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Is German-Troops-In-Yugoslavia Story Real?

by Jared Israel (10-16-2000)
[Emperor's Clothes]

On 10/12 we posted a dispatch from German "AP" in which German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer is quoted as calling for the German Army to occupy Yugoslavia on a long-term basis. How we came to post that dispatch is an interesting story.

A reader in Germany wrote us wondering why no Website critical of NATO had posted an 'AP' report which he had seen on the German language Yahoo Website.

The German reader translated part of the dispatch into English.

It was amazing. Could German Foreign Minister Fischer actually have said he wants to permanently station the German Army in Yugoslavia? Could he, a leader of the country has been trying to destroy Yugoslavia for a hundred years, and which committed and supported the worst atrocities in Yugoslavia during World War II - could he really have said that Yugoslavs need to learn democratic culture in order to relate to Germany? Was he aware that, when the Germans set up a puppet regime in Belgrade during World War II and demanded that the quislings round up the Jews, the quislings refused? Does Fischer know that the German commander then responded that the Serbs had "low culture"?

Could Fischer have actually said these things?

It did not seem unlikely that the German Foreign Ministry would want to permanently station troops in Yugoslavia. But could Fischer have been so reckless as to admit it publicly?

None of us at Emperor's Clothes were personally acquainted with the reader who sent us the email. We decided to investigate thoroughly before posting:

First we went to . That's the German Yahoo site where the reader said he found the article. Scrolling down to the phrase "Nachrichten suchen" which means "news search" , we typed in "Fischer will Jugoslawien mit Bundeswehr helfen" (Fischer wants German Army to help Yugoslavia) We clicked the usual button and were taken to the web address "" This URL had the right title, ("Fischer will Jugoslawien mit Bundeswehr helfen"), but when we clicked on it we got the message "Seite nicht gefunden" or "Website not found". So the article had been there but now it was gone...

Curious. And also curious that the other links on the page worked fine. (Note: In case the link were to be removed entirely, we have made copies of the entire web page; if it is still there when you check you might want to do likewise.)

So now we knew the 'AP' dispatch existed but we couldn't be sure our German reader had sent us an accurate text. We contacted a writer for Emperor's Clothes who works for a German outfit that subscribes to 'German AP'. He found the dispatch. He did an impromptu phone translation. His translation matched what the German reader had sent us almost word for word and the meaning was identical. So now we had the actual dispatch, just as it been sent out by 'German AP'. That dispatch is posted at the end of this article.

Was the Fischer Story Suppressed? And Why?

This 'AP' dispatch is big news.

We subscribe to Lexis Nexis. It allows us to instantly scan thousands of English language and non-English language newspapers, TV news programs and wire services (not including 'German AP') We went to Lexis and typed in: Fischer and Bundeswehr or "German army" and Yugoslavia. There were no entries. Had no newspaper, TV news program, or wire service in the Western world picked up this highly newsworthy story?

We called people in Germany. None of them had seen the Fischer story in the German media.

'AP-Germany' is a self-contained entity but of course it is read by people from newspapers and news services around the world.

Why hasn't this sensational story been reported?

The only explanation we can think of is: it was suppressed.

Perhaps Fischer revealed a plan he was not supposed to reveal, a plan for German troops to be sent into Yugoslavia in the event that certain forces succeed in creating such instability and chaos that "a firm hand is needed." Perhaps after Fischer blabbed and 'German AP' erred by reporting his speech there was a hasty effort at damage control. This would explain the dispatch first being posted at German Yahoo and then apparently being pulled and it would explain the fact that newspapers and TV stations failed to report Fischer's remarks.

Taken alongside a slew of highly provocative and destabilizing actions by the Djindjic and Kostunica forces in Yugoslavia, this statement by Fischer, and the apparent suppression of the news reporting that he made this statement, are ominous.

