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70th anniversary of US-Yugoslav Military Assistance Pact

Crucial History Lesson Revisited & Dr Bojan Dimitrijevic Exhibition Notes

East West Bridge had the privilege to participate in the inauguration of an exhibition commemorating a widely ignored episode in the history of Serbia - USA relations, at the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia, opened by Minister Branko Ružić. In 1951, following the turning point in Yugoslav defence policy brought on by the Tito-Stalin dispute, a Military Assistance Pact was signed between Yugoslav President Marshal Tito and the US ambassador in Belgrade. Over the next 7 years, the Yugoslav People's Army received equipment, trainings and overall support to its qualitative and quantitative growth from its US counterpart to the total sum of some $800 mln at THAT time - 600 aircraft, 1000 tanks, 20k assorted vehicles and thousands od small arms and ammo, plus manufacturing licences. Not to mention the political side of it all. Moreover, the Yugoslav Army was incorporated in the defence plans of NATO in the case of an eventual conventional war in Europe against the USSR and its satellites. Some of the pictures from the exhibition are shown below - a testament to the rich history Serbia and the USA share. The inauguration was attended by HE Ambassador Anthony Godfrey, Commander of the Special Operations Command Europe David H. Tabor, MP and founder of the Serbian American Friendship Congress Vladimir Marinković and EWB founder Jovan Kovačić.

An important message I shared in my speech yesterday is that 70 years ago Stalin was poised to invade Yugoslavia. The Western military build up of the Yugoslav army changed the course of history. Seven decades have gone by and the wise saying is more important than even: Those who do not draw lessons from history are doomed to repeat it.

Dr Bojan Dimitrijevic:



The turning point in the Yugoslavia’s defence policy after in the Cold War occurred in 1948, when Tito-Stalin dispute, came into the open with the expulsion of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia from the Communist Information Bureau in June 1948. It has been estimated by the US officials that Yugoslavia was of the direct importance to the security of the United States. The Military Assistance Pact was signed between the Yugoslav President Marshal Tito and the US ambassador in Belgrade on 14 November 1951. Yugoslavia was introduced in the framework of the Mutual Defence Aid Programme (MDAP). During this programme, Tito’s Army received its first jet fighters, radars, helicopters, thousands of different vehicles, hundreds of modern tanks and artillery pieces. Following the shift in the Yugoslav foreign policy, Marshal Tito decided to cancel further aid deliveries in late 1957. American weaponry was a tool of the unusual Cold War Alliance between a communist renegade state and Western world. Moreover, it was a true continuation of the Second World War alliance between two nation.

During most of the 1951 negotiations between Yugoslav and US military officials were held. Key meetings for the start of deliveries of the military equipment were during the visits of the Yugoslav Chief of Staff, General Koča Popović, to the United States. The Military Assistance Pact was signed between the Yugoslav President Marshal Tito and the US ambassador in Belgrade on 14 November 1951. Yugoslavia was introduced in the framework of the Mutual Defence Aid Programme (MDAP). Prior to signing of the Mutual Assistance Pact, several military exercises were performed to the Chief of Combined General-Staff General Collins, who visited Yugoslavia. The aim of his visit was gathering the information about the Yugoslav Army qualities and possibilities. Marshal Tito showed enormous interest in MDAP deliveries. He was especially interested in the Air Force. In the middle of January 1952, Tito visited Pula air base to inspect just delivered F-47Ds. Tito's remarks in front of the Yugoslav airmen were more than satisfying.

By signing of Military Assistance Pact, the Yugoslav Government permitted that a certain number of the US military and civil personnel to be accepted and allowed to monitor process of MDAP deliveries. In December 1951 American Mission Assistance Staff (AMAS) manned with 30 officers - commanded by the General Harmony, reached Belgrade. Simultaneously, the Detachment “for Acceptance of the Military Aid” was formed in the Yugoslav Ministry of the Defence. Those two institutions had an exclusive task to carry the procedure of the acceptance and distribution of the weapons and equipment for JNA. Yugoslavia constantly insisted that number of the AMAS personnel should be limited.

