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OMRI Pursuing Balkan Peace, No. 28, 96-07-16

Open Media Research Institute: Pursuing Balkan Peace Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: Open Media Research Institute <http://www.omri.cz>

Pursuing Balkan Peace
No. 28, 16 July 1996


CONTENTS

  • [01] WHAT IS IFOR PLANNING FOR KARADZIC?
  • [02] HAGUE TRIBUNAL ISSUES ARREST WARRANTS FOR KARADZIC, MLADIC.
  • [03] HOLBROOKE GOES BACK TO THE BALKANS.
  • [04] INDECISION REIGNS.
  • [05] CONTROVERSY MOUNTING OVER BOSNIAN ELECTIONS.
  • [06] OSCE GIVE SERBS UNTIL FRIDAY TO SACK KARADZIC.
  • [07] SERBS THREATEN TO RETALIATE AGAINST PEACEKEEPERS.
  • [08] QUOTES IN SUPPORT OF KARADZIC.
  • [09] FIRST ANNIVERSARY OF THE FALL OF SREBRENICA.
  • [10] SREBRENICA SURVIVORS MARK ANNIVERSARY.
  • [11] U.S. EXPERT SAYS SREBRENICA MUSLIMS WERE MURDERED.
  • [12] CLINTON LAUNCHES "EQUIP AND TRAIN" PROGRAM FOR BOSNIA.
  • [13] LOYAL SERBS HOLD THIRD CONGRESS.
  • [14] NEW EU ADMINISTRATOR ANNOUNCES MOSTAR ELECTION RETURNS . . .
  • [15] . . . AS CROAT MAYOR THREATENS BOYCOTT.
  • [16] LIFE AROUND THE REPUBLIKA SRPSKA:
  • [17] "THE PEOPLE MUST KNOW THE ENTIRE TRUTH": AN INTERVIEW WITH SENAD PECANIN

  • [01] WHAT IS IFOR PLANNING FOR KARADZIC?

    NATO peacekeepers are keeping a very close watch on indicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic, effectively confining him to "the immediate vicinity of his headquarters in... Pale," The Daily Telegraph reported on 10 July. IFOR is still wary of attempting to nab him outright, however, because of the memory of the bloody fiasco that resulted when U.S. troops tried to grab Somali warlord Gen. Mohamed Farah Aideed in 1993. The well-armed NATO troops apparently fear Karadzic's body guards, possible reprisal attacks elsewhere (see below), and the loss of "a reasonable degree of cooperation between the Bosnian Serbs and the peacekeepers." In any event, the same British daily on 12 July said that what Karadzic really fears is "traitors in his own camp. It could be very convenient for [Serbian President Slobodan] Milosevic if Dr. Karadzic were to disappear." -- Patrick Moore

    [02] HAGUE TRIBUNAL ISSUES ARREST WARRANTS FOR KARADZIC, MLADIC.

    The wily Bosnian Serb leaders have problems elsewhere, too. The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia has put out international arrest warrants for both of them, Nasa Borba and Oslobodjenje reported on 12 July. The move is expected to have few practical consequences and is largely a political and psychological attempt to keep up the pressure on the Serbs and on the international community. The two men have already been indicted twice for war crimes and have publicly visited Serbia although existing warrants are theoretically valid there. Bosnian Prime Minister Hasan Muratovic noted that Karadzic and Mladic are still free on Bosnian Serb territory despite the presence in Bosnia of 60,000 NATO troops. He said that the fact that the two men are still free shows a "lack of determination of the international community," AFP reported on 11 July. -- Patrick Moore

    [03] HOLBROOKE GOES BACK TO THE BALKANS.

    But one highly determined individual, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke left, for Belgrade on 15 July, the BBC and Nasa Borba reported. He will seek to convince Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic to remove the two Bosnian Serb leaders from the scene. Holbrooke was the driving force behind the Dayton agreement in 1995 but this year returned to private life. President Bill Clinton and his top security advisors reportedly decided on 12 July to ask the forceful negotiator to return to the Balkans to tell Milosevic and his counterparts in Zagreb and Sarajevo that they must comply with the agreement. It is a sad testimony to the international community's approach to Dayton that the success of the peace has been so closely bound up with one man. -- Patrick Moore

    [04] INDECISION REIGNS.

