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Milosevic's Speech, Kosovo, 28 June 1989 BBC Translation


Source: SECTION: Part 2 Eastern Europe; B. INTERNAL AFFAIRS; YUGOSLAVIA; EE/0496/B/ 1; LENGTH: 2224 words HEADLINE: SLOBODAN MILOSEVIC ADDRESSES RALLY AT GAZIMESTAN; SOURCE: Belgrade home service 1109 gmt 28 Jun 89; Text of live relay of speech delivered at 28th June rally celebrating the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo Polje (EE/0495 i)

 

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Comrades, comrades. At this place, at this place [repeats himself] in the heart of Serbia at the Field of Kosovo, six centuries ago, a full 600 years ago, one of the greatest battles of the time took place. As (?all great events) [words indistinct] many questions and secrets [words indistinct]. By the force of social circumstances this great 600th anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo is taking place in a year in which Serbia, after many years, after decades, has regained its state, national and spiritual integrity. Therefore, it is not difficult for me to answer today the old question with whom [words indistinct]. Throughout the game of history and life, it seems as if Serbia has, precisely in this year, in 1989, (?gained) its state and its dignity and thus has celebrated an event of the distant past which has a great historical and symbolic significance for its future. Today, it is difficult to say what is the historical truth about the Battle of Kosovo and what is legend. (?Today) this is no longer important. Oppressed by pain and filled with hope, the people (?used to suffer and forget), as, after all, all people in the world do, and [word indistinct] and glorified heroism. Therefore, it is difficult to say today whether the Battle of Kosovo was a defeat or a victory for the Serbian people, whether thanks to it we fell into slavery or whether thanks to it we [word indistinct] in this slavery. The answers to those questions will be constantly sought by science and the people. What has been certain through all the centuries until our time today is that disharmony struck Kosovo 600 years ago. If we lost the battle, then this was not only the result of (?social) superiority and the (?geographical) advantage of the Ottoman Empire, but also of the disunity in the leadership of the Serbian state at that time.

In that distant 1389, the Ottoman Empire was not only stronger than that of the Serbs, but it was [word indistinct] than the Serbian kingdom. The lack of unity and betrayal in Kosovo will continue to follow the Serbian people like an evil (?fate) through the whole of its history. Even in the last war, this lack of unity and betrayal led the Serbian people and Serbia into agony, the consequences of which in the historical and moral sense exceeded fascist aggression. Even later, when a socialist Yugoslavia was set up, in this new state the Serbian leadership remained divided [words indistinct] to the detriment of its own people. The concessions that many Serbian leaders made at the expense of their people could not be accepted historically and ethically by any nation in the world, especially because the Serbs have never in the whole of their history conquered and exploited others. Their national and historical being has been liberational throughout the whole of history and through two world wars, as it is today. They liberated themselves and when they could they also helped others to liberate themselves. The fact that in the region (?they are in the majority) is not a Serbian sin or shame; this is an advantage which they have not used against others, but I must say that here, in this big, legendary field of Kosovo, the Serbs have not used the advantage of being in a majority for their own benefit either.

Thanks to their leaders and politicians and their vassal mentality they felt guilty beforethemselves and others. Disunity among Serbian politicians made Serbia lag behind and the inferiority of those politicians humiliated Serbia.

This situation lasted for decades, it lasted for years and here we are now at the field of Kosovo to say that this is no longer the case. Therefore, no place in Serbia is better suited for saying this than the field of Kosovo and no place in Serbia is better suited than the field of Kosovo for saying that unity in Serbia will bring prosperity to the Serbian people [words indistinct] and each one of its citizens, irrespective of his national or religious affiliation.

Serbia of today is united and equal to other republics and should do everything to improve its financial and social position and that of all its citizens. If there is unity, co-operation and seriousness, it will succeed in doing so. This is why the optimism that is now present (?in all the republic these) days is realistic, also because it is based on freedom, which makes it possible for all people to express their positive, creative and humane abilities aimed at furthering social and personal life.

Serbia has never had only Serbs living in it. Today, moe than in the past, members of other peoples and nationalities also live in it. This is not a disadvantage for Serbia. I am truly convinced that it is its advantage. The national composition of almost all countries in the world today, particularly developed ones, has also been changing in this direction. Citizens of different nationalilties, religions and races have been living to gether more and more frequently and more and more successfully. Socialism in particular, being a progressive and just democratic society, should not allow people to be divided in the national and religious respect. The only differences one can and should allow in socialism are between hard working peole and idlers and between honest people and dishonest people. Therefore, all people in Serbia who live from their own work [words indistinct] respecting other people and other nations in their republic. After all, our entire country should be set up on the basis of such principles.

Yugoslavia is a multinational community and it can survive only under the conditions of full equality for all nations that live in it. The crisis that hit Yugoslavia has brought about national divisions, but also social, cultural, religious and many other less important ones. Among all these divisions, nationalist ones have shown themselves to be the most dramatic. Resolving them will make it easier to remove other divisions and mitigate the consequences they have created.

For as long as multinational communities have existed, their weak point has always been the relations between different nations. The threat that the question of one nation being endangered by the others can be posed one day and this can then start a wave of suspicions, accusations and intolerance, a wave that invariably grows and is difficult to stop has been hanging like a sword over their heads all the time. Internal and external enemies of such communities are aware of this and therefore they organise their activity against multina tional societies mostly by fomenting national conflicts. At this moment, we in Y ugoslavia are behaving as if we have never had such an experience and as if in our recent and distant past we have never experienced the worst tragedy of national conflicts that a society can experience and still survive.