The era when Yugoslavia was part of the MDAP was also characteristic with visits of senior US military officials. Among them were the representatives of the Ministry of Defence, Combined General Staff, US Army, USAF and US Navy. They were especially frequent in the early stages of Programme and most of them have official talks with Marshall Tito. In August 1952, US Secretary of the Army Frank Pace visit JNA. Most spectacular visit was the one of the 6th Fleet USN headed by Vice Admiral Cassady aboard aircraft carrier USS “Coral Sea”. Tito was guest on the carrier, and had a opportunity to see the air exercise made in his honour. In September 1953, the US Army delegation at large manoeuvre in Zagorje was headed by the AMAS chief General Harmony, seen here accompanied with General Kosta Nadj, commander of the 5th Military District.

Main JNA component, the infantry, received during MDAP mostly fire-support weaponry: over 5.000 Bazookas 60 and 88,9mm, 1.120 recoilless guns 57 and 75mm, 2.500 Browning M2 cal 12,7mm anti-aircraft machine-guns and 34.000 M1 Thompson cal 11,43 mm sub-machine-guns. Yugoslav amoured units received two types of tanks M-4 Sherman (599), M-47 Patton (319). Three types of self-propelled guns: M-7 Priest, M-18 Hellcat, M-36 Jackson (715), a total of 565 armoured cars M3A1 Scoutcar and M-8 Greyhound. Immediately since the MAP was signed, a huge quantities of artillery started reached Yugoslavia. Total of 760 weapons in the 105,155 and 203mm calibre were delivered. Yugoslav Army engineers received 44 different items that covered  the 119 different types of equipment: bridges, bulldozers, greyders, rollers, boats, workshops...

JNA received over tens of thousands of different vehicles. Many of it were specialised and had entered nearly all of the units. Of note is their service with the Yugoslav Odred as part the United Nations Emergency Force. This 800-men force was deployed to Sinai Peninsula in November 1956 equipped with MDAP supplied US types of vehicles. They included the standard range of Jeeps, different Dodges to a fleet of GMC lorries. The Odred had a number of specialised vehicles such as fuel-tankers, dumpers, workshops, a recovery vehicle, crane, bulldozer and different trailers. including armoured reconnaissance vehicles. The most potent weapon of the Odred were M-8 Greyhound armoured cars, and standard patrol M3A1 White armoured cars.

Most of the vehicles and equipment were presented on the May Day parades that were held in capital of Yugoslavia, Belgrade and six capitals of socialist republics on annual basis. The American weaponry attracted the attention of the wider public.

Incorporation into the MDAP influenced that parts of the JNA officers corps passed special conversion and training programs. Those courses were held in two ways: by sending Yugoslav officers to various centres or units in the United States or in Europe or at specially created courses in Yugoslavia, where American military or civil lecturers conducted conversion. In the period of the MDAP total number of 762 JNA personnel was trained out of Yugoslavia. Yugoslav airmen were the first who went to United States for training at Godman and Shaw air bases. Three experienced pilots were send to the jet aviation Squadron Leader Course with the 48th Fighter- Bomber Wing USAFE at Chaumont, France, in September 1952. Ten more pilots were added in December of the same year, to be converted to a jet pilot status. Those pilots were engaged to become first jet aviation instructors in the spring 1953, for the Yugoslav Air Force.

First Lockheed T-33As for Yugoslav Air Force reached Batajnica air base on the 10 March 1953. Five T-33A T-birds landed in Batajnica crowded with top brass of both Yugoslav and US armies. First batch of combat F-84G Thunderjets was delivered to Yugoslavia on Wednesday, 9 June 1953. Further deliveries continued in smaller or larger batches until the end of the Progamme. Major Michael Smolen famous instructor and pilot of “Acro-jets” acrobatic team of USAF Fighter School 1948-1951 took part in this phase of conversion, flying on T-33А. In 1954-1955, Yugoslav Air Force received first surveillance AN/TPS radars as well as first S-51 helicopters and fleet of 20 Douglas C-47 airplanes which became backbone of the transport fleet for over two decades.

