The recent unveiling of the Monument to the War Victims and Defenders of the Fatherland from 1990-1999 in Belgrade has stirred a pot of controversy, prompting a reflection on Serbia's role in the wars of the 1990s. Aleksandar Vapić, Belgrade's Mayor in technical mandate, spearheaded the monument's unveiling, stating that it serves to honor individuals often forgotten in Serbian society. He argued that the Serbian people have been unfairly portrayed as the sole culprits of the 1990s conflicts, asserting that Serbs have historically only defended themselves.
The Controversial Stance
Vapić's statements have raised questions about the nature of the war and Serbia's involvement. Official propaganda has long maintained that Serbia was not a participant in the conflicts of Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, asserting that the wars began with NATO's bombing in 1999. The inclusion of the year 1990 in the monument's dedication, predating known conflicts in the region, is puzzling.
A Selective Memory?
Vapić's speech appears to shine a light on the selective memory of state policy and indirectly acknowledges Serbia's participation in the wars, a fact recorded in several Hague Tribunal verdicts. This calls into question the narrative of defending the fatherland, particularly as the wars in Croatia and Bosnia were not fought in Serbia. The article challenges the idea of an exclusively defensive war, given the Serbian military's actions in neighboring countries.
The Concept of a Greater Serbia
If the fatherland in question is the concept of a Greater Serbia, it would explain the actions taken in places like Knin, Vukovar, and Srebrenica, aligning with nationalist ideology that is rarely openly stated. The unveiling of the monument, therefore, is more than a commemoration of a tumultuous past; it opens a window into the complexities of Serbian nationalism and the country's role in regional conflicts.