BELGRADE -- Friday – A parody of a Beach Boys hit about the 1999 NATO attacks on Yugoslavia has created a storm after the emergence of a video of the song made by Norwegian “peacekeepers” in the province.
Seattle talk show host Bob Rivers used his parody of “Kokomo” to ridicule what he saw as the nonchalant way the US had extended its mission as world policeman into Serbia’s southern province.
At the time, the song provoked little comment. But in 2002 a group of Norwegian KFOR soldiers in Kosovo came across it and decided to make a video.
The two-and-half-minute video shows four soldiers miming to the music -- dancing on watchtowers and armoured trucks, wearing bullet-proof vests and little else, performing routines in their military compound and throwing mineral water on one another.
That was that until Belgrade’s BK Television found the video and broadcast it. It incited an uproar with lyrics which include verses such as “Protecting human rights, air strikes and fire fights, we’ll be dropping our bombs wherever Serbian bad guys hide.
But it wasn’t only the “Serbian bad guys” who were upset. The video is critical of NATO’s presence in Kosovo, the province which it first bombed then overran with thousands of largely ineffective peacekeepers.
A senior adviser to Serbia's prime minister, Vojislav Kostunica, said the video suggested that the NATO mission, which claims to deal equally with the province's majority Albanian population and its Serb community, was biased.
''Such things only help the Serbian side to prove that there is no security in Kosovo, no respect for human rights and no multiethnicity,'' Agence France-Presse quoted the adviser, Slobodan Samardzic, as saying.
''The president was very shocked to learn about this,'' said Vuk Jeremic, the senior foreign policy adviser to Serbian President Boris Tadic. Tadic was particularly upset because the soldiers came from Norway, a country with a strong record for peace initiatives and conflict resolution, said Jeremic.
The video showed that four years after the collapse of Slobodan Milosevic's autocratic government in Serbia, the nation's image abroad is still sullied. ''This is what boys from Norway think about Serbs,'' he said.
Norway's ambassador to Serbia and Montenegro, Hans Ola Urstad, promptly issued an apology calling the video ''highly regrettable'' and promised an investigation. He expressed hope that the video would not do ''serious harm to the longstanding and deep friendship between Serbia-Montenegro and Norway.''
A spokesman for the Norwegian Ministry of Defence said this month that there would be no proceedings against the six soldiers responsible for the video because they had all left the army.
NY Times & B92