bosnia report
New Series No: 19/20 October - December 2000
 
Consistency
by Julija Bogoeva

Consistency

Julija Bogoeva

A curious similarity Miloševic and Koštunica have the same position on the Hague Tribunal.

Slobodan Miloševic has been indicted for over a year now for crimes against humanity in Kosovo – for the expulsion of more than 740,000 Albanians and the murder of at least 340. According to the most recently published statistics, more than 400 mass graves have been found in Kosovo. For now, Miloševic has been accused of these crimes alone. Investigations into him and others for murder, persecution and deportation in Bosnia and Croatia are ongoing.

In Serbia, it seems, many people still do not know, or do not want to know, about the crimes for which Miloševic will have to answer at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.

Vojislav Koštunica does know. In the Parisian daily Le Monde, he said that the indictment against Miloševic ‘has caused more pain…. than Miloševic’! This opinion brings to mind that of his predecessor – that the Tribunal in the Hague is a ‘monstrous creation’.

Koštunica told Le Monde that the indictment was ‘a decision of the American administration’ and ‘a means of pressure in the hands of the American President’. And in an interview with the Viennese paper Die Presse, Koštunica declared that the ‘main reason’ for the risk of internal conflict and war in Serbia was the ‘signing of an indictment by the Hague Tribunal against President Miloševic’. Until the indictment, it seems, there was no risk of that in Serbia.

‘The position of the West is that Miloševic is a war criminal’ said Koštunica, in this way counterposing his own position that Miloševic is ‘an obstacle on the journey to a new Serbia’. He condemns Miloševic for ‘catastrophic politics’ and most tirelessly for ‘capitulating in Kosovo’. But he often also says this: ‘Who in this country has put his signature on more capitulations than Slobodan Miloševic in the last ten years and who is a greater traitor than he.’ In fact, equally tirelessly, his party and he personally have insisted on an almost daily basis, in press releases and live broadcasts, that the Serbs who want to cooperate with the UN administration in Kosovo are – traitors.

The Hague Tribunal will not be a priority, Koštunica has said. He has said that there will be no cooperation whatsoever with the Tribunal, if that ‘destabilizes Serbia’. Just so that there would be no confusion, Koštunica made it known on the Valjevo TV station that he would not allow Miloševic to be brought before the Hague Tribunal, and called the signing of the indictment ‘senseless’.

Koštunica as a presidential candidate was the most significant and most dangerous opponent of the Hague Tribunal on the non-regime political scene in Serbia. His candidature was heartily supported, for example, by Biljana Plavšic, who is extremely likely to have been indicted for crimes against Bosnian Muslims and Croats. Koštunica stated that relations with Republika Srpska were of the highest priority, but did not mention, for example, relations with Bosnia-Herzegovina or Croatia. By contrast Stipe Mesic and Ivica Racan, now in government in Zagreb, were very clear before and after the elections: war criminals must be brought to justice; it is necessary to cooperate with the Tribunal, because that is in the most profound interests of Croatia.

Koštunica is not alone. In Serbia, ex-Yugoslavia and all around, there are people who preach that peace and justice cancel each other out; that criminals, their commanders and their victims, when the butchering stops, can and should all be forgotten; and that we should all live together as though nothing had happened. And there is certainly no place for any international court, a prime disturber of the status quo and the prevailing system of power and state sovereignty. Hundreds, thousands and hundreds of thousands of human lives are the faceless bill that serves as a training ground for realpolitik or ‘national interest’.

 

 

Translated from Monitor (Podgorica), 8 September 2000 (tenses altered)

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