Francisco de Borja Lasheras:

Genocid, žrtve i pravda: 20 godina Srebrenice

Kao što je Tony Judt ustvrdio u njegovom vizionarskom djelu “Velika iluzija”, “Evropa” se može suočiti s nekim problemima; ne može uraditi drugo. Prije 20 godina nije bilo “Časa Evrope”, usred zlatne ere za EU i pakla na Balkanu. Zvanična politika i konvencionalna mudrost danas uglavnom raspravlja, poput automata, da će se opisani problemi jednostavno riješiti ulaskom u EU. Sa Unijom usred političke fragmentacije i evropskog projekta u krizi – u kome je grčka tragedija samo jedno poglavlje – ovo može izgledati kao zapanjujući čin puste želje.

22.07.2015.

Francisco de Borja Lasheras:

Genocide, victims and justice: Srebrenica 20 years on

As Tony Judt argued in his visionary “A Great Illusion”, “Europe” can deal with some problems; other things it cannot do. There was no “Hour of Europe” 20 years ago, in the midst of a golden era for the EU and hell for the Balkans. Official policy and conventional wisdom nowadays largely argues, almost in autopilot, that the problems described will just resolve themselves once in the EU. With the Union in the midst of political fragmentation and the European project in crisis – of which the Greek tragedy is just a chapter-, this would seem an astonishing act of wishful thinking.

22.07.2015.

Čak i po balkanskim standardima istočna Bosna, sa svojim planinama, dolinama i šumama, je izolovana regija sa slabim saobraćajnim vezama i putevima koje često blokiraraju snježni nanosi. Ova izolacija je posebno akutna za neke općine i lokalne zajednice (MZ ili mjesne zajednice) u kojima su danas bivše izbjeglice i interno raseljena lica. Većina su to stariji Bošnjaci (koji se jednostavno vode kao bosanski muslimani), koji su se vratili u svoja rodna mjesta poslije rata. Sada su manjina u tim krajevima gdje su prije 1992. bili većina.

Razrušene fabrike oružja i hemijskih sredstava iz Titove ere mrlje su u krajoliku područja kao što su Foča i Goražde. Tu su znaci sa mrtvačkom glavom, koji označavaju minska polja koja često idu paralelno sa linijom podjele između dva entiteta (hrvatsko-muslimanska Federacija i Republika Srpska) koji čine bosansku državu. Ruralni egzodus prema Sarajevu, Banjaluci i Beogradu bio je životna činjenica u istočnoj Bosni i prije rata. Sada su ekonomska depresija i stagnacija čak veći nego u ostatku zemlje koji na životu održava respirator međunarodne zajednice.

Područje oko doline rijeke Drine, koje je bilo inspiracija Ivi Andriću za roman Na Drini ćuprija, svjedočilo je velikom broju masakra i etničkog čišćenja za vrijeme rata. Ti događaji učinili su Bosnu scenom jedne od najvećih sramota u modernoj istoriji Evrope. Pažnja CNN-a uglavnom se fokusiralo na Sarajevo i trogodišnju opsadu koju su nametnule oružane snage bosanskih Srba sa Ratkom Mladićem. Ali su ruralni krajevi pretrpjeli neizreciv pakao. Između aprila i maja 1992. – ubrzo nakon proglašenja nezavisnosti Bosne - bukvalno svi ključni gradovi pali su u ruke četničkih paravojnih jedinica i lokalnih snaga sigurnosti, uz podršku iz Beograda (pomalo slično strategiji koju sada Rusija vodi u istočnoj Ukrajini).

Za samo nekoliko sedmica, hiljade bosanskih muslimana svih doba starosti i zanimanja su poubijani, često na nepojmljiv način, u gradovima kao što su Foča i Višegrad, jedva dva sata od Sarajeva. Hiljade žena je sistematski silovano u pritvornim centrima otvorenim u hotelima i sportskim halama. Skoro sve džamije i otomansko naslijeđe u regionu su uništeni. Ova efikasna metodologija masovnog ubijanja i etničkog čišćenja pomalo podsjeća na nacističke akcije Einsatzgruppen u Sovjetskom Savezu, kao što je Timothy Snyder opisao u Krvavoj zemlji.

U ovom kontekstu masakr u julu 1995. između 7.000 i 8.000 Bosanaca koje su pobile Mladićeve snage, odmah nakon pada zaštićene zone Ujedinjenih nacija pod kontrolom holandskog kontigenta, nesumnjivo je jedinstven po skali. Ali, iz izvjesne perspektive, bila je to kulminacija šireg slijeda, iako manje poznatog, sličnih djela koja su počinjena širom ovog regiona na početku rata. Obrazac krvoprolića i nasilja koji je rezultirao u novim realnostima na terenu koje će, uz tu i tamo pokoji kozmetički zahvat, Dejtonski sporazum zacementirati u ustavnim terminima.