In the following period of the MDAP (1955-1958), YAF was strengthened with, at that time, two most modern types: 22 reconnaissance Lockheed RT-33As and 43 North American F-86E Sabre interceptors. The RT-33A was the first originaly produced reconnaissance airplane in the YAF inventory, while the Sabrejet was able to encounter the Mig-15 which was in inventory of the neighbouring satellite air forces. One notable event occurred soon after the arrival of the initial batches of Sabres: for the first time Yugoslav pilots had the opportunity of the breaking the sound barrier. All of the pilots which flew faster of the speed of sound had received letter from the Canadair Company and certificate that they belonged to the “Mach Busters Club.”


Lest we forget 9/11 - we stand by the innocents

Dačić i Godfri: Uspešna borba protiv terorizma moguća jedino uz partnerstvo. Komemoracija zrtvama 9/11 u organizaciji KSAP, EWB i Ambasade SAD

  • Predsednik srpskog parlamenta Ivica Dačić i američki ambasador u Beogradu Entoni Godfri ocenili su u Skupštini Srbije da je uspešna borba protiv terorizma moguća jedino uz saradnju i partnerstvo država.


Na skupu „Pamtimo i stojimo uz SAD“, povodom 20. godišnjice terorističkih napada na Njujork i Vašington, Godfri je izrazio zahvalnost Srbiji što sarađuje sa SAD i drugim državama u borbi protiv terorizma.

„Terorizmu pristupamo tako što gradimo savezništva i prijateljstva. Naše savezništvo sa Srbijom počiva na istorijskom partnerstvu i zajedničkoj viziji za budućnost“, rekao je Godfri.

Na skupu koji su organizovali Kongres srpsko-američkog prijateljstva i organizacija Ist-vest bridž (East-West Bridge), uz pokroviteljstvo Skupštine Srbije, Godfri je kazao da je Vašington postigao cilj u Avganistanu i da ta zemlja „više ne može da posluži kao baza za napad na SAD“.

„Cenimo današnji iskreni gest gospodina Dačića, Kongresa srpsko-američkog prijateljstva i organizacije Ist-vest bridž. Zaista cenimo solidarnost naših prijatelja i naših domaćina danas, kada se sećamo na gotovo 3.000 žrtava terorističkih napada 11. septembra“, naveo je Godfri.

Dačić: I na Balkanu se regrutuju ekstremisti

Dačić je rekao da su ti napadi pokazali da države sveta treba da budu istrajne u borbi protiv terorizma i ukazao da je Srbija deo globalne zajednice u suprotstavljanju ekstremizmu. „Svet je doživeo velike promene u poslednjih 20 godina. Solidarnost u složenoj borbi protiv terorizma je ono što nas povezuje i što nam daje nadu da ćemo izaći kao pobednici u borbi protiv ovog zla“, kazao je Dačić. Dodao je da je „poznato da je Balkan jedan od regiona u kojima se regrutuju ekstremisti“ za borbe u raznim delovima sveta.

Član Kongresa SAD Džon Mulinar, koji se obratio učesnicima skupa video porukom, rekao je da su napadi 11. septembra ujedinili narode širom sveta u borbi protiv terorizma. On je zahvalio liderima Srbije za podršku u toj borbi i izrazio nadu da će i ubuduće biti skupova u čast sećanja na žrtve poput današnjeg.

Pregovori o Avganistanu – zvezdica u ličnoj karti Srbije

Predsednik organizacije Ist-vest bridž Jovan Kovačić kazao je da teror predstavlja zločin protiv čovečanstva i ukazao da na svakoj državi leži odgovornost za iskorenjivanje terorizma na njenoj teritoriji.

„Svi moramo da radimo na privođenju zlikovaca pravdi, ali treba raditi i mnogo više od toga, radi iskorenjivanja te pošasti“, naveo je Kovačić.

Dačić je zahvalio Kovačiću jer je doprineo da Srbija pre nekoliko godina bude posrednik u pregovorima tadašnje avganistanske vlade i pobunjenika talibana, koji su prošlog meseca silom preuzeli vlast u zemlji. Dačić je nedavno upoznao javnost da su ti pregovori vođeni u Beogradu.

„Naš doprinos i činjenica da o tim pregovorima nijedna informacija nije procurela u javnost, kako su pregovarači tražili, Srbiji je dala još jednu zvezdicu u njenoj ličnoj karti“, kazao je Dačić.

