Bosnia and Herzegovina
institutions could technically fulfill remaining
conditions for EU visa-free status by September,
according to the country's chief negotiator for visa
“From the technical, we have now moved to a political
phase and in this phase everything is possible,” the
chief negotiator, Samir Rizvo, said at a roundtable on
the issue held on Wednesday.
Rizvo and other Bosnian officials told the meeting -
organised by Sarajevo University’s Alumni think-tank,
ACIPS - that Bosnia has fulfilled more than half of the
45 unmet requirements identified by the EU in April.
Most of the remaining issues are now being acted upon,
Rizvo said. He stressed that, in his opinion, the
country could meet all remaining conditions by September.
While the implementation process ultimately depends
on local politicians, a final decision on Bosnia’s
visa-free regime will also depend on political
developments in the EU, Rizvo said.
Depending on the capability and flexibility of local
and EU leaders, Bosnia could be granted access to the
visa-free regime by the end of the year, but it could be
forced to wait until mid-2010 or even early 2011, he
Rizvo’s comments came amidst continuing public
criticism and debate in the Balkans and elsewhere in
Europe on European Commission, EC, visa-liberalisation
recommendations, released last week. The EC plan
proposes visa-free status for Macedonia, Montenegro and
Serbia, but excludes Albania, Bosnia and Kosovo.
Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, whose country
hold the EU presidency, stressed on Tuesday that
responsibility for Bosnia’s failure to gain admission to
the visa-free regime lies solely with local leaders’
ongoing political infighting and their incapability to
meet agreed reforms.
Samir Rizvo and Mirko Lujic, the director of Bosnia’s
State Investigation and Protection Agency, SIPA,
welcomed the ongoing media and public debate on this
issue. They said that it could better educate both local
and EU decision-makers on the technical and political
aspects of this difficult issue.
“All this public outcry…can lead to the
decision-makers having a better understanding,” Rizvo
A wall is coming down at last
July 21, 2009
A visa queue outside the Austrian embassy in
It is no surprise, therefore, that the recent
Commission proposal – suggesting visa-free travel for
Macedonians, Montenegrins and Serbs from early 2010, leaving Albania
and Bosnia-Herzegovina on the Schengen Black List, and placing
Kosovo on it for the first time – is a serious disappointment for
Bosnians, Albanians and Kosovars.
ESI rejects this logic. First, because it suggests that those who
have suffered deserve visa-free travel more than those who have not.
Second, because it does not actually address the concerns that have
led to the Schengen wall being built in the first place.
There was, after all, a moral case for letting Bosnian citizens
travel to the EU without a visa already in 1995 (citizens of
neighbouring Croatia never needed one)! There was a moral case for
Kosovars, having survived a decade of apartheid, to travel visa-free
at least since 1999. Or for Serbs, having toppled Milosevic in 2000.
Or for Macedonians, having implemented the Ohrid Agreement and
having created a multiethnic society, at least since 2002. (Is the
absence of a comparable turning point the reason why Albania is
often – unfairly – forgotten?)
However, arguing for visa-free travel based
political morality convinced only those already convinced. More than
a decade of such arguments did not deliver results. The wall stood.
Then something changed: the logic of the debate.
Two year ago some focused on the security advantages to the EU
of getting rid of the visa requirements. Giuliano Amato, long-time
interior minister of Italy, made the argument at an ESI meeting in
early 2009: rather than imposing visa requirements, he said, EU
interior ministers would prefer having better functioning police
cooperation. This requires reforms in local law enforcement: meeting
the conditions of the EU roadmaps.
The new logic was "strict but fair": the EU offers the region a deal
with strict conditions; the region responds; and the result is a
win-win alliance to improve security and mobility.
It has worked extremely well. Note that the roadmap process only
started last year! As a result of the work by the Commission and
serious efforts by regional leaders, 11 million Balkan citizens are
about to be able to travel to the EU visa-free: another 8 million
could be able to do so within a year.
