Books on Bosnia & Herzegovina
Update No: 111 - (25/08/06)
Two events of momentous regional significance have occurred in the last six
months- both intimately connected with Bosnia-Herzegovina's protracted internal
First, on 11th March Slobodan Milosevic died in his prison cell at The Hague,
thus bringing symbolic closure to a tragic cycle of events in the course of
which the forces under his leadership had destroyed the federal order of the
former Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia had provided a stable and workable system for
decades after World War II. But Milosevic embarked on a bloody campaign to carve
out an enlarged independent Serbia - all under the banner of 'preserving
Yugoslavia' and keeping 'all Serbs in a single state'.
The guiding principle of this enterprise was repudiation of the established
boundaries between Yugoslavia's constituent republics and provinces in favour of
new 'ethnic' borders. Although the big powers did eventually refuse to accept
such a redrawing of European frontiers, their vacillating policies allowed the
break-up to occur in a manner that was most injurious to the populations of the
area, i.e. through war, forcible shifts of population and genocide, as has been
amply documented for posterity in the trial of Milosevic despite its premature
The second momentous event of the past few months was the clear-cut decision of
Montenegro's electorate to opt for a sovereign, independent state, thereby
ending the unpopular, imposed 'state union' with Serbia and leading to the
latter's own declaration of independence shortly afterwards. Among other
significant implications of this decision was a forthright repudiation by
Montenegro's multi-national electorate of the idea that different national
groups cannot live together, but need to be territorially separated - a notion
still fatefully embodied by Bosnia-Herzegovina's dysfunctional post-Dayton
Wheel to come full circle?
It remains only for the current limping negotiations over the status of
Kosovo to be brought to their necessary conclusion, with this former Yugoslav
federal unit too being recognized as sovereign. This would close the long cycle
of conflict unleashed by Milosevic precisely in Pristina, capital of Kosovo, in
The political and military defeat suffered by the Greater Serbia project has
ensured that the old (AVNOJ) frontiers will remain intact, and will now give
Serbia itself the chance at last to concentrate on its own problems within fixed
and known borders. The conditions will thus be created for vanquishing those
domestic forces that still hanker after a Greater Serbia (support for the
Radicals currently stands at some 40% of the Serbian electorate).
The outstanding problem of how to ensure civic and human rights, and physical
security, for national minorities within the newly sovereign states - Serbs in
Kosovo; Albanians, Bosniaks and Hungarians in Serbia; and Serbs, Croats and
Bosniaks in Bosnia - will then be soluble according to EU norms and with
appropriate international encouragement.
What remains to be solved, however, is the anomaly of the B-H constitution. As
things stand, the state of Bosnia-Herzegovina manifests the inherent
contradiction of international policy, with its affirmation of state borders on
the one hand and, on the other, its endorsement of the outcomes of genocide
designed to alter those borders. It is impossible to see how a Bosnia based on
ethnic principles rather than those of individual citizenship can ever become
functional, or ever join the EU.
To conclude, there are historical moments when policies based on pragmatic
adaptation to the status quo become an obstacle to the qualitative changes that
alone might bring genuine stability.
Dodik and the Montenegrin model
Republika Srpska prime minister Milorad Dodik has announced that during
future debates on constitutional changes in Bosnia-Herzegovina he could insist
on defining the country as a federation with a clearly defined right of its
peoples to self-determination. In an interview with Sarajevo's daily
Oslobodjenje of 27th May 2006, Dodik for the first time explicitly stated that
the model of Montenegro's road to independence could be applied also to
Bosnia-Herzegovina, or more precisely to its Serb entity.
Speaking about how Bosnia-Herzegovina should be organized after necessary
constitutional changes, Dodik said that 'the union should affirm the right to
self-determination through the right to hold a referendum, which would be
organized in line with democratic standards as defined by the European Union.
