Call on UN SC to help in neutral approach to international law (Tanjug/RTS/Politika)
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic participated on Tuesday evening in a session of the UN Security Council, where a report of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals in The Hague was presented, and which was partially held via a video link due to the coronavirus pandemic. During his address to the Security Council, Vucic stated that Serbia has several times raised the question of enabling the convicted citizens of Serbia to serve their sentences in our country. The majority of people who serve their sentences are citizens of the Republic of Serbia, and it is natural for Serbia to be interested in them serving their time in prison in Serbia, said Vucic. He pointed out that Serbia takes its obligations regarding the Mechanism seriously, but that the Higher Court in Belgrade concluded that the preconditions for the arrest of Petar Jojic and Vjerica Radeta were not fulfilled. The decision is based on domestic law and international law, he said. Vucic recalled that Serbia handed over all the accused persons to the Tribunal, including persons from the highest state authorities. The Republic of Serbia has raised the question of enabling our convicted citizens to serve their sentences in Serbia. We have not received any answers at this session. It is natural for them to serve their sentences in Serbia. I want to underline the wish of Serbia that the execution of the sentences of the citizens of Serbia be in Serbia. Obligations under the Mechanism concern a serious breach. Serbia takes its obligations seriously. I would just like to remind you that the Republic of Serbia has handed over to the Tribunal all the persons indicted by the Prosecutor, and we also submitted documentation, he pointed out. Vucic also reminded of the fact that France refused to extradite individuals due to contempt of the Court under the slogan that France does not extradite its citizens. Many crimes committed against Serb civilians were not of interest, but it is very important that we do not leave anything unclear. It is interesting that, in addition to criticism, Serbia is the only one that condemns the crimes committed by the citizens of Serbia. Serbia condemns the horrific crime in Srebrenica. Nevertheless, we are here to analyze the results. The Hague tribunal tried only Serbs. Serbs were sentenced to 1130 years in prison, and to 7 life sentences, on the other hand, no Croats were sentenced. Gotovina was sentenced to 23 years in prison, but the verdict was later changed to acquittal. Also, Naser Oric was released. It turns out that none of them is responsible for those crimes, Vucic assessed. “Prosecutors deliberately chose Gotovina, Oric and Haradinaj, and they were convicted according to the same pattern, except for Ramush Haradinaj. All were convicted, but were acquitted by second-instance mysterious decisions. All witnesses against Haradinaj either killed themselves or were killed,” he said. He pointed out that Serbia will show responsibility and that it will fight for peace and stability in the region, and called on the Mechanism to respect Serbia and international law, and not to criminalize our country. The Serbian President called on the UN Security Council to help in the neutral approach to international law. We are turned to the future, not the past, despite the selective justice of The Hague Tribunal. And I have one message for all Serbs and Serbs in the entire region: “Heads up, neither Serbia nor the Serbian people were convicted for nothing, it is up to us to work even harder and open factories,” Vucic said. After addresses of the representatives of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia, Vucic addressed the UN Security Council again. “I did not say anything against the countries from the region, but the Bosnian and Croatian representatives did it. The Croatian representative said that it was known ‘who the devil is’, and I want to tell him that there was Jasenovac and that everyone knows who the devil was. We have different opinions, but we respect their position even though we do not share it,” he said. As he further stated, there are more missing Serbs than Croats on the territory of Croatia, and that is the conclusion of the Croatian Red Cross. “Find a place in Serbia and let us know that you have suspicions that people have been buried, and we will go there with you and carry out the excavation and bring the truth to their families,” he says.
Brnabic: Hague Tribunal has moved region away from reconciliation (TV Pink/Tanjug)
Serbia is fully committed to and advocates investigation of all war crimes and arrests of all indictees, as well as punishment for all those responsible, but the Hague-based war crimes tribunal has moved countries and peoples in the region away from reconciliation as almost no one has answered for the crimes committed against Serbs, Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said late on Tuesday after the appeals chamber of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals upheld a life imprisonment sentence for Ratko Mladic. In a statement to TV Pink, Brnabic said she would not comment on the Mladic verdict in order to avoid doing harm to Serbia. When asked if the tribunal was a political court or a court trying war criminals according to law and justice, Brnabic responded that, without a doubt, it was a political court. “Law and justice go out the window where politics interfere,” Brnabic said. She said her impression was that, 26 years after the conflict, the tribunal had brought religious communities and peoples in the region even further apart. “We have worse intolerance than we had 26 years ago and The Hague (tribunal) has contributed to that,” Brnabic said. She said people from the tribunal had told her it had not even been set up to contribute to reconciliation in the region, and added that she disagreed with that. “I disagree with that because if all those affected by wars had felt justice, had we seen all those who have committed crimes held accountable, that would have contributed to reconciliation indirectly, if not directly,” Brnabic said. “Justice has not been served: more or less no one has answered for the crimes against Serbs, and those who have are soldiers of lower rank, and the sentences were minimal,” Brnabic concluded.
