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BosNet Digest V5 #11 / Jan. 7, 1996

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

Bosnia-Herzegovina News Directory


  • [01] Description of contents.

  • [01] Description of contents.

    This article contains several writing on the role of EU's Carl Bildt, including reviews of several editorials/commentaries regarding CB's role past, present and future role in B&H

    The following article was submitted to "Dagens Nyheter", the largest Swedish newspaper on December the 17th. It was refused for publication, as was another article on Carl Bildt which appeared in in June. The Swedish central press does not want anything to be published which can harm the image of Carl Bildt, the great European Swede. It is somewhat ironic that the Swedish establishment now is very eager to contribute to Bosnia their mastery of democracy (freedom of press etc)....

    Actually, "Let Bosnia Live" of Sweden finds it highly important to unveil the role of Carl Bildt, in order to show that he is the wrong man in the wrong place to promote reconstruction and reconciliation in Bosnia.

    Given the role of the so called "Great Powers" in Europe, it is of course no coincidence that Carl Bildt has been assigned to this task.

    Congratulations on the Peace, Carl Bildt

    A so-called historic peace agreement has now been signed in Paris. Historic indeed, in the sense that a new chapter of shame has been written on the continent that discovered, nourished and with the cost of millions of lives, defeated fascism. It is now apparant that this defeat was only temporary.

    The agreement means the recognition of a fascist mini-state - "Republika Srpska" - in the middle Europe, disguised as a so-called "entity within the borders of Bosnia-Hercegovina". This monstrous state has arisen as a result of a genocide whose methods are on the same scale of cruelty as the most violent and repugnant centuries of the Middle Ages.

    Despite that the agreement has been sold to the general public opinion as a "compromise", it implies fundamental concessions to the power politics which has tirelessly been conducted chiefly by France and Britain, whose purpose has been to back Serbia and to divide Bosnia-Hercegovina. The actions of these nations has principally been the following:

    1. To deliberately use its soldiers as hostages and human shields to prevent the Bosnian government being given the air-support it pleaded for in order to break off the ongoing massacre of the civilian population.
    2. An intensive diplomatic activity designed to deny the victim the right and possibility to self-defence. This activity can not be seen as anything less than an act of pure aggression - given the fact that the newly recognised republic in the opening shots of the war was practically defenceless against one of Europe's stronger military powers - and moreover a clear violation against the charter of the United Nations.
    3. A systematic re-conveyance of the propaganda surrounding the so-called "ethnic war", despite the fact that the world was witnessing a war of aggression - planned, staged and executed from Belgrade, with the support of a fifth column of Bosnian Serb ultranationalists. One was not afraid to re-convey pure propaganda of the most vulgar nature which stated that the victim was engaged in massacring its very own people.
    4. A laborious diplomatic effort designed to give space to the Russian power politics - which tactically coincided with those of the Serbian ultranationalists. This was done to balance the strong tendancies in the United States to counter the aggression with a resolute backing of the Bosnian Government.
    In reality one has rewarded the aggressor with most of the consequences of his crimes against humanity, whilst threats and blackmail has forced the victim to partial capitulation and to give up the vision of a democratic and multi-ethnic society. These facts will not be able to be hidden in the long run by any "peace" rhetoric.

    Nonetheless, the better a European one is, the more one will celebrate the agreement as a victory of common-sense and humanity.

    And Carl Bildt, as Sweden's most European Swede, is the one who will celebrate most of all, despite the serious facades that the situation requires.

    It is against this background that I find it appropriate to ask Carl Bildt the following questions:

    Mr. Bildt,

    1. During your time as Primeminister, you never gave the Bosnian Government explicit support against the fascists, introducing instead the "Birds of a Feather" theory in which an aggressor and a victim were systematically equally pared. This stance was the norm that would hold as the Swedish foreign policy with respect to the Republic of Bosnia-Hercegovina. Opposition to this policy, as aired in the Swedish Parliament, was met with solid silence and a new all time low was passed when your only comment concerning the Sarajevo market-place massacre was to declare on Swedish television that "there are bandits on all sides among those who fight in the Bosnian mountains - a solution may only come about as a result of negotiations". Were these actions a result of a lack of knowledge concerning the existence of a victim and an aggressor, or were they as a result of an adaptation to the foreign policy of France and Britain?
    2. You continuously rallied against the appeal of the Republic of Bosnia-Hercegovina to defend itself against aggression, in accordance to article 51 of the United Nations charter. Is this done out of contempt for the UN charter or as an adaptation to the policies of France and Britain?
    3. In May 1994 you travelled to Washington where you stated the so-called "European" line for denying the victim the right to self-defence. You stressed there that threats concerning air raids must be proposed without discrimination against all sides. Which crime had the Bosnian Government been guilty of which warranted your insistence that one should bomb the actual victims of the genocide?
    4. In June of this year Thorvald Stoltenberg delivered pure Serbian nationalist propaganda to a group of Norwegian Government officials which, when the affair reached the press, he subsequently strenuously denied. In order to support him, you appeared on Swedish television to state an even greater lie that 40 Norwegian journalists had witnessed in writing that Stoltenberg had not made the assumed statements. At this occasion you actually described the Bosnian Ambassador to Sweden as a encumbrance to his country, upon his criticism of Stoltenberg. This was before the entire fabrication was revealed for what it was. Have you ever regretted this behaviour of yours? Have you at any occasion delivered an apology to the Bosnian Ambassador in Sweden?
    5. At the time of one of the most macaber massacres Europe has ever witnessed, you were seated in Belgrade, negotiating with the instigator of the genocide and protector of the ultranationalist butchers - Slobodan Milosevic. It has later been learnt that the French generals refused to give Srebrenica air support in order to protect the town's civil population with the purpose of "not disturbing the ongoing negotiations in Belgrade". Shortly after the fall of Srebrenica you made an assurance on the Swedish radio that you had received promises from Milosevic to the effect that the International Red Cross would be granted access to the camps containing the civilians of Srebrenica. When, one day later, this hadn't happened, you alleged that there had arisen "practical problems". You have not returned to this matter since that time. In retrospect, it has been made quite clear that such camps never existed - these civilians were massacred as quickly as the fascist murder machine could undertake - promptly burying and bulldozing the corpses into massgraves. Your objective purpose during these days was therefore to mislead the public opinion and you thence became a messenger of Milosevic's lies. Have you at any occasion reflected enough to regret this indirect support of one of the worst atrocities of the post-war period?
    6. You were swift to assert, with the re-occupation of Knin, that Franjo Tudjman was a war criminal.You were right in the fact that abuses did occur when Croatia re-occupied parts of its internationally recognised territory but it is clear that Knin was mainly intact after it had fallen to the Croatian force. This was not the case when one considers the Croatian town of Vukovar which was captured by Milosevic's forces after it had systematically been levelled to the ground. Nonetheless, you have never accused Milosevic of being a war criminal - even with Vukovar and the dismemberment of Bosnia behind him.

    Did you consider the period for Milosevic's prosecution to have expired, or was it again a question of adapting to the politics of France and Britain in these questions?

    I have now concluded my questions to you, Carl Bildt.

    Whilst waiting for answer, I can not help myself in wondering whether it is a historical coincidence, or whether it is a part of the essence of the Moderate Party that when it is most needed, the Moderate Party is simply not capable of making a clear distinction between themselves and fascists. As we know, the same tendencies prevailed 60 years ago.

    There are strong movements in the Swedish establishment that would like to see Carl Bildt declared "Swedish person of the Year". I have difficulty understanding this need in subjectingSweden to share the shame and degradation which he has incurred. The "Dagens Nyheter" newspaper has, in an editorial, declared Bildt as the country's next Primeminister due to his striving for peace in Bosnia-Hercegovina. It is difficult to think of a more devastating irony - this is a newspaper which gave the freedom prize to the Sarajevo-based Oslobodenje.

    Personally speaking, I find it hair-raising to think that one of the highest protectors of the new ethnofascism should be the man to tackle one of Sweden's most serious current problems - that of xenophopbia, racism and the dawning domestic fascism.

    Stockholm, December 17th 1995
    Roland Hedayat,
    "Let Bosnia Live",

    12/17: EDITORIAL: BILDT'S RESPONSIBILITY IN BOSNIA c.1995 N.Y. Times News Service

    The New York Times said in an editorial on Sunday, Dec. 17:

    The Bosnia peace agreement signed in Paris last week not only provides for an international peacekeeping force to oversee the military aspects of the Dayton accord.

