bosnia report
New Series No: 21/22 January - May 2001
Letter to Foreign Affairs Commission of French National Assembly

Association Sarajevo

17 rue de l'Avre

75015 Paris


To : Fran├žois Loncle

Chairman of the Commission of Foreign Affairs of the National Assembly


11 February 2001

Dear Mr Chairman,

I wish to thank you for your decision to open the hearings conducted by the Information Mission on Srebrenica, whose Chairman you are, to the interested general public. Members of the Sarajevo Association have been following these hearings attentively. We regret all the more deeply that the crucial sessions devoted to the Generals who were directly responsible for the military operations conducted by the UN in Bosnia-Herzegovina were held behind closed doors. The resulting impression is that of a lack of transparency, although a quest for truth would seem to have been the main objective of the Mission when it was created by the Foreign Affairs Commission and the Defence Commission of the National Assembly.

Nevertheless, recalling that it is your wish that the Mission's task proceed in a spirit of dialogue and transparency, I should like to take the liberty to express the dominant impression that the members of the steering committee of our Association retain of the Mission's first hearings. They fear that the Mission's attention is focussed too narrowly on the  events of Srebrenica, limited in time and space, to the neglect of what led to this situation, namely, the general policy of the  International Community in respect to Bosnia-Herzegovina, and indeed all of the former Yugoslavia, with special attention given to France's important role. The few questions which were asked concerning this aspect of the problem were scarcely answered.

Our Association has been analysing this question for ten years, and I as we see it, two fundamental choices were made, which must be discussed if Srebrenica is to be understood: the decision that the key to the problem's solution must be found in Bosnia-Herzegovina's division along  ethnic lines, that is, a decision to consecrate  ethnic cleansing ; and the refusal, from the very beginning, to designate the Milosevic regime as the aggressor and to oppose its criminal ventures by the use of force. As Ambassador Jacolin rightly explained in his statement, Srebrenica was only  a concentration of all of Bosnia-Herzegovina's tragedies.

In this light, General Heinrich's declarations before your Mission shed a special light on certain French viewpoints on the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The Mission will probably enquire into the Bosnians' own capabilities to defend Srebrenica, and into the basis of the General's conviction that they might have prevented the fall of the enclave. I should like to call your attention to two other claims made by General Heinrich: one is that the horrors of the massacre could not have been foreseen, and the other is that Mladic was (or still is) mad. It is surprising, to say the least, that the chief of military intelligence from 1992 to 1995 had received no information concerning the  horrors perpetrated throughout the wars in Yugoslavia, from Vukovar to Srebrenica, including the massacres which were part of the  ethnic cleansing in eastern and in northern Bosnia, not to speak of Sarajevo's long siege which alone caused some ten thousand deaths. Any casual observer could have foreseen that the entry of Serbian military forces into Srebrenica would have had extremely unfortunate consequences. As for General Heinrich's diagnostic concerning Mladic's state of mental health, it is surprising that he realized this only after the fact, and that he limits this perception to Mladic alone, thus exonerating all the Serbian political and military staff from responsibility for the  horrors he regrets.

I am sure that the continued work of your Mission will provide the occasion to review these facts again and to examine the profound reasons for refusing to use force while there was yet time to stop Milosevic's work of devastation, as the UN Secretary General, in his report of 15 November 1999, requested each state to do.

I contribute these thoughts to the work of your Mission.

Sincerely yours,

Faik Dizdarevic

Secretary General of the Association Sarajevo

for Francis Jeanson, President


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