CROATIA - EUROPEAN UNION
CROATIAN COMMUNITIES ABROAD
BOSNA AND HERCEGOVINA
" Kosovo needs a conclusion, not a new beginning"
July 31, 2007
EUOBSERVER / COMMENT - Russian intransigence on the question of Kosovo's political status has sparked yet another round of empty and time-consuming discussion on whether independence is the best and only solution for the 10,000 km square territory with 2.2 million inhabitants.
While Western democracies, notably the US and EU, are now officially standing behind the "supervised independence", proposed by UN Kosovo status envoy Martti Ahtisaari, this solution has been "frozen" due to Moscow's veto-threat.
Russia's stance has prevented the UN Security Council from adopting a resolution that would open the way to implement the Ahtisaari Plan.
The whole incident is increasingly becoming a showdown between former Cold War enemies, while the actual Kosovo status issue is serving as an appropriate context in the new West versus Russia political-thriller.
But, the fact that most of the rest of the world - including Arab and Muslim world, African, Asian and Latin American nations - agrees with the Ahtisaari recipe for Kosovo should only make it crystal clear what the real issue is here and exactly who is spoiling the chances to have a functional, peaceful and long-lasting solution in place: It's the Kremlin.
Under the banner of protector of international order and supporter of the Odowntrodden' Serbia, Moscow is using the Kosovo issue to flex its muscles and reclaim its lost stature from the Soviet times as a world superpower.
These moves by President Vladimir Putin were totally unexpected in the corridors of power in Washington, Brussels, London, Berlin, Paris and Rome.
And that seems to be the only reason why the Western reaction towards Russia's stance has been so quiet, defensive and confused. They are still unsure what to make of Putin's repositioning: is it a bluff or a scheme to divide (and therefore rule) Europe and redistribute the sphere of interest.
Nevertheless, in what seems to be the last chance to bring Russia on board, the West has decided to offer 120 additional days of talks, in a bid mainly designed to show that every alley has been explored before accepting that independence will have to be reached using the more complicated route for now dubbed the "unilateral" declaration of independence.
It is in this context that additional voices are being heard. But these voices that try to put the entire blame for Kosovo's plight on western powers are unjustified for many reasons.
They argue that the only way forward is to actually forget all that has been done until now; declare the whole western Kosovo policy of the last 20 years a failure, and start a new search for a solution, something that would last for years.
But this view, apart from being unjust for the more than 2 million people actually living in Kosovo - of whom 90 percent want independence is undermined by poor arguments.
Here are the reasons why.
First, while nobody could be against a process that would deliver an agreed Prishtina-Belgrade solution, the truth of the matter is that the possibilities for a negotiated solution are exhausted. There is nothing left that Prishtina could offer that would make Belgrade accept independence, just as there's nothing that Belgrade could offer that would make Prishtina
agree to remain under Serbian sovereignty.
Second, the reason why the latest effort to find a realistic and fair solution to the problem, the 14-month UN process led by Mr Ahtisaari, failed to produce an agreement was Belgrade's refusal to engage in the process and subsequent refusal to accept the compromise proposal.
Russia's backing meanwhile, has effectively armed Belgrade with veto power in the UN security council Third, the Ahtisaari Plan is a true compromise solution. While it does
provide for independence of Kosovo from Serbia, it also provides the maximum individual and community rights for minorities in Kosovo, especially the Serbs, who in this plan are the most favoured community of them all. The plan gives lot of power to local authorities, while it also foresees special relations for Kosovar Serbs with Serbia. And, finally, the core of the plan is the continuous international military and civilian presence to oversee and guarantee the implementation of the provisions. This is hardly the description of a fully independent and
sovereign state. Fourth, although nobody is proposing it officially, the unspoken Serb-Russian idea behind the new talks is not to bring back Kosovo within Serbia, but to have it divided along ethnic lines.
But, what would this solution, actually mean? It would mean a road that would destabilize the entire region, since the division of Kosovo on ethnic lines, in the minds of those Albanians that would go for it, includes the Preshevo Valley in Southern Serbia, and would certainly give rise to similar appetites among the Serbs and Croats in Bosnia, and Albanians in Macedonia and Montenegro.
Fifth, while it is simply untrue to portray the international community as being solely responsible for the situation in and around Kosovo, it is true that the West was frequently too hesitant to take the bull by its horns in Kosovo.
It is also a fact that both Albanians and Serbs feel disappointed by the international community's policy in Kosovo. But they do so for opposing and irreconcilable reasons: Albanians, because they think the independence is their just right and should be delivered without delay, most Serbs because they think Albanians are being given a territory that does not belong to them.
Fundamentally, Russia and Serbia are opposed to the Ahtisaari plan because the proposed solution cares more for the people, and less for the territory.
That is also why the democratic world must put an end to this story by following the Ahtisaari line - implementing the solution that is made for the benefit of the people and not for territorial myths.
editor-in-chief of Koha Ditore
Another Balkan union?
By Jeffrey T. Kuhner
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Published July 2, 2003
The European Union is seeking to restore a greater Yugoslavia. Following the bloody disintegration of that country in the 1990s one would think the international community would get the message that the Croats, Slovenes, Serbs, Bosnian Muslims, Macedonians and Kosovo Albanians no longer wish to live in the same state.
Yet at a recent "Western Balkans" summit sponsored by the EU in Porto Carras, Greece, the Europeans are now forcing the peoples of the former Yugoslavia to embrace another Balkan union.
The EU, which is poised to admit 10 new countries from Central and Eastern Europe, held out the promise to Croatia, Macedonia, Albania, Bosnia-Hercegovina and the union of Serbia and Montenegro that those countries could also one day join its ranks. "The process of European unification will not be complete until the Balkans have joined the EU," proclaimed European Commission President Romano Prodi.
But Brussels is insisting that certain conditions need to be met prior to granting membership, such as completing economic reforms, strengthening human rights and tackling organized crime and corruption.
The key step, however, toward full membership is that each country in the region needs to negotiate a Stabilization and Association Agreement with the EU. Also known as the Balkan Stability Pact, it is an attempt to reconstitute another Yugoslavia, minus Slovenia plus Albania. The Stability Pact seeks to create an economic union based on a Balkan free-trade zone, characterized by close "inter-border" cooperation and loose political links. So far only Croatia and Macedonia have successfully negotiated an agreement with the EU.
The idea of a Balkan union is deeply unpopular among ordinary citizens in the area for one simple reason: It is not politically viable. One of the great lessons of the 20th century is that artificial, multiethnic states incorporating peoples who do not want to live together are not sustainable in the long run. Multinational empires such as Yugoslavia, the Soviet Union, Austria-Hungary and Imperial Britain eventually collapsed because they abrogated the democratic aspirations of their subject peoples.
The break-up of Yugoslavia in the 1990s enabled countries such as Croatia, Slovenia and Macedonia to finally achieve their long-sought dreams of independence, representing a significant victory for the forces of democracy and national self-determination. Brussels is hoping to reverse this historic achievement in order to fulfill its goal of creating a Continental socialist superstate. The proponents of a federal EU hope to dissolve national sovereignties and impose cultural homogeneity upon the diverse peoples of Europe. Under the guise of "progress" and "ethnic reconciliation," they are now planning to end the Balkans' short experiment in national independence and self-rule.
The formation of a greater Yugoslavia linked to the EU is not a progressive or liberal project, but a deeply racist policy destined to fail. Brussels is essentially telling the peoples of the region they are unable to govern themselves and can only enter the EU as a regional bloc, not on an individual basis as have the other countries of Europe. This amounts to being treated as second-class Europeans.
Moreover, a Balkan union is not feasible because it has no mass political support in the region. So far the political elites in Zagreb, Belgrade, Skopje, Sarajevo and Tirana have avoided telling their citizens that the cost of EU membership is agreeing to a larger regional integration that no one wants. Following the wars of Yugoslav succession, if there is one thing the Serbs, Macedonians, Croats, Bosnian Muslims and Albanians can agree upon it is that they do not want to co-exist in the same state.
What is most shocking has been the decision of the ruling leftist government in Croatia to go along with Brussels' agenda. Under Yugoslavia, it was the Croats who suffered under Belgrade's iron grip more than any other national group. After having fought a successful war for independence in 1991, Zagreb is now on the verge of frittering away Croatia's hard-won national sovereignty.
Composed mainly of former communists who still long for the restoration of Yugoslavia, the regime of Prime Minister Ivica Racan and President Stipe Mesic have surreptitiously gone ahead with their plans for making Croatia a permanent part of the "Western Balkans." As the most economically advanced of the five nations at the summit, Croatia is hoping to join the EU in 2007 along with Bulgaria and Romania. Yet most diplomats in Washington and Brussels believe this is not possible unless the country's living standards and per capita income are increased significantly. Zagreb will need to achieve an economic miracle to hit its target date for EU membership - which will not happen under the stagnant policies of the current socialist leadership.
Mr. Racan and his allies have waged an intense public relations campaign, making the government's bid to join the EU the centerpiece of their administration's accomplishments. National elections are expected to be held this fall or spring 2004 at the latest.
Zagreb's decision to accede to the creation of another Balkan union has given the surging center-right opposition the wedge issue it needs to topple Mr. Racan from power. The conservative opposition should make the election a referendum on whether Croats want to again cede their country's independence.
The opposition should insist that Croatia follow the Slovenia model, in which Zagreb enters the EU as a single, sovereign country that will aggressively defend its national interests and cultural identity at the negotiating table with Brussels. Croatia's conservatives need to form an alliance with the other countries of Central and Eastern Europe, who along with Denmark, Britain and Silvio Berlusconi's Italy, aim to transform the EU into a decentralized, economic free-trade zone that will preserve Europe's distinct cultures and national sovereignties.
The Croats were instrumental in bringing down Yugoslavia. Hopefully, they will also bring down Brussels' plans to resurrect the corpse of Yugoslavia from the grave.
Jeffrey T. Kuhner is assistant national editor at The Washington Times.
EU PROPOSES NEW PARTNERSHIP WITH THE BALKANS
Zagreb, May 22 (FPB) - The European Commission (EC) yesterday adopted a new proposal for partnership relations between the European Union and the Western Balkans. The purpose of this proposal is to better assist the Balkan countries in their bids to draw closer to the European Union. The proposal is to be adopted by the European Union's Council and the European Parliament.
The EC states that the Stabilisation and Association process (SAp)- the current framework for relations with the region - will remain the cornerstone of policy towards the countries of the Western Balkans (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Serbia and Montenegro), but it will be given a new dimension through elements that have proved successful with other candidates for EU membership.
According to the Commissioner for External Relations, Chris Patten, "The map of the European Union will not be complete until the countries of the Western Balkans are included in it. There is a great deal of work to do: reforming the economies, standards of governance and democracy of the region remain major challenges - alongside the constant battle to tackle corruption and organised crime."
The EC proposes to intensify the SAp through concrete measures: through introducing European integration partnerships, enhanced support for institution building, improved political cooperation, assistance in economic development, rule of law, cooperation on justice and home affairs and enhanced regional cooperation and democracy.
As regards enhanced support for institution building, the EC says that the support should be increased for the Western Balkan countries. It stresses that some of these programmes, called "twinning programmes", have already begun in Albania and Croatia and should be developed further.
The Technical Assistance Information Exchange Office (TAIEX), which was set up as part of the pre-accession strategy to provide targeted technical assistance to candidate countries on bringing their system in line with EU legislation, will soon start operating in the Western Balkans.
As regards legislation, justice and internal affairs, the EC proposes to develop a dialogue with the countries in the region with the aim of identifying targets against which progress can be assessed, especially in the fight against corruption and organised crime.
The EC further proposes extended participation in relevant Community programmes, including education programmes, and enhanced regional cooperation and democracy.
"The countries of the Western Balkans will be encouraged to develop concrete forms of collaboration in such areas as parliamentary cooperation, refugee return, trade and investment, energy, transport and infrastructure," concludes the EC statement.
Meanwhile, Croatian President Stjepan Mesić, Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski and Serbian Premier Zoran Živković stated in an open letter that Europe would be united only after the countries of South-East Europe are integrated into it. President Mesić's office confirmed that the open letter was issued ahead of the World Economic Forum, to be held in Athens.
In the letter the three statesmen express confidence that next month's summit in Salonika would be "a golden opportunity" for the EU and the three countries to establish "a common basis which can lead to concrete progress". The long-term stability of the region depends on economic stability, the most important element being the readiness of Southeast European countries to "cooperate with the EU in spending granted funds in a more efficient manner".
All South-East European countries have started reforms on the political, economic and social front and demonstrated commitment to their strategic goal - full integration in Euro-Atlantic associations, reads the letter, adding that the duration of the process of admission would depend on the countries' individual progress.
LUXEMBOURG - Croatia and the European Union adopted a draft joint Declaration on political dialogue in Luxembourg on Monday, October 29, 2001.
The Declaration in its integral form is as follows:
"DRAFT JOINT DECLARATION OF THE EUROPEAN COMMUNITY AND ITS MEMBER STATES AND THE REPUBLIC OF CROATIA ON POLITICAL DIALOGUE
On the occasion of the signature of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement between the European Communities and their Member States, of the one part, and the Republic of Croatia, of the other part, the European Community and its Member States and the Republic of Croatia (hereinafter referred to as "the Parties") express their resolution to reinforce and intensify their mutual relations in the political fields.
Accordingly, the Parties agree to establish a regular political dialogue which will accompany and consolidate their rapprochement, support the political and economic changes underway in the Republic of Croatia, and contribute to strengthening their existing links and establish new forms of cooperation, in particular taking into account Croatia's status as a potential candidate for European Union membership.
The political dialogue, based on shared values and aspirations, will aim at:
- REINFORCING democratic principles and institutions as well as respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to national minorities;
- PROMOTING regional cooperation, development of good neighbourly relations and fulfilment of obligations under international law;
- FACILITATING the integration of the Republic of Croatia to the fullest possible extent into the political and economic mainstream of Europe based on its individual merits and achievements;
- INCREASING convergence of positions between the Parties on international issues, and on those matters likely to have substantial effects on the Parties, including cooperation in the fight against terrorism and other areas in the field of justice and home affairs;
- ENABLING each Party to consider the position and interests of the other party in their respective decision making process;
- ENHANCING security and stability in the whole of Europe and, in particular, in South-Eastern Europe, through cooperation in the areas covered by the Common Foreign and Security Policy of the European Union.
The political dialogue between the Parties will take place through regular consultations, informal contacts and exchange of information as appropriate, in particular in the following formats:
- High-level meetings between representatives of the Republic of Croatia on the one hand, and representatives of the European Union, in the Troika format, on the other;
- Providing mutual information on foreign policy decisions taking full advantage of diplomatic channels, including contacts at the bilateral level in third countries as well as within multilateral fora such as the United Nations, OSCE, Council of Europe and other international organisations;
- Contacts at Parliamentary level;
- Any other means which would contribute to consolidating, and developing dialogue between the Parties;
- Where appropriate, political dialogue may be organised as a multilateral and/or regional dialogue.
THE ODYSSEY OF CARDINAL STEPINAC'S CAPE
As the images of Kosovo's fleeing refugees and the news of mass grave sites fade from memory, we are still haunted by the hard and unanswered questions about who did what to whom during the 10 year conflict in disintegrating Yugoslavia. Although few seem aware of it, what the Serbs did in Kosovo was no worse than what they've done in Croatia and in Bosnia, where over a quarter of a million souls perished with far less notice.
All of the slaughter and destruction were symptomatic of a disease carrier that didn't want to die: communism pretending to be Serbian nationalism. Few Western thinkers can appreciate the evil that communism brought to the world. But even Adolph Hitler's tally sheet of murder does not come close to matching the 100 million who were murdered in the name of communist progress. Certainly communism is a force that affected more lives detrimentally than any other is during the 20th Century. And Belgrade based communism was among the most notable in that regard.
According to human rights organizations, it had the distinction of having one of the worst records among the world's totalitarian communists, holding more political prisoners than all the Eastern Bloc countries combined.
After World War II the Communists formed the new government in Yugoslavia.
Since the Party hierarchy perceived the Catholic Church as its arch-nemesis and greatest threat to the regime, its first order was to set about to control it. Obviously the Church didn't cooperate, so the communists systematically persecuted and decimated the clergy. For example, Yugoslav forces entered the Franciscan Monastery of Siroki Brijeg, doused fourteen friars with petrol and set them afire. In another example, only 88 priests of Senj's diocese survived of the 151 that were there before the war. Half the parishes were left with no clergy.
The anti communist nature of the Church posed the most significant single threat to the success of communist ideology. So the object of the murders was to destroy as many priests as directly as possible and try to intimidate others into leaving. The idea clearly was that if the shepherds were eliminated it would be easier to scatter the flocks.
But the biggest thorn in the Communist side was Alojzije Stepinac, the Bishop of Zagreb. A smear campaign against him had little affect in Croatia, but tragically the American press bought it, lock-stock- and barrel and published it as gospel. Although there isn't a shred of evidence that
Stepinac was a collaborator, the propagandists effectively painted him on the fascist canvas.
Prior to Stepinac's Beautification, amidst an intensive negative media campaign the media, including the Catholic press in the U.S., instead of focusing on his goodness, the half-truths and lies about his role in World War II Croatia were resurrected. No less a personage than Milovan Diljas, then in the communist hierarchy, admitted in his book: "He would certainly not have been brought to trial for his conduct in the war...had he not continued to oppose the new Communist regime."
When Stepinac published a pastoral letter declaring 273 clergy had been killed, 169 imprisoned and 89 were "missing" since the communist takeover, it was the excuse the regime was looking for. The authorities tried and sentenced Stepinac. Once "freed" after sixteen years of imprisonment, the Cardinal was exiled to his home village and never allowed to preside over his flock from Zagreb. He died in 1960. Rumor has it-- of poison.
It was recently brought to light that Stepinac was buried in a cape that had been smuggled into Yugoslavia in 1954 by Frances Chilcoat, an American housewife.
The tale of the cape has all the elements of an Eric Ambler novel: an innocent caught in a web of intrigue -- the same exotic cities; Rome, Trieste, Zagreb; clandestine meetings; a harrowing border crossing; and a refugee who triggered the affair. Ambler, however, never had a saint as a main character. Truth, indeed, is stranger than fiction.
The odyssey of the cape started soon after the imprisoned Stepinac was named Cardinal and shortly before Ivan Ivankovic, the refugee, escaped from Yugoslavia in 1947. Communism was at the apogee of its power and imposing its iron rule on Yugoslavia. One of the first priests killed in the communist Yugoslavia's campaign against the Church was Medjugorje's pastor. Ivan, who was also from Medjugorje, perceived his life in danger, had no choice but to flee. Medjugorje today is the scene where the Blessed Mother is appearing.
In retaliation, the authorities killed Ivan's brother, Martin, and jailed his mother for 3 months. One of his sisters, Sima, also went into hiding. Another sister, Jela, was taken ill and died soon after she was forced to search for Ivan in the hills. His father was severely beaten and denied medical attention on the kitchen floor.
After 2 years in hiding, Ivan escaped to Italy, ending up in a refugee camp and was finally freed when Father Ivan Tomas of the Croatian Radio Program of the Vatican got him a job at the Croatian College of St. Jerome in Rome. Eventually, with Father Tomas' help, Ivan immigrated to America.
The Chilcoats in the San Francisco area opened their hearts and home to the refugee. Treating him as a brother, they were present at one of Ivan's proudest days - his swearing in as American citizen.
When Frances Chilcoat was preparing for a trip to Yugoslavia, by way of Rome, Ivan asked her to look up his spiritual advisor and mentor, Father Tomas. Little did Ivan realize that simple request would set in motion, an international, potentially dangerous intrigue.
Once in Rome, Frances met with Father Tomas a number of times. The evening before she was to leave for Yugoslavia, Father Tomas approached Frances, in what she thought, a surreptitious manner. He asked her to smuggle the cape of Cardinal Stepinac, which was awarded by the Pope. Despite the danger, Frances
Her mission came to an end in a Yugoslav village, when a relative of Frances she was visiting surprised her by asking about bringing something from Rome?
After she produced the package, they took a walk through the pitch-dark village. Out of the gloom, they were approached by an unknown male, who took the package and crept off into the night. Skeptics may weave their own rationale but there are far too many coincidences in the story of the cape for it to be completely attributable to less than divine intervention.
One incident stands out in particular. While a Yugoslav border guard was fumbling to open Francis' baggage, he cut his finger, yelled a few unprintable expletives and gave up on opening the suitcase. Had he managed to open the clasp he certainly would have found the cape, and the story would have had a tragic ending.
Serbia's darkest pages hidden from Genocide Court!!!
By Marlise Simons
Sunday, April 8, 2007
*THE HAGUE:* In the spring of 2003, boxes with hundreds of documents arrived at the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal in The Hague containing hundreds of pages marked "Defense. State secret. Strictly confidential."
The cache contained minutes of wartime meetings of Yugoslav political and military leaders, including Slobodan Milosevic, and promised the best inside view yet of Serbia's role in the Bosnian war of 1992-95.
But there was a catch. Serbia, the heir to Yugoslavia, obtained court permission to keep parts of the archives out of the public eye, citing national security. Its lawyers blacked out many sensitive - those who have seen them say incriminating - pages. Judges and lawyers at the war Crimes tribunal could see the censored material, but it was barred from the court's public records.
