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          • Year: 2002
          • Civil-Military Features of the FRY

          • 18. november 2002. - Occasional paper No.4 Dr Miroslav Hadžić, Faculty of Political Sciences Belgrade / Centre for Civil-Military Relations


          The direction of the profiling of civilian military relations in Serbia/FR Yugoslavia1 is determined by the situational circumstances and policies of the participants of different backgrounds and uneven strength. The present processes however, are the direct product of consequence of the disparate action of parties from the Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS) coalition, which have ruled the local political scene since the ousting of Milošević. It was their mediation that introduced the war and authoritarian heritage to the political scene, making it an obstacle for changing the encountered civil-military relations. The ongoing disputes within the DOS decrease, but also conceal the fundamental reasons for the lack of pro-democratic intervention of the new authorities in the civil-military domain. Numerous military and police incidents and affairs that have marked the post-October period in Serbia testify to this account.2

          The incidents were used for political confrontation within the DOS instead as reasons for reform. This is why disputes regarding the statues of the military, police and secret services, as well as control of them have been reduced to the personal and/or political conflict between FRY President Vojislav Koštunica and Serbian Premier Zoran Djindjić.3 However, the analysis of the "personal equation" of the most powerful DOS leaders may reveal only differences in their political shade and intonation, but cannot reveal the fundamental reasons why Serbia has remained on the foundations of Milošević’s system. This is why the achievements of the changes started on 5 October 2000 (Hadžić, 2001a) should be reassessed. This however requires a brief reflection of the political background and being of the DOS, i.e. the parties gathered in it, until recently.4

          The opposition parties in Serbia were created in the 1980s on the ruins of self-management socialism. Anti-communism was thus their first basis and characteristic. As soon as the fundamental crisis of the second Yugoslavia was placed in the ethnic-religious frame by the will of the then national-republic elites (Banac, 1998), most of these parties sided with the fighters for the unification of all the Serbs in one state, even by force if necessary. This was the crucial reason for their interest-directed, ideological and war cooperation with Milošević’s regime (Stojanović, 2000). Since it supported all of Milošević’s wars, the opposition became the permanent prisoner of his daily needs. This is why they could not autonomously force changes in Milošević’s politics, let alone oust him. On the other hand Milošević yielded only under the pressure of the defeats of Serb armies or his poor political judgments.5 In the meantime the leaders of the opposition struggled more among themselves than they aspired to oust Milošević. It is no surprise that the DOS became operative only two months before the elections, even though the coalition was founded in January 2000.

          The pre-election tactics of the DOS clearly implied limits of the announced future reforms. The main goal was, quite justified, to depose Milošević. However, the offered program for changing the system suffered from generalization and easily given promises. Since the military and police generals had announced ahead of the elections that they would defend the regime by force, in the name of defending the constitutional order, the DOS engaged in preventing a possible internal war. This is why it strived to widen the anti-regime front with the help of Otpor and non-government organizations. The dispersion of civic resistance was aimed at preventing the concentration of the army and police in Belgrade. At the same time the DOS leaders tried to win over the special police and military units, sensing dissatisfaction of most of the soldiers and policemen, or at least convince them to remain neutral in the event that Milošević refuses to hand over his authority peacefully.

          After Milošević was ousted key DOS deficiencies in the civil-military sphere became apparent. It was immediately confirmed that they did not have a program, but also not enough political will for the reform of the security sector and armed forces. The postponement of this reform was originally justified using the need for the DOS to make its authority official in Serbia through elections (December 2000), and later in preventing the KLA from spilling over into southern Serbia. Another reason was the need to first redefine the state union of Serbia and Montenegro. The hidden reasons for the DOS lack of commitment can only be assumed. It remains unknown whether and to what extent some of the DOS leaders became captives of secret agreements arranged with generals in the even of Milošević's ousting.6 All these reasons however, become secondary when placed in the context of the changes in the political system that have (not) been carried out.

          After almost two years it is apparent that Serbia/FRY has not achieved a radical change of order. The bearers of authority, political wording and symbols of legitimization have been replaced, but the ruling mechanisms of the old regime have remained. The constitutional and institutional arrangements have not been changed, and the old constitutions of the FRY, Serbia, Montenegro, even though mutually colliding, are still in effect. The principle of separation of powers is still only a constitutional proclamation, and all the power is in the hands of the supreme executive authority. Since political power is not returned to the federal and republic parliaments, they serve only for legalizing the decisions adopted outside the system - the cabinet of the FRY President, DOS Presidency, Milo Djukanović’s surroundings. The federal authority was also derogated during Milošević’s era with Montenegro unilaterally backing out of the constitutional order. The nominal sovereignty of the FRY was additionally narrowed by NATO’s protectorate in Kosovo. Not one government has full jurisdiction in its domain: the Federal Government is not competent in Montenegro and Kosovo, Kosovo is outside the jurisdiction of the Serbian Government, and the Montenegrin Government is restricted by the presence of the Yugoslav Army on its territory.

