Archive | Bosnia

Balkan ‘Genocides’ Are Not to be Questioned

By Stephen Karganovic

Genocide accusations are, it would seem, the latest fashion spreading out of the Balkans. On December 5, a former minister in the “government” of NATO occupied and administered Kosovo, Ivan Todosijević, who happens to be an otherwise occupation friendly and cooperative ethnic Serb, was sentenced to a two-year prison term. The court found him guilty of making what it considered the outrageous claim that the so-called genocidal “Račak massacre,” which in 1999 triggered NATO aggression against Yugoslavia, was an imposture. Since the trial began just two days before, by Balkan standards the swiftly reached verdict was remarkably expeditious, suggesting the importance which the NATO imposed and sustained authorities, as well as their foreign backers, attach to the dubious Račak narrative.

To arrive at such a harsh judgment, the Kosovo court must surely have dug up startling new evidence about what actually happened in Račak that even ICTY failed to produce. In 1999, ICTY amended its initial indictments of Serbian military and political leaders to include the slaughter of Albanian civilians in Račak. The incident was said to be a cold-blooded, genocidal murder of forty-five helpless Albanian peasants, executed by a unit of the Yugoslav army after it had besieged and captured their village. All well and good, while the NATO attack was in progress and public support needed to be drummed up by publicizing shocking atrocity stories. Later however, when things had calmed down and prosecutors would have been obliged to present some semblance of credible evidence to support their claim, the Račak episode was quietly dropped by ICTY, due to lack of evidence to support the accusation.

The reason Račak is so important to the construction of the mythological narrative in which recent Kosovo history under NATO occupation is enveloped is precisely because it served as a conveniently arranged “humanitarian catastrophe” to justify unleashing the military campaign against Yugoslavia that had already been decided on before that.

The principal actor in that operation was a certain William Walker, officially billed as a “US diplomat,” at the time head of the Kosovo Verification Mission. His dramatic arrival in Račak and public asseveration that he was shocked by the horror of the crime scene he found there set the propaganda stage for what was to follow. Ironically, Walker had plenty of experience earlier in his career arranging genuine massacres of El Salvadorean peasants during their rebellion against the pro-Western, neo-colonial regime that had been imposed in that country.

However, he was quite sloppy and turned a dismal failure when it came to staging the phony massacre in Račak. Since the alleged victims were members of the KLA terrorist outfit killed in a legitimate police operation, they quickly had to be refurbished for public display, while covering up as much tell-tale forensic information as possible. In the process, some mix-ups occurred that gave the game away. In the gully where the victims’ bodies were laid out to be photographed by the foreign media, there curiously was no evidence of blood around the corpses (watch 00:25 – 00:41 seconds). The suspicion that the bodies were hastily dressed up in a different set of civilian clothes not their own, to mask the fact that they were soldiers, was also corroborated by the fact that holes in the victims’ clothing generally did not correspond to the entry wounds of the bullets that killed them.Judiciary as Continuation of Warfare: How the West Uses Srebrenica to Implement Thought-crime Legislation

But none of these details apparently bothered the Kosovo court when it issued its stern judgment against Todosijević for “incitement to ethnic, racial, and religious hate, disorder and intolerance,” just for pointing out some of these incongruities.

Both the court’s procedural swiftness and the categorical nature of its conclusions are understandable in light of the importance of Račak in the historical mythology earlier referred to. The ultimate objective was not to just sentence some poor chap for a thought crime, but something much larger than that. Račak is symbolically the corner-stone of the Kosovo Albanians’ own emerging “genocide” narrative. Never mind that this vacuous charge, raised during the NATO assault on Yugoslavia in 1999, was discarded shortly after peace was restored. It has recently been boldly reinstated, thus successfully questioning Račak would further undermine whatever scant credibility the protected narrative may have.

As the perennial source and model – at least in recent times – of the Balkan “genocide” epidemic, Srebrenica predictably could not long remain outside this picture. Professor Raphael Lemkin may be turning in his grave, but the Bosnia-Herzegovina High Representative Valentin Inzko seems determined not to be outdone by Kosovo Albanians. Just as in Pristina the hapless Todosijević was being court martialed for his incautious remark, in Sarajevo this month Inzko solemnly announced that he would at long last use his mythical “Bonn Powers” to impose a Srebrenica genocide denial law in that unlucky country. The reason such a measure was not enacted long ago was a quirk in the Dayton Agreement requiring consensus on vital interest issues and the Serb entity Republika Srpska’s adamant refusal to be a willing party in the suppression of scholarly research and public discussion of the dubious grounds for the “Srebrenica genocide” accusation leveled against it.

Interestingly, the “Bonn Powers” to override and impose laws and procedures in Bosnia, which Inzko invoked in order to circumvent the legal deadlock which prevents the passage of genocide denial legislation, are just as spurious as the “Srebrenica genocide” itself. The self-serving charade was utterly demolished by Dr. John Laughland several years ago. Such powers are not mentioned anywhere in the Dayton Agreement which ended the war in Bosnia and set up the current constitutional arrangements in that country. Nevertheless, these puzzling powers, whose origins remain unexplained on the website of the Office of the High Representative in Bosnia, were successfully invoked several times in the past by Inzko’s predecessors to punish and dismiss elected officials who refused to toe the line prescribed by NATO powers, greatly raising tensions and often causing havoc in the country’s political system.

The claim of genocide in July of 1995 in Srebrenica is just as vacuous as the assertion of “Bonn Powers” which may soon be used in Bosnia to prohibit questioning it. The Srebrenica narrative would have collapsed long ago but for the respectability conferred upon it by its corrupt enabler, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), whose dishonorable role in perpetuating the fraud has been conclusively unmasked by a team of international scholars. Oddly for a “genocide,” in Srebrenica there is no evidence whatsoever of dolus specialis, or prior intent to annihilate a group protected under the Genocide Convention (also here). As for the physical evidence, even the heavily manipulated ICTY autopsy reports support a finding of just under 2,000 deaths in Srebrenica, far short of 8,000, as officially claimed. But even those deaths were from a variety of causes, execution accounting for several hundred of the aggregate total.

And as if that were not enough to make Prof. Lemkin’s stomach churn, in 2012 ICTY formally ruled that in the Bosnian village of Zepa another, hitherto unnoticed “genocide” had occurred and that the grand total of just three victims (mayor, military commander, and local religious leader) was quite sufficient to prove it. The feature which, in the Chamber’s preposterous opinion, raised the matter to the coveted status of genocide was that the three individuals were key leaders without whom the local community would collapse and become unsustainable. Unsustainability equals extinction, and extinction equals – genocide. (See also Tolimir Judgment Summary, p. 7.) In a scathing dissenting opinion, Judge Prisca Nyambe, a member of the trial panel, protested vigorously against this absurdity, but to no avail.

With childlike simplicity, most Balkan contenders seemingly would love to be “genocided” by their local enemies provided, however, that they survived to tell the tale to the tabloid media. It is a pity that there appear to be no adults in the room to restrain their exuberance.

Posted in Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Serbia, YugoslaviaComments Off on Balkan ‘Genocides’ Are Not to be Questioned

NATO’s Continuing Enlargement Aims at Further Weakening of Russian Influence in the Balkans

By Paul Antonopoulos

Global Research,

Of the 29 NATO member states, 22 have already ratified the accession protocol of North Macedonia into the anti-Russian alliance. The ratification process will likely be completed before the end of NATO’s summit taking place in London this week, which will make North Macedonia the newest country in military alliance.

This now appears even more likely since U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave his endorsement, saying on Twitter:

“Pleased to announce the United States deposited its ratification of North Macedonia’s NATO Accession Protocol. One step closer to welcoming North Macedonia as NATO’s 30th Ally!”

This will make North Macedonia the fourth country out of the six successor states of Yugoslavia to become a NATO member, following Slovenia, Croatia and Montenegro. With Bosnia effectively a NATO satellite, this leaves Serbia as the bulwark of anti-NATO and pro-Russia sentiment in the region, especially as the other fellow Balkan countries, Greece, Bulgaria and Romania, are also NATO members.

The confusing Macedonia question was a key priority for Russia’s Balkan policy – North Macedonia is an overwhelmingly Orthodox and Slavic country that had the potential to become another pro-Russia state in the Balkans, alongside neighboring Serbia. However, North Macedonia since its independence from Yugoslavia in 1991 pursued a pro-Western policy and joined the NATO program Partnership for Peace as early as 1995 and became a European Union candidate a decade later.