Narodni poslanik Vladimir Marinković, koosnivač Kongresa srpsko-američkog prijateljstva, rekao je da su u prethodnih nekoliko godina ojačane veze Srbije i SAD.

„Zajedno smo i kada otvaramo fabrike i kada se borimo protiv terorizma, ali i kada obeležavamo jedan ovakav tužan događaj“, kazao je Marinković.

Na početku skupa, pastor Nenad Savić je izgovorio molitvu za sve žrtve terorističkih napada 11. septembra.


Think Tank Defends Serbia Hosting Secret Afghan Govt-Taliban Talks

Sasa DragojloBelgradeBIRN August 18, 202116:53

Serbia hosted several behind-closed-doors talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, all with the approval of the US, EU and UN, said Jovan Kovacic, director of the think tank that organised the negotiations.

Afghanistan expert Michael Semple (L), Karim Khalili, former Vice President of Afghanistan (M) and Ivica Dacic (R), Serbia’s former Foreign Minister, at one of the Belgrade meetings. Photo: Private archive

After Serbia’s former foreign minister Ivica Dacic on Tuesday claimed that Serbia had hosted talks between the now former Afghan government and the Taliban three times in recent years, the director of East-West Bridge think tank – which reportedly organised the negotiations – told BIRN that Dacic’s information was accurate, backing it up with photos from the meetings.

Jovan Kovacic told BIRN that the former Afghan government and the Taliban held three meetings between 2018 and 2019 in Serbia’s capital, Belgrade.

Asked how his organisation got involved, Kovacic said he got a call from a well-known international figure about his idea that Serbia could act as neutral terrain for a meeting of the two sides.

“It was a bit surprising, but our organisation is known for building cooperation and confidence after the conflicts. Also, Serbia has a good position since it is neutral and we all know that the Muslim world is far from unified. In any other country, there would be allegations of different influences,” the director of East-West Bridge told BIRN.

He did not disclose the name of the “well-known international figure” who made the call, only that he is from an EU country.

Kovacic said he was told to contact Michael Semple, an Irish expert who the BBC has named as “one of the West’s most respected experts on Afghanistan”. Semple was a deputy European Union special representative for Afghanistan until the then Afghan government expellled him in 2007 over his “unauthorized activities”.

“I contacted him and then we contacted the Serbian government, which loved the idea. It was a serious task since many negotiatiors had obstacles to surmount, including travel bans. But Serbia did it really professionally,” he said, adding that secrecy is normal in such negotiations, in this case because “it was their first-ever meeting”.

Kovacic denied that the talks were conducted behind the backs of US, the EU or other involved actors, claiming they all gave permission and were involved in the process.

“We did not do anything behind anyone’s back. Everyone who needed to be invited was invited, including the US, EU countries such as Britain, Sweden, Denmark and Norway, and also representatives of UN,” he emphasized.

Asked about the financing of the whole process, he said that everybody shared the costs of travel and stay, and that the Serbian state only provided locations and technical and communications assets.

Karim Khalili, former Vice President of Afghanistan (L), Ivica Dacic (M), Serbia’s former Foreign Minister, and Jovan Kovacic, founder of East West Bridge, at one of the Belgrade meetings. Photo: Private archive

East West Bridge is a Serbian-based think tank whose members are usually people from the world of business, high politics and media in Serbia and the region.

Its website names Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic as one member. It emphasizes its partnership, among others, with the Trilateral Commission, World Economic Forum – Davos, European Business Summit, The National Alliance for Local Economy Development, NALED, and many other organisations.

Its director, Jovan Kovacic, is also the member of the Executive Committee of the Trilateral Commission and president of the Serbian National Group of the Trilateral Commission, a non-governmental organisation founded by David Rockefeller in 1973.


“Integration of the Western Balkans in NATO - Guarantee for Regional Stability”

Ms. Silvia Maretti, of NATO Public Diplomacy Division, opening the Conference:

“Integration of the Western Balkans in NATO as a Guarantee for Regional Stability”

A recent NATO Regional Conference for the Western Balkans noted that the Alliance is so much more than just a military, but also a comprehensive political organization that protects territorial integrity, democratic values, promotes economic development, provides foreign investment stability.