Now, lawyers and others who were involved in Serbia's bid for secrecy say that, at the time, Belgrade made its true objective clear: to keep the full military archives from another court, the International Court of Justice, nearby. And they say Belgrade's goal was achieved in February, when that court, dealing with Bosnia's lawsuit against Serbia, declared Serbia not guilty of genocide, and absolved it from paying potentially enormous war damages.
Lawyers interviewed in The Hague and Belgrade said that the outcome might well have been different had the Court of Justice pressed for access to the uncensored archives. Legal scholars and human rights groups say that it is deeply troubling that the judges did not subpoena the documents directly from Serbia.
"It's a question that nags loudly," Diane Orentlicher, a law professor at American University in Washington, said recently in The Hague. "Why didn't the court request the full documents? The fact that they were blacked out clearly implies these passages would have made a difference."
The ruling - 170 pages long - was in many ways meticulous, and acknowledged that the 15 judges had not seen the censored military archives. But it did not say why the court did not order Serbia to provide them.
Two of the judges themselves criticized that failure, in strongly worded dissents. One, the court's vice president, Awn Shawkat Al-Khasawneh of Jordan, wrote that "regrettably the court failed to act," adding, "It is a reasonable expectation that those documents would have shed light on the central questions."
At one point, the court rebuffed a Bosnian request that it demand the full documents, and said ample evidence was already available in tribunal records.
As part of its ruling, the court said that the 1995 massacre at the supposed safe haven of Srebrenica - when in nearly 8,000 unarmed Muslim men and boys were killed - was an act of genocide committed by Bosnian Serb forces, but that it lacked proof that these forces were acting under the "direction" or "effective control" of Serbia.
The ruling raised some eyebrows because aspects of Serbian military involvement are already known from records of earlier trials at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. In late 1993, for instance, more than 1,800 officers and noncommissioned men from the Yugoslav Army were serving in the Bosnian Serb Army, and were deployed,
paid, promoted or retired by Belgrade. These and many other men,including top generals, tribunal records showed, were given dual identities, and to handle this, Belgrade created the so-called 30th Personnel Center of the General Staff, a secret office for dealing with the officers listed on active duty in both armies. The court took note of that information, but said that Belgrade's "substantial support" did not automatically make the Bosnian Serb Army a Serbian agent. But lawyers who have seen the archives and further secret personnel files say than they address Serbian control and direction even more directly, revealing in new and vivid detail how Belgrade financed and supplied the war in Bosnia, and how the Bosnian Serb Army, though officially separate after 1992, remained virtually an extension of the Yugoslav Army.
They said the archives showed that Serbian forces, including secret police, played a role in the takeover of Srebrenica and in the preparation of the massacre there.
The story of the blacked-out documents, pieced together from more than 20 interviews with lawyers and court officials and from public records, offers rare insight into secret proceedings in The Hague where hearings, though usually public, can turn into closed sessions and deals often happen behind closed doors.
It took the tribunal prosecutors two years of talks, court orders and diplomatic pressure for the Belgrade government to hand over the documents, the much-coveted minutes of the Supreme Defense Council, created in 1992 when Serb-dominated Yugoslavia was fighting for more Land for Serbs outside its borders in Croatia and Bosnia.
Before the handover, lawyers familiar with the case said, a team from Belgrade made it clear, in letters to the tribunal and in meetings with prosecutors and judges, that they wanted the documents expurgated to keep them from harming their case at the International Court of Justice.
The Serbs made this no secret even as they argued their case for "national security," said a lawyer involved in the negotiations, adding, "The senior people here knew about this." Confidentiality rules to protect "national security interests" have often been invoked at the tribunal, including by the United States, which has privately provided intelligence like intercepts and satellite images to assist prosecutors.
When Belgrade's lawyers met with judges to request secrecy for their archives, they produced a letter of support from Carla Del Ponte, the tribunal's chief prosecutor.
During a recent interview, Del Ponte confirmed that she had sent such a letter in May 2003 to the former foreign minister of Serbia, Goran Svilanovic, saying that she would accept that "reasonable" portions of the records be kept under seal.
"It was a long fight to get the documents and in the end because of time constraints we agreed," she said. "They were extremely valuable for the conviction of Slobodan Milosevic."
Milosevic, the former Serb leader, however, died before his trial was completed.
After the tribunal judges approved Belgrade's request to keep secret sections of the military archives, Vladimir Djeric, a member of the Serbian team handling the documents, told lawyers there that "we could not believe our luck." Djeric, now a private lawyer in Belgrade, said by telephone that he could not discuss his former duties at the Foreign Ministry.
Tantalizing glimpses of the secrets of the Defense Council - whose agenda included the military budget, promotions and retirement of generals - can be gleaned elsewhere. Parts of the archives that were not censored and were obtained by The New York Times include minutes of sessions from 1993 to 1995, when the war in Bosnia was in full swing. These wartime meetings in Belgrade were attended by the presidents of then-Yugoslavia, its constituent states of Serbia and Montenegro and the top military command, including sometimes General Ratko Mladic, the Bosnian Serb military leader who was twice indicted by the war crimes tribunal on charges that include genocide. He is a fugitive. A recent book, "Unspoken Defense," by former President Momir Bulatovic of Montenegro, who attended many sessions of the Defense Council, said that in 1994, when more than 4,000 men on Serbia's payroll were fighting in Bosnia, the council discussed abolishing the 30th personnel center because its discovery might cause political problems. Yugoslav officers were also objecting to their service in Bosnia, the book said.
Lawyers and human rights groups have searched with special interest for council records from the summer of 1995, when Srebrenica was overrun by army and police officers, many of them, tribunal records show, in the pay of Serbia. Following the massacre there, the council met three times, with Mladic attending at least one session. Verbatim transcripts of those days are missing even from the secret archives, lawyers said.
Bosnia's team at the World Court was convinced that the archives and the military personnel files were central to their case. Before hearings opened in 2006, Bosnia asked the court to request that Serbia provide an uncensored version of the documents. The court refused, saying that "extensive evidence" was already available from public records at the war crimes tribunal. When Bosnia pressed during hearings, the court ignored the request.
In an interview, Rosalyn Higgins, a Briton who is president of the World Court, declined to say why the judges refused to subpoena the uncensored archives. She said it was the practice of the court not to discuss its findings. "The ruling speaks for itself," she said.
But the dissents from Khasawneh, of Jordan, and another judge criticized the court's refusal to seek the evidence. The second dissent, by Ahmed Mahiou of Algeria, said that judges had given several reasons, "none of them sufficiently convincing," including a fear of creating the Impression that the court was taking sides, that it might intrude on the sovereignty of a state, or that it might be embarrassed if Serbia refused.
Phon van den Biesen, a lawyer on the Bosnian team, said that the unexpurgated documents most likely would have demonstrated that the Bosnian Serb forces were agents of Serbia, controlled by Belgrade. "This would have made Serbia liable for the Srebrenica genocide," van den Biesen said. "We believe all this can be found in the documents. The cuts are made whenever the agenda turns to financing and to personnel matters. That's why Serbia went to such lengths to hide them from us." William Schabas, professor of International Law at the University of Ireland in Galway, who closely follows the World Court, said its judges may have wanted to avoid a diplomatic showdown with Serbia and that since it is a civil and not a criminal court, it was more used to relying on materials put before it, rather than aggressively pursuing evidence.
Antonio Cassese, a former president of the war crimes tribunal in The Hague and now a law professor in Italy, said: "I was rather taken aback that the judges didn't see the documents. But this is not an aggressive criminal court, but a very traditional civil court. They gave something to everybody."
Natasha Kandic, director of the Humanitarian Law Center in Belgrade, said she was shocked at the court's inaction.
"It was well known in the Serbian government that the archives spelled out the responsibility of the state," she said. It was vital for the public in Serbia to know the reality of the war, she said.
After the verdict, she said, she met with a leading member of the Serbian team, a scholar, whom she promised not to identify by name.
"He was very pleased," Kandic said, "but I confronted him, I said, you did not tell the truth." Her friend the scholar replied, she said, "It's normal. Every country will do everything possible to protect the state. Bosnia wanted a lot of money for damages."
Kandic went on: "I said that one day the truth will come out. And my friend said: 'But that's the future. Now it's important to protect the state.' "
February 27th, 2007
DECISION OF THE INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE (ICJ) ON THE GENOCIDE CASE OF BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA
Today's decision of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the
Genocide Case of Bosnia and Herzegovina v. Serbia and Montenegro is
disappointing but not surprising. On one hand, it cleared Serbia of
genocide against Muslims in Bosnia, but, on the other, the Court
declared that "acts of genocide" did take place that Serbia should have
Clearly, in its decision the Court has followed the appalling paradigm
of appeasement, equalizing victims and victimizers, with the implication
that the "conflict" was a civil war. This politically correct prototype
was formulated and followed by international political bodies, as well
as by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia
(ICTY) during and after the 1991-1995 war of Serbian aggression in
Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
One might ask the Court: if Serbia and Montenegro were not implicated in the war, why was Slobodan Milosevic, President of Serbia and then of
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY), indicted by the ICTY? Why
Serbia/FRY was under international sanctions? Or why did Slobodan
Milosevic sign the Dayton Accords in the name of the Serbs in Bosnia and Herzegovina if he and the Serbian government were not involved in the war?
Furthermore, if genocide took place only in Srebrenica, why then the
Serb Republic (RS) was virtually "cleansed" of all non-Serbs after the
war and it is still following the policies of ethnic purity? Today's
decision of the Court at least did by implication confirm the fact that
the Serb Republic was founded on genocide and ethnic cleansing. And as such, it does not have legitimacy to exist.
The Alliance of Croats of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the United States
and Canada strongly disagrees with the Court, which was not guided by
the principles of justice but by appeasement and politics. The ICJ
failed not only the victims of Srebrenica, and all the victims of
Serbian aggression, but it betrayed justice itself.
Dr. Ante Cuvalo - President
As Croatia is awaiting the visit of US Ambassador for War Crimes Issues Pierre-Richard Prosper:
CIVIL WAR OR AGGRESSION: IS THE CHOICE OF TERMINOLOGY IMPORTANT?
A Lecture Given by Stjepan G. Meštrović (Texas A&M University) on May 2, 1998 at the University of Toronto
From a purely academic point of view, abstract and lifeless, civil war represents the chaos of postmodernism that is loathed by modernists whereas a genocidal war of aggression represents purpose, centralized planning, and rationality, all of which make it a modernist phenomenon loathed by postmodernists. In ivory tower discussions, the modernists try to represent a bloody killing as a chaotic civil war if they do not want to get involved in the war in such a way that their own, Western, modern soldiers might get killed. If it's a chaotic civil war that goes back to "ancient tribal hatreds " then nothing can be done, so it's best to let the combatants wear themselves out in the killing. On the other extreme, one finds the postmodernists expressing indignation at the suggestion that any killing field is somehow "privileged" as being organized and planned in a chaotic universe devoid of truth, because such a position forces one to distinguish between the "good guys" (victims) and "bad guys" (victimizers). Out of intellectual principles, the postmodernists in academia cannot allow this move, for if one privileges the victimhood of those killed through genocide in Cambodia, Rwanda, Croatia, Bosnia, Armenia and elsewhere, one must admit the existence of truth and principles in all other areas of discourse. But if the postmodernists were to allow this, then they would be forced to privilege "narratives" (or "stories") of truth, valor, moral causes and other phenomena as distinguished from falsehood, cowardice, immorality, and evil. This, the postmodernists cannot do.
In academia, despite some exceptions, the general response to recent wars from Croatia to Rwanda (and most recently, Kosovo), has been along the lines of the postmodernist journalist: If there is no truth, all one can seek is opposing points of view. So, the Croats have a point of view, and the Serbs have a point of view-both are equally legitimate and equally illegitimate. Similarly, the Tutsis and the Hutus have opposing points of view. So long as one is attentive to both points of view, one has performed one's duty as an open-minded intellectual in this, our so-called postmodern age.
If old-fashioned modernist distinctions and differentiation must be invoked, then it must be invoked when it no longer matters, when calling genocide what was labeled a "civil war" no longer makes a difference. This is what I refer to as "postemotionalism" in my recent book, Postemotional Society (London: Sage, 1997). For example, consider "Clinton's Painful Words of Sorrow and Chagrin" as the headline reads in the New York Times of 26 March 1998, p. A10, during his visit to Rwanda. President Clinton said:
"It is important that the world know that these killings were not spontaneous or accidental. It is important that the world hear ... [that] they were most certainly not the result of ancient tribal struggles . . . These events grew from a policy aimed at the systematic destruction of a people. The ground for violence was carefully prepared, the airwaves poisoned with hate, casting the Tutsis as scapegoats for the problems of Rwanda, denying their humanity . . . . We did not act quickly enough after the killing began . . . . We did not immediately call these crimes by their rightful name: genocide. We cannot change the past. But we can and must do everything in our power to help you build a future without fear, and full of hope ... I am directing my Administration to improve, with the international community, our system for identifying and spotlighting nations in danger of genocidal violence, so that we can assure worldwide awareness of impending threats."
Almost everything President Clinton said about the situation in Rwanda applies to the war in former Yugoslavia that began in 1991: The killing was not spontaneous or accidental; but grew from propaganda carefully orchestrated by Belgrade, as demonstrated in Norman Cigar's book, Genocide in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The Serbs demonized the Croats and the Muslims as scapegoats for the problems of Yugoslavia and certainly denied their humanity as well as their ethnicities (all Croats and Muslims were regarded as traitorous Serbs.) The administration did not immediately call the crimes committed by Belgrade, genocide. In both Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, the killing was blamed on "ancient tribal hatreds. "
When President Clinton semi-apologizes for not doing enough to stop the genocide in Rwanda, one must keep in mind that under his orders, "the United States stopped the United Nations from taking action that might have saved those lives" and "Administration spokesmen were instructed not to use the word 'genocide' in referring to Rwanda." "Never again must we be shy in the face of the evidence," Mr. Clinton said (ibid.). But the phrase, "never again," has been used ever since the Holocaust to pretend that the West had learned its moral lesson. Instead, since the Holocaust, genocide has happened "again and again," from the killing fields of Cambodia to Croatia and Bosnia and Rwanda.
In other words, President Clinton could come to Croatia and Bosnia and say something similar to what he expressed in Rwanda. His general message was one of regret for failure to save lives because organized, genocidal aggression was deliberately called chaotic civil war in order to preclude strong action to stop the genocide. And this regret is expressed when it no longer really matters, when the dead are dead and gone. One must still explain whether calling genocide by its rightful name early in the conflict would have been possible or would have made a difference, anywhere, and particularly in the former Yugoslavia.
IDEALIZED MODERNIST REACTIONS
Let me begin by summarizing what should have been the idealistic Western response to the Serbian war of genocidal aggression against some of its neighboring countries that used to be part of the former Yugoslavia. That it was genocide is no longer disputed, for this word is used formally by the International War Crimes Tribunal and other hallowed bodies in the West with reference to what happened in the former Yugoslavia since 1991. This response should have been based on the Enlightenment tradition of the West, the principles enshrined in the UN Charter, and the findings of the world's respected fact-gathering organizations concerning the culpability of the various actors in this war. Since 1991 and 1992, Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina were "real," duly recognized nation-states and members of the United Nations. Article 51 of the UN Charter specifies that all nations have an inherent right to self-defense, which means that this right existed prior to the creation of the United Nations and that it cannot be abridged for any reason. Fact-gathering organizations such as the UN, the US State Department, the CIA, Helsinki Watch and others had concluded unanimously that the Serbs had committed 90 % of all atrocities in this Balkan War and had committed nearly 100 % of the genocide according to the UN definition of genocide, that is, the organized, planned, and systematic destruction of a people in whole or in part based on ethnicity, religion, or other group identity. Thus, if the West had taken all these factors seriously, it would have been obligated to respect the territorial integrities of Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, lift the illegal weapons embargo imposed on these nation-states at Serbia's request, and do all that it could have to put a stop to the genocide, including forceful military action.
As we all know, the West did not taken these steps, which are rooted in its ideals, Enlightenment tradition, and respect for the rule of law. Instead, Western media, diplomats, intellectuals and politicians invented a host of rationalizations and excuses for letting the slaughter continue - even after the signing of the Dayton Peace Accords -or allowing ethnic partition (which is enshrined in those same accords), for keeping the primary victims outgunned, and for denying the full sovereignties of Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. The now standard responses to the recent Balkan War can be summarized as follows:
All sides are equally guilty;
The fighting is horrible, but we can't do anything to stop it;
The bloodshed is contained in the territory of the former Yugoslavia so it has no larger meaning for those who do not live there;
Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina are not "real countries" so that this was a "civil war" - lifting the arms embargo would only have prolonged the fighting;
This was a war without ideology or purpose, aimless, strange, and difficult to comprehend, without purpose;
The Dayton Peace Accords are "their" peace - We (the West) did not impose anything on the "warring parties."
These rationalizations have eased Western consciences in the short-run, but will not stand up to honest scrutiny in the long run.
In the first place, respected Western fact-gathering organizations have concluded that Serbs committed the overwhelming majority of the atrocities and nearly 100% of the genocide in the current Balkan War. One could speculate that the genocide committed by Muslims and Croats against each other was in some ways welcomed or even orchestrated by the West in order to demonstrate that "all sides are equally guilty." Genocide is the most serious of international war crimes, and the West failed to put a stop to it. This fact was obscured by using the Serbian term, "ethnic cleansing," and then charging that all sides have engaged in it. It is true that all sides in this Balkan War have committed atrocities, but this does not mean, that all sides are morally equivalent. One should recall that during and immediately following World War II, the Allies also committed considerable atrocities, ranging from revenge killings of Germans and their collaborators to the merciless bombing of civilians in Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki, among other sites. (Even towns in the Netherlands were bombed "accidentally" by the British who meant to bomb German civilians.) But no respectable modernist historian would conclude that the Allies and Nazis are morally equivalent. However, one should add immediately that this is precisely the conclusion reached by postmodernist historians: for them, the Allies are not morally superior to the Nazis; instead, the Allies merely committed different atrocities. For the modernist, the revenge killings committed by some Croats of Serbs in the liberated Krajina region, while deplorable, are neither the same as Serb-sponsored genocide nor the moral equivalent of Serbian atrocities. Serbs in the Krajina fled at the urging of Serbian leaders in the Krajina. Innocent Serbs were killed in the Krajina by Croats: The highest Western estimate is that 192 Serbs were murdered. While these crimes are deplorable, it is nevertheless important, for the sake of context, to consider that thousands of Muslims were slaughtered by Serbs in Srebrenica alone. Yet many in the media equated Serb and Croat crimes vis-a-vis the operation in Krajina. Similarly, Stephen Kinzer of the New York Times referred to the Serb exodus from the suburbs of Sarajevo as "ethnic cleansing. " But as in Krajina, this exodus was caused by the local Serb leadership, not the Bosnian Government. By contrast, Croats and Muslims were expelled by Serbs with carefully organized terror that included mass rape, torture, the slashing of throats, and other ghastly deeds. All this is documented rigorously in Norman Cigar's recent book, Genocide in Bosnia-Herzegovina (1995). But all this documentation does not matter, and did not matter nor make a difference, because the "chaos" scenario was manipulated in order to prevent the West from acting to stop Belgrade-sponsored genocide.
Second, Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina are "real" countries. The West supervised the elections that led to their secession, the drafting of their constitutions, and their implementation of human rights standards. Despite the rhetoric of emancipation found in Western discourse, few Western commentators have sympathized with Croat or Bosnian desire for freedom from Serb tutelage in Yugoslavia. Instead of the rhetoric of emancipation, or a war for independence, which carry positive connotations, the West has used the rhetoric of secession, which is negative. The West fears secession (Quebec, Scotland, the Basque region, etc.) as a manifestation of chaos. For this reason, in his memoirs, Warren Zimmermann blames Milan Kučan of Slovenia more than Tuđman, Izetbegović, or Milošević for the genocide in the former Yugoslavia because Kučan set the secessionism into motion. (And Zimmermann asks us to lay a rose on the tomb of Yugoslavia, betraying his biases for anyone who wants to see them). If one persists in claiming that the Balkan situation is not the same as Hitler's taking over of bona fide nation-states, a moment's reflection will reveal that the situation is actually chillingly similar. Hitler claimed that Austria and portions of Czechoslovakia and Poland were not real countries, and that he was actually liberating the Germans living there. Similarly, the propaganda emanating from Belgrade insists that Bosnian Muslims are not real Muslims, but are Serbs, and that Croats are really Serbs, and that their genocidal campaign is really a campaign to "liberate" these counterfeit Serbs. But again, this modernist argument is deflated by postmodernists who claim that any and all such historical comparisons and contrasts are illegitimate. History cannot teach us anything.
Third, the argument that lifting the arms embargo would have only prolonged the fighting would sound different to Western ears today if the United States had said to Churchill, when he begged Roosevelt for assistance to fight the Nazis, "No, our help would only prolong your agony. Join the rest of Europe and succumb to the Nazis." It is a cowardly immoral argument, when set against the inner-directed, modernist standards of Churchill and others who believed in the morality and superiority of British and Western civilization. On the other hand, one could perform the thought experiment that if World War II had somehow been fought in the postmodern 1990s, Clinton might have said to Tony Blair what he told Izetbegović: We don't want to prolong your agony by giving you weapons to defend yourself.
