Letter: West has aided cruelty of Milosevic

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The Independent Online
Sir: Last week's arrest and terrible beating of the Serbian opposition leader, Vuk Draskovic, and his wife shows the cruelty of Slobodan Milosevic even towards his own people if they dare to raise their voices for freedom. This is the same bloodstained tyrant whom Douglas Hurd publicly praised a few weeks ago as Mr Milosevic once more tricked Western leaders, ever ready to be fobbed off with yet another bogus peace deal.

I have every reason for suspecting that Mr Hurd's readiness to treat Mr Milosevic as a respectable negotiating partner paved the way for the extinguishing of real opposition in Serbia. Having been allowed to deal out death and destruction to his neighbours for years, Mr Milosevic rightly gambled that crushing his own elected opponents would hardly raise an eyebrow among the British men of straw whose measure he took long ago.

British policy has contributed mightily to the isolation of Serbian progressives and the aggrandisement of Mr Milosevic. Few meetings have taken place between visiting ministers and Serb opposition leaders; calls for a Western-funded satellite TV service in which purged Belgrade journalists could break through the wall of lies that enables Mr Milosevic to dupe many Serbs, have failen on deaf ears. The paltry time devoted to Serbian language broadcasts on the BBC World Service has not even been extended to match the volume of news.

Before the rigged Serbian election held in December, there were calls for all EC parliaments to simultaneously convene on a chosen day to pass a motion declaring that none of the 12 would ever recognise Serbian war conquests. Even that was a bridge too far for Mr Hurd (and for John Smith who failed to grasp the importance of the idea when I put it to him on the day of the EC summit in Edinburgh).

Earlier in the war, the Independent carried a report that Mr Milosevic was hoping to hire Saatchi and Saatchi to brush up on public relations. Given the way that British leaders have enabled a totalitarian butcher to masquerade as a serious politician capable of delivering peace, is it any wonder that he kept his money in his pocket?

Yours faithfully,

TOM GALLAGHER

Department of Peace Studies

University of Bradford

Bradford,

West Yorkshire

7 June

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