Vulin: Verdict against Mladic is verdict against justice; Other reactions (Novosti/Politika/N1)
Serbian Minister of Interior Aleksandar Vulin stated that he believes that the verdict against former commander of the Main Staff of the Republika Srpska (RS) Army, General Ratko Mladic is a verdict against justice. Vulin stressed that the sentence of life imprisonment for General Mladic is revenge, and not a verdict, reminding of the double standards of The Hague Tribunal. Vulin pointed out that the Tribunal was established not to seek justice and contribute to reconciliation, but to try Serbs. Representatives of several opposition parties in Serbia reacted and leader of the League of Social Democrats of Vojvodina Nenad Canak said that the verdict will prevent new crimes and in his opinion, this is a defeat of a policy that ruined Yugoslavia. On the other hand, SRS led by Vojislav Seselj said that the verdict is expected. The Democratic Party of Serbia and the ‘Pokret obnove Kraljevine Srbije’ stated that the verdict and The Hague Tribunal are political. The Bosniak National Council assessed that the final verdict is an important step in releasing future generations of responsibility of the Serb people for crimes committed on their behalf. One part of the NGOs in Serbia reacted and thus, the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) stated that the verdict was expected while founder of the HLC Natasa Kandic stated that this will reduce room for some future denial of the genocide. Representatives of parties leaning right on the political spectrum reacted on Twitter, with most of them saying that Mladic is a hero of the Serb people and he only defended his people. The reactions by political parties are divided – from welcoming the verdict by the Social-Democratic Party of Serbia, saying only individuals, not entire nations could commit genocide, to the National-Democratic Coalition which said it was not surprised by the ruling “because that international court has long lost its legitimacy by acquitting the Muslim and Croatian terrorists and war criminals”. Lawyers in Serbia was more ready to comment on the MICT verdict. Branislav Tapuskovic, an attorney, told N1 the most interesting thing in the ruling was the rejection of the prosecutors’ appeal demanding Mladic’s responsibility for genocide in six more municipalities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, besides the one, confirmed in Srebrenica. “The B&H interest was that genocide was proven on its entire territory,” Tapuskovic said. If that happened, he added, the existence of the RS would have been challenged. Mladic’s lawyer Branko Lukic, who did not participate in the IRMCT Appeal Chamber session, told N1 he did not expect such a verdict and thought all the judges would read the defense reasons. “Unfortunately, there was no will to look into the first instance ruling through evidence presented during the appeal procedure,” Lukic said, adding the defense team had new evidence, including that out of over 8,000 people killed, some 5,000 had died in combat which was “indisputably established”.
Odalovic: Hague Tribunal is not a court that brought law and justice (RTS)
The Secretary General of the Serbian parliament Veljko Odalovic told the Radio and Television of Serbia (RTS) morning press review said that it was natural to say at the Security Council session what there is to say and to direct the first and right reaction to the place where, unfortunately, that ad hoc tribunal is formed. “I think that the messages conveyed by the President were those that irritate everyone in Serbia, anger, helplessness in the desire to declare sentences for crimes against Serbs in that Tribunal, and the unwillingness of the people who were decision-makers there to say something that deserved to be said, and I think that the President said that very clearly last night,” Odalovic stated. He states that when a person from a distance develops this story a little and how it seemed obvious that this “ad hoc tribunal was created under the pressure of those who were the creators of the disintegration of the former Yugoslavia and the moves they made, confessions when conflicts took place, they wanted to close the story and condemn us all a little with the messages they sent”. “Then they did not take into account the fact that in those conflicts in which there were an awful lot of victims on all sides, that there were serious crimes, that there were no Croats, Bosniaks or Albanians who committed crimes against Serbs, in this respect this ad hoc the tribunal did nothing, it even acquitted people who should have been certainly responsible,” Odalovic said.
Tribunal issued indictments, then collected evidence
Odalovic points out that “this is not a court that brought justice and reconciliation, although they pompously announced when they advocated the establishment of this tribunal that the court would then, by declaring measures to those who committed crimes they would create conditions for justice and reconciliation”. “The way the tribunal started working, it issued indictments, and later collected evidence. The way they worked, judged, and that means a lot to those who believe,” Odalovic said. He notes that the minimum that needed to be done was to repeat the trial of Ratko Mladic. “In no law, except the one they formed for themselves, and the way they worked is not applied. They did not deal with the essence and with the things why every tribunal should exist,” Odalovic points out. If we listen carefully to what the representatives of Croatia and B&H said last night, “it speaks of the fact that we are far away and that their messages say that neither the Bosnian nor the Croatian society are ready to face their crimes”. “All the stings were directed at Serbia. If we had victims on all sides, ethnic cleansing, a third of the missing are Serbs. Someone kidnapped and killed them. Today we cannot reach the territories where the bodies are. The bodies are not in Serbia, they are in B&H, Croatia and Kosovo and Metohija. This speaks of double standards about the unwillingness to look at the facts and to prosecute those who are believed, with good assumptions, to be responsible. They are free and receive medals,” Odalovic said.
An attempt to close the story in the Balkans
He states that circumstantially, fifteen days ago, he read notes from the Federal parliament, read notes when the law on cooperation with The Hague was adopted. “I would repeat everything, word for word. I did not find any mistake, everything was confirmed and shown as it is. The law, which was confirmed in both houses, excluded questions about extradition of anyone. That is the basis on which the Higher Court, when Radeta and Jojic were to be extradited, the judge assessed that it was not in accordance with the law,” Odalovic notes. He states that this is an attempt to close the story in the Balkans. “I believe we will reach some solution. This is an ad hoc tribunal and it will try to extend its mandate,” said Odalovic.
ZSO a way to resolve many issues
On this day, in 1999, the representatives of the Yugoslav Army and NATO signed the Kumanovo Agreement, which ended NATO air strikes on Yugoslavia, and in Kosovo and Metohija, based on UN Security Council Resolution 1244, international forces were deployed.
Odalovic believes that this is, as he said, another “serious deceit”. “One mission established by Resolution 1244 and the Kumanovo Agreement elaborated turned into its opposite. Let me remind you, 50,000 soldiers, policemen, personnel arrived in Kosovo and Metohija in 10 days. They took all the responsibility. They allowed under their mandate the expulsion of 250,000 Serbs and non-Albanians,” Odalovic said. The international community believes that those who are the mediators of the whole process either will not or do not have the strength to force Pristina to fulfill its obligations. “What is the purpose of the dialogue in something that has not yielded any results. If Pristina has signed that it will form the Community of Serb Municipalities (ZSO), if an implementation plan has been adopted, which it has also signed, then what needs to happen for Pristina to be forced and that is the obligation of the international community. “I am sure that it will force them to do that. ZSO is a way to resolve many issues through dialogue and to relax many difficult topics that are present in Kosovo and Metohija,” Odalovic concluded.