Fourth, it is not true that the West was powerless to stop Serbian genocidal aggression. The swift victory by the Croats over their Serbian occupiers in the Krajina demonstrated clearly that the Serbs were not invincible "freedom fighters" like the Partisans of old (Karadžić's favorite propaganda, which was very effective), even though they enjoyed a decisive military advantage because they took over most of the armament of the Yugoslav Federal Army. The logical conclusion drawn by the West should have been that with the lifting of the arms embargo, the Croat-Muslim federation could have driven out the Serb occupiers from Bosnia-Herzegovina as well, with no loss to Western lives. The Bosnian government had maintained consistently the position that it was not asking Western soldiers to fight on their behalf, but to give them the tools, in Churchill's words, to finish the job of liberation. In fact, President Clinton proposed the Dayton peace talks at precisely the instant that the Croat-Muslim federation was poised to take the Serb stronghold of Banja Luka and score a decisive military victory over the aggressor Serbs. Why?
The United States position is that peace is preferable to war, and President Clinton came across in the United States as a peacemaker. To most Americans, Dayton has brought peace to the Balkans. The reality is that Dayton has failed to allow refugees to go home, failed to capture the most important indicted war criminals, and failed to stop ethnic partition. But these realities are overwhelmed completely by the simulation of peace that Dayton offers. Dayton was Clinton's postemotional and domestic imposition of "peace" that treated all sides as equally guilty instead of allowing a decisive victory that would have resulted in old-fashioned "justice."
Fifth, the recent Balkan War was never really confined to the former Yugoslavia. Thanks to the miracle of television, and the massive coverage given this war - second only to the media coverage of the OJ Simpson trial - this war has entered the living rooms of nearly everyone in Western, industrialized nations. Thus, and in contrast to other instances of genocide, ranging from the Holocaust to Rwanda and Cambodia, this one in the Balkans was televised. Let me be clear that the comparison to the Holocaust does not mean that genocide in Bosnia is comparable to the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust, nor the effort to exterminate all Jews, nor even to the Holocaust as a sacred site of Jewish memory. But in addition to being all these things, the Holocaust was also a site of genocide, and is comparable strictly on the basis of genocide.
Thus, the rationalization given for genocide in World War II, that "we didn't know," does not hold for the genocide in the Balkans. Thanks to the information revolution, nearly everyone in Western countries knew about this genocide. But this fact raises serious moral issues, ranging from the question, would genocide in World War II have been stopped had people known about it, to why knowledge of genocide in the 1990s did not lead to the appropriate moral action to put a stop to it. I think the sobering answer to the first question is no; the Holocaust would not have been stopped. "We didn't know" is finally exposed as a rationalization, and is not a truism. The answer to the second is that mere information is not enough to translate knowledge into appropriate moral action.
Sixth, the recent Balkan War became internationalized early because of the involvement of NATO, the United Nations, Russia, much of the Islamic world, and many European nations. It became a "world war," not in the sense of many countries going to war with each other but in terms of the focus, money, alliances formed (Russia, Serbia and Greece against the West) and alliances discredited (such as NATO, the CSCE, the European Community, and the UN). The Poles and Czechs, for example, regard as hollow NATO's promises that it would protect them from a feared Russian invasion. The evil of mostly secret genocide in World War II led to numerous scholarly efforts to understand the minds of the Nazi criminals who were responsible for it. The evil of the highly visible genocide in the Balkans in the 1990s must eventually lead to scholarly efforts to understand not only the minds of the criminals who perpetrated it, but also the minds of those who stood by, watched, and failed to stop it.
BAUDRILLARD AND POSTMODERNISM
One such effort at understanding the minds of the voyeurs - namely, us, the television-viewing public - is made by the postmodernist writer Jean Baudrillard. In three articles published in La Liberation, and reprinted in This Time We Knew (co-edited by Cushman and Meštrović), Baudrillard argues that the West has labeled the Serbs as criminals, but treats them as allies, much like it labeled Saddam Hussein as a criminal, but treated him as an ally against the Kurds, Shiites, and Iran. For Baudrillard, the West is collaborating with Serbia as part of its own anti-Muslim racism. The other point is that the West is not imposing a new world order, but is imposing its DISORDER onto the world vis-a-vis Bosnia. Thus, like the Gulf War, the war in Bosnia is not real." The West's impotence vis-a-vis Bosnia is a symbol of its cultural death of meanings and values.
There is no doubt, in retrospect, that the West failed to finish the job against the criminal Hussein because it feared his possible replacement by various "Islamic fundamentalists" more than it loathed him. Baudrillard is also correct to point to a distinct ethnic nationalism in the West despite its ostentatious pride that it had overcome this shameful phenomenon. But Baudrillard's analysis is incomplete, for it fails to account for the West's scapegoating of the Croats for its Nazi collaboration during World War II, given that most of Europe collaborated with the Nazis, and because he fails to account for the many other reasons why the West would prefer a weak yet not vanquished Milošević in the region. In the eyes of many Westerners, Croatia deserves what it got because of its Nazi collaboration, which is really the imposition of the doctrine of collective guilt on the current generation of Croats for the sins of its fathers, and which runs contrary to the Enlightenment-based doctrine of individual responsibility. And some of the other drawbacks to the postmodern scenario proposed by Baudrillard include the following:
l. Baudrillard treats the world as a cognitive text, yet emotions are also involved in politics pertaining to the Balkans.
2. Baudrillard promulgates the view that we are living in a world of disorder and meaninglessness, confronted by rootless, circulating fictions. Yet many of the "fictions" that are part of the discourse pertaining to the Balkans do make sense, are part of a larger order, and carry enormous meaning.
Thus, neither the modernist view derived from the Enlightenment nor the postmodern view that purports to rebel against it is adequate for the task of explaining the West's response to genocide in the Balkans, or the moral implications of the West's failure. Neither order nor chaos alone is sufficient as explanatory concept. Had this or any other genocidal war been labeled correctly early on does not necessarily mean that the correct, moral response would have been taken. In any case, it is a moot point because "genocide" is typically invoked to explain mass killings after the fact. In two books, Genocide After Emotion: The Postemotional Balkan War and Postemotional Society I propose the concept of "postemotionalism" as an alternative to both modernist and postmodernist perspectives. I shall summarize this concept here.
Postemotionalism refers to the manipulation of emotions that are taken out of context and then used in wholly artificial contexts. The current Balkan War, for example, was depicted by the information media as well as diplomats and politicians as a war fought in the 1990s on the basis of Serb fears of Muslims that go back to 1389 (!) and of Croats based on Ustasha atrocities committed in World War II. There are many curious aspects to this postemotional repackaging of reality. When the Croats and Bosnian Muslims won back territory that had been seized by the Serbs, the New York Times ran the headline, "For Serbs, A Flashback to '43 Horror" (21 September 1995:
A6). 1990s Serbs were quoted concerning their fears of non-existent 1990s Ustashe:
"The chilling fears that have lived here for 52 years were confirmed ... [the Croatian campaign was] a continuation of the crusade to exterminate Serbs."
How does a fear, or any other emotion, live for 52 years? Moreover, as this journalist noted in an aside, "In explaining their fears today by what happened to them [Serbs] five decades ago, the people seemed to forget what happened to their neighbors [Croats and Muslims] only three years ago. " What happened, of course, is that Serbs committed genocide against Croats and Muslims. Indeed, if it were solely a matter of memory, it is curious that Serbs would remember a fear from 52 years ago and forget hatred from a few years ago.
Another interesting aspect of this postemotional re-packaging of quasi-history is the assumption that Croats and Muslims have no flashbacks of horrors committed by Serbs in World War II. Serbian Chetniks, who were Nazi collaborators as well as Nazi resistors in World War II, are repackaged emotionally as freedom fighters and victims in the 1990s while the Croats of the 1990s, who seceded from Yugoslavia, are repackaged as Nazis fifty years after the fall of Nazism. And Bosnian Muslims are represented as "the Turks" more than six hundred years after the Turks conquered Serbia. The French philosopher, Alain Finkielkraut, captures the gist of this seemingly confusing state of affairs with the pithy line: "The Nazis [Serbs] of this story are trying to pass themselves off as the Jews. "
An editorial entitled "If Bosnians Were Whales" argued that public indifference to the Bosnian victims of genocide contrasts sharply with widespread sympathy for whales. If the emotions pertaining to whales could have been transferred postemotionally to Bosnian humans, would the indifference been overcome?
There are many other examples of postemotionalism in the discourse pertaining to the current Balkan War: The West did not wish to confront Greece's silly, postemotional quibbling with neighboring Macedonia over its name--which allegedly goes back to Alexander the Great - because it did not wish to confront a NATO ally. The West soothed its guilty conscience by pointing to the establishment of "safe havens," which were neither safe nor heavenly for its inhabitants, and allowed half of them to be overrun by the Serbs. The British were still acting on their perceived "lesson of history" that in dealing with regional conflicts, one should isolate the combatants and support the strongest party. Thus, in the Balkan Crisis of the 1860s, in which the Turks persecuted Christians in Bosnia and Bulgaria, London supported the stronger Turks. It did the same in Ethiopia, the Spanish Civil War, and Hitler's annexation of Czechoslovakia. What some historians call British appeasement is still seen by London as the right lesson to be drawn from history, and is being applied in the Balkans today. The British are also anxious to contain so-called "German expansionism" in the Balkans and to send a message to secessionist-minded folks in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland that secessionism does not pay.
The French refer to the Serbs as their allies, but in fact, both France and Serbia suffer from a similar psychological complex in failing to admit the full extent of their collaboration with the Nazis. Mitterrand refused to acknowledge the reality of Vichy by dismissing it as a non-French phenomenon. The Serbs simply deny their own Nazi collaboration during World War II.
The United States is still suffering from its Vietnam Syndrome, its humiliating loss in that war and the divisiveness it caused. Thus, the USA is willing to enter wars only if they are short, winnable, and above all, if they do not result in a sizeable number of body bags of its soldiers sent home. Thus, the USA sees in the Balkans a "Vietnam Quagmire."
The Russians see in this Balkan War a chance to compensate for their own humiliating loss of status in the former Soviet Empire, to "pay back" the West for the hardships caused by the imposition of pure capitalism following the Cold War, and for pursuing their own sort of Monroe Doctrine. Thus, the Russians uphold the Serbs as their "little Slavic brothers," and called the recent NATO air strikes "genocide" against the Serbs, and continue to persecute the Muslims in Chechnya with impunity as they threaten neighboring countries that used to constitute the Soviet Empire. The West is all too willing to oblige them rather than risk a confrontation with Russia.
The latest excuse offered by the West is that "this time," the "the new peace plan" will work so there is no need to engage in a sobering analysis of its motives. But consider that President Clinton's "new" peace plan is actually the "old" plan for the ethnic partition of Bosnia-Herzegovina that was offered by the Europeans early on; that ethnic partition is a repulsive idea that runs contrary to Western ideals of multiculturalism; and that this plan actually rewards Serbian genocidal aggression. The West's hypocrisy in this regard is best illustrated by its contrasting reaction to the idea of partitioning Bosnia by Presidents Tuđman and Clinton. When President Tuđman of Croatia allegedly drew a map of Bosnia divided between Croatia and Serbia at Paddy Ashdown's request to envision Bosnia ten years from now, he was labeled as the butcher's apprentice (to Milošević). When President Clinton proposed the same plan for ethnic partition, he was hailed as a peacemaker.
I could go on analyzing the West's excuses and rationalizations for not taking a decisive stand against Serbian genocidal aggression, but in the end, all these excuses amount to the same thing: The West refuses to abide by its most hallowed principles, and it chooses to ignore the findings of its allegedly respected fact-gathering organizations. It expresses curdled indignation at the Serbs, but little else. Even the "NATO air strikes" against the Serbs were nothing more than massive NATO pinpricks, because NATO refused to bomb the 300 tanks and artillery pieces that surround Sarajevo. Such action would have made it less than "neutral." The West preaches a phony, provincial multiculturalism for "us," but tolerates genocide for "them" in the Balkans. "They" are deemed unworthy of "our" multiculturalism. They must settle for ethnic partition.
THE WEST AS VOYEUR
It is really high time to seriously examine the mind of the Western voyeur. Let me hark back to Erich Fromm's The Anatomy of Human Destruction, in which he examined the criminal minds of Hitler, Himmler, and Stalin. But for reasons stated above, the circumstances surrounding genocide in the Balkans have changed from World War II genocide because of massive media coverage, and a change from inner-directed and modernist social character to other-directed postmodernism. In line with Hannah Arendt, Erich Fromm and others who analyzed the "minds of the criminals" in the Nazi era, one could examine outpourings from the mind of the indicted Serb war criminal, Radovan Karadžić, as well as the rationalizations of his henchmen. (They are all too willing to give their points of view on Western television.) We would not learn much more about them than we already know about such criminals based on studies of Hitler, Himmler, and Stalin. What we really need is to probe into the reasons why Westerners were generally taken in by the rationalizations for genocide offered by indicted Serbian war criminals.
The rationalizations I am referring to include the following by Radovan Karadžić: All sides are equally guilty. The Serbs were forced to commit pre-emptive genocide against Croats and Muslims due to fears of them that stem from atrocities committed by the World War II Croatian Nazi collaborationist regime, the Ustasha, and fears of Bosnian Muslims harking back to the Turkish victory over the Serbs in 1389. Karadžić's right-hand man, General Ratko Mladić, adds that the Serbs have been the West's consistent allies. For example, Roger Cohen writes in the New York Times:
General Ratko Mladić, the commander of the Bosnian Serbs, accused NATO of attacking the Serbs in a more brutal way than Hitler ... The reference to Hitler by General Mladić underscores the way in which the Serbs' war-ravaged history, marked at times by stoical heroism, and their contribution to allied victories in two world wars, has been repeatedly invoked by political and military leaders ... They ask why the Serbs are thus persecuted and conclude that it is all an American-led plot against them ... They have suffered unduly. (8 September 1995, p. A1)
Real history in the former Yugoslavia is much more complex: The crimes of the Croatian Ustashe were terrible, but the Serbian Chetniks also collaborated with the Nazis in addition to opposing them at time during World War II. Serbia was not just occupied by the Nazis, but also actively collaborated with them under the quisling rule of Milan Nedić. And of course, the Croats also resisted the Nazis in great numbers.
But any respectable historian and journalist should know that puppet regimes in World War II Yugoslavia, including that of Serbia, collaborated with the fascists. This should not be surprising given the larger context of fascist collaboration even by America's allies, France and Italy. The rationalizations and distortions offered by Serbian war criminals in the 1990s should have been challenged and debunked on the basis of facts, but clearly were not.
Civil war or aggression - is the choice of terminology important? On one level, the answer is obviously yes. Calling all that happened in the former Yugoslavia since 1991 "civil war" stopped the West from responding militarily against Belgrade and allowed the genocide to continue up to Dayton. In the former Yugoslavia, as in Rwanda, and elsewhere, the West did all it could to avoid using the word "genocide," which implies organized, planned aggression. On the other hand, one can never be certain that had the situation been labeled properly from the beginning as Belgrade-sponsored genocide against Croatia and Bosnia, that the outcome would have been different. First, there are no precedents for such an ideal state of affairs. Second, one can imagine that even if the Belgrade government was accused of supporting genocide, as it eventually was, the victims would soon be accused of supporting genocide as well in order to fit the formula that all sides are equally guilty. To some extent, this also happened. In fact, at present, more Croats are on trial for crimes against humanity in The Hague, proportionally to indictments, than Serbs, which will lead to the postmodern conclusion that the Croats were the guiltiest for this recent war. Thus, the question is intricate, and difficult, because it assumes a modernist mind-set for which logical evidence and distinctions make a difference. But if it is true that the world has broken with modernity in some significant ways, choices of terminology do not and will not matter because what really matters is what always mattered: Those in power will manipulate reality in order to achieve self serving, not moral or compassionate, goals.
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
October 4, 2002-10-07
NOTHING TO GAIN BY SANCTIONING CROATIA
By VITOMIR MILES RAGUZ
The usually compliant Croatia, seemingly eager to become a member of the EU and NATO at all cost, surprised everyone last week by refusing to act on the international arrest warrant for its early 1990s chief military commander Janko Bobetko. It told the International Criminal Tribunal at The Hague that the indictment drafted by chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte falls outside her mandate, lacks legal basis and goes against common sense, in that the incident cited was in effect an isolated police action, having nothing to do with a grand scheme of ethnic cleansing that the suit alleges. Therefore, the popular WWII anti-fascist commander and later general, with a physique closer to Santa Claus' than to Slobodan Milosevic's, is to remain at home.
The international and local media were quick to raise the specter of sanctions of one sort or another. This week, both the EU and NATO suggested that failure to comply with the ICTY's demand for Gen. Bobetko could jeopardize Croatia's ambitions to join both organizations. The Western capitals, however, even though calling for full cooperation, have been tepid regarding possible consequences of non-compliance, and understandably so. On one hand, Zagreb does have a legal case for resisting extradition under commonly accepted international law that is thought and practiced outside the Hague circles. On the other hand, even if it did not, punishment for Zagreb at this point -- by diplomatic or economic isolation, for instance -- would be a losing proposition for many actors in the region and elsewhere. In many ways, Washington's and Brussels' hands are tied.
Croatia's Prime Minister Ivica Racan, often labeled in the West as a poster boy for democracy in southeast Europe, could do nothing else but support Gen. Bobetko. Ever since his coalition government decided to cooperate with Ms. Del Ponte on the extradition of generals Ante Gotovina and Rahim Ademi last summer, the popularity of Mr. Racan's Social Democrats has been in steady decline.
Moreover, the country that was initially slightly in favor of the Tribunal has turned strongly against it. Opinion polls indicate that more than two-thirds of Croats are now willing to face sanctions or other consequences rather than see Gen. Bobetko extradited. By now many say they feel humiliated by the Tribunal's repeated attempts to rewrite their history.
While Mr. Racan has decided to read the writing on the wall regarding his re-election chances, the Western governments have much more to worry about than Croatia if he is pressed and loses.
Unlike Zagreb, which has fulfilled its obligations to the Tribunal in large degree, Belgrade has been hardly cooperative other than on the Milosevic handover. In addition, the Serb entity in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) has not cooperated at all--although this week a plea agreement was entered on behalf of former Bosnian Serb president Biljana Plavsic by her lawyer. If the West were to take measures against Croatia, it would then have to do the same or more against the other two in cases of non-cooperation. But if it did so, it would generate local public backlashes that would place at risk governments considered pro-Western. Simply put, it would open doors for parties that the West worked so hard to sideline over the past four years.
But the question of Croatia also comes with issues beyond the ballot box that make it quite different from Yugoslavia and BiH. Relative to its neighbors, Croatia is economically quite independent. It receives hardly any grant assistance. In fact, Croatia may be the only European state in modern history that received no substantial reconstruction aid from the West after suffering from war. All in all, over the past decade, given its spending for Bosnian refugees and costs to establish the balance of power in BiH, Croatia may have been a net provider of aid. The threat of ending financial assistance has been the stick the West has used before against Belgrade and Banja Luka. In the case of Zagreb, it would not be meaningful. Mr. Racan, like Franjo Tudjman in the past, gets little if anything in any event. Similarly, Zagreb's investment-grade credit rating allows it to tap the international capital markets whenever necessary. It is not dependent on the IMF for liquidity or on the other IFIs for development funds as are the other two countries.
To add, Croatia by now has welcomed a substantial amount of foreign investment, especially in the banking, telecommunications and tourism sectors. So if Mr. Racan is to look for solidarity he will find it first in Italian, German and Austrian banks that manage 94% of the country's financial assets -- in value almost equal to the country's gross domestic product. The same may be true for the European development bank, the EBRD, which has invested more in Croatia per capita than in any other Central and East European country. If Croatia were to sneeze, these foreign investors might not get a cold, but they would certainly get cold feet in respect to the region in general.
Therefore, Brussels and Washington may be left with only one stick -- the threat of delayed EU and NATO membership, as suggested by the European Council statement on Monday and the NATO Secretary General on Wednesday.
But in effect Croatia is already under such sanctions. Economically, it is ahead of some 2003 EU candidates. Yet, it is not even slated for membership in the next group of less developed states. As for military preparedness, NATO military experts will tell you that Croatia and Slovenia are the only two states that ought to get a Prague nod on strictly technical terms of military preparedness. They are on par with Spain when it joined in 1982.
In short, Zagreb's membership in both organizations will continue to be on ice no matter what it does. Some EU members believe that early integration would strengthen Croatia too much at a time when it still has many outstanding issues to settle with its neighbors BiH and Yugoslavia. Both of these countries are of greater importance to the West, the former for ideological reasons and the latter for strategic ones, than is Croatia. Many in Zagreb are now becoming cognizant of its position and, on the issue of Gen. Bobetko, feel they have nothing to lose, but perhaps something to gain -- if, for instance Mr. Racan's stance helps him stay in political power. Or because they believe that compliance in Gen. Bobetko's case would only feed a Tribunal appetite for endless indictments, including some of popular people.
Washington and Brussels can also benefit if they are finally ready to hear out reasonable people like Mr. Racan on the issue of the Tribunal and some of its actions. No doubt the Tribunal has done many things well. But for years it has been left accountable to no one. Thus, it has also taken on a life of its own, at times far removed from legal and regional realities. In this vacuum some of its decisions have come to the detriment of the developing field of international criminal law, and even more so, to the detriment of its credibility and the well-being of the region it was envisioned to serve and heal.