This had not discouraged Russian efforts to push North Macedonia out of the NATO sphere of influence. The governments in Athens and Skopje have competed over the name Macedonia since North Macedonia became independent from Yugoslavia, as Greece’s northern region is also confusingly called Macedonia. Effectively, as North Macedonia was continuously vetoed by Greece from joining NATO and the EU because of the name dispute, Russian efforts to radicalize Macedonian identity was encouraged. The strategy to radicalize Macedonian identity to be more anti-Western and pro-Russian was an effort to avoid a situation like the Prespa Agreement that brought a finalization to the Macedonian name dispute in 2018, opening the way for North Macedonia to join NATO and the EU, without a Greek veto.Is the ‘Greater Albania’ Project Aimed Against Russia in the Balkans?

The Prespa Agreement, named after a lake that traverses the borders of Greece, North Macedonia and Albania, defined exactly what was meant by “Macedonia” and “Macedonian.” For Greece, according to the agreement, these terms denote an area and people of Greece’s northern region, who continue the legacy of the Ancient Macedonian Hellenic civilization, history and culture, as well as the legacy of Alexander the Great. In reference to North Macedonia, these terms denote the modern territory of North Macedonia, Slavic language and Slavic people with their own history and culture unrelated to the Ancient Macedonians. The agreement also stipulates the removal of North Macedonian irredentist efforts against Greek territory and to align them with UNESCO and Council of Europe’s standards.

The radicalization of an independent Macedonian identity was in the hope that North Macedonians would reject the name change, despite the scholarly and historical consensus that the Ancient Macedonians were Greek. This hoped North Macedonian denunciation of the West was on the basis that resolving the name dispute goes against North Macedonian nationalist doctrine as any name change must support the historical reality that the Ancient Macedonians were Hellenes. This was a bad calculation that encouraged the North Macedonians to concentrate their efforts and resources on historical revisionism on not only Hellenic legacy, but also Bulgarian and Serbian, as  historical figures like King Samuel of Bulgaria, Ilyo Voyvoda, Aleksandar Turundzhev, Yane Sandanski, Hristo Batandzhiev and many others are claimed by both North Macedonia and Bulgaria, and the unrecognized and schismatic Macedonian Orthodox Church separated in an ugly divorce from the Serbian Orthodox Church in 1967.

This historical revisionism meant ignoring serious ambitions for a Greater Albania that expands into the western territories of North Macedonia. Ignoring efforts for Albanian expansionism, something that has been partially achieved with the Albanian control of Kosovo, has undermined North Macedonian security and opened the gates for it to become a major puppet of NATO to preserve their territorial integrity. As argued in a previous article, because the overwhelming majority of Albanians want a Greater Albania, it is unlikely to be achieved with Washington’s backing in Greece, Montenegro and North Macedonia as they do not pose a threat to U.S. hegemony in the Balkans, but rather serve it, by resisting Russian influence in the region.

As long as Skopje remains loyal to globalist agendas, the U.S. will not back Albanian expansionism in the country. However, the U.S. can certainly use the Albanian minority as a destabilizing force, as seen with Kosovo’s illegal declaration of independence and the 2001 Albanian uprising in North Macedonia. In addition to Washington having the option to use the Albanians as a destabilizing factor, the Albanians themselves may formant instability without U.S. backing as 53% of the approximately 500,000 Albanians in North Macedonia believe in a Greater Albania.

With Russian influencers failing to invigorate anti-NATO sentiment in North Macedonia, there comes the reality that the Balkan country, confident after the finalization of the name dispute, can now march into the hands of its new NATO puppet masters. It is for this reason that a senior Russian Foreign Ministry official said that:

“Russia’s position regarding the expansion of NATO is well known: it is a destructive process that undermines confidence and stability in Europe, leads to increased antagonism.”

According to the official, it is not a military threat that North Macedonia would pose to Russia but a set of risks to European security that “must be guaranteed by totally different methods, instead of involving this [Balkan] country in military planning of the Alliance and in an anti-Russian policy.”

Posted in USA, Europe, Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, NATO, Russia, Serbia, YugoslaviaComments Off on NATO’s Continuing Enlargement Aims at Further Weakening of Russian Influence in the Balkans

The Baltic states are horrified of losing the Russian transit

by Ruslan Ostashko

The Balts with their typical sluggish thinking have started figuring out the consequences of losing the Russian transit. The horror of the realization forced the head of Latvia’s State Railway Administration to announce that the situation is close to critical.

In September, when I posted a video on the Russian policy of removal of the last transit from the Tribaltic Desolates, the independent russophobes were still putting up a brave front.

Only a short time has passed, and the sprat democracies started screeching in horror about what was going on and what will the consequences be for lovers of “eurointegration”.

“The volumes of cargo are low enough already and decreased by 12.5% during nine months in comparison to last year. The IV quarter is much worse. It is especially bad with coal, which was our savior. Now, coal turnover volumes are so low that they are worse than even the most pessimistic predictions we made half a year ago” – the director of Latvia’s State Railway Administration Juris Iesalnieks complained.

Suddenly the svidomiye Latvians understood that if you bully the Russians for many years by doing the Nazi salute and screaming “compensation for occupation” it can end badly. Except they understood it only when the process became irreversible.

Now the nezalezhniki (independents) can only lament the perfidy of the cursed moskals.

“Latvia confirms that the Russian government made an agreement with enterprises occupied in the transit business that specified the timetable for the removal of their cargo from the Baltic ports”. “This time the government of Russia took the matter very seriously. We are already seeing it now. As soon as this fall” – Iesalnieks noted.

Translated from the politically correct language the whining of the Latvian official means that the Russian government stopped feeding the russophobes. And the latter quickly felt the disappearance of food. And they felt if with many parts of their independent economic organism at the same time.

“Due to the fall in the turnover of goods the Latvian Railways company received a directive from the Ministry for Transport to reconsider expenses. Possible layoffs are being considered. The project for electrification of Latvian railways is up in the air. European Union funds had assigned €318 million for it but Riga must find another €100 million to realize it. And if the transit turnover is falling, there is no point in electrification”.

Woosh – it turns out that the economic plans of the proud Latvian republic were only based on retaining the cursed occupation transit. But these plans cannot be realized without it, even with significant European subventions.

’The government supports this project on the condition that it will not impact the state budget and government obligations. If Latvian Railways has to go to the government asking for subsidies, they will not receive support’ – the Minister for Transport Tālis Linkaits warns

Isn’t it lovely? Only for the first half of 2019 Latvian ports have lost 12.4% of goods turnover. For individual indicators – anthracite transit for example – the losses are even higher. The offloading of Russian coal of this category fell a whole 20%.

Svidomyie, didn’t you want independence from the cursed moskals? Well, there it is, you’re welcome.

“Russian ports in the Baltics demonstrate steady growth. The highest growth rates are in the port of Vysotsk. For the first 10 months of 2019 the cargo turnover here increased 15%. This was due to oil-products, the appearance of the terminal for production and shipment of liquefied natural gas. The cargo turnover of the very large Ust-Luga port increased 10%. The highest rate of growth concerns shipping of mineral fertilizers, ferrous metals and containers. The turnover in Primorsk, which specializes on oil and oil-products, increased 6%. The port of Saint Petersburg added 2%”.

Our only Baltic port where shipping has decreased is Vyborg. Although I believe the situation there can be corrected. Other ports are rapidly broadening their infrastructure.

“In Ust-Luga a complex for storage and transshipping of mineral fertilizers is being built. The plan is that by the middle of 2020 there will be new facilities capable of processing 5 million tons of goods per year. By 2022 transshipping will increase to 12 million tons per year. In Ust-Luga there are also plans to create artificial agricultural lands, which will allow to transfer up to 7 million tons of grain and 2 million tons of food cargo.

In Primorsk by 2022 a huge universal transshipping complex will be put into operation. Its throughput capacity will reach 70 million tons per year, which will be 20% of the total goods turnover of Russian ports in the Baltic Sea. The main types of cargo that will be processed in the port – coal, mineral fertilizers, containers, metal products and grain. Additionally, a depot logistical center will be built on a territory of over 50 hectares”.

I think is not necessary to ruminate over how this will lead to an even worse drying up of the Baltic states transit. Consequently, this will lead to multiple problems in the economy of the independent Tribaltic Desolates.

Speaking of independence. Only recently the entire Russian liberal crowd screeched in unison about secret protocols of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact. The chief editor of Echo of Moscow got so worked up about it pacing to and fro in the Yeltsin Center that he fell off the stage.

He alleged that cursed Stalin occupied the independent Baltic states. Although, for some reason the liberals keep silent about another agreement according to which Russia in fact bought the Balts outright.