Even by Balkan standards, Eastern Bosnia, with its mountains, valleys and forests, is an isolated region with poor transport connections and whose roads are frequently blocked by snow. This isolation is especially acute for some municipalities and local communities (MZs or mjesnezajednice), which today include former refugees and internally displaced people. Most are elderly Bosniaks (who are rather simply categorised as Bosnian Muslims), who returned to their places of origin after the war. A minority in areas where before 1992 they were the majority.

Ruined arms and chemical factories from the Tito era blot the landscape in areas such as Foca and Gorazde. There are also the skull signs, marking the mine fields which often run parallel to the dividing line between the two entities (Croat-Muslim Federation and RepublikaSrpska) that comprise the Bosnian State. A rural exodus towards Sarajevo, Banja Luka and Belgrade was a fact of life in Eastern Bosnia before the war. Now the economic depression and stagnation is even greater than in the rest of a country being kept alive largely by the international community’s respirator.

The region around the Drina river valley, which inspired Ivo Andric’s novel, The Bridge on the Drina, witnessed large numbers of the massacres and ethnic cleansing that took place during the war. These events made Bosnia the scene of one of the greatest ignominies in modern European history. The CNN spotlight mostly focused on Sarajevo and the three-year siege it was subjected to by Ratko Mladic’s Bosnian Serb armed forces. But the rural areas suffered unspeakable hell. Between April and May of 1992 - shortly after Bosnia’s declaration of independence – virtually all of the key towns fell into the hands of Chetnik paramilitary units and local security forces, with support from Belgrade (somewhat similar to the strategy now being deployed by Russia in eastern Ukraine).

In a matter of weeks, thousands of Bosnian Muslims of all ages and ranks were murdered, often in grotesque fashion, in towns like Foca and Visegrad, barely two hours from Sarajevo. Thousands of women were raped systematically in detention centres set up in hotels and gymnasiums. Almost all of the mosques and the region’s Ottoman heritage were destroyed. This efficient methodology of mass killing and ethnic cleansing seems somewhat reminiscent of the Einsatzgruppen Nazis’ actions in the Soviet Union, as described by Timothy Snyder inBloodlands.

In this context, the massacre in July 1995 of between 7,000 and 8,000 Bosnians by Mladic’s forces, just after the collapse of the United Nations Safe Haven controlled by the Dutch contingent, is undoubtedly singular in terms of scale. But, from certain perspective, it was a culmination of a broader sequence, albeit less well known, of similar acts carried out across this region at the start of the war. Patterns of bloodshed and violence resulting in new realities on the ground which, with a nip and tuck here and there, the Dayton Agreement would cement in constitutional terms.

Politička dijalektika genocida

Ovaj juli obilježava 20. godišnjicu masakra u Srebrenici, jedini takav događaj od mnogih koji su se desili u bivšoj Jugoslaviji koji je međunarodni sud okarakterisao kao genocid. Radovanu Karadžiću i Mladiću se još sudi, dok je Milošević umro usred suđenja prije skoro 10 godina.

Ali jedva da je dovoljno 20 godina. Čak i danas na Balkanu koji je teoretski na putu prema Evropskoj uniji (Albanija, Crna Gora, Srbija i Makedonija su kandidati članice), neke stvari se ne mijenjaju tako brzo. Žalosno je ali ovo je istina za priču o genocidu i ratovima 1990-ih uopće.

Ne postoji čvrsto slaganje o nedavnoj prošlosti, kao ni o sličnim događajima za vrijeme Drugog svjetskog rata koji čine dio kolektivne psihe i često su istaknuti u glavama počinilaca – i njihovih podstrekača. Pitanja genocida, žrtava i pravde ostaju duboko podijeljena i neizbježno sklona stvaranju kontroverzi između novih država nastalih raspadom Jugoslavije i unutar samih društava, podijeljenih više nego ikad, barem u Bosni danas.

Komemoracije u Srebrenci uzrokuju kontroverze skoro svake godine. Ova godišnjica izazvala je čak veću tenziju nego inače: između Bosne i Srbije; između Srbije i EU; i, kao pravilo u toksičnoj politici Bosne, između Republike Srpske Milorada Dodika i Sarajeva. Iako je Srbija osudila masakr, lideri u zemlji odbijaju da to nazovu genocidom i insistiraju na priznanju srpskih žrtava. Ovo odricanje da se prihvati ova tabu riječ pomračuje novorazvijenu – iako krhku – ulogu Beograda kao konstruktivnog regionalnog aktera, ključnog za ulazak u EU. U ovom svjetlu je i sukob Srbije sa ključnim evropskim državama zbog neprihvatanja rezolucije koju je Velika Britanija predložila o Srebrenici u Vijeću sigurnosti UN, a koja je trebala da osudi taj genocid - i njegovo poricanje. Ova dijalektika takođe ima izvjesno geopolitičko značenje pošto su se, na razne načine, i Srbija i Republika Srpska obratile Rusiji da iskoristi svoje pravo veta protiv te rezolucije, što je ova i učinila, na osnovu toga što je ‘antisrpska’ i ima ‘destabilizirajući’ potencijal. Ovaj argument rizika etničkog sukoba postao je uobičajeno sredstvo pritiska na Zapad, ponekad uspješno, od strane lokalnih i regionalnih lidera.

