In US, Bosnia’s Muslim president criticizes EU for putting Serbia on road to EU membership
The Associated Press
Published: November 9, 2007
WASHINGTON: Bosnian President Haris Silajdzic, one of three ethnically based presidents of the former Yugoslav republic, denounced the European Union on Friday for signing a preliminary membership agreement with Serbia based on its cooperation in the search for Serb war criminals.
Silajdzic said the signing on Wednesday ignored that President Vojislav Kostunica’s Serbian government had reneged on countless promises to surrender for trial the two most-wanted war crimes suspects from the civil war that wrecked Bosnia and Herzegovina during the early 1990s.
Bosnian Serb political leader Radovan Karadzic and his military chief Ratko Mladic “were not arrested but Serbia got the green light” to sign the document.
“At the same time, they said that Bosnia has not done enough. Bosnia has not done enough because of the (Bosnian) Serbs and Serbia.”
Bosnia-Herzegovina comprises two states, a Bosnian Serb republic and a federation of Bosniaks and Croats. Silajdzic and his fellow Bosniaks are Muslim, the Croats Roman Catholic and the Serbs Orthodox Christians.
The civil war, which killed an estimated 100,000 people in Europe’s bloodiest years since World War II, erupted after Bosnia’s Serbs tried to break away from the union. Serb leaders have indicated they might try again if Kosovo, a Serbian province, is given its independence by the United States and other international interlocutors, as appears will happen.
At a news conference, Silajdzic said Kostunica is behind the Bosnian Serbs’ separation ideas. “Someone is fomenting that trouble,” he said, and trouble in Bosnia is in Kostunica’s interest, a Bosnian crisis with the potential to become a regional crisis.
“I don’t think that will happen, but obviously that’s (what) the pronouncements from Belgrade suggest,” he said.
Still, he said, the European Union, based on a two-day fact-finding mission by the U.N. war crimes prosecutor for former Yugoslavia, Carla del Ponte, has decided to set Serbia on the road to EU membership. A condition of the signing was that full membership would not be assigned before Karadzic, Mladic and two other suspects are turned over to the court in The Hague, Netherlands, for trial.
“Appeasement of the radicals in Belgrade never brought change,” Silajdzic said.