Belgrade: German ambassador to apologize over the statement on the bombing of the FRY

Igor Mirović Aleksandar Vulin Nenad Popović
FOTO: Kurir/Ministarstvo odbrane/Vlada Srbije

The German ambassador to Serbia, Thomas Schieb’s recent statement that the bombing of the FRY is a controversial issue, but one that was necessary to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe and genocide in Kosovo, triggered an outcry among Serbian politicians, who urged Schieb to apologize for his „arrogance“, „shameful statements“ – „unworthy of an ambassador“.

Following Schieb’s guest appearance last night on the Pravi Ugao talk-show on TV Vojvodina, the Serbian Minister of Innovation and Technological Development, Nenad Popovic, said that it was a „shameful statement, the peak of cynicism and the continuation of the campaign of some Western countries to declare the Serbian people as genocidal.“

Popovic also called on Schieb to apologize.

„We demand that the German ambassador apologize if he wants to continue to credibly perform the duty of his country’s diplomatic representative in Serbia,“ Popovic said, his party, Serbian People’s Party announced.

He underlined that „the fact Ambassador Schieb said this in the days when the Serbian people are marking eight decades since the bombing of Belgrade by Nazis is especially perfidious.“

In his words, this is another „attempt to falsify history – where a representative of the German nation, which is responsible for millions of deaths in WWI and WWII, is trying to declare Serbs as genocidal people and aggressors.“

„I remind Ambassador Schieb that the Serb people survived the genocide of the Germans during the WWI and WWII, from Macva in 1914, Kragujevac and Kraljevo in 1941, to Jasenovac, where the Ustashas, under Nazi protection, brutally murdered Serb children,“ Popovic said.

Another minister in the Government of Serbia, the Minister of Internal Affairs, Aleksandar Vulin, also reacted, criticizing Schieb’s statement that the „bombing was necessary to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe and genocide in Kosovo.“

„Such arrogance befits the German occupation commander of Serbia, but not the German ambassador to Serbia,“ stressed Vulin.

He said that the German ambassador should visit the cemeteries of those killed in the German bombing on April 6th, 1941, in World War II, instead of „justifying“ the April bombing of Serbia in 1999.

Vulin also estimated that the bombing of Serbia in 1941, as well as the one in 1999, were crimes.

„The mutilation of Serbia in 1941 is a crime, the mutilation of Serbia in 1999 is a crime. Yugoslavia was attacked in 1941 for refusing to abide by the treaty with the Tripartite Pact and for discriminating against the German minority, and in 1999, the FR Yugoslavia was attacked for refusing to sign its disappearance in Rambouillet and for its attitude toward the Albanian minority,“ Vulin added.

According to the Minister of Internal Affairs, the German Constitution forbade the mobilization of the army of that country outside its borders because it caused two world wars and out of the fear that a united Germany could repeat its crimes.

The bombing of Yugoslavia proved that this fear was justified – he argued.
The President of the Government of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina, Igor Mirovic, also reacted last night.

„The statement of the German ambassador is not diplomatic, it is not true, it is not reasonable, it does not befit the status of an ambassador in a sovereign country. I simply believe that one must react to such a statement in accordance with the appropriate principles and conventions,“ he said in an Instagram post.

Paying tribute to victims “overshadowed” by one sentence

Although the German ambassador to Serbia, Thomas Schieb, published an op-ed in the Politika daily on the occasion of the anniversary of the bombing of Belgrade in 1941, in which he paid tribute to the victims of – as he wrote – horrific crimes committed by Germany over the Serb people, this gesture was overshadowed by one of the statements he gave during a guest appearance on the Pravi Ugao on TV Vojvodina.

„I am aware that this (cf. bombing) is a controversial issue and that there was a big dilemma in 1999. As there was no agreement in the Security Council, a decision had to be made because otherwise a humanitarian catastrophe would have taken place and the goal was to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe, to avoid genocide,“ he said, speaking of the 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia.

He said that he has an issue with the linking of the bombing of Serbia and Yugoslavia on two occasions in the 20th century with a continuation of „punishing“ Serbia for the third time in 1999. Contrary to such „apparent continuity,“ Schieb does not see the events of 1999 as the punishing of Serbia.

„Germany was completely different in 1999, and we know that it was a difficult time for you and that what happened in 1999 was very difficult for Serbia. It is still a huge issue and I am aware of that, but we should also not forget that it did not just fall off the sky. It was been prepared for a long time. Before the bombing took place, the problem lay in finding a solution concerning Kosovo, and all diplomatic means were applied,“ said the German ambassador.

Two decades after the bombing, Schieb still believes that the NATO attack on the FRY, that is, Serbia, was justified.

„Its safe to say that it was a difficult decision, but these are the facts and this is the reason why, when talking about history, all sides and aspects that can be controversial must be taken into account. Some may say that it was unfair and unjust, we can look at how it happened and that there were reasons for what happened.“

When asked whether he used the word „genocide“ by accident, the German ambassador failed to give a concrete reply. Congratulating the new Kosovo government and the president in Pristina, while also emphasizing that the ground has now been prepared for the continuation of normalization, he said:

„I cannot do it now and I do not want to comment on something that some of the actors said. The most important thing is that both sides meet under the auspices of the EU and start resolving things.“

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