Issue No. 234 - 235  Aug 10, 2001
Contents:

1. Montenegro:     ARTICLES ON TOBACCO SCANDAL HAVE SHAKEN THE REGIME ITSELF
                               WHO IS HALLUCINATING ABOUT ALBANIAN TERRORISTS IN MONTENEGRO
                              by Slobodan Rackovic

2. Serbia: HOT AUTUMN FOR SERBIA
          by Zoran Mamula

3. Azerbaijan: IRAN TO CONTINUE PRESSURES ON AZERBAIJAN
         by Farhad Mammadov

4. Special addition: NEW AT TOL
 
 


Montenegro: ARTICLES ON TOBACCO SCANDAL HAVE SHAKEN THE REGIME ITSELF
      by Slobodan Rackovic
     Scandal created by Zagreb weekly "Nacional" about the alleged
smuggling of cigarettes via Montenegro have given a good shake to
otherwise very stable regime of president Milo Djukanovic.
However, it seems that creators of the scandal and their bosses in
Belgrade won't put into question planned referendum about
independence of this Yugoslav republic.
      April parliamentary elections in Montenegro brought clear,
although not absolute domination of pro-independence forces that
call for disbanding FR Yugoslavia and reformation of old
Montenegrin statehood so that referendum on Montenegrin
independence seemed close and inevitable. World, that was mostly
against further fragmentation of Tito's Yugoslavia that erupted in
blood in 1991-92, has now become accustomed to sixth mini state,
probably fearing further wars - when one at first minor event
suddenly returned things to the beginning. Zagreb weekly
"Nacional" and its general editor Ivo Pukanic have published a
series of articles about the so-called tobacco scandal trying to
prove that Montenegro is a "mob state" and its leadership a gang
of unscrupulous criminals, especially Montenegrin president Milo
Djukanovic.
      "Nacional" gave new energy to defeated core of forces
favoring Greater Serbia. They are now threatening to use
non-parliamentary methods to achieve their political goals,
primarily to retain Montenegro within Yugoslavia by force. That
has inevitably caused certain destabilization of political
situation in the country, which is bad for Montenegrin government
just before referendum on independence to be held at the beginning
of 2002. That was probably the goal of pro-Serbian conservative
forces. Now the international community is sending warnings that
Djukanovic and his team will have a hard time getting
international green light for holding referendum without complete
consensus among parties and minimization of opposition boycotting
referendum. That is why the ruling parties, Democratic Socialists'
Party and Socialdemocrat Party, are using "step by step" tactics
to gain political ground and form referendum infrastructure,
refraining from any step which might endanger internal stability.
With no radical moves, there is a possibility of the so called
concentration government made out of majority and minority parties,
although Montenegrin bloc has a solid majority to run the country
and prepare such important referendum. The most pressing task is
to modify Law on referendum which was adopted last spring. The fact
that the international community has already affirmed one of the
most problematic and disputed clauses from the document - the one
saying that Montenegrins with permanent residence in Serbia cannot
vote at the referendum, is encouraging. It was a big score for
independists who will have, according to all polls, at least 55
percent votes for separation of Yugoslavia and Montenegro. In
democratic countries that is more than enough for painless change
of state constitution, but the international community thinks that
such relatively close result could endanger peace in Montenegro
and stability throughout the region.
      So, situation is very fluid and complicated, and is only
worsened by "Nacional" scandal, obviously constructed on purpose,
in one of the world's political and intelligence workshops,
perhaps Belgrade, but maybe also Washington or Rome. As is
apparent, scandal about cigarette smuggling involving president
Djukanovic and his closest associates, as well as Serbian prime
minister Zoran Djindjic, who, himself in favor of separation has
been carefully primed for the deepest crisis between Belgrade
and Podgorica. That can, of course, be only a pure coincidence,
but most Montenegrins feel it is a carefully plotted plan to
disorient Montenegrin people before the upcoming events which
will decide the future of their country. Besides, president
Djukanovic said many times that there is always a world center
which constructs a theory about "mob state" when relations between
Serbia and Montenegro become strained. Yesterday it was Belgrade
and Rome which launched theory about Montenegro as the most free
 Balkan channel for cigarette smuggling. Now it is Zagreb, the
capitol of neighboring Croatia, with which Montenegro has built
up good relations. It was Croatian president Stipe Mesic, a
long-time Montenegrin supporter, who improved on the mystery. He
said recently to Djukanovic's foreign minister Branko Lukovac in
Zagreb: "You'd better contact Americans, not Nacional". The
alusion is clear: articles against Podgorica and Djukanovic
aren't made in Zagreb but Washington.
      American embassy in Belgrade immediately rejected such
insinuations as well as Carla del Ponte, chief prosecutor at
ICTY, which said that Nacional's article claiming that she was
under surveillance by Montenegrin secret police during recent visit to
Podgorica was "devious lie". That provoked SDP representative
Ranko Krivokapic to say in the Montenegrin parliament that
"Nacional cannot be trusted anymore". At least regarding
Montenegro. In order to prove evil intent of Nacional and its
main editor Ivo Pukanic towards Montenegro and its president,
Milo Djukanovic took two steps. First, he demanded from
Montenegrin parliament to form a multi-partisan commission to
investigate the case and then he sent the whole issue to the
court in Zagreb. After long and struggling discussion during
which pro-Serbian forces tried to issue a final verdict on
Montenegro and its leader before the court, parliament formed
multi-partisan commission of five members, and the court in
Zagreb will soon hold complicated link between Pukanic and the
state of Montenegro. It will be the first such case after the
break-apart of the former Yugoslavia in 1991-92. Analysts in
Podgorica believe that Montenegro and its president will come
out of it victorious and politically reinforced although they
are currently under a lot of fire in Montenegro, not to speak
about abroad. One of the main arguments which will be used by
Montenegrin authorities is the finding of European crime
commission which has visited Montenegro several times and
concluded that there is less crime in Montenegro than in all
other neighboring countries, and that the international transit
of cigarettes over its territory is a completely legal
transaction which gives Montenegro a completely legal profit.
Also, police forces of neighboring countries, especially Italy
from which came similar accusation as now from Croatia have said
in their reports that Montenegrin Ministry of internal affairs
extensively collaborates with them to fight organized crime on
the Adriatic coast.
      Scandal coming from Nacional articles could soon stop being
a nightmare for government in Montenegro and turn to only a bitter
memory for Djukanovic and his team and a boomerang to those who
try to supress Montenegrin independence. If by some miracle,
things turn out to be contrary, then it will be a unique case in
the history of Balkans that a media outlet, coming from abroad,
directly influenced legal future of a sovereign state and the
future of its highest leadership. This case also proves something
else: countries of the former Tito's Yugoslavia have went their
separate ways in legal terms, but they will still look over each
other shoulders and in some instances be connected like Siamese
twins.
 