    It also provides for civilian monitoring of the accord's political provisions. These govern such critically important issues as the investigation of war crimes, election arrangements, refugee relief and resettlement and the distribution of $6 billion of international reconstruction aid.

    The nations sponsoring the agreement have handed the execution of these political provisions to Carl Bildt to supervise. He is a former Swedish prime minister who has served since June as the European Union's diplomatic mediator in the Balkans.

    Bildt starts his new job burdened with a reputation for accepting Bosnian Serb claims of good behavior at face value and overlooking evidence of atrocities against civilians.

    He mainly acquired that reputation when Bosnian Serb forces overran Srebrenica in July. Bildt announced a deal allowing Red Cross access to the male civilians the Serbs said they were holding prisoner. But the Serbs had deceived him. The Red Cross visits never took place and thousands of the prisoners were killed.

    Bildt wields more diplomatic leverage, with billions of dollars in aid money under his direct control, 60,000 NATO troops reinforcing international authority in Bosnia and automatic U.N. sanctions available against any side that fails to cooperate in the war crimes investigations.

    He needs to use that leverage to make sure the Srebrenica massacre and other atrocities like it do not go unpunished. He can do so by insisting that the International Tribunal be given full access to all the information, sites and individuals it needs to carry out its work.

    He also must insure that free elections take place on schedule with convicted war criminals barred from office, that millions of refugees can either return home or receive fair compensation and that international aid is used for its intended purposes. Most of all, he must help the peoples of Bosnia infuse reality into the paper structures of regional and central government sketched out by negotiators at Dayton.

    Bildt, who still serves as Sweden's opposition leader and nourishes political ambitions back home, has surprisingly suggested that he intends to divide his calendar between Sweden and the Balkans. Bosnia is not a part-time job. If Bildt cannot understand that, someone else should be found who can.

    Critics of the Bosnia peace agreement have reasonably noted that 60,000 troops with strictly limited goals and a 12-month withdrawal target cannot assure a lasting peace. The political side of the peace agreement is not their business. It is the business of Bildt, and the world will be watching closely to see if he handles it with the fairness and vigor that is required.

    To the Editor:

    Re ``Mr. Bildt's Responsibility in Bosnia'' (editorial, Dec. 17): You rightly point at the critical importance of civilian and political implementation of the Bosnian peace agreement in order to secure long- term peace, stability and justice in this war-torn country.

    In underlining the importance of my function as High Representative for monitoring the implementation of the peace agreement and coordinating its civilian aspects, you make some mistakes that need correcting.

    To claim that I see it as a half-time job is false, and I have made it clear in Sweden as elsewhere that this will be my full-time occupation during the next crucial year.

    It is true that I tried with all the means available to secure access for the Red Cross to Srebrenica after its fall, and it is equally true that the Bosnian Serbs have so far not lived up to the formal commitments to the United Nations commanders that they entered into in this respect.

    We sought to secure that speedy access precisely because of the reports of atrocities we started to get from refugees, and I thus find it difficult to see how these efforts could be taken as a sign of ``accepting'' Bosnian Serb claims of good behavior at face value.'' If anything, it was the contrary.

    The story of Srebrenica is the tragic story of the gulf between rhetoric in New York and reality in Bosnia that was so often there during the past few years. The United Nations Security Council was far more ready to issue resolutions than to give the means that would have been necessary to live up to them. I hope we have all learned that lesson by now.

    You seem to overestimate the powers of the High Representative. His powers are not to execute or enforce but to monitor and coordinate. In contrast to the military implementation with its distinct chain of command and single-key approach, the civilian implementation structures have numerous chains of command and multiple keys.

    The difficulties ahead should certainly not be underestimated, and it will require a massive mobilization not only of financial resources to help with reconstruction but also of political will and determination on the side of the international community to make true peace -- as distinct from just the absence of war -- come to the peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

    Carl Bildt
    Geneva, Dec. 18, 1995

    (Please first read Carl Bildt's reply in the December 21, 1995 New York Times.)
    (Cross-posting permitted)

    [Commentary by Tom W.]