Djuric on Vucic’s speech (TV Prva)
Serbian Ambassador to the United States Marko Djuric commented on the speech of President Vucic at the United Nations. “Vučić turned on the light, he presented the facts (which indicate) a selective approach towards the convicts. Vučić does not allow Serbia to be trampled on,” Djuric said in an interview for TV Prva and pointed out that our country does not want to live in the 90s. “We were not alone in the UN Security Council, but we are ready to talk. We are not giving up the fight for the truth and we strongly oppose becoming stigmatized,” he added. Djuric pointed out that a court has not contributed to the construction of bridges in the region in 30 years. “Thirty years since the beginning of the bloody war, we again have a heated discussion, distracting the story of cooperation. This will not turn Serbia off the path of economic development and the path of cooperation. Ours is to fight for Serbia to be the most successful and that will be the best answer,” Djuric said, adding that even the countries in the Second World War haven’t been stigmatized in such a manner.
Stano: Vucic, Kurti to meet on 15 June in Brussels (Tanjug)
EU spokesperson Peter Stano announced on Wednesday a new round of the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue would be held on 15 June in Brussels. He said the meeting would be attended by Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo’s new Prime Minister Albin Kurti. He added that the meeting would be facilitated by EU foreign policy and security chief Josep Borrell and EU special envoy for the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue Miroslav Lajcak.
MICT Appeals Chamber sentences Mladic to life in prison for war crimes in B&H including genocide in Srebrenica, Mladic acquitted of charges for committing genocide is six other municipalities (Hayat)
The Mechanism for the International Criminal Tribunals (MICT) Appeals Chamber rendered the second-instance verdict to wartime Repblika Srpska (RS) Army Main Staff Commander Ratko Mladic in The Hague on Tuesday. With the final verdict, rendered with the dissenting opinion of presiding judge Prisca Matimba Nyambe, the MICT Appeals Chamber fully upheld the first-instance verdict sentencing Mladic to life in prison. Mladic is found guilty on 10 out of 11 counts of indictment i.e. of committing war crimes and genocide in Bosnia ad Herzegovina (B&H) in the period 1992-1995. The crimes Mladic has been found guilty of include genocide in Srebrenica, persecution of Bosniaks and Croats, terrorizing citizens of Sarajevo and taking UNPROFOR members hostage. Mladic’s defense team had filed an appeal against the first-instance verdict, demanding an acquittal, while the prosecutors demanded that he is declared guilty of genocide against Bosniaks and Croats in six other municipalities – Prijedor, Sanski Most, Kotor Varos, Foca, Vlasenica, and Kljuc. However, the Appeals Chamber rejected the appeals of both the defense and the prosecutors. While delivering the verdict, presiding judge Nyambe mentioned that the verdict was passed with her dissenting opinion. Nyambe stated: “The Appeals Chamber affirms, Judge Nyambe dissenting, the disposition of the Trial Chamber finding Mladic guilty of genocide under Count 2 of the Indictment, persecution as a crime against humanity under Count 3 of the Indictment, extermination as a crime against humanity under Count 4 of the Indictment, murder as a crime against humanity under Count 5 of the Indictment, murder as a violation of the laws or customs of war under Count 6 of the Indictment, deportation as a crime against humanity under Count 7 of the Indictment, inhumane acts, forcible transfer, as a crime against humanity under Count 8 of the Indictment, terror as a violation of the laws or customs of war under Count 9 of the Indictment, and unlawful attacks on civilians as a violation of the laws or customs of war under Count 10 of the Indictment.”
Nyambe explained that the Appeals Chamber concluded that there was no genocidal intent in the six municipalities from the first count of the indictment, due to which the prosecution’s appeal has been fully rejected. The Appeals Chamber also concluded there was a joint criminal enterprise (JCE) involved in these crimes, particularly regarding Sarajevo and the campaign of sniper activities and shelling.
MICT Chief Prosecutor Brammertz: Mladic’s guilt is his and his alone (BHT1)
Chief Prosecutor of International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (MICT) Serge Brammertz commented on the Appeals Chamber’s final-instance. Among other things, Brammertz said that Mladic should be condemned by all responsible officials in the former Yugoslavia and the world, adding that his name should be consigned to the list of history’s most depraved and barbarous figures. “This is not the verdict against the Serb people, who Mladic and his supporters have manipulated with for decades. Mladic’s guilt is his and his alone” emphasized Brammertz. Also, Brammertz stressed that the MICT Prosecution will resume to work with prosecutors from the region so that other war crimes perpetrators can be processed.
Brammertz said that following this verdict, the victims and survivors of the crimes need to be the main focus. He thanked the diplomatic community and media that supported the work of the MICT and International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) for more than 20 years. Brammertz stated that the time has come to accept the truth and Mladic was declared one of the most notorious war criminals in modern history. He stated that Mladic used his military command to attack, torture, rape and persecute innocent civilian population because they were a different ethnicity and religion. Brammertz stated that Mladic incited hate among people in order to justify and defend his crimes. He highlighted that Mladic was given power over life and death over thousands of innocent men and boys in Srebrenica and he ordered their total elimination and genocide. “With the conclusion of this case, the victims and survivors should be in the forefront of our thoughts. The appeal judgment confirms again what they suffered. And it confirms the courage of the witnesses who came forward and told the truth,” reads Brammertz’s statement.
Attorney Stojanovic: MICT’s final verdict to Mladic inadequate and unacceptable (BN TV)
Attorney Miodrag Stojanovic, member of the defense team of Ratko Mladic, spoke for BN TV on the occasion of pronouncement of the MICT’s final verdict according to which Mladic has been sentenced to life in prison for war crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) including genocide in Srebrenica. In his reaction, Stojanovic said that the verdict is inadequate and unacceptable. Stojanovic noted that the whole reasoning of the Appeals Chamber, except for “the only professional, dissenting opinion of judge Nyambe” is unconvincing. “I cannot accept any of the arguments or reasons cited by the Appeals Chamber. I feel disappointed. Mladic has carried his cross of the function of General of the RS Army,” Stojanovic noted. The attorney disagrees with the MICT Appeals Chamber’s conclusions that there was a plan to commit genocide in Srebrenica adding that he cannot agree with it “while knowing what really is behind this conclusion”. The attorney elaborated on his opinion by saying that Mladic was not on the territory of the RS at but rather in Belgrade at the time that he is ruled responsible for preparing a genocidal plan. “I know very well there is not a single intercepted phone call to prove such a thing, either” he added. In addition, Stojanovic touched on Nyambe’s dissenting opinion, saying that she is “an experienced professional, who has previously had dissenting opinion in the case of General Tolimir”. Stojanovic assessed that only Nyambe had “enough professional strength” to refuse to join such a verdict. He noted that this verdict serves as a lesson to attorneys for how to act in the future.