Montenegro: WHO IS HALLUCINATING ABOUT ALBANIAN TERRORISTS IN MONTENEGRO
    by Slobodan Rackovic
    Propaganda war against Montenegro and its independence is
also led in other ways, just as it was the case with Croatia in
1991 when Serbian media in Montenegro and Belgrade reported
seeing thousands of "ustashe" in the town of Debeli Brijeg,
between Herceg-Novi, and Dubrovnik, as well as hearing numerous
cannon shells that have allegedly dropped on Montenegrin homes
near the border. Now some media and members of extremist Serbian
parties in Podgorica and Belgrade (but also Macedonia) swear
that they have seen Greater Albania graffiti on the walls of
Plavo and Gustinje, towns in the north of Montenegro mostly
populated by Albanians. Some of them went as far saying that
they have seen whole "divisions" of UCCK waiting in the nearby
woods for the moment to start the civil war in Montenegro like
they did in Kosovo, south Serbia and Macedonia,
      Dan, a daily from Podgorica close to former Milosevic's
vassal and former Yugoslavian prime minister Momir Bulatovic,
recently wrote that Albanian terrorists had been preparing to
start rebellion in at least two villages in the north of
Montenegro and then conquer the republic! It was proved that this
information was a total fabrication, as confirmed by Ministry of
internal affairs, so that the state prosecutor launched an
investigation against the newspapers that was obviously instructed
to try to destabilize political situation in the country. Similar
methods were used during parliamentary elections in Montenegro,
but it was again proved to be false. Similar stories appeared
especially after events in Croatia, starting back in, as said
above, autumn of 1991 when it was reported that Yugoslav forces in
Debeli Brijeg have killed 800 "ustashe". The truth was that they
burnt down several thousand homes and murdered many innocent
civilians and Croatian soldiers.
In an interview for STINA, one of the leaders of Albanian parties
in Montenegro Ferhar Dinosha said: "Montenegro isn't in any danger
from Albanians, who have traditionally lived side by side with
Montenegrins. On the contrary, Montenegro is most threatened by
Montenegrins, those who don't feel as Montenegrins anymore".
 