    Carl Bildt's reply to the New York Times deserves the closest scrutiny by supporters of the Tribunal. Mr. Bildt has, in effect, given us his view of what is -- and is not -- his responsibility as High Representative under the Dayton Peace Agreement.

    Recall that the Times made 5 points about Mr. Bildt:

    1. Mr. Bildt was naive about Bosnian Serb claims of good faith. Example: His behavior during and after Srebrenica.
    2. Mr. Bildt overlooked evidence of atrocities against civilians. Example: Srebrenica.
    3. Mr. Bildt intends to divide his time between Sweden and the Balkans.
    4. Unlike before, Mr. Bildt now has real diplomatic power: He controls aid money, he has 60,000 troops reinforcing international authority in Bosnia, and he can automatically reimpose sanctions against any side that fails to cooperate with war crimes investigations.
    5. Mr. Bildt needs to use his power to investigate Srebrenica and other massacres, and to ensure that free elections take place on schedule with convicted war criminals barred from office.
    The crucial paragraph in Bildt's reply is the next-to-the-last:

    You seem to overestimate the powers of the High Representative. His powers are not to execute or enforce but to monitor and coordinate. In contrast to the military implementation with its distinct chain of command and single-key approach, the civilian implementation structures have numerous chains of command and multiple keys.

    The most charitable view of this paragraph is that Mr. Bildt is dangerously misinformed about his own job description. U.N. Security Council Resolution 1022 gives the High Representative the power, on his own if need be, to re-impose sanctions against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) if the FRY or the Bosnian Serbs fail in their obligations, including the obligation to cooperate fully with the Tribunal and, in the Constitution of BiH, to turn indicted war criminals over to The Hague for trial. Provided he has the backing of one permanent member of the Security Council, sanctions go back on 5 days later. In addition, under Annex 11, the Commissioner of the International Police Task Force (IPTF) reports to the High Representative, who can decide what to do if the Bosnian Serbs, just to take an example, fail to carry out an IPTF "request" to arrest indicted war criminals. Under Annex 6, the human rights ombudsman reports to the High Representative any failures to carry out her recommendations. It is up to the High Representative to decide what to do.

    Mr. Bildt's letter speaks of having "learned" our "lesson," but if there is any lesson to be learned from the economic sanctions and airstrikes that brought the Serbs to the bargaining table that gave Mr. Bildt his present job, the lesson was this one: As between "execute or enforce" and "monitor and coordinate" in Bosnia, one works and the other doesn't -- full stop.

    I must make brief mention of Mr. Bildt's incredible statement that "The story of Srebrenica is the tragic story of the gulf between rhetoric in New York and reality in Bosnia...." Wrong. The story of Srebrenica was the story of mass murder and genocide. Regardless of whether the U.N. should have set up the Srebrenica "safe area" without the force to back it up -- and on this I agree with Mr. Bildt -- the commanders who ordered Srebrenica, not the U.N., are responsible for ordering the killing of 5,500 unarmed men in cold blood, including -- according to the judge who signed the indictment for Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic -- making a grandfather eat his grandson's liver. If Mr. Bildt dismisses the murder of 5,500 unarmed men as part of the "reality in Bosnia," and if he's not prepared to do something about it, then Mr. Bildt has, by his own words, proven two of the New York Times' charges about him -- that he is naive and that he overlooks atrocities -- beyond any possible doubt.

    The High Representative needs to see it as part of his duties to enforce the Genocide Convention, to enforce the Security Council resolutions mandating the surrender of indicted war criminals, and to require that all parties, including the Bosnian Serbs, meet the obligations of Annexes 4, 6, 10 and 11 of the Dayton Peace Agreement to turn those responsible for the Srebrenica massacres over to The Hague for trial.

    It is already time for human rights groups and supporters of the Tribunal to express their concern about whether Mr. Bildt intends to do anything to enforce the provisions on war crimes in the Dayton Peace Agreement. Tribunal officials should obtain a satisfactory answer from Mr. Bildt immediately, or speak out publicly if the answer is less than fully satisfactory. Members of the European Parliament will have the opportunity to question Mr. Bildt in January on this issue. Members of the U.S. Congress and the Canadian Parliament should demand the same opportunity the following week. Human rights groups should ensure that their elected representatives ask tough questions that need to be answered now, before Mr. Bildt carries out his job the way he sees it.

