Instead of investing its capacities into helping the citizens of Serbia threatened by a pandemic, this interview shows that the Defence Ministry continues its campaign of glorifying war criminals during the state of emergency. This undermines already fragile citizens’ trust in the institutions of the Republic of Serbia, including their trust that combating COVID-19 is government’s priority at the moment. For this reason, we demand that the Ministry of Defence of Serbia urgently removes Nebojša Pavković’s interview from its official website.
The interview for the “Vesti” paper is another obvious example of mutual support of Serbia’s political authorities and convicted war criminals, while its posting on the official website of the Defence Ministry is a political abuse.
Let us remind you, Nebojša Pavković was sentenced to 22 years in prison for his participation in joint criminal enterprise aimed at the expulsion of Albanians from Kosovo, which resulted in numerous mass murders, abuses and other crimes against the civilians there in 1999. The 22-year sentence was confirmed by the ICTY Appeal Chamber in January 2014. During the war in Kosovo, Pavković was a commander of the Third Army and a general who enjoyed great trust of the then President of FR Yugoslavia Slobodan Milošević. He is serving his sentence in the Kilmakovski prison in Finland.
In a social climate of general anxiety due to citizens’ (self)islolation and worry for the health of those infected with COVID 19, Serbian institutions must act responsibly and seriously. In addition to pandemic protection measures, this implies informing the public in a manner that is not hostile towards specific groups and individuals. Unfortunately, the causes of such relation with the public go back to the very glorification of convicted war criminals and warmongers whose messages of hatred and denying of crimes still reach us on a daily basis.