Now the citizens of Bosnia and Albania need to put pressure on their
governments to make sure they complete roadmap implementation. The
European Commission needs to ensure that its assessments are
transparent and not influenced by prejudice.
So far, this is working. We believe it will continue to produce
Giuliano Amato and Otto Schily
(Istanbul ESI White List meeting, July 2009)
A visa roadmap for Kosovo
There is only one serious problem in the Commission proposal: the
absence of any process of "strict but fair" conditionality for the
two million people of Kosovo.
The ESI White List project advisory board, led by Giuliano
Amato and Otto Schily, welcomed the recent Commission proposal in an
open letter "A
Roadmap for Kosovo!", but noted:
"... we are disturbed by the fact that Kosovo has been left out
of this process, a blanket visa requirement having been proposed
for all of its residents, including those with Serbian
citizenship – this, without any mention of a process that could
possibly lead to this requirement being lifted.
.... Kosovo should also receive a visa roadmap. It must be given
the opportunity to implement the same far-reaching reforms that
the other five Balkan countries have set out to implement and to
thus contribute to its own security, as well as to that of the
entire region and the whole EU. Once Kosovo meets these
conditions, the visa requirement should be abolished."
Amato, Schily and others reject the argument that all 27 EU member
states have to recognise Kosovo's independence before another step
can be taken:
"If Kosovo can be placed on the visa "black list" without an EU
consensus on its status, then it can also be placed on the "white
list" once it meets the necessary technical requirements. The
visa liberalisation process should be considered status neutral
by the EU."
"We are aware that EU member states disagree over the status of
Kosovo. Indeed, the signatories of this letter also have
different views on this subject.
However, we can all agree that leaving Kosovo residents,
whatever their ethnicity, trapped in a visa ghetto, when all
other Balkan people from the Adriatic to the Black Sea are able
to travel freely, would be a disastrous policy."
"We are surprised. We cannot understand why the EU - which is
divided on Kosovo status as we all know - can agree to put
Kosovo on the Black Schengen list, but cannot agree to offer us
a roadmap of conditions to meet in order to get to the White
List, like all other countries in the region. This looks like
discrimination against the citizens of Kosovo."
"The process has to start, now! If it does not I am afraid that
Kosovo could fall behind the rest of the region, and that
consequently people might feel compelled to fall back on
clandestine solutions to travel to the EU."
The proposal by the Commission must not be the last word on the
matter this year. There is time for EU countries to amend the
Commission proposal before they adopt it. To leave things as they
are would be a lose-lose situation for Kosovo, the region, and the
At the outset we looked at four maps: the EU in 1999 (when we first
set up ESI in a cafe in Sarajevo); the EU in 2009; an enlarged EU in
2019 (having fulfilled its promises to current EU candidates/potential
candidates); and the new European neighbourhood, between an enlarged
EU and Russia.
the EU in 1999
the EU in 2009
the EU in 2019
our contested neighbourhood
What will it take for the EU to be as successful in promoting
democracy, prosperity and stability in the coming decade as it has
been in the most recent one? How to make the next enlargement a
success... and how to stabilise the new neighbourhood? At our event Michael Thumann and Amberin Zaman, correspondents for
Die Zeit and The Economist, respectively, explored
Turkey's ongoing democratisation. (For an update on Turkey's trial
of the century,
the Ergenekon case, see the recent Rumeli Observer entry).
Nicu Popescu presented the
latest ECFR report on the European neighbourhood.
ESI Causasus analyst Arzu Geybullayeva spoke about challenges to
democracy in Azerbaijan (for more – and for recent developments –
see her blog Flying Carpets and Broken Pipelines).
ESI analysts Kristof Bender, Besa Shahini, Verena Knaus and Alex
Stiglmayer spoke about the challenges facing enlargement in the
Balkans (for this and more, visit our
new ESI enlargement
section – the Great Debate on Europe's borders – set to expand
significantly in coming months with the support of the Austrian Erste Stiftung).