The West has been hesitant to intervene, arguing the point of judicial independence, overlooking the point of checks and balances. No court in the West, however, is so independent to the point of being infallible. A court whose decisions cannot be challenged through an independent appeals process is not really a court, and a court whose rules of procedure and laws are said to be permanent and immune to periodic legislative review is not really a court.
All Mr. Racan and others want is to be heard, and for the first time in nine years, to know which international institution is responsible to resolve complaints about the work of the Tribunal. Can such a plea be a cause for sanctions or other punishment? Clearly, it is but a call for reason.
Mr. Raguz was ambassador of BiH to the EU and NATO in 1998-2000, and now is a banker in Vienna.
NATIONAL FEDERATION OF CROATIAN AMERICANS:
LETTER TO ICTY CHIEF PROSECUTOR DEL PONTE
Madame Carla Del Ponte
Chief Prosecutor, ICTY
Churchillplein 1, 2501 EW the Hague, Netherlands
It is quite obvious that the recent indictments of Croatian General Gotovina and now of General Bobetko are politically motivated. The ICTY prosecution is trying to soften the indictment of Milosevic for the wars
in Croatia and Bosnia by "evening the score" - the "all parties equally guilty" philosophy, so readily espoused by the West. Why else would the indictments be issued just before the trial of Milosevic for his role in the wars in Croatia and Bosnia? Equalizing is not possible when comparing a few hundred people killed during the Medak Pocket and Operation Storm offensives of the Croatian army, in order to liberate Croatia's territories, with the massive aggression by ethnic Serbs and the Yugoslav army in Croatia and Bosnia, which caused the death of hundreds of thousands and the ethnic cleansing of some two million people.
You accuse General Bobetko that he "planned, instigated, ordered or otherwise aided and abetted in the planning, preparation or execution of persecution of Serb civilians of the Medak Pocket on racial, political or religious grounds, acting individually or in concert with others". This accusation is patently false and a gross misrepresentation of actual events. Neither General Gotovina nor General Bobetko ever planned or gave such orders, since they are honorable military men, respecting the customary rules of warfare. Furthermore, you accuse General Bobetko of not having prosecuted the men who committed atrocities against Serb civilians. May we remind you that the UN (UNPROFOR) demanded the immediate withdrawal of the Croatian troops from the Medak Pocket, (Croatia's own land) which made it impossible for Croatia to make any investigations and confirmation regarding the accusations. The same UN, that sat in those Croatian territories for four years looking on while Serbs shelled Croatian towns and villages, including Zadar, a world heritage site and even Zagreb. As any civilized society, Croatians do not condone the killing of innocent civilians in war, but it should also be pointed out that many Serb rebels were armed civilians.
At the same time we also urge you to contemplate who the aggressor was, namely that the rebel Serbs and the Yugoslav army held one third of Croatia, killed thousands of Croat civilians (many massacred), burned and looted their homes and expelled hundreds of thousands in "ethnic cleansing". So who was first doing the destroying, burning and looting, which also included oil fields and deforestation? As you accuse Croatians in the Bobetko indictment for the looting of furniture and animals, who is to say if these people were not ones whose property was stolen by the Serbs? Croatians had to live for four years as refugees in their own country! We hope that you look into cause and effect when making your accusations. Most importantly, arrest the real war criminals, Mladic and Karadzic and the Serb officers responsible for the destruction of Vukovar, Sljivancanin, Mrksic and Radic, instead of looking for scapegoats.
Hilda M. Foley
Chair, Public Relations
National Federation of Croatian Americans
13272 Orange Knoll Dr.
Santa Ana, Ca. 92705
CROATIA SAVED BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA
Croatia is again taking half the blame for the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH). Ex-Yugoslav Prime Minister Ante Markovic at the Milosevic trial has spoken of a deal between Milosevic and the late President Tudjman of Croatia to divide BiH between themselves. The death of ex-BiH president Alija Izetbegovic has also brought out similar accusations. This perception of Croatia has done much damage to the country. Whatever deals may or may not have been made does not reflect the reality of what actually happened; Croatia and Croats in BiH saved the country. The Croatian government should recast Croatia as the saviour of BiH.
It is alleged that in early 1991 Milosevic and Tudjman agreed to divide BiH between Croatia and Serbia. This may or may not be true. If it is, then clearly Milosevic misled Tudjman. This division was to be peaceful. The plan may seem disagreeable, but it cannot be construed as a war crime.
Far more importantly the deal was off the moment Serbia attacked Croatia. Significantly, Milosevic's forces attempted to assassinate Tudjman by bombing his palace in an air strike in October 1991. It is hard to believe that Tudjman would have agreed to his own death.
Common sense dictates that this alleged deal is meaningless - and more likely a way for Milosevic to hide his true intentions from Tudjman by telling him what he may have wanted to hear. Milosevic may have strung that out with Tudjman for years after, if we believe they kept in contact one way or the other. But
in any event, reality on the ground demonstrates there was no actual 'carve-up'.
When the Serbs attacked BiH the first people to resist were the Croats who had established some military forces - the Croatian Defence Council (HVO). Izetbegovic in Sarajevo had failed to prepare. On the contrary, he invited the Yugoslav army into BiH. Indeed, prior to that he gave invaluable assistance to
Serbia in its war against Croatia. During that war the Serbs destroyed the Bosnian Croat village of Ravno.
Izetbegovic did not react.
Had it not been for the HVO, BiH would have been overwhelmed almost immediately; there would be no BiH today. If there was some deal between Milosevic and Tudjman to divide BiH then why exactly did the HVO fight the Serbs? Should not all their efforts have been against the Muslims (Bosniaks)?
The Muslim-Croat war is frequently cited as evidence of Croatia's bad intent towards BiH. But here things
are changing. Charles Shrader's superlative new history of the conflict effectively rubbishes the entire idea of a carve-up by establishing that it was the Bosniak side that started the war in order to cleanse Central BiH of its Croats. Shrader also points out that the transit of arms via Croatia to BiH, the continued co-operation of HVO and BiH forces throughout the Muslim-Croat conflict - let alone the fact that Izetbegovic placed his family in the safety of Zagreb - is not exactly consistent with a carve-up.
Shrader is a respected American military historian. Further, his book is published by the reputable American Texas A&M University press's Eastern European Studies. These studies have an editorial board which contains people sympathetic to the BiH state, and who were critical of Tudjman. In other words, this is a book that is credible and cannot be dismissed as Croat propaganda.
Zagreb should use this book to defend itself against allegations of aggression against BiH. Indeed, given
Sarajevo's assistance to Serbia during the war against Croatia, Zagreb has grounds to accuse Sarajevo of
collaborating with Serbian aggression. Despite that, thousands of Bosniaks were accepted as refugees in
Croatia. If Croatia were an aggressor on the level of Serbia why would Bosniaks seek refuge there? And why would Croatia accept them - especially when it had its own refugees to contend with.
The Muslim-Croat war was over in 1994 - with many Croats 'cleansed' from Central BiH. Croat and Bosnian forces then devoted all efforts against the Serbs. In 1995, Croatia launched Operation Storm. Croat forces recaptured last swathes of its territory. In the process, the beleaguered Bihac pocket in BiH was saved from a Srebrenica style fate. Serb forces were rolled back and peace in BiH was achieved. 49% of BiH was given to the Serbs, not as part of any Tudjman/Milosevic deal - but by the international community.
It was not Izetbegovic who saved BiH as has been stated in tributes to him. The alleged Milosevic / Tudjman deal as described by various including Paddy Ashdown and Ante Markovic, bear no relation whatsoever to what happened on the ground. It was the Croatian Army, and the HVO that saved BiH.
Croatia should inform the world of this reality - or face a future equated to those who besieged Sarajevo and slaughtered thousands at Srebrenica.
THE U.N. SPIRIT AT SREBRENICA LIVES ON AT THE HAGUE
The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague has often colluded with Serbian interests in much the same way UN personnel did throughout the wars in the former Yugoslavia. This is obscured by Serbian complaints that the Tribunal is biased against them. Not only have they openly provided intelligence to the Serbs, they have not investigated major Serbian war crimes suspects in relation to crimes in Croatia. This is no doubt due to a political effort by the Prosecutor's office to revise and distort history to play down Serbian aggression and show that "all sides are equally guilty".
The attitude of the Office of the Prosecutor can be clearly seen by their views on Srebrenica. The UN has been condemned and held responsible by many for the slaughter of thousands of Bosnian men and boys. Indeed, the Milosevic trial itself has seen testimony damning the UN role at Srebrenica.
One would think then that UN personnel would be investigated for their involvement in war crimes by The Hague Prosecutor. Not a bit of it. On the contrary, the Prosecutor seems to think the UN's role was an innocent one. In 2000, the pro-prosecutor Institute of War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) wrote that a group called the 'Mothers of Srebrenica and Podrinje' had - quite reasonably - asked the Prosecutor to investigate UN officials such as former Secretary-General Boutros-Boutros Ghali for complicity in the massacre at Srebrenica. Deputy Prosecutor Graham Blewitt had this to say: "Some common sense has to be exercised here." He elaborated further, "To suggest the UN in its role as peacemaker in the former Yugoslavia, and particularly in Bosnia, had motives which would amount to crimes is unrealistic."
A prosecution witness in the Milosevic trial, former Venezuelan ambassador to the UN, Diego Arria, has claimed that UN personnel - including Boutros-Boutros Ghali - deliberately withheld intelligence from the Security Council. This may have prevented action to save lives. Arria had warned of a massacre at Srebrenica; he was ignored. He has called this the biggest cover-up in UN history. Will Graham Blewitt now start an investigation? I suspect not. UN officials will breathe easy.
The Office of the Prosecutor has often provided intelligence on their investigations to the Serbs - no doubt helping suspects elude justice. The Hague Prosecutor used to produce sealed indictments - meaning suspects could be arrested by surprise. In 2001, IWPR reported that the Hague Prosecutor handed over sealed indictments to the Bosnian Serb leadership in Bosnia-Herzegovina. They in turn promptly handed these indictments to the suspects, without arresting them. The suspects were thus alerted to the fact they were being hunted, and would no doubt adopt a low profile.
Deputy Prosecutor Blewitt's comments on the matter seemed more geared to exonerating Bosnian Serb leaders of blame for this leak. "I do not believe the government did it intentionally. The responsibility is on an individual in the government who wanted to slow down justice" he said.
The Bosnian Serb leadership have never been supportive of the Tribunal. What possessed the Office of the Prosecutor to hand over such sensitive material? And why did Blewitt minimize the responsibility of the Bosnian Serb leadership?
Had the indictments been leaked by the Office of the Prosecutor there would have been an outcry. But as they were leaked by the Bosnian Serbs - having been given them officially by the Prosecutor - there was no such outcry.
In 2003, The UK's Spectator magazine criticised Hague Chief Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte for handing over intelligence on the whereabouts of Radovan Karadzic to the Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic. The Spectator pointed out that Djukanovic was under investigation by Italian judges for directing a cigarette-smuggling ring and was facing an OSCE/Council of Europe investigation for allegedly nobbling a prosecution of alleged human traffickers high in government.
Another charmer that Del Ponte handed intelligence to was assassinated Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindic, this time on Ratko Mladic. Djindic was lauded in the West for being a democrat and so on. In reality he was a Greater Serbia enthusiast and admirer of Radovan Karadzic. Not really the sort of person a prosecutor should give such intelligence to. Del Ponte claimed that Djindic told her he was going to hand over Mladic. She actually believed this. Given that he had not already done so and that in the supposed crackdown that followed his death Mladic was not arrested, it seems that Djindic and his 'reformers' took Del Ponte for quite a ride. Does the Hague Prosecutor still have any intelligence the Serbs don't know?
Then we have Savo Strbac and his 'Veritas' organisation - ostensibly an organisation providing information on the alleged wrongs to Serbs by Croats. Strbac and Veritas work closely with the Hague Prosecutor in order to prosecute Croats. This beggars belief. Strbac is an unapologetic believer in a Greater Serbia. His Veritas website - www.veritas.org.yu - carries Greater Serbia imagery on its homepage.
He was a senior official in the occupation 'Republika Srpska Krajina' (RSK) structure in Croatia between 1991-5. The RSK was set up on the back of ethnic cleansing and mass murder - including the destruction of Vukovar. It actively persecuted Croats. It was part of the "criminal enterprise" as related in the Hague's own Milosevic indictment. The Prosecutor has been working with Veritas since 1994 - when Veritas operated from occupied Croat territory. All investigations into Croats are compromised by Strbac's involvement.
Strbac himself was named in the Milosevic trial by a prosecution witness as head of a bodies exchange commission. During one exchange of bodies with Bosnia six of the dead the Serbs handed over were murdered for this purpose. It was stated that the commission was fully aware of this.
Yet Strbac and his organisation are considered perfectly suitable by the Prosecutor to assist in
Its gets worse. The Prosecutor gave Strbac a 'Letter of Endorsement' to help raise funds for his
organisation, which he proudly displays on his website.
That says it all.
Serbs complain they are disproportionately targeted by the Prosecutor. In reality, not enough Serb war criminals have been indicted. The majority of Serbian war crimes in Croatia have not been investigated properly - if at all. How is it that Yugoslav Chief of Staff General Zivota Panic, who oversaw the destruction of Vukovar and the slaughter of Eastern Slavonia for months was left to live out his final years in peace, recently dying in his bed, undisturbed by Carla del Ponte?
In contrast, Croatian Chief of Staff Bobetko died in his bed with a dubious indictment for an alleged massacre that was on a vastly smaller scale than Panic's atrocities.
Clearly, the prosecutor is not operating on the basis of charging those responsible for the worst crimes. She must therefore be operating on a political basis - the UN one of "all sides are equally guilty".
When one considers all this, much becomes clear. We see that the UN policies in former Yugoslavia of colluding with Serbs have been carried over to the Hague Prosecutor. The result of all this is that those Serbs responsible for slaughtering thousands in Croatia, destroying cities and ethnically cleansing one third of the country have got away with it. Who, exactly, is demanding the bringing to book of all those - possibly thousands of - Serbs responsible for what happened to Croats? No one. Certainly not The Hague Prosecutor.
The UN spirit at Srebrenica lives on.
Brian Gallagher, Croatian Herald (Melbourne)
Friday, December 12th 2008
Bosnia and global jihad
By Leslie S. Lebl
These two books document the steady advance of radical Islam in Bosnia and the Balkans. They explain its role during and after the Bosnian war and argue that Bosnia was a key way station in the development of globalized jihad. (more)
Wednesday, November 26th 2008
"Secession from Bosnia: a bluff?"
Jan Mus, European Union observer
EUOBSERVER / COMMENT - International calls to solve the Bosnian problem have
recently intensified significantly. The lingering political stalemate has disabled the means of any major reforms in the country, while the behaviour of political leaders, in particular Republika Srpska Prime Minister Milorad
Dodik, threatens the territorial integrity of the country.
What would be the cost of Bosnian Serbs seceding? Is it not just a bluff in order to maintain a strong political position? Possible implications for the region would discourage any leader in the country from such a move.
"Bosnian Serb prime minister Milorad Dodik, once the darling of the international community (and especially Washington) for his opposition to the nationalist Serb Democratic Party, has adopted that party's agenda without being tainted by their genocidal baggage. His long-term policy seems
clear: to place his Serb entity, Republika Srpska, in a position to secede if the opportunity arises," said Paddy Ashdown and Richard Holbrooke in an article published recently. (more)
New Book on Bosnia and Herzegovina
At the end of August 2007, Scarecrow Press, a member of the Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, published the second and enlarged edition of Historical Dictionary of Bosnia and Herzegovina, written by dr. Ante Čuvalo, a recognized authority on the past and present of Bosnia and Herzegovina .
The publisher's announcement states the following about the book:
"Diversity has always been at the heart of Bosnia and Herzegovina's character; even its dual name and physical geography display a particular heterogeneity. The medieval Bosnian state never enjoyed lasting political and ideological unity as its feudal, regional, and religious rifts pulled at the country's seams. Furthermore, because of its location and by a quirk of history, three major world religious and cultural traditions (Catholicism, Islam, and Orthodoxy) became cohabitants in this small Balkan country. Recently, the rebirth of its statehood has been exceptionally bloody and its diversity has been shaken. Even eleven years after the guns were silenced, the country is still under the "benevolent" protection of the international community, whose officials are keeping the state-building process in perpetual suspense, with no final result in sight.
The second edition of the Historical Dictionary of Bosnia and Herzegovina sheds light on the uncertain situation Bosnia and Herzegovina faces, while providing essential background information. This is accomplished through a chronology, an introduction, a bibliography, and more than 300 cross-referenced dictionary entries on individual topics spanning Bosnia and Herzegovina 's political, economic, religious, and social system along with short biographies on important figures."
Please note, that the first edition was the CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title for1998.
It is a hard cover book and it has 504 pages. List price is $99.00 and discount price $84.15. It can be obtained from the author (708) 895-5531 e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org , from the publisher (800) 462-6420, bookstores, and book sellers on the web.
The ICJ Decision and its effects
May 12, 2007
The February 26, 2007 decision of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the case of Bosnia-Herzegovina v. Serbia and Montenegro reminds me of the (in)famous 1995 criminal trial in California in which all evidence clearly pointed that the accused was the one who committed the horrific murders, but the jury decided that the "glove did not fit," and he was acquitted. There are, however, two important differences between the two cases. The Hague judgment was not passed by a jury mesmerized by the theatrics of defense lawyers, but by a group of world-renowned judges.
And, the Court did not dismiss the charges entirely, it dropped a crumb from the table of justice to the victims and declaring that Serbia was guilty of sins of omission.
Unfortunately, the decision of the court to absolve Serbia from the key liability did not surprise anyone who followed the behavior of the "international community" towards Serbia and its leadership during the 1992-1995 tragic events in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), as well as in Croatia. The ICJ simply followed the already entrenched patterns of appeasement.
However, it bewilders a normally-thinking mind to observe how, on one hand, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) indicted and tried the late Slobodan Milosevic (and some of his cronies) on charges of genocide, and, on the other, the ICJ exonerated Serbia of its role in the same genocide for which its leaders were indicted.
Furthermore, if we add the facts that the ICJ "refused to infer genocide from a 'consistent pattern of conduct'" and that the ICTY persecutor allowed the Serbian government to "protect" certain sensitive documents from the Court, it should not be of surprise to us that the state of Serbia was cleared form the sins of commission.
The ICJ February decision has a flipside that is mostly ignored. By its action, the Court has helped to sustain the Serbian national dream of a Greater Serbia. What happened in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, and Slovenia as well, was not an accident or a criminal enterprise of a madman or of a few individuals. It was merely another attempt to achieve a long-lasting national goal as defined already in the 19^th century. The ideology behind that objective was based on elements of religious messianism, secular social Darwinism, and an imitation of Bismarkian realpolitik. Such a volatile mixture, however, did bring to Serbia territorial rewards in all conflicts it undertook during the last century and a half, including the Serb Republic in the latest war. Unfortunately, that ideology is alive and doing well even today, as the latest election results in Serbia have shown.
*The Making or Breaking of Bosnia and Herzegovina *
Those who advocate an ultimate dissolution of Bosnia and Herzegovina, usually use the case of the break-up of Yugoslavia to prove their point.
But the historical processes that brought about a multinational and multiconfessional Bosnia and Herzegovina and the post-World War I unification of Yugoslavia, are entirely different in nature. Also, a dissolution of the country would not necessarily bring peace and stability to the region. It might even wet appetites for further expansions and/or other outside dangerous influences.
Reconciliation, although painful, is necessary and possible. However, it cannot be based on the simplistic formula "let bygones be bygones," or phony assumptions that at one point or another in history Bosnia and Herzegovina was a land of harmony and bliss to which it should aspire.
Most of all, reconciliation cannot be based on the Dayton foundations.
The Dayton Accords, while stopping the bloodshed, have divided the country and imposed unjust and unacceptable constitutional arrangement that cannot serve as a foundation for stability and a lasting peace. Some visible successes in the country have been made since 1995, such as better telephone service, better roads, new buildings, and even several successful elections and military reforms, but Dayton remains a millstone around the country's neck. The straps of the Dayton straightjacket must be cut, and cut soon, if a meaningful move is to be made from the present impasse.
The biggest obstacle to finding an equitable solution to fundamental issues in the country is the lack of will on the part of the domestic political leadership and the so-called international community.
Unfortunately, the internal and external power holders prefer to keep the "process" going rather than to resolve Bosnia and Herzegovina's conundrum.
While an "open-ended" strategy might be good for internal and international bureaucrats, it keeps the future of the country and the lives of people in perpetual uncertainty. If Bosnia and Herzegovina is to move forward, a new constitutional system must be formulated, one that would end ethnically-based divisions and, at the same time, prevent the creation of a unitary country.
The domestic political elite (mostly former socialist nomenklatura) will never come to an adequate solution in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Their legitimacy is questionable, they are only after their own interests through an election system where people vote for parties and not for individuals, and office holders are responsible to their party bosses and not to the people. They have no vision and even less clear steps of how to move the country forward. For them, politics is a game of dividing spoils.
They can go on forever with endless meetings and very elaborate but meaningless talks, just like in the "good old days," but these lead nowhere. Thus, a just and honest solution should be found by going around them, and people at large will appreciate it. People are sick and tired of the present uncertainty and lack of will of those in power to resolve the most fundamental issues.
*Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina *
While practically all Serb political, cultural, and religious forces (in RS, Serbia, and around the world), regardless of their internal differences, are united in a struggle for the preservation of RS and most of the Bosniak relevant political, religious, and cultural forces aspire to a unitary Bosnia, the Croats are more united in what they do not want than in what they do seek in Bosnia and Herzegovina. All religious and cultural institutions, and most of political forces do not support either an ethnically-based divided country nor a unitary Bosnia (that is BiH).
They are not against Bosnia and Herzegovina as an independent country, but for them the critical question is: what kind of Bosnia and Herzegovina? Croats are looking for a constitutional arrangement in which they as individuals and as a people will be guaranteed equality.
Croats, Catholics, and their cultural heritage have been an integral part of Bosnia and Herzegovina's history. If they would disappear today or fade away in the near future (as some expect), Bosnia and Herzegovina would not be better off, it would actually lose one of its vital components.
In the opinion of many of us who were born and raised in BiH, and who are concerned for its fate, the resolution of the "Bosnian problem" is not so complicated as it has been portrayed to be. What is needed is a straightforward and honest approach, and the will to do it. There are plenty of honest and intelligent people in the country who are not caught up in a power struggle. For example, Bosniak and Croat diasporas have been able to agree on various fundamental issues without significant disagreements. There are such people in the country too. What is needed is a firm and steady helping hand from outside (America, EU, and others) to empower those positive forces in the country and get around the existing political self-serving establishment so that people may start building a better future for themselves and the country on firm, and stable foundations. Such a future can be built only on the principles of justice, airness, and respect for others.
Dr. Ante Čuvalo - President
Alliance of Croats of Bosnia and Herzegovina (US and Canada)
Professor of History at Joliet Jr. College
AN INTERVIEW WITH CARDINAL PULJIC
AN INTERVIEW WITH CARDINAL PULJIC
by Brian Gallagher
The Croatian Herald, Australia No. 1017 - 04.06.04
Croats in Bosnia-Herzegovina are in a difficult position. In particular, there is a serious concern over Croat refugee return. Cardinal Vinko Puljic is the head of the Roman Catholic church in BiH, and one of the most important figures in the country. He has many concerns over how Croats are being treated in BiH, especially by the international community.
Cardinal Puljic kindly gave me some time for an interview. I asked him about the situation of Croats in BiH. "The Croats were least in numbers (compared to Serbs/Muslims) before the war and after the war." The Cardinal pointed out that because the Serbs were awarded 49% of the country, and the Muslims have such a large majority in the Federation, Croats can't exercise their rights.
In particular, he is concerned that Croats have not done well in refugee returns. "Out of 220,000 returns to Republika Srpska - the Serb run part of BiH - only 12,000 were Croats. Nor have Croats received their fair share of funds from the international community." He considers the very identity of Croats to have come into question referring to OSCE education reforms that disadvantage Croats.
He also criticised how Croats are portrayed, not only by the Sarajevo/Republika Srpska press, but also by international organisations. "I am appalled by how the international community write about Croats in their reports. When I ask the authors why they write like this, they say that their 'boss told me to'." He continued, "I get the impression that Croats are seen as an obstacle for staying in BiH. Croats are in essence carriers of European culture. If we are
cleared out, only Eastern culture will remain." This is an important point the Cardinal makes; Croats can do much to secure the European future of BiH as a member of the European Union.
He referred to a "game of political interests" by the international community. Intrigued, I asked him to clarify.
"The Americans are for the Muslims vis a vis the 'Far East' (alluding to Iraq etc). The British and French support the Serbs - very obvious. The Germans and Austrians are supportive but a bit timid - they speak for all three peoples."
I then asked for the Cardinal's views on Paddy Ashdown, current High Representative of BiH. This was of particular interest to me, being a member of the political party Ashdown used to lead. "Ashdown promised more at the beginning, but we notice he calculates very much with the Muslims" he said.
He gave his views on Ashdown's solution to the governance of Mostar, which ensured no majority - in this case Croats - could control the city; in contrast to the rest of the country. "Ashdown reacts to the Muslims; His solution for Mostar was discriminatory. It's not applied to Banja Luka, Travnik or Sarajevo."
The Cardinal pointed out that there are many other such double standards. "I have tried to get a permit to build a church in Sarajevo. For eight years I have not received a proper permit. In Capanje, after the HR intervened a mosque got a permit in three days. In Dvar, OHR/SFOR intervened on behalf of the Serbs and in Stolac on behalf of Muslims/Serbs. No interventions
for Croats. Ashdown relativises when talking about Croats. He dismisses all criticisms."
The Cardinal has some serious concerns over Ashdown. "I am afraid that Ashdown is taking measures to assimilate the least number (Croats) into the majority. The Catholic Church is reacting strongly and protecting human rights". I was referred to the communiqué of the BiH bishops conference last September which went into the question of Croat human rights into some depth. He considers that "all the HR's who have come to BiH have an eye on their future
The issues Cardinal Puljic raises are important ones and western politicians and media would do well to speak to him rather than listen to various NGO's and international officials who all too often are reflecting someone's political agenda. It is very sad that NGO's cannot be relied upon to safeguard the basic human rights of Croats, with that task being carried out more or less by the Catholic Church. I would certainly advise anyone who is concerned over the issues raised here to contact their political representatives.
*The aforementioned Travnik Bishops conference press release is an important document worth reading, and can be seen at:
Š Brian Gallagher
My 'Viewpoint from London' column appears fortnightly
in the Australian 'Croatian Herald' and thereafter at
Washington Times (http://www.washingtontimes.com), September 30, 2003
Redrawing Bosnian borders
From 1992-1995, Bosnia was the site of some of the bloodiest fighting in Europe since the Second World War. Yet since the signing of the Dayton peace accords, the country remains divided along ethnic lines. Despite massive Western foreign aid and the presence of American peacekeeping forces, Bosnia's Serbs, Croats and Muslims are no closer to genuine reconciliation and peaceful co-existence.
The country's Serbs who live in the Bosnian Serb Republic seek to eventually become part of Serbia. The Bosnian Croats, most of whom live in the country's second political entity, the Muslim-Croat federation, also would like nothing more than to join Croatia.
The country's Muslims, however, remain wedded to the notion of a united, multinational Bosnia based on a strong centralized government in Sarajevo. The international community also is committed to keeping the country's borders intact. Yet the problem with that approach is that it overlooks the reality of what is occurring on the ground.
Bosnia remains an economic basket case, where the unemployment rate is 40 percent. Foreign investment is practically nonexistent. Corruption and crime remain rampant. Despite nearly a decade of nation-building, Western governments have failed to forge viable economic and political institutions.
More ominously, the greatest threat to peace and stability stems from the resurgence of Islamic fundamentalism in Bosnia, which seeks to either wipe out or convert all Christians in the region. The country now serves as a base for al Qaeda operatives, where numerous terrorist cells are active and plotting attacks on targets throughout Europe. In the past, Saudi Arabia has sent millions of dollars in aid to "humanitarian" agencies that encourage Bosnian Muslims to promote the doctrines of Wahhabism, a particularly intolerant and puritanical version of Islam.
Mosques have been established throughout the Muslim-Croat federation, many of whom preach the need for "jihad" against the country's Catholic Croats and Orthodox Christian Serbs.
The result has been numerous acts of terror perpetrated upon civilians - especially the Croats. During the past several years, Catholic churches in and around Sarajevo have been vandalized by Islamic extremists. Cemeteries where Croats were buried have been desecrated. Many ordinary Catholics are afraid of walking on the streets of Sarajevo with a cross around their neck for fear of being attacked.
The most notorious incident occurred on Christmas Eve, when three Croats - a father and his two daughters - were gunned down in their home by an Islamic militant near the town of Konjic. Their crime: celebrating Christmas.
The rise of radical Islam threatens to destabilize the Balkans, plunging the region once again into bloodshed and religious conflict. Rather than forcing the three constituent peoples of Bosnia to live together against their wishes, the Bush administration would be wise to develop a realistic and coherent strategy toward the region.
Washington needs to realize that synthetic states such as Bosnia-Herzegovina are destined to fail. Recent European history is littered with examples of multinational countries such as Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union that disintegrated because they denied the fundamental human aspirations for democracy and national self-determination. Bosnia is another case in point. The Bosnian Serbs should be allowed to form a state with Serbia; the Croat territories - especially those centered around their stronghold of Mostar in Western Herzegovina - should be incorporated into Croatia. The Bosnian Muslims would have their own state, with Sarajevo as the capital.
More importantly, the Bush administration needs to foster closer ties with the Croats in Bosnia-Herzegovina for one simple reason: They are on the front-lines in the war against Islamic terrorism in the Balkans. The Bosnian Serbs, meanwhile, are unreliable allies. Many of them are still seething with resentment against the United States for its decision to use military force to end the Serbs' campaign of ethnic cleansing and mass murder during the Balkan wars of the 1990s.
The Croats, on the other hand, view Washington as their strategic partner. As one high-ranking Bosnian Croat government official told me: "We can act as the eyes and ears for the West in the Balkans and monitor the activities of al Qaeda in Bosnia."
The United States should not only support the Bosnian Croats' right to self-determination, but also provide them with intelligence and military assistance to contain the growth of radical Islam in the region.
It is ironic that the West should now have to depend upon the Croats in Herzegovina as a pivotal ally in the war on terrorism. Throughout the 1990s, the Herzegovinian Croats were demonized in the Western liberal press for their "nationalism" and passionate attachment to the Croatian cause. They have always been the most patriotic and courageous of all the Croats, producing some of Europe's finest fighters.
Herzegovina was primarily the site where the Croats for centuries fought off the invading Ottoman armies. For their ceaseless resistance to the Turks, Pope Leo X referred to the Croats as "the ramparts of Christendom."
The Croats in Bosnia can again take up their historic role as a strategic bulwark against Islamic expansionism on the Continent. However, this can only happen after Washington realizes Bosnia is not a Balkan Switzerland, but a smoldering cauldron of ethnic strife where the followers of Osama bin Laden have found a home to preach their message of hate and religious fanaticism. As an experiment in nation-building, Bosnia has been a noble failure. The Bush administration should take heed.
Jeffrey T. Kuhner
The Washington Times, Commentary
January 05, 2004
The recent victory by radical nationalists in Serbia's parliamentary elections signals that Belgrade will likely once again seek to forge a Greater Serbia. Neighboring states and the West need to revise their
foreign policies in order to prevent another Balkan war.
The neo-fascist Serbian Radical Party, led by Vojislav Seselj, won nearly 30 percent of the vote. More moderate parties, such as the Democratic Party of Serbia and the governing pro-Western Democratic
Party, finished a distant second and third place respectively. Although the Radicals did not win enough support to form the next government, their strong showing indicates that Serbian politics will become more nationalistic and anti-Western.
Mr. Seselj ran his party's campaign from a prison cell in The Hague, Netherlands. He is indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) for war crimes in Croatia and Bosnia during
the Balkan wars of the 1990s. His Radical Party is based directly on the methods and structure of Adolf Hitler's Nazi Party. Mr. Seselj is a virulent ultranationalist, who champions the creation of a Greater Serbia and the expulsion of all non-Serbs from Serbian lands.
The Radicals' strong showing is likely to trigger regional instability, reawakening fears among Serbia's neighbors of a possible new round of ethnic fighting. Moreover, even if Belgrade's bickering pro-democracy parties can put aside their differences and form a ruling coalition, the next government will be weak, unstable and most likely short-lived. The result: that Serbia will continue to slide toward deeper political and economic chaos. This will only strengthen support for Mr. Seselj and his policies of national socialism.
Outgoing Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Zivkovic has equated the widespread anti-Western feeling among many Serbs with Germany's sense of betrayal after World War I. "Even Hitler came to power through
democratic elections," Mr. Zivkovic rightly points out.
It is vital that Western governments and neighboring countries such as Croatia and Bosnia take immediate action to prevent Mr. Seselj's Radicals from coming to power in the near future. Washington and
Brussels need to make it clear to Belgrade that the West will not tolerate any attempts to alter borders through the use of military force. The Bush administration would be wise to announce to the Serbian electorate that the consequences for resurrecting the project of a Greater Serbia will be very severe: diplomatic isolation, economic sanctions and a U.S.-led military response.
The administration should also adopt a policy of containment toward Belgrade. Serbia is the sick man of the Balkans. As in the final days of Weimar Germany, Serbia today is a political and economic basket case. It has also refused to give up its imperial dreams of national expansion and ethnic revanchism. Hence, Washington needs to restrain Belgrade's growing assertiveness by establishing a strategic regional defensive perimeter.
The first step is to formally recognize Kosovo's de facto independence from Serbia, while preserving Pristina's status as an international protectorate backed by NATO and the United Nations. This will give a clear signal to Serbian nationalists that their desire to re-annex the predominantly Albanian province will be resisted by the West. Furthermore, the United States should spearhead an initiative to foster a security alliance between Zagreb and Sarajevo. The reformist governments of Croatia and Bosnia should increase their countries' military cooperation and publicly pledge to defend one another's borders n the event of a future attack by Serbian forces.
Most importantly, the Bush administration needs to reach out to Croatia's new neo-conservative government led by Prime Minister Ivo Sanader. Mr. Sanader, along with his pro-American Foreign Minister
Miomir Zuzul, have openly called for closer U.S.-Croatia relations. Mr. Sanader is the only major politician in the former Yugoslavia to have supported the U.S.-led war in Iraq. His government also backs Washington's position on the need to sign a treaty exempting U.S. troops from prosecution by the International Criminal Court.
A stable and secure Croatia is pivotal to long-term stability in the region. It was the Croatian army - trained and supported by the United States - that in a 1995 lightening military offensive smashed Slobodan
Milosevic's forces, effectively ending the conflict in Croatia and Bosnia. Croatia's military is the strongest and most closely aligned to Western standards in Southeastern Europe. Should a regional war break
out once again, it is most likely that Croatian troops will serve as the West's ground forces in any campaign to stop Serbian aggression. The administration should insist that Zagreb's bid to join NATO be put on
the fast track.
Moreover, Mr. Sanader needs to propose a strategic partnership with Washington, in which the United States and Croatia establish a formal military alliance. The benefits for Zagreb would be that such a treaty
would act as a significant deterrent against Serbian expansionism. The administration, on the other hand, would gain by having Croatia play the role of the region's policeman, assuming the brunt of the responsibility for military security and cooperation.
Besides forming a network of strategic allies, Washington also needs to more actively support the pro-democracy reformers in the former Yugoslavia. In particular, Mr. Bush should end the United States'
foolish policy of blindly supporting the ICTY. The tribunal's chief prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte, has issued weak indictments against both Serbian and Croatian generals. Serbia's pro-Western leaders have
repeatedly said that Mrs. Del Ponte has done more than any other individual to strengthen the popularity of radical nationalists.
Her bogus indictment of Croatian patriot, Gen. Ante Gotovina, has not only been severely criticized by Hague tribunal experts and senior Bush administration officials, but more importantly it threatens to
destabilize Croatia. Most Croatians rightly view Gen. Gotovina as a war hero who is the victim of a politicized witch hunt by Mrs. Del Ponte. She is openly reviled by reformist leaders in the region. The
administration should insist that Mrs. Del Ponte be replaced, and the ICTY only focus on a few high-profile cases, leaving the domestic courts to handle the rest.
Mr. Seslj's stunning rise to political prominence reveals that the Balkans is still a volatile area, susceptible to ideological fanaticism. The West needs to take a bold, pre-emptive approach if it wants to prevent a repeat of the ethnic extremism that plunged the region into bloodshed for much of the last decade. If Western leaders fail to nip in the bud Mr. Seselj's evil appeals to blood and soil, they will come to regret it.
Jeffrey T. Kuhner
A detrimental philosophy
During my recent visit to Croatia I read numerous newspaper stories regarding the 510th anniversary of the Krbavskoj Battle at Udbina. While they were informative and interesting the political views expressed by various Serbian spokesmen were especially fascinating.
From their comments one can conclude that they have a major psychological problem dealing with a Croatian historical event that occurred over a half a millennium ago. For instance, after plans were revealed to build a Catholic Church at the site to commemorate the Croatian dead, a Serb spokesman stated that such a move is provocative and would "rehabilitate fascism and the Ustashe"? How the building of a Catholic Church dedicated to dead warriors of a 1493 battle against the Ottomans could be interpreted as such not only defies logic, it also comes close to pathological paranoia.
Perhaps Serbs subconsciously fear that reviving Croatian history may open a Pandora's box of facts that they may wish would remain forever forgotten. For example, during World War II, Udbina's Croatian population was almost totally decimated by Serbian Partisans. While the unmerciful slaughter and wanton destruction was supposedly done as an act of "anti-fascism" the Serbs established their permanence there. After the war, to further erase all memories of a Croatian presence they destroyed an ancient Catholic Church, using the same excuse.
The events at Udbina in WW II remind us of what Serbs did during the most recent war. There is the matter of Seselj's ordered massacre of the elderly at Vocin and the destruction of the Catholic church which had stood for five hundred years. And then there is the matter of what they did to the Vukovar hospital patients in 1991. The mass graves are only now beginning to tell the horror of that massacre.
From the time the Serbs ruled the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes until Croatia's independence, most of Croatian history had been suppressed by the Serbs and then the communists. Since independence, there is a new movement to remember once forbidden Croatian historical events.
Given this circumstance, perhaps now is the time to open a dialog to commemorate all of the victims of the communist regime. Doubtless, this suggestion will provoke protests from those who continue to adhere to the so-called glorious days of Communism and their ongoing commemoration to Victims of Fascism.
Separating the rhetoric from the substance, the number of people who fell as a result of fascism is a drop in the bucket when compared to the ocean of victims caused by communism. Aside from the various purges and mass murders they committed, communism caused the largest mass exodus in Croatian history. Croats left their native land seeking freedom of thought and freedom of religion. For the generation of adults who cannot now relate to the days of Communistic rule, it would be instructive to provide a little more background.
Communism, objectively, was a philosophy that affected more lives detrimentally than any other force in history. Even Adolph Hitler's tally sheet of murder does not come close to matching the 100 million who were murdered in the name of communist progress. And Belgrade based communism was among the most notable in that regard.
According to human rights organizations, Yugoslavia had the distinction of having one of the worst records among the world's totalitarian countries. They held more political prisoners than all the former Eastern Bloc countries combined.
The definitive work on Communism, "The Black Book of Communism" (Harvard University Press; Cambridge, Massachusetts 1999) articulated the situation in Yugoslavia best: "Rarely in the course of history had the arrival of a new regime been preceded by a bloodbath on the scale of the one seen in Yugoslavia, where out of a population of 15.5 million, 1 million died. A series of ethnic, religious, ideological, and civil war tore the country apart, and many of the victims were women, children, and old people. This was truly a fratricidal war, and the genocide and purges ensured that at the moment of liberation, Tito and the Communist Party had hardly any political rivals left.
They swiftly set about eliminating them all the same." (pp 397-398)
The human toll in Croatia was especially horrific. The wholesale slaughter of Bleiburg and Krizni Put were portents of what was in store for Croatians. The untold story is just how many Croatians were shot at the borders trying to escape tyranny. Likewise, the number who were caught and imprisoned because of their efforts is also unknown. Those hundreds of thousands of Croats that successfully fled ended up in refugee camps in neighboring countries. Most of them eventually settled in the United States, Canada, and Australia. The escapees all told the same stories - swimming across the Drava, passing over snow capped mountains, rowing across the
Adriatic - all at great personal risk to life and limb.
The Catholic Church also suffered enormously. The Communists perceived the Catholic Church of Croatia as its arch-nemesis and greatest threat to the regime. They systematically persecuted and decimated the clergy. The tactic was to scatter the flock by killing the shepherds. For example, Yugoslav forces entered the Franciscan Monastery of Siroki Brijeg, doused fourteen friars with petrol and set them afire. In another example, only 88 priests of the 151 in Senj's diocese survived the Communist policy. Half the parishes were left with no clergy. The then Bishop of Zagreb Aloysius Stepinac was arrested after publishing a pastoral letter declaring 273 clergy had been killed, 169 imprisoned and 89 were "missing" since the communist takeover.
Yet there are those who continue to pay homage to Communism. Among them the Croatian Ambassador to Washington, who claims that it was "the red star" that led Croatia to independence? At least the adherents of that failed and criminal system could be objective and acknowledge the excesses and slaughter visited upon their fellow Croatians. Instead they remain steadfast and committed to communist ideals - despite their crimes.
It is extremely doubtful that the present regime will ever face the truth. Especially when you have a Croatian Premier who was the defining force of the Graduate school of Marxism at Kumrovec and whose favorite blame-word is far-rightists, which he equates with "fascists", when discussing his dealings with an opposition that represents the biggest percentage of Croats.
Dr. Jerry Blaskovich
Not so picture-perfect
In his criticism of Jeffrey T. Kuhner's commentary on Bosnia ("Redrawing Bosnian borders," Oct. 1), High Representative Paddy Ashdown ("One for all," Letters, Wednesday) shows that he has a remarkable talent for condescension even when the obvious facts do not support his lordship's sense of superiority.
Mr. Ashdown says that, contrary to Mr. Kuhner's assertions, the Dayton Accords have led Bosnia-Herzegovina toward economic and political recovery.
