BalkanBlog, Balkans

Who Gets Justice From ICTY?

Finnish leading daily newspaper – Helsingin Sanomat – published today (14/04/2013) an investigative feature story Winners Justice related to recent release of Croatian war criminal Ante Gotovina. Gotovina was responsible about biggest ethnic cleansing during Balkan wars. The article clearly proves the political and biased nature of International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

Headline: Bosniacs have got most justice from Hague, Albanians and Serbs least Lines from top to bottom: Croats, Bosniacs, Serbs, Albanians, Other Column 1: Civilian deaths Column 2: Refugees Column 3: ICTY sentencies (years) about crimes against nations on line Column 4: ICTY sentencies against nations on line/days/civilian death Column 5: ICTY sentencies against nations on line/ratio of civilian deaths+50% of refugee amounth Source: Helsingin Sanomat (http://hs.fi)

Bosniacs have got most justice from Hague, Albanians and Serbs least
Lines from top to bottom: Croats, Bosniacs, Serbs, Albanians, Other
Column 1: Civilian deaths, Column 2: Refugees, Column 3: ICTY sentences (years) about crimes against nations on line, Column 4: ICTY sentences against nations on line/days/civilian death
Column 5: ICTY sentences against nations on line/ratio of deaths + 50% of refugee amount
Free translation AR///Source: Helsingin Sanomat

Ante Gotovina was leading sc Operation Storm against Serb populated Krajina region. Krajina had been under UN protection from 1992, however some 10,000 UN peacekeepers could not stop the attack against civilians – three peacekeepers was murdered and over 200,000 Serbs escaped to Serbia. Croatian army looted homes of Serbs and burned most of them (about 17,000) down. Few thousands old or handicapped Serbs could not flee and hundreds of them were found later decapitated, burned or executed. More about operation Storm and ethnic cleansing in Krajina in my articles Krajina – Victory with Ethnic Cleansing and Operation Storm – forgotten pogrom.

The operation “Storm” successfully finalized the ethnic cleansing of the Republic of Serbian Krajina. Croat president Franjo Tudjman cynically described the pogrom of Croatia Serbs at the opening of the Military school Ban Josip Jelacic in Zagreb, on December 14 1998: “We have, therefore, resolved the Serbian question! There will no longer be 12 percent of Serbs, nor 9 percent of Yugoslavs, as before. One may find some equivalence between terms of Serbian question and Jewish question and not by coincidence as Mr.Tjudman is a widely acclaimed Holocaust denier and international hero to Neo-Nazis.

Serb populated areas in Croatia/Krajina before the Operation Storm

ICTY started to investigate war crimes and ethnic Krajina’s cleansing immediately 1995. U.S. – who was the main financier of ICTY – tried at daily basis to stop investigations and when they however continued U.S. refused to submit satelite photos and other evidencies in their possession to prosecutor. Despite all this sabotage ICTY anyway had enough evidence against Gotovina; after years of hiding he was arrested on 2005 – maybe because his arrest was one preconditition for Croatia’s EU membership. Gotovina got sentence of 24 years in Hague. However ICTY Appeals Chamber released him on Nov. 2012.

The obvious reason for outcome Ante Gotovina’s trial from my perspective is that operation Storm was implemented by help of U.S. All the procedure manifests that ICTY is a political construction to implement U.S. will, to whitewash actions and war crimes implemented by U.S. and their allies and to demonize Serbs to get justification for U.S. intervention to Balkan wars. The dominating political aspect casts shadows also the earlier court decisions – whether accused were acquit or not as well throws suspicion on ongoing trials in Hague.

P.S:

I have tried to tell the other side of Balkan war story in my previous articles such as

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BalkanBlog, Balkans

NIOD Report on Srebrenica

In my previous articles ( “Srebrenica: A Town Betrayed” – Finally a Critical Documentary about Srebrenica Tragedy and Media War of Yugoslav Secession continues ) I covered issues which are challenging the “official” picture about Srebrenica massacre. As expected there is a heated debate in different forums about events itself and about right to show the other side of the story e.g in public broadcasting company channels. This debate however is cursorily twirling round persons and deadlock opinions, arguments rarely have some base on facts.

Fanatical, narrow minded and many times politically motivated debate is blind alley; many-sided picture about Srebrenica can be illustrated by applying more facts than feelings to discussion. Maybe the best and anyway the most comprehensive source to find not only details and facts but also scientific analysis about them is in my opinion so called NIOD-report.