“Why is no one condemning the pact of Peter I and Charles XII according to which we bought all these chukhontsy (prej. ‘man of Finno-Ugric origin’) from Sweden? It’s just as horrible: two tyrants decided the fate of the free Baltic peoples. If only they had decided that, in fact one of them simply sold several nations to another for cash”.

“We should present a bill to the chukhontsy. Converted to euros and with added percentage. It will be fair. Because they keep adding something up for us among themselves…”

“Sweden got rid of them and filled its treasury handsomely, while we bought ourselves some hemorrhoids out of the kindness of our hearts”.

The age of the kindness of the Russian soul towards the Balts has come to an end, and now Moscow is consistently getting rid of the ‘svidomyi sprat’ hemorrhoid. Using surgery. And the Latvians have the insolence of whining instead of rejoicing for the advent of ultimate independence.

Look here, svidomyie, you should present your grievances to the Swedes now, they are the ones who sold you to the cursed moskals. At the same time, you can take the opportunity to sue the Teutonic Order in the European Court of Human Rights, since its knights oppressed your ancestors. In case you didn’t know, this order still officially exists.

Let it and the Swedes replace the disappearing Russian transit, so that there can be a complete and final “eurointegration”, without a trace of ‘cursed moskals.’

Posted in Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Russia, Serbia, YugoslaviaComments Off on The Baltic states are horrified of losing the Russian transit

‘People Here Will Start Dying’: Dire Warnings as Stranded Refugees Freeze in Hellish Conditions Near Bosnia-Croatia Border

The conditions of the refugee camp are being decried as “not for human beings” as officials demanded immediate relief for those languishing there.

by: Jon Queally,

Migrants queue to receive aid distributed by Turkish Red Crescent at the camp 'Vucjak' near Bihac in Bosnia and Herzegovina on November 21, 2019. More than 700 irregular migrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan and other countries continue their lives in makeshift tents, located 15 kilometers from the Croatian border. Turkish Red Crescent distributed sweaters, blankets, sleeping-bags, toothpastes and towels. (Photo: Kayhan Gul/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Migrants queue to receive aid distributed by Turkish Red Crescent at the camp ‘Vucjak’ near Bihac in Bosnia and Herzegovina on November 21, 2019. More than 700 irregular migrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan and other countries continue their lives in makeshift tents, located 15 kilometers from the Croatian border. Turkish Red Crescent distributed sweaters, blankets, sleeping-bags, toothpastes and towels. (Photo: Kayhan Gul/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Human rights defenders and aid organizations are issuing dire warnings this week after witnessing the hellish conditions of an encampment of stranded refugees in the freezing forests of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

An envoy of officials on Tuesday visited the camp known as Vucjak—situated approximately five miles from the nearby border with Croatia in a forest that has grown atop a former landfill—where they saw hundreds of migrants huddled in leaking and drafty tents as temperatures in the region have dropped to freezing or below.

“Vucjak must be shut down today,” said Dunja Mijatovic, commissioner for human rights at the Council of Europe and a member of the delegation. “Otherwise the people here will start dying.”

Mijatovic said that as a citizen of Bosnia, she was “ashamed” of how the refugees were being treated, decried the conditions of the refugee camp as “not for human beings,” and called for immediate relief for those languishing there.

Ian Bancroft@bancroftian

It is hard to express just how harsh the winter in #Bosnia#Herzegovina can be, especially for those who’ve fled their homes with only the most meagre of possessions – “‘People are not animals’; stranded #migrants freeze in #Bosnian forest”. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-europe-migrants-bosnia/people-are-not-animals-stranded-migrants-freeze-in-bosnian-forest-idUSKBN1Y71SM …

‘People are not animals’; stranded migrants freeze in Bosnian forestHundreds of migrants and refugees stuck in a makeshift camp in a Bosnian forest are struggling to survive in subzero temperatures as snow weighs down on their tents, spurring fears that some may die…reuters.com1311:08 AM – Dec 4, 2019

According to Reuters:

Bosnia is struggling to deal with an upsurge in migrant numbers since Croatia, Hungary and Slovenia closed their borders against undocumented immigration. The migrants hope to get to wealthy western Europe and find work there.

Some lacked warm clothes and were wrapped in blankets, some traipsed through the snow and mud in flip-flops to collect firewood. One man brushed snow from the roof of his tent to prevent it collapsing.

Al-Jazeera also reported Tuesday from the Vucjak camp:

An 24-year-old Afghan man identified as Mauloddin, who set off from his war-torn homeland more than three years ago to seek refuge in Europe, told Reuters, “You see… it’s very cold weather, (there is) no sleeping, no food.”

“People are people,” he added, “not animals.”

Rezwanullay Niazy, also a 24-year-old Afghan, said: “We spent all our money… We came close to Europe, and now they closed the Croatian and Slovenian borders. When we go there they strike us, they hit us.”

Posted in Bosnia, CroatiaComments Off on ‘People Here Will Start Dying’: Dire Warnings as Stranded Refugees Freeze in Hellish Conditions Near Bosnia-Croatia Border

Exposing Nazi role in Bosnian genocide

NOVANEWS

Supreme Court rules against exposing ”Israel” role in Bosnian genocide

Supreme Court rules against exposing Israel’s role in Bosnian genocide

Citing potential damage to Israel’s foreign relations, the Supreme Court rejects a petition calling to reveal details of the government’s arms exports to the Serbian army during the Bosnian genocide.

By John Brown

A mass grave in Bosnia. (ICTY)

A mass grave in Bosnia. (ICTY)

Israel’s Supreme Court last month rejected a petition to reveal details of Israeli defense exports to the former Yugoslavia during the genocide in Bosnia in the 1990s. The court ruled that exposing Israeli involvement in genocide would damage the country’s foreign relations to such an extent that it would outweigh the public interest in knowing that information, and the possible prosecution of those involved.

The petitioners, Attorney Itay Mack and Professor Yair Oron, presented the court with concrete evidence of Israeli defense exports to Serbian forces at the time, including training as well as ammunition and rifles. Among other things, they presented the personal journal of General Ratko Mladić, currently on trial at the International Court of Justice for committing war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. Mladić’s journal explicitly mentions Serbia’s ample arms ties with Israel at the time.

The exports took place long after the UN Security Council placed an arms embargo on various parts of the former Yugoslavia, and after the publication of a series of testimonies exposing genocide and the creation of concentration camps.

The Israeli State Attorney’s reply and the court’s rejection of the petition are a de facto admission by Israel that it cooperated with the Bosnian genocide: if the government had nothing to hide, the documents under discussion would not pose any threat to foreign relations.

The most horrific acts of cruelty since the Holocaust

Between 1991 and 1995 the former Yugoslavia shattered, going from a multi-national republic to an assemblage of nations fighting each other in a bloody civil war that included massacres and ultimately genocide.

The Serbs waged war against Croatia from 1991-1992, and against Bosnia from 1992-1995. In both wars the Serbs committed genocide and ethnic cleansing of Muslims in the areas they occupied, leading to the deaths of 250,000 people. Tens of thousands of others were wounded and starved, a multitude of women were raped, and many people were incarcerated in concentration camps. Other parties to the conflict also committed war crimes, but the petition focuses on Israel’s collaboration with the Serbian forces. The horrendously cruel acts in Yugoslavia were the worst Europe had seen since the Holocaust.

Ratko Mladić. Evidence of Israeli arms deals was found in his journal. (Mikhail Estefayev)

Ratko Mladić. Evidence of Israeli arms deals was found in his journal. (Mikhail Estefayev)

One of the most notorious massacres was perpetrated by soldiers serving under Serbian General Ratko Mladić around the city of Srebrenica in July 1995. Serbian forces commanded by the general murdered about 8,000 Bosnians and buried them in mass graves in the course of a campaign of ethnic cleansing they were waging against Muslims in the area. Although the city was supposed to be under UN protection, when the massacre began UN troops did not intervene. Mladić was extradited to the International Court of Justice at The Hague in 2012, and is still on trial.

At the time, prominent Jewish organizations were calling for an immediate end to the genocide and shutting down the death camps. Not so the State of Israel. Outwardly it condemned the massacre, but behind the scenes was supplying weapons to the perpetrators and training their troops.

Attorney Mack and Professor Oron have gathered numerous testimonies about the Israeli arms supply to Serbia, which they presented in their petition. They provided evidence of such exports taking place long after the UN Security Council embargo went into effect in September 1991. The testimonies have been crossed-checked and are brought here as they were presented in the petition, with necessary abbreviations.

In 1992 a former senior official of the Serb Ministry of Defense published a bookThe Serbian Army, in which she wrote about the arms deal between Israel and Serbia, signed about a month after the embargo: “One of the largest deals was made in October 1991. For obvious reasons, the deal with the Jews was not made public at the time.”