This will give people the opportunity to decide what they think and want of
Bosnia-Herzegovina,' said Dodik, who is currently probably the most popular
politician in the Serb entity. Without such a test of the public attitude, there
can be no lasting stability in Bosnia-Herzegovina, he added.
Dodik described the current situation in the country as worse than before the
break-out of the war in the early 1990s, adding that he was particularly
dissatisfied with the implementation of the constitutional reforms agreed on
earlier this year. 'The people who live in Bosnia-Herzegovina believe less and
less in the existing state model,' he said.
The Office of the High Representative in Bosnia-Herzegovina on 26 May stated
that Dodik had been cautioned not to urge a referendum based on the Montenegrin
Report issued by the Croatian News Agency HINA in Sarajevo, 27 May 2006.
The following is a very informative and revealing interview by a leading Serb
savant given to Bosnia Report New Series No: 51-52 April - July 2006, revealing
the ongoing situation as regards war crimes:-
Bosnia-Herzegovina will win its law suit in The Hague
Interview with Srda Popovic (Serbia's best known civil rights lawyer) by the
Croatian news agency Hina, published in Sarajevo.
Dani: The first phase of Bosnia-Herzegovina's litigation for genocide against
FRY (for the moment Serbia-Montenegro) before the International Court of Justice
(ICJ) is nearing its end. The concluding addresses of the two parties, which
will end the public part of the trial, are about to be completed. What happens
Popovic: I think that Bosnia will win the case. It is a matter of deciding on
three issues. First, did genocide happen? It did, and I cannot think of any
argument that could refute it. The second question is whether FRY instigated,
aided and participated in it. I think that there is much evidence of this, based
primarily on statements made by Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic. Both have
insisted that they would never have been able to wage the war without Serbia's
help. Mladic has admitted that 98% of their ammunition came from FRY, the
ammunition used to shell Sarajevo for four years. Four million shells came from
Serbia. They themselves have said that they had not a single tank, aircraft or
gun - it all came from Serbia. We know that so-called volunteers were sent to
Bosnia from Serbia. We know that Milosevic himself declared that he had paid for
the war by printing money. People here [in Serbia] have not realised yet that
the inflation they experienced was the result of paying for the war. Milosevic
supplied 95% of the budgets of the Republika Srpska Krajina [in Croatia] and
Republika Srpska. The last question, upon which the Serbian side pins its
greatest hopes, is that of the Court's competency. I myself think that there is
no problem here, although it is not easy to explain this to the wider public,
not least because of the great efforts being made to befog the issue. In
addition, there is the question of so-called intent: whether there was the
intention to commit genocide.
The Court ruled itself not to be competent in the case of NATO's bombing of FRY,
yet you say that in this case it is?
It is difficult to explain to the public that a materially identical situation
may obtain in two disputes, yet different reasons can lead to different results.
The facts are the same, but not the procedure. At the start of this dispute,
when the competency of the Court was being decided, FRY accepted its competency.
So in 1996 it was decided that the Court was competent, because FRY had no
objection to it; FRY itself submitted charges to the same court. Tibor Varadi
[of the Serbian legal team] subsequently tried to get a revision of the decision
on competency. This relates to a special procedure in which a verdict is
re-examined in the light of new evidence. The ICJ did re-examine its original
decision and found that there was no new evidence, so that revision was ruled
out. It was not even necessary to make a new decision in this regard. This is
what is being misrepresented in Serbia. As to whether FRY was a member of the UN
or not, this is quite irrelevant. There is simply no legal way of changing the
decision on competency, given FRY's acceptance, even if the Court wished to do
Why are the Serbian team trying to do so then?
Out of despair. Tibor Varadi himself has said that Serbia's case is very
weak, if revision is not accepted. In other words, it will be easy to establish
that genocide took place and that Serbia participated in it, so the only hope
rested on being able to challenge the competency of the Court. So they find it
difficult to let go of what for them is their only argument. There is the
procedural explanation of a technical nature why it cannot be done, but there is
also another side to it. I have read the Court's decisions in regard both to the
NATO case and to this one. I was impressed by the argument that genocide is a
criminal act of universal jurisdiction, because it is humanity that was harmed,
not Bosniaks, Albanians or Croats as such.