    Back in Sarajevo, French Defense Minister Charles Millon said France will seek a tougher mandate for IFOR from the UN Security Council and NATO. He wants IFOR to be able to hunt down and arrest indicted war criminals like Karadzic and Mladic, the VOA reported on 14 July. The French, however, then appeared to back down from Millon's tough stand, and meetings at the UN and the EU failed to produce any decision on solving the problem of catching war criminals. -- Patrick Moore

    [05] CONTROVERSY MOUNTING OVER BOSNIAN ELECTIONS.

    Meanwhile in London, "British sources" warned against attempts to ban his Serbian Democratic Party (SDS) from the 14 September elections, The Daily Telegraph said on 10 July. OSCE election commissioner Robert Frowick has threatened to prohibit participation by the SDS on the grounds that parties run by war criminals have disqualified themselves. The British sources said such a move would "turn the elections into a farce" and "exceed the restrictions placed on Dr. Karadzic by the Dayton accords." Russia has also warned against such a move. Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic, however, said that Muslims might boycott the vote if the SDS is allowed to participate with Karadzic as its chairman, AFP reported. Haris Silajdzic of the Party for Bosnia and Herzegovina expressed similar views, Onasa added. -- Patrick Moore

    [06] OSCE GIVE SERBS UNTIL FRIDAY TO SACK KARADZIC.

    Frowick, for his part, has stuck to his ideas and told the SDS that it must find a way to "settle the matter" of Karadzic by 19 July, Nasa Borba and Reuters reported on 16 July. "By definition, if this campaign starts on Friday, you can be sure that things must be straightened out by that date," he said. - - Patrick Moore

    [07] SERBS THREATEN TO RETALIATE AGAINST PEACEKEEPERS.

    But the Serbs will not take things lying down. Their police have said they will take unspecified measures against international police if the two top indicted war criminals are arrested, AFP reported on 15 July. "The Pale police chief threatened that if Karadzic or Mladic are arrested the population will be mobilized against the [UN police] and other international organizations," UN spokesman Alexander Ivanko said. In May 1995 the Serbs took peacekeepers hostage in a successful attempt to force NATO to end its airstrikes. It appears that a lack of decisiveness on the part of the international community in enforcing the Dayton agreement has encouraged the Serbs to test the limits of the possible again. There has been a recent upsurge of attacks by the Serbs against the UN police across Bosnia, Oslobodjenje noted on 16 July. -- Patrick Moore

    [08] QUOTES IN SUPPORT OF KARADZIC.

    And Karadzic has other friends, too. The Pale parliament on 9 July voted to set up a consultative senate after the 14 September elections and chose him as president of that new body, the BBC reported. RS parliament speaker Momcilo Krajisnik, for his part, said on 5 July that the fact that Karadzic would not run in the elections was "a major handicap. The people in the RS must know that this is a consequence of the international community's severe pressure and threats." Also weighing in was Karadzic's own brother, a businessman from Niksic, Montenegro. He told the Novi Sad bi-weekly Svet: "Radovan would never get involved in anything dishonest... I think he has been democratic in the extreme... During the four years of war there wasn't a single political trial in the RS. That's not good, because a country should not be excessively democratic... I think that Belgrade will not impose a leader on the RS, at least not someone from outside the SDS. The president will probably be someone from within the SDS ranks, and, whoever it will be, the Serbian authorities will not like it." -- Yvonne Badal in Sarajevo and Patrick Moore

    [09] FIRST ANNIVERSARY OF THE FALL OF SREBRENICA.