An Israeli who volunteered in a humanitarian organization in Bosnia at the time testified that in 1994 a UN officer asked him to look at the remains of 120 mm shell — with Hebrew writing on it  that exploded on the landing strip of the Sarajevo airfield. He also testified that he saw Serbs moving around in Bosnia carrying Uzi guns made in Israel.

A concentration camp in Bosnia. (ITN)

A concentration camp in Bosnia. (ITN)

In 1995 it was reported that Israeli arms dealers in collaboration with the French closed a deal to supply Serbia with LAW missiles. According to reports from 1992, a delegation of the Israeli Ministry of Defense came to Belgrade and signed an agreement to supply shells.

The same General Mladić who is now being prosecuted for war crimes and genocide, wrote in his journal that “from Israel — they proposed joint struggle against Islamist extremists. They offered to train our men in Greece and a free supply of sniper rifles.” A report prepared at the request of the Dutch government on the investigation of the Srebrenica events contains the following: “Belgrade considered Israel, Russia and Greece its best friends. In autumn 1991 Serbia closed a secret arms deal with Israel.”

In 1995 it was reported that Israeli arms dealers supplied weapons to VRS — the army of Republika Srpska, the Bosnian Serb Army. This supply must have been made with the knowledge of the Israeli government.

The Serbs were not the only party in this war to which the Israeli arms dealers tried to sell weapons. According to reports, there was also an attempt to make a deal with the anti-Semitic Croatian regime, which eventually fell through. The petition also presented reports by human rights activists about Israelis training the Serb army, and that the arms deal with the Serbs enabled Jews to leave Sarajevo, which was under siege.

While all of this was taking place in relative secrecy, at the public level the government of Israel lamely expressed its misgivings about the situation, as if this were some force majeure and not a manmade slaughter. In July 1994, then-Chairman of the Israeli Knesset’s Foreign Relations and Defense Committee MK Ori Or visited Belgrade and said: “Our memory is alive. We know what it means to live with boycotts. Every UN resolution against us has been taken with a two-thirds majority.” That year, Vice President of the US at the time, Al Gore, summoned the Israeli ambassador and warned Israel to desist from this cooperation.

Incidentally, in 2013 Israel had no problem extraditing to Bosnia-Herzegovina a citizen who immigrated to Israel seven years earlier and was wanted for suspicion of involvement in a massacre in Bosnia in 1995. In other words, at some point the state itself recognized the severity of the issue.

The Supreme Court in the service of war crimes

The Supreme Court session on the state’s reply to the petition was held ex parte, i.e. the petitioners weren’t allowed to hear it. Justices Danziger, Mazouz and Fogelman rejected the petition and accepted the state’s position that revealing the details of Israeli defense exports to Serbia during the genocide would damage Israel’s foreign relations and security, and that this potential damage exceeds the public’s interest in exposing what happened.

A mass grave at Srebrenica, where Serbian forces massacred around 8,000 Bosnian Muslims in 1995. (Adam Jones)

A mass grave at Srebrenica, where Serbian forces massacred around 8,000 Bosnian Muslims in 1995. (Adam Jones)

This ruling is dangerous for several reasons. Firstly, the court’s acceptance of the state’s certainty in how much damage would be caused to Israel’s foreign relations is perplexing. Earlier this year, the same Supreme Court rejected a similar claim regarding defense exports during the Rwandan genocide, yet a month later the state itself declared that the exports were halted six days after the killing started. If even the state does not see any harm in revealing — at least partially — this information regarding Rwanda, why was a sweeping gag imposed on the subject a month prior? Why did the Supreme Court justices overlook this deception, even refusing to accept it as evidence as the petitioners requested? After all, the state has obviously exaggerated in its claim that this information would be damaging to foreign relations.

Secondly, it is very much in the public’s interest to expose the state’s involvement in genocide, including through arms dealers, particularly as a state that was founded upon the devastation of its people following the Holocaust. It was for this reason that Israel was, for example, willing to disregard Argentina’s sovereignty when it kidnapped Eichmann and brought him to trial on its own soil. It is in the interest not only of Israelis, but also of those who were victims of the Holocaust. When the court considers war crimes, it is only proper for it to consider their interest as well.

When the court rules in cases of genocide that damage to state security — which remains entirely unproven — overrides the pursuit of justice for the victims of such crimes, it is sending a clear message: that the state’s right to security, whether real or imaginary, is absolute, and takes precedence over the rights of its citizens and others.

The Supreme Court’s ruling might lead one to conclude that the greater the crime, the easier it is to conceal. The more arms sold and the more genocide perpetrators trained, the greater the damage to the state’s foreign relations and security should such crimes be exposed, and the weight of such supposed damage will necessarily override the public interest. This is unacceptable. It turns the judges — as the petitioners have put it — into accomplices. The justices thus also make an unwitting Israeli public complicit in war crimes, and deny them the democratic right to conduct the relevant discussion.

The state faces a series of similar requests regarding its collaboration with the murderers of the Argentinian Junta, Pinochet’s regime in Chile, and Sri Lanka. Attorney Mack intends to present additional cases by the end of this year. Even if it is in the state’s interest to reject these petitions, the Supreme Court must stop helping to conceal these crimes — if not for the sake of prosecuting perpetrators of past atrocities, at least in order to put a stop to them in our time.



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Globalism’s First Victim. NATO’s War on Yugoslavia

NOVANEWS

David Orchard led the anti-war campaign across Canada relentlessly mobilizing support against NATO’s war on Yugoslavia.

March 24, 2018 commemorates the 19th anniversary of  NATO’s war on Yugoslavia.

This article was originally published by Toronto’s National Post on June 23, 1999.

David Orchard (image left)

In March [1999], the most powerful military force in history attacked tiny Yugoslavia (one fifth the size of Saskatchewan) and after seventy-nine days of flagrantly illegal bombing forced an occupation of Kosovo. Admitting its intention was to break Yugoslavia’s spirit, NATO targeted civilian structures, dropping over 23,000 bombs (500 Canadian) and cruise missiles in a campaign of terror bombing, dNATO’s War on Yugoslaviaescribed recently by Alexander Solzhenitsyn as follows: “I don’t see any difference in the behaviour of NATO and of Hitler. NATO wants to erect its own order in the world and it needs Yugoslavia simply as an example: We’ll punish Yugoslavia and the whole rest of the planet will tremble.”

The idea that NATO attacked Yugoslavia to solve a humanitarian crisis is about as credible as Germany’s claim in 1939 that it was invading Poland to prevent “Polish atrocities.” The United Nations Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported the first registered refugees out of Kosovo on March 27th — three days after the bombing began. Civilian casualties after twenty-one days of bombing exceeded all casualties on both sides in Kosovo in the three months before the war.

In an all out effort to convince public opinion that Yugoslavia deserved the onslaught, Western politicians and media are churning out endless accusations of Serb atrocities, while the proven and infinitely greater atrocities of NATO — launching an aggressive war, using internationally outlawed cluster bombs and firing depleted uranium ammunition into Yugoslavia — are buried.

Why did NATO attack Yugoslavia and why are Serbs — Canada’s staunch allies in both World Wars, with 1.5 million dead resisting Hitler’s Nazis and Italian Fascism — being demonized?

Most 19th century wars were over trade. When the U.S. invaded Canada in 1812, Andrew Jackson declared, “We are going to… vindicate our right to a free trade, and open markets… and to carry the Republican standard to the Heights of Abraham.” In 1839, Britain demanded China accept its opium and attacked when China said no. When Thailand refused British trading demands in 1849, Britain “found its presumption unbounded” and decided “a better disposed King [be] placed on the throne… and through him, we might, beyond doubt, gain all we desire.”

In 1999, NATO said it was attacking Yugoslavia to force it to sign the Rambouillet “peace agreement” (even though the Vienna Convention states that any treaty obtained by force or the threat of force is void).

Significantly, Rambouillet stipulated:

“The economy of Kosovo shall function in accordance with free market principles” and “There shall be no impediments to the free movement of persons, goods, services and capital to and from Kosovo.”

During the war, Bill Clinton elaborated:

“If we’re going to have a strong economic relationship that includes our ability to sell around the world Europe has got to be the key; that’s what this Kosovo thing is all about… It’s globalism versus tribalism.”

“Tribalism” was the word used by 19th century free trade liberals to describe nationalism. And this war was all about threatening any nation which might have ideas of independence.