Ti manevri između Istoka i Zapada su dio tradicionalnog balansiranja koje lideri na Balkanu izvode dosta vješto. Ipak ovog puta efekat klatna i druge krize izazivaju izvjestan alarm unutar EU, posebno u svjetlu sukoba u Ukrajini i ruske strategije na Balkanu i jugoistočnoj Evropi.

Dodik, sada kontroverzan ali, ironično, nekad velika nada Zapada u Bosni, je sklon da vodi ove debate, maksimizirajući neproporcionalan uticaj koji ima u Bosni i regionu. Koristi taktiku sličnu onima koje su koristili drugi populisti u Rusiji i EU, uključujući retoriku Geert Wildersa i Jean-Marie Le Pena. Dodikova torba trikova uključuje povlađivanje Moskvi, napade na Sarajevo i međunarodnu zajednicu, pozive na odbranu Republike Srpske i srpskih žrtava, prijetnju za nezavisnost (sada sa referendumom moguće u 2018), neobičnim izolovanim gestima, kao što je početkom ove godine njegovo odavanje počasti žrtvama Srebrenice, zajedno sa odlučnim poricanjem genocida (“najveća obmana 20. vijeka”).

The political dialectics of genocide

This July sees the 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre, the only such event of the many which took place in the former Yugoslavia which has been termed as a genocide by the international judiciary. Radovan Karadzic and Mladic have been put in the dock whileMilosevic died in the midst of his trial almost 10 years ago.

But 20 years are hardly long enough. Even in today’s Balkans theoretically on the road toward the European Union (Albania, Montenegro, Serbia and Macedonia are membership candidates), some things do not change so quickly. Sadly, this is true for the narrative about the genocide and the wars of the 1990s in general.

There is not a solid agreement on the recent past, nor about similar events during World War II which form part of the collective psyche and were often prominent in the minds of perpetrators - and their instigators. The issues of genocide, victims and justice remain deeply divisive and inevitably prone to create controversies between the new states born of Yugoslavia’s disintegration, and within societies themselves, more segregated than ever, at least in today’s Bosnia.

Commemorative events at Srebrenica cause controversy almost every year. This anniversary has generated even greater tension than usual: between Bosnia and Serbia; between Serbia and the EU; and, as is the norm in Bosnia’s toxic politics, between the RepublikaSrpska of Milorad Dodik and Sarajevo. Though Serbia has condemned the massacre, the country’s leaders refuse to call it a genocide and insist on recognition for Serbian victims. This negative to accept the taboo word is tarnishing Belgrade’s newly developed – though fragile – role as a constructive regional actor, crucial for its entry into the EU. In this light, Serbia’s clash with key European states over its rejection of the UK proposed resolution on Srebrenica in the UN Security Council, which were to condemn that genocide – and its denial. This dialectic also has some geopolitical significance as, in different ways, both Serbia and the RepublikaSrpska had made overtures to Russia to use its veto power against that resolution, which it eventuallydid, on the grounds of its being “anti-Serbian” and with “destabilising” potential. The argument of risk of ethnic conflict has become a common pressure tool applied to the West, sometimes successfully, by both local and regional actors.

These manoeuvres between West and East are part of a traditional balancing act which Balkan leaders perform rather skilfully. Yet this time the pendulum effect of this and other crises is raising some alarm within the EU, particularly in view of the conflict in Ukraine and Russian strategy in the Balkans and South-eastern Europe.

Dodik, now controversial but, ironically, once the West’s great hope in Bosnia, is adept at handling these debates, maximising the disproportionate influence he holds over Bosnia and the region. He uses tactics similar to those used by other populists in Russia and the EU, including a rhetoric of the Geert Wilders and Jean-Marie Le Pen variety. Dodik’s bag of tricks includes nods to Moscow, attacks on Sarajevo and the international community, calls to defend the Republika Srpska and Serbian victims, the threat of independence (with now a referendum potentially envisaged for 2018), the odd isolated gesture, such as his tribute earlier this year to the victims of Srebrenica, coupled with firm denial of genocide (“the greatest deception of the XX century”).

