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bosnet-digest V5 #69 / Thursday, 15 February 1996

From: Nermin Zukic <n6zukic@SMS.BUSINESS.UWO.CA>

Bosnia-Herzegovina News Directory


  • [01] New Bosnia Conference in Rome

  • [02] Bogic Bogicevic Caught Between "Greaters"?!

  • [01] New Bosnia Conference in Rome

    Feb, 15th (VOA) Bosnia Conference VIENNA, Austria

    A conference will be held in Rome this weekend to try to overcome problems facing implementation of the peace agreement for Bosnia and Herzegovina. The usual actors -- the Serbian, Bosnian and Croatian Presidents -- will be on stage in Rome for an unusually important performance, directed by the United States, the European Union, and Russia.

    An American objective in Rome is to have the leaders of the former warring forces clearly and publicly declare yet again that they will fulfill the provisions of the Bosnian peace agreement they signed last December.

    That objective should be easy to achieve. Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic and the Croatian President, Franjo Tudjman, are all for peace. at least, they have said so many times, and they will certainly say it again.

    On the military side, the former warring forces in Bosnia have generally done what they are supposed to under the watchful eye of the heavily-armed NATO-led international peace force. the real problem is still to translate rhetoric into reality concerning more mundane but crucial civil aspects of the peace accord.

    American and European threats to withhold vital post-war aid if the peace treaty is not fully implemented are not having the desired effect. The question is what kind of pressure will encourage or compel the Bosnian Muslims, Serbs, and Croats to swap territory they must give up, surrender alleged war criminals, free their remaining war prisoners, and plan free, post-war elections?

    This is what American peace envoy Richard Holbrooke, the main architect of the Bosnian peace agreement, and his colleagues will have to decide. It will be Mr. Holbrooke's last appearance in the Bosnian drama before he returns to a lucrative investment job on Wall Street. He and Senior European Union and Russian officials have to find ways to resolve two immediate issues.

    One is a dispute about the handling of suspected war criminals. The other is the Bosnian Croats' refusal to accept the EU plan to reunify the Croat and Muslim sectors of the town of Mostar. The detention and extradition of two Serb officers to the International War Crimes Tribunal in the Hague has prompted the Serbs to break off contacts with NATO and to boycott talks with the Muslim-Croat Federation.

    What to do about war criminals in Bosnia has troubled the international community for years. Until very recently, the international approach has been to pursue a policy of benign neglect. The Bosnian Serb political and military leaders are indicted war criminals. but, their cooperation is vital if the Serbs are to implement the peace agreement.

    Serbia and Croatia have shown little interest in handing over suspected war criminals. but, Croatia may finally be preparing to take legal steps that would permit their extradition. Croatian President Tudjman holds the key to resolving the dispute about Mostar which threatens the survival of the Muslim- Croat Federation. It seems that Tudjman likes the EU reunification plan for Mostar no more than the Bosnian Croats do. He and the Croats want a compromise, but the European Union rules that out.

    - ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Opinions expressed/published on BosNews/BosNet-B do NOT necessarily always reflect the views of (all of the members of) Editorial Board, and/or moderators, nor any of their host institutions.

    Murat Erkocevic <>

    Dzevat Omeragic <>

    Davor Wagner <>

    Nermin Zukic <>

    [02] SVIJET : Bogic Bogicevic Caught Between "Greaters"?!

    Abridged, translated by Bernard Meares

    You may recall seeing the young Bosnian Serb Bogic Bogicevic, Bosnian representative on the Yugoslav collective presidency until the Yugoslav Army's attack on the dissident republics of the former state. In the second issue of the new Oslobodjenje news magazine, Svijet, he spoke of his experiences:

    The forces of division were so strong that no common-sense efforts could stop the rise of madness, chauvinism, fascism and political Machiavellianism , Bogicevic told Vlastimir Mijovic, deputy editor of the periodical. He resisted the enormous pressures to turn Quisling from people like Milosevic, Jovic and members of the JNA High Command, who were making careers out of their Serb nationality, and he stayed on in Sarajevo throughout the siege. I had been elected to the Presidency by democratic and direct elections , he says, elections that were multi-candidate, all citizens of BiH voted in them, not just Serbs, and I had the political and human duty to defend the interests of Bosnia-Herzegovina as a whole. I carried on doing so until the last minute and will continue do so in all my future political activity.

    In party political terms he is Vice-president of the Social Democratic Party of Bosnia-Herzegovina, does not know whether he is going to stand for election in the forthcoming polls, required to be held within nine months of the signing of the Dayton agreement, as conditions for the elections are hard to ensure , adding wryly that everything seems to be possible here. You can say that multi-party life is possible on about 30 percent of BiH territory. Even in that area, fragmentation and lack of coordination among the civic (i.e. non-nationalist) parties has marginalized them and leaves them at the level of symbolic citizens protest.

    He has no time for the role of the international community, which he accuses of legitimizing the ethnic principle as the only way of arranging political representation in BiH. That means .... making parliamentary politics the theare of potential national conflict..... That cannot help produce stable government or even democracy. He calls for the kind of equality that would promote cooperation in Bosnian public life and help make a start towards consensus politics, and a readiness to compromise as a means of seeking civilized solutions. No one can have everything they want but it is important for all to enjoy equal rights. Freedom and democracy can only be achieved by those who respect life, both their own and that of others. Give the opponents of war a chance, he says, a difficult tas, admittedly, in the Bosnian political atmosphere, where no matter how gifted a politician may be he is handicapped if he is not a Greater Bosniak, Greater Serb or Greater Croat.

