19 March, 14:59
Voice of Russia
Serbs are closely watching Crimea’s bid for independence and the way that the West has billed the referendum on republic’s secession from Ukraine as a breach of international laws, despite it following the precedent of Kosovo. Nebojsa Malic, a Serbian historian and foreign affairs expert who runs the R. Archibald Reiss Institute for Serbian Studies, believes that Russia had the right to invoke the Kosovo precedent that the self-serving West created by illegally separating the region from Serbia.
Obviously, the question that we have is the comparison and the parallels between Kosovo precedent and what happened in the Crimea, because even President Vladimir Putin earlier today said that “why can Kosovo do that and why can’t Crimea do that”.
So, what is you take on that? Why do you think the West is deeming this referendum illegal and says that these two cases have nothing in common?
The West doesn’t really have much track with principle. The only real principle they accept is who-whom, meaning that if they do something, that’s okay, if anybody else does it, it is not. To my mind the invocation of the Kosovo precedent, I do not infer that the Russian Government is approving of what the ethnic Albanians did in 2008, because, clearly, if they did, they would have recognized them by now, which they haven’t.
The separation of Kosovo was clearly illegal. Under the UN resolution 1244 the ethnic Albanians had no legitimacy to declare independence. And nonetheless, the US and NATO pressured the International Court of Justice and the judges in 2010 made a decision that people can declare independence, there is nothing in the international law against declaring independence if they can get away with it. Which was, according to the dissenting judges, that was the judicial sleight of hand, because the question before them was whether the provisional authority established under the UN had this authority, which it clearly didn’t.
So, instead the International Court of Justice ruled that declarations by themselves are not illegal. Clearly, there is a legal precedent. That is the precedent that Russia is invoking. If the world court had decided that declarations of independence by themselves, by the legitimate representatives of the people are not illegal, then what is the problem? And what happened in Crimea is you clearly had a popularly-elected legislature which called the referendum, over 85% of the people I believe turned out to vote, over 90% of those who turned out to vote voted in favour of independence. So, that should be a clear-cut situation.
But obviously, because it is the pro-Russian population doing this and Crimea is seeking to join Russia, that is unacceptable. But if it sought to set itself up as an independent state breaking away from Russia, for example, that would have been just fine as far as the West is concerned.
And why do you think it is happening this way? Why do we see such explicit double standards?
The West, which has always been preaching for democratic values is now basically defying these values, because what we have seen last Sunday was a pure and vigorous demonstration of what democracy actually is.
Well, as I said, democracy is whatever they say it means. They’ve been defying their own democratic standards for years. And in 2007 the British observer commenting on the elections in Serbia said – it is fascinating, the EU’s just said that basically whoever they designate as a democrat will be a democrat and the elections will be democratic only if they are won by people that the EU and the US want to win. So, really, this has been going on for years. It is not something that’s happened just yesterday or today.
If you go in and want to dismantle the Soviet Union or Yugoslavia, we say – well, self-determination, human rights. But then, when you have populations within those newly-carved-up states that don’t want to live in those states because they are in danger, they are threatened, like the Serbs in Croatia or in Bosnia, then they don’t have the right to secede because – my god, the borders are sacrosanct.
Of all the legacies of communism that the West had denounced the borders drawn up by the commissars, whether Stalin in the Soviet Union or Khrushchev, or Tito in Yugoslavia, they are the only thing that the West has been defending. Why? There is no point to this. There is no rhyme or reason. They are defending the legacy of the commissars, because it is in their interests to have these states carved up in such a fashion.
Do you think that Washington is basically supporting Nazis and terrorists in this case?
I’m hard-pressed to find a better term to describe the Right Sector and Svoboda in Ukraine, than the neo-Nazis. I believe the term neo-Nazis fits them. They behave like it, they have the symbols, they extol the legacy of Stepan Bandera, who was a known collaborator and ally of Hitler, whose forces have committed heinous crimes against Poles, and Jews, and Russians. And I honestly don’t know what is the better term.
As far as supporting other Nazis, you had the situation in Croatia in the 1990’s where the Croatian government was in a similar fashion bringing back the legacy of the 1940’s and the pro-Nazi Croatian state. And the US backed them in the war against the Serbs, which resulted in almost complete disappearance of Serbs from the present day Croatia.
You have the situation in which the US supported al-Qaeda in Syria. You had the situation in which they’ve supported the Islamic terrorists in Bosnia. There is the US ambassador who after the war said we know exactly how many terrorists are in Bosnia and where, and we don’t mind, we want them here.
So, yes, the US has actually supported the Islamic terrorism and the neo-Nazis, as long as these things are perceived to be serving their interests, whether it is in Ukraine or Yugoslavia.
And what do you think the future actually holds for Crimea? Because the US and President Obama have made it explicitly clear that they are not going to support or recognize independence or annexation to Russia. What do you think will happen in the future?
It is very-very difficult to predict what might happen. I know that as far as facts on the ground are concerned, there is not a whole lot that the US or NATO, or even the self-proclaimed Ukrainian government currently in place can do. I mean, everything has been legally arranged. I believe that today the treaty of accession of Crimea to the Russian Federation has been signed and should be ratified fairly soon, I believe, I don’t see any obstacles to it.
What exactly are they proposing to do? Do they want to fight a war with Russia? I don’t think so. Trade sanctions will be far more hurtful to the EU and to some extent the US, than they would be to Russia itself. I honestly don’t know what their endgame is. If their endgame is to march on Moscow and recreate the Maidan revolution there, and set up another Yeltsin regime – I don’t think that is going to be doable, I don’t expect the Russian people to just take that sitting down and not resisting. They are thoroughly mistaken.