The brave leutenant who refused to participate in NATO bombings of 1999 against Serbia,
remembers us during the days of fire and talks about the price of conscience.
On March 24, 1999, NATO openly launched its ruthless bombings against Yugoslavia, backing the “inflammatory” and direct criminal action of the UCK paramilitary organization of Albanian nationalism – in Pristina and the wider region of Kosovo.
The purpose was to separate Kosovo from Serbia’s body, though this region carries the soul of the Serbian nation as the place of corrupting all of its Kings throughout history
and as the ultimate barrage of King Lazarus’ resistance to the hordes of Muhammad.
The hawks of Washington, wanted treasures of Kosovo like deposit and gold which the Serbs did not give in vain. For 78 nightmarish days, American and Heavenly Europeans, sadly, sweep this proud orthodox country with death and wickedness.
20 years of shameful bombing of NATO, Lieutenant Marinos Ritsoudis shares with us that crucial challenge of his History and Conscience.
He responded in writing to all of our questions, explaining “what made him compose with the struggle of the Serbs”, and “what gave him strength to endure,” not hesitating to unravel his truth.
A Truth of Deep Faith and Unleavened Complaint in Higher Ideas, which preserve the honor of Man.
1. 20 years since your refusal to join THEMISTOKLIS in NATO operations against Serbia when Greece was invited to join them as a member of the North Atlantic Alliance. Let’s start from the beginning: What exactly was assigned to the ship THEMISTOKLIS?
THEMISTOKLIS was a ship of multiple naval operations, so it was useful for many naval missions to the NATO force that was operating in the Adriatic, including warships, land army, and warships.
Before departure, we were informed that the ship would participate in the embargo on Serbia, from the Adriatic Sea. It would therefore prevent any assistance to Serbia by sea. And this, in itself, is a separate hostile act towards Serbia, which is prohibited by the International Treaties.
2. How did you feel when you received the mandate to assist the NATO mission?
Was it your decision not to obey it?
I was tortuously slow to make the decision from the very beginning that was born as a way of reconciliation with the good morals of Greece and until the last moment, as I had to be courageous to deal with any dilemmas, to find the exact mission ship, to be informed of the consequences of this “non-boarding”.
Most importantly, I should regain the courage to express myself in the leadership of Greek Forces – and the power, ultimately, not to follow the mission.
3. What was it that bore and gave you the strength to choose the rough road?
All the conditions together, step by step, created an insurmountable obstacle, so big and so strong that you felt it was inaccessible, when it was clear to me that the ship’s participation was not a mission like those known by NATO Alliance.
Facing up with this tremendous trial, I had to choose to stay upright, and – Grace of Jesus Christ – eventually I followed the law and the law, because the mission of the ship was illegal according to the Constitution of Greece, the imperatives of the International Law and decisions of the United Nations.
4. Who did you announce your decision first?
Leaving my house, for the service, the day the ship sailed from the Salamis Naval Station to the Adriatic, on 18/4/1999 at 08:00 am, my wife asked me what my final decision would be.
I told her “I have not decided yet what to do ..”
And I actually left the house, and while I was heading to the Navy, I did not go to Themistocles, but I went and set myself on Destroyer Command saying ” For Orthodox consciousness I can not participate – not at all – and fly against the Orthodox, in this war.”
5. Have there been any reactions from your familiar environment?
My familiar environment has accepted and respected my decision because they all know me well.
6. What has been done by your service?
At the beginning, when I was introduced to the Detroit Command, I announced my decision. They tried to persuade me not to resign by talking to me about good paragon for my soldiers, about the important alliance with America, threats from Turkey etc.
In the end, when they saw me immobile – Bless of Jesus Christ – they informed me of my future, the way to the Naval Court, and the detachment from the NN.
7. Have there been other colleagues who have chosen a similar attitude with you refusing to take part in this dirty war against Serbia?
Nobody wished this participation. But the military discipline of the Military Service and the government’s untold stance on ” Greece’s strict participation in this NATO operation,” accompanied by announcements of rigorous consequences for the respondents, shifted their minds.
8. You invoke reasons of religious conscience? Would you like to analyze the path of your thought a bit? Would you like to analyze the path of your thought a bit?
As an Orthodox Christian, I would not be against another state, other Orthodox, which did not threaten the geographical integrity of Greece. The process is simple, but the path becomes inaccessible. Inside you, you feel the betrayal done by the government, and you disagree radically. Over time, this internal reaction is boosted by the fact that, step by step, the game is played in the Balkans. The play of accounts with all sorts of phobias also plays a huge role. But each time the name Jesus brought “Distinction”, Enlightenment and Faith.
9. Have you been supportive of this test?
All Hellenes who believe in great Values, traditions and Orthodoxy. I had the Saints of the heavenly Holy Church, as supporters of mine. I felt it very intensely and filled me with great joy.