Note: Soon after I posted this report, we received the following letter:

Dear Emperor's Clothes,

A later version of the story expressing the same desire for a permanent Bundeswehr presence in Yugoslavia in almost the same words is still up at . To me, the most striking thing which is missing from that later version (which is labelled "Initial summary, almost completely new") is the reference to Germany having a "special responsibility for stabilising democracy".

A reader in Britain

Below is the exact text of the 'German AP' dispatch followed by our English translation.

German Text

The top part of the 'AP' dispatch gives the date and identifies the dispatch as coming from 'AP'. Following that the comes the category, "Bundestag/Jugoslawien/Fischer", which means "Parliament/Yugoslavia/Fischer" and then the headline. The text is the same as the English, which follows.

11.10. 17:29 ap 4


Fischer will Jugoslawien mit Bundeswehr helfen

Utl: Demokratie als Voraussetzung für dauerhaften Frieden

Berlin (AP) Bundesaußenminister Joschka Fischer hat sich am Mittwoch im Bundestag dafür ausgesprochen, sich in Jugoslawien nicht nur materiell zu engagieren, sondern dauerhaft mit der Bundeswehr und mit zivilen Kräften vor Ort zu sein. Es biete sich nun die Chance, eine Demokratie in einem sich einigenden Europa zu schaffen. Das wiedervereinigte Deutschland habe eine besondere Verantwortung dazu beizutragen, dass sich die Demokratie in Serbien konsolidiere.

Demokratie sei Voraussetzung für einen dauerhaften Frieden auf dem Balkan.

Es sei richtig gewesen, der großserbischen Politik des jugoslawischen Präsidenten Slobodan Milosevic Einhalt zu gebieten und sich auf Seiten der demokratischen Opposition zu engagieren, sagte Fischer. Das blutige Morden auf dem Balkan könne nun ein Ende

haben. Der Stabilitätspakt müsse dafür eingesetzt werden, sich unter anderem an der Räumung der Donau zu beteiligen. Zudem solle eine demokratische Kultur aufgebaut werden, um die Beziehungen zwischen Deutschland und Serbien zu normalisieren. Erste Schritte seien durch die Aufhebung des Öl- und Flugembargos durch die EU gemacht worden.

So könne Serbien auf dem Weg nach Europa begleitet werden. Nach den Worten Fischers müssen diejenigen zur Rechenschaft gezogen werden, die schwerste Schuld auf sich geladen haben. Vorrang habe zunächst jedoch, dass die demokratischen Veränderungen friedlich durchgesetzt würden und sich Gerechtigkeit durchsetze. Der westliche Balkan sei Teil einer europäischen Gesamtverantwortung.



111728 okt 00

English translation

Fischer wants German Army to help Yugoslavia.

(Berlin), AP, Oct. 11, 2000

German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, addressing Parliament on Wednesday, expressed his opinion that Germany should not only provide material help to Yugoslavia but that the Bundeswehr [the German Army] and non-military organizations should establish a permanent presence there. He declared that this was a unique chance to create a democracy in the context of further European unification.

Reunited Germany has a special responsibility for stabilizing democracy in Serbia. Democracy, said Mr. Fischer, is the basis for a lasting peace in the Balkans. But the priority is for the moment that the democratic changes be carried out peacefully and that justice prevail. The Western Balkans is a part of the European comprehensive responsibility.

It was truly correct at the time to stop Slobodan Milosevich's policy of Greater Serbia and to engage oneself on the side of the democratic opposition, says Joschka Fischer. Now the bloody murdering in the Balkans can be stopped. The Stability Pact has to be used, among other things, for the clearing of the Danube. Also democratic culture has to be built up [in Serbia] to make possible the normalization of relations between Germany and Serbia. The first steps have been taken through the lifting of the oil and the flight embargoes by the European Union. Now Serbia can be accompanied on its route toward Europe. In the words of Fischer, all those who have made themselves guilty of grave crimes have to be brought to justice.


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