NIOD Report on Srebrenica

In November 1996, the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies (then: Nederlands Instituut voor Oorlogsdocumentatie / Netherlands Institute for War Documentation ) was instructed by the Dutch Government to carry out a study of ‘the events prior to, during and after the fall of Srebrenica’. For the purposes of this independent historical analytical research, the Government undertook to do everything in its power to grant the NIOD researchers access to the source material at its disposal.

The NIOD Report on Srebrenica tragedy was published in 2002. So far the Report is the most comprehensive academic research and documentation about what really happened in Srebrenica not only in July of 1995 but also before tragedy. The Report describes on its some four thousand pages (yes, 4.000) also wider historical and political context around Srebrenica. The NIOD-report is generally regarded as a first-rate scientific work.

After this long introduction here below finally are links to different parts (in English) of this fundamental independent academic research –

The NIOD-report:

Criticism

Critics especially from Bosnian Muslim side are complaining that Dutch NIOD Report is not as objective as they have expected it to be.  Critics of the NIOD Report allege it was the Netherland’s attempt to wash their hands of direct involvement in the Srebrenica massacre. Also the Report is said to be full of inaccuracies e.g with names and that report is too big, idex is poorly organised etc. There was nine NIOD-researchers and some found information unreliable sources while other found it reliable.

There is also suspicion that the report is made to order by the Dutch government. The background for this is the fact that the government were facing the prospect of a politically motivated parliamentary inquiry into the role and conduct of Dutch military personnel during their presence in the UN-protected Srebrenica enclave in 1994 and 1995.

The supporters – e.g. Noam Chomsky, Ed Herman and Diana Johnstone – of Niod-conclusions have also been labeled as genocide denials, revisionists or representatives of “leftist apologist wing” who pride themselves on being always on the opposite side of the mainstream media. (See e.g Srebrenica Genocide Blog)

An Excerpt: Media manipulation of Srebrenica

(Source: ISSA reports )

Former BBC journalist Jonathan Rooper, who has researched the events in Srebrenica since 1995, says that the region was a graveyard for Serbs as well as Muslims. He observed closely media manipulation during Bosnian War. Instead of acknowledging that there was no support for the original figures, Rooper says a various means were used to prop up the official story.

  • Spokesmen for the Clinton Administration suggested that Serbs might have moved the bodies to other locations. Rooper points out that excavating, transporting and reburying 7,000 bodies was “not only beyond the capabilities of the thinly-stretched, petrol-starved Bosnian Serb Army, but would have been easily detected under intense surveillance from satellites and geostationary drones”.
  • By 1998, thousands of bodies excavated from all across Bosnia were stored at the Tuzla airport. Despite state-of-the-art DNA testing, only 200 bodies have been linked to Srebrenica.
  • Around 3,000 names on a list of Srebrenica victims compiled by the Red Cross matched voters in the Bosnian election in 1996. “I pointed out to the OSCE that there had either been massive election fraud or almost half the people on the ICRC missing list were still alive,” says Rooper. “The OSCE finally responded that the voting lists had been locked away in warehouses and it would not be possible for them to investigate.”

The Bottom Line

“What happened in Srebrenica was not a single large massacre of Muslims by Serbs, but rather a series of very bloody attacks and counterattacks over a three year period.”

(Phillip Corwin, former UN Civilian Affairs Coordinator in Bosnia)

The the tragic events in Srebrenica in July of 1995 are actual and in headlines today and probably during coming years too. The cause from my perspective may be related to four aspects

1st the ICTY process is focusing now to main political figures – Karadzig and Mladic – of Bosnian War and evidences from sides of prosecutor and defence are the core content of trial

2nd every year Srebrenica will be remaind as theatrical funerals of Bosnian Muslims – presumable victims – are taking place.

3rd Bosnia-Herzegovina as an artifical creature is searching some national identity, however ethnic tensions are rather increasing than opposite and politics is more going towards dissolution than unity.

4th Srebrenica is an example of intervention, or R2P context as well modern media war used more or less successfully in conflicts around the world during last decades.