          Therefore, the provisional state is in effect, which will not be quickly or easily abolished, because the conflicted parties have the maximal state demands in the play play. They are held together only by the desire of the US and EU striving to prevent the annulment of the results of their previous, poor handling of the Yu-crisis and wars (Hadzić, 2001b) and therefore trying to preserve any kind of state frame. Namely, it is their decisiveness to stop further export of the crisis to the region. This is why the FRY does not exist as a single security space nor does it have a complete and effective security system. This is supported by the fact that the new authorities have not defined the basis of a new national security policy, let alone security strategies that would derive the defense strategy and military doctrine.7 In line with this fact, there is no state plan for the reform of the inherited military. For the same reasons only personnel and organizational changes have taken place in the police and republic security services.

          At the same time, there are different armed forces formations in the FRY existing in parallel and acting independently. The federal state has the army and its secret services at its disposal, but not a police force. Serbia has its own police and Security and Information Agency (BIA), as does Montenegro.8 There is no proof that the services have been demilitarized, since Milošević developed them as an internal army, and Djukanović developed them as the core of the future army for a possible secessionist war. The antiterrorist units exist in the military as well as in the police forces of both republics, and A new armed force has been created from it in Serbia - the gendarmerie. Let us mention that the federal authorities are not even authorized to coordinate the work of these formations. Also, the chain of civil command is not precisely prescribed, and the VJ is de facto in jurisdiction only of the FRY President, and not the Supreme Defense Council (VSO). This chain also excludes the Federal Ministry of Defense, which serves only as a logistics service for the VJ General Staff. The Ministry is actually a replica of the personnel of the General Staff, since key positions are held by generals and high-ranking officers. The new authorities have also not activated the constitutional mechanisms for establishing at least parliamentary control of the Army, police and secret services. This is why these formations are still under the control of the ruling parties and/or their leaders, thus retaining the client status. The Army and its secret services are nominally controlled by Koštunica, Djindjić controls the police and BIA in Serbia, and Djukanović controls the forces in Montenegro. The situation is additionally made more complicated by the fact that there is no public records of the status and fate of numerous paramilitary units that were created in the FRY during the Yu-wars.

          The difficult beginning of transition in Serbia may be properly understood within the given socio-political environment. This is however, marked first by the war origin and second, by the socialist background of the state and armed forces. This is why Serbia must first step OUT from the war and socialism, understood as the means of producing a surplus of power (Puhovski, 1990), so that it may leave the Milošević era behind. This is even more urgent because the Yu-socialism was the foundation for the wartime destruction of Yugoslavia, and followed by the cloning of authoritarian systems in the newly-created stateS. And the DOS avoided the radical parting with the old regime precisely on the issue of war. It thus missed the opportunity to seize sufficient power, along with authority, to carry out the structural reform of society. This allowed for parts of the military and police and former political elites, as well as their criminal derivatives, to maintain most of their power and use it to hamper change. This is backed by the fact that the new government is not willing enough to prosecute those responsible for wars and war crimes. For this reason the different opponents of reform in Serbia/FRY are ultimately held together by the "Hague connection."

          The war channel brought and developed the authoritarian heritage of Serbia and the two previous Yugoslavias on the local level. Their applicability increased with the increase of Serb displeasure with their state status and the consequential attempts to achieve the maximal national (state) goals. The army and Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) were always the main executors in these desires (Bjelajac, 1994). Their political strength grew in line with this. This is why the Serbian armies returned to the Orthodox faith in the Yu-wars not only caused by the need to better motivate the troops for war, but also because of the desire of the generals and clerics to restore and/or improve their political strength.9 In return the generals were allowed to keep the old model of indoctrination in the subordinate armies, and now they replaced the socialist ideology by the national-religious one. In this "process", the militarization of politics and public life was only a byproduct the war. Serious consequences were derived from the revival of the mythic status of the military and church, based on which its leaderships meddle in politics and social processes. Because of the enduring lack of democratic tradition and infrastructure this has always led to the military (and church) abuse of politics in Serbia, but also the political abuse of the military (and church, i.e. faith).10


          The "Pavković" Affair

          General Nebojša Pavković, VJ chief-of-staff, was retired by the decree issued by President Koštunica on 24 June, 2002.11 The public perception of this event was determined by a number of facts. The VSO members, Djukanović from Montenegro and Milutinović from Serbia had previously twice refused Koštunica’s request to dismiss Pavković. Koštunica had then exercised his constitutional right, even though he had refused the same demands coming from the public and coalition partners.12 The remaining DOS, led by the Democratic Party (DS), immediately rushed to take advantage by accusing Koštunica and his cabinet of abusing the VJ. Additional arguments were provided by Pavković who claimed that Koštunica had ordered the Army to raid the Serbian Government Information Bureau.13 The entire accusation rested on the claim that Koštunica had previously submitted the military security service to himself (and his cabinet). Since the Federal Parliament refused to form an Inquiring Committee that would verify these claims, the DOS formed a committee through the Serbian Parliament. Three retired generals confirmed Pavković’s statement, while Koštunica and his associates refused to appear before the Committee. Later the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) accused Pavković of financial and housing misuse.14 However, the entire affair was soon marginalized on account of the DSS mandates in the Serbian Parliament being revoked and the upcoming presidential elections.