War victims and witnesses’ associations, satisfied with final verdict against Mladic, although there was degree of disappointment since Mladic was not convicted of genocide in other six municipalities in B&H (O Kanal)
Members of the war victims and witnesses’ associations, who followed pronouncing of the verdict to Ratko Mladic in The Hague were satisfied with the first instance sentence being upheld, although there was a degree of disappointment over Prijedor, Prijedor, Sanski Most, Vlasenica, Kotor Varos, Kljuc and Foca not being included. O Kanal reports that only one vote was missing for the genocide to be declared in these six municipalities. Munira Subasic from the ‘Mothers of the Enclaves of Srebrenica and Zepa’ said: “I am sorry because other municipalities were not included in the verdict and I am sorry that young people, who have been poisoned, and live in lies, did not come here today to see and hear it, and I hope that they will do it and that we will create trust among our children, grandchildren so that tomorrow is better for everyone’’. President of the Association of Genocide Victims and Witnesses Murat Tahirovic said the verdict to former Head of the State Security Service (DB) Jovica Stanisic and former Intelligence Officer at the DB Franko Simatovic are also expected to be pronounced, where “we expect they will be found guilty for participating in crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H). And, of course, the struggle is ahead us with the judiciary in B&H and the region, to continue with the processes referred by The Hague Tribunal”.
Other reactions to final verdict against Mladic (Hayat/RTRS/ATV/N1)
Croat member of the B&H Presidency and DF leader Zeljko Komsic reacted to the final verdict to Ratko Mladic. In his reaction, Komsic stated that the final verdict, which established that there was a joint criminal enterprise (JCE) of the political and military leadership of the RS, clearly shows there was an intent to commit a series of the most horrific crimes based on ethnic differences. Bosniak member of the B&H Presidency Sefik Dzaferovic (SDA) also commented on the verdict, saying that it is important that the MICT called Mladic’s crimes by their true name, genocide. However, Dzaferovic expressed regret that the MICT did not “have the strength or courage” to rule that genocide was also committed in Prijedor, Sanski Most, Kotor Varos, Foca, Vlasenica, and Kljuc. “Mladic himself recognized genocide in his statements back in 1992. At the session of so-called Assembly of Serb people, he said that what is being asked from him is genocide” Dzaferovic concluded. “It is important that before the whole world his crimes from the past war were called by the real name. It is important that the civilized world, after this judgment, will remember him only as a war criminal,” said Dzaferovic. “It has been clearly determined that the intent of the political and military leadership of the RS, resulted in planning, organizing, and committing a series of the most serious crimes, that also include the genocide, crime against humanity, and series of war crimes and ethnic cleansing,” Komsic was quoted as saying. Komsic said the verdict also proved to be the end of the idea of peaceful dissolution of B&H and “in future, we need to turn to eliminating all elements determined by The Hague as joint criminal enterprise from political and public life”. Dzaferovic stressed that the truth is what was confirmed by the second-instance verdict in Mladic’s case, adding that The Hague Tribunal did precisely what it was supposed to do – it brought justice. However, Dzaferovic said that there is no justice when it comes to a criminal such as Mladic and that he deserves to spend the rest of his life in jail. “After these verdicts, no one will be able to argue anymore that political and military undertaking headed by (Radovan) Karadzic and Mladic was a legitimate political and military undertaking. As established in the verdicts, that was a joint criminal enterprise with the goal of creating ethnically pure territories which resulted in genocide, extermination, concentration camps, rapes, beatings, destruction of property and religious buildings,” Dzaferovic underlined. B&H Minister of Foreign Affairs Bisera Turkovic (SDA) stated that verdict against Mladic is final and historic. Turkovic stressed that the verdict against Mladic is of immeasurable importance for the future of B&H and the entire region, because one can build lasting peace and stability only on truth and justice. SDA Vice President Edin Ramic said that he expected Mladic to also be convicted of genocide in six other B&H municipalities. Commenting on the work of The Hague Tribunal, Ramic said that he is satisfied and that The Hague Tribunal in part did what it needed to do, but that there are criminals on all sides who are still free and that it is up to the B&H judiciary to correct that in the coming period. “In part, it satisfied the need for justice. On the other hand, in all communities, there is a number of criminals who are direct perpetrators of crimes who have not been prosecuted yet. Therefore, I hope that prosecutors’ offices in the territory of B&H will do their part of the job and prosecute all those who committed war crimes and individualize those crimes,” Ramic underlined. SBB B&H leader Fahrudin Radoncic stated that final verdict against Mladic will have huge political and legal consequences because it is proof that every individual, community or state that, possibly, in the future tries to attack B&H, Bosniak people and other peoples, will end up as criminal Mladic.
