EU-member state participates in political kidnapping

Author: Christian Schwarz-Schilling
Uploaded: Friday, 05 March, 2010

Strong statement by Christian Schwarz-Schilling, former High Representative to Bosnia-Herzegovina, condemning the arrest in London of wartime Bosnian leader Ejup Ganic

The arrest of former member of the Presidency of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Mr Ejup Ganic, by British authorities and in relation to the Serbian investigation into the 1992 attack on Yugoslav National Army convoy in Sarajevo, is a deeply disturbing development for several reasons.

This seems to be an attempt to manipulate history. The attack on Dobrovoljacka ulica in Sarajevo occurred on 3 May 1992. The day before Sarajevo was the object of a full-scale offensive. The Main Post Office was hit and set on flames. The President of Bosnia- Herzegovina, Alija Izetbegovic, returned from peace negotiations at Lisbon and was kidnapped by Serbian forces at Sarajevo airport. Ejup Ganic had to keep up the

Presidency. The attack occurred, as the commander of the ‘Yugoslav National Army’ changed a pull-back agreement. The day after, again heavy shelling continued onto besieged Sarajevo. In the evening news, the liberated President Alija Izetbegovic requested foreign military intervention ‘due to unending and persistent aggression on Bosnia-Herzegovina.’ But nothing happened.

Serbia's ongoing persistence in investigating this case in which the International War Crimes Tribunal has so far found no substantial evidence reflects Serbia's refusal to fully come to terms with its own role in the wars in former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. It also reflects Serbia's continuous attempt to avert the blame for atrocities committed during the war and allocate some of the responsibility to other former Yugoslav republics.

Serbia's continued investigation into this case will keep on preventing Serbian people from coming to terms with their own recent history. The arrest of Ejup Ganic at London airport will continue preventing free travel of all people in the region and may result in similar countermeasures by other Balkan countries. Therefore the Serbian government's continued engagement in this case may continue destabilizing the region and working against Serbia's own interests. Only at the end of February, Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina have agreed that each state should investigate alleged war crimes committed by its own citizens. Serbia apparently breached this agreement immediately afterwards to continue pursuing its political campaign. Yet Serbia is not the only one to be blamed for this incident.

By arresting Ejup Ganic in London, Great Britain has unintentionally taken part in the kidnapping of a distinguished Bosnian academic and participated in Serbia's political ploy. Furthermore, reportedly rude and unprofessional behaviour of British authorities was in an open violation of most basic international legal principals, such as the Vienna Convention (Art. 36). It is unacceptable that an EU-member state is participating in this kind of political kidnapping.

To make the situation even worse, the arrest of Mr. Ganic came at the time when the Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadžic started his defence before the Hague Tribunal, which to uninformed people may have looked like the two have been put onto the same level of moral judgment. But there is a huge difference between someone who was defending besieged Sarajevo and someone who was attacking this town and its civilian inhabitants day by day. We should not forsake the historical truth.

This unfortunate development must send a strong message to the top leaders of the Western powers to reconsider their attitudes towards remaining Balkan issues. Over the past months and years Western powers have been demanding from Balkan countries to develop principles of democracy, justice and good governance. Maybe it's time for the European Union to live up to its own principles and show with its own good example how this is done.

Contact:
Ms Michaela Mayer / Sekretariat
Industriestrasse 35
D-63654 Büdingen
Tel:    +49  (0) 6042 96 44 0
Fax:   +49 (0) 6042 96 44 32
Mail:   <mayer@schwarz-schilling.de>

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