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NO 127-128

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INFO   :::  Helsinki Charter - PAGE 2 > Helsinki Charter No. 127-128 > Text


Helsinki Charter No. 127-128

January - February 2009




By Sonja Biserko

As it seems, Serb nationalists see the global economic crisis - or, as they call it, the global turmoil - as a most welcome opportunity for keeping alive their (defeated) project. Now that even Russia, their main pillar, undergoes serious financial crisis, the Serb front is in constant offensive led, in the first place, by authors of the Memorandum, several writers, journalists and historians. In the past months this influential grouping has published many books all of which meant to cement its interpretation of the past but also to exempt its role from a criminal enterprise. It goes without saying that Cosic is the most active of all. "The truth about destruction of Yugoslavia, wars in its territory and, in particular, about the Bosnian war directly preconditions the future of the Serb nation and its human image worldwide," he says. That's his response to the recently adopted Resolution by the European Parliament, appealing to all Balkan countries to follow in the footsteps of the EU member-countries and proclaim July 11 the Day of Remembrance of the Srebrenica Genocide. The Resolution also underlines the need for paying due respect to all the victims of the crimes committed at the time of the Balkan wars. It is highly improbable that the Serbian Assembly would adopt such a resolution in foreseeable future.

Defying asserted facts the Serb nationalists persist that "by fighting for their freedom the Serbs were also defending the Christian Europe from Islamic jihad." This thesis, used to start the war in Bosnia, now serves as justification for the crimes committed. No doubt that mujahideen have fought in the Bosnian war, many facts testify to that. However, they came to Bosnia only once the action of cleansing Bosnia from Muslims in 1992 had been already on. The Security Council Resolution 712 on arms embargo (in the fall of 1991) affected Muslims the most as it deprived them of the opportunity to defend themselves from Serb aggression. This is why the West, in a way, nodded the trafficking of arms from Iran and the breach of the Resolution. A certain number of mujahedeen did come together with the arms. Chronology is most important here since the war itself was a consequence or an epilogue of the process going on for more than 20 years.

Dobrica Cosic was a major actor in the preparation of the Bosnian war. "I've been helping and assisting the Serb people to get organized as much as I could," he said repeatedly. In the preface to the book Creation of Republika Srpska by Nikola Koljevic, Cosic calls the war in Bosnia "a war for liberation" and names Radovan Karadzic the one who mostly contributed to the establishment of Republika Srpska. The Prosecution of the ITCY shares his view and, therefore, charges Karadzic of crimes and genocide committed in that name. As a mentor, Dobrica Cosic at least deserves to appear at the trial as a witness. His book, interviews and articles are perfect sources of information throwing light at, what he calls, the Bosnian war.

In his marathon interview with the NIN weekly on February 12, 2009, Cosic also endeavored to reaffirm anti-Titoist opposition, which, as he put it, "was simply erased in Serbia." Any careful observer of developments in Serbia knows too well that it was the same opposition that prepared the terrain for the war and opposed democratic transition. In addition, this opposition is, either formally or informally, in power in Serbia today. Only one member of this group, Borislav Mihajlovic Mihiz, repented. Facing the truth in good earnest he wrote:

"We have marred the reputation of the Church, the University, the French Street No. 7 and almost all public figures of importance. We have wasted people's economy, squandered the state and the standard of living of its population, and shamed the Serb nation before the world. The regime that brought about such catastrophic, unprecedented outcome - but its opponents incapable of preventing it as well - must step down the political scene. Among them is the one addressing you." (Borba, September 6, 1993.)