The Balkans, Turkey, the Caucasus and the future of enlargement have
been and will remain the focus of our work in coming years. For all of you who have accompanied us on our journey these past 10
years, be it as readers, donors or friends, we want to express our
EU offered visa-free roadmap to the Balkan non EU countries
Sarajevo, 16 July 2009 -
Bosnian and many European
officials have condemned the European Commission's
proposed visa-liberalization plan for the Balkans as
discriminatory against Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims) and
potentially destabilizing for entire region.
“Bosnia and Herzegovina remains on the black list.
People are in the ghetto because of visas,” reads the
top news headline in the Mostar daily Dnevni List.
“Bosniaks are isolated,” read the title of a front-page
article in Sarajevo daily San on Thursday.
The visa-liberalization program for the Western
Balkans, which was presented at a press conference on
Wednesday, recommends a visa-free regime for Macedonia,
Montenegro and Serbia, but excludes Albania, Bosnia and
Herzegovina and Kosovo. This plan has triggered b
and mixed reactions both in the region and across
Citizens and officials in Macedonia, Montenegro and
Serbia welcomed the announcement. Yet the plan has been
harshly criticized by citizens of Bosnia and Kosovo as
well as by some European politicians and human rights
“The visa policy for the successor states of the
former Yugoslavia risks to create two classes of
citizens in South Eastern Europe, based on ethnicity,”
reads a petition which started circling across Europe on
Wednesday afternoon, and which has so far been signed by
a veteran German diplomat and politician and former High
representative to Bosnia, Christian Schwarz-Schilling,
European parliamentary deputies Daniel Cohn-Bendit and
Doris Pack, human rights activist Tilman Zülch, and
scores of others.
Dialogue on visas started with Western Balkans
countries in 2006, while the visa liberalization process
was launched in 2008. Bosnia and Herzegovina and Albania
are deemed to have not fulfilled the necessary
conditions but could hope to join the rest of the region
by mid-2010 if all requirements are fulfilled, EU
Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn said at the press
While visa-liberalization to Macedonia and Montenegro
was not questioned, some observers feel that the EU’s
decision to offer a visa-free regime to Serbia was
largely motivated by political reasons.
In a recent paper, Tobias Heider of the Free
University Berlin said: "The Commission’s recommendation
itself is politically motivated because the assessment
of Serbia’s readiness follows a foreign policy rationale.
EU Foreign Affairs Ministers communicated to Serbia
prior to the last Parliamentary elections in May 2008
that they will reward a pro-European vote with a visa
free regime. This incentive was, for foreign policy
reasons, the right thing to do."
"For Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Commission argues that
many technical requirements have not been met so far.
Experts agree that in legislative, administrative and
technical terms the gap between Serbia and Bosnia and
Herzegovina is rather narrow," Heider wrote. Furthermore, leaving Bosnia out of the process creates a
dangerous precedent and potential long-term
destabilizing effect for all of Europe, some experts and
officials have suggested. Since most Bosnian Croats
already have Croatian passports and since Bosnian Serbs
can legally obtain Serbian passports – thanks to a
controversial law Serbia adopted in the middle of
visa-free negotiations – the no-visa regime would
essentially affect only Bosniaks. “The draft recommendation on visa liberalization will
increase tensions within the fragile post-war societies
as the plans of the Commission will formalize ethnic
divisions and provide them with dubious legitimacy,”
reads the international petition.
“Only a part of the citizens of Bosnia and
Herzegovina will profit from the new travel regime. ...
Restrictions thus remain in place for the Bosniak people
of Bosnia and Herzegovina. De facto, ethnic criteria
will decide whether a citizen is able to travel freely
to the EU,” it added.
“For the first time since 1945 one non-Christian
community is being isolated from Europe because of its
religious belonging. Once this group was European Jews,
now it is Muslims from Bosnia and Herzegovina,” said
Tilman Zulch, head of an independent human rights
organization Society for Threatened Peoples told local
EU Enlargement and Justice and Home Affairs
Commissioners Olli Rehn and Jacques Barrot, who have
presented the recommendations in Brussels on Wednesday,
downplayed the decision for the Bosnian public.