Equal and harmonious relations among the Yugoslav peoples are a necessary condition for the existence of Yugoslavia and for it to find its way out of the crisis and, in particular, they are a conditions for its economic and social prosperity. In this respect Yugoslavia does not stand out from the social milieu of the contemporary, particularly the developed, world. This world is more and more marked by national tolerance, national co-operation and even national equality.

Modern economic and technological, as well as political and cultural development, has guided various peoples towards each other, has made them interdependent and increasingly and mutually equal [Serbo-Croat medjusobno ravnopravni]. Equal and united people can above all become a part of the civilisation towards which (?we are) moving. If we cannot be at the head of the column leading to such a civilisation, there is certainly no need for us to be at its tail.

At the time when this famous historical battle was fought in Kosovo, the people were looking at the stars, expecting aid from them. Now, six centuries later, they are looking at the stars again,(?waiting) to conquer them. On the first occasion, they could allow themselves not to be unified and to have hatred and treason because they lived in smaller, weakly interlinked (?worlds). Now, as people on this planet, they cannot conquer even their own planet if they are disunited, let alone other planets, unless they live in mutual harmony and solidarity.

Therefore words devoted to unity, solidarity and co-operation among people (?have no greater significance) anywhere on the soil of our homeland than they have here in the field of Kosovo, which is a symbol of disunity and treason. In the memory of the Serbian people, this disunity was decisive in causing the (?loss) of the battle and in bringing about the fate which Serbia suffered for a full six centuries. Even if it were not so from (?a historical) point of view, it remains certain that the people regarded disunity as its greatest disaster. Therefore, it is the obligation of the people to remove disunity, so that they may protect themselves from defeats, failures and stagnation in the future.

This year, the people in Serbia achieved [words indistinct] their mutual harmony as the indispensable condition for their present life and further development. I am convinced that this awareness of harmony and unity will make it possible for Serbia not only to function as a state, but to function as a successful state. Therefore I think that it makes sense to say this here in Kosovo, where that disunity is a tragic [words indistinct] and that renewed unity may advance it and may return dignity to it. [Words indistinct] constitutes an elementary necessity for Yugoslavia, too, for its fate is in the joined hands of all its peoples.

The Kosovo battle contains another great symbol. This is the symbol of heroism. Poems, dances, literature and history are devoted to it. The Kosovo heroism has been inspiring our creativity for six centuries [words indistinct] and does not allow us to forget that at one time we were [word indistinct] brave and [word indistinct], one of the few that entered the battle undefeated.

Six centuries later, now, (?we are engaged in) battles and (?quarrels). They are not armed battles, although such things cannot be excluded yet. However, regardless of what kind of (?battles) they are, they cannot be won without resolve, bravery and sacrifice, without the noble qualities that were present here in the field of Kosovo in the days past. Our chief battle now concerns implementing the economic, political, cultural and general social prosperity, finding a quicker and more successful approach to a civilisation in which people (?will enter the 21st century). For this battle, we certainly need heroism, of course, of a somewhat different kind, but that courage without which nothing serious (?and worthy) can be achieved remains unchanged and remains urgently necessary.

Six centuries ago, Serbia defended itself in the field of Kosovo, but it also defended Europe. Serbia was at that time the bastion that defended the European culture, religion and European society in general. Therefore, today it appears not only unjust, but even unhistorical and completely absurd to talk about Serbia's belonging to Europe. Serbia has been a part of Europe incessantly, now just as much as it was in the past, of course, in its own way, but in a way that in the historical snse never deprived it of dignity.

In this spirit we now endeavour to build society in an equal and democratic way, and thus to contribute to the prosperity of this beautiful country, this unjustly suffering country, but also to contribute to the efforts of all the progressive people of our age that they make for a better and happier world.

Six centuries ago, Serbia defended itself in the field of Kosovo, but it also defended Europe. Serbia was at that time the bastion that defended the European culture, religion and European society in general. Therefore, today it appears not only unjust, but even unhistorical and completely absurd to talk about Serbia's belonging to Europe. Serbia has been a part of Europe incessantly, now just as much as it was in the past, of course, in its own way, but in a way that in the historical sense never deprived it of dignity.

In this spirit we now endeavour to build society in an equal and democratic way, and thus to contribute to the prosperity of this beautiful country, this unjustly suffering country, but also tocontribute to the efforts of all the progressive people of our age that they make for a better and happier world.

g


[Note Tanjug reported (in Serbo-Croat 1300 gmt 28 Jun 89), that about 2,000,000 people had attended the Gazimestan rally.

The Federal delegation had included President of the SFRY Presidency Janez Drnovsek and several members of the Presidency; LCY Presidium President Milan Pancevski; SFRY Assembly President Slobodan Gligorijevic; FEC President Ante Markovic; Col-Gen Veljko Kadijevic, Federal Secretary for National Defence; Budimir Loncar, Federal Secretary for Foreign Affairs; Petar Gracanin, Federal Secretary for Internal Affairs, and Serbian LC President Bogdan Trifunovic. In the afternoon, Tanjug reported (in English 1854 gmt 28 Jun 89), Patriarch German had officiated at a requiem in memory of those who had fallen in the battle.]

Copyright 1989 The British Broadcasting Corporation  * Posted for Fair Use Only