    In addition to the imbroglio over Karadzic, Srebrenica was the Bosnian story most in the news this past week. On 11 July 1995, Bosnian Serb forces overran the UN-declared "safe area" in eastern Bosnia while Dutch UNPROFOR troops looked on and NATO aircraft remained on the ground. The worst atrocity in Europe since World War II followed. Somewhere between 3,000 to 6,000 Muslim males were gunned down after Mladic had assured them of their safety and forced Muslims to call to fighters in the hills to come down, the BBC noted. Meanwhile, Bosnian Serbs continued their cat-and-mouse game with Finnish forensics experts who had managed to dig out the remains of 25 Muslims from a mass grave. The Finns left Bosnian Serb territory after Serb authorities "hampered their work," Onasa reported. In Sarajevo, UNHCR spokesman Kris Janowski noted that the Serbs are still preventing refugees from going home and that those responsible for the massacre are still in power, Oslobodjenje noted on 11 July. -- Patrick Moore

    [10] SREBRENICA SURVIVORS MARK ANNIVERSARY.

    Some 5,000 Muslim former inhabitants of Srebrenica held a rally in Tuzla on the first anniversary of the fall of their town, Oslobodjenje reported on 12 July. The meeting was intended as a gathering of women with numerous foreign guests but some of the few hundred males who escaped Mladic's massacres also showed up, turning it into what the BBC on 11 July called "a gathering of the survivors." The Serbs, meanwhile, held a rally in Srebrenica to mark its "liberation." The BBC added that the Tuzla event went off under sunny skies, while it poured in Srebrenica. In Sarajevo, President Alija Izetbegovic wept after addressing a commemorative meeting saying: "Let us remember all innocent victims of Srebrenica and all innocent women and children killed by a criminal's hand in this imposed and unjust war. They will not be forgotten." -- Patrick Moore

    [11] U.S. EXPERT SAYS SREBRENICA MUSLIMS WERE MURDERED.

    Meanwhile, William Haglund, head of the UN team examining mass graves at Cerska near Srebrenica, denied Bosnian Serb claims that the Muslims in the graves had been killed in battle. Haglund noted that the Muslims were wearing civilian clothes, had in some cases their hands bound behind their backs with wire, had been killed at close range, and had been buried near a site where piles of cartridge shells were found. He suggested that the men had been lined up near a road and shot, the BBC noted on 12 July. Onasa reported two days later that the forensic experts have removed the remains of 60 men from a mass grave at Cerska, in addition to what the Finns did at another site. -- Patrick Moore

    [12] CLINTON LAUNCHES "EQUIP AND TRAIN" PROGRAM FOR BOSNIA.

    Turning to military affairs, the U.S. will begin a $100 million military program to enable the Croat and Muslim federation to defend itself, U.S. President Bill Clinton announced on 9 July. The Dayton agreement calls for establishing a military balance in the region, but so far the Serbs heavily outgun Bosnian government forces. Communications equipment, small arms and ammunition, main battle tanks, armored personnel carriers, light anti-tank weapons, and utility helicopters will be provided, AFP reported. Clinton said the program can begin soon, now that foreign Islamic fighters have left the country and the Croats and Muslims have agreed on a defense law setting up a joint defense ministry and joint command. American mediator James Pardew clinched the agreement on 5 July and the parliament passed it on 9 July. An additional $40 million will be provided by countries such as Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Kuwait, and the U.A.E. -- Patrick Moore

    [13] LOYAL SERBS HOLD THIRD CONGRESS.

    Returning to politics, on 15 July Oslobodjenje reported extensively on the weekend proceedings of the Third Congress of the Serbian Civic Council (SGV), attended by some 500 participants, where the organization reaffirmed its commitment to a multiethnic Bosnian polity. While resolving not to run in the elections as a party, the organization has pledged to support in the Republika Srpska "the opposition bloc of political parties which... are struggling for peace, progress and the cooperation of the Serbian people with the Bosniak [Muslim] and Croatian people." Also resolved was that "the Serbs gathered around the ideas of the Serbian Civic Council are building a bridge... to community living between the Serbs and the Bosniak and Croatian people." Yet what also emerged was a strong sense that practical barriers to a multiethnic polity may be increased by circumstances. Specifically, the refugee question emerged as the potentially most serious strain on inter-ethnic relations. AFP on 14 July reported that the SGV's chairman and Serb member of the collective Presidency, Mirko Pejanovic, observed that authorities on all sides of the ethnic divide were making it difficult for refugees to go home. But for his part, Bosnian Premier Hasan Muratovic, attending as a guest, commented that the problems faced by refugees can only be resolved "by a simultaneous action in the whole of Bosnia-Herzegovina." -- Stan Markotich