“We believe that Bosnia and Herzegovina will soon
catch up with the neighbors,” they said in an article in
the Sarajevo daily Dnevni Avaz.
Dnevni Avaz bly criticized Bosnian and
especially Bosniak leaders for remaining silent and
accepting the European Commission’s decision.
EU Visa Policy Might Create
Tirana, 14 July 2009
The Young European Federalist Movement, JEF, has
criticized the EU visa liberalisation policy towards the Western Balkans,
arguing that it could potentially create new divisions and anti-EU sentiments by
leaving out Muslim minorities.
The European Commission will ask the EU Council this
week to offer visa-free travel to citizens of Montenegro, Serbia and Macedonia.
Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn is due to officially
present the proposal in Strasbourg on Tuesday, and if all conditions are met,
visa-free travel will be possible as of January 1.
Bosnia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania
started the process to obtain visa-free travel to Europe early in 2008.
However, Albania and Bosnia have been ranked at the end
of the list and therefore will not be included in the first round of visa
liberalization. According to EC sources, they will have to wait until the end of
2010 at the earliest. Likewise, Kosovo will not be included in the first wave of
the visa liberalisation process.
“It is important that the Commission considers the
implications if Bosnia and Herzegovina is left out of this process, consequently
leaving Bosniaks [Bosnian Muslims] as the only inhabitants of BiH without the
ability to travel without visa limitations,” Peter Matjasic, JEF’s General
Secretary, said in a statement.
Activists note that the EU Commission’s new visa regime
will contribute to further ethnic separation on a formal level as Muslim
Bosniaks, in contrast to Bosnian Serbs and Croats do not have the possibility of
dual citizenship with a second country that may soon enjoy visa liberalisation.
Bosnian Croats frequently hold dual Bosnian and Croatian citizenship, while some
Bosnian Serbs hold Bosnian and Serbian passports.
“This means that the new EU visa policy will only, and
formally, exclude and discriminate one part of Bosnia’s population,” said JEF.
“Additionally, this will happen on ethnic grounds, thus playing into the hands
of nationalists,” it added.
Residents of Kosovo will also remain excluded from the
lift of visa restrictions because of diverging positions on Kosovo’s legal
status. The decision to delay visa liberalisation procedures has also created
resentment in Albania, which has the highest visa rejection rate in Europe.
debate on TV Klan, Majlinda Bregu, Minister of European
Integration from the governing Democratic Party, accused Ditmir
Bushati, a Socialist Party candidate, of passing off the ESI report
as the conclusions of the European Commission. Holding the ESI
report before the cameras, she accused Bushati himself of being the
real source behind the conclusion that Albania was failing to meet
the EU's conditions for visa-free travel. In fact, the ESI analysis
was based entirely on
Commission assessments – all available on our website.
The fact of the matter is that Albania, together with
Bosnia-Herzegovina, has fallen behind the rest of the Balkans in the
pursuit of visa-free travel – a goal to which both parties in
Sunday's election are firmly committed. However, the news is not all
bad. Our analysis is that, with a sustained effort from the next
government, the gap could be closed within a year.
Grading Progress on Meeting Visa
Conditions in the Balkans
These five Grade Reports are based on the most detailed
comparative assessment of progress in each Balkan country ever done,
drawing on all the Commission assessments and EU expert mission
reports submitted in recent months. They show in detail how much the
countries of the region have done against each of the 42 benchmarks.
They also highlight what remains outstanding. See here for our
detailed assessment of progress in Albania.
The ESI Grade Reports reveal that the European Commission is
fully justified in proposing to offer visa-free travel to Macedonia,
Montenegro and Serbia (conditional on further progress in the coming
months in Montenegro and Serbia) by the end of 2009.