Chairman and Serb member of the B&H Presidency and SNSD leader Milorad Dodik said that this verdict and the MICT in The Hague do not have a lot to do with justice and law. Dodik said that The Hague Tribunal was supposed to be a court that fosters trust, yet it turned out to be quite the opposite. However, Dodik welcomed the fact that this at least puts an end to The Hague Tribunal’s work on such cases. “This undermines trust in the international justice”, the Presidency Chairman noted. The Presidency Chairman added that The Hague Tribunal failed to meet the initial expectations that it would serve objective justice and really convict everyone responsible for the crimes. In his opinion, no direct responsibility that would be attributed to Mladic has been proven but as a commander he has been sentenced for all “known and unknown crimes”. In addition, Dodik said that this verdict aims to create “a myth about the genocide in Srebrenica, which did not happen”. Dodik stated that 96,000 people were killed during the past war in B&H and that 30 percent of the victims were Serbs. According to the data of the Center for Research of War Crimes, Serbs were sentenced to more than 950 years in prison before The Hague Tribunal, Bosniaks were sentenced to 41 years in prison, while Croats were sentenced to 277 years in prison before The Hague Tribunal. Dodik said that this represents defeat of justice and that one cannot trust The Hague Tribunal which, according to him, did not fulfill its goal, i.e. it did not contribute to reconciliation, but to even greater discord among the citizens of B&H. “What kind of justice is that when Naser Oric, Ante Gotovina, Ejup Ganic, Atif Dudakovic and many others who committed crimes against Serbs were following this verdict from the comfort of their homes,” Dodik underlined. RS President Zeljka Cvijanovic also reacted and said that once more, this court again confirmed that it is an anti-Serb court. According to Cvijanovic, Mladic was leading the RS Army in the most difficult times and the RS Army defended the RS and the right of the Serb people to life and freedom and in her opinion, no verdict in the world can change this historic fact and their perception about the general Mladic. Cvijanovic pointed out that The Hague Tribunal will be remembered as a synonym for injustice and a political court, whose task is not to contribute to reconciliation, “as they hypocritically claim” but to clear the conscience of those who repeatedly delivered cruise missiles and depleted uranium to the Serb people in the 1990s. RS Prime Minister Radovan Viskovic stated that the court in The Hague is not trying on the basis of evidence, “nor is the evidence relevant, but the way someone decided it should be.” “For a long time, neither law nor justice has ruled in this area, because if law and justice ruled, people would have the right to a fair trial. I am for all those who committed a crime to be held responsible for that, but crimes were committed on all three sides, not only on one side,” Viskovic underlined. RS parliament speaker Nedeljko Cubrilovic stated that by confirming the life sentence, The Hague Tribunal handed down a harsh verdict in which the evidence in favor of General Mladic was ignored. “This verdict, like many previous ones, does not contribute to interethnic reconciliation, but makes relations between Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks more difficult. This is another injustice, an injustice towards Serbs,” Cubrilovic stressed. PDP leader Branislav Borenovic stated that The Hague Tribunal has confirmed that it is a court of politics and not justice. Borenovic presented an opinion that The Hague Tribunal has treated Serbs brutally and thus failed to contribute to the process of reconciliation. SDS leader Mirko Sarovic stated that he believes that Serb victims were left without justice. Sarovic said that this is yet another in a series of verdicts that attempt to impose responsibility for wartime events in the period 1992-1995 onto military and political representatives of the Serb people only, while military and political leadership of other sides are acquitted of all charges. “It is unacceptable to convict Serb people to five life sentences and over 800 years in prison for the events in the period 1992-1995, while others are sentenced to a lot less years in prison,” Sarovic noted. The SDS leader stressed that 30,000 Serbs were killed in the war while perpetrators of crimes against them remain unpunished. Leader of the United Srpska Nenad Stevandic stressed that injustice will only strengthen the RS, despite the expectations of its opponents. DNS leader Nenad Nesic noted that The Hague Tribunal has been and remains a political court. Nesic stressed that this was supposed to be a court of justice and confidence yet it only served injustice and contribute to greater distrust within B&H. “Not a single document or evidence showing that they (Mladic and first RS President Radovan Karadzic) ordered some crime or murder has been presented,” Nesic said. Leader of SPS Goran Selak stated that when their leaders and commanders are sentenced, each people sees that sentence as their own. He noted that none of the Bosniak political leaders or military commanders was sentenced, and underlined that for Serbs, Mladic will remain the commander of the army which protected them. The Croatian Government commented welcomed the verdict against Mladic, but expressed regret over the fact that the MICT did not include the leadership of Serbia of that time in their charges and the fact that Mladic was not charged and sentenced for crimes committed in Croatia. The Croatian Government reminded that Mladic’s acts began in Croatia during the aggression of Serbia and they were continued in B&H. It was stated that the verdict will bring some peace to victims and survivors of the crimes, as well as partial satisfaction to them. Croatian Minister of Veterans Tomo Medved said that he is saddened by the fact that the statement of Croatia regarding the responsibility of Mladic for crimes in Croatia was not taken into account. MEP of SDP Tonino Picula said that Mladic was one of the main protagonists of destruction and mass killing in B&H. He assessed that Mladic will spend the rest of his life where he deserves, but some ideas that are the basis of what he is sentenced for still live on today. Party led by Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic, DPS issued a press statement, which reads that the final verdict in case against Ratko Mladic is not a conviction only for a criminal, but conviction of evil times in the Balkans which must not be repeated. DPS stressed that regardless of the fact that “mechanisms of executive power are not in our hands, we remain to be reliable partner in preserving of the peace and stability and continuation of establishing of good-neighborly relations”. They reminded that in 2009, Montenegro accepted the Declaration of the European Parliament which condemns genocide in Srebrenica. MP Damir Sehovic stated that even though some in Montenegro still consider Mladic to be a hero, this verdict served the justice and put an end to one of the darkest pages of history in the Balkans. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken reacted by saying that horrible crimes were committed against non-Serbs in B&H, i.e. Bosniaks and Croats in B&H. Blinken expressed hope that this will serve that those who still deny the crimes, finally accept the facts. In his opinion, this should contribute to reconciliation within B&H. Biden characterized the final verdict as a historic verdict that shows that those who commit horrible crimes will respond. In his opinion, the verdict empowers joint commitment to prevent future crimes in the world. Biden expressed hope that leaders in the region will respect this verdict and empower its importance for the rule of the law, adding that his thoughts are with all members of families who survived Mladic’s crimes. He said: “We can never erase the tragedy of their death, but I hope that today’s verdict will give comfort to all people in grief.” Biden also stated that justice and reconciliation are the foundation for peace and stability for the future, and “and today’s decision is also an important confirmation that this is possible. I sincerely hope leaders in the region will respect this judgment and reinforce its importance for the rule of law,” reads Biden’s statement. U.S. Embassy to B&H welcomed the decision affirming the conviction of Ratko Mladic. US Embassy noted that verdict to Mladic represents an important step toward holding to account those individuals responsible for tremendous suffering of the people of B&H, while bringing a measure of long-awaited justice to victims and their families. The Embassy called on all parties to respect the court’s verdict and to work on process of reconciliation and stable future. Reactions to the judgement came from the EU, according to which, the trial to Mladic is the key trial in more recent European history and it represents an opportunity for the leaders in B&H. According to the statement from the EU (signed by EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell and European Commissioner for Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Oliver Varhelyi), the MICT’s verdict is an opportunity for leaders in B&H and the region, in view of the facts, to lead the way in honoring victims and promote an environment conducive to reconciliation to overcome the legacies of the war and build lasting peace. President of the European Council Charles Michel assessed that this verdict shows that the time has come to leave the painful past behind and to turn to the future. Michel stated: “The final ruling by the international tribunal in the case against Mladic is another important step to provide justice to the victims. It will help us all put the painful past behind us and to put the future first”. EU statement reads that this verdict is a chance for leaders in B&H and the region to take the lead role in paying of respect to victims and promoting of the region suitable for reconciliation, in order to overcome the wartime heritage and establish permanent peace. They also stressed that this is a precondition for stability and security of B&H and part of 14 priorities from the EC Opinion.
