To sue or not to sue NATO countries

To sue or not to sue NATO countries


By Milos Mitrovic – Belgrade

Different interpretations of Serbian President Tomilsav Nikolic’s speech during this week’s army parade appeared today in Belgrade media. According to state-owned “Politika” daily, Mr. Nikolic demanded from NATO countries war reparations for 1999 bombing of the former FR Yugoslavia.

“Vecernje novosti”, another state daily, claimed, however, that Nikolic has suggested NATO countries should invest in Serbia “in return” for air campaign which was launched by the Alliance 15 years ago.

“We rightly expect Serbia to recover alongside with recompense of the damage caused by injustice”, Nikolic was quoted as saying in his speech during the army parade held in Uzice on Wednesday. Serbian president thus reacted to NATO announcement which stated earlier this week that 1999 bombing was launched without the consent of United Nations Security Council.

Gerhard Schroeder, German chancellor at the time, recently admitted that NATO action against former FR Yugoslavia was illegal.

In 2004 the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the UN’s highest judicial body, has dismissed cases filed by FRY accusing eight NATO members of genocide during the alliance’s 1999 bombings of Kosovo.  ICJ ruled that FRY claims against NATO members Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal and Britain should be rejected because country was not a member of the United Nations at the time the complaint was filed in April 1999.

Last month, the participants of the International Conference “Global Peace vs. Global Interventionism and Imperialism” held in Belgrade claimed that “Serbia has the right to initiate the proceedings before the competent international forums against NATO and all of its member states participating in the aggression”.

Dragan Simic, professor at Belgrade Faculty of Political Sciences, told Radio-Television of Serbia that “admittance” of both NATO and Schroeder that Serbia has been bombed without UN Security Council consent shows “there’s the need of major powers to revise their actions”.

However, Simic was restrained regarding the possible legal actions of Serbia against NATO countries. “As a political scientist I am more inclined for using more delicate means, diplomatic and political, in order to focus the attention (to the issue)”, Simic said.  He recalled that “great powers” in some cases have tried to recompense the damage without recognizing they had violated international law. Simic pointed to American assistance to Germany and Japan after World War II.