They also show that, while Albania is indeed behind the other
three countries, the gap could be bridged within a year of sustained
effort. In fact, no other country has been judged as harshly by
the European Commission as Albania! While the European
Commission found Albania to be far behind Serbia and Montenegro in
each of the four major reform areas (do
cument security; illegal
migration; public security; fundamental rights)gour detailed
assessment of the 42 specific conditions shows that the gap – while
real – is actually much narrower. At this point, examining all 42
detailed conditions, Albania is also much more advanced than
In the coming weeks, we will post all our detailed assessments of
conditions in all 5 countries of the region on our website. We will
also describe how the EU visa process demonstrates the remarkable 'soft
power' of the EU pre-accession process to bring about real reforms,
when applied in a manner that is both strict and fair.
The coming year will show whether the EU is willing to apply
these principles also to Albania.
Albania's image in Europe
It was 1996. An English journalist was sitting in Tirana,
watching Wimbledon on television in his hotel room with an Albanian
"Confronted with two tennis players and the serried ranks of
smartly dressed spectators in faraway London, I now felt that
same force of shock. It was so ordered, so formal, so regulated
and well behaved, so improbable. How could you ever get human
beings to comport themselves in such an impeccable fashion? It
didn't speak of money, but of rules voluntarily obeyed,
reasonable laws formulated by intelligent, civilised people with
the good of the community at heart, of trust, compromise, safety
and peaceful coexistence. Everything Albania wasn't, in fact."
Since filming that documentary, the country has continued to move
forward. On 1 April 2009, Albania joined NATO and on 28 April
Albania submitted its official application to become a candidate for
EU accession. Some of the people we portrayed in 2007 have entered
politics and will stand for election this Sunday:
Elisa Spiropali, then a young leader of the NGO Mjaft, is now a
parliamentary candidate for
Edi Rama's Socialist Party.
Erion Veliaj and
Arbjan Mazniku created the political movement G99 and are now
running for parliament (in 2008, Erion joined us for six months as
an ESI analyst, under taking research on
the economic transformation of Timisoara).
This weekend, 13 years after scenes from Wimbledon inspired
Carver's dark musings on civilisation and anarchy; Albanians have a
chance to show the world just how far their country has progressed.
Albania's friends abroad will be hoping that this time the voting
will not be marred by irregularities, and that it will produce a
clear and uncontested mandate for the next government.
Albania – Then and now
Despite recent progress, an uphill battle …
The challenges facing Albania after these elections are
formidable. The country remains one of the poorest in Europe; the
average Albanian is po
e citizen of Peru or
Namibia. Albania's GDP per capita in 2008 (US$4,095) is less than
half of Turkey's (US$10,472), a quarter of Croatia's (US$15,628) and
less than a tenth of Germany's (US$44,660). The only Europeans
poorer than Albanians are Ukrainians, Armenians, Georgians, Kosovars
and Moldovans (IMF
While the Albanian economy has been growing at a rate of above 5%
per year from 2003 to 2008, it is now threatened by the global
In 2007, according to UNCTAD, the total stock of FDI (i.e. the
value of all assets owned by foreigners) in Albania with over 3
million people was much lower than in Montenegro, a much smaller
country (650,000) with similar resources and geography. Even during
Albania's period of growth, companies have struggled to become
competitive: a recent competitiveness survey (2008/2009) puts
Albania in 108th place behind Moldova, Pakistan, Ghana and
Bosnia-Herzegovina and, according to the
Economic Forum ranking (2008/2009), the least competitive
economy in Europe.
Albanian companies struggle to produce goods that can compete in
external markets. Albanian exports amounted to an
estimated US$1.4 billion in 2008. Tiny Estonia (1.3 million
people), by comparison, exported more than US$13 billion. Albania's
exports are less than a third of neighbouring Macedonia's, half of
Georgia's and barely higher than Armenia's, a landlocked country
with few natural resources and two closed borders (with Turkey and
As a result, Albania suffers from a serious unemployment problem.
While the number of job seekers continues to grow, swelled by an
additional 45,000 young people entering the labour market each year,
only 6-7,000 new jobs are created each year (based on 2001-2008 data
from the State Statistical Office INSAT).
In short: while Albania has travelled far from the turbulent days
of the 1990s, it remains isolated and trapped in poverty. Whoever
wins the elections this Sunday will face an uphill struggle to bring
about the peaceful revolution of Albanian society that will be
required to turn this around.
