The Z-4 Plan and the Run-up to Operation Storm - August 28, 2004


Written by: Andy Wilcoxson


Throughout 1995 the Contact Group was conducting peace negotiations in Geneva between the Republika Srpska Krajina (RSK) Government, and the Croatian Government.


On August 3, 1995 the RSK Prime Minister, Milan Babic, announced that Kinin had accepted the so-called "Z-4 Plan" which envisioned the integration of the RSK into the Croatian state, while giving autonomy to the Serbs living there. Babic had reached the agreement on August 2nd through negotiations with the U.S. Ambassador to Croatia, Peter Galbraith.


Unfortunately, the Krajina Serbs’ acceptance of the Z-4 Plan was rejected by Croatia, and Operation Storm was launched the next day. During Operation Storm the Croats killed or expelled approximately 200,000 Serbs. This article will examine the events that immediately preceded Operation Storm.


On August 3rd Galbraith went on Croatian TV and announced that "Mr. Babic agreed to negotiate the reintegration of the Serb-held areas in Croatia. Mr. Babic said that he was going to instruct his delegation in Geneva about these points. According to our reports, he has already done so." [1]


According to an August 3, 1995 interview that Babic gave to Serbia's FoNet news agency, Galbraith had promised that the United States would protect the Krajina Serbs from any Croatian military offensive.


Babic told FoNet that: "I spoke to US Ambassador [to Croatia, Peter] Galbraith last night. Today I also made a statement which supported the stand of our delegation in Geneva. Mr. Galbraith promised me that his government would uphold our stand and that it would intervene to prevent Croatia from carrying out its military strike, provided we made public the stands we adopted earlier and which we made public today." [2]


Unfortunately, in spite of the good-will of the Serbian side, the Croats had no intention of reaching a peace agreement and broke-off negotiations.


According to Babic, "Despite the fact that our delegation had accepted all of the co-chairman, [Thorvald Stoltenberg's] proposals, the Croats did not accept anything and broke off today's talks." [3]


Babic's claims were backed-up by Glasgow's "The Herald" newspaper. Consider the following excerpts from the August 4th edition of that paper:


Last night [August 3, 1995], an American mediator said a leader of the rebel Krajina Serbs had offered significant concessions so that there was now no reason for Croatia to go to war.


The US ambassador to Croatia, Mr. Peter Galbraith, said Krajina Serb “prime minister” Milan Babic had agreed to hold talks on the “peaceful re-integration” into Croatia of Serb-held areas." [4]




“On my part, I can state that we are ready to enter negotiations on a political solution with Zagreb,” Babic said.


He said a “modified and improved” version of the so-called Z-4 plan drafted by the United States, Russia, the United Nations, and the European Union could serve as a basis for talks. [5]




Ambassador Galbraith said Babic had told the Serb delegation holding last-ditch talks in Geneva to carry out his pledges. The Croatians in Geneva consider the talks to have broken down.


However, UN mediator Thorvald Stoltenberg said the discussions in Geneva could yet help to avert a new war. “We did not reach an agreement but I felt it is not far away,” he told reporters. [6]


The Serbian side had agreed to the Z-4 Plan. Babic publicly stated his acceptance of the Z-4 Plan. He had instructed his negotiators in Geneva to implement the agreement, and the U.S. Ambassador Galbraith confirmed all of this with his public statements. In spite of all of this the Croats still decided to break off talks. But why; what justification did they use to break off the talks?


The answer to that question is contained in the transcripts of the so-called "trial" of Slobodan Milosevic.


When Milan Babic testified as a witness against Milosevic, the prosecution entered into evidence [as Exhibit 352, tab 104] a coded-cable dated August 3, 1995 from the U.K. embassy in Zagreb, regarding a conversation between Galbraith and Babic.


The cable read: "RSK Prime Minister tells my American colleague that to avoid war he is ready to meet Tudjman's conditions and will announce this today. Unclear whether he has other RSK leadership on board. Milosevic being briefed by Americans on Galbraith's discussions with Babic, need to get Belgrade backing to lend credibility." [7]


When the prosecutor, Ms. Uertz-Retzlaff, put the cable to Babic to get his reaction he said:


"I don't know about any briefing of Milosevic by international factors. All I know is that a member of the French embassy in Belgrade had told me that Milosevic did not support us." [8]


Milosevic was not briefed by the Americans. Galbraith complained that they could not get a hold of Milosevic, but we'll discuss that later.


At this point we can start to see what gave the Croats their excuse to break-off the negotiations. The French said that Milosevic did not support the Z-4 Plan, and the British said that without his support the negotiations had no credibility. Therefore, the Croats could say that the negotiations were not being done in good-faith, and had their excuse to break off the talks.


Of course it is totally false that Milosevic didn't support the Z-4 Plan. Already in April 1995, Milosevic told Babic that Z-4 was "a good plan." [9]


When Babic, through his negotiations with Galbraith, agreed to the Z-4 Plan; he called Milosevic on the morning of August 3, 1995 to inform him. According to Babic, Milosevic approved and said, "Yes. Yes. Everything should be done peacefully [or 'mirno' in Serbian]." [10]


So, twice Milosevic told Babic that Z-4 was a good plan. He told him that it was good four months before he agreed to it, and he supported Babic’s decision when he agreed to it in the negotiations with Galbraith.


