Andrej Tisma's live chat at the American ABC News web site on March 29, 1999, during the 6th day of 78 days NATO bombing of Yugoslavia. Chat was organized and moderated by the ABC News journalist Mark Bloch and it lasted over two hours, followed by more than 360 viewers. Due to war situation and several interruptions of telephone connection Tisma did not get to answer all posed questions no matter how hard he tried, so over 550 questions were left unanswered. In order to fill the communication gaps moderator was including some previous emails he received from Tisma just before and during the bombing. Following is the original chat transcript which was slightly improved by few spelling corrections and by organizing of text parts so that answers directly follow the questions, which was not always possible in reality due to unstable telephone / internet links.

Chat With a Witness of NATO Bombings A Serb Artist Andrej Tisma
ABC News, Moderator Mark Bloch, ABCNews.com
March 29, 1999

On March 24, 1999, as NATO forces began dropping bombs on Serbia in the former Yugoslavia, I was engaged in an occasional e-mail correspondence with my artist friend Andrej Tisma in Novi Sad with whom I had exchanged art and letters continuously since the early 1980s via the international postal system in an activity known as "mail art". Since, at this historic moment, I was working at ABCNews, a major American news outlet, and information from within northern Yugoslavia was sparse, it occurred to me to ask Andrej if he would like to be interviewed in chat format for one hour by members of the American public via our web site, ABCNews.com. When he consented, I arranged for the event to take place in real time with me as the moderator, the unedited transcript of which follows below. As you will see, our discussion quickly became a heated one due to a difference of opinion or two between the Serbian artist Andrej and the aggressive American audience. Nevertheless, this was a ground-breaking early use of cyber-space to reach across international borders during a time of war. I think it is particularly notable because it grew out of our association via the mail art network, a long-distance communication precursor to what was then starting to take its place on the Internet and the World Wide Web .
At first the communication was choppy due to the sporadic phone service in Serbia so I filled in the blanks by providing excerpts from some of Andrej's recent emails of that time. Eventually the talk lasted for more than and hour and a half.


-Mark Bloch


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Moderator Mark Bloch at 1:29pm ETI have been corresponding by e-mail with Andrej for the last few days and so I will post a few excerpts from his email to keep things moving. In his email, he has summarized the conflict and reported on his reactions.
Mr Tisma wrote the following to a friend just before the first bombs hit his city:


"Here are e-mails I sent just 10 minutes before the bombing.:


Unfortunately history is repeating over and
over. Using power can't solve any problem, especially the Kosovo problem
which is old for centuries. But we will see, all we see till now are
only threats. We don't want the war, but we don't want the NATO troops
neither on our ground. Serbia stopped the Ottoman Empire in front of
Europe, Yugoslavia stopped Hitler for a while before his attack on
Russia, I hope Yugoslavia will stop Clinton (NATO) in conquering the
rest of Europe.
Bombing a country which is fighting against its inner separatist
movement could be a dangerous step. After that Spain could be bombed
because fighting Basques, France for Corsicans, England for Ireland,
China for Tibet, Russia for Chechnya, but also America for Texan
separatists etc. Or any country could be bombed for anything. That is
stupid and dangerous.
Yugoslavia is a sovereign country, not a member of NATO, so NATO has
nothing to do here, without UN's permission or without our call for
help. UN is against air strikes, we are against it, so what does NATO want on
Yugoslavian ground or sky?"
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David from [167.70.219.32], at 1:30pm ET
How is the conflict viewed in Yugoslavia by the mass population? As an American, I can only equate it to civil war, and NATO's participation as a possible breach of respect for a nation's sovereignty. At the same time, both the possible human rights violations and instability from the refugee situation might warrant action against Milosevic, but not against the population of Yugoslavia.
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Andrej Tisma at 1:31pm ET
First of all my apologies for bad spelling English
The conflict in Kosovo actually lasts since the Ottoman Empire's occupation of Serbia in 14th century. Then Turks gave to Albanians, who used to live on hills, outside of Serbia, some occupied territories. Before that only Serbs were living in Kosovo. Actually Kosovo was the first Serbia.
After that, when Serbs got free from Turks, came Austro-Hungarian occupation. Albanians also served to those occupiers. After that they served German and Italian Nazis. They were killing Serbs during all those occupations, taking their land. So Serbs have many reasons to be unsatisfied with Albanians' behavior.
It seams that Albanians are now serving the new occupier - the USA.