          Owing to the media the "Pavković Affair" was first interpreted as the consequence of the personal conflict between the FRY President and his subordinate general. Even though Koštunica avoided the personal tone in passing the decree15 Pavković backed this thesis in his later statements. At the same time he portrayed himself as a honorable officer who had fallen out of favor with Koštunica because of resisting the abuse of the Army. Pavković even tried, unsuccessfully, to challenge the legality of the decree before the FRY Constitutional Court and Supreme Military Court.

          The entire affair definitely had a personal dimension. Pavković was motivated to maintain his position for a number of reasons. It gave him discretionary power in the army, which seems to be the reason for his personal wealth. He also used the position to "launder" his biography, and thus courted the public, but also publicly courted Koštunica.16 The aim was to simultaneously repress his wartime and political service to Milošević, and express full loyalty to the new authorities.17 This might be the explanation for his verbal agility in reorganizing the VJ, which Koštunica had presented to the public as its structural reform.18 Above all Pavković had perhaps secretly hoped that his position would protect him from possible criminal prosecution for the political abuse of the Army, i.e. the suspicion that war crimes were committed under its protection in Kosovo.

          The personal motives of President Koštunica are only speculated. Since the reform of the military was not his priority it seems that he looked upon Pavković as a compulsory and interim solution. He probably expected him to provide the army’s obedience to the new authorities. It is not excluded that the President soon discovered the Army’s potential as an instrument. Even more so, since it seems that he had realized too late that in the post-October distribution of power he received a decorative role,19 while Djindjić had seized the central levers of power through the Serbian Government. However, it is difficult to determine when Koštunica absorbed the role of sovereign military commander, and that he had started to get annoyed with any Pavković’s possible disobedience, i.e. when Koštunica had sought support in the military security department and its head, General Aco Tomić.20

          Actions by the DOS factions soon placed the "Pavković¦" affair on the political scene, where it belongs. This affair is a common point, but also the point of crystallization of the achievements and mishaps of the new authorities. It reveals the basic program and political shortcomings of the DOS. On this occasion it was confirmed that the Serbian reform has been postponed on account of the struggles of the DOS factions for the redistribution of power. At the same time a doubt was cast on the innate classification of legalists (Koštunica and the DSS) and pragmatic reformists (Djindjić and DS). The affair also revealed the reformist limitations of the other political players in Serbia and Montenegro.

          Even though they portrayed themselves as legalists, the DSS and Koštunica have so far not objected the "constitutional holes" that are occupied by the VJ and VSO (Hadžić, 2001c). This is showN by the fact that they have never initiated the procedure in the Federal or Serbian Parliament for the democratic reorganization of the status of the military and civil-military sphere. They have also failed to place the VSO and FRY President under the control of the Federal Parliament. The President has so far not even found it appropriate to submit a report to the Parliament on his work or the situation in the VJ. On the contrary, it seems that HE has passed part of his authority over the Army over to his advisors, which he is not authorised to do.

          There is also no evidence that Koštunica was bothered by the lack of security and defense strategy, as well as military doctrine without which the reform of the VJ is impossible. Instead the "clericalization" was started, with his approval or his tacit consent,21 contrary to the Constitution and without the approval of Parliament. This is why at the recent Ascension-day procession (14 June, Belgrade’s feast day), as well as during the transfer of the remains of knez Lazar (Lazarica church, Kruševac, 28 June - St. Vitus’ Day) cadets and young officers carried the remains, icons, gonfalons and crosses, even though this is not listed as their legal obligation.22

          Additionally the President successfully kept Army away from the public, and the citizens of the FRY still do not know how large it is, how well it is armed and whom it serves. Primarily the public, as well as the DOS partners have been and still are prohibited from entering the zone of personnel. In any case, discretionary right regarding personnel is the essence of every authority, including Koštunica’s. He regularly dictated lists of promoted and dismissed generals/admirals, but avoided stating what criterion was being applied in deciding which general to place on which list and when. In this respect General Pavković is a symbol which marks the beginning and the end of Koštunica's achievements so far. This is why it is worth recalling why he has remained at the helm of the Army for such a long time.

          Until the moment that he passed the decree Koštunica claimed that (1) Pavković’s dismissal would jeopardize the stability of the complex and sensitive military system, (2) Pavković is necessary because he is the creator, executor and guarantor of the VJ reforms, and that (3) Pavković’s dismissal would reflect poorly on the Army’s morale.

          However, the first argument was dismissed by the notorious fact that because of its organization the army cannot and must not depend on any individual. Therefore the principle of substitutability is completely implemented; this implying that there is no one indispensable in the army. For example, if any commander is killed or retired, including the chief-of-staff, the chain of command always includes a sufficient number of those (deputy, department chief, operative, assistant) that are trained to immediately take over his duties.

          The second argument failed because the VJ cannot be reformed without a clear national security strategy, but also without a state plan for its transformation, which sets the goals, costs, executors and means of control. Both these preconditions are in the jurisdiction of the Federal Parliament and Federal Government. Since these documents have not been adopted, it is not plain which program Pavković was using in allegedly reforming the Army.

          It serves no purpose to discuss the third reason, since no one, not even Koštunica had assessed how poorly Pavković’s lingering influenced the Army’s morale, i.e. one would have equal rights to claim that after October 5 most of the officers awaited changes, and that they were not pleased to see Milošević’s generals remain in key position.

