BalkanBlog

Belgrade riots and wider perspective

This night I was watching news from Belgrade where some 15.000 demonstrators were involved running battles with riot police after a Belgrade rally in support of Radovan Karadzic. In every capital one can find hardliners, extremists or simple hooligans so this event itself is not very dangerous. However the serious question from my point of view is, that according to my rough estimate more than a half of average Serbs in some degree is against the government’s plan to extradite Karadzic to the UN war crimes tribunal.

I can find few reasons why one opposes the extradition Mr. Karadzig:

  1. The picture of crime itself has changed during his 13 years on the run.  Even today’s headlines are describing Srebrenica with slogan  “worst civilian massacre in Europe since WWII”, there is also many arguments about political PR game behind exaggerated death numbers, misrepresentation of early reports and manipulated pictures.  Probably a massacre happened but maybe not like that picture which main stream media has offered.
  2. ICTY is widely seen as partial “winner’s justice” and indeed Haague can not deal with warcrimes made by US or Nato.  Thereby there is not so much confidence for fair judicature in ICTY among Serbs.
  3. ICTY’s reputation with internal – Balkan – matters is also not very good.  Everybody remembers the release of  Ramus Haradinaj who was indicted warcrimes against  Serb, Albanian and Romani civilians in Kosovo and also Muslim Mujahediin commander Naser Oric walked this Summer as a free man from Haague.   Serbs (Croatian, Bosnian and Serbian) instead have got some long sentences.
  4. Government’s motivation to extradite Karadzic is not accepted among many Serbs who look that again only one more act to please EU to get membership status in coming years.  Without this EU perspective the trial could as well taken place in Belgrade.  Besides attraction of EU heaven gains support only slight majority of population.

My conclusion is, that

  • there is indisputable arguments to accuse Mr. Karadzic about warcrimes etc.,
  • there is strong argumentation not to extradite Mr. Karadzic to ICTY, and
  • warcrimes of all actors – including Bosniacs, Croats, Serbs, US/Nato – should get punishment.


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2 thoughts on “Belgrade riots and wider perspective

  1. arirusila says:

    3 Responses to “Belgrad riots & wider perspective”

    1. Antal Dániel Says:
    July 30th, 2008 at 10:37 am e

    Are there any ‘war crimes’ recorded in connection with the NATO troops in the region? Has somebody every referred it to the Tribunal?

    2. Biljana Says:
    July 30th, 2008 at 7:04 pm e

    Since The Hague tribunal turned into the farce against entire Serbian nation, Serbia should not extradite any of supposed indictee any longer. The court in Hague has political background and it is absolutely ridiculous to cooperate with such institution that applies selective justice. It is enough to be Serb and there you go, guilty before even proven guilty. Another thing that makes ridiculous this so called court of justice is the fact that 95% of indectees are Serbs, the rest 5% are reserved for the others, meaning Croats, Bosnian Muslims and Albanians. Those huge atrocities committed against Serbs in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo must have been done by the Serbs themselves. No one speaks about Serbian victims. In addition, by setting free Haradinaj and Oric, ICTY totally lost its already fragile credibility.

    Unfortunately the newly formed government in Belgrade will do everything to please their masters in the EU just to get in the EU at any costs. Again, Serbia’s blinded politicians are incapable of realising that the EU is just a one sweet carrot with very, very long stick. Sometimes I feel like a rabbit.

    What our government in Belgrade should do is to focus its energy on most important issues such as corruption (I would be much more pleased if they had arrested some high profile personas involved in corruption than Mr Karadzic) , unemployment, Kosovo, education, social welfare, legal system.

    @Antal

    There is a huge file of collected evidence of the NATO crimes in Serbia, but not one of our government(s) after Milosevic did not have enough courage to sue NATO, or the NATO countries involved in air strike against Serbia for 78 days. It was illegal act, never approved by the UNSC and in my opinion that is enough to file charges. I fear that this government won’t even dare (even though they threat) to ask ICJ for the opinion on legality and morality of recognising Kosovo by the 43 or so countries.

