BELGRADE, June 10. /TASS/. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization had no reason to attack Serbia in 1999, so there can be no excuse for that violent act of belligerence, Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic told a joint news conference with US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Mathew Palmer in Belgrade on Monday.
"NATO’s stance 20 years ago was absolutely unjustified. I believe there was no sufficient reason for aggression against Serbia. It claimed many human lives, destroyed our highway, railway and economic infrastructure and our political infrastructure as far as relations with Western countries go for decades after. I believe there was no justification for this. I believe that the Serbian people paid a price that they did not deserve. I hope that ten years down the road, those people who did this will be scrutinize this issue not from a geopolitical point of view, but from the standpoint of truth and the right of such a small people like the Serbs to life and living it," Vucic said in reply to media questions.
His statement followed Palmer’s own remark on the North Atlantic Alliance’s 1999 attack and his call addressed to the Serbs to look into the future.
"We understand how sensitive the issue of NATO’s intervention in Kosovo is for the people of Serbia. We of course regret the loss of life that was part of that intervention, but NATO made that decision for reasons that are entirely defensible. What we hope is that rather than looking back and seeking to re-litigate the past that we could encourage everybody to look forward," he said.
Vucic agreed with the need to think about the future.
"We should be focused on the future," Vucic said, adding that in his opinion on Serbia’s future implied a good relationship with the United States and that he would do his utmost to build a good relationship with that country. "We must make a distinction in our heads, we must be able to respect our past and ourselves, but most of all we must respect the future of our children and contemplate this," he said.
March 24, 2019 marked 20 years since NATO launched a campaign of armed aggression against Yugoslavia. The bombings were initiated without any greenlight from the UN Security Council. NATO claimed that it was allegedly preventing a genocide of Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian population was the main reason for the military strike codenamed Allied Force. According to NATO’s website during the operation that lasted 78 days, the alliance’s planes flew 38,000 sorties. More than 10,000 of them were bombing raids.
According to Western statistics published by Human Rights Watch, the bombardments left 500 civilians and about 1,000 military servicemen dead. According to Serbian sources, the bombing raids killed 2,000 civilians. Several hundred others went missing. About one thousand military servicemen were killed. Serbia’s military-industrial infrastructure was wiped out. A total of 1,500 communities, 60 bridges, 30% of schools and 100 monuments were destroyed. The material damage caused by the bombings is estimated at $30 billion to $100 billion. Some facilities have not been restored to this day. The bombardments of oil refineries and petrochemical plants polluted the country’s water system with toxic chemicals.
Some experts say that those areas of Serbia that were attacked with depleted uranium shells have experienced cancer epidemics.