    Tom Warrick
    Coalition for International Justice

    Thanks to someone in The Hague who pointed out to me an article that originated in Sunday's Washington Post about the performance of Carl Bildt. The article, by John Pomfret, is headined "Political, Civilian Efforts Off to Slow Start in Bosnia." (Partial text in block quotes; comments begin at the left margin.) The story leads:

    At Sarajevo's battle-scarred Fero-Elektro building, the lights were on and somebody was home, but it wasn't Carl Bildt.

    On the second floor, officials from Bosnia's Ministry of Trade paced the hall, reams of documents cradled in their arms. Upstairs, aid workers hatched plans to improve life in Bosnia. Somebody had been smokijng marijuana in a bathroom. Somebody was listening to rock 'n roll behind a door.

    Busy as it was, the scene was not what was supposed to be going on in the downtown building. The two floors were supposed to be occupied by people working for Bildt, a former prime minister of Sweden who has been named chief international diplomat in Bosnia and assigned to coordinate implementation of the civilian and political provisions of Bosnia's peace plan. But Bildt's team has not arrived in Sarajevo and has done little work elsewhere. One important deadline stipulated in the Dayton plan's political provisions has been missed, and Western diplomats warn that the window of opportunity pried open by the early success of the military side of the agreement could soon slam shut.

    "They don't even have a contract signed for their offices yet," a Bosnian official said. "Soon they may be homeless like the rest of us."

    The pace adopted by Bildt and his staff, as well as other groups, such as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, that are critical to the implementation of the Dayton plan, is being watched closely because of the immense amount of political, economic and humanitarian work that must be done if peace is really going to come to Bosnia.

    And it must be done quickly. ...

    Pomfret accurately describes the stakes:

    Western diplomats worry that if only the military annex succeeds, the tenuous links written into the political side of the peace plan to keep Bosnia a single country will collapse -- leading the Serb side to merge with Serbia and the Croats to break their federation with the Muslims and join Croatia. The beleaguered Muslims would be left in the middle, and the very thing that the U.S. government said it wanted to prevent in Bosnia, the re-drawing of international borders and the creation of a purely Muslim mini-state in the heart of Europe, would occur.

    An aide to Bildt defended his chief, saying he had only decided to take the job several weeks ago. "We are setting up the structure now," he said. Western sources said Bildt had originally planned to conclude a holiday vacation and return to Sarajevo on January 8 but that pressure, particularly from the United States, forced him to move the date to next Wednesday

    [January 3]. ...

    The aide is probably Michael Steiner, a German who, by all accounts, is good on the war crimes issue. >> Does someone know Bildt's whereabouts since December 9? << When they say "return to Sarajevo," when was Bildt last in Sarajevo? Before Dayton, perhaps?

    "It's too early to make an evaluation, but Mr. Bildt has not done very much," said Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic at a news conference Thursday. ...

    Zoran Kacman, a Serb official in the Serb-controlled suburb of Grbavica, echoed his view. "We've had lots of promises from these men but that's all they are, promises," he said earlier this week. "Show us some results." ...

    Something on which the Bosnian Government and the Bosnian Serbs agree.

    Western diplomats say the reasons for the slow pace of political change in Bosnia vary from diplomatic wrangling between France and the United States over key appointments in the bureaucratic hierarchy to an easygoing culture shared by international bureaucrats secure in their jobs.

    The last phrase implies clear diplomatic criticism of Bildt -- interesting and, perhaps, significant.

    An example of diplomatic quarreling has been the experience of the OSCE, a security group that includes the United States. ...

    An OSCE source said France held up the appointment of Robert Frowick, the head of the OSCE's Bosnia mission, by almost a month because Frowick is an American and France wanted the top post. The source said Russia also slowed the process because it sought one of the top deputy positions -- for human rights.

    So far, the source said, none of the three key deputy positions -- for human rights, elections and arms control -- has been filled. ...

    Everything that we had feared about Carl Bildt is coming true.

    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 <>

    End of bosnet-digest V5 #11

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