Open Letter to the Russian People and Leaders
by From Serb Civic Council delegation, London, September 1995
As the latest Contact Group peace initiative reaches a critical stage, we in the Serb Civic Council, the voice of democratic Serbs in Bosnia-Herzegovina, appeal to you to understand what is really at stake in our war-torn country. It would be a tragedy if you were to identify the true interests of the Serb people in Bosnia either with the expansionist aims of the regime in Belgrade, or with the fascist attempt to carve out by force an 'ethnically pure' Serb statelet on sovereign Bosnian territory.
Above all, we ask you to remember that the self-proclaimed government in Pale - headed by Radovan Karadzic and with its armed forces commanded by Ratko Mladic, both of whom have been indicted for crimes against humanity by the International War Crimes Tribunal at The Hague - does not represent the Bosnian Serbs. It is a regime without mandate or legitimacy, which has brought untold suffering on the entire population of Bosnia-Herzegovina, including on the Serb population in whose name it falsely claims to be acting.
Less than half of the original 1.3 million Serbs of Bosnia-Herzegovina remain under the control of the Pale regime and - even though its repressive and militaristic nature makes any free expression of opinion impossible - there is no doubt that they are deeply divided and many of them yearn for a just peace.
The Serb Civic Council, by contrast, is a civil, cross-party organization organized democratically and under conditions of democracy. It represents all Serbs onÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌì the territory controlled by the Bosnian government, many of those in the diaspora, and also the interests of those whose voices are suppressed in the rebel-held areas. It is supported by all democratically elected Serb members of the parliament and presidency of Bosnia-Herzegovina, by professional and intellectual groups, and by all who subscribe to the democratic traditions of Bosnian Serbs, including in particular those of the Partisan veterans of the Second World War and their families.
Please listen to us. We believe in a single, sovereign Bosnia: within its historic borders confirmed in the post-1945 settlement and now internationally recognized; with its legitimate and democratically elected government, committed to pluralism and to national and religious tolerance. As people of Orthodox culture and background, we wish to live in peace, harmony and mutual respect with our Muslim, Catholic and Jewish neighbours and relatives. As you will know, Serbs, Bosniaks and Croats have lived side by side and intermingled in Bosnia-Herzegovina for centuries. Over one third of marriages in Bosnia cross religious divisions. This is our history and, despite everything, it is still the essential reality of life in the cities under government control.
Although we support all moves leading to a just peace, we are strongly opposed to any plan to partition Bosnia along so-called ethnic lines. There has never been any significant support in the Bosnian Serb population for this kind of apartheid, and the recent catastrophe in the Krajina region of Croatia has shown clearly enough the inevitable end-result of setting up artificial 'ethnically cleansed' mini-states run by gangsters and war criminals.
We implore the people of Russia not to offer moral or military support to Pale or its backers in Belgrade. During the Soviet period, Russia paid an enormous price to save Europe from fascism in World War Two. It would be a tragic irony for it to be seen to offer succour to a reborn fascist project today. The Serb Civic Council represents values of democracy and justice which we are sure are those to which the people of Russia itself aspires. We ask you, therefore, to support us. We appeal to your leaders to use Russia's influence in the Contact Group to support a single, multi-ethnic and multi-cultural Bosnia-Herzegovina. This is the only possible and viable future for our country, as it must also be for your own. Beware of the poison of ultra-nationalism. Do not allow it to inflict the pain on you in Russia that it has inflicted on us in the Balkans.
Mirko Pejanovic (President)
on behalf of the delegation.