Indisputably, Cosic and his circle have been politically most influential in Serbia for at least three decades. His frequent interviews with the Serbian media (Politika, Vecernje Novosti and NIN) are now meant to blame Tito and communists for the wars wagged in the last decade of the 20th century and thus free Serbia from any responsibility. As if Serbs too had not been communists. And yet, Tito was, in a way, a symbol of a composite state and, notably after 1974, of the state Cosic was trying to destroy. For, Cosic was incapable of discerning the values of a modern society as Serbia's national interest. On the contrary, by playing on the myths and blurring historical truth, he and his group insisted that Serbia's interest was in "recomposition of the Balkans," which, under existing circumstances, presupposed ethnic cleansing and aggression.

Apart from remolding the past, adoption of Vojvodina's statute has been the most important political initiative in Serbia over the past months. Response by Belgrade parties and the same actors Mihiz refers to testifies that the grouping still defies a modern state by the very fact that it denies Serbia the right to complexity and decentralization. Discordance evidently plagues the Democratic Party, the role of which was decisive in adoption of the statute in the Vojvodina parliament. In an open letter of the Serbian parliamentary speaker, Slavica Djukic-Dejanovic, President Tadic and Premier Mirko Cvetkovic, the Synod of the Serb Orthodox Church expressed its anxiety over the draft statute, claiming it might jeopardize Serbia's sovereignty and territorial integrity. To this, Ivana Dulic responded, "Every time we make a step towards Europe we have to cope with a coalition between the Serb Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Synod of the Serb Orthodox Church and the Socialist Party of Serbia." Serb nationalists seem to ignore that it was by its own free will that Vojvodina joined Serbia and then Yugoslavia, and that it rightfully seeks a most appropriate solution for itself in Serbia's political arrangements. By a time-tested method, Belgrade accuses Vojvodina's autonomists of territorial aspirations. That method had been fatal for Serbia. Therefore, it's high time for Belgrade to accept Vojvodina, Sumadija and other regions as equal partners in the common state. Belgrade behaves like an exclusive arbiter of entire Serbia's life and death, and such attitude generates high tension between the center and periphery. Serbia can only be revitalized through decentralization and regionalization - which are, at the same times, postulates of modern times.

President Tadic messaged citizens of Vojvodina that the statute would invest the province with the powers guaranteed to it under the Constitution. However, by its character, the region is European, but Serb in the first place, he said. "Vojvodina is an integral part of Serbia and shall always be," said Tadic. Permanent insistence on the province's Serb character questions Belgrade's intentions, the more so since Vojvodina is among the most important multiethnic and multicultural regions not only in Serbia but also in the entire territory of ex-Yugoslavia.

On the other hand, the global economic crisis seems to produce some sobering effects on Serbia's political class. Genuine or not, Serbia's pro-European course is being reaffirmed. No doubt that only from Brussels can Serbia expect assistance and support. Upon his return from Davos, Vice-premier Bozidar Djelic promptly emphasized the significance of regional cooperation and solidarity, which had been, in 2008, deliberately undermined in the name of Serbia's integrity. Djelic also said he expected the EU to deploy mechanisms of solidarity in the case of Serbia too. True, Serbia's extortive potential has melted in the meantime. And that's good for its future relations with the EU.

There is yet another encouraging indication: no serious outburst of violence took place on the occasion of the first anniversary of Kosovo's independence. The visit to Kosovo by a group of opposition parliamentarians - intent to demonstrate Serbia's territorial integrity over there - turned into yet another fiasco. First and foremost, because they went there in two columns. Milorad Dodik's staunch endeavor to find a way for dividing Bosnia also enters a final stage. Namely, at a meeting of three leaders in Mostar, Dodik insisted that recognition of Republika Srpska in its territorial and political capacity was a precondition for revision of the Dayton Accords. Another precondition, according to him, was the right to entity vote and the right to self-determination and secession, which would be decided on at a referendum called three years after declaration of a new constitution. The fact that Dodik's (Cosic's) requests were unacceptable to the other two parties aborted the meeting. It's only a matter of time for the world to realize that it should turn again to Bosnia as its mirror. Only once Bosnia is stabilized, the Balkans will start marching towards its European future.


NO 127-128

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