FRI, 25 MAR 1994 21:28:51 GMTThe Army of Yugoslavia (2)
Summary: what did the father of the killed soldier Djeric write to the General Staff and the lt. col. who, allegedly, exhumed the body of his son. The pilots killed in the planes shot down by Nato's "phantoms" - all from FRY. The main problem of the Army of Yugoslavia - poverty. The soldiers hungry, the officers with below the average earnings. Pressures on the budget to cover the needs of the Army of Yugoslavia. Scandal with Gen. Panic. Will the war in Bosnia escalate - and who will the military leadership of FRY then send to Bosnia?
The tragedy of the Djeric family which has had no idea about the fate of its son Srdjan Djeric from May last year - continues with the polemics in a part of the public. The leading pathologist of the Army of Yugoslavia, Lt.Col.Dr. Zoran Stankovic has denied the accusations that he had, as the expert who had exhumed Srdjan's reportedly (carbonized) body in any way taken part in this painful muddle, which has of late been assuming politicastering proportions. The General Staff in Belgrade does not want rumours of the possible crossing of its forces to Bosnia spreading too far. However, many unhappy families want to know the full truth. The father of soldier Srdjan Djeric , Miodrag S. Djeric, replied to Lt.Col. Stankovic, analysing his post-mortem: "Well, Stankovic, writes Mr. Djeric - you see what your post-mortem is based on. Pure assumptions: "impossible to determine", "it can be supposed" and "most probably". Why didn't you state the reasons why you couldn't determine the causes?"
Mr.Djeric goes on to put key questions, both to Lt.Col.Stankovic and the General-Staff. He writes: "If you didn't want to understand the reasons for which this family has its doubts, you shouldn't have interpreted the whole case as you have, without a single piece of evidence. Why do you, at all costs, want to turn the whole case in the wrong direction? Why do precisely you politicize everything? Wouldn't it have been simpler, after all the omissions that have been made, to satisfy the demands of the family Djeric and allow the exhumation, identification of the body that we had buried and thus dispel all doubts - both justified and unjustified. You should have understood that we, as parents, want to know whose grave we are visiting, for whom we light a candle and to whom, above whose head, we are erecting a monument. Maybe you know all that, but we don't. You said you were an atheist and did not believe in God. Maybe that is why you don't find this important, but it is important for us, the parents, for we are believers, as all other people" - concludes Mr.Djeric.
And the corpses of members of the Army of Yugoslavia - which officially is not at war - keep coming to Serbia and Montenegro from Bosnia. At dawn on February 28, four Serbian planes were downed above Bosnia, and three pilots killed on that occasion - one survived by "catapulting" from the aircraft. The "Montena" Press Agency from Podgorica determined their identities: pilots Lts. Pesic, Sisarica and Zaric. Lt. Zvezdan Pesic was born in Podgorica. The grief of his family is immesurable. The obituaries which were published in the daily papers confirmed the claims of "Montena". In spite of irrefutable evidence - Belgrade constantly "denies" this. The sending of soldiers, primarily from Serbia to Bosnia, is almost a public secret.
There is information that the military leadership in Belgrade has already created conditions for unburdening its budget by way of sending a number of its officers, of Croat and Bosnian descent - to the front there. It is believed that the three killed pilots were in this way tranferred to the Udbine airport, near Knin.
These days the Federal Parliament adopted a new budget - the amounts of money allocated for military purposes show that this is primarily a "war budget". Numerous facts show that the major part of that "war budget" is envisaged for the production of deficient ammo, spare parts but also for the purchase of food and somewhat higher salaries for officers. They are very dissatisfied.
In the "Army" of February 24, Col.Mento Mentovic, B.S, - head of the Nutrition Department of the Quartermaster Service of the Army of Yugoslavia writes that the "main problem in organizing food in YA is the lack of funds", and that if these resources are not provided from the budget "the quality of the diet will further deteriorate, as expert institutions and the Institute for Preventive Medicine of the Military Medical Centre in Belgrade have been warning ever more frequently". Col. Mentovic finally warns:"the caloric-biological value of the soldier's meal is today at the bottom level of tolerance and any further reduction would certainly affect the health of the soldier".
Because of their low salaries, many officers and their families ate at army messes so far. However, that has now been prohibited, due to new "rationalization". In addition to the conscripts, whose food, allegedly three meals a day, costs cca.2.2 new dinars ( currently DM 2.2), the right to free meals also have members of the Special Task Corps ("...on account of extra efforts their meals should have a greater caloric-biological values, so that special food supplements are envisaged for them"). Other professionals in the YA are not entitled to free of charge meals, except when on duty or military drill.
On the other hand, such poverty results in indiscipline, heavy drinking and frequent fights...The weekly "Monitor" already last spring wrote about these problems, corroborating its claims by the case of the then Commander of the 1st Army, Gen.Vladimir Stojanovic who one night barged into the infirmary of the "July 4th" barracks in Belgrade, in a state of heavy intoxication. On that occasion Gen.Stojanovic beat his subordinate officers, insulted the present nurses and threw up in the corridors of the hospital.
The greatest dissatisfaction, however, exists among the professional soldiers, which enter service under contract. The reason are low wages. Their presence in the units leads to conflicts and fights with the recruits, officers, quartermaster personnel, etc. According to the claims of the Chief of Staff of the Podgorica Corps, Col. Momcilo Damnjanovic "the disinterest is evident of a number of soldiers under contract in our Corps, because of which as many as 256 of them were dismissed last year". However, the reasons for the indiscipline in the YA can also be found in the lack of even a minimum of officer staff, especially highly educated staff. The former Chief of Staff of the Army of Yugoslavia, Gen.Zivota Panic had to step down because he was involved in a scandal concerning army purchases of enormous quantities of toilet paper and spoiled honey - the seller was his son's firm ("Kentaur"). Although this scandal was in the focus of public attention at the time, after Panic was "demobilized" everything was skillfully hushed up, naturally in a premeditated way, as attested to by a classified document of the State Commission (President - Defense Minister Pavle Bulatovic), which was formed in the first place to shed light on the case.
Now, in view of the growing uncertainty in connection with the war in Bosnia, the possibility arises of renewed, this time more massive, participation of the units of the Army of Yugoslavia in the war being waged there. The Belgrade weekly "NIN" recently wrote about the possibilities of pressure on the part of the military leadership from Belgrade on Pale, through their General Mladic, so that the war continue until the final defeat of the Bosnian Army. It goes without saying that such undertakings, if someone is planning them will require the so popular "live force". It is questionable, however, how many young people in Serbia and Montenegro are ready at the moment to die outside the borders of present Yugoslavia. The ideology of chauvinism and war is spreading the stench of war profiteering here, but such a policy, although we can still not speak about open resistance, has less and less followers.
Vladimir JOVANOVIC AIM Podgorica