It is a crime against humanity?
It is a crime against humanity, which can therefore be tried anywhere. It is
impossible to imagine that someone could attempt to justify it by saying that
the state was falling apart at that time. No one could raise the issue of
break-up and anarchy, because it is precisely in such situations that genocides
occur. If this logic were accepted, then it would be impossible to pursue the
charge of genocide or establish responsibility in the very conditions in which
it takes place. This is a very powerful philosophical-legal argument. People do
not understand that the International Court of Justice makes its decisions
freely, on the basis of universal principles and international conventions, but
also unwritten rules of international relations, and that its judgements rely
also on accepted authorities. It is, in other words, an international court
which tries to influence through its decisions international relations in the
world as a whole. You cannot thwart it by using cheap tricks. The judges that
sit on it used to be supreme court presidents in their own countries, advisers
to heads of state, highly qualified law-faculty professors. When you read its
decisions and see how they debate them, and on the other hand see how this is
presented in the Serbian media, you can only be astonished.
Additional confusion is caused by the fact that the (ICJ) Court's procedure
differs from that followed by the Hague tribunal (ICTY), with which the public
has in a way become familiar.
This is because in this case we are dealing with a law suit. Law suits are
everywhere based on written evidence. We [in Serbia] do not know that the Court
documents contain 45 recorded conversations between Mladic and Milosevic. This
is not the Hague tribunal, which displayed everything on TV; in this case it
will be shown in camera, when the decision is reached. In regard to the question
of intent, the Serbian side has created total confusion by claiming that the
state will be on trial for the crime of genocide. This is not so: the state is
being sued for compensation for the damage it has caused by participating in,
aiding and abetting genocide. It is true that the crime of genocide is qualified
by the intent to destroy part of an ethnic population. But genocide can exist
without a single person being convicted for it. One side systematically killed
eight thousand Muslims. What is that, if not genocide? It matters not whether
someone has been found guilty, the intention was there: the Muslims were
selected in order to be killed.
Serbian lawyers argue that there must be a written record of the intent.
There is much confusion in this regard. The criminal code specifies over 50
criminal acts that are defined as intentional. It is not a speciality of
genocide. A trial can establish intent in two ways: by the defendant's admission
(which never happens), or by deducing it from the objective conditions. This is
common practice throughout the world, not only at The Hague.
Logic, in other words, provides a strong basis for reaching a verdict.
We [Serbia] are a lawless state that adores legal formalities. It is impossible
to conduct a trial without understanding human actions, based on living
experience. Trials are based on common sense, on what we have learnt through
experience - this is a large part of the law. In order to be able to judge, you
must know the people, the mentality, the customs; otherwise you will not
understand anything, because everything takes place in a given context.
To what extent will the proceedings of the Hague Tribunal influence the
decisions of the ICJ?
I have never thought that they would make much difference. It could be a factor,
for instance, that General Krstic has been found guilty of participating in
genocide. But it would not be the only or the decisive one.
There is much public dissatisfaction here in Bosnia with the way in which its
case is being presented. It is being said that it has not been properly
established, that the lawyers involved are not properly qualified. What do you
I have had the opportunity to read the charge only at an early stage. But there
is a large amount of established evidence in this regard. Not long ago we saw a
film about the four-year bombardment of Sarajevo. The whole world day in and day
out watched the city being shelled. It is necessary, of course, to present
evidence; but I think that the concern is unfounded. As for the Serbian side, it
has lost all hope. After Srebrenica, the Scorpions and everything else ... it is
not difficult to imagine what was happening over there.
I find it difficult to understand the behaviour of the Serbian legal team.