          President Koštunica and his DSS would have definitely not achieved this without immense aid of their partners and competitors. This list of most deserving is topped by the cofounders of the DOS.

          Up until the "Perišić Affair" this part of the DOS, led by the DS and Djindjić was silent in public and in Parliament on the topic of the necessity for VJ reforms.23 It was only this affair that urged them to organize the urgent drafting and adoption of the Law on FRY Security Services, through which they primarily wanted to place the military services under parliamentary control.24 They also did not try to urge the Serbian or Federal parliament to place the VJ under their control, despite these facts that only Serbia was financing the army, and that only the (reduced) Serbia was in the actual domain of the Army. Even with the justified preoccupation of the Government with the difficult socio-economic restructuring of the Serbian society, it seems that its reluctance towards reforms of the Army was politically motivated. The impression is that the remaining DOS took the ‘high stand’ after October 5, and left Koštunica to ‘wade in’ regarding the Army, hoping that sooner or later DOS would have political (and electoral) benefits.

          A similar position on the Army was assumed by the Montenegrin authorities and President Djukanović following October 5. This is all the more strange, since they had previously wailed that the VJ was threatening democracy, which was a false pretense for gaining state independence. Djukanović’s abstinence, through which he apparently tried to avoid a conflict with the DOS and the Army during the local games regarding the independence referendum, could be interpreted as tactics. The true reason for the silence of the Montenegrin leadership seems to be derived from the fear that their demand for the VJ reform could raise the issue in Montenegro of demilitarization of the local police and security service. This in turn could lead to the reform and democratic civilian control of these forces, which would jeopardize the monopoly of the DPS and Djukanović over them.

          There is not enough evidence that the Army was within the field of view of the expert (economic) part of the Federal and Serbian government. Despite the fact that it is the greatest beneficiary from the federal budget, which is created exclusively from funds collected in Serbia. The experts have so far been satisfied with trimming the part of the budget allocated for the defense and Army. However, there is no information that they have started controlling the way in which it is spent. It is difficult to claim, but this should not be dismissed, that their restraint has also been motivated by the desire to avoid a (premature) conflict with the DSS leadership, the remaining DOS and VJ. This is more so since most of the experts are from the G17 Plus circle, which even though it is a non-government organization has announced that it would transform into a political party in order to join the electoral struggle for power.25

          Milošević’s epigones, assembled in the Together for Yugoslavia coalition have drawn direct gain from the DOS’ understatements. The victory in the Federal parliamentary elections in Montenegro, which only they participated in, placed them on important federal positions, from which they can only exercise their power over Serbia and its citizens.26 This has in return helped them improve their standings in their home republic. By trading in the ‘control package’ of votes in the Federal Parliament they were able to prevent, postpone and/or dilute the DOS efforts to break with the old regime.27 This then wholeheartedly took advantage of the DOS fragmentation and became a crucial partner to both sides - whoever gives more. This is why the people of the FRY and VJ officers have so far not had any benefit of the Socialist People’s Party (SNP) apparatchik as Federal Defense Minister.

          Thus the achievements of the DOS and its partners is a short list of mostly secondary regarding the Army and its environment:

          • military service has been reduced to 9 months, and civilian service to 13 months, and only under pressure by civilian society;28
          • an internal VSO decision changed the organization-formation structure of the Army: the commands of the armies, Navy, Air Force and Air Defense were abolished, and nine corpses were formed, directly controlled by the VJ General Staff;
          • in the spring of 2002 the General Staff announced the reduction of the VJ troops, in the first phase from 105,000 to 80,000, and 65,000 in the second phase. It is most likely a move that is to prove that the General Staff is prepared for reforms, because it seems that the reduction was achieved by eliminating units that only existed in wartime and mobilization plans, as well as eliminating vacant formation posts. This is supported by the fact that there was no explanation to what happened to 25,000 people, that were allegedly left without a job (duties);
          • the abolishing of the branch military academies, and founding a single military academy;
          • in late 2000 and 2001 the Federal Parliament adopted the reduction of the military budget,29 but there is still no evidence that the competent parliamentary committees have checked the manner of their utilization;
          • the General Staff accounting center has been transferred to the Ministry of Defense, therefore it nominally allocates and controls the military budget;30
          • the General Staff publicly stated that it has created a list of surplus military facilities that are for sale;31
          • the Army Inspector is subordinate to the Supreme Defense Council and renamed the Defense inspection;32
          • a number of generals was retired and promoted by decrees of the FRY President between 2000 and 2002, gradually the staff of the high commands and departments was replaced, but no the General Staff leadership;33
          • after October 5 it has become customary for the Defense Minister to be a civilian;34
          • the heads of the Ministry of Defense have on a number of occasions publicly showed their devotion to the democratic control of the military.35 The General Staff was also not far behind, USING EXCESSIVELY the syntagma "civilian control of military."36
          • The Federal Government officially initiated the procedure for FRY membership in the Partnership for Peace;37
          • General Pavković was retired by presidential decree, deputy chief-of-staff General Branko Krga is appointed acting chief-of staff;38 and
          • the federal Parliament adopted the Law on FRY Security Services39, placing the Military Security Department, Military Intelligence Service, Federal Foreign Ministry Information and Documentation Service and the Federal Foreign Ministry Security Service under the control of the Federal Parliament and Federal Government.40

          The first beneficiaries of the confusion of the new authorities were General Pavković and his associates. Having avoided being replaced, by Koštunica’s will, they consolidated their positions. Everything was directed towards suppressing the fact that they were prepared to use force against the people on October 5.41 Pavković has given a number of statements to the media for his purpose, without refraining from political intonation. There is no proof that Koštunica had prohibited Pavković and the other generals then, or later from speaking publicly, especially on political issues.