The fact is that Dayton brought a fragile peace to the country, but not much more than that. After eight years, the billions invested in Bosnia-Herzegovina (mostly U.S. taxpayer dollars) under Dayton have provided mainly a meaty carcass for some 50,000 well-paid international "nation builders" to feed on. Under Dayton, there was supposed to be a one-year transitional international administration expiring in 1996. Nonetheless, Mr. Ashdown and company are still being very well-paid in a very poor country that has a 40 percent unemployment rate. It seems that Dayton was a first step in the ongoing international institutional involvement in Bosnia's affairs
The fact is that despite its high cost, Dayton has failed to achieve any of its stated major goals, much less impose democracy. Dayton's main strategy was to integrate the three armies of Bosnia-Herzegovina into one and use it as a foundation for imposing a European version of a multiethnic society. Of course, that has failed, but that has not stopped Mr. Ashdown from
continuing to demand it in his speeches.
What Dayton has done is solidify Serbian real estate gains achieved through mass murder under Slobodan Milosevic's ethnic-cleansing programs. The Serbs occupy 49 percent of the country and are not about to give up their army, which protects the borders of what they defiantly named the Republic of Serbia.
Regarding the contention that Bosnia-Herzegovina is not a breeding ground for Islamic fundamentalism, his lordship suggests that Mr. Kuhner should visit the country to see for himself. Perhaps someone should suggest to Mr. Ashdown that he take a look at the city surrounding his very own office building. About two kilometers to the south of him, the al Qaeda-linked Saudi Wahhabis have built a massive Islamic center to spread their brand of
fundamentalist Islam. They are building sparkling new mosques in nearly every Muslim village in the Bosnian countryside. In the middle of downtown Sarajevo, about 10 meters from the eternal flame of peace, a cultural center is operated by the same Iranian government that traditionally has sponsored terrorism against the West, including the bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut.
Nonetheless, Mr. Ashdown still argues that everything is under control in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
He says quite boldly that important steps have been taken "to ensure that Bosnia-Herzegovina could not in any way be used as a platform for terrorist attacks of any sort." Perhaps he should share that remarkable methodology with Homeland Defense Secretary Tom Ridge and the rest of the world. There is, of course, a slight problem with that logic. If Mr. Ashdown sees Bosnia-Herzegovina as tightly controlled enough to thwart even the most secretive terrorist cells, why haven't Radovan Karadzic, Ratko Mladic and the other 100 or so war criminals who are said to be residing comfortably in the country been arrested?
JERRY BLASKOVICH, PH.D.
Advisory Board member
Center for Near Eastern Studies
University of California at Los Angeles
KEEPING THE LIGHTS ON IN BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA
The last few weeks have seen events in Bosnia-Herzegovina that could have destabilised the entire country and cost it much needed international investment. The international media failed to report on it. These events concerned the Croat run Aluminij factory in BiH. It is the most successful firm there, producing 25% of its exports and is a major source of employment. The Bosniak (muslim) run electricity firm - Elektroprivreda BiH - threatened to cut off electricity to the factory, which would have resulted in its closing down. High Representative Paddy Ashdown
had to step in to prevent this. The whole affair demonstrates yet again that BiH needs to provide
proper safeguards for its three national groups.
Aluminij is situated near the southern town of Mostar. It was severely damaged by attacking Serbian forces during the war. After the war, the Croats got the firm back on its feet and made it a success - in stark contrast to enterprises around the rest of the country. It currently employs hundreds of people from the local region, pays them BiH's highest wages, keeps thousands more employed indirectly and has secured inward investment from Germany, Switzerland and Croatia. An incredible feat in a war torn, impoverished country.
When Aluminij became successful it attracted unwanted interest from the Bosniak run Federation government - on which territory Aluminij is situated. It was claimed that the company was stolen from BiH in a mafia scam and that non-Croat workers had lost their jobs - needless to say when Aluminij was re-starting no one was interested in the firm.
Unprofitable firms and those run into the ground have not been given this kind of treatment. It was fairly clear what was going on; forces in Sarajevo want to destroy or take over the firm, which would devastate the economy of largely Croat occupied West Herzegovina. This is effectively a political and economic war against the Croats.
The latest action against the firm has been to damage it via threatening its electricity. Electricity is provided to the firm by Debis International - a subsidiary of Daimler Chrysler - based in Germany. In turn, it purchases electricity from Elektroprivreda BiH, which is wholly owned by the Bosniak government. The contract with Debis International ran to the end of 2004. Elektroprivreda BiH unilaterally broke off the contract with Debis International in 2003,
claiming it could get more money on the open market. Aluminij's electricity supply - and how much it would have to pay - became uncertain. Unable to properly function in such conditions, the firm prepared to close down its operations on 31 December 2003.
The effect on the Mostar/West Herzegovina economy would have devastating. It would cause large scale unemployment amongst Croats and many would have to leave BiH to find work - an outcome no doubt desired by some in Sarajevo. It would be a massive blow to Croat/Bosniak relations - already poor - with unpredictable results. It would have had an appalling effect on investors into BiH.
Aluminij has major international partners such as Daimler Chrysler and Glencore International.
Croatian firm TLM Sibenik owns 12% of Aluminij and the Croatian port of Ploce depends on business from Aluminij. If Aluminij had closed down because of the political behaviour of Sarajevo, no major investor in their right mind would invest in BiH. The whole of this struggling country would suffer for the desire of some Bosniak politicians to economically attack the Croats.
At the very last moment, a rightly annoyed High Representative Paddy Ashdown directly intervened, issuing a 'Decision' that effectively meant that electricity would continue to be supplied to the firm on 1 January 2004. Ashdown is no fool; he understood what was at stake. He has prudently made economic investment into BiH a priority. The closure of Aluminij would have destroyed his efforts.
No doubt Aluminij's economic partners were pressing behind the
scenes. Indeed, the German government protested to Sarajevo over the breaking of the Debis International contract.
Despite the importance of this affair, the international media and 'expert' groups ignored it. The International Crisis Group's 'Crisiswatch' newsletter somehow failed to spot this crisis in its BiH section.
Ashdown should be congratulated for his move. He's done the Croats in particular and the country as a whole a big favour. However, the whole incident shows that political structures in BiH need to be changed.
Some form of devolutionary change and institutional protections are needed to ensure one national group cannot use economic or political means to attack another group in this manner.
There is some recognition that change is needed. EU parliamentarians recently signed a declaration to change the Dayton agreement BiH is currently based on. The German think tank European Stability Initiative just recently released a constructive report. Essentially, it calls for the cantonisation of BiH based on current boundaries - but dispensing with the entities of Republika Srpska and the Federation.
Whatever change does occur, it's important that the relative wealth of the Croats is not exploited under cover of 'redistributing' to 'poorer areas' - read Bosniaks and Serbs. That would be grossly unfair, create tensions and would encourage - not unreasonably - secession by the Croats.
In the meantime however, Paddy Ashdown should continue his good work in seeing that Aluminij is fully protected, and continues to make its major contribution to BiH.
ASHDOWN'S TITOIST SOLUTION FOR MOSTAR
Paddy Ashdown's solution to unify Mostar is unfair to the Croats. Indeed, it appears to owe much to Tito style politics - that of disadvantaging the Croats politically whilst making them pay for the
'privilege'. Ashdown has missed the opportunity of helping to answer the Croat question in Bosnia-Herzegovina and providing greater protection for citizens of all three groups. It means that the issue will have to be revisited again in the future.
The city of Mostar has been divided into a Croat West and Bosniak (Muslim) East since the war - although a number of Bosniaks do live in the West side. Under the Dayton Accords, High Representative Ashdown had responsibility for re-unifying the city of Mostar - and quite rightly he made clear his determination to do this. First the local politicians had the chance to present a solution to the problem.
The Croats, who now have a majority in Mostar were for the unification of the city, whilst the Bosniaks were against. This is a reversal of the position of only a few years ago - no doubt due to demographic changes in favour of the Croats. The two sides could not agree on the reunification of Mostar.
At the state level in BiH, all three nationalities are equal and have an effective veto - a vital safeguard for all three groups. At city level however, where the demographics vary all over the country, the majority rules. The Bosniaks are in the majority in Sarajevo and the Serbs in Banja Luka. They therefore run their respective towns.
Not unreasonably, the Croats considered that the same should apply to Mostar. It would then be the only significant town that they would control - although their majority is not overwhelming.
Ashdown's solution is effectively that neither Bosniaks nor Croats will be able to dominate. This may sound laudable, but unfortunately it means that Croats are discriminated against. Where Serbs and Bosniaks have a majority in any BiH town or city they control it, but this principle is denied to the Croats. In the only significant city where they have a majority they have to share power. What's more, because the Croats are more economically active they will effectively be paying most for the running of the city.
This is blatantly unfair. It is very much a solution reminiscent of Tito's Yugoslavia. The Croats were politically disadvantaged - the Serbs ran the show - but were expected to pay a disproportionately large share of the bill for the country. Does Ashdown want to be remembered as a poor man's Tito?
The decision will mean further problems developing between Croats and Bosniaks in the future. The Croats will demand proper representation, and this will become harder to deny them as time goes on. It will also lead to resentment elsewhere. Already, Croats in Zenica - where the Bosniaks rule - are demanding the Mostar solution be applied there.
I have personally supported Ashdown thus far in BiH. He was right to recognise the results of the general elections, he was right to save the Croat run firm Aluminij. But here he has made a mistake. Ashdown has justified his decision by saying he is simply applying the state level vetoes the three national groups enjoy to Mostar. This is disingenuous, as it does not apply to any other town or city. It is inconsistent to have one system in Mostar and a different one for the rest of the country.
Had Ashdown used his extensive powers to apply his solution across BiH, it would have been different. Giving all three groups equal status in towns and cities has much to commend it; it would prevent one group dominating others and would certainly act as a motor for refugee return. Sarajevo could become a multi-ethnic city again, rather than being effectively a Bosniak one. However, he did not.
What Ashdown should have done was to allow the Croats to control Mostar via their majority but with essential proviso's such as ensuring some Bosniaks - and indeed Serbs - having a place in the governance of the city. I am sure the Croats would have agreed to such an arrangement - especially as it would protect them should the demographics change against them. What is more, Ashdown could have used such an example to pressure other towns and cities to follow suit. This would have given tremendous protection and security to all three groups. Sadly, Ashdown did not take this option.
Consequently, the Croat Question in BiH has simply become that much larger.
"UN Tyranny in Bosnia"
John Laughland reveals that the colonial governors of the New World Order treat their subject peoples with contempt.
The Spectator, 5th May 2001
"If 1 may say so" - the spectacles were settled gently but threateningly on the nose as the Morningside accent ground into its most sadistic high gear - "1 have been around long enough to know a criminal when I see one. I have made it quite clear that the High Representative will not talk to criminals." Mr. Colin Munro, a deputy for the UN High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina, was justifying the recent decision by his office to sack two leaders of the Bosnian Croats from their elected posts, Ante Jelavic and Marko Tokic, and subsequently to send Sfor troops in to raid a bank used by their political party. His remarks were in response to my simple question, "What convictions have you obtained which enable you to call these people criminals?" A shorter answer would have been, "None."
Mr. Munro works for Wolfgang Petritsch, the UN governor of Bosnia and Herzegovina. On 5th April, Mr. Petritsch signed a "Oecision" to appoint a provisional administrator for the Hercegovacka Banka, whose head office is in Mostar and which has some 30 branches around Herzegovina. In the early hours of the following morning, before daybreak, Sfor-Nato troops and police from the MuslimCroat federation, wearing black hoods, arrived in tanks and brandishing guns. They smashed their way through a fence at the back of the bank, kicked down glass doors, trashed other offices in the same building, and stamped on two photographs
of the Pope. Four people - two policemen and two civilians were wounded in the ensuing scuffles.
Two weeks later, they returned, again in tanks and helicopters and with guns, to dynamite open the safe and make off with over DM 1.5 million. Similar military operations were conducted against branches of the bank all over Herzegovina, including at the pilgrimage town of Medjugorje, where Nato soldiers were pelted with eggs by angry Spanish and Portuguese pilgrims outraged at their brutal tactics. The 90,000 private clients and 4,500 corporate clients of this bank can no longer access their money and so wages and bills across Herzegovina are currently going unpaid. Far from turning swords into ploughshares, it seems, six years of international administration in Bosnia and Herzegovina have succeeded only in turning peacekeepers into bank robbers.
The stated purpose of the raid on the bank was to root out "corruption" - a convenient catch-all accusation used with gay abandon these days to get rid of turbulent politicians from Peru to Indonesia and the Philippines. But this was no ordinary police operation. The normal procedure when a bank is suspected of handling dirty money is to freeze the relevant accounts and to apply for the appropriate seizure orders. It is not to send in tanks to close the bank and blow up the safe. The suspicion must be that the bank raid was undertaken to sabotage the finances of the main Croat political party, the Croatian Democratic Union of Bosnia and Herzegovina (HDZ), and also to break the economic backbone of the Bosnian Croats as a whole, who are a generally hardworking and fairly prosperous lot.
The bank raid followed the decision, taken in March by the High Representative, to dismiss the leaders of the HDZ from their elected posts, including from the collegiate presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, on the grounds that they were engaged in "anti-Dayton activities." He also barred them from all future political activity. Their crime was to have convened a "Croatian National Congress" last November, with the support of 90% of Bosnian Croats who believe that such a Congress is better equipped to defend their interests than the UN High Representative. This followed a long period of deteriorating relations between the Croats and the UN in
Bosnia and Herzegovina, who feel that their national rights are being weakened by new electorallaws and other constitutional changes, introduced by the UN and designed to blend Bosnia's constituent peoples into one.
Mr. Petritsch's fury at this semi-declaration of independence by the Croats knew no bounds. The New World Order has one simply rule - you must obey orders - and so exemplary punishment had to be meted out to the disobedient Croats. He and his staff gaily lambasted the Croat leaders as "criminals" and "extremists", even though no convictions have been obtained against them, while Mr. Petritsch personally accused the Catholic Bishop of Mostar of spreading hatred and supporting war criminals. Bosnia's international administrators evidently have no understanding of one the most basic principles of Western political civilisation, the presumption of innocence, and little sense of the responsibility incumbent on them as important public figures not to make inflammatory statements which may be prejudicial to any future trial.
Instead, the powers now vested in the UN administrator of Bosnia and Herzegovina are as close to pure tyranny as anything which has existed in recent European history. The decisions of the UN High Representative are neither
democratically legitimised nor subject to the rule of law. Sniggering admissions that Bosnia and Herzegovina is in
reality "a protectorate" fail to capture the sheer lawlessness of the UN's power there, which goes way beyond the powers
enjoyed, say, by a British colonial official in the last century.
For instance, Mr. Petritsch's "Oecision" authorising the bank raid specifically provides legal immunity from prosecution to the police and soldiers who carried it out. It also allows his appointee to close the bank or sell it off at will - possible even to banks (Hercegovacka Banka is the only bank in Bosnia and Herzegovina that is not under Austrian owenership). Furthermore, the Oecision itself rests on a reading of the powers laid down in Oayton which quite literally admits of no limitation. Finally, an appeal lodged with the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina against Petritsch's decision
to cancel the outcome of last November's elections was dismissed on the simple ground that his decisions are not subject to judicial review by that or any other Court.
Ever since the Dayton accords were signed in 1995,
Bosnia and Herzegovina has been a laboratory for the New World Order's ideal of post-national politics and multiculturalism. As in the European Union, the underlying philosophical presupposition is that nationalism leads to war and that therefore nationhood must be dissolved. Consequently, the High Representative has repeatedly cancelled the outcome of elections in recent years because the wrong people - "nationalists" - had won. The attack is on the Croats now and it has been on the Serbs in the past. But it cannot be long before even the Muslims get a taste of the same medicine. Like the Ottoman empire which it has replaced, the Nato empire in the Balkans has contempt for all its subject peoples in equal measure.
The final irony is this. It is a striking fact that the crack troops of the New World Order very often do not generally come from countries like Austria which have domestic experiences of dictatorship. Instead, many of the principal officials of the International Criminal Tribunal at the Hague, the leading decision-makers in the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), and - as in Mr. Munro's case - the main henchmen for the UN regime in Bosnia and Herzegovina are citizens of English-speaking countries.
Something happens to these assorted Britons, Americans, Canadians and Australians when they become officials of international organisations. Like semi-reformed alcoholics let loose in a gin shop, they seem unable to control themselves if not subject to the strictures of their own political culture. Perhaps they are just living out some strange private power-fantasies. Or perhaps, instead, people like our own Mr. Munro are just getting valuable job experience for their future role, which cannot be too far off, as administrators of a genuinely post-national European Union - based on the highly successful Bosnian model, of course.
Daniel Mcadams, The American Spectator (www.spectator.org), May 7, 2001
THE GREAT NATO BANK ROBBERY
In the early morning hours of April 18, some 400 NATO troops, backed up by 80 tanks and armored fighting vehicles, 20 helicopters, and two jet aircraft
undertook one of the largest -- and least reported -- military operations in Bosnia since the signing of the Dayton Agreement in 1995. On that fateful night, NATO's Stabilization Force (SFOR) blew up and robbed a private bank in the town of Mostar. Troops smashed and burned windows and furniture. The contents of the Mostar branch of the Hercegovacka Banka, one of the largest in Bosnia, were then loaded into six trucks by SFOR troops and carted away.
Charred bank notes from dynamited safes were left blowing in the morning breeze. The bank's 150,000 account-holders were left out of luck.
The bank attack was ordered by the U.N. High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina Wolfgang Petritsch, a career Austrian diplomat, to search for
evidence of wrong-doing by the right-wing Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), the most popular political party in the Croat sections of Bosnia.
The Office of the High Representative (OHR) is the ultimate authority in Bosnia, installed after the Dayton Agreement and backed up by 20,000 NATO troops. Its High Representative issues "Decisions" in Bosnia that carry the force of law and are not open for debate by the country's elected officials.
The five-year occupation of Bosnia has cost the American taxpayer $5 billion in direct aid -- most of which has disappeared -- and another $10 billion in
military expense. Nation-building is not a cheap proposition.
Those wondering why High Representative Petritsch did not seek evidence first and then act upon a search warrant to investigate any illegal activity in the bank clearly do not understand how "democracy" works when the International Community is in the driver's seat. As in the Communist justice system, the rule is sentence first, evidence later. On the scant evidence
presented in advance of the attack, it is highly unlikely that any American judge would have issued a search warrant.
After the attack, Petritsch dismissed the bank management and installed his own people in their place. The thousands of pensioners who relied on the
bank for their monthly checks were told that until the audit is completed -- which could take a year -- their money could not be released.
Why should it be the business of the International Community to discredit a political party in Bosnia? The HDZ, and its Serb and Muslim counterparts,
are not the right kinds of political parties, according to the International Community. They are "extremist," "nationalistic," and "right-wing." The purpose of the great Bosnia experiment is to prove once and for all that the Balkans can be a multi-ethnic paradise. To this end, tens of millions of dollars have been spent to create artificial multi-ethnic political parties which the West has hoped would -- one way or the other -- unseat the
This "nation-building" exercise in the Balkans is, in fact, merely a codeword for left-wing social engineering. According to an election law written by the International Community for Bosnia, for example, parties that
do not run at least 33 percent women on their lists are disqualified from the elections. Parties like the HDZ or the Serbian Democratic Party, who actually have grass-roots support and actually run in and win elections, are
to be hobbled at every turn -- their newspapers and radio stations shut down -- simply because the International Community and its occupying army
have decided they are not the right kinds of parties.
Like many mid-level diplomats who have suddenly found themselves commissars in the Balkans (and there have been many recently), U.N. High Representative Petritsch has developed a greatly-elevated sense of his own power and importance. His aggressive, autocratic style leaps forth in every interview
he grants. "What Bosnia and Herzegovina -- and indeed the whole Balkan region -- needs is Europeanisation!" he screeched in a recent interview to the Bosnian press. How boring life will be for this bureaucrat when he returns home from "Europeanising" the Balkan savages.
Petritsch's sense of self-importance in Bosnia has eclipsed any diplomatic training he may have undergone in Austria. Of the Croatian Democratic Union, he told a Croatian newspaper recently, "After ten years of their rule, the HDZ should realise that they have not done anything for the people. Perhaps, they have done something for themselves but they have not done anything for the people." Those who pay Petritsch's considerable salary (namely, us) should raise an eyebrow over this teacher of democracy who does our bidding in the Balkans. Many of us still harbor that old-fashioned idea that this is up to the people to decide -- at the polls.
At the polls, Bosnian voters have consistently exhibited an incorrigible tendency to choose the "wrong" parties. Petritsch has responded to this with an electoral equivalent of the bank robbery: he simply dismisses victorious candidates from the wrong parties. In last November's parliamentary elections, for example, the above-mentioned Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ)
swept the elections in the ethnic Croat regions of the joint Muslim-Croat Federation. Petritsch responded by disqualifying 13 victorious HDZ candidates.
Ante Jelavic, the elected Croat member of the tripartite presidency of Bosnia, vociferously protested both the permanent minority status of the Croats in Bosnia and the heavy-handed OHR approach to his party's victory in
the elections. He began the process of pulling out of the Dayton-created Muslim-Croat Federation on behalf of his constituents. Petritsch fired him and barred him from politics. When nationalists kept getting elected to the legislature's upper house, Petritsch changed the election rules to keep them out. In all, the High Representative has decreed that some 70 individuals be fired from office and banned from political life in Bosnia since 1998. As OHR spokesman Chris Bird said, "We never outline our plans in advance, but
you know the powers the High Representative has."