Many things which they say publicly show the extent of their ignorance. Thus
Radoslav Stojanovic [its head] says that the Serb people never had the intention
of destroying the Muslim people. Is this how they plan to defend the Serbian
state? It is the state, not the people, that is being charged. A state is a
legal subject represented by its government, its president - it is they who are
responsible. A mystery is being created over the nature of the legal procedure.
I was astonished to hear Tibor Varadi say that the Hungarians and Bosniaks [of
Serbia] too will have to pay for it! But of course - Serbia is also their state.
One cannot deny Professor Varadi's anti-Milosevic commitment. Now, however, he
has placed himself in the situation of defending what Milosevic did.
I can understand him a little. Tibor Varadi is an academic and a legal expert.
But he finds himself in the role of a lawyer, which does not suit him, and he
gets carried away. His pride seems to demand all the talk about the Court's
competency, because he thinks that proving this reckless theory would for him be
a professional success. An experienced lawyer would never fly off like that.
Radoslav Stojanovic, another academic, has stated before the Court that the
Serbs feared that what happened to them in 1941 would happen again. This was
later interpreted as an admission of guilt.
It would mean that it was a preventive genocide. Hitler too did that: he took
preventive action against the Jews. This is most unserious behaviour. It would
be best, in my view, for the state to create some kind of think tank to oversee
its case, and to send only lawyers to the court. Lawyers would do a much better
job than either of the two professors.
The trial is being used to prevent people in Serbia from facing up to the truth.
As soon as anyone speaks about crimes, they are shut up with stories about war
That is another source of manipulation. There is talk of billions, although
nobody has filed any such demand for reparations. Reparations are in principle
decided on the basis of the economic capacity of the guilty party. They can be
repaid over a long time and, of course, as in the case of individuals, not in a
manner that would endanger the state's existence. I have frequently heard that
the Bosnians care most about establishing the truth, since they experience the
denials and lies coming from Serbia as an additional insult after the crimes
committed against them. I am sure that none of them is ready to withdraw the
charge or to settle out of court, unless the settlement involves an admission of
genocide. This is the most serious motive for bringing the charge. The Serbian
side has made some dreadful statements. There was the statement made by
Vladislav Jovanovic, FRY's ambassador to the UN, quoted in court. At the time
when the Vance-Owen Plan was being proposed, he said that the Serbians should
not worry because no one has ever paid reparations. In other words, they had
considered the issue of responsibility. The minutes of their Council for
National Strategy are on file at the Court. They show that the Serbian
politicians tried to persuade the Bosnian Serb politicians to accept the Plan.
The Council included the representatives of FRY, Krajina, RS, the Army of
Yugoslavia, the Army of RS and the Army of Krajina. Momir Bulatovic said at one
of its meetings: 'We have seized everything, we must now accept it [the Plan],
while our ultimate aim - the unification of Serb territories - we shall leave
for another occasion.' Miloševic said something similar: 'We have succeeded in
gathering up the Serb people, it is unimportant whether in one or three
republics, but in time we can achieve that too.' In other words, they were quite
open about their intentions. It is obvious that there was the closest
collaboration in political, military and financial matters.
It was also obvious that the international peacekeeping forces allowed them to
retain the conquered territory.
Very true. The American side (I saw this while I was in the USA), which did not
have the stomach to intervene to end the war, came up with the idea of
peacekeeping because it knew that there would be no intervention for as long as
those forces were deployed on the ground. It was a good excuse. It was used for
this purpose until the political will emerged for intervention, even though
chapter seven of the UN charter contains the obligation to prevent genocide. But
no one wished to do that. There were more important issues in the world, there
were also the domestic elections, etc.
What is the Court's attitude to Belgrade's poor cooperation with the Hague
It was an additional argument of the Bosnian side that Serbia continues to
infringe the convention on genocide. SCG, which is obliged to punish the
perpetrator, holds the man who has been indicted as the main actor in the
Srebrenica event, knows where he is - and all this after the fall of Miloševic.