The on-line Conference was held on May 18-19, 2021, sponsored by the NATO Scientific Committee and organized by regional NGOs EuroBalkan, Belgrade, Bulgarian Hub for United Balkans, Sofia, Center for International and Development Studies, Skopje and CIBAL, Sofia.

University professors and distinguished experts in the field of international relations from Serbia, Northern Macedonia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Bulgaria discussed challenges on the road to NATO, regional implications of North Macedonia’s membership in NATO, the role of NATO in improving the individual/human security: challenges and perspectives and integration of the Western Balkans in NATO as a guarantee for regional stability. Invitees from Albania failed to show up.

Opening the Conference, Ms. Silvia Maretti, of NATO Public Diplomacy Division, said the Alliance is facing rapidly changing challenges in the form of new disruptive technologies, climate changes, cybersecurity, pandemics, and terrorism. “There is the need for strengthening of more political alliance – the reaffirmation of the trans-Atlantic bond and the strengthening of US-European relations. Also, it is important to strengthen the resilience of civil society.”

NATO is committed to the integration of the Western Balkans region, for which political dialogue and cooperation is the key. The focus must be on the younger generations, she said.

Speakers stressed the enormous importance of Euro-Atlantic integration for the overall development and stabilization of the region. “The fact is that NATO is an organization that brings together all the richest, most highly developed and democratic countries in the world, whose experience and support are of key importance for the future of the region”, said Prof. Dr. Slavenko Grgurevic, President of EuroBalkan, member of the East-West Bridge International Advisory Board and the organizer and moderator of the Conference.

“NATO is not only a military, but also increasingly a comprehensive political organization that protects territorial integrity, democratic values, promotes economic development, provides foreign investment stability,” he noted.

Grgurevic spoke about the economic, educational and cultural values of the Euro-Atlantic integration and the important role of young people and their mutual and global ties in improving business, educational and cultural opportunities in the region through cooperation with NATO member states.

The proposal to hold the next NATO Regional Conference in Serbia in 2022 to discuss problems and solutions in accordance with the improvement of the social position of all citizens and especially young people in all countries of the region was unanimously endorsed by Conference participants.


US-Serbian Trade Relations Recording Steady Growth

2nd panel in a series of monthly panels organized by EWB and SAFC

On May 19th, Anthony Godfrey, the Ambassador of the United States of America to Serbia, praised U.S. -Serbian economic relations as one of the strongest and continually developing aspects of the relations between the two countries.

"Serbia is an exciting market and the United States have proven to be an excellent economic partner," he said, opening the Serbian American Trade and Investment Relations conference organized by East West Bridge (EWB) and the Serbian American Friendship Congress (SAFC) in cooperation with AmCham.

Godfrey added that the meeting served to highlight the volume of trade relations between the two countries and the importance of the United States for the economic future of Serbia.

The President of the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Serbia, Zoran Petrović, pointed out that the trade relations between Serbia and the USA are improving, especially in the field of services.

He reminded the conference that AmCham is the largest independent, private association whose goal is to improve the business climate in Serbia.

"There are obstacles and we are working on them together, primarily in the rule of law, as well as improving the efficiency of public administration, the judiciary and a series of procedures, in order to improve economic results and attract even more investment by American companies in Serbia, "said Petrović.

The President of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce, Marko Čadež, stressed the great importance of preferential trade relations with the USA for the Serbian economy and the need to adopt laws avoiding double taxation.

"It is also very important that we ensure that our businesspeople, primarily engineers, get faster work permits for the jobs that they are temporarily doing in the United States," Čadež said.

He pointed out that Serbia’s export of high-tech products is on the rise, and that a large part of it goes to the US market.

Member of the Assembly of Serbia and SAFC co-founder Vladimir Marinković said that the United States give great support to the integration and economic progress of the Southeast Europe.

"It is crucial that the United States recognizes that only through the development of the economy and trade relations can the region modernize and progress towards European integration," he said.

Closing the session, EWB President Jovan Kovačić pointed out that this was only the second in a series of monthly panels organized by EWB and SAFC on different topics pertaining to US-Serbian relations and announced future panels on finance, culture, military and judicial cooperation.


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