Mladic’s trial is no recipe for reconciliation in Serbia – activist

While the Serbian president stated that Mladic’s arrest is another step towards full reconciliation in the area, Stephen Karganovic from the Srebrenica Historical Project believes ignoring Serbian concerns only creates grounds for future conflict.

­Stephen Karganovic spoke to RT.

RT: Mr. Mladic is on his way to Tribunal. What awaits him there?

Stephen Karganovic: What awaits him there is another one in a series of travesties that have characterized the work of the Tribunal since its inception, only this time, General Mladic is unfortunately going to be in the center of it.

RT: The deaths in Srebrenica of 1995 are the main charges brought against Mladic. But does The Hague have enough evidence to try him?

SK: In my opinion, they do not, but that is not going to prevent him from doing whatever they want. If you look at the forensic evidence, and I urge that it should be looked at very carefully, it does not support at all close anything to the conclusion that 8,000 people were summarily shot after the conclusion of the Srebrenica operation in July 1995. In any criminal case of this nature, the first thing you look at is the forensic evidence. And the forensic evidence is the flimsiest part of the case, whether we're talking about General Mladic, or Dr. Karadzic, or whoever is being charged with participation in the crime of the execution of prisoners of war in Srebrenica.

RT:The Serbian government wants to become part of the EU, which has long been accused of viewing Belgrade as the sole aggressor in Yugoslavia wars. Why does it appear that only Serbs are being prosecuted?

SK: That is a very good question. I am not trying to deflect your question, but I think that it should be put to Western policy-makers and opinion-makers. They must have a reason because they have created this absurd situation which is contrary to all evidence. Of course Serbs are not the only party that is responsible for the wars in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. In fact, a good argument can be made that locals, whether Serbs, Muslims, or Croats, were just proxies for foreign interests which set them up to fight. And then, for geopolitical reasons that we can discuss and argue about, the Serbs were selected to play the role of the negative characters in that drama.

RT:Serbian President Mr. Boris Tadic said that Mladic's arrest will bring people of the former Yugoslavia closer to reconciliation. What is your opinion about that?

SK: My opinion is that President Tadic's opinion is nonsense. It cannot bring anybody closer together.


SK: If you look at the way this is being managed, it will be self-evident why. Srebrenica cannot be viewed in terms of what happened in three days of July 1995. Something preceded those events during the three years before that. And what in fact happened, and this is something every Serb knows, at least in the Republika Srpska, is that the Srebrenica enclave which part of that time was presented as militarized, when it was not, was actually used as a staging area for attacks on surrounding Serbian villages, and the systematic destruction of those villages, and murder of their inhabitants under the direction of Naser Oric who, curiously enough, was acquitted by The Hague Tribunal. So we have a situation here Serbian complaints, if you just want to talk about Srebrenica and limit the discussion to that area, although we could expand it to Bosnia and Herzegovina as a whole, but Serbian concerns are not addressed, they are systematically and callously ignored; while Serbian figures such as Radko Mladic were viewed by the Serbian people as fighters for their survival, as their saviors, are being persecuted, not prosecuted, because this is not a prosecution. It would be raising it to a level where it does not belong to call it prosecution. And every attempt is being made to focus the blame exclusively on one side. So you have a situation where Muslims are being reinforced in their belief that their Serbian neighbors wanted to commit genocide against them, while the Serbs are convinced, with considerable justification, that their concerns and their hurts are being ignored. Is that a recipe for reconciliation? In my opinion, it is a recipe for frustration and future conflict which is only waiting for an opportunity to break out.

RT:Why do you think there's such support for Mladic among Serbian people?

SK: Because they have seen him in action, they did not have to read media reports in order to find out who General Mladic was. Thousands of soldiers of the army of the Republika Srpska fought under him; he was always on the front lines, so he was not an abstract figure for them. He was someone who was always there. Regular people who were in danger of being killed or driven out of their homes have in their view him to thank for surviving that brutal war. So in their view, he is a hero.

RT: Mr. Karganovic, thank you for joining us.

SK: A pleasure. Thank you very much.