Yugoslav President Voijislav Kostunica takes a firm position against extradition of ex-President Slobodan Milosevic to The Hague, irrespective of whether Yugoslavia will receive the promised foreign aid or not. Of the 50 million USD promised, only 5 million is unconditional. There was a mixed reaction from The Hague and the EU. “It’s not legitimate. Other presidents are not being sent to The Hague. I must make some compromises but there is a line I cannot cross. How can our people and our courts become competent to deal with questions like war crimes unless you are given a chance? It should never happen”, declared President Kostunica. He stated that it was more urgent for other perpetrators of war crimes to be taken to court, namely those responsible for NATO’s illegal and murderous aggression against the sovereign state of Yugoslavia. President Kostunica states that he supports the principle of extradition to the Hague but not for a former president. He is in favour of Slobodan Milosevic being tried for war crimes within Yugoslavia. The reaction from The Hague was one of patience. The Court’s spokesperson, Jean-Jacques Joris stated in an interview with Reuters: “If they wanted to proceed with a local trial, and provided there is a commitment on Milosevic’s transfer to The Hague, that is fine. We can wait a few months”. However, he added in a somewhat more ominous tone: “Regardless of what the President may say today, the obligation to transfer is not negotiable”. The Yugoslav authorities’ chief negotiator in the arrest of Slobodan Milosevic, Cedomir Jovanovic, confirmed that “we are obliged to fulfill certain international obligations, among which are those to the Hague tribunal”. The European Union’s reaction, on the other hand, was much more lenient towards Belgrade. The EU Security Commissioner, Javier Solana, stated that the EU would not exert any pressure on Belgrade to extradite ex-President Slobodan Milosevic to face war crimes charges. Quite frankly, why should it? Nobody condones war crimes or any other in which human life is lost. However, to place only the Serbs on trial for war crimes is not only unfair but also prejudicial and hypocritical. Legal systems are not supposed to show bias, not in civilised countries anyway. To suggest that only the Serbs committed atrocities is to show an incredible lack of diplomatic and political knowledge, turning a blind eye to the fact that this equation is the sum of a number of constants which includes Croats in Hrvatska (Croatia), Bosnian Croats, Bosnian Serbs (Srpski Republika), Serbs from Serbia, Serbs from Krajina, Croats from Krajina, Kosovar Albanians, Serbian Albanians, Kosovar Serbs and Bosnian Moslems, to start to address the issue. It is precisely this complexity of the Balkan ethnic-political-religious-cultural tissue that NATO, and in particular the USA, could never come even close to understanding. This is why their campaign against Yugoslavia in 1999 was tantamount to criminal negligence. Forcing the Serbs to hand over Milosevic to a court which is blatantly a puppet of the USA in a foreign country is a notion so ridiculous as to be laughable. Let The Hague investigate the crimes committed by all the other players in this arena, and this includes NATO and those of its leaders responsible for the war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated by this instrument of terror in the Balkans. Until then the issue of ex-president Milosevic belongs to the internal affairs of the sovereign state of Yugoslavia and nobody else. It is very simple. Yugoslav citizens are tried in Yugoslavia, not the Netherlands.
TIMOTHY BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.RU LISBON
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