Kosovo after ICJ ruling

July 22, 2010

Besides tribe leaders in Pristina also many separatist movements in Somaliland, Palestine, Abkhasia, South-Ossetia, Nagorno-Karabakh and even Basks in Spain have been celebreting ICJ’s opinion on Kosovo. However the life in Kosovo probably will continue without dramatic change. Whatever – depending point of view – status Kosovo has, the province is de facto administrated by international community. After “humanitarian intervention” and billions of squandered euros Kosovo is a quasi-independent pseudo-state with good change to become next “failed” or “captured” state. Official economy will be subvented with massive international aid, private economy will still be based to drug- and trafficking money (e.g. “Balkan Route – Business as usual” ), Nato troops secure that Kosovo Albanians are not killing too much members of minority communities, Pristina government tries to act with civilized manners, Serbs see their province still as an occupied territory. (More e.g. in “Kosovo: Two years of Pseudo-state” ).

The fact on the ground is that northern part of Kosovo is integrated to Serbia like it always has been, as well those pats south of Ibar river, which are not ethnically cleansed by Kosovo Albanians. Between ethnic groups a huge operation of international community is going on with its foggy ideas.

From my viewpoint the only way to get sustainable solution to Kosovo is through real negotiations between local stakeholders. To get start of real talks US should freeze or withdraw its recognition of Kosovo UDI; otherwise it takes too long time for Kosovo Albanians to find out that some negotiated outcome – be it cantonization, partition or whatever agreed – could be better than status quo. (About possible solutions “Dividing Kosovo – a pragmatic solution to frozen conflict” and “Cantonisation – a middle course for separatist movements” )


Proceedings against Pope & Vatican possible

April 15, 2010

“Less than one percent of priests are guilty of this…” ( Ratzinger)

When visit of pope Benedict is coming closer in UK a wide debate has started about possibility to put pope in court due protecting paedophile priests. George Monbiot wrote in the Guardian how the case against pope rests on international law’s potential to judge all alike. A quote:

Over the weekend, the authors Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens announced that they’ve asked lawyers to prepare a case against the pope. Recently, in the Guardian, Geoffrey Robertson, the barrister they are consulting, explained that senior churchmen who protected paedophile priests, swore their victims to secrecy and allowed the perpetrators to continue working with children, committed the offence of aiding and abetting sex with minors. Practised on a large scale, this becomes a crime against humanity recognised by the international criminal court. This is the general Vatican policy over which the then Cardinal Ratzinger is accused of presiding. When Benedict comes to the UK in September he could, if Dawkins and Hitchens get their warrant, be arrested.

An article “The pope should stand trial by Richard Dawkins – a scientist and writer – was most viewed in the Guardian and gives more reasons for case.

From my viewpoint not only the Pope but Vatican as state and some its institutions should put on trial for crimes against humanity. And not only due the spreading paedophile scandal but WWII crimes too. With later I have in my mind especially Vatican’s role in holocaust and preserving war criminals from justice. These issues are dealt in my earlier article “Jasenovac – Holocaust promoted by Vatican” but the crucial questions were following:

During WWII Croatia’s Ustashe leaders declared that they would slaughter a third of the Serb population in Croatia, deport a third and convert the remaining third from Orthodoxy to Roman Catholicism. 3rd biggest extermination center – behind Auschwitz and Treblinka – created by Nazis was Jasenovac in Croatia. The death toll is estimated to be 300,000 to 700,000, some 80 % of them Serbs the rest Jews and Romas. While for Nazi-Germany Jasenovac was more a tool for ethnic cleansing for Ustashe religious aspect played crucial role. The religious motivation may be the explanation to the extreme brutality of butchers in Jasenovac. 743 Roman Catholic priests personally murdered Serbs, Jews and Gypsies. Jasenovac was for a time, run by Fr. Filipovic-Majstorovic, a Catholic priest. The Jasenovac system of Croatian camps also included a camp for children run by Catholic nuns who used toxic soda to save bullets.

As the war ended, the Vatican Bank helped to and transfer funds Franciscans in Rome helped smuggle and launder the Ustasha Tresury, which was looted from victims of Jasenovac. The Vatican not only hoarded the gold the Croats looted, it also helped Ustasha war criminals in escaping justice in what is now nicknamed the “Vatican Ratline”.