Of course, none of this stopped Galbraith from blaming Milosevic for the talks breaking down. Never mind that neither Serbia, nor the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was even invited to those talks.


When Galbraith testified he said, "In August of 1995, this was August 2nd, this was the meeting I had in Belgrade with Babic which produced the last-minute agreement to try to head off the war."


"The next day Rudy Perina [the US charges d'affaires in Belgrade] requested an appointment to see Mr. Milosevic to demarche him to support the Galbraith-Babic agreement. He refused to see Mr. Perina that day, the 3rd of August, and the next day the Croatian army attacked the Krajina." [11]


It is completely untrue that Milosevic "refused to see Perina." Milosevic was not in Belgrade on August 3rd, and therefore he could not possibly see Perina in Belgrade. However, this doesn't mean that Perina couldn't speak to him on the phone, and secure his support for the agreement in that way.


Take a look at the following exchange between Milosevic and Galbraith:


MILOSEVIC: Mr. Galbraith, I never refused to receive Rudy Perina. I wasn't in Belgrade at that time.


MR. MAY: It's no use repeating that. You've heard what the witness says. If you can give evidence about it, no doubt you may.


GALBRAITH: Your Honour, if I can point out, even if the [accused] were not in Belgrade, which I don't know, there are telephones, and we did use telephones to talk to leaders on urgent matters.


MILOSEVIC: Why then didn't they speak to me by telephone? They didn't want to talk to me, Mr. Galbraith. Why don't you say that?


GALBRAITH: We desperately wanted to talk to you. We desperately wanted you to support this last-minute agreement. We desperately wanted to head off the war. Mr. Babic also wanted to see you and get you to support this last-minute agreement. As he said to me, one sentence from you and Knin would have agreed, and I think there would have been a very good chance at that point that Operation Storm, even at that last minute, Operation Storm could have been headed off and a 180.000 Serbs from the Krajina would not have been driven from their homes and a huge humanitarian catastrophe would not have happened.


MILOSEVIC: Mr. Galbraith, Babic testified here. He asked to see me. He heard that I wasn't in Belgrade. He asked for my telephone from people from the Ministry of the Interior, and my telephone was known to all my associates always. I was on vacation. He reached me by phone.  [12]


At this point Milosevic is cut-off by Mr. May, but notice that Galbraith didn’t explain how come nobody called Milosevic, even though he claims that they “desperately wanted to talk to him.” However, later in the cross-examination Milosevic re-visits the topic and look at the lame answer that he gets from Galbraith: 


MILOSEVIC: Before we move on, just one thing, please. Since you said that you could not reach me, that Perina could not reach me, that Roberts could not reach me because I was away on vacation, if you already wanted to give this kind of information, why didn't you give it to the Foreign Minister, the Prime Minister, anybody, or why didn't you request telephone contact with me? It was possible at any time.


GALBRAITH: It was for -- referring now to the August meeting or August 3rd events, it was for the charges of the United States to try to get in contact with you. He attempted to get in contact with you. I don't know the particulars of it. Some of these officials the United States did not see because we did not recognise the government of -- of the so-called Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.


MILOSEVIC: That's not correct. Perina contacted the Foreign Minister, Jovanovic, and many others. So if you really cared about this, if you really wanted to convey some information or a demarche, are you trying to say that the US charges d'affaires could not deliver this at my office and would he not have known that I would have gotten it immediately for sure, or couldn't he have requested to speak to me on the telephone? He didn't ask for any such thing. He just asked for me to receive him and the answer given to him was I was not in Belgrade and that was it.


There's a saying in Serbia, Mr. Galbraith, and it says that a person requests something and prays to God not to get it. So I think that this was the case. [13]


Galbraith's answer is nonsense; the U.S. wouldn't contact any officials of the FRY Government to try and get in contact with Milosevic, because the U.S. didn't recognize the FRY. That is obviously a lie.


Milosevic is right; Galbraith never wanted to contact him. Galbraith wanted the negotiations to fail. He wanted the Croats to attack the Krajina Serbs, and now he wants to make Milosevic the scapegoat, and blame him for the genocide that was committed against his own people.


Look at what happened: France made up the lie that Milosevic didn’t support the Z-4 Plan; the U.K. decided that the negotiations had no credibility without Milosevic’s support, the Americans deliberately failed to contact Milosevic to see if he supported the plan or not, then the Croats broke off talks and launched Operation Storm.


The international community, specifically France, England and the U.S. undermined the, negotiations by lying about Milosevic’s position, and handed the Croats the pretext to break-off negotiations, and that’s not all. The Americans gave the Croats the go-ahead to attack.


