First they have arrested Naser Orić, a few days ago in Geneva, and then Ramush Haradinaj on this week’s Wednesday. Both were accused of an international court for war crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia and also both acquitted of guilt.
However, this time I am not interested in causes for both events, which two of them probably did not expect, nor their police custody, not even the authorities in their countries that immediately protested and demanded their release. As always, the real question is why it has happened right now, why not yesterday and why not tomorrow?
Something happened prior to that.
During the first days of this month, it could be heard that the UK government was preparing a draft document, the Resolution on Srebrenica, which was supposed to be discussed by the UN Security Council. At first, the news looked, according to all acts of reconciliation and forgiveness that we could follow in recent years, more as a story that wants to recall again the gruesome slaughters of all those whose only fault was that they prayed and wrote in different way; more as a new and repeating memory of the bloody wars of the nineties. However, it was not so. Just a few days later, the draft of the resolution became available. The key content is no longer a slow and long-term hardly built reconciliation and forgiveness, or some kind of covenant on the European future, not the content, but the re-judgment.
It was clear that the prepared resolution would have consequences. That it would reopen the whole range of questions not on individual culprits of the crimes, but on the collective guilt of the members of the individual nation.
The response was almost immediate. In the first days of that week, the Serbian President Tomislav Nikolić was supposed to visit Sarajevo. However, the visit did not happen. The member of Bosnian presidency Bakir Izetbegović said that such a meeting would be unacceptable in the political conditions created after the arrest of the military commander Naser Orić.
Of course, Orić’s retention was not connected to the aforementioned resolution, but it is the consequence of sudden awareness of Serbian Interpol arrest warrants that coincide with the British political intent at least in time moment, and indicate the lack of understanding of what such a document would cause in the countries of the region. Not a reminder of the gruesome suffering and killing, but a reminder of the plans on territory division, ethnic cleansing and displacement of others. Ethnic divisions, especially in Bosnia, were also recognized in seeking solutions to end the Yugoslav wars.
The peace plan, mostly named and called by its authors, Vance – Owen, planned and proposed the division of state of 51 versus 49 percent of the territory for Croats and Muslims on one side and Serbs on other. The plan was never adopted, but still contributed to political dribbling of possible flow of Bosnian borders.
It would probably be unfair to claim that Srebernica was only a consequence of this. However, when the enclave was defended from the attacks of the Bosnian Serbs Army for the first time in 1993, and declared as a protected zone under the protection of the UN, instead of 7000, barely five hundred blue helmets were located there. Moreover, the enclave did not receive almost any help from the wartime Sarajevo authorities. It was also not clear whether the then president, now deceased, Alija Izetbegović and his associates thought of the possibility of leaving Srebrenica and Žepa enclave to Mladić’s army in exchange for their withdrawal from the occupied Sarajevo suburbs of Vogošća and Ilijaš, which separated the capital from other areas under government control. Esad Hećimović wrote about this in the Sarajevo newspaper “Dani”, in the fall of 1998. Also, it is unclear why the commander in chief, the then commander of the 28th Division, Naser Orić, and a tenth of his officers, were withdrawn from the enclave for additional training just months before the expected new attack of the army of Republika Srpska. Their return was never allowed again. Not even at the moment when there was an attack on Srebrenica, in June twenty years ago. The desperate calls for help gave no response, not even from the command of blue helmets. The fact is that they were convinced that the Serbian offensive had only limited scope and that they wanted to connect and protect the isolated Serbian villages from the revenge raids such as the one on Orthodox Christmas, when Muslim forces pillaged and killed. Of course, everyone knew that the Serbian army would occupy the enclave, but they were also convinced that the consequences would be just exodus and resettlement of the Muslim population. However, the truth was quite different, they killed deliberately and systematically. A gruesome crime was committed.
Haradinaj was also indicted and acquitted before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague, the same as Orić. In his memoirs, Stories about War and Freedom, he writes that he knew as a child that the Albanian and Kosovo issue can only be resolved by force. He was charged with murders. The court acquitted him, because during a time while he was incarcerated in The Hague, all the witnesses were killed in one way or another. Before and after that, Haradinaj participated to great extent and decisively on establishing political decisions on Kosovo. Therefore, the response of the official Priština on his detention was not unexpected. The story about the culprits who were, as always, somewhere else, started again. It also should not be overlooked that a new, content-heavy, round of Brussels negotiations between Belgrade and Priština was planned in few days, for June 23.
We were able to see the search for new ways of cooperation and reconciliation in countries in the region in recent years primarily. Former Serbian President Boris Tadić apologized for the crimes and killings in Srebrenica. The authorities in Belgrade and Priština systematically address issues that we believed could not even be mentioned few years ago. Leaders of the Balkan states mutually collaborate on plans of new large infrastructure projects.
The proposed British resolution, with which they want to remind future generations of the past, right on the eve of the twentieth anniversary of this unpleasant and painful memory, becomes a cause of new disputes that the Balkan countries do not need.