To David:
This conflict in Kosovo is not a civil war, but the fight between armed separatist rebels who call themselves KLA and official state Police and Army who are almost every day attacked by those rebels. Very similar as situation between Kurds and Turkish government.
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Ken Adams from [199.179.23.67], at 1:32pm ET
Mr. Tisma,
If you could how would you deal with the Albanian problem in your country?
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Andrej Tisma at 1:38pm ET
To Adams:
Albanians are just one of 26 nationalities and ethnic groups living in Serbia today. All those others are satisfied with their rights (correct me if you have heard of any other nationality complaining) just Albanians are unsatisfied. They got 50 newspapers in their language, TV, Radio, schools. What more would they need?
But they want to separate that part of country and take it with them That would be not possible. Same as in case of Kurds in Turkey, Corsicans in France, Basques in Spain, Texans in USA.
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Mandy Annand from agt.net at 1:34pm ET
Hi. I'm a thirteen year old girl living in Canada. It is 10:50 am in Canada right now, and my class is investigating this situation. Do you think that Clinton's method of peace keeping is going to work?
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Andrej Tisma at 2:23pm ET
To Mandy in Canada:
How can throwing of bombs make peace?
How can Clinton make peace with thousands of Tomahawks and bombs. Before those bombings there was relatively quiet in Kosovo (except everyday KLA attacks on civilians, Police and Army) but now, as NATO attack begun, Yugoslavian army will end with KLA, and therefore civilians are fleeing away from those fights. Clinton made that humanitarian catastrophe huge just by bombing.

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Moderator Mark Bloch at 1:37pm ET
If I may continue to share from Andrej's email from last week:


"Here is a short report on my first days of bombing of Novi Sad:
My situation? Going every day into the shelter after the air raid alarm.
Spending there 3 or 4 hours, and there you can do nothing useful or
wise, it is a stupid empty time, waiting for the sign of the end of
attack of NATO's Tomahawks and bombers.
Novi Sad was bombed two times
yesterday. I was sitting by my computer writing some e-mail, it was dark outside
and I saw a blast, orange one, far enough from my home. After
few seconds my windows were shaking. I knew it was it. Quickly I sent
that e-mail, exit Windows, and told my wife and daughter to leave our
apartment which is on the second floor. There were 3 more explosions. I
couldn't believe. Such a stupid thing by NATO to attack one sovereign
European country.
I took some important things with me and left apartment. After end of
alarm we went back home. But 1,5 hour later there was a new attack on
Novi Sad. I became really angry, but also felt helpless to do anything.
That evening about 30 targets were bombed all over Yugoslavia."
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Moderator Mark Bloch at 1:39pm ET
Continuing with Andrej's email from last week to give some background:


"Later I heard 2 airplanes and 6 Tomahawks were destroyed by our artillery.
Also report from our hospitals say there are about 10 dead and 20
wounded in all Yugoslavian region till now, among them few civilians.
"Today I was again in the shelter. There we watch TV, CNN, Sky News and
we look at the loads of bombs they are putting into B52 bombers, and we
know they will come soon. Really stupid and non creative situation.
In the meantime I walked in the park with my wife, it was hot and sunny.
Park was totally empty. We enjoyed nature. This evening coming back from
shelter we enjoyed moon light, because the city is without lights.
During the night I slept completely dressed, in case I have to leave my
apartment. But at six o'clock alarm was finished, so I undressed and
slept in my comfortable bed till 9. After that I went to work. Really
awful and stupid."
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Jack from om-inc.com at 1:40pm ET
You state that you are avidly against NATO action, but are you also against the ethnic cleansing or do you even believe that this is occurring.
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Andrej Tisma at 2:13pm ET
To Jack:
I don't know what you call cleansing, but if you think of planed killing of one nationality like in Nazis' time, I am of course against that. But in Kosovo there were, and still are clashes between Kosovo Liberation Army rebels and state police officers and soldiers. How can an armed group of people be allowed to kill whoever they want, kidnap people, kill civilians, even children (remember cafe "Panda" in Pec where 6 young Serbs were killed). Which country would tolerate that.
And those terrorists are often hiding in villages, village houses which are transformed into bunkers or fortresses, and they keep Albanian civilians around them as hostages (cowards). So it happens sometimes that civilians are victims. But not planned by police. Sometimes killed KLA rebels are dressed in civilian clothes, but sometimes they dress them in civilian clothes after they have been shot. That is the secret of dead "civilians". Such case was in village of Racak, when police found gun powder on hands of those killed "civilians" who shot at police.