Further reading

To go deeper to Srebrenica problemacy I would recommend besides mentioned NIOD-report also following material:

Stephen Karganovic, Ed., Deconstruction of a Virtual Genocide: An Intelligent Person’s Guide To Srebrenica

United Nations Report on Srebrenica 15 November 1999.(note: to access the report, click on the LINK immediately below. You will be directed to a page where you can click on “CLICK HERE TO GET THE FULL TEXT OF THE REPORT”. You will be directed to another page where you can click on your languaqe preference, and the full report should download) LINK )

I also would like promote the work of Srebrenica Historical Project, which collects information on Srebrenica events.

Srebrenica Historical Project

( http://www.srebrenica-project.com/ )

An excerpt from project’s mission statement:

Our broad purpose is to collect information on Srebrenica during the last conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina, defined not as July 1995, but more broadly as 1992 to 1995. That means that we shall be creating a comprehensive and contextual, as opposed to a selective, record of the violence between the communities in that area during the conflict. We shall focus also on crimes committed against the Serb civilians not because we favor them but because so far they have been ignored. We wish to redress that balance, but we will not work under any ideological limitations. A corollary goal will be to launch something along the lines of the South African Truth and Reconciliation commission, with emphasis on truth as logically coming before and as a precondition to reconciliation. That is another reason we wish to do a great deal of empirical work on the neglected crimes against the Serbian population. We shall then proceed to explore reconciliations strategies. The fundamental objective of our project is to rise above politics and propaganda and to create a contextual record of the Srebrenica tragedy of July 1995 which can serve as a corrective to the distortions of the last decade and a half and as a genuine contribution to future peace.

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BalkanBlog, Balkans

Mladic in Hague, Serbia towards EU, reopening Srebrenica

From historical perspective the Mladic’n arrest and the Hague trial serves as formation of a more comprehensive picture of events in the Balkans in the 90’s after the procecutor and the defense have made their case. Issues related to the underlying policy objectives of Srebrenica, events before Srebrenica and the number and the PR game around Srebrenica. Realization of the right however is only theatrical minor point for the EU and for the current Serbian government as both see it only as a formal step towards Serbia’s EU membership.

Serbia’s current government is hoping that Mladic’s arrest will clear the way towards EU membership. In the press conference of Mladic’s arrest President Tadic said “I believe that the doors for Serbia to joining the EU are open”. I disagree, there is lot of issues waiting on the table, minor problems such as accepting Kosovo licence plates and finally (after few years of negotiations) recognition of Kosovo’s independence too. E.g. EU Parliament Rapporteur for Kosovo Ulrike Lunacek said it clearly that extradition of Ratko Mladic to The Hague is insufficient for Serbia to join EU and that Serbia must do a whole lot more if it wants to join EU. “Serbia must show that it is ready to expand relations with an independent Kosovo,” Lunacek said. (Source: Dnevnik ) The technical association chapters need some work and remains to see what kind of EU there is existing when membership is on the door. It also remains to see how long negotiations with EU will continue as after elections the new government can whistle the game over.

Since Serbia’s EU application has its position improved, particularly related with energy issues. When the EU favored Nabucco is practically already dead project e.g. after events on the Arab Street (pipe has political support, but no gas available) and when the Italians and now also the French and German companies are backing Russia’s South Stream are Serbia’s changes to become an energyhub growing. Russia but also Turkey have been activated to wide their economic cooperation with Serbia and for example, last autumn came into force a free trade agreement with Turkey.

My opinion of the membership negotiations has remained relatively the same as follows:

In my previous articles, still and now even more than before I have a view that Serbia should think if joining to EU is worth of time, money and bureaucracy it demands, could the main benefits of EU membership be achieved via “third way”. Despite this I think that at this moment it is good idea to continue EU process but not only to fulfill EU needs but especially the needs of the beneficiaries aka Serbs not EU elite in Brussels.

More about Serbia’s EU perspective in my earlier article: Serbia’s EU association is not a Must

In my opinion more that fast track to EU the Mladic’s trial in Hague will be a fast track to discover what really happened in Srebrenica 1995 and before that. Todays picture about Srebrenica is still heavily manipulated. To me its clear that thousands of Muslims were killed in Srebrenica once this place fell to Bosnian Serbian forces as well that some of them were innocent civilians. It is clear too that thousand(s) Serbs were butchered around Srebrenica during Bosnian War 1992-95 e.g. by the 3rd Corps 7th Muslim Mountain Brigade lead by Bosnian Muslim leader of Srebrenica forces Naser Oric. To the Brigade mentioned were subordinated foreign Muslim fighters, also known as mujahedeen, who came from Islamic countries and it operated from “demilitarized safe area of Srebrenica”. One possible scenario is that when the Bosnian Serb Army responded to this terror and attrocies the remaining fighters attempted to escape towards Tuzla, 38 miles to the north. Many were killed while fighting their way through; and many others were taken prisoner and executed by the Serb troops.

