Monday, May 30, 2011

Ratko Mladic: All Serbs Are Guilty

I have argued before on this blog--in my review of Diana Johnstone's "Fools' Crusade" for example--that one reason why so many Serb ultra-nationalists and their Western enablers so vigorously deny basic facts about events during the wars in the former Yugoslavia is because the collectivist nature of the nationalist myths they used to fuel and justify those wars erase any concept of individual conscience or accounatability. Because these myths fully embrace a collectivist notion of collective guilt on the part of the "enemies of the Serb nation", they also implicitly accept the notion of collective action, and guilt, on the part of the Serbs themselves.

In this article from The Guardian, Ratko Mladic essentially makes my point for me:

What has been visible since then is a more familiar Mladic, arrogant and demanding, insisting not only on his own innocence but on the shared guilt of all of the Serbian people. "He said: 'You elected [Slobodan] Milosevic, not me. You are all guilty, not me'."

On one level, this is ridiculous. One of the core principles of this blog is that individuals are not primarily or solely members of a collective ethnic, national, or religious group, but rather sovereign individuals who should be equal before the law. But on another level, Mladic is merely taking the collectivist mentality of Serbian ethno-nationalism to its logical conclusion. If ethnic national groups rather than individual citizens are the core foundation of states, then individuals can only be judged as members of their ethnic group. It takes more than elections to make a democratic culture, and in that regard Mladic is speaking more truth than he most likely realizes.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Serbia Arrests Ratko Mladic

I was getting ready to post another story, when I saw that this news story had broke:

Ratko Mladic arrested in Serbia, president says

Not much to say, we'll see how it goes from here, but this is undoubtably great news.

Article from latest National Congress of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina

From: REPUBLIC OF BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA National Congress of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina (NCR B&H) ONLINE NEWSLETTER, International issue, No. 727 May 12, 2011

1. Is Europa going to take part in the end game of the genocide in Bosnia?

The following article nicely summarizes the issues regarding Dodik’s personal motivation to organize a “referendum” in the so-called Serbian Republic in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The more important issue -- that such a referendum would violate even the Dayton peace accord -- is set aside in the article, but it is addressed in many other published articles. In fact, that was the reason the High Representative in Bonsia, Valentin Inzko, explained for his decision to sanction RS and Dodik if they proceed with the referendum.

The most important reason against a referendum in Republika Srpska is that it is an illegal entity created by aggression and genocide from Serbia, but this is also not the focus of the article. The major problem for citizens of Bosnia is that Dodik always finds his marionettes even among the so called Bosniak politicians. However, the eventual support of the corrupt Bosniak politicians to Dodik's request should not be an excuse for Europeans to give up their influence in Bosnia.

According to the Dayton peace agreement, OHR has real power in Bosnia; it is not merely a mediator. Their influence is necessary in order to save at least some justice in Bosnia. If Europeans, i.e. Stefan Füle, the European Commissioner for Enlargement, act merely as mediators and allow the Serbs and “Bosniaks” to disable the Bosnian judiciary, it would be the complicity in the end game of the destruction of Bosnia that was started by aggression and genocide.

--Muhamed Borogovac, Ph. D., ASA, MAAABoston, USA National Congress of the Republic Bosnia&Herzegovina

2. Bosnian Court: a European entity Radio Netherlands Worldwide International Justice Tribune
Published on : 23 May 2011 - 10:51am

At the end of May, EU foreign ministers will discuss Bosnia and Herzegovina following a deal Catherine Ashton, EU foreign policy chief, achieved with the Bosnian Serb leadership on 13 May. By Nidzara Ahmetasevic As a result of this deal, Bosnian Serb President Milorad Dodik, called off the referendum challenging the legality of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Prosecutor's Office - in exchange for a reform of Bosnia's judiciary system, supervised by the EU. Both institutions were formed during the last judiciary reform 10 years ago and led by the international community in Bosnia and Herzegovina represented by the Office of the High Representative (OHR).

State judiciary institutions, as well as number of laws (including the Criminal Code) were established in 2002 by the OHR decision. After the war from 1992-1995, Bosnia and Herzegovina was divided in two entities - Republika Srpska with a majority Serb population and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina with a majority Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim) and Croat population. The country is a semi protectorate. But the ultimate power to impose laws and sack politicians, is in the hands of the OHR. The Court and the Prosecution, the highest state judiciary institutions, deal with war crimes and organized crime.

Structured dialogue Stefan Füle, the European Commissioner for Enlargement, will chair the first session of the "structured dialogue" on the judiciary reform in Bosnia in the first half of June, in the Bosnian Serb capital Banja Luka. This was not the first time Dodik threatened the Court and Prosecution with a referendum, and not the first time he changed his mind. At the end of 2009, he opposed an extension of the mandate of the international personnel in both institutions. In order to guarantee the independence of the Court and Prosecution when they were established in 2002, the OHR engaged international personnel as judges, prosecutors, analysts and advisors. In that decision, their mandate was limited to the end of 2009. However, finding that these institutions still need an international presence as a guarantee for their work, the OHR extended their mandate until 20 December 2012. Dissatisfied with the OHR decision, Dodik, then Bosnian Serb Prime Minister, said he would call a special session of his Parliament to vote on whether to hold a referendum.

Dodik said his decision had nothing to do "with destabilization" but "with the legal dignity and sovereignty of the country and the right of the Bosnian Serb Republic to its own opinion and we will not back away". However, he backed away that time, as well as this time. Since 2004, when the Court and Prosecution officially began their work, over 200 people have been indicted and prosecuted for war crimes, including genocide in Srebrenica. Some of the indictees were former high-ranking politicians, military and police officers.

The Court also dealt with the cases transferred from the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia (ICTY) as a part of its completition strategy. Embezzelment Analysts claim that the real reason for Dodik's objection to the existence of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Prosecutor's Office is related to the ongoing investigation into his alleged involvement in embezzlement of public funds. "Over the last couple of days, there have been different explanations for Dodik's decision to hold a referendum. The most common is that he is trying to draw attention away from the economic issues that he cannot solve," Azhar Kalamujic, editor for the Center for Investigative Journalism (CIN) in Sarajevo said.

Over the last couple of months, CIN has been conducting an investigation into Dodik's financial dealings. Based on this research, Kalamujic claims that Dodik should face trial. "The State prosecutor is the only one in this country ready to investigate Dodik's business. He tried everything to stop this investigation...," Kalamujic said. Eldar Hadzovic from the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) agrees. He claims that Dodik has tried to jeopardize the State Court and Prosecution in different ways since 2006 and that these attempts have intensified since the investigation was launched.

It is not known in which direction judiciary reform will go now, or what exactly Dodik or the EU want to achieve by it. Nevertheless, the Sarajevo daily Dnevni Avaz reports that Dodik considers Ashton's visit and acceptance of open talks on reform as a "political success for Republika Srpska".

[I edited the above press release slightly by adding somewhat arbitrary line breaks to improve readability, and some other minor cosmetic changes. The text itself is unchanged.]