Anyone hoping Bill Clinton's failed Balkan policy would be scrapped by the Bush administration will be disappointed. As the people took to the streets
to protest SFOR's theft of their bank deposits, U.S. Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina Thomas Miller blurted that the HDZ "uses political power to
cover its criminal activities, which are extensive." Like the OHR, Miller acts as judge, prosecutor, and jury in his little kingdom. He added, with elegant Marxian flourish, "All you have to do is drive around Herzegovina,
see the companies that these people own, the houses they live in, the cars they are driving, and ask yourself a simple question: where did all this come from?" How dare these people own businesses and nice houses!
Ambassador Miller may be a Clinton holdover, but President Bush's Secretary of State, Colin Powell, also echoes the policies and style of the previous
administration. Rather than condemn an attack on a private bank and the confiscation of the assets of those not even accused of a crime, Powell instead condemned those who took to the streets to protest their money being stolen. Of the protests, he said "we think the organizers.should be held accountable." Powell also sounded the Clintonian war cry: the HDZ was "extremist" and threatened a "return to the law of the jungle." Never mind that, unlike the OHR and the American Ambassador, they are legitimately-elected representatives of their people. Powell further
promised to "counter the forces of conflict, separation, and hatred," pledging through his spokesman to "support the efforts of the Office of the High Representative to establish the rule of law throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina."
Does the rule of law not also include due process? The sanctity of private property? When the High Representative or the American Ambassador pronounces one political party or politician "guilty" or "corrupt" or "criminal" in the local and international media without evidence and in the absence of any
court action against the person or party, does this promote democracy and the rule of law? Clearly there is no new thinking going on in Foggy Bottom when it comes to the Balkans.
On the campaign trail, candidate Bush had a simple but effective foreign policy message: no more nation-building. Once in office, however, the Bush
administration does not seem to understand that the solution to Balkan woes is not heavy-handed nation-building, or social-engineering, or open-ended
occupation by foreign troops. The president would go far toward charting a new course in the Balkans with the simple announcement that, five years after it was promised, the U.S. is finally pulling its troops out of Bosnia.
It really is that simple -- and it's what Bush voters expected if their man won.
Daniel McAdams has monitored elections throughout Central and Eastern europe with the British Helsinki Human Rights Group (www.bhhrg.org). He is senior
research associate at the Center for Security Policy in Washington.
EU OR WESTERN BALKANS EU?
Many people believe that Croatia may join the European Union along with Bulgaria and Romania in 2007.
However, when one examines EU documents published in advance of the EU-Western Balkans Summit on 21 June in Thessaloniki a rather different and disturbing picture emerges - one not of Croatia joining the EU but some sort of unnamed Western Balkans Union. Furthermore, the Croatian government is supporting this, and is now strongly associating Croatia with the 'Western Balkans' and its problems - even to the point of Croatian minister Neven Mimica apparently suggesting a Balkan Union based on the EU.
In the run up to the EU-Western Balkan Summit a number of documents have been published by the EU. They make most interesting reading. The documents build upon previous 'regional co-operation' initiatives - meaning Western Balkans union initiatives.
On 21 May the European Commission sent a 'communication' to the European Council and European Parliament on the 'Western Balkans' - that is ex-Yugoslavia minus Slovenia plus Albania. One of the projects it wishes to develop is 'parliamentary co-operation'. It proposes the 'Western Balkan' states place all their European Affairs Parliamentary committees within the framework of a 'Balkan Conference of European Affairs Committees'.
This conference would then represent these countries in dealings with the European Parliament, the national parliaments of the EU states and the EU candidate states such as the Czech Republic and Hungary.
This is a major proposal. Currently, Croatia deals with Parliaments in the EU by itself. What is being proposed means that would be replaced by a 'Western Balkans' parliamentary group. As the biggest state - if only in terms of demographics - Serbia would have the biggest representation in such a group. In other words, Serbia will have a big say in Croatia's parliamentary relations with other states. This is a clear and unambiguous move towards a political union between the 'Western Balkans', giving the lie to EU commissioner Chris Patten's recent statement that he does not wish to put the Yugoslav "jigsaw" back together. This proposal was not covered in any detail in the EU press release on the report - no doubt in order to ensure it gets up and running before Croats notice what's happening.
On the economic front, the EU sees Croatia's economy as being within the 'Western Balkans' framework. The EU discusses economic matters in their second annual report on the region. The report tends to aggregate the economic figures of the 'West Balkans' into one whole. It points out that Croatia accounts for almost half of the 'Western Balkans' Gross Domestic Product, attracts half of the Foreign Direct Investment and produces half of the exports to the European Union.
Croatia's economic performance puts it on a level vastly higher than Serbia and Albania. Common sense clearly dictates that Croatia should not be treated as part of the 'Western Balkans'. This eludes the EU. The report states, that when Serbia and Montenegro's export figures are added to Croatia's, it totals 70%. They say that "The export performance of these two countries are thus an important determinant for the development of exports from the region as a whole." Croatia's economic success is to be somehow used to benefit other countries, rather than its own citizens.
The EU trend to aggregate 'West Balkan' economic figures will damage Croatia's economic image. By averaging the figures out, Croatia's economic profile goes down, whilst Serbia and Albania's go up. Serbia, Albania etc gain at Croatia's expense. Just like the old Yugoslavia.
As for Croatia joining the EU in 2007 with Romania and Bulgaria, the EU makes no mention of this. Only a few paragraphs are devoted to Croatia's application, essentially stating that it will be treated on its merits - a less than enthusiastic response.
Surprisingly, the Croatian government is supporting all this. Indeed, they seem determined to associate Croatia with the problems of the 'Western Balkans' such as the murder of Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Đinđić and organised crime.
Croatian President Mesić co-signed with other 'Western Balkan' leaders an 'appeal' to the EU in the 22 May edition of the International Herald Tribune. Đinđić's murder is quoted as being part of an organised crime threat to the stability of the region. Đinđić's assassination is Serbia's problem, not Croatia's. Why on Earth would Croatia wish to associate itself with Serbia's problems? Further, Albania and Serbia are heavily linked to criminality in the minds of many in Western Europe. Croatia generally is not - quite rightly. To tell the world that Croatia shares the problems of Serbia and Albania in this regard beggars belief. The Croatian government seems to want to blacken Croatia's image.
A speech by Neven Mimica, Croatian Minister for European Integration, in March at a conference in Skopje firmly placed Croatia as part of the 'Western Balkans'. Mimica discussed 'Western Balkan' answers to policy questions. Not Croatian answers, nor even Central European answers - but 'Western Balkan' answers. He associated Croatia with Serbia's problems - the aforementioned Đinđić assassination.
He says that 'individual approach' is a "must" for Croatia, but then demands a 'regional platform' for the outcome of the Thessaloniki summit. He also wants 'multilateral' relations between the 'Western Balkans'.
And he also appears to want a Western Balkans structure based on the EU. He said "The promotion and strengthening of good neighbourly relations through the respect of the EU model of interdependence and interaction of strong nation states, is the valuable basis of that regional networking in the Southeast Europe". He clearly does not mean joining the EU, but some form of 'Western Balkan' version based on it. Does Mimica want a new Yugoslavia?
It was not so long ago that Croatia was promoting itself as a Central European country eager for an individual approach to joining the EU. Now Croatia is firmly promoting itself as a 'Western Balkan' country and advocating both a regional and individual approach to the EU. How long before the Croatian government stops mentioning the 'individual approach' altogether? The whole 'Western Balkan' project is being done at a steady pace - so as not to alert Croatian citizens.
A big step forward to 'Western Balkan' unity by Croatia has been made by the relaxing of visas with Serbia. The Serbian mafia will no doubt be celebrating. In due course, all 'Western Balkan' criminal gangs will have a field day operating via Croatia. Which of course will help keep Croatia out of the EU. The EU has made its concerns over crime clear in the region - but seem happy to facilitate it by encouraging freedom of movement in the region. That's not in the interests of the citizens of the 'Western Balkans' or those in the EU.
There is nothing new or secret in all this; it was signalled at the 2000 EU summit in Croatia, Croatia signed up for 'regional co-operation' - articles 11-14 -in the Stabilisation and Association Agreement it signed with the EU, and the language of 'regional co-operation' has been used for years in EU documents.
Despite that, the public talk is still of Croatia joining the EU in 2007, when clearly Croatia is being tied to the 'Western Balkans'. A change of policy is possible - those 'individual approach' remarks the EU makes as a sop to Croats could be a useful get out clause. But there is no sign of it and Zagreb is not even trying.
In Serbia, a more realistic view is evident. Živorad Kovačević, president of the Serbian European Movement, recently made some interesting statements.
He stated that it is an "illusion" to think any Western Balkan country can individually join the EU regardless of its individual performance. He mentions a "joint identity" in the region and supports a "liberal visa regime". Sadly, Mr Kovaćević's comments are closer to EU thinking than the statements of the Croatian government. A Western Balkans Union in some form is on the cards and that is bad news on all levels for the people of Croatia.
Brian Gallagher (The Croatian Herald, Australia)
VIEWPOINT FROM LONDON
Human Rights Watch Should Be Held To Account
The New York based human rights group Human Rights Watch (HRW) has released a report recently entitled "Broken Promises: Impediments to Refugee return to Croatia". This report criticises the Croatian government over its record over Serb refugee return.
The report is seriously flawed. It portrays an image of Croat antipathy towards Serbs being based on purely
ethnic grounds, as opposed to the more rational grounds of mass murder of thousands of Croats by the Serbs during the war. Furthermore, it uses a former Serb occupation official in Croatia and Greater Serbia enthusiast - the notorious Savo Štrbac - as a "credible" source.
The HRW report plays down the crimes of the Serbs and in particular the 'Republika Srpska Krajina' ('RSK'), the Serb occupation structure in Croatia. Moral equivalency between aggressor and victim runs throughout the report. It implies that discrimination against Serbs is due simply to their ethnicity - something that no-one can justify. HRW emphasises this by referring to a poll which states that over 80% of Croats have no objection to marrying Italians and Hungarians, but only 54% to Serbs.
However, if there is antipathy towards the Serbs, it is due to their criminal behaviour during the war, not merely their ethnicity.
The Serbs invaded, occupied and ethnically cleansed one third of Croatia. This involved the mass slaughter of up to 20, 000 Croats, ethnic cleansing of hundreds of thousands, the destruction of Vukovar and many villages, bombardment of Dubrovnik, Zadar, Osijek and other cities. Many Croatian Serbs participated in all this. Those are the reasons why Croats have no great love for the Serbs. This is not to justify discrimination. But it does mitigate and provides a more rational reason for dislike of Serbs than simple bigotry. Indeed, that marriage poll shows over 50% of Croats not objecting to marrying Serbs. Given the circumstances, that demonstrates Croat tolerance, not bigotry.
The report even fails to mention that the Serbs fled Croatia under the orders of the 'RSK' leadership - which they have admitted - in a well-prepared process in order to settle in areas of Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina that had been cleansed of non-Serbs. Such an omission conveniently gives the wrong impression that Croats ethnically cleansed them.
Serbian crimes are played down to prevent the Croats being portrayed as victims; in light of the full circumstances few would agree to the pressure HRW demands the international community put on Croatia. HRW's shameful omission of such information distorts the entire report, and one can only conclude it was politically motivated to help the international community have a stick to beat Croatia with.
HRW are clearly unsympathetic to Croat suffering. They insensitively demand the Croatian government "build a public atmosphere in which the populace would welcome return of Croatian Serbs". What they mean is that Croats should simply forget about the horrors of Vukovar etc. Many in the international community will be delighted with HRW's crass comment - after all, many of them backed the Serbs during the war.
Shockingly, the report also uses information from Savo Štrbac and his Veritas organisation, of whom I have written before. In a footnote, we are informed that the information Štrbac provides appears 'credible'. We are told however, that the Croatian press considers Štrbac to be biased. Strangely, HRW fails to inform us why. I am delighted to reveal what HRW don't want its readers to know.
Mr Štrbac is a Greater Serbia enthusiast. He was an occupation official in the 'RSK'. The 'RSK' was part of the "joint criminal enterprise" - as defined in The Hague Milošević Croatian indictment - to cleanse "Croat and other non-Serb population from approximately one third of the territory of the Republic of Croatia".
Štrbac made his views well known during the occupation of Croatia. As 'government secretary' of the 'RSK' he told Agence France Presse in 1995 that "Our final goal is union with other Serbs (in Bosnia and the Republic of Serbia)". Štrbac's views have not changed; reportedly he still wants to restore the criminal enterprise of 'RSK' - presumably cleansed of its Croat population. Don't take my word for it. Have a look at the Veritas website at www.veritas.org.yu. The first thing you see is Greater Serbia imagery.
It gets worse. It emerged during the Milošević trial - 29 October 2002 - that Štrbac was the head of a Serb bodies commission that exchanged bodies with a Bosnian counterpart. Horrifyingly, this involved one exchange, which included six people murdered specifically for this purpose. This incident is also related in the May/June 2003 edition of the respected US journal Foreign Affairs in an article by Gary J Bass. HRW should be aware of it - they are quoted in the piece.
It is disturbing to note also, that Štrbac is a top adviser to the Hague Prosecutor - thus compromising all their investigations into Croat crimes in Croatia.
It beggars belief that such a man could be considered a reliable source. Surely Štrbac is not the kind of individual any human rights group should take seriously?
Mr John Kraljic, President of the National Federation of Croatian Americans, wrote to HRW regarding Mr Štrbac's role in the report. HRW remarked on Mr Kraljic's comments in an email to a concerned member of the public. Incredibly, they state that even if everything Mr Kraljic wrote was true it does not matter because Štrbac's information was "accurate" - apparently because it coincides with OSCE figures and anyway he is only mentioned in 8 footnotes out of 333.
It does not seem to occur to HRW that the use of Štrbac casts a shadow over the entire report. One wonders about the other sources they use. Furthermore, Štrbac's views and background are well known in Croatia. What does that say about the biases of those compiling the report?
Another source they use is the 'satirical' magazine Feral Tribune. This magazine insults people they dislike as 'Shit of the Week'. They also have 'Championshit' and 'Shit of the year'. This is a credible source? And isn't that sort of language like the 'hate speech' human rights groups are supposed to oppose?
So what do we have in all? A report that implies some Croats antipathy towards Serbs is based purely on ethnicity rather than Serbian war crimes, and whose sources include a Greater Serbia enthusiast and a magazine, which labels people 'Shit of the Week'. Not very good, is it?
Let's be clear: Serbs should be treated lawfully and properly, just like anyone else. But this report is a disgrace. Croat associations around the world - and all those concerned with human rights - should protest this report to their elected representatives, NGO's and the media. HRW are demanding others be held to account.
Let us hold them to account. And whilst we do, let's spare a thought for those people allegedly murdered to make up that bodies exchange. Who is seeking justice for them? Not Human Rights Watch, that's for sure.
NATO PUSHES CROATIA INTO SERBIA'S ARMS
NFCA's Letter to Lord Robertson, NATO Secretary General
Dear Lord Robertson,
It is rather perplexing that NATO wishes Croatia to accept total regional cooperation with the very nation that has subjugated it and led a brutal war against it in the past century - Serbia. Why should Croatia be closely associated with nations with which it shares no common cultural or historical ties except ones by force and decisions in the last century - again by the Western Powers? Croatia is a western-oriented, central European nation, not Eastern European or Balkan. Certainly NATO members Greece and Turkey are in the Balkans and cannot be considered Western European, yet Croatia, right across from Italy is being designated as an East European, Balkan country. Why this difference?
Croatia's army is far more experienced and ready for NATO membership than any of the others lately considered for acceptance. It is simply a lame excuse to say that Croatia is not ready for NATO because its army is "politicised". Croatia's army never influenced elections, yet Turkey has been in NATO in spite of a strong military influence in its nation.
In turn, NATO is already accepting Yugoslavia/Serbia into some of its policy groups, SEEGROUP and SEECAP, a country which has far more indicted war criminals than any other of the recent wars in former Yugoslavia and which it still refuses to extradite. One of them, Šešelj, is still a Member of Parliament! In addition its army is still communist and not under the government's control. That fact was clearly illustrated recently as repeatedly military equipment and intelligence was transferred to Iraq.
Croatian authorities caught the latest shipment in full cooperation with NATO and other Western intelligence. What has Croatia earned for such full cooperation? - A push into Serbia's arms with the SAA nonsense and no foreseeable date of admittance into NATO. In view of the Iraq scandal, Serbia should be removed from SEEGROUP and SEECAP, as it has no place in determining any NATO policies.
Furthermore, are you aware that Yugoslavia's president Koštunica has made public statements during the recent election campaign that "Republika Srpska" in Bosnia is only temporarily separated from Serbia and will eventually be Serbia's again? In that case it would border Croatia's "Krajina" region that Serb rebels and Yugoslav army occupied during the war. How long before Serbia tries to take also that region? It is obvious that Serbia is not a peace-loving nation but one always looking for expansion into others' lands by any means.
It is wrong to plan any "mini-NATO" in Eastern Europe that only divides nations into East and West again. Croatia should have the right to join NATO on its own merits, not in some "group setting" that does not naturally exist. Croatia does not want to be pushed into associations with countries like Albania and former Yugoslav republics Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Macedonia, which have been repeatedly cited as the worst countries of Eastern Europe in regard to smuggling, especially in human beings and drugs, lawlessness and other criminality. (See Jane's Intelligence Review, Nov. 04 2002). Note that Croatia is not cited in any such reports. It simply does not belong in such company. There has been too much injustice and unfairness toward Croatia and hopefully NATO will recognize this and correct it.
Very truly yours,
Hilda M. Foley
National Federation of Croatian Americans
THE GHASTLY SLAUGHTER OF VOCIN REVISITED
Lest We Forget
The former police chief of the Croatian town of Slatina, Djuro Matovina, testified in early October 2002 at the Haag War Crimes Tribunal that the White Eagles, a Serb paramilitary force, massacred 45 civilians in the village of Vocin. While Matovina's statements about the December 1991 slaughter had little meaning for the average reader, it most likely caused a great deal of consternation for the present Croatian government who are trying to downplay and distance themselves from any event that occurred during Croatia?s fight for independence and particularly anything that negatively depicts the Serbs. Matovina?s testimony, however, brought the
crime to the attention of the international community, who heretofore are reluctant to acknowledge that war crimes were committed on the Croats by the Serbs.
Initially the report of the heinous atrocity received a tiny one-day squib in the press. Only after the Foreign Press Bureau raised a hullabaloo a week after the event did the international media get involved. Prior to the Vocin slaughter, all reports of atrocities on Croatians were ill-reported and viewed with skepticism by the international media. One must ask, who committed the greater crime--the perpetrators or those who ignored it.
The White Eagles were under the direct command of Vojislav Seselj. Seselj now serves as a member of the loyal opposition in the Serbian parliament despite the fact that a little more than a year after the Vocin massacre, Seselj was named a war criminal by U.S. Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger. Interestingly, the Serbian government and its parliament is now the darling of the European Union and is getting the same sort of adulation that was heaped on the Tito government.
What happened at Vocin was no worse than what the Serbs did elsewhere in Croatia. However, Vocin was unique. Serb soldiers who participated in the slaughter confessed to their deeds and directly implicated Seselj.
After receiving orders to retreat, the Serb forces who had occupied Vocin for four months and inhumanly abused and harassed the non-Serb villagers, unleashed evil incarnate on a cold December day in 1991. Using tanks, mortars, and grenades they devastated the town. Not one Croatian structure was spared. A stump of masonry wall, standing among the rubble like a sentinel, was all that remained of the 750 year-old Roman Catholic Church. The church's destruction acted as a catalyst for the human mayhem that ensued. The Serbs than went on a orgiastic killing spree.
Although Matovina testified that 45 Croats perished, fifty-five was the actual number. In situ examination revealed that most of the victims had been tortured and mutilated. Half the victims were over 62, the eldest was 84! Many were killed in ways that defied imagination. None of the victims had succumbed to wounds normally found in warfare. After the bodies were identified and photographed, extensive forensic studies were carried out.
Probably the Serbs? most grotesque act was when they handcuffed a 23 year-old Croatian and hung him by his arms high on a tree limb across the road from the Catholic church. According to witnesses, the Serbs toyed with him by cutting his face with a chain-saw several times. They then proceeded to amputate his lower limbs. While still alive they chain-sawed him in half. His body parts were doused with gasoline and set afire.
A husband and wife were killed by a solitary gun shot below their eyes at close range. Several victims were found chained to chairs and burned in increments to prolong their agony. Chemical analysis of the charred remains -- in reality, nothing but chunks of carbon -- verify that the victims were burned while still alive. The victims only crime was to be born Croatian.
According to a number of credible eyewitnesses, which the Serbs left behind in their haste to retreat, the Serbian forces went on a drinking spree after the killing orgy. A few passed out and were inadvertedly left behind in the evacuation. When the Croatian forces arrived, there were captured.