    [14] NEW EU ADMINISTRATOR ANNOUNCES MOSTAR ELECTION RETURNS . . .

    Turning to Herzegovina's major city, the EU on 15 July appointed British commander Sir Martin Garrod to replace Spain's Ricardo Perez Casado as its administrator. Perez Casado was criticized by Croats and Muslims alike for his absence from the town in crucial moments and had recently announced his resignation, Reuters reported. EU diplomats declined to speculate whether the criticism led to the resignation. Garrod arrived in June 1994 as a member of an advance team for the EU and is familiar with the situation on the ground. AFP said he gives the impression of having a "no-nonsense" approach and adds that he often was in dispute with the inexperienced Casado. On 13 July Garrod announced the official Mostar election results, in which the main Muslim-led slate won a slight plurality. The ministers also agreed to extend the EU mandate of the city for another six months. -- Fabian Schmidt

    [15] . . . AS CROAT MAYOR THREATENS BOYCOTT.

    The Croat mayor of western Mostar, Mijo Brajkovic, criticized Garrod's decision to publish the final election results despite Croatian objections. The Croats have continued to block the final tally in the electoral commission by citing voting irregularities in Bonn and other European cities, where the Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) lost the majority it had won in the votes actually cast in Mostar. Brajkovic argues that the decision of an EU ombudsman to declare the Bonn ballot valid a violation of the electoral law. The subsequent announcement of the election results, which may pave the way for the constitution of the city council, Brajkovic called the result of an "occupation" and said the HDZ would not participate. -- Fabian Schmidt

    [16] LIFE AROUND THE REPUBLIKA SRPSKA:

    Late June and early July. Banja Luka: After repeated rumors, Predrag Radic, president of the Banja Luka assembly and a member of the local SDS committee, has left the SDS and become the leader of the Democratic Patriotic Block. Responding to a question from a local journalist, Radic said: "Already since September 1993, I had a feeling of being unwelcome... After they [the SDS] had sent a state commission to interrogate me on press statements I had given, I had a feeling of living in a village with a lot of waste holes which remained unclosed and started to stink." He added: "Everything has its end." After the Banja Luka office of the OSCE announced Radic's resignation, the local SDS branch expelled him from the party. Until now, the citizens of Banja Luka and Krajina have viewed Radic as a genuine leader, but it is unclear whether they will accept his latest political move and trust him also as the leader of the Democratic Patriotic Block. Meanwhile, with the defections of ex-Prime Minister Rajko Kasagic and now Radic from "Karadzic's company," local residents talk more and more of an even greater antagonism between Pale and Banja Luka.

    Banja Luka: For one week now, the city has once again lain in darkness. Most houses do not have electricity, and some for only a few hours daily. Refrigerators are once again empty. People swear against the government, the state, the president of the state, while everybody gives his or her own version about how this problem arose. The present official version says that eight, long-distance power lines near Brcko had been demolished by a storm, while the first official version had claimed that terrorist Muslim-Croat actions had destroyed the lines. Common people do not, however, believe in any official version anymore. They talk more about the political reasons behind the blackout. The rumor goes that Karadzic had the electricity disconnected to punish a disobedient Banja Luka which is continually creating problems for the SDS. The fact that the surrounding communities of Laktasi, Srbac, and Prijedor -- also dependent on those same power lines, -- do have electricity, created the following quip among local residents: "It is because the villages lay behind Brcko and not Banja Luka." (Brcko is a disputed town of great strategic importance to the Republika Srpska.)