Yugoslavia had a domestically controlled economy, a strong publicly owned sector, a good (and free) health care system and its own defence industry. It had many employee owned factories — its population was resisting wholesale privatization. It produced its own pharmaceuticals, aircraft and Yugo automobile. It refused to allow U.S. military bases on its soil. According to the speaker of the Russian Duma:

“Yugoslavia annoys NATO because it conducts an independent policy, does not want to join NATO and has an attractive geographic position.”

Ottawa, cutting medicare, agricultural research, social housing and shelters for battered women, spent tens of millions to bomb Yugoslavia and is spending millions more occupying Kosovo, while abandoning its own sovereignty to U.S. demands, from magazines to fish, wheat and lumber. It is expropriating part of British Columbia for the U.S. military and considering the U.S. dollar as North America’s currency. Now, the Liberals have thrown our reputation as a peace keeper into the trash can, along with the rule of international law, by smashing a small country to pieces at the behest of Washington.

In a March 28 New York Times article, Thomas Friedman wrote:

“For globalization to work, America can’t be afraid to act like the almighty superpower that it is… The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist. McDonald’s cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas, the designer of the F-15. And the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley’s technologies is called the United States Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.”

As NATO troops entered Kosovo, the same newspaper announced Kosovo’s new currency will be the U.S. dollar or German mark, currencies of the two countries most responsible for Yugoslavia’s break-up. And after months of being told that Slobodan Milosevic was the problem, we heard Washington Balkans expert, Daniel Serwer, explain:

“It’s not a single person that’s at issue, there’s a regime in place in Belgrade that is incompatible with the kind of economy that the World Bank… has to insist on…”

The Canadian government professes great interest in human rights. Globalization undermines both democracy and national sovereignty, the only guarantors of human rights. Unfortunately for Messrs. Clinton, Chretien et al, that message was not lost on millions around the world watching NATO bombs pulverize Yugoslavia.



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Ratko Mladic – war criminal

NOVANEWS

The suicide on 29 November 2017 of former Bosnian Croat general Slobodan Praljak after he failed to get his conviction for war crimes overturned has slightly overshadowed the conviction last week of Ratko Mladic, former general of the Bosnian Serb army, for war crimes and the life sentenced imposed on him, writes Geoff Ryan. Mladic’s conviction was just about the last act of the Hague based International  Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) before it winds up next week.

With the jailing of Mladic most of those responsible for war crimes committed by Serb forces in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina and by Croat forces in Bosnia Herzegovina are either dead or in jail. Former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, his Croatian counterpart Franjo Tudjman, leader of the Serb Autonomous Republic of Krajina (ARK) Milan Babic and Mate Boban,  his Croat counterpart in Herceg-Bosna  (the attempt by Croat forces to carve out parts of Bosnia), Serb paramilitary leader Arkan) have died while former leader of the Bosnian Serbs  Radovan Karadzic, Milan Martic who replaced Milan Babic as leader of the ARK when Babic fell  out with Milosevic and now Mladic are in prison as a result of decisions by the tribunal.

The one major player who has escaped prison is Vojislav Seselj, leader of the Serbian Radical Party whose paramilitary Cetniks were guilty of many murders in Croatia and Bosnia. Bizarrely Seselj was found not guilty of all charges in 2016.

Of course many minor players remain at large and unlikely to ever face any criminal charges. Current Serbia President Aleksandar Vucic is a former member of Seselj’s Serbian Radical Party but his pro-western leanings will almost certainly mean he is fairly safe from anyone enquiring too closely into his role in Serbian wars of aggression. Or of his allowing both Karadzic and Mladic to openly move about Serbia and Republika SrpskaRepublika Srpska is the part of Bosnia carved out by Mladic and Karadzic, with the acquiescence of western governments.  Milorad Dudik, current leader of Republika Srpska, is probably also safe despite his close ties to Karadzic and Mladic.

In fact as Jonathan Freedland pointed out in the Guardian last Saturday (25th November), Mladic would probably have avoided jail if he hadn’t been arrested when he was. Western governments no longer have an appetite for arresting war criminals. Though Freedland could also have pointed out that western governments have rarely had such an appetite: after all they collaborated with Milosevic for a long time. The Dayton accords on Bosnia, engineered by the US government, rewarded Milosevic for his wars of aggression. Milosevic was quite willing to dump Karadzic and Mladic to gain support from western governments. It was only in 1999 when Serbian forces renewed war against the Albanian majority population in Kosova that the British and US governments decided that Milosevic had to go.

And some of the worst war criminals are missing from Freedland’s arguments: Henry Kissinger and Ariel Sharon are notable absentees, though hardly surprising given Freedland’s support for Zionism. And the US boycotts international war crimes tribunals and is clear that it will never allow US soldiers to be put on trial by such bodies, however heinous the crimes.

Break up of former Yugoslavia

The jailing of Mladic is of enormous historical importance, not least because some of the issues involved also have current relevance. The most important of these is the attitude socialists should take towards the national question. Most of the left, with some exceptions, hopelessly failed to understand the importance of the national question in the wars of aggression carried out by Milosevic against Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. They simply equated Serb, Croatian and Bosniak nationalism without, at the very least, recognising that ‘Bosniak’ nationalism was about the unity of Serbs, Croats and Bosnian Muslims, alongside all other nationalities living in Bosnia.

Some had nostalgia for the old Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, a laudable enough sentiment, but then saw Milosevic as the continuer of Tito’s legacy. They failed to understand that by oppressing the Albanian majority in Kosova, by replacing party leaders in Kosova and Vojvodina (both autonomous provinces within Serbia at the time) and Montenegro with yes-men Milosevic was giving rise to the Serbian domination of Yugoslavia that Tito had deliberately tried to prevent in the 1974 Constitution.

This nostalgia was frequently mistaken in that many of those supporting ‘Yugoslavia’ appeared to be unaware that Tito had broken with Stalin and the leadership of the Soviet Union. They saw everything through the prism of the cold war and therefore saw the break-up of Yugoslavia as an imperialist plot, usually a German plot. In one of the ironies of history, the most enthusiastic supporters of Milosevic were the government of Russia, led by Vladimir Putin.

Others saw the conflict between Serbia and Croatia as a conflict between two equally bad nationalisms, with nothing to choose between Milosevic and Croatian President Franjo Tudjman. The frequent references to the pro-Nazi independent Croatian state and the brutality of the Ustase (and failure to mention the pro-Nazi regime in Belgrade, the first in Europe to declare itself to be Judenrein, free of Jews) in fact suggested a preference for Milosevic.

In fact the central conflict was that between Milosevic and the leadership of the League of Communists of Slovenia. The Slovenes wanted a loose, confederal structure to Yugoslavia while Milosevic and the leadership in Serbia wanted a more rigid, highly centralised structure with Serbia having a dominant role. When the Slovene leadership exercised their right to independence under the 1974 constitution the Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) intervened militarily. While the Slovenes resisted there is no doubt that the JNA could have defeated Slovene forces and forced Slovenia to remain within Yugoslavia. The reason they didn’t was because Milosevic had no interest in Slovenia. Unlike Yugoslavia as a whole (with its 6 nations, 10 nationalities and at least another 15 national minorities) Slovenia was relatively ethnically homogenous. Most importantly for Milosevic there were very few Serbs.

However, once Slovenia left Yugoslavia it was a certainty that the Croatian leadership would follow suit, especially since the by now Croatian nationalist Franjo Tudjman was in charge. War was more or less inevitable as large numbers of Serbs lived in Croatia and Milosevic was determined to create a Greater Serbia. The Serbian Democratic Party (SDS), with its headquarters in the town of Knin in the Krajina, ensured Serbs were well armed and ready to resist all attempts by the Croatian government to impose its rule. But the SDS was essentially a creation of Milosevic – to the extent that Milosevic replaced Milan Babic with Milan Martic when Babic dared to disagree with him.

The war in Croatia was exceptionally brutal towns such as Vukovar were systematically destroyed by the JNA, Arkan’s ‘Tigers’ and Seselj’s Cetniks. The beautiful Adriatic tourist city of Dubrovnik was shelled for the duration of the war. (It has since been sensitively rebuilt and remains one of the most attractive cities on the planet, as well as providing some of the locations for ‘Game of Thrones’).

But the war of Croatian independence (as it is known in Croatia) was in many ways a dress rehearsal for the even more brutal war in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The Bosnian government had initially supported remaining within the rump Yugoslavia of Serbia and Montenegro but the brutality of the Serb war machine in Croatia persuaded Bosnian President Izetbegovic that independence was necessary.