L. Hardy from [207.135.231.126], at 1:43pm ET
If you could speak directly to BOTH presidents and the Sec. of NATO what would you say to them today?
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Moderator Mark Bloch at 1:52pm ET
More from Andrej's correspondence by email (7pm Thurs night NYC):


"Dear friend,
It is now 1:27 AM and I am very tired. Now I can do nothing. I slept
only few hours last night. This evening I dedicated to answer some
e-mails. But I am not sure when I'll be able next time.
Best,
Andrej"
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Moderator Mark Bloch at 1:59pm ET
More from Andrej's correspondence by email (Friday 2:56 pm NYC time):


"Dear friend,
The air raid stopped, so I go home, and we will continue from there.
Andrej"
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Moderator Mark Bloch at 2:05pm ET
This message from Andrej was received yesterday (Sunday 3/28) morning to arrange this chat:


"We could make a precise time. But often I go to shelter or to do
some other things, or for a walk.
Andrej
PS Novi Sad was bombed again six times this night."
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Blaz from [194.249.2.58], at 2:07pm ET
Hello mr. Tisma. I am from Slovenia and I have this question: What is your attitude to the Milosevic's politics and does he still have a lot of support from the side of people?
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Nancy from [206.229.88.2], at 2:17pm ET
So aside from missing a little sleep how has your life changed?
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Andrej Tisma at 2:29pm ET
to Nancy:
My life has changed a lot. First of all I am gravely disappointed with the USA, their image of democracy in which they can bomb anybody who is not living in their way of life. I am disgusted. And all Yugoslavian people are disgusted with Clinton, Cook, Albright etc.
And Milosevic, of course, is getting stronger. All Yugoslavians are now united, against NATO
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George from [206.151.98.2], at 2:18pm ET
You say you don't like being bombed, but what have you done to get your government to stop bombing and killing the Kosovars?
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Moderator Mark Bloch at 2:25pm ET
Andrej, politicians can argue forever. But you are an artist living in Novi Sad on a Monday night. Please tell us what it is like to be there at this moment.
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Andrej Tisma at 2:33pm ET
to Moderator:
To be an artist or not, when you are expecting bombs to fall onto your native town, is the same. But this night I will print some anti-NATO graphics and will go to a gallery to exhibit them. Several artists will come and bring anti-NATO works. That will be my best reaction.
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joe b. from [38.30.72.247], at 2:27pm ET
I am an American and I don't want to see Serb people die...however when I see thousands upon thousands of Albanians crossing the border into other countries, saying "the serbs are systematically killing thousands of men, women and children...*even as I type this* . There cannot be a *mass conspiracy* against Serbia, when 18 countries and hundreds of thousands of people are all claiming this is happening RIGHT NOW. What I would like to know is, in the face of all this proof, how the Serbs can continue to maintain it is all lies?
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Andrej Tisma at 2:47pm ET
to Joe:
You don't see Serbs die, but you see Albanians refugees leaving... Do you see Albanians die, I mean refugees die? But have you seen Serbian policemen dead, their funerals? Maybe they are not showing them in CNN.
Refugees are not a problem, but those dead people. But be sure that mostly KLA separatist terrorist are killed, same as terrorists in Ireland, Corsica, Spain, Kurds etc
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BILLYBOB from [204.143.189.98], at 2:31pm ET
WOULD YOU CARE IF A ROCKET ACCIDENTALLY BLEW UP YOUR HOUSE?
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Andrej Tisma at 2:36pm ET
To Billybob Cigar:
And would you care it would blew yours?
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Moderator Mark Bloch at 2:34pm ET
We're going to keep this chat going on for a while longer; thank you for your patience -- we realize the question-and-answer rhythm has been a little hard to follow, but the phone lines from Novi Sad have been up and down, so we've been having some connection problems with Andrej. Thanks for your patience.
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Moderator Mark Bloch at 2:36pm ET
What happens isnside the bomb shelter? How many people are there? What do they do?
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Moderator Mark Bloch at 2:38pm ET
I think most people here are not familiar with the experience of hearing an air raid siren and running to a shelter. Perhaps you could describe a few details.
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Andrej Tisma at 2:54pm ET
now about shelters:
No we are not afraid. Many people don't go to shelter, led by ethical reasons. They don't want to be seen as cowards. I can inform you that last two days a big rock concert was held in the center of Belgrade with tens of thousands of visitors, against the NATO bombing. It was held in the time of air raid and all people in the audience were holding paper targets in their hands.
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Daniel Talbot from [24.64.3.105], at 2:43pm ET
As a para-medic from Canada,do you require outside medical services at this time. As a Canadian, how can we help your people with medical services?
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Andrej Tisma at 2:49pm ET
to Daniel:
Dear medic, better stop throwing bombs on our heads
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Blaz from dial-up.arnes.si at 2:46pm ET
Dear Tisma, as an artist, how do you think this war will influence on future art?
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Monupics from ipt.aol.com at 2:48pm ET