    3. AriRusila Says:
    July 30th, 2008 at 11:31 pm e

    Although NATO was “exonerated” by the ICTY for its killing of civilians in Yugoslavia, Amnesty International on June 7, 2000, published “a blistering attack on the Alliance, accusing it of committing serious violations of the rules of war, unlawful killings and — in the case of the bombing of Serbia’s television headquarters — a war crime.“ (Robert Fisk).

    The 65-page Amnesty report details a number of mass killings of civilians in NATO raids and states that “civilian deaths could have been significantly reduced if NATO forces had fully adhered to the rules of war.”

    Among the most obvious war crimes was the attack on Grdelica Bridge, bombardment of the column of Albanian refugees, destruction of Serbian Radio Television building, attack on Chinese Embassy and the attacks on hospitals.

    The cynical explanation, the “justification” of their bestial rage, that it was not intended against the Serbian people but the government in Belgrade of that time, while the innocent civilian victims were categorized under words – “collateral damage”

  2. arirusila says:

    # euromania Says:
    August 1st, 2008 at 9:59 pm e

    @Biljana

    imagine the germans complaining that at the Nuernberg trials 100% of the indictees were …germans, and the trials being one agaisnt the whole german nation!

    although it’s obvious that croatians, bosniaks, albanians, serbs committed war crimes against each other, and therefore there were serb victims as well, it seems to me that a significant part of the serbian people has nevertheless serious problems accepting that their leaders may have committed severe atrocities against other people in the name and with the backing of many serbs. “self-victimization” is a perfect instrument to justify unjust policies, treatment and actions against others… serbia’s collective identity seems to got somehow trapped in self-victimization. ???

    i admire i.e. the croatian-bulgarian writer dubravka ugresic and here balanced, psychological approach to the south-slavic tragedy. her key word to explain the causes and events of the wars is “kultura laži” – the “culture of lies”. i can’t prove the viability of this formula, but i can’t forget it, when thinking about the south-slavic world… i strongly recommend her book with the same title!

    best wishes!
    sve najbolje!

    # Biljana Says:
    August 2nd, 2008 at 11:58 am e

    @euromania

    By comparing Nazi Germany and their atrocities with Serbia is rather malicious attempt in order to demonize Serbs grossly, especially comparing the WWII with the civil war that took place in former YU is disappointing fact that only serves to convict the entire Serbian population. By doing so, people in this part of the world will never truly reconcile.

    None the less, you may have right comparing the civil war in ex YU during the 1941-1945. This is exactly why the war in ex YU during the 1991-1995 happened at first place. If the crimes committed during the WWII against the Serbs in Croatia and Bosnia (only in Croatia some 600 000-800 000 ended in pits all over Croatia) had been properly revealed and all the criminals tried instead of hiding the crime under the carpet, the new civil war would have never happened, or at least would not be that intensive.

    Significant part of Serbian people do not have problems accepting that their former leadership committed severe atrocities and no one denies the crimes but significant part of Serbs want other side to reveal their crimes. Perhaps 4 000 dead Serbs around Srebrenica at the very beginning of the war seems nothing to you (since they are just Serbs) but this event explains much why Srebrenica repeated in 1995 just that this time the victims were Muslims . This is not an attempt to justify the crimes committed in 1995 but an explanation. However, the criminal responsible for the crimes against the 4000 Serbs in 1992 walked free from the ICTY not that long time ago. Perhaps, the number of 4000 dead Serbs seems insignificant to you, or perhaps 2 000 missing Serbs from Kosovo also seems insignificant as well and the criminal for these crimes also walked free. And let’s not forget that these are not the only victims.

    In addition, to explain that majority of Serbs do not praise indictees as heroes (though some do) but all they want is fair trial. By denying the crimes committed by other sides will only lead to new war in some years. We should all speak openly about the crimes, but then I wonder why would only Serbs talk about their crimes while the others stay so silent and play the victims. The truth is that there are no victim sides in this war, I blame all the sides equally, not the ordinary people but the leadership of all sides. But as long as Medias all over the world report partially and take very biased stand (serving their politicians the best they can) on the events in this part of the world, there will be no prosperity for any side but the tension that will boil until explodes again.

    I am not trying to portray Serbia as a victim this time, honestly I never wish us to be victims any longer after both world wars and civil war during the 1941-1945.

    Thanks for the book recommendation, I will do my best to find and read it.

    Best regards

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