                          * * *

Serbia: HOT AUTUMN FOR SERBIA
     by Zoran Mamula
    Ten months after famous October events when Serbian people
toppled regime of Slobodan Milosevic, Yugoslavia is once again
facing possible unrest, but this time not because of the political
struggle but because of increasing poverty. Reform of the economy
promised by new government already in November last year hasn't
started yet, primarily because of the clash of various interests
among  the ruling DOS coalition composed of as much as 16 parties,
evident incapability of government to face economic difficulties but
also because of the lack of foreign investments which is due to
unstable political situation further influenced by questionable
survival of Yugoslavia.
 Most firms in Serbia don't work at all, workers get no wages
or get them with huge delay. Big firms with many fictional employees,
result of Milosevic's policy of buying social peace, will have to get
rid of excess workforce if they want to survive. Besides decline of
producion, there is a constant rise of prices: the government brag sit
has increased average wages from last years' October 80 DEM to this
years' 160, but they admit only reluctantly that an average family
of three has to pay 350 DEM for the most necessary goods. All this
is causing great unrest among workers and their syndicates who
announce fierce demonstrations in the autumn. A piece of hope for
authorities in Belgrade was donors' conference in Brussels where
Serbia collected 1,2 billion euros, but considering long beaurocratic
procedure to approve this aid, EU will pay in November a part of 300
million euros.
 EU foreign ministers further worsened position of Belgrade
authorities since they decided to use 225 million euros to cover
Yugoslav debts towards foreign creditors, giving finally only 75
million to Belgrade. Serbian prime minister Zoran Djindjic said in
an interview for German Spiegel that he had been shocked with the
farce of foreign aid and appealed to the EU to urgently grant the
whole sum to Belgrade, saying that otherwise social unrest will
topple down Serbian government bringing back Milosevic's Socialists'
Party. That his dramatically intoned appeal was well founded was
recently proved by a kind of "test" of social unrest when Serbian
government proposed a program of transformation of car industry
"Zastava" in Kragujevac. According to the program, out of 35.000
employees only 11.000 would be left in, while others would be turned
to new qualification or unemployment office with the final salary
of 4.000 DEM. When privatization and finance ministers came to
Zastava to present their program, they were attacked by workers,
and it needed police to save them from real lynching mob. Syndicate
leaders finally accepted government proposals, but now unhappy
workers are calling for resignation of their leaders and it is a
big question how this program will end. And as Zastava is only one
among many factories that will have to be restructured, Serbian
government is really facing a hard time. But Yugoslavian citizens
are worried not only over their standard of living but also
because of the uncertain survival of the federation. Despite the
fall of Slobodan Milosevic and victory of democratic forces in Serbia,
Montenegrin government headed by president Milo Djukanovic still
insists on the independence of their republic. Djukanovic admits
that things are better now in Montenegro since Milosevic left, but
still thinks that Yugoslavia cannot survive because of the great
difference in size and population between two federal units
(Serbia has 10 million, Montenegro 600.000 people) new Serbian
government will again try to put Montenegro into inferior position.
Belgrade leaders, Yugoslav president Vojislav Kostunica and Serbian
prime minister Zoran Djindjic have offered Montenegro plan of loose
federation with big independence of federal units. However, that
program insists on only one seat in the UN, which is unacceptable
for Montenegrin authorities. USA and EU for now support survival
of Yugoslav federation, but it is questionable whether that will
suffice to save the federation now united only by joint army.
Serbia is also burdened by its southern province Kosovo. Contrary
to Milosevic's regime, new Serbian authorities have relatively good
relations with international forces in Kosovo- Still, chief of UN
mission in Kosovo, hasn't accepted any criticism when adopting
constitutional framework for Kosovo which granted many elements of
the state to the province (parliament, judicial system, diplomacy...)
During last month the international community has been exerting a
strong pressure on Belgrade to persuade Kosovar Serbs to participate
at the elections on November 17. Yugoslav authorities don't accept
it for now, saying there is no minimum of security because small
Serbian minority is subject to constant attacks of Albanian
extremists. Also, there is still no information about 13.00 Serbs
who are considered missing.
 However, Yugoslav leaders are aware that they won't be able
to hold much longer the pressure of the international community,
because financial aid will most probably be conditioned with
cooperative approach of Belgrade to Kosovar elections. Country would
perhaps have a chance to tackle all these problems were it not for
fierce fighting among ruling coalition between Yugoslav president
Kostunica and Serbian prime minister Djindjic that has been going
on for several months now. One of the key differences among the two
is that Djindjic is in favor of unconditioned cooperation with the
international community while Kostunica, known as moderate
nationalist, thinks that Yugoslav laws have to be respected above
all else and that demands which endanger national dignity should be
rejected. That was seen especially during the extradition of
Slobodan Milosevic to the Hague Tribunal when Kostunica criticized
Djindjic for sending former Yugoslav president to Hague although
Yugoslav constitution prohibited extradition of Yugoslav citizens.
Ruling DOS will certainly break apart in two blocks by next election,
scheduled for beginning of 2002, one led by Djindjic, the other by
Kostunica. Who will win the elections will much influence the future
of the country, but in either case there are no reasons for optimism.

