KARADZIC AND THE HAGUE :

KARADZIC AND THE HAGUE: Interview with Srdja Trifkovic

BBC Radio 4, „The World Tonight,“ Tuesday, July 22, 2008, 22:14 BST

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/news/worldtonight

The BBC talks to Dr. Trifkovic the forthcoming Karadzic trial at The Hague Tribunal. „This trial would need to mark a new beginning by The Hague,“ he says, „and yet I have no reason to believe that such a beginning will indeed be made.“

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BBC: The fact that Karadzic could face trial at The Hague is causing consternation among those who consider the court to be anti-Serbian. Srdja Trifkovic is one of them. He is an American historian, journalist and political analyst, and an expert on Balkan politics:

TRIFKOVIC: It would be a hugely significant moment if it were to be followed by a fair and just trial that would seek to establish the facts of the case, not only on Srebrenica but also on what came to pass in Bosnia between 1992 and 1995. However, in Serbia many people – including those who favor the new, pro-European government – have a very jaundiced view of The Hague Tribunal, especially since the release of Nasir Oric, the wartime commander of the Muslim garrison in Srebrenica, came just before the capture of Karadzic. In fact, in Belgrade The Hague Tribunal is universally regarded as a politically motivated tool for providing quasi-legal justification of political decisions made by the powers-that-be back in the early 1990s.

BBC: What about the indictment against Mr. Karadzic? Do you think the war crimes were committed?

TRIFKOVIC: The war crimes were committed, absolutely. What remains to be seen is to what extent the war crimes committed by the Serbs will continue to be treated as uniquely more substantial, more evil and more massive, than those committed by the other two sides. What we have witnessed in the case of Nasir Oric in particular, is a truly egregious failure by The Hague Tribunal to connect the commander of Srebrenica with the war crimes which the Tribunal itself does not deny have taken place: thousands of Serbian civilians in the surrounding arreas were killed between 1992 and 1995. For Serbia’s „European perspective,“ for Serbia’s ability to come to terms with the past in the way that does not provide grounds for fresh resentment and revisionism, this trial would need to mark a new beginning by The Hague – and yet I have no reason to believe that such a beginning will indeed be made.

BBC: And yet this individual, who is charged with such heinous crimes, needs to be brought to justice, even if – as you argue – there are others still out there who haven’t been brought to justice. But here’s one opportunity to deal with one set of crimes, surely?

TRIFKOVIC : The problem is that dealing with „one set of crimes“ in connection with „one individual“ is not fulfilling the function of the Tribunal as stated at the time of its establishment in 1993, which was to establish an equivalent of an international „truth and reconciliation commission.“ Quite the contrary, in the case of Serbia The Hague Tribunal has only generated fresh controveries and provided fresh grist for the mill of the nationalist wing of Serbia’s body-politic, which keeps claiming that the cards are stacked against the Serbs‘ favor.

: Interview with Srdja Trifkovic

BBC Radio 4, „The World Tonight,“ Tuesday, July 22, 2008, 22:14 BST

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/news/worldtonight

The BBC talks to Dr. Trifkovic the forthcoming Karadzic trial at The Hague Tribunal. „This trial would need to mark a new beginning by The Hague,“ he says, „and yet I have no reason to believe that such a beginning will indeed be made.“

* * * * *

BBC: The fact that Karadzic could face trial at The Hague is causing consternation among those who consider the court to be anti-Serbian. Srdja Trifkovic is one of them. He is an American historian, journalist and political analyst, and an expert on Balkan politics:

TRIFKOVIC: It would be a hugely significant moment if it were to be followed by a fair and just trial that would seek to establish the facts of the case, not only on Srebrenica but also on what came to pass in Bosnia between 1992 and 1995. However, in Serbia many people – including those who favor the new, pro-European government – have a very jaundiced view of The Hague Tribunal, especially since the release of Nasir Oric, the wartime commander of the Muslim garrison in Srebrenica, came just before the capture of Karadzic. In fact, in Belgrade The Hague Tribunal is universally regarded as a politically motivated tool for providing quasi-legal justification of political decisions made by the powers-that-be back in the early 1990s.

BBC: What about the indictment against Mr. Karadzic? Do you think the war crimes were committed?

TRIFKOVIC: The war crimes were committed, absolutely. What remains to be seen is to what extent the war crimes committed by the Serbs will continue to be treated as uniquely more substantial, more evil and more massive, than those committed by the other two sides. What we have witnessed in the case of Nasir Oric in particular, is a truly egregious failure by The Hague Tribunal to connect the commander of Srebrenica with the war crimes which the Tribunal itself does not deny have taken place: thousands of Serbian civilians in the surrounding arreas were killed between 1992 and 1995. For Serbia’s „European perspective,“ for Serbia’s ability to come to terms with the past in the way that does not provide grounds for fresh resentment and revisionism, this trial would need to mark a new beginning by The Hague – and yet I have no reason to believe that such a beginning will indeed be made.

BBC: And yet this individual, who is charged with such heinous crimes, needs to be brought to justice, even if – as you argue – there are others still out there who haven’t been brought to justice. But here’s one opportunity to deal with one set of crimes, surely?

TRIFKOVIC : The problem is that dealing with „one set of crimes“ in connection with „one individual“ is not fulfilling the function of the Tribunal as stated at the time of its establishment in 1993, which was to establish an equivalent of an international „truth and reconciliation commission.“ Quite the contrary, in the case of Serbia The Hague Tribunal has only generated fresh controveries and provided fresh grist for the mill of the nationalist wing of Serbia’s body-politic, which keeps claiming that the cards are stacked against the Serbs‘ favor.

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