duty precisely out of love for my people. Affection for man and affection for one's country, though a country with people, not a country without them. QUESTION: What is the foreign factor's objective in this region? The foreign factor's objective was to break up the SFR of Yugoslavia at it was largely successful in that. The objective the foreign factor has set for itself in the territory of the former Yugoslavia still remains and it is the same in the territory of the present FR of Yugoslavia. In order to achieve such objective, they are making use, according to a scenario, mostly the local people who because of their lacking patriotism or ignorance are putting themselves in the position of implementers of the aims of our people's enemies. QUESTION: What would the FR of Yugoslavia look like according to that scenario for making us what others want us to be? Since there are many scenario makers outside and inside, who would want to be big in small places, it is quite certain that they would tear up this tormented country into many feudal states which they would want to rule exclusively. Many internal factors, which are not only in the service of the foreign ones, want to achieve their aims under the guise of democracy in order to set up a country which will not be viable in the existing surroundings or which will be completely dependent on the foreign factor. Since I am one of my people and a professional soldier, and because my main task and that of the institution to which I belong relates to the defense of my country's sovereignty and integrity, I will do my utmost towards making sure that the Yugoslav Army performs its constitutional duty.