On August 18, 1995, just two weeks after Operation Storm, Galbraith and Richard Holbrooke went to Zagreb and met with Tudjman and his cabinet. The stenographic notes from that meeting were obtained by Milosevic and entered into evidence at the tribunal. In the stenographic notes Holbrooke is quoted as saying:


"You had just justification for a military operation in Western Slavonia, and I kept defending it in Washington. You will recall that the two of us met in London immediately afterwards, and then we went to the US embassy to meet Gore. It was a very dramatic exchange of views. Some people wanted Gore to tell you -- tell us that you would be withdrawing from Western Slavonia and we said absolutely not. You have to stay there.”


“You've closed the back door, that is to say, your country, and then we discussed your activities in Livanjsko Polje, and then we stated the following: Continue, carry on."


"We publicly said that we were concerned. However, privately, you knew what we wanted." [14]


So, Holbrooke is boasting that he defended Operation Flash (the Croat attack on Western Slavonia) in Washington. Then he tells the Croats to “carry on” with activities in Livanjsko Polje where they were getting ready for Operation Storm, and then at this meeting that took place only two weeks after Operation Storm, he says to Tudjman “We publicly said that we were concerned. However, privately, you knew what we wanted.”


The writing is on the wall. The international community and the Croats had the same objective: To commit genocide against the Krajina Serbs. Holbrooke publicly professed concern for the fate of the civilians in the Krajina, while secretly plotting their demise together with Tudjman.


On August 3rd Galbraith was promising Babic that the United States would protect the Krajina Serbs [15], and the very next day, as Croatia was waging its offensive, American warplanes were bombing the Krajina Serbs’ air defense systems. [16]


The day before Croatia launched Operation Storm, Galbraith said that there was no reason for Croatia to go to war, since there was now an agreement with Babic [17], but when Galbraith testified he sang a different tune, and mocked Milosevic for being surprised when the Croats attacked.

Galbraith said: “I mean, I don't -- Mr. Milosevic must have been very cut off on top of the mountain, because everybody else in the world understood that in August 1995, Europe was on the verge of the biggest battle since the Second World War. And how any leader, any responsible leader could be on vacation with all this happening and with the fate of so many people, may I add, so many Serbs, at stake, I cannot understand. But, you know, it was clear that the Croatians were going to attack. It was in the press. It was -- their forces were mobilised. I mean, he could not have not known this. -- And so -- I mean, what else can I say?” [18]

Galbraith, who personally, the day before the attack took place reached an agreement with Babic, and said that there was no reason for an attack, is now saying that everybody knew there would be an attack and that Milosevic was stupid for not seeing it?!


The implication that Galbraith is making is that Milosevic knew about the attack in advance, and could have somehow stopped it, but didn’t.


It defies logic that anybody would think that an attack would happen after a peace agreement had been reached. Babic agreed to the Z-4 Plan. Milosevic supported the Z-4 Plan. Galbraith promised Babic that the United States would stop any Croatian attack. The British Embassy’s August 3, 1995 coded-cable stated that Babic was “ready to meet Tudjman's conditions.” Galbraith had said himself that there was no reason for the Croats to launch a war.


How was Milosevic supposed to know that an attack would happen? And what could he have done about it even if he did know? Babic agreed to the Z-4 Plan, and agreed to Tudjman’s conditions. Did Galbraith want Milosevic to send in the Yugoslav Army so that Serbia could be accused of “aggression” and bombed that much sooner?


Croatia and the International Community committed a horrific crime against the Serbian people. Operation Storm was pure evil, and those responsible for it such as, Holbrooke, Galbraith, and Tudjman should burn for what they did.




1. Croatian TV satellite service, Zagreb, in Serbo-Croat 1730 gmt 3 Aug 95

    BBC Monitoring 5 Aug 95, "Krajina Serb leader reportedly agrees concessions to Croatia"


2. FoNet news agency, Belgrade, in Serbo-Croat 2015 gmt 3 Aug 95

    BBC Monitoring 5 Aug 95, "Babic comments on Geneva outcome"


3. Ibid.


4. The Herald (Glasgow), August 4, 1995, "Shelling starts as Serbs offer a deal"


5. Ibid.


6. Ibid.


7. Milosevic trial transcript - November 21, 2002 - page 13261, line 24.


8. Milosevic trial transcript - November 21, 2002 - page 13262, line 6


9. Milosevic trial transcript - June 26, 2003 - page 23162, line 17


10. Milosevic trial transcript - November 21, 2002 - page 13260, line 6


11. Milosevic trial transcript - June 26, 2003 - page 23157, line 20


12. Milosevic trial transcript - June 26, 2003 - page 23158, line 3


13. Milosevic trial transcript - June 26, 2003 - page 23169, line 22


14. Milosevic trial transcript - January 22, 2004 - page 31373, line 8


15. FoNet news agency, Belgrade, in Serbo-Croat 2015 gmt 3 Aug 95

     BBC Monitoring 5 Aug 95, "Babic comments on Geneva outcome"


16. The Navy Times, "August 25, 1995, "Navy jets bomb Serb missile sites"


17. The Herald (Glasgow), August 4, 1995, "Shelling starts as Serbs offer a deal"


18. Milosevic trial transcript - June 26, 2003 - page 23160, line 1


19. Milosevic trial transcript - November 21, 2002 - page 13261, line 24

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