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1996-2001: 1989 Speech by Milosevic Wildly Distorted by Western Media

Slobodan Milosevic speaking in Kosovo on June 28, 1989, to commemorate the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo.Slobodan Milosevic speaking in Kosovo on June 28, 1989, to commemorate the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo. [Source: Tomislav Peternek/ Polaris] (click image to enlarge)Professor Gil White will point out in 2002 that Slobodan Milosevic’s 1989 speech in Kosovo in front of a huge crowd is consistently misrepresented as a call to ethnic war, when in fact it was the exact opposite—a call for racial tolerance and reconciliation. [Gil-White, 2/9/2002] In the speech itself, Milosevic said, “Equal and harmonious relations among Yugoslav peoples are a necessary condition for the existence of Yugoslavia… Serbia has never had only Serbs living in it. Today, more than in the past, members of other peoples and nationalities also live in it. This is not a disadvantage for Serbia. I am truly convinced that it is its advantage. The national composition of almost all countries in the world today, particularly developed ones, has also been changing in this direction. Citizens of different nationalilties, religions and races have been living together more and more frequently and more and more successfully… Yugoslavia is a multinational community and it can survive only under the conditions of full equality for all nations that live in it.” Milosevic ended the speech, saying “Long live peace and brotherhood among peoples!” [National Technical Information Service, 6/28/1989; BBC, 6/28/1989] In 1996, the New York Times describes this speech as follows: “In a fervent speech before a million Serbs, [Milosevic] galvanized the nationalist passions that two years later fueled the Balkan conflict” [New York Times, 7/28/1996] On the anniversary of the speech in 1998 the Washington Post reports, “Nine years ago today, Milosevic’s fiery speech [in Kosovo] to a million angry Serbs was a rallying cry for nationalism and boosted his popularity enough to make him the country’s uncontested leader.” [Washington Post, 7/29/1998] In 1999, the Economist described this as “a stirringly virulent nationalist speech.” [Economist, 6/5/1999] In 2001, Time Magazine reported that with this speech, “Milosevic whipped a million Serbs into a nationalist frenzy in the speech that capped his ascent to power.” [Time (Europe), 7/9/2001] Also in 2001, the BBC, which in 1989 provided the translation of Milosevic’s speech quoted above, claims that in 1989, “on the 600-year anniversary of the battle of Kosovo Polje, [Milosevic] gathered a million Serbs at the site of the battle to tell them to prepare for a new struggle.” [BBC, 4/1/2001] Richard Holbrooke repeats these misrepresentations in his 1999 book, referring to the speech as “racist” and “inflammatory.” Holbrooke even calls Milosevic a liar for denying the false accusations. [Holbrooke, 1999, pp. 29]

Entity Tags: Slobodan Milosevic, Richard Holbrooke

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