One explanation to the cruelty in Srebrenica can be found from the testimony of French General Philippe Morillon, the UNPROFOR commander who first called international attention to the Srebrenica enclave, at The Hague Tribunal on February 12, 2004. He testified that the Muslim commander in Srebrenica, Naser Oric, “engaged in attacks during Orthodox (Christian) holidays and destroyed villages, massacring all the inhabitants. This created a degree of hatred that was quite extraordinary in the region.”

More in my earlier article Srebrenica again – Hoax or Massacre? .

The western mainstream media has demonized Serbs and their action in Bosnia and later also in Kosovo. The attrocies implemented by others have widely ignored. At the start of the 1992-95 Bosnia war, Muslims and Croats were allies against the Bosnian Serb forces, but they fought each other briefly when Croat forces tried to create a separate Croat statelet in northeastern Bosnia. Only a couple days ago it was reported thatBosnia’s warcrimes court has jailed a Croat ex-soldier for 15 years for the killing of more than 60 Muslim civilians during a brief 1993-94 war between Bosnian Muslims and Croats. Miroslav Anic received a reduced sentence under a plea bargain after pleading guilty to all charges. He was convicted of taking part in a series of attacks by a Croat militia on Bosnian Muslim villages from June to October 1993, it said. Anic had served as a member of the special unit Maturice, operating within the Croat Defence Council (HVO) under the command of Ivica Rajic who was sentenced in 2006 to 12 years in prison by the Hague-based United Nations war crimes tribunal. (Source: Trust.org/Reuters)

Mladic arrest and theatre in Hague will bring Srebrenica again front of a stage and this will have its effect in already fragmented and fragile Bosnia-Herzegovina. Probably confrontation between three ethic groups will increase and this could lead to the final dissolution of BiH. Serbia is keen to secure EU candidate status and Mladic’s arrest may be one step forwards for this aim while same time the trial of Mladic may be one step backwards in Bosnia-Herzegovina for its EU membership aspiration.

¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤

P.S.

Finally a skeptical description – by Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey/Pravda – how EU makes Serbia blessed:

And congratulations, Serbia. Now you can join the European Union. Wonderful! Stand back and watch your industry destroyed as what you export is assimilated by German industries, watch your agriculture decimated as you are paid not to produce and your production goes to France before you are left with barren fields, stand back and watch the EU label Slivovica illegal because some idiot in Brussels doesn’t like it. Stand back and watch your unemployment rate skyrocket, watch a clique of elitists whisked off to cushy jobs in Brussels, watch your prices treble and your salaries stagnate and watch your customs destroyed as you become assimilated first by the EU and then by NATO. You will have to pay for it, you know. The people, not the leaders, of course… Nobody will ask you if you want to join NATO but you will be expected to buy its equipment and participate in its wars.

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BalkanBlog, Balkans, EU

War Crime Hypocrisy

Related to Serbia’s EU association process nearly every progress report of European Commission highlights Serbia’s cooperation with Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). Although the country has demonstrated its commitment to moving closer to the EU by building up a track record in implementing the provisions of the Interim Agreement with the EU and by undertaking key reforms the fact that so far as indictees Ratko Mladić and Goran Hadžić are still at large it is hard to demonstrate full cooperation with ICTY. As ICTY cooperation is a key priority of the European Partnership this makes a formal cause to halt association process (and if fugitives will be deported to Hague then the next obstacle will be recognition of Kosovo).


While EU speaks about standards or criteria during association talks so should some already members look occasionally mirror. Few news about older war crimes from last months popped to my eyes and raise a doubt in my mind about double-standards. Suspected hypocrisy does not limit to EU only but to U.S. and Nato as well. EU seems be unwilling to put their war crimes from recent history on the same line than other smaller players ones.

Following some older and newer cases for consideration.

USA/Serbia
Serbia has requested the extradition of an American citizen accused of committing genocide and other crimes as a Nazi officer during World War II. Mr. Peter Egner, 86 lives now in a retirement community outside of Seattle, Washington. Egner, a Yugoslavia native, is accused of joining in April 1941 the Nazi-controlled Security Police and Security Service in German-occupied Belgrade, a Nazi mobile killing unit that participated in the mass murder of more than 17,000 Serbian civilians during World War II. Egner came to the United States in 1960 and became a citizen six years later.