                          *  *  *

 
Azerbaijan: IRAN TO CONTINUE PRESSURES ON AZERBAIJAN
       by Farhad Mammadov
     These pressures may make Azerbaijan to enter to the CIS Collective
      Security Council.

      On July 23, after the incident formed by the Iranian military
forces at the Caspian sea, the tension reigning amongst the countries
attached to the Caspian sea has not calmed. Regardless of the fact that
Azerbaijani side stopped the works at the three oil fields considered
"disputed" by Iran after that incident, the Iranian military aircrafts
continue flights on the Azeri sector of the Caspian sea. The next such
cases were observed on August 6 and 7. But the official Baku is taking
a careful position and has not shown adequate reaction to the violation
of the country's air frontiers.
      On August 7, an official representative of Iran's Ministry of
Foreign Affairs Hamidrza Asefi came out with the statement that has
revealed that Tehran is decisive in protecting its interests "at the
20 percent of Iran's sector" of the Caspian sea by using of all means.
"Western companies cannot hold drilling works in this sector without the
permission of Iran until defining the legal status of the Caspian sea",
stressed Asefi.
      Perhaps, the statement of the Iranian official representatives is
a response to the meeting of heads of states of three by-Caspian states-
Russia, Azerbaijan, and Kazakhstan held in Sochi last week. While
supporting Azerbaijan's position, the presidents of Russia and
Kazakhstan have stated in that meeting that Iran cannot claim 20 percent
of sector at the Caspian sea. Because frontiers between Iran and
the USSR had long been defined, thus 4 of the by-Caspian states are
heirs of the USSR, the division of the Caspian sea should be held in
accordance with those frontiers. But it should be marked that at the
moment Turkmenistan is supporting Iran's position and the official
Ashgabad stated that he would not take part in the discussions on the
status of the Caspian sea held without the participation of Iran.
The incident happened at the Caspian sea and continuous
military-political pressures of Iran may cause the next dangerous result
for Azerbaijan. After that incident, Azerbaijan could get the expected
support from the West and faced with the danger of becoming alone before
Iran. As a result, Russia gained the initiative and came against the
demonstration of force at the Caspian sea by supporting Azerbaijan's
position. Probably, Russia's support to Azerbaijan before the pressures
of Iran is not without reason and Moscow wants to attract Azerbaijan to the
CIS [Commonwealth of Independent States] Collective Security Council by
using the formed tension. If Azerbaijan becomes a member of this Council,
it may offer Russia to defend its sea frontiers with Iran.
       On returning back from the Sochi meeting of CIS presidents, the
Azeri head of state Heidar Aliev has hinted on this moment and added
that Russia's support of Azerbaijan's position is legal in accordance
with the notion of "CIS foreign borders". Nevertheless, the official
Baku was approaching cold to the notion of "CIS foreign borders" until
now and stating Azerbaijan will protect its frontiers itself. If there
is not an adequate reaction by the West to the efforts of Iran to form
a tension at the Caspian sea and as a result make obstacle on the
activity of the Western companies there, approaching of the Azerbaijani
leadership simply to Russia seems real. Otherwise, Azerbaijan may have
to lose the oil fields supposed to have large volume of oil resources
before the pressures of Iran.
 