Head of the EU Delegation to B&H Johann Sattler commented said: “My deepest sympathies go to all those who lost loved ones as a result of the war crimes and genocide carried out in B&H. Their quest for justice must serve as a foundation for us all to build a better future” said Sattler.
UK Foreign Minister Dominic Raab also reacted to the verdict and stated that the UK had key role in processing of Mladic and other war criminals before courts. Raab assessed that, with this verdict for the worst imaginable international crimes, the international community has served justice and provided certain consolation to surviving victims. UK representative in the UN stated on Tuesday that Mladic too will serve his sentence in UK. The OSCE welcomed the final verdict against Mladic and stated it is an opportunity for local leaders to take the leading role to create environment for the reconciliation. Head of the OSCE Mission to B&H Kathleen Kavalec stressed that justice for victims and survivors is of key importance to build permanent peace in B&H. Kavalec stated that with the verdict, an important chapter is being closed, and the verdict represents a key step towards establishing responsibility of perpetrators of war crimes. Participants of the UN Security Council (UN SC) session commented on the final verdict to wartime Mladic. On this occasion, President of the MICT Carmel Agius said that the verdict to Mladic is a top achievement that brings hope for reconciliation. On the other hand, Russian Deputy Permanent Representative Gennady Kuzmin commented on the verdict by saying that it refers to continuation of politicization of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Kuzmin assessed that this verdict leaves a stain on the MICT’s reputation. According to Kuzmin, “The Hague machinery” has been methodically destroying the lives of participants of the Balkan war. He wondered why no one was held responsible for mass bombings, including in Belgrade. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic reiterated that Serbia is ready to assume its obligations in terms of implementation of its obligations stemming from the court decisions that refer to the citizens of Serbia. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reacted to the final verdict to Mladic by saying that he stands with the victims and expressed hope that the situation in B&H would stabilize. The UN Security Council (UN SC) was supposed to hold a session on Tuesday evening and discuss work of the MICT.
US Representative in UN SC, Jeffrey DeLaurentis expressed satisfaction with the verdict, saying that this is a historic day. He criticized Serbia saying that they are deeply disappointed by the fact that Serbia failed to fulfill its obligations and arrest two persons because of intimidating of witnesses. He stressed that Serbia has to cooperate with the Mechanism. Member of the Russian Duma for International Affairs Elena Panina commented on the final verdict rendered to former General of the RS Army Ratko Mladic and she characterized it as biased, unfair and politicized. She added that the ICTY has always used political and not legal criteria in their work and it is no accident that 70 percent of accused and convicted persons are Serbs.
Grlic Radman attends ministerial meeting on Berlin Process (Hina)
Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Gordan Grlic Radman participated in a video-conference on Tuesday with the foreign ministers of country participants in the Berlin process, the foreign ministry has reported. “The Berlin Process has so far resulted in many tangible achievements. Primarily, it has reiterated its commitment to the European Union’s enlargement process, created a positive boost for concrete regional cooperation, and has helped to strengthen ties both between the six countries in the Western Balkans region as well as between those countries and the EU” said Grlic Radman. He added that the area of the Western Balkans has been seriously affect,ed by the COVID-19 pandemic but also that a recovery framework was created at last year’s Berlin Process summit in Sofia. “In times of crisis, we have to show solidarity with those who require help. Croatia is among the first EU member states to implement the vaccine sharing mechanism, via which we will send vaccines to Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro and North Macedonia,” underscored Grlic Radman. He reiterated Croatia’s support to Western Balkan countries on their European journey, reflecting particularly on Bosnia and Herzegovina, underscoring its stability which is Croatia’s interest and of the whole of the European Union. He underlined the urgency to resolve the most important issues in that country such as reforming the election law and the opportunity to implement that this year. He called on those countries that have not yet recognized Kosovo to do so because of the positive effect that its recognition would have on the security and stability of Southeast Europe. He also expressed hope that a consensus would be reached without any delay on the negotiation framework for Albania and North Macedonia and subsequently for an inter-governmental conference to be organized with both countries and for an inter-governmental conference to also be organized with Montenegro and Serbia in the context of the new negotiation methodology. The meeting included the participation of representatives from EU institutions, the Council for Regional Cooperation and the regional youth cooperation office and the office for cooperation with NGOs.
Croatia joins United Nation’s Economic and Social Council (Hina)
Croatia was elected a member of the United Nation’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) for the 2022-24 period, the Croatian Foreign and European Affairs Ministry reported on Tuesday. The UN Charter established ECOSOC in 1945 as one of the six main organs of the United Nations. It currently consists of 54 member countries. The Economic and Social Council is the UN’s body for dealing with the three dimensions of sustainable development – economic, social and environmental. “It is the central platform for fostering debate and innovative thinking, forging consensus on ways forward, and coordinating efforts to achieve internationally agreed goals. It is also responsible for the follow-up to major UN conferences and summits,” reported Hina, citing the United Nations.