Egner has admitted volunteering to serve in the Security Police and Security Service as well as guarding prisoners as they were being transferred to concentration camps. He also admitted to serving as an interpreter during interrogations of political prisoners, which sometimes involved severe torture. Prisoners often were executed following their interrogations. Serbia’s war crimes prosecutor has said that he wants to try Egner in Serbia. (Source: Jpost )

Germany/Holland

The Simon Wiesenthal Center called on Germany to extradite Dutch former SS executioner Klaas Faber, in a statement released on Thursday. Center’s third Most-Wanted Nazi War Criminal, Klaas Faber, 88, received life sentence in Holland, before escaping to Germany in 1952. The Netherlands released recently an arrest warrant for Faber, 88. In September, Germany’s Justice Ministry said it is looking into the possibility of jailing Faber more than 60 years after his conviction. The Dutch government requested that Faber be extradited several times, so that he could serve his sentence, which had been commuted to life in prison.

Dr. Efraim Zuroff, the Wiesenthal Center’s chief Nazi-hunter said: “Germany’s failure hereto to put Faber on trial or return him to Holland are a travesty which must be corrected as quickly as possible, while justice can still be achieved.” (Source: Jpost/Wiesenthal Center calls for SS executioner’s extradition )

Still Hilfe, or Silent Aid, an organization which provides help for Third Reich fugitives of justice, is funding the defense of Klass Faber. Stille Hilfe is known for helping Nazi fugitives Klaus Barbie and Erich Priebke evade justice as well as facilitating the escape of Adolf Eichmann and Josef Mengele to South America. The German Social Democratic party has called for a probe into the organization’s charitable status, but thus far, Berlin has taken no action against Stille Hilfe. (Source: Jpost/Himmler’s daughter member of Nazi fugitive aid group)

Germany

A court in Germany says the world’s third most-wanted Nazi suspect has died before he could be brought to trial. Bonn’s state court said in a statement Monday that 89- year-old Samuel Kunz died November 18. Kunz was indicted on charges he was involved in the entire process of killing Jews at the Belzec death camp: from taking victims from trains to pushing them into gas chambers to throwing corpses into mass graves. The Simon Wiesenthal Center issued a statement in response to the news. where Efraim Zuroff, the center’s director in Israel, said it was “incredibly frustrating” that Kunz died before trial. “The fact that Samuel Kunz lived in Germany unprosecuted for so many decades is the result of a flawed prosecution policy which ignored virtually any Holocaust perpetrator who was not an officer. It was only the recent, long-awaited change in this policy which led to Kunz’s indictment and the opportunity to hold him accountable for his crimes. (Source JPost )

Vatican?

As time goes its harder to get old WWII fugitives to trial. However while individual persons are dying some executive organizations related to war crimes still are healthy – one of these is Vatican.

I have in my mind especially Vatican’s role in holocaust and preserving war criminals from justice. These issues are dealt in my earlier article “Jasenovac – Holocaust promoted by Vatican” but the crucial questions were following:

During WWII Croatia’s Ustashe leaders declared that they would slaughter a third of the Serb population in Croatia, deport a third and convert the remaining third from Orthodoxy to Roman Catholicism. 3rdbiggest extermination center – behind Auschwitz and Treblinka – created by Nazis was Jasenovac in Croatia. The death toll is estimated to be 300,000 to 700,000, some 80 % of them Serbs the rest Jews and Romas. While for Nazi-Germany Jasenovac was more a tool for ethnic cleansing for Ustashe religious aspect played crucial role. The religious motivation may be the explanation to the extreme brutality of butchers in Jasenovac. 743 Roman Catholic priests personally murdered Serbs, Jews and Gypsies. Jasenovacwas for a time, run by Fr. Filipovic-Majstorovic, a Catholic priest. The Jasenovac system of Croatian camps also included a camp for children run by Catholic nuns who used toxic soda to save bullets.

As the war ended, the Vatican Bank helped to and transfer funds Franciscans in Rome helped smuggle and launder the Ustasha Tresury, which was looted from victims of Jasenovac. The Vatican not only hoarded the gold the Croats looted, it also helped Ustasha war criminals in escaping justicein what is now nicknamed the “Vatican Ratline”.