'Happy Birthday, Mr President Karadžić' 19 June 2009 The
Serbian National Movement, based in Banja Luka, Bosnia, has put up
posters in nine cities across Bosnia and Herzegovina, wishing war
crimes suspect Radovan Karadžić a happy birthday.
BIRN's Justice Report has learnt that the posters, featuring Radovan
Karadžić’s picture and “Happy birthday, President!”, appeared in
Bosanski Novi, Prijedor, Gradiska, Banja Luka, Doboj, Brcko,
Bijeljina, Vlasenica and Pale.
Members of the Serbian National Movement
Izbor je Nas (The
Choice is Ours), are behind the campaign.
Justice Report has discovered that the posters in Banja Luka and
Bijeljina downtown area have already been removed. The ones in Brcko
are expected to be removed soon.
Halid Emkic, spokesperson of the Brcko district police, said: “The
team has taken the measures and actions in order to document the
incident. The prosecutor has been informed about it. Measures will
be taken to remove the posters.” Tijana Savic, spokesperson for the RS Police, said police had
received a report on some posters having been put up in Bijeljina
“The prosecution claims that there is no evidence of a criminal act
and the posters have been removed,” Savic said.
Dane Cankovic, the movement's president, told Justice Report: “In
this way we are showing that we have not forgotten the person who
deserves the credit for establishment of Republika Srpska and
defence of the Serbian people. We have undertaken this action in
order to show that we have not forgotten him. We wished him a happy
birthday, which is a civilised act. We are hoping that Radovan
Karadžić will be glad to see this.”
Karadžić, the first President of Republika Srpska and Supreme
Commander of the RS Armed Forces, has been charged with genocide,
crimes against humanity and violation of laws and practices of
warfare. After having been on the run for years, he was arrested in
Belgrade in July 2008. His trial is expected to begin at The Hague
in the coming months.
“Radovan Karadžić is a political visionary, humanist and peacemaker.
He fights for the truth. So, help us God, the Hague Tribunal will
render a verdict of not guilty after it sees the evidence he
presents,” Cankovic said
Karadžić was born on June 19, 1945, in the village of Petnjica, in
Bosnian Federal Television, FTV, has aired video footage of war
crimes fugitive Ratko Mladic, showing him moving about freely, well
after the Hague indictment against him.
The video footage, discovered during various raids on the homes of
Mladic's wife and son by Serbian authorities, were handed over the
the prosecution at the Hague-based International Criminal Tribunal
for the former Yugoslavia, ICTY, Dusan Ignjatovic, director of the
Serbian office for cooperation with The Hague, told Balkan Insight
and the BIRN Justice Report.
Ignjatovic would not reveal the details about where and when the
videos were found, but said his office would hold a press conference
later today in Belgrade on the issue.
FTV's "60 minutes" political talk show last night aired several
amateur videos featuring Mladic and his family, showing Mladic
attending the funeral of his daughter Ana, who committed suicide in
1994, celebrating the birth of his grandchild and at his son Darko's
wedding. In the videos, Mladic is accompanied by his wife, Bosiljka,
who lives in Belgrade. Her apartment was been raided several times,
as has her son's apartment.
The wedding video shows Mladic and his wife dancing to the live
music of Sarajevo pop band Plavi Orkestar - a favorite among the
older generations of the former Yugoslavia, especially in Sarajevo,
which was kept under siege for more than three and a half years by
In most of the footage, Mladic is surrounded by many people, with
strangers approaching him to take photographs with him. Some of the
footage was filmed in Bosnia and some in military baracks in Serbia,
according to the show's host, Bakir Hadziomerovic.
There is one segment of footage that shows Mladic attending the
wedding of one of his bodyguards, apparently in 2000, in the Eastern
Sarajevo suburb of Kula. In the footage, the cars driving by have
new Bosnian license plates issued in 1998 and beyond. Another video
shows a clearly older Mladic hiding what appears to be a cane behind
Speaking to Balkan Insight, the talk show's main journalist, Damir
Kaletovic, said that aside from the video of Mladic attending his
daughter's funeral in 1994, most of the footage was shot after the
end of the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia, and after the indictment against
him by the ICTY.