                                *  *  *
 
Special addition: NEW AT TOL                         Aug 6, 2001
 

--------------------------------------------------------------------

--- WEEK IN REVIEW ---

Is It a Sea or a Lake?
Tensions mount between Iran and Azerbaijan over the Caspian Sea region.
by Andrew Gardner
http://www.tol.cz/week.html

Guilty of Genocide
The Hague war crimes tribunal finds a Bosnian Serb general guilty of
genocide in a trial that provides the most thorough account yet of the
Srebrenica massacre.
by TOL
http://www.tol.cz/week.html

A Complicated Legacy
Edward Gierek, Poland's communist leader in the 1970s, dies at age 88.
by Wojtek Kosc
http://www.tol.cz/week.html

Angry Mourning
Georgians react in outrage following the funeral of one of the country's
most famous journalists.
by Dima Bit-Suleiman
http://www.tol.cz/week.html

Auto Deal
In Yugoslavia, the government moves cautiously as it begins the
privatization of one of the country's biggest state companies.
by Dragan Stojkovic
http://www.tol.cz/week.html

MORE WEEK IN REVIEW
http://www.tol.cz/week.html

Election Monitors? Mission Delayed in Belarus
New Croatian Government Program Aims to Help Veterans
Hungarian MIEP Leader Sued for Hate Speech
Moldova Evaluates 100 Days of New Government
Independent Media Threatened in Kyrgyzstan

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readers are probably among them. No one reaches the region like TOL -
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marketing@tol.cz.

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--- OUR TAKE: Important Precedent ---

The recent genocide verdict in The Hague will likely raise some
uncomfortable questions.
http://www.tol.cz/look/TOLnew/article.tpl?IdLanguage=1&IdPublication=4&NrIssue=22&NrSection=16&NrArticle=1807&ST1=body&ST_T1=wir&ST_max=1

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

--- OPINION ---

Tailoring for a New Image
Improving economic conditions and a new leader's cold pragmatism are
helping Russia fit in at international gatherings.
by Elena Chinyaeva
http://www.tol.cz/look/TOLnew/article.tpl?IdLanguage=1&IdPublication=4&NrIssue=22&NrSection=3&NrArticle=1805

The Golden Century
A former Peace Corps volunteer in Turkmenistan returns to find
grassroots progress trampled but the president's megalomania in
full-force.
by Evan Tracz
http://www.tol.cz/look/TOLnew/article.tpl?IdLanguage=1&IdPublication=4&NrIssue=22&NrSection=3&NrArticle=1799

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

--- COLUMNS ---

EU Insider: The Problem With Milk and Honey
Agricultural negotiations are thorny at best, especially where candidate
countries are concerned.
by Karel Bartak
http://www.tol.cz/look/TOLnew/article.tpl?IdLanguage=1&IdPublication=4&NrIssue=22&NrSection=17&NrArticle=1783
 

The Deep End: Not Exactly a Pre-election Sweetener
Quirky news from around the region.
by TOL staff
http://www.tol.cz/look/TOLnew/article.tpl?IdLanguage=1&IdPublication=4&NrIssue=22&NrSection=17&NrArticle=1782

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

--- FEATURE ---

Beleaguered Beluga
Caviar poachers in the Caspian Sea get by with a little help from
officials.
by Anna Badkhen
http://www.tol.cz/look/TOLnew/article.tpl?IdLanguage=1&IdPublication=4&NrIssue=22&NrSection=2&NrArticle=1777

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

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.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

--- OUR TAKE: Important Precedent ---

The recent genocide verdict in The Hague will likely raise some
uncomfortable questions.

The August 2 verdict by The Hague-based International Criminal Tribunal
for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) which found General Radislav Krstic
guilty of genocide suggests that the decade-long era in which a culture
of impunity flourished in the Balkans is coming to an end. But that
event, coupled with other high-profile arrests that send the same
message--such as the arrest of three high-ranking Bosniak Muslim
officers on the same day and the June 28 hand-over of Slobodan
Milosevic--have also complicated the lives of statesmen in the region,
as well in as the West.

The Krstic trial had clear legal significance. It was the first
international war crimes trial in which forensic evidence was used
extensively. The court handed down its first-ever conviction on a
genocide charge and the longest-ever sentence. The ramifications of the
case, however, are likely to go far beyond legal considerations.

