bosnia report
New Series No. 6/7 September - December 1998
 
A Brutal War Criminal

Interview with Doris Pack, member of the foreign-affairs committee in the European Parliament and president of its delegation to south-east Europe, following the passage of a resolution in October that not only condemned Milosevic's policies in Kosova, but also urged the chief prosecutor of the Hague Tribunal to investigate his responsibility for war crimes carried out on the entire territory of the former Yugoslavia since 1991.

Can you tell us what effect the resolution adopted by the European Parliament may have on Slobodan Milosevic?

What effect did the similar resolution adopted by the US Congress have? The problem lies in the fact that the Parliament has no executive power. We try to express the views of our peoples, but unfortunately we do not have the power actually to indict someone. The indictment of Milosevic must proceed from the Hague Tribunal, which by now must have plenty of evidence concerning Milosevic's criminal acts, stretching from the crimes in Vukovar up to those still in progress against civilians in Kosovo. We consider that the dreadful crimes committed in Bosnia-Herzegovina too were his responsibility.

The Daily Telegraph

The European Parliament is not the only relevant international political body which considers that the Hague Tribunal should already have indicted Milosevic. How is it possible that for all these years he has managed to escape responsibility for the crimes he has committed?

I ask myself the same question. And I should like to put it also to Mr Holbrooke, who believes it is possible to make political use of Milosevic, as someone who has the capacity to solve the problems of this region. In our view, however, Milosevic is the problem, not a solver of problems. Some people think that the removal of Milosevic would cause problems in Bosnia, but I believe that in Bosnia we have no further need of him, since the political representatives of the Bosnjaks, Croats and Serbs are able to solve their problems themselves. Milosevic is merely an obstacle. But despite this it seems that certain important circles in the West still consider that Milosevic is a guarantor of stability in the region. And they rely upon Milosevic. I believe that Milosevic has some good friends in the Western world, who are still working out their policies based on who was on what side in the two World Wars. It sounds absurd, but it seems to be the case.

When the European Parliament urged the Hague ÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÔ Tribunal to investigate Milosevic's responsibility, was there any particular evidence - apart from the obvious - upon which you were relying?

Milosevic has created a human catastrophe in Kosovo. No one except Milosevic's forces is responsible for the mass graves in Kosovo. He is the cause of all the crimes the Serbian forces have committed in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo. Isn't that enough? I think it's enough.

Is that view shared by all the other groups in the European Parliament?

The resolution showed that Milosevic is a war criminal and, as such, his place is in The Hague. My personal view is that he is responsible not just for crimes against Bosnjaks, Croats and Kosovo Albanians, but also for the great harm he has done to his own people, which thanks to its leaders feels like an interloper in today's Europe.

But are there some groups in the European Parliament which support Milosevic's policies? If I understand rightly, the resolution on Kosovo was voted through by a large majority, but not unanimously.

The Greek members of my group and of many other parliamentary groups voted for the resolution. But for the most part the communist delegations did not vote for it, notably those from Greece, Spain and Italy. However, I must stress that they were a minority. On this occasion we had a big majority in the Parliament for the resolution, something that happens on few issues.

You sent the resolution to The Hague. Are you in contact with the Hague Tribunal? According to reliable sources, an investigation into Milosevic is already under way, and some sources claim that even an indictment is not far off.

Many members of the European Parliament are in contact with the Tribunal. But this is not on the level of individual contacts.

Does that mean that there is some kind of lobbying system between the European Parliament and the Hague Tribunal?

There are the individual contacts that some of us have with The Hague, through which we inform them about what we are doing and also give them ideas as to what they could be doing. We do not have an official contact, but so far as we know they are extremely well acquainted with the situation in the former Yugoslavia and who is responsible for it.

How would you comment on the political agreement that Richard Holbrooke has reached with Slobodan Milosevic?

I am very unhappy. I think the latest agreement gives Milosevic a new chance that he does not deserve. He has emerged as a winner again. You could see him on TV, that evening when the agreement was reached. It was obvious that he considers the agreement a personal triumph. I cannot understand how we have allowed Milosevic to treat us like this. He has won, he has gained more time, and it seems to me that this agreement does not guarantee any significant changes in Kosovo.

What is your opinion of Richard Holbrooke as a negotiator?

We needed the Americans to bring the Bosnian war to an end. Holbrooke until now has appeared the most successful negotiator in the Balkans. But it seems to me today that he is actually a weak mediator. Or there is another possibility, which is that in the case of Kosovo he did not want to accomplish more. I cannot understand how anyone can be a successful mediator, who talks with Milosevic first for seven hours, then for five hours, then for another eleven hours, and at the end of it all presents the public with a solution involving 2,000 unarmed observers! That is unbelievable! How will these 2,000 observers protect the Albanians in Kosovo? It really seems to me like the prelude to another UN Bosnia mission. We should have given Milosevic an answer in his own language. That is the only language he understands. This means that we should have intervened militarily, and brought him to the negotiating table with the Kosovo Albanians only after a military defeat and under our mediation. But this way, as if in a repetition of Bosnia, MilosevicÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÔ after everything that has happened can simply laugh at us...

This interview has been translated from Slobodna Bosna (Sarajevo) 17 October 1998

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