          Pavković then moved to the next phase of the struggle to remain in power, with the support of his associates of course. Using the lack of clear directions for redesigning the Army he started publicly courting the President. It was the old game of the skilled generals guessing what the new "boss" is planning and likes, since he is silent.42 It may certainly only be guessed how and to what extent the "Broz arsenal" was applied in gaining the President’s confidence. It is no surprise then that the President had not minded the inherited head of the military cabinet, his key link with the Army, and replaced him after seven or eight months. By mutual desire, the President was also placed under the security-intelligence protection of the Army, but also its surveillance, we would say.

          During 2001 key processes between the Army and DOS advanced in two directions. After the FRY joined international organizations topics of cooperation with NATO and participation in the Partnership for Peace ceased to be dangerous. This offered the generals the opportunity to prove their devotion to the new course, and they took part in many conferences or even organized them themselves on such topics.43 On the other hand the generals publicly claimed that they are determined to change the VJ. They noisily announced the reorganization, modernization and reduced VJ numbers as the introduction to its future professionalization. This issue passed on to 2002, when the abolishment of strategic command took place, and a shift was made towards the corps organization.

          However, the attention of the public and DOS factions was on the incidents that were caused by Milošević’s arrest, the discovery of mass graves, and finally the uprising of the ‘Red Berets’. In the first incident a clash between the police and Army was narrowly avoided. Then Pavković and Serbia Interior Minister Mihajlović publicly exchanged accusations over the mass graves. On top of everything, during the operation of reentering the Ground Safer Zone the VJ chief-of-staff publicly collided with Nebojša Čović, head of the Coordination team for Kosovo.44 Despite this fact, Koštunica did not react to Pavković’s behavior in any of these situations. In a relatively normal country a general would be suspended for politically tinted acts, if not sacked.

          Today information is emerging that at the time a struggle was taking place behind the scene, in cabinets, military and civilian, for control of the military security service.45 It is difficult to determine whether Pavković had, if ever, offered his loyalty to the other DOS faction. It is apparent only that from the 4th VSO session (December 2001) until his dismissal he was leading a public campaign for remaining in power.

          Summarized, it is easily deduced that Pavković was taking advantage of the maneuvering space that the DOS leaders had left him. It is a fact that the VJ and General Staff had yielded to the new authorities and entered its competence between October 5 and 6, without firing a single shot. It is precisely for this reason that Koštunica, Djindjić and his partners from the remaining DOS are fully responsible for the acts of Pavković and Army, and let us add the Serbian police.

          The mentioned incidents show that the DOS leaders do not have full control of the VJ and police, i.e. their special units. These are additional reasons to suspect the governing capability of the new persons in power. Events show that they have not even managed to protect themselves and their authority. It seems that, swept by the loyalty of Milošević’s generals, they hurried to use the Army, secret services and special units for their political purposes and/or settling accounts with their political opponents. They forgot that the same services may (again) be used against them.

          This is why after Milošević, only the sources, type and degree of security risk have changed in Serbia, and that there has been no improvement in the personal and collective safety of the citizens. The possibility of Serbia being the origin of war cries has almost completely been eliminated, as well as the threat of a new military intervention by foreign forces. However, because of the postponed reform and unfinished breakdown of the old regime the formation phase has been extended, thus increasing the number of internal security risks. In addition, even though the DOS factions have gained power, it is apparent that they still do not have enough authority for the reform modernization of Serbia, especially since no one has assessed the economic, political destructive and killing power of the war and crime lobby in Serbia. Let us add that the authority, which the DOS leaders have gained individually or collectively, has become a goal of its own, and serves for maintaining of increasing itself. The ultimate consequence is the risk increase and price that the citizens pay for the ongoing instrumentation of the Army, police and secret services, since in the possible increase of the internal crisis these formations can turn on the DOS, but also become carry the restoration of the old regime or protagonists of monarchist, national-clerical involution of the Serbian society. This boosts the impression that in the tasks left by previous history, for the modernization, are increasingly surpassing the determination, comprehension and managerial capabilities of the DOS leaders. It seems that they will enter history if they at least create reliable preconditions for the future democratic transformation of Serbia, and thus irrevocably eliminate war from it.

          From this point of view the "Pavković affair" could potentially bring a significant benefit to the people of Serbia, Army officers and new authorities. For the first time in the modern history of Serbia/FRY the dismissal of the VJ chief-of-staff was a public affair. It is also the first time that a general had disputed the order of a civilian commander. The public was also informed that the case instigators, opposite to national-patriotic rhetoric, were led by their narrow personal, group and/or partisan interests. Above all, public statements that the Army is not immune to corruption, financial and other abuse has etched the surface of the idealized depiction of its purity.