    Derventa: Since signing an agreement with the German shoe firm Romika, the biggest local factory has hired additional workers, who must labor through the weekends to meet the contracted output of 15,000 pairs of shoes per week. With the factory planning to start production for the domestic market again, townspeople expect the local job situation to improve further.

    Prnjavor: Before the war, Prnjavor was known as "Little Europe." According to the 1991 census, a majority of the city's 50,000 inhabitants were Serbs and a large minority were Muslims, but also there were also Croats, Ukrainians, Czechs, Poles, Italians and others who had settled here at the beginning of the century, in Habsburg times. The town took pride in its multiethnic character and its difference from many other towns. "The diverse cultures built bridges between all of us and everybody felt happy and proud of it," said one local resident. The war, however, changed the city completely. Several hundred people were killed, several thousands were expelled or moved away, and around 13,000 came to live in Prnjavor. The newcomers are, like most of the old inhabitants, without work and depend on humanitarian aid from UNHCR and the local Red Cross. The Red Cross and other charitable organizations also have to feed more than 2,000 elderly or invalids among the old inhabitants. Only a small number of people have found jobs in private cafes and shops, while the local shoemaking, textile and metallurgy factories struggle to return to life again and employ at least some, albeit under minimal conditions. Meanwhile, people say they know exactly who the war profiteers are and hope, in the words of one resident, that "they will face justice or at least be punished by God."

    Prnjavor: The local election commission protested to the OSCE that the envisaged presence of IFOR during election day was unacceptable, and that only the local police could take care of security. The OSCE responded that IFOR will not increase its presence. Some 25% of the inhabitants are displaced persons, all of whom appear interested in voting, but are afraid of abuses. Many fear that the names of those who have been killed or who have disappeared could be used in the elections; that people would vote a second time using the name of someone killed; or that election results from refugees voting in foreign countries would arrive manipulated. People are also very confused, because those who did not have Bosnian citizenship before 1991-- when

    Bosnia-Herzegovina was still a Yugoslav republic -- cannot vote. Nobody really seems to know the rules of the upcoming elections.

    Prijedor: Refugees in the Kozarac camp who have come from Krupa, Drvar, Glamoc, and Sanski Most are supposed to move on to the village of Orahova near Gradiska. Most of them don't even know where this place is and would rather stay in the camp until receiving some information from their hometowns. One of the refugees expressed the common mood: "During the war, our enemies made us leave our homes, now our own people do the same." Another added: "We have elected them, we gave them their armchairs, and now they don't care about us who have to go from town to town and [must] every time start building new homes."

    Doboj: The SDS has started a strong battle against any opposition. As in the nearby town of Teslic, people in responsible positions who refuse to join the party are being dismissed from work. The editor of Radio Modrica, Vid Blagojevic, and the editor of Radio Samac, Vaso Antic, were evidently fired because of their cooperation with an independent liberal newspaper. The paper, Alternativa, was founded in May by the popular Major Stankovic. The city is also full of Karadzic posters, but those hanging low enough to be reached are mostly damaged.

    Mrkonjic Grad: The entire town has become a construction site. Nearly every day a new cafe opens, and the shops are full of goods. At first sight, life seems to be returning to normal step-by-step. However, all important positions are held by SDS members. The only other party in town, the Socialist Party of the Republika Srpska (SPRS), has to work under almost clandestine conditions, though it has many members. SPRS President Stevan Stojic complains that neither he nor his party could find even a room for an office. The party's members are physically threatened or dismissed from work. According to Stojic, people have started to think that an even worse war could develop among Serbs. As in other parts of the Republika Srpska, illegal trade through the black market is on the rise. According to one citizen, the local police know the names of criminals but pretend not to be able to do anything against them. People robbed or cheated have started to ask for help from the International Police Task Force. -- Submitted by Yvonne Badal from OMRI stringer reports

    [17] "THE PEOPLE MUST KNOW THE ENTIRE TRUTH": AN INTERVIEW WITH SENAD PECANIN

    The editor-in-chief of BH Dani was responding to questions from Yvonne Badal of OMRI's Sarajevo bureau. Their conversation took place on 9 July 1996.