The government is not dividing, but trying to solve problems (RTCG)
The government of Montenegro does not make rifts, but tries to recognize, analyze all the problems of the local self-governments and to find the best way to raise the quality of life in Montenegro to the level that all citizens expect, said Prime Minister Zdravko Krivokapic during his visit to Municipality of Bar. Prime Minister Zdravko Krivokapic visited the municipality of Bar, where he talked with Municipality President Dusan Raicevic. The meeting discussed numerous infrastructure projects, which are being implemented in that municipality. Raicevic thanked the Prime Minister for initiating the first official meeting with the representatives of the local government and said that the Prime Minister supports projects that are already being implemented and defined as a clear strategic commitment of the local government. Raicevic and his associates presented to the Prime Minister the most important development projects that are continuously being implemented in the Municipality of Bar.
Montenegro exposed to malevolent impact of third countries (CdM)
The UK’s continued support since the 1990s through a number of institutions such as the British Council has continued after the restoration of independence on the basis of 143 years of diplomatic relations, and today represents an excellent collaboration between the two countries enhanced by such political contacts and the ones that lie ahead through the climate conference in Glasgow at the invitation of Prime Minister Johnson, said Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic during talks with the Minister of State at the Ministry of Defense of the United Kingdom, Baroness Annabel MacNicoll Goldie, who’s paying her official visit to Montenegro.
Djukanovic pointed out that he perceived the visit of the Minister as another in a series of attention and support provided by the UK to both Montenegro and the region. He praised their substantive cooperation in the area of defense, noting that Montenegro, despite being the NATO Ally for four years already, has been exposed to malicious impacts of the third countries that have been attacking the EU, NATO and our system of values, because they perceive the WB as a favorable terrain for carrying out their goals. Despite the afore-mentioned, he underlines, we believe that the only safe future both for Montenegro and the region is NATO and EU membership. The understanding for such a commitment and presence of the UK in the region, despite Brexit, is encouraging, said the President, emphasizing that it’s important other address to understand the importance of integration as well. Expressing her satisfaction over the visit and meeting with the President, the Minister of State at the Ministry of Defense pointed out that she was honored to hear a fascinating and quite sincere analysis of challenges that Montenegro had been facing, stating that she completely agreed on the views expressed. President Djukanovic thanked Baroness Goldie for her confirmed support and encouraging messages of the United Kingdom, assessing that her expectations concerning actions of the opposition were realistic and achievable and that this experience of cohabitation would make Montenegro a more democratic society.
Appointment without consent, playing with the reputation of Montenegro (RTCG)
The President of Montenegro Milo Djukanovic agreed to appoint 7 diplomats to the post of Montenegrin ambassador, 11 candidates got a negative opinion, while for an additional number the additional consultations were agreed, said Montenegrin President’s foreign policy adviser Tamara Brajovic. If, as Brajovic adds, the government decides to request an agreement of the host country for a candidate on which no agreement was reached with the president in the consultative process, she says that it is clear that it would be a frivolous game with Montenegro’s reputation. Brajovic reacted on the media writing about the proposals of the government of Montenegro for the appointment of new ambassadors, and the interest in whether they were agreed in consultations with the President of Montenegro. She reminds that the talks with the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs on the candidates for the new ambassadors of Montenegro started on 28 April. Brajovic states that out of 18 candidates, the President gave his consent for 7 diplomats, for whom, as she said, the procedure can be continued unhindered, starting with the formal adoption of the MFA proposal by the government of Montenegro. “Of the remaining 11, some received a negative opinion from the president, while for one number it was agreed to hold additional consultations. In the meantime, on May 24, the government nominated one more person,” Brajovic said. She reminds that the president will not speak publicly about individual candidates, because, as she says, that is good practice in diplomacy, especially not about those for which an agreement has been reached and for which the receiving country will be requested through the usual internal procedure.
Radulovic seeks state leadership consultations over ambassadors (Dan)
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs believes that, on the occasion of the election of future diplomats, there should be continued the good practice of electing ambassadors by agreement of the President of Montenegro, Prime Minister and speaker of parliament and the head of mission. The Ministry points out that the foreign policy consultations of the mentioned 4 officials are something that should be continued. “Although it is a format that has no legal basis, we believe that it is a good and useful format and we think that it should be continued in the conditions of cohabitation,” the Ministry has told Dan. It has stated this after the information that President Milo Djukanovic returned 11 proposals for future ambassadors.
Medojevic is no longer an MP (RTCG)
The PzP leader Nebojsa Medojevic resigned as member of the parliament of Montenegro. Subsequently, the parliament noted his resignation, thus ending his term as a deputy. The SEC will be informed about this, in order to fill the vacant parliamentary seat. At the press conference, Medojevic also announced that he had decided to withdraw his amendments to the Budget. “This created the conditions for me to fulfill promise that I gave during the election of the government. Today, I am resigning from my seat in the parliament,” Medojevic stated and signed the decision on that. Medojevic says that there is no information that an agreement has been reached with the Metropolitan of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Joanikije, regarding the budget vote and the reconstruction of the government.
Joanikije persuaded DF to vote for budget (Pobjeda)
New Metropolitan of Montenegro and the Littoral Joanikije persuaded the Democratic Front, DF, to finally reach an agreement with PM Zdravko Krivokapic concerning the budget. The Prime Minister will, in return, open negotiations on the government reconstruction, Pobjeda daily has learned. A source close to Pobjeda claims that “they agreed that the DF would vote for the budget, while the PM pledged to negotiate over the reconstruction of the government”. Speaking in a TV show Arguments, one of the leaders of the DF, Milan Knezevic, confirmed that MPs of this party would vote for the budget even if their amendments were not adopted. According to Pobjeda, the agreement was reached during formal dinner in the Church of Christ’s Resurrection in the main city, Podgorica, attended by Zdravko Krivokapic and all leaders of the parliamentary majority, except for Dritan Abazovic.