The verdict recognizes not only the shocking scale of international
human rights law violations, but also the systematic nature of the
Bosnian Serb campaign to uproot the Bosniak Muslim population from
what is now Republika Srpska. As such, the verdict is unlikely to be
ignored by the Serb public in Republika Srpska and Serbia. Many
moderate nationalists in both places have been ready to admit that
crimes were indeed committed but reluctant to consider that plans to
do away with entire ethnic groups may have been behind them.

The Srebrenica killings can't, however, be described as unsystematic by
any stretch of the imagination. Krstic didn't deny the mass murders-he
only said that he personally had nothing to do with them. He blamed his
boss, General Ratko Mladic. In other words, the consensual silence that
dominated the Serbian mainstream view of the recent past is no longer
sustainable. Furthermore, the significance of the very word "genocide"
is unlikely to be lost on the majority of Serbs, who were themselves
victims of genocide: Hundreds of thousands of Serbs perished in the
so-called Independent State of Croatia between 1941 and 1945 in what
the legal and political authorities of the former Yugoslavia described
as genocide.

The genocide conviction in relation to the Srebrenica killing is also
likely to add new weight to the debate on the Srebrenica events
internationally, in particular in the Netherlands and France. The 310
Dutch peacekeepers who were stationed near Srebrenica have long been
accused of failing to protect the Srebrenica men, while French General
Bernard Janvier--the overall commander of UN forces in the former
Yugoslavia at the time--is blamed for ignoring repeated warnings that
the Bosnian Serb army was set to invade Srebrenica. More specifically,
Janvier vetoed the NATO air strikes that had been requested by the Dutch
troops until it was too late. The difficult question of whether UN
action--or lack of the action--enabled genocide to happen will likely
be reopened now that the crime has been legally classified as genocide.

Although there is little doubt that the Dutch troops acted with
cowardice and that Janvier exercised appallingly poor military and
political judgment, internationally, the ultimate blame for the
Srebrenica massacre lies with the governments of Great Britain, France,
and the United States. It would be preposterous to claim that the
absence of a more forceful reaction by the peacekeepers and timely air
strikes explain the tragedy, because the roots go back to 1993 and the
UN Security Council's creation of the absurd "safe area" concept. That
resolution gave no mandate or teeth to the UN to protect the six safe
areas, but at the same time generated the impression both among the
inhabitants and the international public that the UN troops deployed
in the safe areas were there to protect.

Likewise, Janvier's failure to authorize air strikes against Mladic's
invading troops stems from an international legal and political
environment created by the permanent members of the Security Council in
which the culture of appeasement of the likely winners prevailed time
and time again. Western parliamentarians and non-governmental
organizations should do more to examine the Bosnia and Croatia-related
decision-making processes in London, Paris, and Washington in the
1991-95 period.

While the Krstic conviction and Milosevic's upcoming trial may cause
some Western politicians to squirm about their complicity, the welcome
decision of the non-nationalist Bosniak-Croat federation authorities to
arrest and hand over to the tribunal of three high-ranking Bosniak
Muslim officers is also causing some discomfort, this time at home. The
authorities of the federation acted promptly upon sealed indictments
that had been delivered to Bosnia's Prime Minister Zlatko Lagumdzija,
who is also the leader of the federation's governing Social Democratic
Party. The arrests and transfer to The Hague of Generals Mehmed Alagic
and Enver Hadzihasanovic and Colonel Amir Kubura are the first examples
of a Bosnian authority handing over to the tribunal its own
highest-ranking officials. As such, it should serve as an encouragement
to the moderate Republika Srpska government of Prime Minister Mladen
Ivanic to arrest and hand over the Serb wartime leaders accused of war
crimes.

Lagumdzija's public posturing following the arrests was less impressive.
A lawyer to "help the men prove their innocence" would be hired, said
Lagumdzija, a Bosniak Muslim.
What's more, Bosnia and the Bosniak-Croat federation would "stand
behind" the accused until their guilt is proven, Lagumdzija said in a
press conference. Neither Bosnia nor the Bosniak-Croat federation have
been indicted by the tribunal though. Indicted are three individuals who
happened to be Bosnian citizens. As prime minister, Lagumdzija had no
business to think of their defense. As prime minister, he was required
by law only to make sure they were arrested and transferred to The
Hague--no more, no less. If he thought the move might damage him
politically in the future, he had plenty of other opportunities to
reconfirm his Bosniak credentials. Hiring a lawyer to defend war crimes
suspects is just cheap demagogy.

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

-- Transitions Online - Intelligent Eastern Europe

Copyright: Transitions Online 2001

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