On the 13th anniversary of the NATO bombing, the Belgrade authorities unveiled a memorial dedicated to all victims of war in the former Yugoslavia from 1990 until 1999.
Memorial dedicated to war victims and defenders of homeland Photo by Beta
Even though this was the first memorial dedicated to victims of wars in 1990s, a number of citizens, mostly families of victims, did not allow Belgrade’s mayor Dragan Djilas and the representatives of the army and the police to lay their wreaths.
The protesters at the memorial were objecting to the fact that the memorial does not name the victims. They also claimed that the authorities had given the victims and perpetrators equal status because the memorial is dedicated to “both victims and defenders of the homeland from 1990 to 1999.”
On Saturday, a number of remembrance ceremonies were held for victims of the NATO bombing across the country.
Serbian President Boris Tadic visited the Aleksinac memorial, where he paid homage to all those killed during the three months of NATO bombing in 1999.
“Unfortunately, we cannot bring back the dead, but we can keep the memory of them alive,” said Tadic.
Serbian President Boris Tadic honours war victims
Photo by Beta
Aleksinac, a town in central Serbia, was bombed several times by NATO in spring 1999. Over 24 inhabitants, mostly civilians, were killed and more than 600 buildings were destroyed.
Remembrance services were also held in Belgrade’s church of St Marko and on the Strazevica hill, where the first bomb was dropped.
The NATO bombing of Yugoslavia started on March 24 in 1999 and lasted for 11 weeks.
According to the official data of the Serbian authorities, between 1200 and 2500 people were killed.
The NATO action was the West’s response to the failure of the Rambouillet talks. Representatives of the EU, USA and Russia met in the French town of Rambouillet to mediate between the Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic and the representatives of the Kosovo Albanians to try to bring about the end of the conflict in Kosovo.
Previously, Milosevic had ordered the ethnic cleansing of Kosovo, through the expulsion of the ethnic Albanian population to Albania.
According to the Centre for Humanitarian Law, around 9,401 people were killed or went missing in Kosovo during the period of the NATO bombing.
The NATO bombing of Yugoslavia lasted until June 10 when the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1244, which enabled an international presence in Kosovo - UNMIK as the civil mission and KFOR as the military mission.
A day before, Milosevic signed a military agreement in the Macedonian town of Kumanovo, withdrawing all Yugoslav military forces from Kosovo and allowing the entrance of 36,000 international peacekeepers.
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