          Far more important is that on this occasion two key issues have reached the public: the reform of the army and democratic civil control over it. The opinion that the inherited army should be reformed is increasingly present in the public, and that in this respect first the generals that Milošević chose and appointed should be dismissed. This is also encouraged by the increasingly frequent public address of the issue of FRY membership in the PfP, with the dominating awareness that this includes the radical reform of the Army. At the same time it seems that the public is additionally familiarized with the idea and concept of democratic civil control of the military. It is not excluded that the same idea started circulating within the army, and that professional soldiers could soon discover the benefits that are to be gained from such control of the VJ. It look as if that the DOS factions have finally understood that only by installing procedures and instruments for democratic control of armed forces they can at least reduce the chances that their rivals might use them. It is not possible to estimate the potential long-term civilization benefits definitely are out of reach, which the Serbian society could attain through the started dethroning and de-tabooing of the Army.


          Comparative review

          The summary review of the ex-socialist countries in central, eastern and southeastern Europe shows that they have an identical or similar civil-military tradition. There were however significant differences between them before they joined socialism. Their systems were unevenly (not) democratic, thus their armies had different statuses and political power. The fortune of these states and armies during the Second World War was also different. The victorious states and armies, members of the antifascist coalition (USSR, FNRJ, and NR Albania) faced the defeated ones. The new set of differences was caused by different forms of socialism installed. It was clearly differentiated between the authentic (native) and imported (imposed) socialism. This is why the armies had different loyalties to socialism. The historical irony in the case of Yugoslavia showed that the original, practically of interest, link between the political elite and military in socialism later became the main obstacle for the successful release from it.

          Despite the concrete differences, the civil-military relations in these states were modeled after the same ideal (Rice, 1991). The uniformity was the consequence of the application of the soviet model of a partisan army. In any case this resulted from the model of a partisan state, i.e. the total party power over society. Lesser deviations emerged in the second Yugoslavia, after the clash with Stalin (1948). However, the ideology and facade of the self-management concealed the weaker version of bolshevist socialism. In it the primary task of the army (JNA) was the external, but even more so the internal safeguarding of socialism. For this purpose the JNA was enveloped by a network of party cells, and its members were under the attentive care of the military security service, which acted as a classic political police. This is why its preparedness was primarily evaluated by ideological criteria, i.e. its acclaimed loyalty to the Leader and Idea.

          However, the crucial differences in this group were created with the fall of socialism. In the countries of the former socialist lager the apparatus of state force, the army, police and secret services, bowed to the new authorities willingly and without fuss. This is why their channeling towards new needs, regardless of how difficult, did not jeopardize the reform of the native society at any moment. Even the restructuring of complex states, the USSR and Czechoslovakia, took place peacefully, and the armies were divided by agreement. When these ex- socialist countries joined the Euro-Atlantic security systems processes of military transformation and establishing of democratic civil control of them practically became irreversible (Cottey, Edmunds, Forster, 2002).

          In contrast, the JNA willingly joined the wartime breakup of its own state. The swift JNA involvement in the war was crucial for its future nature and marked its range. The early siding of the general-rank leadership with Milošević urged and justified the all-round use of armed force. The JNA also yielded the cores of the mutually enemy armies. It is increasingly certain that the Yu-wars developed into a ten-year ethnocide thanks to the initial abuse of the JNA by the generals (Hadžić, 2002). To make things worse, secret services programmed, produced, dosed and negotiated the results of the wars, while hiding behind the national leaders, but under their warrant. And all this under the watchful care and mediation of the authorized and unauthorized foreign interferers - the US, EU members and NATO.

          The futility of the war breakup of the second Yugoslavia became apparent by the installment of authoritarian regimes in the newly-crated states. The power of the Caesar-type regimes in the central states of Yu-origin (the FRY, Croatia and BiH) was based on the war conjunction of the nationalist and military and police elites (Danopulos, Zirker, 1995). Being cloned from the communist matrix, these regimes maintained the characteristics of a partisan state and its fitting, client armed forces, up to the moment of their implosion collapse or submission of the new authorities. For these reasons the citizens of these states were easily held politically and psychologically in the field of war even after the end of the individual wars. By postponing the end of the war the chance for the rapid (pro)democratic change of their societies was eliminated. This is more so since the Yu-wars were basically a form of group escape from the social-economic expenses of ending socialism, even though the desire to abandon it was used to justify the wars. Ten years later the order is changed: abandoning socialism required the previous and irreversible end of war. The war cannot be closed until the mechanisms of authoritarianism remaining in these states for the regime of the second Yugoslavia are disassembled. This undertaking raises the price of the wars several times, and the same tasks must now be completed under much worse economic, social and political circumstances.

          The war background excludes the central Yu-states from the trans-socialist makeover of the countries of central, eastern and southeastern Europe. This background also makes their comparison difficult or impossible, more so since in the former Yugoslavia the military and police cohorts were and remained the main and dangerous impediment for democratic makeover of the states created in war (Žunec, 1995). And of course in cooperation with the new/old ruling elites. It may be determined that the societies of the central Yu-states cannot become democratic until they radically change the encountered security sector, and thus the armed forces inherited or created during the war.

