From April of 1992 when the war began in the formerly united Yugoslavia until November of 1995 when it ended, a considerable amount of Greeks between 18 to 35 years of age took part in it as volunteers within the ranks of the Bosnian Serb army.
Some were wounded, some were ignored by luck. Inside the book “The Journey of a Volunteer” by Kiriakos Katharios will appear some addressed with their first names.
The book does not have the aim to heroize all of these youths.
However, it is certain that in this Greece, the Greece of loaned luxury and historical amnesia, existed a few Greeks that walked against the current, who by surpassing themselves also surpassed the soul of this Greece, who were killed and wounded, who the world talked about, whose free flight embodied the idea of strong patriotism and free boldness.
About these Greeks you will read, with their weaknesses and their virtues, their thoughts and ideas, the Greek volunteers.
One of these is Kiriakos Katharios, author of the book “The Journey of the Volunteer” (published by Pelasgos) in which he described his memories from his participation in the war of Serbia. Let’s see what he said the past Wednesday to “Eleftheros Kosmos”:
Mr. Katharios, what made you abandon your family in Greece and go to Bosnia to help the Serbs?
That I believed that this was how I was helping my country. I didn’t say anything to my parents, they didn’t know. When they found out, they were shocked.
Do you regret today for that action?
Never, my friend, I never regretted it.
In Bosnia did you participate in war operations?
In major war operations, no. I was on the border and our work was to control our sector. We made patrols, we enterted Muslim territory. I didn’t participate in a major battle, only in psychological operations which were going on pretty much daily.
The Humanists and Billards
Was your unit only Greeks or were there also other nationalities?
Greeks were scattered in various regions. In my unit we were only two Greeks.
Generally, what was the action of Greek nationalists in Bosnia? Did Greeks engage in martial activities?
Firstly, I must tell you about my ideology. It’s not what they call right or far-right and so on. Therefore, I don’t know if your question about “Greek nationalists” conveys the ideology of those who went to Bosnia. Because each person went there for his own reasons and I can’t speak on behalf of everyone. Regarding the other, yes: There were Greeks who engaged in martial activities. In the book I describe a battle that happened, it’s the only recorded battle. Naturally, there were others which haven’t been recorded.
Because some sly individuals, Mr. Katharios, claim that you were playing billiards in Bosnia and now masquerade as old warhorse veterans.
Those who say that we were playing billiards should have been there so that we could have played billiards.
With your truly readable and revealing book, what exactly do you want to achieve? Why do you publicize your experiences?
So this history doesn’t remain forgotten, too; so it’s not lost. So that it appears that at one time, some Greeks went over there. So that a deposit is left to future generations, on how when people are bold and want something, they can achieve it. As long as they love their country.
They defame us and place our lives in danger
Did you have anything to do with the famous “massacre of Srebrenica”?
Because some “humanistic” organizations and individuals like Andreas Andrianopoulos try to criminalize the action of Greek comrades in Bosnia. What do you have to say to them?
I must tell you that all of them lie brazenly. There is no evidence against the Greeks. Not even the Muslim government has said the smallest thing about the allegedly criminal actions of Greeks. The people you speak of have created this story by themselves, for their own reasons. Therefore, we must examine their motives…
Agreed. What is your opinion about the “Massacre of Srebrenica”?
As presented in the press, the “Massacre of Srebrenica” is a lie. I will tell you following: The history of the raising of the Greek Flag at Srebrenica I gave myself to the press, in the summer of 1995.
For what reason did you give it?
The guys called me, they told me and we arranged to give it to the press, without the existence of some particular reason. Indeed, the individuals who exposed this fact were such great war criminals that they gave their names. Ironically, I say this, right? I gave the names to “Ethnos”, the newspaper.
Basically you think that nothing will finally happen with all of this story to criminalize the action of the Greeks who fought in Bosnia?
Naturally! Be certain of the fact that if these gentlemen had the slightest evidence against us, presently we would have problems. But I ask you this: Will there be a prosecutor that will take action against them? Because they slander Greek citizens and place their lives in danger. Shouldn’t there exist a prosecutor to chase away these gentlemen?
Regarding the arrests of Serbian Nationalists that are accused of committing genocides against Muslims, what do you have to tell us? Some of them have been convicted of the heaviest sentences.
I want to tell you something: There exists a systematic campaign of calumny against the Serbs in general. Yes, there were Greeks that were involved in battles. I don’t know what Karadzic and Mladic did, so let’s leave them out of this. We’re talking about the low ranking officials, which have been arrested. I don’t know how much these people could be criminals. With the same logic for the arrests of Karadzic and Mladic, Tudjman and Izetbegovic and all of them should have been arrested. However, this did not happen. I will tell you something though: Naser Oric, commander of Muslim forces in Srebrenica, was accussed of war crimes which he indeed committed. They arrested him, put him on trial, and he was freed after several months. This says everything.
Mr. Katharios, we thank you warmly for everything you’ve told us.
And I thank you. Friend, I want to add the following: In the presentation that you will make in the newspaper, I want you to write what I said, to convey what I said with precision; don’t write whatever you want…
We promise, mr. Katharios, that we will record it word for word.