WHO CARES what they do in a bomb shelter? If they had an ounce of moral courage they would be marching on their own government and dragging that murderous pig Milosevic through the streets like Mussolini.
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Craig from [198.206.216.5], at 2:48pm ET
Dear Moderator;
I don't believe you will find him interested in describing either the air raid experience or his travails in a shelter or the effects of the bombing. It would imply that he is on the wrong side, when he is actively engaged in convincing himself that he is on the righteous side.
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Moderator Mark Bloch at 2:51pm ET
As I said before, any politician, or any citizen, for that matter, of any country on the planet can argue endlessly about war and who is right and what it means.
I was more curious about something only Andrej and his fellows can answer: how DAY TO DAY life has been affected by the NATO air strikes.
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Moderator Mark Bloch at 2:57pm ET
How do the Serbian authorities feel about this?
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Andrej Tisma at 3:04pm ET
To Moderator:
You ask me how do our authorities feel about this. Look, 16 countries are attacking one small country. Is that fair. Isn't that too much. Isn't that barbarism. Our authorities are brave and don't want to let NATO troops into Kosovo. And what is more important our people don't let them too. Because Kosovo is for Serbs as Jerusalem for Jews. The cradle of their state and culture, with about 1.500 Serbian churches and monasteries. It is impossible to give up. Nobody could.
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California from [208.255.162.105], at 3:02pm ET
Andrej,
All Americans want an end to the conflict- listening to either side state their views lends creedance to either's argument- but this conflict must end and can only do so through a political solution- one that the USA has no business participating in BUT NATO does. Please don't hate the USA because of our alliance with NATO- our people are not happy about what's happening but what can we do??? We are all hoping that ongoing Russian diplomacy helps. Stay safe!!
California Friend
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kaross from [209.94.150.110], at 3:02pm ET
Thank you....you have courage, endurance to tell the truth...americans do not know what war is like...or even big environmental disasters...They have lost their conscience, knowing what is right from what is wrong...I cry for our loss of common sense...bombing Kosovo under the disguise of "peace"....another tragic mis-adventure...criminals are "right" and non-criminals are "wrong"...I apologize to you and the Serbian people, and their government...
my heart is breaking. God speed.
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Christopher T. from [205.188.199.49], at 3:02pm ET
As an American, I am very much against the NATO bombings because I think it is just making the situation much worse. It was only after we told the European monitors to leave, and started bombing that the atrocities escalated to this horrible level.
I must say though that Mr. Tisma is being blind to the situation and I hope he realizes that he is being manipulated by Serb propaganda just as we are manipulated by US propaganda. Milosovic is not a good person, he showed that in Bosnia so please don't show your lack of intelligence and be led by a chain. We are also being led by a gung-ho military that should have never started this in the first place. We could have dealt with Milosovic in a more constructive way but I'm afraid we are now walking into a disaster.
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Larry from [216.99.197.25], at 3:02pm ET
Andrej, are your political views guided mostly by your government and media, or by your day-to-day experiences?
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Greg Sterling from [205.227.43.13], at 3:03pm ET
There is absolutely no difference between the Sebian government's campaign of "ethnic cleansing" and the Nazi's systematic extermination of Jews, Gays, and the disabled in WWII.
Given the refusal of the Serbian government to engage in good faith peace negotiations, force is the only way to address Serbian genocide.
I cannot express strongly enough my shock and outrage at the brutality being directed toward the ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.
The Serbian troops and paramilitaries are monsters. What kind of ethnic hatred can reduce a human being to such barbarism?
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Andrej Tisma at 3:31pm ET
to Sterling:
Serbian state is just fighting against KLA gangsters. Instead of explenation I reccomand you to see some facts of KLA bestiality at URL:
http://www.atisma.com/kosovo3.htm
I can clame that in fact Albanians, as majority in Kosovo are doing genocide over Serbs who still live there.
If Albanians are victims of genocide, how would you explaine that they made 60% of population in Kosovo before ww2 and they make 90% now? Use your brain.
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Moderator Mark Bloch at 3:08pm ET

Please share any final words with us Andrej.


Andrej Tisma at 3:37pm ET
To Moderator:
Yes, the final words, because I am also tired, I have to go
to gallery now to put anti-NATO works (it is 22:30 here)
and I am ready to chat with you some other time too.
Thanks for your attention.
Last thing I would like to say is that USA and Clinton
don't bother about Albanians nor Serbs, but he wants to stay in Kosovo because of strategic reasons (closer to Russia, Europe...) and he uses the Kosovo ethnic conflict just as an excuse for intervention. In fact USA was supporting KLA rebels all these years, and today too, so everything is clear. But it
would be more useful for USA to cooperate with Serbia, the multiethnic state, and not with separatists, chauvinist KLA.
Now I am leaving.
Andrej

Moderator Mark Bloch
Thank you Andrej for your participation in this event. And thanks again to all who sent questions.