The American-British-French airstrikes on Syria are “a painful reminder” of NATO’s bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999, the Serbian president said. Both were done without UN Security Council mandate.
“For all of us who are over 18-19 years old, this [US-led] campaign is a painful reminder of the period which we witnessed,” Aleksandar Vucic said, speaking to RTS. The president was referring to the grim chapter in Serbian history when NATO launched a military operation in the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) during the Kosovo War.
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The bombings, which lasted 78 days from March 23 to June 10, 1999, officially claimed at least 758 civilian lives. However, Serbian sources say the true figure may be up to five times higher.
Vucic noted that Serbia is a small country and it is not going to interfere in any conflict across the globe. Belgrade can now rely on the policy of military neutrality, the president said, adding that being on the side of the stronger power does not necessarily mean that this is the “side of morality and justice.”
The US and its allies launched the attack on Syria in the early hours of Saturday in retaliation for an alleged chemical attack by the Assad government in the town of Douma, near Damascus, last week.
Responding to the US-led intervention, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the strikes were not sanctioned by the UN Security Council, and were carried out “in violation of the UN Charter and principles of international law.” In 1999, NATO justified its intervention without approval of the UN Security Council, accusing the government of then-President Slobodan Milosevic of ethnically cleansing the province of Kosovo.
The majority of Serbs today still say they would not accept an apology from NATO, while only 10 percent want to see their country become a NATO member, a recent poll shows.
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