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BosNet NEWS / Apr. 28, 1996

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

Bosnia-Herzegovina News Directory


  • [01] Will Europeans drive the wedge in B&H-US relations?

  • [01] Will Europeans drive the wedge in B&H-US relations?

    ``There are some who don't like (anybody to) ``equip and train' within the region, within Europe and even within the United States... I think the issue in Bosnia is not so much age-old ethnic rivalries as it is European imperial rivalries that have now lasted for over a century,'' Bosnia's Ambassador to the UN Muhamed Sacirbey said in Sarajevo, commenting on a recent New York Times story last week, which suggested five Bosnians arrested recently in Croatia were an Iranian-trained hit squad.

    ``There are no hit squads or Iranian troops or instructors here. This information is inaccurate... Why are these stories being spread? Bosnia is the primary U.S. relationship in the Balkans. It upsets some other relationships which have existed since before World War One... Unfortunately, I think some American officials blindly accept what is fed to them by people, groups and countries that are not inclined to see this U.S.-Bosnia relationship develop.''

    ``We've given information about those individuals to the United States and it has never been identified as something we had to alter... The people are known, the numbers are known, the locations are known -- they're closely monitored,'' angry Sacirbey added.

    Bosnian government sources argue that major European powers simply don't want the United States to emerge with the whiphand in the Balkans through strong ties with Bosnia.

    However Bosnian government's credibility was damaged when NATO forces, in February raided what they termed a ``terrorist training camp''. Iranian instructors and students from shadowy Agency for Investigation and Documentation (AID) were found, and Bekir Alispahic, AID's chief subsequently lost his job.

    ``The United States had a right to be disappointed when that base was uncovered... Now we are the ones who are justifiably angry. Our attitude is basically put up or shut up. If you (the international community) have something that needs to be addressed we will work with you... But don't keep leaking information into the press through anonymous sources, (about) people who can't be identified and information that can't be verified one way or the other.''

    The Association of Serb Survivors claims it has filed evidence against

    170 Muslims and Croats from 16 camps in Bosnia and Croatia to the Hague

    tribunal, in charge of trying war criminals from former Yugoslavia.

    "We don't want this to be the beginning of the end of our cooperation with the Tribunal ... Innocent victims hope their testimonies will not be forgotten," Dragoljub Vasiljevic, legal adviser to the association, said.

    "They have helped the prosecutor's office very much in investigating ... the Celebici events," ICTY spokesman Christian Chartier said Friday. "I do not want to play down their concerns, but as a matter of policy we never discuss evidence. Also, I'm not sure they are in a position to know if we are using it."

    "There were six men and seven women taken on that day... They beat and raped us all the way to the camp. They showed us a pit and told us we would end up there," a 62-year old Bosnian Serb woman from Mostar, survivor of nationalist Croat (HVO) run Dretelj camp said. "Every night they would pick one of us to rape... They could do anything they wanted with us. There was no one to complain to... We couldn't sleep because of their [male inmate] screams at night."

    Others held at Dretelj, mostly Muslims, also have complained of abuses.

    ``The longest journey starts with the first step. These are small steps

    but they are important steps,'' said Professor Cherif Bassiouni of

    DePaul University in Chicago, of the ICTY progress. ``The tribunal has

    established its legitimacy in the eyes of the international community.

    The international community looks to the tribunal as a symbol of


    He also commented the lack of enforcement of some of ICTY's indictments: ``That's the hypocrisy... You can sign all these treaties... but the moment when you see the possibility of an institution set up to enforce them, that's when everybody pulls.''

    However, nationalist Bosnian Serb leaders Radovan Karadzic and General Ratko Mladic have twice been charged with genocide -- over the siege of Sarajevo and the Srebrenica massacre -- still remain free.

    Professor Theo van Boven of Limburg University, registrar at the tribunal until the end of 1994 commented: ``That was a major disaster from the point of view of the so-called deterrent or preventative function of the tribunal... Maybe our expectations were too high... I think the true test of legitimacy, not only of the tribunal, but of the will of the NATO powers whose troops are there, is going to be in those two cases [Mladic's and Karadzic's]...''

    Van Boven said he did not expect to see Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic indicted for war crimes, as since the signing of DPA he seemed to have acquired international political acceptance which might shield him from prosecution.

    Much would depend on the policy pursued by Louise Arbour of Canada who is due to take over as chief prosecutor from South Africa's Richard Goldstone in October.

    The president of the U.N. war crimes tribunal for former Yugoslavia

    Antonio Cassese, speaking to the 39-nation Council of Europe parliamentary

    assembly commented about the potential for new sanctions against Serbia:

    ``It is also of paramount importance that (European peace coordinator Carl) Bildt consider triggering sanctions against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the Serb Republic if no breakthrough occurs in the near future... Let them understand that without justice, peace is but a sand castle to be washed away by the relentless tide of ethnic hatred.''

    ``First and foremost, our goal is to get those who were really in charge (of the atrocities)... I want Karadzic and Mladic. But on the other hand we must face the truth: For the moment it's difficult to arrest them. (They) never go anywhere without an escort of 50 to 60 people armed to the teeth... I believe rather in their gradual marginalisation. The new class of politicians emerging from the next elections will have every reason to get rid of their former leaders.''

    ``If that doesn't happen, I am counting on the international community which has the means of applying very strong pressure, such as economic sanctions,'' he told the French weekly Paris Match.

    The office of B&H's coordinator Carl Bildt announced Friday it plans

    to launch independent broadcast networks in Bosnia-Herzegovina, to

    ensure population is accurately informed about the election campaign

    and its results.

    "It was agreed that the parties must urgently create the necessary conditions for the conduct of free and fair elections with respect to equitable access to the media for all political parties and candidates... A step being considered would be for I-FOR (NATO peace Implementation Force)... to requisition for their own use the necessary frequencies to allow programming from affiliate stations to be received by citizens in both entities," said a statement issued by Bildt's office in Sarajevo.
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