Besides, in the videos outside of the Naval Court, without realizing how it happened, I appeared with the smile.
This strange, “being condemned and smiling,” was commented by television journalists. This was also the “stamp” that my choice was right and honest.
10. What consequences did your decision precisely brought on your career and your personal life in general?
Many blessings in my life.
13. You have denounced Greece to the Court of Human Rights.
What was your rationale?
I did not complain to the Human Rights Court in Greece.I wanted a petition for rescission of the sentence of the NDA, which was also ratified by the Council of Ministers. The reason behind this objection was purely due to rights. I wanted to see how the Europeans, knowing that there would be no justice in Europe. I want another injustice, to have it as “a blessing” for the Other Life, for that terrible Criterion of God at the Court of Souls.
15. How did the Serbian public opinion respond to your actions?
The feelings I felt, and that Serbs felt for me, were undescibeable. I realised it when I visited Serbia: It is not a small thing when , nuns kiss your hands…
However want to say here, that I’m not the hero but the Serbian people who resisted so bravely and defended their homeland toward all.
16. Why do you think the Greek media did not extend your business?
Did you avoid inviting yourself to refer to it or was there deliberate silence?
Journalists in Greece showed all the events and my trial as well, trying always through their constant questions, to make me confess that I was mistaken, and to show me in depression and regrets.But I knew that I was taking the right way which they didnt want to show.
17.What was your life after your demobilization?
I was disowned, punished with the worst constitutional punishment, that of the Deposition, given to the Traitors of the Fatherland!
Then I followed the same sea road to the Navy.
I became Marine Commander.
18. How do you value the attitude of the Greek people towards the Serbian in the painful quarter of the bombings?
Very important was the action of the common people in favor of the Orthodox Serb brothers.
19. You have denied your celebration by the Serbian Parliament, despite your love for this people. Why?
Generally, I was negative on titles and festivities from Prefects, Mayors and various clubs.
Someone even asked me for a bank account to send me money. I immediately answered him negatively.
I have also refused the offer to receive pension from Serbia.
My attitude to this issue is clear from the start.
When such issues – consciously – are given benefits and you are praised, it
is as if they are diminished in their prestige and, ultimately, they are misplaced.
20. In 2018, however, Patriarch Irinej honored you in Serbia. Tell us about it.
It was a great wish of Orthodox Serbia. I have nothing to say … And there, at the beginning I said no, but eventually I changed my mind because I did not want to despise the will of all the people of Serbia. That’s why, while I did not consider myself my hero, I received the prize from the Serbian Patriarchate because the Serbian people needed it: The Serbs seek to support international public opinion and feel proud that a military Officer outside of Serbia has supported them in this war. However, it was a great honor for me.
21. Where did your love for the Serbian people begin?
Since I have learned in detail in their resistance against the “mighty” of the Earth, and that they have not been bent on courage and bravery, but defending their Homeland with self-sacrifice!
22. How do you see the post-war landscape in Serbia and the long-term European perspective of the country?
For both Greece and Serbia – under the threats of “Great Albania” and the tradition of the name of Macedonia – this period signifies great and rapid developments. From now on, the difficulties are beginning. And Serbs and Greeks have been the victims of deception by our governments. Macedonia, however, is Greek and Kosovo belongs to Serbia! Developments unpredictable.
23. How do you judge the political and social landscape in Greece of the Crisis?
The Crisis has taught us much more than what prosperity has taught us in previous years, and it has brought us closer as people.
24.Would you like to politicize and co-operate with a political space today in Greece?
If I were to be a politician, I would do my own patriotic movement, and only in a way that would allow me to know that it would be God’s Will, not something else.
24. Which personalities of history are you inspiring?
Ioannis Kapodistrias, Paul Kountouriotis, and all the hidden Heroes who defied all the dangers of life and were sacrificed in favor of Faith and Homeland.
26. Is there a book that has influenced you?
“The Adventures of a Pilgrim”.
27. What do you consider the greatest virtue of a human being?
Faith, Hope and Love. These three are at the same time – all together or none.
Humiliation is the virtue that raises us there in Faith in Love and Living Hope.
Man with these works great and is really free, smiling and eternally happy.
28. Things that give you joy?
Joy does not draw on things. It is an inner affair of the soul that is born and reborn through the mystery of Christ’s Life.
This union in Christ brings us to heaven while we walk on earth, and we transmit to others what we taste secretly in our soul from Heaven.
29. Which vision now leads your steps?
At every moment and moment, in whatever call of life, be standing and not subordinate to the bravery, to the courage, to Faith, and to the lewdness by our ancestors the Greeks who held Greece on their backs and in the heart and let them last their breaths in the battlefields, there in the trenches – there was the Glory of Greece – defending our sanctuaries and our Gods.