Today a class action law suit against the Vatican Bank to recover $100 million in damages for the Vatican’s participation in these war crimes and money laundering the proceeds from their Serb, Jewish and Roma victims is still ongoing. Vatican lawyers have three times tried to get this case thrown out of court. The Supreme court has rejected their claims. In US District Court the case against the Vatican Bank (but not the Franciscan Order) was dismissed on grounds the Vatican Bank is an organ of a sovereign entity, the Vatican, which is immune from lawsuits. The just filed appeal however argues that the Vatican Bank is not sovereign and engages in commercial activity in the United States and therefore should be held accountable in a United States Federal Court.

In principle I think that these kind of issues should be handled in international court like International Court of Justice (ICJ) or The International Criminal Court (ICC) both in Hague or in some maybe new International Criminal Tribunal (like ICTY for Yugoslavia and Ruanda). The second option could be trial in national courts like now ongoing against Vatican in US and now planned in UK. Third possibility could be solving case outside courtroom with money and compensations but I prefer more formal procedure or at least that Vatican would really confess its guild for events during WWII and after that.



Croatia’s and Serbia’s ‘Genocide’ Case To Proceed

November 19, 2008

Last century was marked deep ethnic tensions between Croats and Serbs. These tensions erupted most violent way during WWII and Yugoslavia’s breakup wars early 1990s. Now this brutal past is going on tables of international courtrooms while Croatian lawsuit against Serbia and Serbia’s countersuit will be heard in Haague.

ICJ

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled on Tuesday 18th Nov. 2008 that it can hear a Croatian lawsuit filed against Serbia for genocide during the war in the early 1990s. The verdict of the 17-member trial chamber at the United Nations’ highest court was delivered by Court President Rosalyn Higgins at a public session. The trial chamber officials voted 10 to seven in favour of Croatia.

Earlier Belgrade claimed that the International Court of Justice has no authority in the case. However the court ruled that Belgrade recognised the jurisdiction of the ICJ during the 1990s by responding to suits filed against it by Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia, and by filing charges against the NATO alliance for its bombing of Serbia in the spring of 1999.

Since an out-of-court settlement is highly unlikely, the next expected step is the confirmation of the suit being filed by Croatia, after which the Serbian legal team would be given at least a year to prepare both its defence and the countersuit announced by its legal representatives for the alleged genocide committed by Croatia against ethnic Serbs during the war. (Source BalkanInsght).

Croatia’s case

Croatia filed the suit in 1999, claiming that Belgrade participated in the ethnic cleansing of Croats, through its command over the armed forces, information agencies and paramilitary units that perpetrated war crimes in Croatia. Serbs in Croatia set up their own entity in 1991 in response to Croatia’s declaration of independence from Yugoslavia, forcing thousands of Croats out of the area referred to as the Republic of Serb Krajina.

However, the breakaway state was defeated in 1995 in a Croatian military offensive known as “Operation Storm,” pushing thousands of ethnic Serbs out of Croatian and forcing them to seek refuge in Serbia.

Serbia

Serbia will file a lawsuit against Croatia for ethnic cleansing and war crimes committed during the so-called Op Storm, FM Vuk Jeremić said late on Tuesday 18th. “Croatia did not appropriately respond to the hand of reconciliation which Serbia repeatedly offered, with a desire to leave the past behind and turn to our common future in Europe. A lawsuit will now be filed against Croatia in order for the truth finally to be found out,” the minister told the state television RTS.

Jeremić said that Croatia had refused to face the fact that 250,000 ethnic Serbs had been ethnically cleansed from the territory of Croatia in 1995. “We will do all in our power to have our case appropriately presented to the court. We will review all developments in the 20th century, World War II and Independent State of Croatia. We will turn to history to find out the truth for the sake of our common future,” the foreign minister stressed.

My point

It is quite clear that both sides have made brutalities, ethnic cleansings, war crimes etc to each other. On the one hand these events also include a part of myths or one-sided propaganda for political purposes, on the other hand the full picture or true story is still waiting for its paragon. While the process in ICJ will take at least some two years I am in doubts if this is the right way to complement the history. I think that a better way could be a “Truth Commission” like implemented in South Africa after apartheid. Due the lack of verdicts this kind of forum can go deeper to issues on the ground, it can also make base for mutual understanding better than some technical court procedure far away.

About Croatian/Serbian conflicts I have published few articles earlier, such as “Operation Storm” 5/8/2008 and 22/9/2008, “Nazi’s Funeral shadows Croatia’s past” on 1/8/2008, which can be found from my Archives:Blog.