While Ratko Mladic had been involved in war in Croatia, it is his role in Bosnia that has made him infamous and for which he is now serving a life sentence. Mladic was responsible for the 3 year siege of Sarajevo during which Serb artillery shelled the city on a regular basis and snipers made going about one’s daily business a serious risk of death. Mladic was also responsible for the massacre of over 7,000 Bosniak men at Srebrenica, a supposedly ‘safe area’ ‘protected’ by UN troops. The Dutch troops did nothing to prevent the massacre. Other ‘safe areas’ were overrun by Mladic’s troops.

Support for self determination

So how do wars in the 1990s in former Yugoslavia relate to current issues? The main issue is the national question and our attitude as socialists to national self-determination. The most brutal example of refusal to grant any sort of self-determination (self-determination does not necessarily imply independence) is currently in Myanmar, with the expulsion of the Rohyngas.  The Kurdish people are currently denied any right to self-determination in Syria, Iraq, Iran and Turkey. Western governments are resolutely against any Kurdish state, not even as reward for the leading role Kurds played in the fight against Islamic State.  We support the right of the Rohynga Muslim minority to be recognised as a nation alongside the majority Burmese nation and we are fully in support of the right of the Kurdish people to their own state.

Most of the left in western Europe would probably agree with those sentiments. But other issues are thornier: in particular the attitude of socialists to independence movements in Catalonia and Scotland. The main leftist group in the Spanish state Podemos has resolutely set its face against independence for Catalonia.

Of course Catalan independence is illegal but that is because the constitution of the Spanish state essentially continues Franco’s rule and makes it illegal to secede from the Spanish state. Tito’s constitution in Yugoslavia was vastly more democratic, at least in theory. But just as Yugoslavia had different nations – each, again in theory, with their own republic within the Socialist Federation of Yugoslavia – so does the Spanish state. At the very least Catalans, Basques and Galicians do not consider themselves to be ‘Spanish’. They undoubtedly have the right to self-determination, including the right to independence.

Whether or not they exercise that right is up to the people of Catalonia, the Basque country and Galicia. That is, all the people living in those parts of the Spanish state, not just Catalans or Basques or Galicians. That is basically what the now deposed Catalan government tried to do and it is totally unacceptable for a majority ‘Spanish’ party like Podemos to impose the views of the dominant nationality on national minorities.

Similarly sections of the British left have refused to support Scottish independence on the grounds of maintaining a unified Labour movement. They denounce nationalism as divisive while failing to recognise they are also expressing nationalist views. Once again members of the dominant English nationality want to impose their views on a national minority.

Of course the situation in Catalonia and Scotland today in no way resembles Yugoslavia in the 1990s. There is no equivalent of Serb paramilitaries fuelled by Serb nationalism. There is no Slobodan Milosevic. There is no Radovan Karadzic. There is no Ratko Mladic. But nobody in 1980s Yugoslavia foresaw the rise of Serb nationalism until Milosevic began to wage war against the Albanian majority in Kosova. And many hoped it would soon pass over. After all many considered themselves Yugoslavs, just as many in the Spanish state consider themselves ‘Spanish’ and in Britain ‘British’.



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Was Srebrenica a Hoax? Eye-Witness Account of a Former United Nations Military Observer in Bosnia

NOVANEWS
 

Feature Image: General Major Carlos Martins Branco

Global Research Editor’s Note

Ratko Mladić has recently been convicted to life imprisonment by the the ICTY on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity while he was Chief Commander of the Army of Republika Srpska between 1992 and 1995 in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

This detailed account first published in 1998 by former UN Military Observer Carlos Martino Brancocasts doubts on the decision of the Hague Tribunal (ICTY) that “genocide was committed in Srebrenica in 1995.”

“…Bosnia Serb forces carried out genocide against the Bosnian Muslims (…) .Those who devise and implement genocide seek to deprive humanity of the manifold richness its nationalities, races, ethnicities and religions provide. This is a crime against all humankind, its harm being felt not only by the group targeted for destruction, but by all of humanity.”

 

This article by General Major Carlos Martino Branco first published by Global Research on 20 April 2004 casts doubt on the ICTY conviction of Ratko Mladić.

Michel Chossudovsky, 23 November 2017

***

Author’s Preface

I  was on the ground in Bosnia during the war and, in particular, during the fall of Srebrenica.

One may agree or disagree with my political analysis, but one really ought to read the account of how Srebrenica fell, who are the victims whose bodies have been found so far, and why the author believes that the Serbs wanted to conquer Srebrenica and make the Bosnian Muslims flee, rather than having any intentions of butchering them. The comparison Srebrenica vs. Krajina, as well as the related media reaction by the “free press” in the West, is also rather instructive.

There is little doubt that at least 2,000 Bosnian Muslims died in fighting the better trained and better commanded VRS/BSA. Yet, the question remains, WHEN did most of these casualties of combat occur? According to the analysis below, it was before the final fall of Srebrenica:  the Muslims offered very little resistance in the summer of 1995.

I was UNMO [United Nations Military Observer] Deputy Chief Operations Officer of the UNPF [United Nations Population Fund] (at theatre level) and my information is based upon debriefings of UN military observers who where posted to Srebrenica during those days as well as several United Nations reports which were not made public.

My sources of information are not Ruder & Finn Global Public Affairs. My name is not included in their database.

I do not wish to discuss numbers and similar matters pertaining thereto.  There is reason to believe that figures have been used and manipulated for propaganda purposes. These figures and information do not provide a serious understanding of the Yugoslavian conflict.

The article is based upon TRUE information and includes my analysis of the events. The story is longer than what I  have presented here in this article.

It is my hope that it will contribute  to clarifying  what really happened in Srebrenica.

Was Srebenica a Hoax?

It is now two years since the Muslim enclave, Srebenica, fell into the hands of the Serbian army in Bosnia. Much has been written about the matter. Nonetheless the majority of reports have been limited to a broad media exposure of the event, with very little analytic rigor.

Discussion of Srebrenica cannot be limited to genocide and mass graves.

A rigorous analysis of the events must take into consideration the background circumstances, in order to understand the real motives which led to the fall of the enclave.

The zone of Srebrenica, like almost all of Eastern Bosnia, is characterized by very rugged terrain. Steep valleys with dense forests and deep ravines make it impossible for combat vehicles to pass, and offers a clear advantage to defensive forces. Given the resources available to both parties, and the characteristics of the terrain, it would seem that the Bosnian army (ABiH) had the necessary force to defend itself, if it had used full advantage of the terrain. This, however, did not occur.

Given the military advantage of the defensive forces it is very difficult to explain the absence of military resistance. The Muslim forces did not establish an effective defensive system and did not even try to take advantage of their heavy artillery, under control of the United Nations (UN) forces, at a time in which they had every reason to do so.

The lack of a military response stands in clear contrast to the offensive attitude which characterized the actions of the defensive forces in previous siege situations, which typically launched violent “raids” against the Serbian villages surrounding the enclave, thus provoking heavy casualties amongst the Serbian civilian population.

But in this instance, with the attention of the media focused upon the area, military defence of the enclave would have revealed the true situation in security zones, and demonstrate that these had never been genuinely demilitarized zones as was claimed, but were harboured highly-armed military units. Military resistance would jeopardize the image of “victim”, which had been so carefully constructed, and which the Muslims considered vital to maintain.

Throughout the entire operation, it was clear that there were profound disagreements between the leaders of the enclave. From a military viewpoint, there was total confusion. Oric, the charismatic commander of Srebenica, was absent.

The Sarajevo government did not authorize his return in order to lead the resistance. Military power fell into the hands of his lieutenants, who had a long history of incompatibility. The absence of Oric’s clear leadership led to a situation of total ineptitude. The contradictory orders of his successors completely paralyzed the forces under siege.

The behavior of the political leaders is also interesting. The local SDP president, Zlatko Dukic, in an interview with European Union observers, explained that Srebrenica formed part of a business transaction which involved a logistical support route to Sarajevo, via Vogosca.

He also claimed that the fall of the enclave formed part of an orchestrated campaign to discredit the West and win the support of Islamic countries. This was the reason for Oric to maintain a distance from his troops. This thesis was also defended by the local supporters of the DAS. There were also many rumours of a trade within the local population of the enclave.

Another curious aspect was the absence of a military reaction from the 2nd Corps of the Muslim army, which did nothing to relieve the military pressure on the enclave. It was common knowledge that the Serbian unit in the region, the “Drina Corps”, was exhausted and that the attack on Srebenica was only possible with the aid of the units from other regions. Despite this fact, Sarajevo did not lift a finger in order to launch an attack which would have divided the Serbian forces and exposed the vulnerabilities created by the concentration of resources around Srebenica. Such an attack would have reduced the military pressure on the enclave.

