bosnia report
New Series No: 21/22 January - May 2001
The role played by The Hague
by Aleksa Djilas (against), Florence Hartmann, Srdja Popovic (for)

The Role Played by The Hague


 It [Milosevic s extradition and sentence] would be a great blow to the Serbs. The Hague prosecutor insists that he has committed crimes in Kosovo, while I believe that the crimes would not have been committed if NATO had not bombed. Miloseviccould be charged, however, with doing nothing to prevent the Kosovo events. He could also be tried for what happened in Bosnia.

Aleksa Djilas, Monitor (Podgorica),


 Carla del Ponte spends a good proportion of her time warning the international community that some of the most important indictees remain at large. She has asked the international community whether they would be happy if Milosevic, who has been charged with crimes against humanity, were to be condemned instead to a few years in prison for financial fraud or for falsifying elections. If the international community were to prove happy with such an outcome, then she would probably agree with Russian foreign minister Igor Ivanov that the court in The Hague should be closed down, on the grounds that it serves only as the international community s alibi for inaction.

Florence Hartmann, spokesperson for the Hague prosecutor, Feral Tribune (Split), 3 March 2001


 We know who has lost in Serbia: Milosevic. We do not know, however, who has won. It is impossible for Kostunica and the Civic Alliance both to have won. Kostunica was in favour of the wars, while the Civic Alliance was against. Kostunica denied that war crimes were being committed, while the Civic Alliance did not. Kostunica and his circle are nevertheless saying: "We ve all won", which in effect means: "Let s put aside our wartime differences". Has Milosevicbeen replaced by a man who has held the same views on Bosnia and the war in Croatia, or has the civic option really won? We must know why Milosevichas lost. If we have brought him down because of his wars, then we must say whether it is because he lost them or because he started them in the first place. Kostunica blames Milosevicfor losing the wars, while the Civic Alliance blames him for starting them. The issue of The Hague is helping to clarify the political situation. Without The Hague it would be impossible to bring to the surface the latent conflict between the civic option and those who are today in government...

Kostunica says that establishing Milosevic s guilt would condemn the Serb nation as a whole. On the contrary! We can be free of collective responsibility only if we establish who is actually guilty. Only those who think that Milosevic, Kostunica and the nation are one and the same thing see the attack on Milosevicas an attack on all. In such an approach the individual does not exist - only the tribal collectivity is real. Equally, I cannot understand why establishing responsibility for crimes committed by an army general can be interpreted as a  challenge to the dignity of the Croatian patriotic war of self-defence . The crime which Norac committed in Gospichas nothing to do with a war of defence. Wearing uniform does not preclude you from committing crimes.

Srdja Popovic, Dani (Sarajevo), 23 February 2001


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