Today a class action law suit against the Vatican Bank to recover $100 million in damages for the Vatican’s participation in these war crimes and money laundering the proceeds from their Serb, Jewish and Roma victims is still ongoing. Vatican lawyers have three times tried to get this case thrown out of court. The Supreme court has rejected their claims. In US District Court the case against the Vatican Bank (but not the Franciscan Order) was dismissed on grounds the Vatican Bank is an organ of a sovereign entity, the Vatican, which is immune from lawsuits. The just filed appeal however argues that the Vatican Bank is not sovereign and engages in commercial activity in the United States and therefore should be held accountable in a United States Federal Court.

U.S & Nato

Besides Vatican also Nato and U.S. has continuously escaped from justice or international court about its war crimes in Balkan wars – especially in case of Nato’s attack on Serbia 1999 – as well its activities in Iraq, Afghanistan and other clandestine operations around the world. Bombing civilian targets, using cluster and DU (depleted uranium) bombs can be seen as war crimes or at least violations of international law and the Geneva Conventions in particular. (More e.g. in ”10th anniversary of Nato’s attack on Serbia” ). Nato planes destroyed 4 % of its military targets during bombing – partly because for avoiding own casualties they launched missiles so high that could not make difference between wooden decoys and real weapons. Instead of military targets the main damage was made against civilian targets such as destroying an embassy (China), a prison (Istok), three column of Albanian refugees (81 dead March 13th and 75 April 14th), radio-tv station (Belgrade, 16 civilians dead), a passenger train (Grdelica bridge, 14 dead), also a number of infrastructure, commercial buildings, schools, health institutions, cultural monuments were damaged or destroyed. Some 2.500 people (mostly civilians) were dead, material civil infrastructure damage is estimated to be some 30 billion dollars.

Serbia has tried to put Nato already to International Court for war crimes during bombing 1999. And of course without success since big or important enough players don’t give a s…t about Hague and like U.S have already sealed an impunity with bilateral agreements in mission regions. More about these Nato’s war crimes during its attack on Serbia e.g. here.

Bottom line

If EU would like to act in line with its high-flown ideals it should stand straight-backed behind international court principles so that no country could be immune its rulings. And if some countries like U.S. look themselves to be above international law appropriate measures – such as sanctions – should be taken against it. And this probably is total utopia. Despite this one should not forget old war crimes especially when neo-Nazism and xenophobia gains ground even among today’s EU (e.g. Hungary) members as well candidate (e.g. Croatia) countries.

I don’t put very much weight to ICTY rulings but however from my point of view the procedure itself brings more facts about events on the table, especially when both the prosecutor and defence have made their case. At best this can make easier to bring justice also to lower level.

Some other aspects about war crimes can be found from my articles:

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Balkan

Kroatia sai muutospresidentin

Viime viikonloppuna Kroatia sai uuden presidentin tilanteessa, jossa maa on aloittamassa finaalikierroksensa EU jäsenyyteen. Valittu sosialidemokraatti Ivo Josipovic – juristi ja klassisen musiikin säveltäjä – on jo aloittanut muutoksen etsimällä liennytystä naapureihinsa. Sekä Kroatia että Serbia ovat haastaneet toisensa kansainväliseen oikeuteen -90-luvun kansanmurhista. Nyt tuleva presidentti on jo ehättänyt ehdottamaan oikeudenkäynneistä luopumista ja asioiden selvittelyä suorin keskusteluin. Kannatettava periaate muutoinkin mielestäni.

Yksi oikeusjuttu on vielä EU jäsenyyden tiellä. ICTY nimittäin haluaisi saada käsiinsä Kroatian armeijan dokumentteja koskien erityisesti operaatio Stormiin liittyviä sotarikoksia. Kyseessähän oli kroaattien toteuttama n. 200 000 serbin etninen puhdistus Krajinan alueelta. Olenpa muuten tavannut viimeksi viime kesänä näitä pakolaisia Belgradissa eli lähes 15 vuotta mennyt eikä paluusta tietoakaan. (Lisää aiheesta esim. Artikkeli Operation Storm – forgotten pogrom– mikäli linkki ei aukea niin artikkeli löytyy pääsivun – Ari Rusila’s BalkanBlog – elokuun 2008 arkiston kautta.)