On the show, Hadziomerovic said the “clips show everything, covering
a long period of over ten years", including footage believed to have
been shot some time between 2006 and 2008.
Ignjatovic told Belgrade's daily B92 that the footage was being
analyzed, but he suspected it had not been shot as recently as 2008.
"What’s most important in the whole story is that we have footage of
that war criminal’s stay in military facilities in Serbia, in
Topcider and elsewhere,” he said.
Kaletovic said "60 Minutes" obtained the videos from foreign
intelligence sources, the identities of which could not be revealed.
While most media has focused on the 2008 reference to some of the
Mladic video footage, "60 Minutes" made it clear that the footage
could have been from 2006. Most statements, as such, have been in
reaction to this year, distorting the story.
At a press conference in Brussels, the BBC asked Serbian Foreign
Minister Vuk Jeremic and EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn about
the footage, and both responded that they did not believe it could
have been filmed as recently as last year.
"I have serious doubts about the 2008 reference," Jeremic was quoted
as saying. "2008 was a year when these pictures could not have taken
place. I'm not talking about the previous times, but what I can say
is that this government in Serbia is fully committed to completing
the process of cooperating with the Hague Tribunal."
Rehn agreed, but said that he was in "regular contact with
intelligence services and with the ICTY itself, and the latest
assumptions about Mladic's whereabouts is from spring 2006".
Rasim Ljajic, head of Serbia's council for cooperation with Hague
Tribunal, was more definitive. He told local media that none of the
footage aired on FTV was less than eight years old and that Serbia
had handed over all evidence pertaining to Mladic to the ICTY.
"I cannot confirm that this data is from The Hague, and Serbia
certainly didn't hand it over. We have handed all material evidence
over to the Hague Tribunal, and in discussions with The Hague we
must determine how this material made its way to the media.We're not
accusing anyone, but this is too big of a coincidence," he was
quoted as saying.
"I’m concerned that the purpose of airing the footage is to prevent
a change in Holland’s stance on visa liberalization and to return
Serbia to the bench to defend ourselves against accusations that we
are have not done everything possible to finalize cooperation with
the Hague Tribunal," he said.
“It is clear that someone in the international community does not
have the best intentions” with regard to Serbia’s bid to join the
Mladic is indicted by the Hague-based International Criminal
Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, ICTY, for genocide committed in
ten Bosnian cities, crimes against humanity and violations of the
laws and customs of war.
He was first indicted together with wartime Bosnian Serb leader
Radovan Karadžić on 25 June 1995. The amended indictment was filed
in November the same year, and the most recent one in November 2002.
In the last indictment, Mladic's case is separate from that of
Karadžić was arrested last July in Belgrade after years of hiding.
When apprehended, he was operating under the false identity of
Dragan Dabic and working as an alternative medicine practitioner.
According to reports, Karadžić, though a fugitive from the ICTY, had
been living and moving around freely in Belgrade.
Throughout, Serbian authorities have insisted that they do no know
the whereabouts of Mladic. Former Hague chief prosecutor Carla del
Ponte, until very end of her mandate, was convinced that Mladic was
hiding in Serbia.
In the lastest report to UN Security Council, ICTY chief prosecutor
Serge Brammertz noted that while Serbia had made "additional
progress in its cooperation" with the court, "the search for and
arrest of Ratko Mladic and Goran Hadzic " remained "the central
issue in relation to Serbia’s cooperation".
Bosnian Serbs, OHR Engage in “New War” Sarajevo | 01 June 2009 | Srecko Latal
Valentin InzkoPoliticians in Bosnia's Serb-dominated entity of
Republika Srpska have started a new war with the top western envoy
in the country, refusing his calls to stop challenging the country’s
Despite stark warnings from the head of Bosnia’s Office of the High
Representative, OHR, Valentin Inzko, Bosnian Serb parties have
refused to withdraw their recent decision to challenge all
competencies which were over the past years transferred to the state
Following his highly critical report to the UN Security Council late
last week, Inzko has sent a letter to the Bosnian Serb leadership
giving them until June 11 to reverse their decision or face
consequences, local media and the OHR confirmed over the weekend.
