Daily Archives: March 31, 2010

Happy Easter – and good on the Serbian Parliament

Just a quick administrative note to say that I will be departing this afternoon for a long Easter weekend in my wife’s ancestral village in the Åland archipelago in Finland. Pending further arrangements with our phone carrier there, I will be safely outside the blogosphere, so please don’t expect any new posts until early next week.

In the meantime, I thought it might be worth giving the Serbian Parliament its due for issuing a resolution condemning the 1995 Srebrenica massacre in Bosnia. Although the text of the resolution does not yet seem to be available in English, lots of interesting reports are new available, including by the NY Times, Euronews (with video) and the European Voice (by an old friend, Toby Vogel).

There is, of course, plenty to find fault with. It took long enough, came at a convenient time (now that Serbia safely dodged the bullet of a finding of liability for genocide in the 2007 ICJ decision in Bosnia v Serbia), and has not yet been accompanied by the handover of Ratko Mladic, who is accused of engineering the massacre and rumored to still be in hiding in Serbia. The good legislators also failed to find the strength to refer to the “g-word” itself, despite established judicial precedent on this point. Moreover, as the odious Radical Party pointed out, the resolution would probably not have come about unless as a result of international pressure.

On the other hand, what of it? International pressure is not always a bad thing, and this comes as another example of the very real soft power the EU accrues by means of remaining committed to the enlargement process. And Ratko must certainly be counting time; the fact that the earlier arrest and handover of the more charismatic (well, to some) Radovan Karadzic did not bring the heavens crashing down on Belgrade testifies to that.

And finally, conditional and caveated as it may be, this is an on-the-record apology of the type that many countries continue after decades to waste time, energy and political capital resisting. It is a milestone and one that cannot have been easy to achieve. When I consider the hysterical reaction the US has witnessed to the passage of a relatively innocuous piece of domestic  legislation on health care reform (see Frank Rich in the NY times, here), I begin to appreciate the difficulty Serbian parliamentarians face – as the representatives of constituencies conditioned by fifteen years of denial – in stating before the world that their country had been complicit in one of the most loathsome acts of post-Cold War history.

Evo, svaka čast i neka bude mir.