Zaev calls on Europe to “keep him motivated” with a decision to open accession talks (Republika)
Prime Minister Zoran Zaev called on Europe to allow him to open EU accession talks in order to “remain motivated”. Zaev said that Europe will have to give a good example with Macedonia, given that it is a multi-ethnic state, and advancing it will give a good example against nationalism in the Balkans. “We all have a separate national feeling and warmth in our chests, but we owe it to our children to leave them a European future and that is why I believe in the unity of differences, which is the symbol of the EU,” Zaev insisted. He again raised the threat of redrawing borders in the Balkans, which he located not in Albanian or other nationalisms, but in the alleged non-paper document, which Zaev supporters have claimed comes from Slovenia. Zaev said that if the EU perspective is denied, such proposals will multiply.
Maas calls for opening of EU accession talks with Macedonia and Albania (Republika)
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that the EU needs to allow Macedonia and Albania to open their accession talks. According to Maas, the future of the six Balkan countries that are asking for EU membership depends on this and Germany is fully dedicated to the idea. If they deliver, we deliver. That must be our future approach o EU enlargement, Maas said during an online meeting with Balkan ministers. The two countries are hoping for some movement forward later this month when the European Council meets. But Macedonia remains blocked by Bulgaria, while Albania also has met resistance from EU countries worried about its high crime and corruption levels.
Zaev claims that the deal he is negotiating with Bulgaria is “excellent” (Republika)
Prime Minister Zoran Zaev dismissed the protests that VMRO-DPMNE organized, insisting that the proposal that is on the table with Bulgaria is “excellent”. It’s a starting point to reach an agreement. And now we see protests with 15 cars, 20 people, 13 cars, 14 people, I don’t know how many, and it is just to block the traffic. I don’t understand the message, Zaev said. He is referring to an unpublished proposal from Portugal, who holds the rotating presidency of the European Council, to allow Macedonia to open its EU accession talks, and to have the dispute with Bulgaria resolved in their course. Bulgaria rejected the Portuguese proposal, meaning that any potential agreement Zaev makes will be even worse. VMRO-DPMNE warns that Zaev is on the verge of accepting that the Bulgarian demands are made an official part of the accession talks, which will lead to never ending demands for new concessions from Bulgaria. To prevent Zaev from agreeing to this, VMRO is blocking traffic in Skopje and a dozen other cities.
US to blacklist anyone who opposes the Ohrid and Prespa Agreements (Republika)
The White House has released an Executive Order of President Joseph Biden on “Blocking property and suspending entry into the United States of certain persons contributing to the destabilizing situation in the Western Balkans” dated 8 June. No persons are named in the text released by the White House, which lays out the conditions for blocking property and suspending entry to the United States. According to the text, any person determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, to be responsible for threatening the peace, security, stability, or territorial integrity of any area or state in the Western Balkans, as well as undermining democratic processes or institutions in the Western Balkans shall be subjected to the implementation of the Executive Order. Furthermore, violation or obstruction of any regional peace agreement, including the Prespa Agreement of 2018, the Ohrid Framework Agreement of 2001, United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244, the Dayton Accords or the Conclusions of the Peace Implementation Conference Council held in London in December 1995 falls under the scope of the Executive Order. Also, any person assessed to be responsible for or complicit in, or to have directly or indirectly engaged in, serious human rights abuse in the Western Balkans, or to be responsible for or complicit in, or to have directly or indirectly engaged in, corruption related to the Western Balkans, including corruption by, on behalf of, or otherwise related to a government in the Western Balkans is included as well. The Executive Order also stipulates that “the unrestricted immigrant and nonimmigrant entry into the United States of noncitizens determined to meet one or more of the criteria in section l(a) of this order” (which contains the above-mentioned conditions) “would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, and the entry of such persons into the United States, as immigrants or nonimmigrants, is hereby suspended”. According to the text, President Biden found “that the situation in the territory of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the Republic of Albania (the Western Balkans), over the past two decades, including the undermining of post-war agreements and institutions following the breakup of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, as well as widespread corruption within various governments and institutions in the Western Balkans, stymies progress toward effective and democratic governance and full integration into transatlantic institutions, and thereby constitutes an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States”. With this Executive Order, Biden expanded the scope of the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13219 of June 26, 2001 (Blocking property of persons who threaten international stabilization efforts in the Western Balkans), as amended by Executive Order 13304 of May 28, 2003 (Termination of emergencies with respect to Yugoslavia and Modification of Executive Order 13219 of June 26, 2001).
Rama in Sofia: Serbia should have recognized Kosovo a long time ago! Bulgaria and North Macedonia should talk and find solutions (Radio Tirana)
After Hungary, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama stopped in Bulgaria, where he met with his counterpart Stefan Janev. During a press conference, Prime Minister Rama spoke about the resolution of the conflict between Bulgaria and North Macedonia, which is holding hostage the European path of Macedonian, but also of Albania. Among other things, Rama was asked by journalists about the non-recognition of Kosovo by Serbia, saying that “It should have recognized Kosovo a long time ago. Every day that passes is one more day that delays what is right to be done, but I hope that through dialogue mutual recognition will come.” Rama focused on the recent conflicts between Bulgaria and North Macedonia, calling on both sides to talk, talk and find solutions. “I know that there is a caretaker government in Bulgaria. You have new choices. These are topics that sometimes tend to go from the mind to the stomach and then become more difficult, but I think Bulgaria as an EU member is mature and has everything. It needs to remember itself when it was in the same position. It should encourage North Macedonia to get out of this situation. This is my approach to this. I would say that our attitude as Albania is an attitude that no one should envy us. We are stuck, we are between two friends, but this is the situation and the process are built in such a way, that it must be respected as it is. We are not here to take sides, we are simply hoping and supporting the fact that the two talk and talk and resolve it between them. If necessary, we are ready to help, but our help is simply to keep saying ‘you are happy to talk, communicate and find a way’. The EU is making an extraordinary effort, everyone is trying to support it, but in the end, it is up to the Bulgarians and North Macedonia. Moreover, it belongs to you,” said Rama.