It is also important to register the pathetic appeal of the president of Opstina, Osman Suljic, on July 9, which implored military observers to say to the world that the Serbians were using chemical weapons. The same gentleman later accused the media of transmitting false news items on the resistance of troops in the enclave, requiring a denial from the UN. According to Suljic, the Muslim troops did not respond, and would never respond with heavy artillery fire. Simultaneously, he complained of the lack of food supplies and of the humanitarian situation. Curiously, observers were never allowed to inspect the food reserve deposits. The emphasis given by political leaders on the lack of military response and the absence of food provisions loosely suggests an official policy which began to be discernible.

In mid 1995, the prolongation of the war had dampened public interest. There had been a substantial reduction in the pressure of public opinion in the western democracies. An incident of this importance would nonetheless provide hot news material for the media during several weeks, could awaken public opinion and incite new passions. In this manner it would be possible to kill two birds with one stone: pressure could be laid to bear in order to lift the embargo and simultaneously the occupying countries would find it difficult to withdraw their forces, a hypothesis which had been advanced by leading UN figures such as Akashi and Boutros-Boutros Ghali.

The Muslims always harbored a secret hope that the embargo would be lifted. This had become the prime objective of the Sarajevo government, and had been fuelled by the vote in the US Senate and Congress in favor of such a measure. President Clinton, however, vetoed the decision and required a two thirds majority in both houses. The enclaves collapse gave the decisive push that the campaign needed. After its fall, the US Senate voted with over a two thirds majority in favor of lifting the embargo.

It was clear that sooner or later the enclaves would fall into the hands of the Serbians, it was an inevitability. There was a consensus amongst the negotiators (the US administration, the UN and European governments) that it was impossible to maintain the three Muslim enclaves, and that they should be exchanged for territories in Central Bosnia. Madeleine Albright suggested this exchange on numerous occasions to Izetbegovic, based on the proposals of the Contact Group.

As early as 1993, at the time of the first crisis of the enclave, Karadzic had proposed to Izetbgovic to exchange Srebrenica for the suburb of Vogosca. This exchange included the movement of populations in both directions. This was the purpose of secret negotiations in order to avoid undesirable publicity. This implied that the western countries accepted and encouraged ethnic separation.

The truth is that both the Americans and President Izetbegovic had tacitly agreed that it made no sense to insist in maintaining these isolated enclaves in a divided Bosnia. In 1995 nobody believed any longer in the inevitability of ethnic division of the territory. In the month of June 1995, before the military operation in Srebrenica, Alexander Vershbow, Special Assistant to President Clinton stated that “America should encourage the Bosnians to think in terms of territories with greater territorial coherence and compactness.” In other words this meant that the enclaves should be forgotten. The attack on Srebrenica, with no help from Belgrade, was completely unnecessary and proved to be one of the most significant examples of the political failure of the Serbian leadership.

Meanwhile the western media exacerbated the situation by transforming the enclaves into a powerful mass-media icon; a situation which Izetbegovic was quick to explore. CNN had daily broadcasts of the images of mass graves for thousands of corpses, obtained from spy satellites. Despite the microscopic precision in the localization of these graves, it is certain that no discovery to date has confirmed such suspicions. Since there are no longer restrictions on movement, we inevitably speculate on why they have still not been shown to the world.

If there had been a premeditated plan of genocide, instead of attacking  in only one direction, from the south to the north – which left the hypothesis to escape to the north and west, the Serbs would have established a siege in order to ensure that no one escaped. The UN  observation posts to the north of the enclave were never disturbed and remained in activity after the end of the military operations. There are obviously mass graves in the outskirts of Srebrenica as in the rest of ex-Yugoslavia where combat has occurred, but there are no grounds for  the campaign which was mounted, nor the numbers advanced by CNN.

The mass graves are filled by a limited number of corpses from both sides, the consequence of heated battle and combat and not the result of a premeditated plan of genocide, as occurred against the Serbian populations in Krajina, in the Summer of 1995, when the Croatian army  implemented the mass murder of all Serbians found there. In this instance, the media maintained an absolute silence, despite the  fact that the genocide occurred over a three month period. The objective of Srebrenica was ethnic cleansing and not genocide, unlike what happened in Krajina, in which although there was no military  action, the Croatian army decimated villages.

Despite knowledge of the fact that the enclaves were already a lost cause, Sarajevo insisted in drawing political dividends from the fact. The receptivity which had been created in the eyes of public opinion made it easier to sell the thesis of genocide.

But of even greater importance than the genocide thesis and the political isolation of the Serbs, was blackmailing of the UN: either the UN joined forces with the Sarajevo government in the conflict (which subsequently happened) or the UN would be completely discredited in the eyes of the public, leading in turn to support for Bosnia. Srebrenica was the last straw which led western governments to reach agreement on the need to cease their neutrality and commence a military action against one side in the conflict. It was the last straw which united the West in their desire to break “Serbian bestiality”. Sarajevo was conscious of the fact that it lacked the military capacity to defeat the Serbs. It was necessary to create conditions via which the international community could do this for them. Srebrenica played a vital role in this process.

Srebrenica represents one of a series of acts by the Serbian leaders intended to provoke the UN, in order to demonstrate their impotence. This was a serious strategic error which would cost them dear. The side which had everything to win by demonstrating the impotence of the UN was the Sarajevo leadership and not that of Pale. In 1995 it was clear that the change in the status quo required a powerful intervention which would overthrow the Serbian military power. Srebrenica was one of the pretexts, resulting from the short-sightedness of the Bosnian Serbian leaders.

The besieged forces could have easily defended the enclave, at least for much longer, if they had been well led. It proved convenient to let the enclave fall in this manner. Since the enclave was doomed to fall, it was preferable to let this happen in the most beneficial manner possible. But this would only have been viable if Sarajevo had political initiative and freedom of movement, which would never occur at the negotiating table. The deliberate fall of the enclave might appear to be an act of terrible machiavellian orchestration, but the truth is that the Sarajevo government had much to gain, as proved to be the case. Srebrenica was not a zero-sum game. The Serbians won a military victory but with highly negative political side-effects, which helped result in their definitive ostracization.

We might add a final curious note. As the UN observation posts were attacked, and proved impossible to maintain, the forces withdrew. The barricades set up by the Muslim army did not let the troops past. These troops were not treated as soldiers fleeing from the front line, but rather with a sordid differentiation.

The Muslims not only refused to fight to defend themselves, they forced others to fight on their behalf. In one instance, the commander of a Dutch vehicle decided after conversations with ABiH to pass the barrier. A Muslim soldier threw a  hand grenade whose fragments mortally wounded him. The only UN soldier to die in the Srebrenica offensive, was killed by the Muslims.



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The History of Yugoslavia: Srebrenica and the Ratko Mladić Verdict

NOVANEWS

Featured image: Ratko Mladić (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

While Zimbabwe was changing under various inexorable forces of power, the more sterile surrounds of The Hague and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia offered the scene for a conviction.

The “Serb Warlord” or the “Butcher of Bosnia”, as he has been termed in various circles, had finally received a verdict few were doubting. One of the doubters was, naturally, the man himself, Ratko Mladić, who accused the judicial officers of incurable mendacity.

Of the 11 charges levelled at Ratko Mladić, he was acquitted of one – genocide in Bosnian municipalities outside Srebrenica. Others covered genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity which took place while he was Chief Commander of the Army of Republika Srpska between 1992 and 1995 in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Judicial deliberations are rarely the stuff of fine history. Verdicts are, by their very nature, judgmental, giving false finality and coherence to muddy narratives. In the Balkans, muddy narratives have met and parted; others have been forged in the blood of memories constructed and confected.

Bodies have been heaped over these generational accounts – the wars, the murders, the ecstatic patriotism and genocidal enthusiasm, and in time, the descendants pursue the task, less of living for the future than inhabiting the unchanging past.

The politicians have been attempting to make do with the verdict. The Serbian president, Aleksandar Vučić, is mindful that anything less than solemn acceptance of the ruling is bound to be met with stares of disbelief throughout Europe. This is hardly the view within the Bosnian Serb entity of Republika Srpska.

“I would like to call on everyone [in the region] to start looking into the future and not to drown in the tears of the past… we need to look to the future… so we finally have a stable country.”

Stability, that cherished dream, an ambition long frustrated in the region, and ever precarious.

Bosnia itself is a divided creature barely on political life support. Rather than promoting reconciliation, one of the proclaimed aims of the ICTY’s judgments, the opposite is true. Ed Vuilliamy, who spent much time covering instances of camp brutality and atrocity during the Yugoslav wars insists that Mladić may have lost his case, but won, at least in a part of Bosnia.

