After he visited Banja Luka, on the occasion of 18th birthday of Republika Srpska, where he called on reconciliation among nations of the whole region, Serbian President Boris Tadić decided to urge the Serbian parliament to pass a resolution on Srebrenica. This idea about resolution on Srebrenica was comfortably situated in the same statement as the “gaining credibility on the international level for the national politics” and the president’s explanation that he doesn’t expect a great approval, but he believes that the resolution will eventually gain the necessary support. Serbian media immediately reported that this statement caused disagreements even among political parties in the government coalition, so the president was forced to give an extended explanation of his idea in the “Politika” daily: at the very same day when the Resolution on Srebrenica will be passed, Serbian Parliament is going to pass another resolution, a resolution on Serbian victims in the wars. Why do we need two resolutions? It’s simple, one resolution is to “gain credibility on the international level” and the other for “the strengthening of national politics”.
The president’s call to Parliament should be cautiously praised in advance, for many of reasons. Let’s not forget, at its first session in January 2009 (a year ago!!!) the European Parliament adopted the Resolution on Srebrenica which calls on the European and Western Balkan countries to mark 11 July as genocide commemoration day. Since then, a group of NGOs, lead by The Humanitarian Law Center, Women in Black, Hesinki Committee for Human rights in Serbia and Yucom, on every 11th of month have been inviting the president to pass the resolution and declare 11 July as a genocide commemoration day.
I won’t go any further here into discussion on the need of Serbian political elite to adopt two declarations in one day and a very clear message that such a move sends (relativization of the genocide in Srebrenica in order to satisfy the needs of nationalistic forces and to preserve their support for upcoming elections) – I’ll leave that for another post – but I have to mention one other thing which concerns me more. That thing is a content of the resolution. We all know that President Tadić likes to announce future resolutions and declarations in advance and with big words. I remember that big fuss around “The declaration of political reconciliation and joint responsibility for achieving the vision of Serbia as a democratic, free, contiguous, economically and culturally developed and socially just country” which was announced as historical national and party reconciliation between Socialist Party of Serbia (which as an unreformed party suddenly became new power which lead Serbia into a better future) and Democratic Party. Wow! That was a ….Wow… But only before actual declaration was signed. Why? Because the reconciliation between these two parties had happened earlier and the declaration was nothing else than a political contract and because the already mentioned reconciliation didn’t contain apology, didn’t contain “short review of the past”, didn’t contain motives for its signing… Moreover, the 90’s wars were mentioned only once and as one of the factors which degraded living environment and polluted air and soil. Hm!
That’s one of the reasons why I’m concerned about the actual content of the resolution. The other reason is the way in which president speaks about the future declaration: he “doesn’t expect approval” but expects that the declaration will be “eventually” accepted and leaders of political parties (with some great exceptions among which are Vesna Pešić, Žarko Korać, Suzana Grubjesic, Laslo Varga and Čedomir Jovanović) speak about a “crime” and “war crimes” in Srebrenica! Crimes!? We all know, (except maybe Aleksandar Martinović and his Serbian Radical Party) that what happened in Srebrenica is genocide and if we want to speak about moral rights to ask justice for Serbian victims we have to call things by their real name.
The third reason of my concern is the fact that according to the results of the Public opinion survey on attitudes towards the ICTY and domestic war crimes trials conducted by the OSCE mission in Serbia and Belgrade Center for Human rights, 69% per cent of Serbs don’t think that Ratko Mladić should be arrested and extradited! So how can we condemn Srebrenica if we think that Mladić shouldn’t be arrested and prosecuted? And 69% of Serbs might be very big at the election ballot.
All these reasons and perhaps some more, testified that there’s a long journey in front of Serbian society before it realize and accept the real meaning and importance of this declaration, before it realize that passing of the resolution is not the end and that Serbia has to find a strength to look at the past and shows that nationalistic narratives aren’t important anymore and that we’ll do anything to prevent and not to forget those terrible things. But, what gives me a hope is that Srebrenica cannot be anymore hidden and secret topic in Serbia! We just have to convince Serbian media to speak a little bit more about it – especially RTS, and Serbian Ministry of education to push the reform of textbooks for history, and political elites to say out loud why do we have to cooperate with the ICTY and what happened in Srebrenica, and Socialist Party of Serbia to apologize for its past, and to teach young generation to respect different others and not to perceive them as a threat, and…. Well, there’s long road ahead of us… but we won’t give up.