    As to how Bosnia and Herzegovina can be reintegrated, he says the forces for integration must themselves link up and weld back what has been destroyed in the war, the country must recover its inner equilibrium, based on universal human values and interests, and reaffirming the principle of a community of life among different faiths and nations in line with the standards of democratic countries.

    Answering the question on how to reincorporate the Serbs of Bosnia and Herzegovina into the national political fold after the damage inflicted by Karadzic s criminals, Bogicevic says: This madness must end. Everyone must look the facts in the face. The (Serb) people have been swindled, deceived, cheated, collectively humiliated, and morally degraded. The negative picture of Serbs will long remain in the collective conscience of Bosnian Muslims and Croats. The Serb leaders have visited an ineffaceable historical shame on their own people. Hundreds of thousand s of people have been killed, millions of people have lost their homes and their country, thousand of people are injured, and towns and cities have been destroyed. All those who began the crimes must pay .

    I know that thousands of young Serb men have died. But what for? In the name of what objectives and what ideologies? The organizers and inspirers of this tragedy should have known that in war the dead are not all on one side, and for that reason they must be held responsible. No dream of national grandeur is worth a single human life .

    In the final analysis, I think that a distinction should be drawn between the Greater Serbian state hegemony that began this movement and the Serbian people. It is not hard to manipulate a people and go beyond all logic and truth and exploit it in the name of high national aims. Some are more implicated in this tragic war and others less so, but none have remained untouched by it. To be ethical means keeping a level of responsibility. Because of this for generations to come we shall all bear the brunt of the punishment for this madness. Today, when almost everywhere in these lands people are being persecuted simply because they belong to another religion or nationality, if there is a real wish to preserve national individuality and identity , the proponents such ideas must constantly be reminded that a nation s individuality of culture, belief and religion can only be realized in conjunction with others, not by ethic cleansing or trade in people and lands .

    What is meant by the mystic individuality of a people was best shown by the Nazi and Fascist experience, he adds. However, the gap between the victims and the perpetrators of the crime cannot last for ever. It must be built over by pacification. There must be dialogue over guilt and justice and by this means pave the way to reconciliation , not an easy task, he realizes. Making a comparison with the reconciliation of Poles and Germans since the horrors of the Second World War he recalls that it seemed that at one time that the German nation could not dream of ever resuming its place in the family of civilized nations, that by the annihilation of millions of people, it had drawn upon itself a guilt that could not be forgiven. He says he is convinced that all those who have built their positions on a wave of hatred and crime against other peoples will be really rejected by their own nation. It is a known fact that a people quickly forgets its idols, exchangiing a boundless trust in them for contempt .

    Bogicevic said that those with chief guilt for the war were not the peoples of the fragmenting state but some of its rulers, who for their own ends and to protect their own interests, stirred up their own ethnic groups through pandering to national myth-making, encouraging fatalism and making constant references to past wars, telling them that war was inevitable, until they were totally manipulated as a nation and capable of stooping to any crime. A major role in fomenting war had been played by media manipulation, he said, governed as it was by hatred, warmongering and mistrust. Eventually there was a collapse of the institutions making for state cohesion, the ruling Communist party, the federal state bodies, and the Yugoslav army. Insistence on forming ethnically pure states meant changes to frontiers, mass transfers of population and ethnic cleansing, and that could never happen without war , he concluded.

    Recalling the pressures he had been subjected to, he said: a grim and well-organized campaign was organized against me in Belgrade, with all the perfidious methods of pressure then in use: threats, bullying and labels.... Borisav Jovic, Milosevic s Number Two, at the time Chairman of the Federal collective presidency, and Yugoslav Army leader General Kadijevic had for example, decided before the March 1991 session of the Federal presidency to set a time limit of ten days to break the Bosnian , i.e. Bogovicevic, Jovic boasted in his recent book. Bogovicevic pointed out that fanatical nationalists do not just hate another nation, but also those of their own people who refuse to hate the others. They decide who is a great and worthy member of their nation....and you only have to think differently to commit national treachery. And in the looming war, along with the enemies of a people allegedly under threat, traitors were needed .

    He concludes the interview with a lengthy explanation of the significance of the March 1991 Federal presidency session, shown in the BBC series on the fall of Yugoslavia. The attempt by the Yugoslav Army chiefs and Jovic and his allies on the collective presidency to proclaim a national emergency and mobilize the armed forces was purely manipulative. It did not correspond to any real need as the economic reform programme was advancing well and was widely supported. The proclamation of a national emergency would not have helped solve an admittedly dramatic political situation, which was at that time under intensive discussion among the leading players in the different republics. However, Bogicevic was sure that it could be dealt with by negotiation rather than war, nor would a state of emergency have been at all helpful for the economic reforms. If a national emergency had been declared, the reforms could not have been continued and outside assistance could not have been obtained. In a sae of emergency Jovic s term as chairman of the collective presidency would have been extended and, as the Yugoslav federal parliament could not constitutionally be convened, he would have been empowered to transfer command of the armed forces to the Federal Secretary for Defence..... even though at that time it was hard to foresee that the so-called People s Army would turn its weapons against its own peoples and take the side of the Greater Serbian nationalism.

    Svijet editorial offices: 61000 Ljubljana, Dunajska 5, Slovenia, tel. +38661-322545

    +38661-325366 (fax)

    Opinions expressed/published on BosNews/BosNet-B do NOT necessarily always reflect the views of (all of the members of) Editorial Board, and/or moderators, nor any of their host institutions.

    Murat Erkocevic <>

    Dzevat Omeragic <>

    Davor Wagner <>

    Nermin Zukic <>

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