His consternation is the customary one that insists that Serbia and Serbian policies should have been brought to the fore as culprit and villain, rather than atomised through individual verdicts. Again, such are the limits of law and its false didactic worth.

Accordingly,

“for all the back-slapping by human rights organisations and lawyers, there is a dark cloud under which the majority of those who survived Mladić’s hurricane of violence etch out their lives, and that shrouds the memory of those killed, or are still ‘missing’.”[1]

Niđara Ahmetašević enlarges that black cloud, accusing Europeans, notably in the west, for hypocrisy and willful blindness.

“By not reacting on time to stop mass crimes being committed, Western leaders sent a message to everybody in the world that it is OK to kill other people, and to promote dangerous, ultranationalist ideas.”[2]

With little surprise, survivors of the conflict find little in terms of satisfactory proportion. Sead Numanović of the Sarajevo daily, Dnevni Avaz, felt “some kind of emptiness.” Ajša Umirović went so far as to see such a verdict as futile.

“Even if he lives 1,000 times and is sentenced 1,000 times to life in prison, justice would still not be served.”[3] That’s what losing 42 relatives to massacre does.

As with all matters to do with trauma, memory lingers as poisoned, selective and singular. It banishes other accounts and plights, becoming self-referential, a sort of infirmary consciousness. These sufferings and tendencies are not confined to the Bosnian Muslims.

When Yugoslavia fractured in the spirit of hypernationalism, it split the groups making up the entity. Jungle retributions, territorial seizures, expulsions, took place as a matter of historical account keeping. Elephantine memories were triggered and enacted upon.

Mladić insisted on purging the old remnants of the Ottoman Empire, a historic mission he dedicated himself to with conspicuous enthusiasm. He was fortunate to be quick off the mark in the aftermath of the independence referendum held by Muslims and Croats. Others, given the same opportunity, would have exploited it, given the men and material put at his disposal.

That the main fighting, slaughter and ethnic cleansing took place in Bosnia on, it is important to note, all sides, is a point judgments of law can only imperfectly consider. What rendered the killings in Srebrenica so fundamental was the scale and avid dedication of the butchers – some 8,000 Muslim men and boys dispatched – and the question of abandonment by the international community.

Mladić himself furnished a sense of how the law remains, in some instances, the least capable of resolving what are, essentially, social and political problems that linger with vicious obstinacy. “I am here,” he told a pre-trial hearing in 2011, “defending my country and people, not Ratko Mladić.” He is far from the only one to persist holding this view, nor will he be the last.

The History of Yugoslavia: Srebrenica and the Ratko Mladić Verdict

 

Posted in Bosnia, Croatia, Macedonia, SerbiaComments Off on The History of Yugoslavia: Srebrenica and the Ratko Mladić Verdict

Only in the Balkans – Reforms Theft

NOVANEWS

Adelina Marini, Zagreb

You will probably not believe it, but in the Balkans the lack of rule of law and the tolerance of corruption have some fun aspects. This is the case with the theft of the most contentious reform in Croatia by … Montenegro. No, this is not a joke and it’s not a product of a local satiric site. This is about word-for-word copying, with the Montenegrin language features at that, of the proposal for a comprehensive reform of the content of school textbooks, which is currently under violent disputes in the Croatian public domain and even threatens the survival of the government. To find out the magnitude of the irony in one case and the tragedy in the other, we need to rewind the tape a little bit.

Who [in their right mind] in the Balkans protests about an educational reform?

The Croats. Last year, when the government of the then highly-conservative Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) came to power, over 50,000 Croats protested in several cities across the country against the attempts to scrap the highly progressive and bold educational reform known as “curriculum reform”. The reform was prepared by an expert workgroup of 500 people led by the young doctor of science Boris Jokić. The group was formed by the then left-liberal coalition government of Zoran Milanović. The idea for a ​​comprehensive education reform is embedded in a strategy voted in by the Croatian Parliament in 2014.

With the coming to power of the HDZ, then under the leadership of Tomislav Karamarko – a conductor of ultraconservative and nationalist policies – there were attempts ideologically burdened people to be appointed. The sharp turn of Karamarko’s HDZ to the far right, accompanied by brutal changes in the leadership of the national TV and radio, the Council for Electronic Media, and other activities pushing Croatia toward the illiberal group of Poland and Hungary, has led to significant quakes on the political arena and ultimately resulted in the fall of the government.

Karamarko was replaced by former MEP Andrej Plenković, who promised to return the party to the centre-right of the political spectrum. He also promised many reforms, thanks to which he won the snap elections last September. Alas, one year later there are no reforms, and the first major challenge – the financial problems of the largest conglomerate not only in Croatia but also in the region of former Yugoslavia Agrokor – shook the government coalition. New snap elections were avoided after the liberal Croatian People’s Party (HNS) agreed to take part in government, but on condition that the reform started by Boris Jokić is implemented.

Andrej Plenković agreed to the horror of the liberals themselves, whose party split into two, but also to the more conservative wing in the HDZ, who insisted education remain in their portfolio. This happened after an anniversary of last year’s protests was celebrated on June 1st, and in the centre  of Zagreb, a few tens of thousands gathered again to confirm their demand for an education reform.

The nonpartisan Blaženka Divjak was appointed minister of education. Her attempts to implement the reform are currently the biggest political drama in Croatia after a news website with a focus on education revealed that behind-the-scenes attempts had been made to replace the reform plan by the leader of the expert group appointed by the previous government. According to Croatian media, the tension in the cabinet has already reached a boiling point and now the main question is whether Mr Plenković will fire the education minister or let her work, meaning he will have to deal with internal party tensions.

Pressure on the prime minister by media and civil society is enormous. At the same time, his reluctance to say clearly who does he support in this inherent ideological conflict is obvious. He was, however, adamant in his reluctance to see new protests. For many, at least in the Balkans, education is probably not the most important topic, although it is, in fact, vital in the Croatian context. First, in an ideological sense, it is important because if it is implemented, it will tear the country away from Church-sponsored conservatism, which is often intertwined with nationalism. In the economic sense, it is no less important, as Croatia is currently suffering from a serious brain drain. It is no accident that the organisers of the educational protest this year organised also a procession to Zagreb’s central railway station to symbolise the departure of young Croats.

It is precisely because the stakes of educational reform are too high for Prime Minister Plenković that everything surrounding it is so non-transparent. Moreover, following Donald Trump’s lead, the prime minister threatened to deal with those responsible for leaking insider information about changes to the reform plan rather than deal with the reform itself.

Who will get the reform?

The people of Montenegro. On Tuesday, the Croatian daily Jutarnji list revealed that the Montenegrin education institute has stolen verbatim the contents of some parts of Boris Jokić’s curriculum reform. Plagiarism was discovered by accident by Croatian primary school teacher Ljiljana Hanžek, who worked on writing the reform. The Montenegrin Ministry of Education refused to comment on the case at this stage, but the education institute told Cafe del Montenegro news website that the Croatian document had been borrowed, but for technical reasons citing what Croatian literature was used had been omitted.

The case became an occasion for paraphrasing the well-known jokes about Montenegrin laziness: “The Montenegrins are lying down waiting for the Croats to make their reform”, Croatians joked on social networks and the media. However, the authors of the curriculum reform are not laughing. At first, former expert group leader Boris Jokić reacted with mockery by saying that at least Montenegrins would benefit from the reform but he now believes Montenegro must pay royalty fees.

Montenegro regularly uses Croatian experience, especially in terms of EU accession. A few years ago, Croatia set up a specialised centre to provide experts, as well as legislation and regulations texts to all candidates in the region, as languages ​​are very close. The plagiarism of a complete educational reform is something entirely new. On the one hand, it shows that even at the highest state level in Montenegro there is no understanding of the concept of “copyright” – a problem that can be seen in other underdeveloped countries, including EU members as well. On the other hand, however, the whole situation may have positive effects in both countries

Montenegro’s interest in Boris Jokić’s reform can finally provide Andrej Plenković with some insurance against internal party criticism. Conservatives in his party will find it increasingly difficult to explain to their voters and to taxpayers in general why they are opposed to such a valuable reform that has pulled out 50,000 people in the squares and has been the subject of theft by an official body of a neighbouring state. It will be a real shame for HDZ to reject a document that is considered of such a high quality by other countries. In the end, it may just turn out that Montenegro, with its plagiarism, will do a service to Croatia for which it should be rewarded, rather than made to pay compensations.

Translated by Stanimir Stoev



Posted in Europe, Bosnia, Croatia, SerbiaComments Off on Only in the Balkans – Reforms Theft

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