France, Great Britain and the United States are hiding evidence on Miloševic’s involvement in the Srebrenica genocide - an interview with Florence Hartmann
Author: Eldin Karic
Uploaded: Friday, 28 September, 2007
Florence Hartmann’s book Paix et Châtiment (Peace and Punishment) has caused strong reactions in international diplomatic circles. Her charges, supported by evidence, that France, Great Britain and the United States have in effect protected Radovan Karadžic and Ratko Mladic, and are refusing to make available documents showing Miloševic’s involvement in the genocide at Srebrenica, have been denied, but without convincing counter-evidence. Florence Hartmann talks to Sarajevo weekly Start about the involvement of the great powers, the reactions in the region, and Carla Ponte’s own position.
The author of Peace and Punishment, Florence Hartmann, has accused the great powers, and in particular France, Great Britain and the United States, with obstruction of the work of the Hague tribunal in the trials of war criminals indicted for committing war crimes in the area of former Yugoslavia. They interfered most in the indictment of Slobodan Milošević, and in the arrest of Radovan Karadžić and Ratko Mladić. Unlike various earlier superficial assertions based on conspiracy theories, Hartmann has relied on facts and evidence to support her argument about the obstruction of the great powers. Reactions in the main have been as expected. The representatives of the international community in Bosnia-Herzegovina have done their best to deny it all. But the facts are on Hartmann’s side: 4,300 days since the call for their arrest, Karadžić and Mladić remain at large.
Start: The part which has most caused public attention has been the assertion in your book Peace and Punishment that the great powers have been protecting Karadžić and Mladić. Is this indeed the most important part of your book, and what other information do you think is important in this context?
Hartmann: The subtitle of the book, which will be published in the Bosnian language this autumn, is Secret Wars of International Politics and Justice. The book deals with the permanent struggle waged by the Hague tribunal to be allowed to do its work. The court faced not just the obstruction of local governments in the region, but also that of supposed allies, especially France, Great Britain and the United States. The book deals with various instances when the great powers did little to align their political interests with the interests of international justice, which they defended verbally but not always genuinely.
Such obstruction on the part of the great powers has prevented The Hague tribunal from doing its work, i.e. fulfilling part of its mandate. I address this in detail, and with a precise description of events which took place far from public scrutiny, mainly behind closed doors. One such example was the non-arrest of Radovan Karadžić and Ratko Mladić. However, this takes up only one chapter, i.e. some 70 pages out of a total of 230.
But this is what most interests people in Bosnia-Herzegovina and the region.
True, this part of the book is important for public opinion in Bosnia-Herzegovina. But it is not the only part that it will interest it when the book gets published this autumn. For example, one chapter deals with the background of Milošević’s trial, which is actually a good and illustrative example of the various forms of obstruction coming mainly, of course, from Belgrade, but also from France, Great Britain and the United States. They did not allow access to information in their possession, even though this included evidence of Milošević’s involvement in the Srebrenica events. They knew that the tribunal had sufficient evidence to win the case against Milošević, but they did not want to help with additional evidence, for example that which came from intelligence sources. They feared that the public might conclude that the great powers had known what might happen, yet did nothing that could have protected the Safe Area of Srebrenica and its inhabitants. But this adds up to only two out of five chapters.
RS spokesmen have used the findings in your book to shift the responsibility for the non-arrest of RS politicians indicted for war crimes onto the international community. What would be your response to them?
Clearly, you have not read my book! The RS authorities refused to arrest individuals indicted for war crimes, so NATO took upon itself to do it, and delivered thirty of those indicted, who up to that the time had lived unhindered in that entity. Tolimir was the only one arrested by RS - in circumstances, however, which are well known.
Who bears the greater responsibility for the non-arrest of Karadžić and Mladić, the international community or RS?
So far as Karadžić and Mladić are concerned, they are both responsible: RS and indeed Serbia, on the one hand, and the great powers on the other. The prosecution constantly pressurised the great powers to deliver Karadžić and Mladić. The fact is that the great powers would never do so on their own. But this does not change the fact that the politicians from RS and also Serbia are in default of their international obligations, not only towards The Hague but also towards the convention on genocide which they have signed.
What in your view are the reasons why the great powers protected Karadžić and Mladić? Do you believe in the notorious alleged deal between Karadžić and Holbrooke?
There is no firm evidence that there was an agreement between Holbrooke and Karadžić, or between Chirac and Mladić. The great powers deny it, while the supporters of Karadzić and Mladić have not come up with convincing evidence. If there is firm evidence, it would be logical that this would not be made public, because it is Karadžić’s and Mladić’s life insurance. I am not convinced, however, even if such agreements were reached, that they remain valid. Something else, something far more important than promises given to the two people responsible for the most horrific crimes in Bosnia, must have made the great powers unwilling to arrest Karadžić and Mladić during the past twelve years. In my book I give a number of well-founded instances during the past tw