News 18 Apr 12

Serbian ex-Chetniks Still Without Pensions

Eight years after the Serbian parliament adopted the Law rehabilitating the WW2 Chetnik movement, ex-fighters say they still cannot get pensions.

Marija Ristic
Mihailovic's Monument on Ravna Gora | Photo:Wikicommons

Former Serbian royalist Chetnik fighters in the Second World War complain that they are still not getting their war pensions in spite of the passage of a law that should have enabled them to get them.

The Law on the equalisation of Chetniks and Partisans, adopted in December 2004, ruled that both forces equally contributed to the fight against German occupation in the 1940s.  

The Commission for Veterans' Pensions, which decides who receives a pension, has received around 3,000 requests from ex-Chetniks so far.

But none has been approved, as some ex-Partisan of the members of the commission object strongly to the law.

The Yugoslav Partisans, led by Josip Tito, were essentially a Communist army, while the Chetniks, led by General Draza Mihailovic, were monarchists.

The two forces were bitter enemies during the Second World War, with the Partisans accusing the Chetniks of collaboration with the Germans. After the Communist takeover of Yugoslavia, the Chetniks were banned.

Of the seven members of the Veterans' Pensions Commission - three are from parliament and four are members of the Alliance of Associations of the National Liberation War Veterans of Serbia, SUBNOR, who all strongly oppose the idea of their former enemies receiving pensions.

Srdjan Sreckovic, president of the Chetnik Movement, says SUBNOR members still do not want to accept that both forces played an equal role in the anti-Fascist movement.

“None of the requests have been approved as they are constantly blocked by the SUBNOR.  It's clear there is no political will to solve this issue, so the authorities need to leave SUBNOR out of the picture, or ensure in other ways that the law is respected," Sreckovic said.

“It is good that the state had at least adopted the law and has verbally equalised both movements but it is a pity that these veterans are not receiving any money since they fought honourably during the war," he added.

"It would not cost the state much, since only a small number of them are requesting the pensions,” Sreckovic continued.

Representatives of SUBNOR, however, remain firm in their position that Chetniks were not part of the anti-Fascist movement in the 1940s, and cannot become so now.  

The Ministry for Labour and Social Care, which initiated the change of the Law in 2004, could enable payment of war pensions to Chetnik veterans without the permission of the Commission.

But as parliament will not hold any more sessions until the elections, any further changes to the law will have to await the formation of the new government after the general elections on May 6.

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