October 18, 1993 Vreme News Digest Agency No 108

Interview with Zeljko Raznatovic Arkan

I Don't Like Intellectuals

by Filip Svarm

Member of Parliament Zeljko Raznatovic Arkan first refused when asked to give a short interview to VREME on the current political events, in which he is one of the protagonists. He said that the journalist of VREME, Milos Vasic, offended him by describing him as ``a disgrace to the Serbian people,'' which is the reason why he did not want to talk. However, after he was given an opportunity to say what he thought about Vasic, MP Raznatovic changed his mind.

``While speaking about the war for a British TV station, your journalist Milos Vasic branded me as a war criminal and said I was a disgrace to the Serbian people,'' Arkan said and added, ``My reply is: that opinion of his is a disgrace to the Serbian people. Vasic, who has never met me or talked to me, gave such a statement for a foreign television station. That hurt me. I could understand if Serbs said different things about each other in their own country, but such a statement on foreign TV is a treason. I haven't called your journalist Vasic since it is beneath me to talk to him. The only thing I could tell him is the following, ``Listen, thug, aren't you ashamed of yourself!''''

VREME: What is your assessment of the conflict between the Radicals and the Socialists? Your speech in the Parliament has been perceived as conciliatory.

Z.R.ARKAN: The Radicals and the Socialists used to vote for everything together. They would have even elected a bastard, as the folk wisdom says, if somebody had launched an initiative. No one knows why a rift between them has been made. Now they are accusing and slandering each other in a primitive and uncivilized way. A group of citizens (Arkan's group in the Serbian Parliament) to which I belong represents a political center--we respect everybody and no one can win us over. We won't vote for the Government nor against them, we won't side with anybody. We are simply a small parliamentary group, why should we embarrass ourselves. We support Serbian unity.

* An open conflict between Goran Hadzic and Mile Martic took place at the session of the Parliament of the Republic of Serb Krajina in Beli Manastir. It is a well known fact that your relations with Mile Martic have not been too good for a while now...

The conflict between me and Milan Martic occurred when `tigers' arrived in Krajina in January. Minister of Interior Affairs, Martic wanted to be a war commander. He tried to meddle in our plans. That's when I told him, ``Milan, go after the thieves and control the traffic. Do the job, for which you were elected.'' Although he said that he had taken control of our center in Erdut, and expelled me from Krajina, I haven't made any statement against him for the sake of unity of the Serbian people. I tolerated everything but I won't any more.

* Why?

He insulted President Hadzic. He said that Hadzic is Degoricija's spy and is not reliable. Hadzic is one of the best among the Serbs. I believe that Hadzic's most prudent decision was to release Martic of duty. Martic is responsible for the Miljevac plateau, Zemunik and the entire area of Ravni Kotari. Besides, General Mladic who will always be a friend, told him, ``Why do you need Arkan? He has taken over everything.'' Neither have I taken over everything nor am I interested in coming to power in Krajina. I was already a Member of Parliament at the time and together with my men defending the Serbian people. We prevented a total chaos in January. One should hide the fact, and not write that two thousand people were fleeing the area. I have footage when we caught them, lined them up, and even beat some of them when necessary.

* However there are many things which citizens of Knin object Hadzic: his stay on Saint Stefan, luxurious lifestyle in Novi Sad, failure to visit Knin during the latest Croatian offensive...

Hadzic spent only three days on Saint Stefan. He was on the Serb held part of the Adriatic coast near Karin, (vicinity of Zadar) but nobody wrote about that. The flat in which he lives in Novi Sad is not his. Besides, his six-year-old son has to pay a visit to the doctor every day. His house in Pacetin is a little better than a stable and is 400 meters away from the front. He didn't go to Knin because an assassination against him was being prepared. People talk that many true Serbs have died of a bullet ``from a side.'' Those are rumors, but everything points at Martic. Krajina would function if Martic was a commander of a police station or if he controlled one street. That should be his beat. They say that Hadzic is a spendthrift. Yet, he is as poor as a mouse! He never reached into his pocket, never paid for anything. He hasn't got anything! His salary is between 7 to 9 DM. He has no property. He's been consistent ever since the beginning. He is a true Serb: he goes to church, respects the army, takes care of his family... The fact that he goes to bars, would you please name me one president who hasn't been to a bar!

* There have been speculations lately that President Milosevic has given up on Krajina...

That's silly! Impossible! I cannot believe that President Milosevic would betray the people in Krajina. I cannot believe it.

* So you think highly of him?

Nobody has to. I respect the current president just as will respect the next one. Let's get one thing straight. President Milosevic woke up Serbia. All of us had been Yugoslavs until then. I was a Yugoslav, even though I was a Serb deep in my heart. But, I had a Yugoslav passport and was a Yugoslav. President Milosevic woke me up as well. I have not finished college. I'm a caterer. My college is the city's tar. I don't like intellectuals--they represent a closed circle. I like the people because they are broad-minded. I am among the people all the time and may tell you that the people think that the cult of the president should be respected.

* You are the president of the Football Club ``Pristina.'' How would you comment on the statement made by a delegate of the Yugoslav Football Association Jovan Popovic that it was the supporters of ``Pristina'' who provoked the conflict in Novi Pazar?

During the incident Jovo Popovic was sitting in the offices of the Football Club ``Novi Pazar,'' facing the picture of ``Comrade Tito.'' He wrote what he had been told to. We arrived in Novi Pazar in an orderly way and were given a friendly welcome. We sat down to talk. Then two buses full of supporters came. Nationalists from Novi Pazar provoked the Serb three colored flags. They waited until the supporters of ``Pristina'' got out to buy the tickets and started throwing rocks at them from all over the place. The latter entered a part of the stadium to save their heads. There were stories that ears were cut off, that's not true. The head of police and the head of security at the match told me that not one of the supporters of ``Pristina'' had a knife. Only rocks were thrown. When the situation calmed down, the game started and rooting began. They shouted, ``This is Turkey,'' ``Alija,'' and ``We'll slay Arkan.'' In the fifteenth minute of a game our back was hit with a rock, and later our goalkeeper as well. When the game was over, they went on our jeeps. We asked the president of the Football Club ``Novi Pazar'' to repark them on the center of the field, which he approved. When police broke up the crowd, we were given a green light to leave the stadium. But, they had already spread on the streets and that's when they began to shower us with rocks. Shots from fire-arms were also heard. The players on the bus had to lie down on the floor in order to protect themselves. Every single car of ours was damaged, including the jeeps.