    I presume I was the only journalist during war in Sarajevo who tried to contact the people of whom all Sarajevo was afraid. In 1993 I had an opportunity to interview the chief commander of a famous criminal group defending Sarajevo. His name was Caco. I never believed that it was impossible to have a normal human dialog with him, but my friend and deputy editor Mladen Sancanin jumped out of my car and ran away when we entered the district with the barracks of Caco's soldiers. I wanted to find out why the people were so afraid of him, and I had the naive idea that this interview could close the gap between him and the Sarajevans. He was surprised that I did not show any fear and that I asked him openly about all what I needed to know in that time. I did not yet know then of the many terrible crimes he was responsible for.

    It is absolutely necessary to find out and publish everything these people did. We must recognize that this bunch of criminals did really big things for the defense and protection of the city. But some of them did terrible, terrible things, mostly to Serbs but also the Croats and Bosniaks [Muslims]. We must clear their responsibility and this myth about them, and put both in a correct perspective within the war history of Sarajevo. I believe very strongly that they had the support of the authorities. Not openly, not officially, but I am sure that the top of the state knew everything. Because of these secret or open connections with the top of the army, the top politicians, the top of the state, I am not sure whether we have a chance to find out everything. In the ruling government party are many who were close to those we could now accuse of war crimes.

    Pretending to protect the city, these government people served their own profit interests and covered a lot of dirt, for example the population exchange of Serbs from this part of town to Grbavica, and Bosniaks from there to here, I will definitely write about all this, but I still have to collect more hard evidence. I already know some of the names. But before elections I will write nothing about this because people could think I want to make propaganda for the opposition. Also, this history is much too much of a horror for me to be used for the daily political game. The articles have to be very serious and should not be used for election politics.

    Though this history is a public secret, any journalist or magazine publishing it must be prepared for big consequences and strong reactions from the authorities. And I can already imagine the attacks from the nationalist media. But I don't believe any of us would be punished officially, for instance by being forbidden to publish. W hatever we may expect would happen under the cover of the night. The freedom of press as such would not be endangered. Our government knows that it is under the watch of the international community and that its position depends entirely on its understandi ng of the freedom of media.

    The people must also know the entire truth about Srebrenica. What the international community through the Hague tribunal so far did was not enough to force further investigations. For me personally it is not too encouraging to investigate such issues as long as the international community tolerates that Karadzic and Mladic are free men. If they will be witnesses about the role our authorities played, it would be very encouraging for us to investigate how our government and military were involved.

    I know many young people, including journalists, are leaving Sarajevo. But I am not ready to advise anybody to stay or go. My wife is expecting a baby, and we decided that it shall be born in Sweden. Maybe this shows what I fear. My wish is to stay here until I die, but I am not ready to stay if my country will be divided into three ethnic parts. It is very understandable for me why young people leave. No one has the right to influence this very difficult decision.

    During the war I felt an absolute moral obligation to stay. In my opinion everybody was obligated. That does not mean I accuse those who left. I understand also their decision. But for those who had enough strength, enough mental and physical reserves. staying was a must. With the end of the war this obligation ceased to exist. I feel absolutely no urge to stay when our authorities make one stupid step and decision after the other.

    I cannot see anything positive around. The international community gives infusions to a dead man. If they arrested Karadzic and Mladic, this would be a real step. It has not enough symbolic importance for me when Frowick says that SDS can not run for elections as long as it is ruled by Karadzic. This is only cosmetics. The fact that he can move freely under the nose of 60,000 IFOR troops is a continuation of the international community's policies since the beginning of war.

    Interview by Yvonne Badal in Sarajevo

    Compiled by Patrick Moore


    This material was reprinted with permission of the Open Media Research Institute, a nonprofit organization with research offices in Prague, Czech Republic.
    For more information on OMRI publications please write to info@omri.cz.


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