          The identical or similar civil-military heritage allows the creation of a general list of changes and includes the reform of the ex-socialist armies.46 The tasks of eliminating ideology and politics from the army are a priority on this list. The same set includes demands for the modern organization of civil-military relations, which require the respect of human rights and social interests of the armed forces members and members of their families. Also, legislation should provide the maximally allowed transparency of the armed forces, as well as their cooperation with media and civil society partakers. The second group of tasks requires security changes in the Euro-Atlantic region and global community (Gartner, Price, Reiter, 2001). This implies changes in the military structure, but also redefines its tasks (Kuhlmann, Callaghan, 2000). These countries have started the demilitarization of the security sector, and the security of the citizens, society and state are increasingly considered as the result of the application of economic, social, political, cultural, spiritual, demographic and ecological lines of force within which the military and police components lose their lead and monopoly (Buzan, Weaver, de Wilde, 1998).


          Ultimately the reforms are aimed at achieving two main goals: first for the structure and size of the army to match the socio-economic capabilities of the given society and economy, and its true security needs, and second, for the increasing interoperability of the army to improve the country’s security integration into the Euro-Atlantic region. This launches the long-term and expensive process of changing the social, political and professional aspects of the inherited armies. This should result in the army’ new identity, but also the modification of the previous legitimization (Gow, 1992). The changes include all aspects and segments of military organization: from the system of recruitment and mobilization, through training, to command and mode of combat use of units. Concurrently the technical and technological modernization of the equipment and arsenal should take place, which obviously tends to redirect to western (NATO and US) sources of rearming.

          The model list of expected changes generally applies to the announced reform of the Yugoslav Army. In order for this list to become operational, it must first be prepared according to the concrete circumstances in the FRY and the profile of the existing army. At this point the reasons for its exemption from the transition model become apparent.

          The military-social being of the Yugoslav Army was crucially remodeled by activity of two groups of factors. Firstly, by relying on the interest conjunction of the Serbian and General elites, the JNA was included in the breakup of the second Yugoslavia. Then the wartime collapse of the JNA was completed with the renaming of its eastern Serbian remains as the Yugoslav Army. After the defeat of Slobodan Milošević’s regime this conjunction was reduced to the "Hague connection," which ties the former and present, civil and military commissioners from the Serbian circle, pending the court outcome. This is why the Army and its officers are still under the pressure of The Hague, which lessens the chances of their willing redirection towards new democratic social needs.

          Also the deep-rooted and lasting devotion of the rulers of Serbia and Montenegro, Milošević and Bulatović, and later Djukanović to the communist model of rule kept the VJ in a position of a single-party, i.e. client, army. It thus unavoidably became (and/or remained) the heir of the basic characteristics of the JNA. The renamed army was passed on the corporative spirit of its predecessor, based on which the consciousness of exceptionality and exception of the Army is restored, and its leaders still publicly impose their special needs on the citizens (society) as general ones. The same package introduced the "Broz syndrome" to the VJ, with double negative consequences. Its implementation in the military organization urged allegiance and poltroonery to every "boss" among the generals. Their main external target is the civilian commander - in our case the FRY President. The decades of practice by the officers corps for the noisy but sufficiently perfidious loyalty and excessive devotion, to anyone that is on this position is a great personal and statesmanly temptation. The Yu-Serbian experience testify that it is only a matter of time when the acting ruler will recognize and become fond of himself as the supreme commander, with the army being in his personal service. And all of this to the great pleasure of the court and partisan suite.

          The Yugoslav army is also the bearer of all the wartime defeats of the JNA. For this reason its members are socially, psychologically and professionally frustrated. Its personal and combat morale were systematically destroyed by wartime and political abuses. Following the ethnic cleansing during 1992-93 the communist principle of personnel policies was revived in the VJ, thus only ideologically orthodox and "ketman" lieges reached the top positions, chosen by the almighty military security service. However, their personal loyalty to the Leader and his family was crucial for their time survival in power. The Army’s social matrix was additionally destroyed by the growing corruption of the ranks and expanding list of hierarchical privileges. Soon the number of generals was increased, which made servicing this group more expensive. This was followed by the internal redistribution of funds, benefiting the generals and at the detriment of the other members and needs. Later under the influence of society a military zone of gray trade was created, hinting the criminalization of the Army.