The state has been consciously protecting a man whom it is obliged to try or
hand over to the Hague tribunal. This was a very serious argument raised in
response to Stojanovic's insistence that the Serbian state cannot be held
responsible for the actions of the previous regime. That is irrelevant in any
case, since regimes are not legal subjects. The new regime too is infringing the
convention on genocide, by consciously hiding the accused, by not arresting
them, punishing them or delivering them.
The Court, therefore, must in the first instance decide the question of
genocide. What is then the procedure for establishing the level of reparations?
It is possible to submit to the Court a demand for reparations. The Court then
decides in accordance with its sense of what would be just. It is accepted that
the damage cannot be recompensed, but that something can be done at a symbolic
level. The damage, especially in regard to loss of life, is irreparable. People
forget too all those trucks which spent four years bringing looted goods to
Serbia: money, goods, precious objects, cars, aircraft - everything that could
be transported. All those goods are still in Serbia. The state has enlarged its
wealth by that amount. And now everyone is surprised when they are told the time
has come to pay for it.
Some argue that the responsibility of the International Court of Justice is even
greater now that Milosevic is dead.
I don't think that they see it like that. It is true that politically speaking
it has become even more important, but what do we mean by 'even more important'?
This is the first trial on a charge of genocide in history, which is of itself a
momentous event in international law. Also for the country charged with
genocide. Our press, however, treats it as if it were a matter of some minor
trial in Kragujevac, Niš or Pozarevac; as if one were dealing with a dispute
over a land boundary. This is a sign of a pathological inability to grasp this
country's reality. This trial is for me of far greater importance than what
happens in Montenegro or Kosovo. This is something that will mark us for
centuries to come. But you would not know this, if you were reading the press or
watching television. This shows that we are incapable of understanding events,
what is important.
It was not understood either when the evil was being done.
There were efforts already then to diminish or ignore it. Serbian society
remains in the same state of consciousness, does not understand what happened
there. Then people like Miroslav Labus and Vuk Draškovic (despite the fact that
they are both lawyers) tell the Bosnian side it should not 'play with fire' and
demand reparations for genocide, because that would disturb mutual relations.
This is unbelievable cynicism and incomprehensible blindness. We have lost all
human ability to judge how the other side will understand our words and moves,
what it will think, the fact that we too are responsible for communication. We
offend people needlessly.
Does this signify a loss of human qualities?
Well, we have lost many human feelings. We can no longer feel tragedy,
because we have used the word for all manner of things. We no longer have any
feeling for what is truly tragic. We are unable to feel tragedy, because
everything is deliberately instrumentalised for political purposes. The only
thing that matters is what serves our political interest. The human dimension
remains completely overshadowed. We don't even ask ourselves how it was possible
for such people to govern us for more than a decade.
All the deadlines for surrendering Mladic have passed. Do you think that Mladic
and Karadzic may never end up where they ought to? Could that happen?
That is not excluded, it could happen. We would then carry this for a long time
within us, like the germ of a serious illness. We would carry them too within
us, and they would spill like poison throughout Serbian society, because we
would finally identify ourselves with them and decide to live with that
identity. This would be very hard. Just how hard would be discovered by the
innocent generations to come, just as the younger German generations found out
when confronted with that poison.
Following Milosevic's death, the Hague tribunal was criticised by both its
opponents and sympathisers. Could it have prevented the given outcome of his
Although I support the Court and think well of it, I felt critical of it from
the start in certain respects. For the Court, fearing complaints that it had
limited the right of the defence, allowed Milosevic to waste its time by making
political speeches that had nothing to do with the charge or with court
procedure. This greatly prolonged the trial and was unprofessional. It is not
for the Court to worry how it might be seen, but to do its job. It was clearly a
decision related to the political conditions of his trial.