“I know what to do with Bonn [governing] powers,” Inzko warned in an
interview with local media, referring to the High Representative's
sweeping powers to make decisions and hire and fire elected
The row erupted on May 14 when the Assembly of Republika Srpska
adopted a set of highly disputed conclusions, including a decision
to reassess and reclaim a number of competencies which have been in
the past years transferred from entity to state level by order of
the High Representative.
Bosnian Serb leaders also demanded that Inzko stop using his
so-called Bonn Powers that allow the High Representative to impose
laws and remove recalcitrant politicians. Inzko was also urged to
reinstate all previously sacked politicians.
This set of conclusions was seen as the climax of the Bosnian Serbs’
months-long policy of hostility towards further administrative
reforms. It was also seen as a blatant challenge to the OHR, as well
as to renewed US and EU efforts in Bosnia.
During a visit to Sarajevo two weeks ago, US Vice President Joseph
Biden criticized Bosnian Serb policies.
Bosnian Serb attempts to challenge the transfer of competencies from
entity to state were also a part of a highly critical report
submitted last Thursday by Inzko at the UN Security Council in New
“Notwithstanding the positive achievements that have been made,
divisive rhetoric and official resolutions challenging the
sovereignty, constitutional order and territorial integrity of
Bosnia and Herzegovina all continued during the reporting period,
principally on the part of Republika Srpska,” Inzko said in his
He said that Republika Srpska institutions and officials had been
“in the forefront of attacks on the legitimacy of state institutions
… and in the forefront of efforts to reverse previous state-building
and EU-mandated reforms.”
Inzko stressed that this was happening “at a time when the State
Investigation and Protection Agency [SIPA] has submitted a
preliminary report to the State Prosecutor on possible financial
wrong-doings by the r> Following Inzko’s address to the UN Security Council, the
international community continued building pressure on Bosnian Serb
leaders. Inzko as well as the EU’s Common Foreign and Security
Policy chief Javier Solana have sent letters to Bosnian Serb leaders
urging them to stop challenging the constitution and blocking
US Ambassador to Bosnia Charles English also chimed in, stressing
that Inzko enjoyed full American support.
Even usually pro-Serbian Russia this time around avoided openly
standing by the Bosnian Serb leadership.
But while Bosnian Serb leaders appeared to be more muted and
conciliatory in their statements, they refused the western request.
“There are questions which we have to jointly resolve and we have to
put an end to these exchanges about who owns what and how,”
Republika Srpska Prime Minister Milorad Dodik told media over the
“There are no adventurists in Republika Srpska who would engage in
activities that would lead to instabilities,” Dodik added,
indicating that the disputed Republika Srpska Assembly’s resolution
represented merely a political platform rather than an indication of
some future unilateral action.
He also complained about the tone of Inzko’s letter, saying it
indicated a return to the OHR’s past policies of impositions and
Dodik’s Alliance of Independent Social democrats, SNSD, as well as
most other predominately Bosnian Serb parties rejected Inzko’s
request, saying they had never violated Bosnia’s constitution.
Yet Inzko was resolute. In his letter, he demanded that the
Republika Srpska Assembly annul its May 14 resolution before June
11. After that date, Inzko said he would “decide about his next
The exchanges between the Bosnian Serb leadership and Inzko over the
weekend indicate that the honeymoon is over for Bosnia’s new High
Representative, who is, after only two months of his new mandate,
approaching the first real showdown with Dodik.
A similar showdown ended poorly for the previous High Representative,
Miroslav Lajcak, after Dodik saw through his bluff. Learning from
Lajcak’s mistakes, Inzko has from the very beginning of his mandate
worked to build b
international support for his actions -
support that could, however, be seriously challenged if Dodik
refuses to back down.