During interrogation they admitted their roles in the slaughter and being members of Seselj's infamous "White Eagles?. But what was most damning is that they stated they were acting under direct orders from Belgrade. A U.S. Congressman, Frank McCloskey, was present at the interrogation and saw the bodies while still warm. He summed up to the affair as " ghastly and beyond words?. The Texas Court of Appeals Judge Bill Bass also witnessed the aftermath and described Vocin as a "mindless orgy of violence?. Their testimony lends objective credence to the incident.
The Vocin slaughter was not a spontaneous event, rather it was an implementation of a calculated Serbian policy. In the global sense, Vocin may be insignificant, but the gallons of blood shed there became part of the ocean of blood the Serbs caused to be spilled in the former Yugoslavia.
Perhaps Matovina?s testimony about Vocin may cause the Tribunal to rescind its decision to limit its findings to Bosnia and Kosovo and ignore crimes committed on the Croats. But the policy, most likely, will continue to remain in lockstep with U.N. and American government who never condemned the Serbian war policy, the ethnic cleansing, and their concentration camps in
Dr. Jerry Blaskovich
HRVATSKI VJESNIK AUSTRALIA, THE NEW GENERATION NO. 220, November 1, 2002
(Dr. Blaskovich led the medical investigation at Vocin for the Foreign Press Bureau.)
Diplomacy is the art of compromise but Croats instead accept unquestioningly american proposals...
While governments and individuals speculate upon what the new administration has in store For them, many Croatian-Americans have reached-some conclusions.
Young Bush's policy toward the republics comprising former Yugoslavia will be nothing more than a reincarnation of his father's. The first omen was his naming Brent Scowcroft as advisor. Scowcroft had been Security Advisor to the elder Bush. He, along with Henry Kissinger and Lawrence Eaglebuger was one of the 'trojka' at Kissinger and Associates (K&A) whose lobbying for Serbian clients grievously harmed Croatia's self determination effort of the early 1990s.
Eagleburger's chicanery, such as altering secret communiques that were passed onto the President, blunted the Serbs' responsibility for war crimes and cast Croatia in a bad light. The disinformation seeds planted then continue to bear fruit against Croatia.
However, when James Baker became a presence on television during the counting and the recounting of the votes in Florida, it sent shivers down the spines of many Croatian Americans.
Baker will forever be remembered for his 1991 speech in Belgrade that gave carte blanche to the Yugoslav Army and Serbian paramilitary forces to unleash their juggernaut on Croatia and Bosnia Hercegovina, which resulted in the deaths of over 250,000 innocent souls. The only positive effect his speech had was that it inadvertedly lead to Yugoslavia's disintegration. But the clincher for many Croatian Americans was Bush's front-runner for the seat at the UN. Lee Hamilton, the quintessential pro Serbian, was a Democratic Party Congressman who literally swam in an ocean of money that was laundered by Manatos and Manatos, a Washington D.C. public relations firm and a front for Serbian organizations and individuals that included Milan Panich, Miloš Ljuboja, and Michael Djordjevich.
A few weeks after Hamilton received a 'donation' from Djordjevich on April 25, 1994, Djordjevich and Vladimir Matić, Yugoslavia's former Assistant Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs were invited and addressed the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives.
Hamilton continued to dance to the Serb`s tune even after leaving Congress, when he was named Director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center. The Wilson Center was a credible Washington D.C. think tank that conducts symposia and colloquiums for the movers and shakers of the Beltway.
While the topic of the former Yugoslavia is on the agenda at least once a month, the guest speakers or moderators are invariably Serb apologists or sympathizers, such as Aleksija Djilas and Robert Hayden.
During Hamiltor`s tenure, there has not been one speaker that gave a perspective for Croatia. During the presidential campaigning some Croatian-American organizations, which were seduced by photo-op sessions with the Democratic Party leadership, fell all over them-selves backing the Democrats.
They frequently brought up the elder Bush's record and the influence it would have on young Bush. After Bush's victory they gloated: "We told you so."
Their loyalty to the Democrats is misdirect-ed when separating the rhetoric from what they did positively for Croatia. Everything falls flat.
At least under the old Bush administration there was no question that the policy was decidedly pro-Serb and anti-Croatia.
Clinton's administration was much more devious and destructive. Every proposal they put forth was detrimental for Croatia. The tragedy is that the present Croatian government is bending over and spreading their cheeks to be penetrated with an American policy that chips away at Croatia's sovereignty.
The Croatian hierarchy apparently is not aware that diplomacy is the art of compromise; they instead accepted unquestioningly every American proposal without receiving anything in return.
Dr Jerry Blaskovich MD, United States of America (USA)
Gotovina alive and kicking in the Congres
By: Jerry BLASKOVICH M.D. (in the United States), Spring 2002.
While the Ante Gotovina affair has, for the moment, been swept under the rug in Croatia due to the Račan government's intimidation of the press, the matter is alive and kicking in the United States. In recent days every major newspaper in the US, plus Agence France Press and Reuters carried the story of injustice at the ICTY. European socialists, including the President of the European parliament, were outspoken in their protests against the conclusions of a Congressional hearing held on February 28.
At that hearing the Gotovina case was held up as the best example of" the ICTY's politicized and inaccurate prosecution. The hearings on the Yugoslavia and Rwanda tribunals before the Committee on International Relations in Washington D.C. were put together partly as a result of a long lobbying campaign by the Croatian American Association.
Chaired by the distinguished Representative Henry Hyde, the hearing was the first ever held in Congress that criticized the ICTY for mismanagement, corruption and abuse of judicial standards.
The witnesses included U.S. Ambassador for War Crimes Issues, Pierre Prosper; former ICTY Judge Pat Wald; Professor Jeremy Rabkin of Cornell University; Larry A. Hammond one of the most renowned defense attorneys in the United States. What is surprising, is that the witnesses were unanimous in criticizing the political biases and mismanagement of the Tribunals.
Their collective arguments cast doubt on the very integrity of the Tribunals In debates that centered on concerns about the lack of professionalism and mistakes ICTY has made, important questions were raised whether the trials were in themselves truly fair.
More specifically, Hammond cited several cases where evidence was used or not used that infringed on the accused right to due process. For example. two witnesses with false identities testified against Dusan Tadic that ultimilely convicted him.
In Tihomir Blaskic's case, the prosecution withheld evidence which would have established his innocence Most of the witnesses that testified against Ante Furundžija did so in secret.
These examples strike at the heart of due process. Hammond's testimony was particularly critical of the Tribunal's misconduct prosecuting Croats - most notably Blaškić, Kordić, Furudžija and Gotovina.
On the latter's case, Hammond elaborated about some of the cornerstones of the Tribunal's charges against Gotovina.
The Tribunal charged that Gotovina ordered a "massive artillery assault" on the city of Knin during Croatia's attempt to regain territory the Serbs conquered in 1991. Despite an invasion of busloads of international reporters to the city a couple of hours after the alleged attack who found no evidence of artillery destruction and thus, there are an ample number of credible witnesses who could refute the ITCY's allegation, nonetheless, the ICTY saw tit to indict Gotovina on that charge.
While the Tribunal also charged Gotovinu responsible for deporting Serbs on a massive scale from the Krajina, Hammond made a strong argument with the Committee when he brought up the point that the Knin offensive took place with the full knowledge and participation of the United States.
To supplement his argument he quoted former ICTY spokeswomen Florence Hartmann's book: "Belgrade caused the evacuation of the Serb population of Krajina towards Banja Luka and northern Bosnia.. so that later it could justify holding on'to these territories" and urged the interested parties to read Richard Holbrooke's book "To End A War" if they still had doubts. Hammond concluded that there had been a tramping of Gotovina's due process right.
While due process is the very cornerstone in criminal cases in the United States. Representive Tom Lantos, a Hungarian by birth, took umbrage with Hammond's argument. Lantos argued that the loss of" and individual's right to justice under due process of law is unimportant compared to the need lo punish those indicted for crimes against humanity.
Chairman Hyde strongly objected to Lanto's statement. He said that the right of due process of law is the corner stone of American justice and that without justice the survival of mankind is questionable.
Over the next few months we will mo doubt witness the extent to which the hearing will influence the ICTY.
THE NEW GENERATION FEATURE
Los Angeles, August 2002
QUO VADIS CROATIAN MEDIA
By Dr. Jerry Blaskovich
Singing "Where Have All the Flowers Gone'
(with apologies to Pete Seeger) to those in Croatia's media hierarchy
who have survived the Tudjman era would be appropriate. The flowers
who supposedly had to live under the compost heap of the previous
government have certainly blossomed and now thrive gloriously. They
have been rewarded by the Racan/Mesic mob for the almost intolerable
suffering they endured under Tudjman's alleged dictatorship, Following
the January 2000 elections, those downtrodden media folks must have
had the same emotional euphoria as those who were freed from imprisonment
at Goli Otok. Never mind that the present Racan/Mesic government was
of the very same party that created Goli Otok..
After the election many members of the media
were named to key positions both in government and the private sector.
The Foreign Ministry was particularly liberal in rewarding those who
had been especially critical of the Tudjman administration. Apparently
real qualifications were a secondary consideration..
Before being named ambassador to Austria,
Drazen Vukov-Colic, wrote a column for Rijeka's 'Novi list' . Novi
List, aside from being considered an 'independent newspaper' by foreign
sources, was vehemently anti-HDZ. Under the Communist regime of Yugoslavia
Vukov-Colic prospered as chief editor of "Danas' and as "Vjesnik's'
correspondent in Germany. He is now ambassador in Austria..
Ambassador Jagoda Vukusic, another Novi List
journalist and chief of their office in Zagreb was president of the
Croatian Journalists Association (CJA) for two successive terms during
the 1990s. The CJA had considerable influence in fostering the activities
of 'independent' journalists - for the benefit of their foreign protectors.
Despite having negligible knowledge of English and not possessing
a university degree, which is one of the usual requisites for an ambassador,
Vukusic nonetheless was posted to that position in Norway.
Drago Buvac, was a commentator for Vjesnik,
Danas and a number of other communist controlled newspapers before
1990. During the nineties he continued writing for Vjesnik and Slobodna
Dalmacija. He subsequently was named by the Racan government as ambassador
Aleksandar Milosevic was a foreign policy
commentator and Vjesnik's editor before and after 1990. Despite being
a Serb, he is probably the most principled newsperson of the group
named in this article. In 1991, he joined the Croatian National Guard
and at great personal risk helped defend Sisak. He always publicly
admitted to being a SDP (Racan's party) member and a friend of Davorko
Vidovic, Minister of Labor and Social Welfare. He is now ambassador
The No.2 in the Skopje embassy is Dragan Djuric,
also a Serb. He was a journalist for Vjesnik who later wrote for Feral
and Nacional and returned to Vjesnik as a correspondent in Macedonia.
Neda Ritz who was named ambassador and permanent
representative to UNESCO in Paris, worked for at HTV many years- first
as a journalist and later as editor of cultural programs. In the spring
of 2000 she was named its chief editor.
Tomislav Jakic, the principal foreign policy
advisor of president Mesic and a great friend of Mise Broz (Tito's
son), held the important position as political editor of Radiotelevizija
Zagreb before 1990. During the nineties he worked as a correspondent
of Radio Free Europe (USIA) and wrote columns for Nacional. He was
very active in Forum 21.
Forum 21 is a small group of journalists and
editors of HTV that included Tihomir Ladisic, Dubravko Merlic, Denis
Latin, Damir Matkovic, Igor Mirkovic, Silvana Menđusic. They established
Forum 21 as an informal association whose alleged goal was to fight
for ^public television' , a vehicle they felt would exclude HDZ politicians.
In reality, Forum 21 was used to implement the private agendas of
several 'journalists-stars' from HTV who thought they were not treated
in a way they Meserved' .
Membership in Forum 21 was not limited to
HTV people. Other journalists opposed to the government, as well as
some not considered to be strongly opposed, such as Mirko Galic, joined.
At that time Galic was a serious candidate to become director of HTV,
a position he holds today. In 1998 he became chief editor of Globus.
In the mid 1990s most journalists in Croatia
started to characterize themselves as almost being martyrs, since
they had to work under the government's totalitarian conditions, while
forgetting how it was under communism. The international interests
including the U.S. State Department, who most likely helped finance
Forum 21, encouraged and exploited the group's mission. They expanded
upon the association's view of the HDZ as living proof that there
was a lack of ^freedom of expression' not only at HTV but also in
Croatia in general.
In order to try to destabilize and replace
the Tudjman government, the Hollbrooke State Department helped characterize
Forum 21's actions as the fight of ^independent' journalists against
intolerable persecution by totalitarian rulers.
Most of Croatia's media of that era, in lockstep
with the State Department and the US establishment media, insisted
on calling the legitimately elected government a ^regime'. One New
York Times editorial during Tudjman's reelection campaign stated that
if he retained the office, it would be far worse than if fascism came
to power. The Croatian press, most of which had ties with foreign
interests, was labeled ^independent'. But those who wrote about the
Tudjman government without including the proper rancor were considered
contemptible. Most of the disinformation about the Tudjman government
was planted by State Department information warfare people who got
their lies into circulation by passing it through Forum 21.
At'the same time editors and staff were writing
vehemently anti-HDZ stories they were disingenuously crying that there
was no press freedom in Croatia. Despite the allegation, the downtrodden
press was somehow able to project half-truths, and a vast number of
bold-faced lies about the HDZs failings, foibles, and corruption.
It went out to the Croatian public to an extent that it helped, in
no small measure, vote the HDZ out of office. And that is certainly
what Hollbrooke and George Soros were trying to accomplish.
There is a whole litany of HTV people getting
their just reward for their deeds of the 1990s. Tihomir Ladisic, who
was SDP spokesman during their campaign, and whose wife is the deputy
chief editor of Globus, became editor of HTV's information program
but later took over one of the most important political forum programs.
A Serb, Mirjana Rakic, who, until 2000, was HTV's foreign policy programs
editor, became chief editor for all information programs. Dubravko
Merlic became the principal editor of TV Dnevnik, but wen he was suspended
from that function he resigned in protest and is now the chief of
Public Relations at Pliva Pharmaceuticals. Goran Rotim, who is the
foreign affairs desk editor, was spokesman for MFAo After he resigned
from that position Rotim returned to HTV. Ivana Prohic went to the
Ministry of Reconsttuction, while Sanja Marđetko Kurecic moved onward
to the Ministry of Finance. Sanja Bach ended up at the Ministry of
Economy. Denis Latin is editor of the most controversial and biased
TV forum-show xLatinica'. He is also columnist for Nacional. While
his texts are full of hatred for the ex-government they are also a
bit cynical towards Racan's governmento It should be noted that Globus
is generally considered as Racan's vehicle while Nacional is euphemistically
called 'Mesic's bulletin'.
Another group of journalists who were not
publicly considered as ^independent', were rewarded for their lack
of objectivity. What they did do covertly in the 90s is not known
at this time. Zrinka Bardic from Radio 101 went to the Ministry of
Interior, Andrea Latinovic of Vjesnik, to the Ministry for Labor and
Social Welfare, and Silva Stazic of Slobodna Dalmacija to the office
of the Mayor of Zagreb.
International interests, including the State
Department, had a great stake in demonizing the Tudjman government.
It was common knowledge that the newspaper most critical of Tudjman's
government, Feral Tribune, was mostly financed by a Soros foundation",
Apparently Feral will soon go the way of the dinosaur. The sponsors
got as much mileage as they could vis-f-vis the HDZ and consequently,
the money source has dried up. Interestingly, much of the startup
costs of Nacional came from the old hands of GENIX and INEX via conduits.
USAID financed the design of the website and translated Nacional's
archives into English. Jutarnji List was a subsidiary of Europe Press
Jeery Blaskovich je rođen 1943. godine u Chicagu,
u Sjedinjenim Američkim Državama. Godine 1960. po prvi je put došao
u domovinu svojih roditelja, u Zagreb, i upisao se na Medicinski fakultet
Sveučilišta u Zagrebu. Na istom je Sveučilištu diplomirao 1966. godine.
Specijalistički ispit iz dermatologije položio je u SAD. Na University
of Southern California magistrirao je Povijest islamske umjetnosti.
Veteran je Korejskog rata. Specijalist je za bojne otrove i kemijsko
oružje. U braku je trideset i dvije godine. Ima troje djece.
Poput junaka znamenitog romana Josepha Conrada
dr. Jerry Blaskovich dospio je u "srce tame"... Foreign
Press Bureau zatražio je 1991. godine dr. Blaskovicha da istraži masakr
počinjen nad osamdestet civila u selu Voćin. Nakon jednog telefonskog
poziva on je napusti lagodan život u Južnoj Kaliforniji i našao se
u središtu najkrvavijeg sukoba u Europi poslije Drugog svjetskog rata.
at the crossroads
Croatia has given Europe´s political establishment a massive cardiac
arrest. The Continent's leftists are in shock following the country's
recent national elections. Ivo Sanader, the leader of the Croatian
Democratic Union (HDZ), the main conservative opposition party, soundly
defeated Prime Minister Ivica Racan´s socialist government.
The HDZ campaigned aggressively, highlighting Mr. Racan´s inability
to improve the country's sluggish economy. The HDZ's electoral triumph
was made even more impressive by the fact the European Union and many
in the Western liberal press openly supported Mr. Racan´s leftist
Yet average Croatian voters rejected the outside meddling for one
simple reason: They understood Mr. Racan´s economic policies had failed.
Under his leadership, unemployment remained high at 18 percent, while
the public debt soared.
Rather than scoring a "brilliant victory," as Mr. Sanader
claimed on Election Night, the HDZ benefited significantly from widespread
voter frustration with Mr. Racan´s stagnant regime. Nevertheless,
Mr. Sanader has been given a historic opportunity to transform both
his party's image in the West and to forge Croatia into a modern,
fully functional European nation-state.
The HDZ was denounced in the West during much of the 1990s for the
authoritarian policies of its founder, the late President Franjo Tudjman.
The Croatian strongman also was criticized for the widespread corruption
that characterized his rule until his death in 1999. But for all his
flaws, Tudjman was a visionary and first-rank statesman, who secured
Croatia's national independence from Serb-dominated Yugoslavia.
Mr. Sanader, however, lacks Tudjman's popular charisma and ideological
core convictions. Rather, the HDZ leader is a pragmatic technocrat,
who insists he now heads a revamped, pro-European party committed
to Western-style conservatism. The centrepiece of his campaign was
a Bush-style tax cut and promotion of Croatia's entry into the European
Union by 2007.
But the true test of Mr. Sanader's conservatism will come not in his
words, but in his actions. Since its independence in 1991, Croatia
has failed to confront its communist past. Croatia's economic life
remains rife with Titoist-style bribery and cronyism.
Hence, if Mr. Sanader is serious about leading a conservative revolution
in the Balkans, he must start an immediate, sweeping decommunization.
The massive public bureaucracy, dominated by former apparatchiks who
oppose economic reform, must be dismantled. A legal framework is needed
to protect private property rights and the rule of law, and encourage
entrepreneurship and creation of investment capital.
Most importantly, the HDZ leader must vigorously campaign against
corruption. He can start by having the Croatian parliament pass a
law making it a criminal offence for public officials to engage in
bribery, kickbacks or have cronies and family members receive government
contracts practices common not only in Croatia but throughout the
Yet perhaps the greatest obstacle Mr. Sanader faces is the issue of
cooperation with the war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
in The Hague, Netherlands. Brussels has made it clear Zagreb's entry
into the EU hinges upon unconditional cooperation with The Hague tribunal,
especially regarding the court's chief request to arrest and extradite
Gen. Ante Gotovina, who has been in hiding since his 2001 indictment.
Mr. Sanader has pledged full cooperation with the tribunal.
But any decision to hand over Gen. Gotovina would spell the end of
his ruling centre-right coalition. Gen. Gotovina is rightly viewed
as a hero by most Croats for his role in leading a 1995 military operation
that ended the Croat-Serb war. Extradition of the general would spark
mass protests and civil unrest.
Moreover, the Gotovina indictment has been severely criticized by
The Hague tribunal experts and senior Bush administration officials.
Gen. Gotovina is not charged with ordering or committing atrocities,
but for having "command responsibility" over purported massacres
of 150 civilians.
The Gotovina indictment is an attempt by European leftists to impose
the dangerous precedent of "command responsibility" in international
military law. Earlier this year, a Belgian court sought to indict
Gen. Tommy Franks for "command responsibility" over supposed
atrocities of U.S. forces against civilians during the Iraq war. The
State Department got Brussels to withdraw the complaint.
But it is now clear the International Criminal Court views The Hague
tribunal's use of the principle of command responsibility as a basis
for possible future indictments against U.S. military leaders. A senior
administration official confessed that "the indictments issued
by The Hague tribunal based on the theory of command responsibility
risks establishing the principle in international law."
Mr. Sanader should insist Washington step up to the plate and demand
the Gotovina indictment be amended or, preferably, dropped. He needs
to make the case to the Bush administration that, just as the United
States correctly opposes the ICC for fear of politically motivated
indictments, Zagreb has similar concerns about the politicised prosecution
against Gen. Gotovina. The principle of command responsibility threatens
not only Croatia's national interests, but those of America as well.
The HDZ leader should demand a straight swap: Zagreb will support
signing a treaty to exempt Americans from prosecution by the ICC in
exchange for U.S. pressure on The Hague to withdraw the Gotovina indictment.
The challenges facing Mr. Sanader are immense. Time will tell if he
is up to the task.
Jeffrey T. Kuhner, assistant national editor of "The Washington