Milosevic's lawyer Stephen Kay has criticized the Tribunal for combining 66
points into a single indictment. This, he argues, made it impossible to complete
the trial, especially since the Court had no control over the area in question.
That is correct from a technical point of view. However, it is only when all the
charges are joined together (for Kosovo, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia) that
one can gain the true perception that it was a single project based on a single
logic, conducted by same methods and with the same army, and guided by the same
hand. I think it was more logical to prosecute Milosevic in the way it was done,
though I am not sure it was necessary to include so many crimes. It would have
been enough, perhaps, to select a few of the most striking and massive crimes
(which could most easily be proved), rather than to exhaust oneself on every
village in Kosovo or Bosnia. It is in fact difficult to prove solidly every
single charge, because we are dealing with a project that went on for four years
and extended over a large area, so demanded thousands of witnesses. It was
constructed too ambitiously. But I think that it was necessary to charge
Milosevic with the whole lot, because that made it easier to see that it was all
based on the same political platform.
Richard Holbrooke nevertheless believes that justice was better served by
Milosevic dying alone in a prison cell than by the four years of his trial. What
is your view?
That is true only if you believe the sole aim of the trial was to punish the
perpetrator. But that was not the only aim. Trials have two other and in my view
more important goals: general prevention, and establishment of a new - Kant
would say more ethical - legal system. It is beyond doubt that he suffered far
less than his victims - but, yes, he was punished. However, the aim of the trial
was not that alone; it was to strengthen in the world's population the belief
that crime does not pay. And that not even heads of state can escape
responsibility. This was to be the verdict's important message. In this sense
justice was not done. On the other hand, I think that never before have crimes
been so well documented as in these Balkan wars. Everyone in Serbia knows the
essential truth, even though there is a reflex of denial, quite insincere,
sometimes fully hypocritical and at other times linked to defiance and the need
to 'save the nation's honour'. From the historical point of view all this is of
short duration, as was the case in post-war Germany and Japan. It is difficult
for any nation to assimilate a sensibility that so completely offends its system
of values and its self-respect. But historical justice will one day be
established in its full sense. There is no doubt about that.
Energopetrol signs takeover deal with INA, Mol
The Bosnian government signed an agreement allowing Hungary's Mol Nyrt and
Croatia's Ina-Industrija Nafte dd to buy state fuel trader Energopetrol,
Budapest Business Journal reported.
Mol and Ina will pay 10.2 million Bosnian marks (US$6.67 million) for 67 per
cent in Energopetrol and spend 60.2 million marks (US$40 million) paying its
debt. The two companies will also invest 150 million marks (US$100 million) on
developments at Energopetrol in the next three years, 4.5 million of which will
be used for severance payments.
BH Telecom and Siemens sign cooperation deal
Representatives of the state-owned Bosnian telecoms company, BH Telecom, have
signed a deal with Siemens Austria aimed at further improvement of
Bosnia-Herzegovina's telecommunication system, Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa) has
The 2.9 million Euro contract should help BH Telecom increase its current
capacity of some 900,000 users to more than 1.2 million users, the BH Telecom
statement said. Regional Director of Siemens Austria, Hanu Tapani Hirvonen, said
Siemens would provide basic stations, as well as necessary installation of the
new equipment into the existing BH Telecom's operational centres. The contract
with Siemens, according to BH Telecom Director, Hamdo Katica, would ensure a
significant inflow of new users and would help improve the existing fixed and
mobile telephony services in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Bosnian Serb government to sell telecom company
The Bosnian Serb government announced recently in Banja Luka a tender to sell 65
per cent of its shares in Telecom Srpske, the telecom company of Bosnian Serb
entity, the Srpska Republic news reports said.
The government said that the tender to sell the only Bosnian Serb telecom
company would be open until October 4th this year. The Bosnian Serb Prime
Minister, Milorad Dodik, did not specify precisely how much he expected to get
for the company, but he stressed offers below 400 million Euro would not be