Kroatian EU-myönteisen presidentin valintaan liittyy myös siinä mielessä ironiaa, että länsi-Balkanin asukkaista galluppien mukaan kroaatit ovat EU vastaisimpia ja vain 29 % pitää liittymistä hyvänä asiana. Vielä ironisempaa on, että länsi-Balkanin ihmisistä kroaatit tuntevat olevansa parhaiten informoituja EU:sta. Joka tapauksessa uskon, että hra Josipovic antanee merkittävän panoksen Kroatian sisäisten ja ulkoisten jännitteiden purkamiseen.

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BalkanBlog

Power in service of ethics

During last twenty years war for humanitarian reasons has came quite popular in political vocabulary e.g. in Balkans and now with Georgia case. The ideal to use power in the service of ethics is good. The problem is the low level of ethics when US is using her power in world. I remember their actions in Chile to establish dictatorship, their support to killing squads in middle and south America. In 1983, U.S. troops invaded Grenada because it – a tiny island with 110,000 inhabitants – represented a military threat to the USA. In Balkans US made alliances first with Serb leaders (who later came ICTY wanteds) and after with KLA (which before was described as terror organization), al Quida (1st ally then one element in “axis of terror”) etc.

US started to bomb Serbia – without UNSC approval and based purpose-oriented reports from field – supporting separatist movements. Later US repeated the same in Afghanistan and Iraq (again based false reports).  Before 9-11, the US was supportive of the Chechen rebels, suddenly after 9-11 radical Islam, was the new enemy. This is regardless of whatever Chechen terrorists were doing to Russia on their own.

In Europe the Kosovo question highlights the core problem of EU – uncritical following of US foreign (cowboy) policy . Some times I ask if it is EU, only UK or ex-Sovjet lapdogs the 51st state of USA. To me it is alarming, that this US policy has been made both during democratic and republican US presidents. Future shows if the change will come with new president, will he change old advisers also. And will US succeed to gain support for these actions either through the use of NATO or by persuading the European Community or the newly emerging states of Central and Eastern Europe to get on side.  I hope that change will come and different actors both sides of Atlantic could have debate from more equal base than before.

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Opening Bosnian X-files

Very interesting interview of former Hague Tribunal spokeswoman Florence Hartmann popped to my eyes from newspaper Blic.  Referring the arrest of Radovan Karadzic she told, that “information about the fugitives’ whereabouts was abundant, however, it would always turn out that one of the three countries – the U.S., Britain or France – would block arrests.”  She adds that former Bosnian secret police chief Momir Munibabić was sacked on former High Representative Paddy Ashdown’s orders, “for being efficient in his search for Karadžić, and for sending information to Del Ponte“. “Now that Karadžić has finally been arrested, he can tell a lot about secret deals that led to the fall of Srebrenica. His testimony represents a great risk for the great western powers,” Hartmann is convinced.

These statements of ICTY insider arouse few associations to my mind, such as

  • Is the Holbrooke-Karadzic deal existing, like the accused has said ( Karadzic claims that his going into hiding formed part of a deal with Holbrooke, which included his withdrawal from public life in exchange for not being arrested).
  • Was the secret deal made about Srebrenica (Bosnian Government and the Bosnian Serb party, possibly with the knowledge of one or more Contact Group States, had an understanding that Srebrenica would not be vigorously defended by the Bosniacs in return for an undertaking by the Serbs not to vigorously defend territory around Sarajevo. The capture of Srebrenica  made it easier for the Bosniacs and Serbs to agree on the territorial basis of a peace settlement.  The result of the tragedy in Srebrenica contributed in some ways to the conclusion of a peace agreement — by galvanizing the will of the international community, by distracting the Serbs from the coming Croatian attack, by reducing the vulnerability of UNPROFOR personnel to hostage-taking, and by making certain territorial questions easier for the parties to resolve).
  • Are we finally getting more clear wider picture about connections between numbers (Srebrenica figure game), reports (as mean of one-sided propaganda)  and political PR marketing considering events in Balkans during 1990’s?

One can have different opinions about bias of ICTY but from my point of view it offers so far best forum to get some answer to questions mentioned before when both prosecutor and defence have made their case.  Anyway the statements of Mrs.Hartmann – as well the book of her former boss del Ponte describing e.g.  organ trafficking of Serb civils by Albanian mafia – are giving quite disgusting picture about “realpolitik” behind noble statements of international community.


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