          Within such an army the professional spirit could not even be conceived, the point of which was the professional codex as the assurance for the neutrality of the officers regarding politics and interests, i.e. their primary loyalty to the Constitution and democratically elected civil authorities. This is also the Army from which around 28,000 FRY citizens deserted in the previous years and during the Kosovo conflict.47 This army also suffers from the refugee syndrome, because a large number of officers and their families are still homeless.48

          Because of its wartime and Bolshevik background the Yugoslav Army still does not have clear professional identity. Its legitimacy has also become questionable along the way. This is made clear by the high situational factors of its combat morale. The socialism ideology in the wartime phase of the JNA, i.e. the formation phase of the VJ was inadequately replaced by nationalist ideology, with a chauvinist and xenophobic charge. The period of apparent consolidation (1992-98) was marked by the desire to base the morale and identity of the VJ on 19th century traditions of the Serbian, and to some extent the Montenegrin army.49 The fact that Serbia (excluding Kosovo) and Montenegro are multiethnic societies, where about 30% of the population has a different ethnic background, was completely ignored. At the same time the regime politicization and ideologization of the components was in progress. Passing on police duties to the Army was included in the same package; preparing it for internal use, i.e. the armed defense of the regime.50 The state reason for "producing" combat morale was seriously applied for the first time during the crisis in Kosovo, and was effectively achieved during the NATO aggression.

          Weapons and equipment imports were prohibited because of the sanctions towards the FRY, which accelerated the technical and technological lagging of the VJ. This becomes apparent when the VJ is compared with the Euro-Atlantic armies or armies of the neighboring states. The wartime destruction of the economy also accelerated the impoverishment of the Army and its members. The circle was completed with the NATO strikes on the military industry, which impeded the revitalization of the Army through local sources.

          Also, the VJ has been functioning since its creation (May 1992) without a defined strategy of national security and FRY defense policy. Since it has been lacking the strategic and doctrinal documents it was not able to be adequately structured. Because of the existence in the conception vacuum the VJ has operated without clear goals and tasks. This is why its conversion on FRY needs has been reduced to the numerical comparison with the new state parameters. In addition, the lack of state plan for modification has reduced the changes in the VJ to the auto-transformation in line with the needs of the generals, i.e. in line with the needs of Milošević and his suite.

          Milošević’s power over the VJ was additionally derived from the vague wording of the army’s constitutional status. By giving the Army the unspecified task of protecting the constitutional order, the regime allowed itself to use it for preserving its power. Because of the imprecise procedure for supreme civil command and the jurisdiction of the Supreme Defense Council, Milošević simply proclaimed himself Supreme Commander, with the support of the main generals. To make things worse, since the system was without power the Army was without any parliamentary or public control, and its status and function depended on the regime’s current needs.

          For this reason it is difficult to assess the transformation capabilities of the VJ. Despite this fact it may be reasonably assumed that the military leadership is prepared to carry out the reform orders of the authorities - when they take place. However, it will be far more difficult to assess the readiness of the Serbian (and Montenegrin) society for the trans-socialist reform. The individual and group readiness for accepting all and the ultimate consequences of such a choice are questionable. The ongoing political struggles in Serbia and Montenegro, which are essentially over the contents, direction and price of reform, regardless of their ideological wrapping, testify to this effect. The future is discussed from the viewpoint of the enduring authoritarian and war past. This point shows the Yu-Serbian differentia specifica, because unlike the other ex-socialist counties, the citizens of Serbia are not opt for democratic reform willingly and by majority.

          However, the "Pavković affair" is not only a metaphor of Serbian’s departure from pre-modernity. This issue takes us back to the aspects that military sociology seemingly conquered long ago to center of scientific interest. The problem of passing society and military from conditions of war to conditions of peace is reopened in a new manner, since it is a matter of an internal war (King, 1997). A novelty is the fact that the transition should be conducted with the successive change of the political and social regime. At the same time the available facts warned that both the victorious and defeated Yu-armies were faced with the same or very similar reform challenges.51 In any case, their native societies must solve the same socio-economic and political tasks, considering their common background. The example of the FRY, but also the other states derived from the former Yugoslavia, confirms that the isolated reform of the army, i.e. security sector and armed forces, is not possible. Placing armed forces under democratic civil control includes and requires the prior reconstruction and restructuring of the entire society. At that point it becomes clear that the effect of the specific civilization and cultural heritage makes any attempt of (forced) implementation of the imported model of "democratic civil-military relation" futile. Even more so because the fundamental characteristics of the (abstract) model following the NATO aggression on the FRY and terrorist attacks in the US, are now a greatly tempted in the native societies of modern democracy.


          Miroslav Hadžić


          23 August 2002



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          1 Hereinafter we shall use the terms "Serbia" and "FRY" depending on whether it is to stress the fact that the DOS only has power in Serbia, or that the reform of the security department and armed forces applies to the Yugoslav state union.

          2. The democratic part of the public was scandalized by the fact that General Pavković remained at the helm of the Army, i.e. General Marković as head of the Serbian State Security Service (SDB). Public conflicts between the Yugoslav Army and police leadership followed during Milošević’s arrest (1 April 2001), the discovery of mass graves (May 2001) and the protest of the Special Police Unit "Red Berets" (November 2001). The Chairman of the Coordination Committee Nebojša Čović and General Pavković collided publicly during the entrance of the military-police units into the Ground Safety Zone. In August 2001 SDB Colonel Momir Gavrilović was killed under unresolved circumstances, which was followed by strong mutual accusations by the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) and Democratic Party (DS). In March 2002 the "Perišić" affair emerged when Serbian Deputy Premier and Chairman of Defense and Security Committee of the Federal Parliament Chamber of Repub

        • Tags: military, jna, reform, Security sector, civil-military relations, relations, Yugoslavia, dissolution, Balkan
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