The Norwegian Armed Forces is very aware that I am an outspoken critic of NATO’s role in the Balkans and other places in the world. Despite this, they decided that I should receive a distinction for my job in KFOR.
This means that I have many friends in the army that appreciate what I do, and the recognition from my old colleagues is tremendously important for me.
Officially, I live in Norway, and how the army found my address in Belgrade is still a big mystery for me. But on May 16, I received a letter to my address in Belgrade, with a deadline to reply on May 15 with an invitation to receive a distinction.
On May 28, I came from Belgrade to the Nidaros Cathedral in my home city of Trondheim to receive the official pin from Sør-Trøndelag County Municipality and a certificate of appreciation from Trondheim’s Mayor Rita Ottervik.
After the ceremony I had a chance to have a chat with Ottervik, and I told her that many veterans have contacted me and expressed their disgust that they have been abused for political purposes while being told that we were fighting for freedom and democracy.
A couple of days, one of my former officer colleagues wrote the following to me: “Many of us have discovered that we have become a small piece in a big political game. I cannot express how annoyed I am with this.”
As you see in from the certificate of appreciation on the left, it is a presumption that operations carried out by the Norwegian Armed Forces serve peace, but I would urge Norwegian and Western politicians to think through their rhetoric. In 2011, we went to war against Libya, not after a thorough parliamentary discussion but a couple of SMS messages. In December last year, Libya implemented Sharia law. NATO and the West do not have monopoly to define democracy and freedom.
OK, since I live in Serbia, and I love living there, but the Balkans is also the place for outrageous conspiracy theories. A very good friend of mine suggested that this was a trap made by former Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik to attack me later for receiving a distinction from the army I criticize.
But first of all, I do not criticize the Norwegian Armed Forces or my former colleagues but the politicians who gave us an impossible job. I am a Norwegian patriot, and if our freedom or sovereignty is threatened, I will defend my country.
Do not forget that there are many heroes in the Norwegian army, like my colleague who shot and killed two Albanians as they tried to attack the Serbian enclave of Čaglavica on March 17, 2004. Below, you can see a video of how Norwegian soldiers in Kosovo fought these days to protect Serbian lives on March 17, 2004. (The article continues under the video.)
I did a heck of a job in KFOR, leading their internet page, and when I finished my service in July 2000, kforonline.com (now nato.int/kfor) had 130,000 hits daily, which was a lot at this early time of the WWW.
Although I am not not at all comfortable the statements I made in KFOR, I am grateful that I have this experience because I have a better voice to warn politicians to make aggressive wars far away from home.
Arne Kristian Gansmo from the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation, NRK, made a live interview with me outside the Nidaros Cathedral, but when I started to speak about my reaction to meeting the Maslovarić family from Istok, it was quite emotional for me. Even if tears come easier now than before, I hope I can make a difference with my stories. You can click here or on the picture to listen to the interview in Norwegian.