Wannsee konferencije

Ali Bosna i Srebrenica su samo dijelovi regionalnog problema. Nekoliko sati puta od Beograda nova država Kosovo treba da doda ovoj dugoj listi problema trik pitanja o pravdi i odgovornosti za zločine koje je počinila Oslobodilačka vojska Kosova (OVK). Uz podršku EU, određen je specijalni sud koji će suditi tim zločinima, iako će biti baziran u Holandiji (atmosfera zastrašivanja koju trpe lokalni svjedoci doprinijela je frustrirajućim ranijim suđenjima liderima OVK). Međutim, krajem juna, Skupština u Prištini nije uspjela prihvatiti relevantne odluke usred protesta i odbacivanja, tako da su stradanja opet izašla na vidjelo.

U međuvremenu, Međunarodni sud pravde donio je odluku prošle zime o uzajamnim srpskim i hrvatskim optužbama za genocid. Odluka je oslobodila oboje zbog nedostatka dokaza subjektivnog elementa koji se traži po međunarodnom pravu: specifična namjera da se ‘u potpunosti ili djelimično uništi’ druga nacionalna, etnička ili vjerska grupa. Standard dokaza potreban da se pripiše odgovornost nekoj državi za međunarodni zločin genocida (mora da bude ‘apsolutno ubjedljiv’ i ‘samo razuman zaključak”) je skoro nemoguć, tražeći parametre Wannsee konferencije.

U slučaju bivše Jugoslavije skoro je apsurdno priznati da su srpske snage na jednoj strani i Hrvati predvođeni Antom Gotovinom na drugoj strani počinili objektivna djela genocida – ali nije “apsolutno ubjedljivo” da su to učinili za subjektivnu dobrobit. Kao rezultat, slučajevi u kojima je sistematsko nasilje kao ono u Srebrenici završili su zabilježeni u kolektivnoj svijesti kao manji zločini. Ovo služi da pojača teorije zavjere i naglasi pojam duplih standarda i, ukratko, pravde.

Međutim, pažljivo gledajući na događaje devedesetih, na primjer na mjesto jedne od redovnih ekshumacija masovnih grobnioca u regionu, izgleda da je međunarodno pravo dalje nego ikad. Čovjek ne može da ne misli da je bilo nekoliko više manje formalnih Wannsee konferencija u Beogradu (i Zagrebu) i Palama, komandnom centru lidera bosanskih Srba, sa kobnim naredbama i direktivama. Ali uznemirujuća istina je da je bio veliki dio bezrazložno nasilnog ponašanja nasumičnih NN, nekadašnjih susjeda, čak prijatelja, i ponekad grubih drugova u piću. “Banalnost zla” o kome govori Hannah Arendt i koje se ponavlja u masakrima u Ruandi i istočnoj Evropi za vrijeme Drugog svjetskog rata.

The Wannsee conferences

But Bosnia and Srebrenica are just parts of a regional problem. A few hours down the road from Belgrade, the new state of Kosovo is having to add to its long list of problems the tricky questions of justice and responsibility for the crimes committed by the Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK in its Albanian initials). With EU support, a special court is meant to start judging these crimes, though it will be based in the Netherlands (an atmosphere of intimidation endured by local witnesses contributed to frustrating previous trials of UCK leaders). At the end of June, however, the Pristina Assembly had failed to adopt the relevant decisions in the midst of protests and rejection, with victimhood once again to the fore.

Meanwhile, the International Court of Justice passed judgement last winter on mutualSerbian and Croatian accusations of genocide. The ruling absolved them both due to the absence of proof of the subjective element required under international law: the specific intent to “destroy wholly or in part” the other national, ethnic or religious group. The standard of proof needed to attribute responsibility to a state for the international crime of genocide (it has to be “absolutely conclusive” and “the only reasonable conclusion”) is almost impossible, requiring Wannsee Conference parameters.

In the case of the former Yugoslavia, it is close to absurd to recognise that the Serbian forces on one side, and the Croats led by Ante Gotovina, on the other, committed objective acts of genocide – but it is not, as it were, “absolutely conclusive” that they did so in subjective terms. As a result, cases in which systematic violence such as that of Srebrenica was also implemented end up being recorded in the collective conscience as minor crimes. This serves to reinforce conspiracy theories and accentuates a perception of double standards and, in short, injustice.

However, looking closely at the events of the devedeseti (the 1990s), at the site, for example, of one of the regular exhumations of mass graves in the region, international jurisprudence seems farther away than ever. One cannot help thinking that there were several more or less formal Wannsee conferences in Belgrade (and Zagreb) and Pale, the Serbian-Bosnian leaders’ command centre, with fateful orders and directives. But the unsettling truth is that there was also a great deal of gratuitously violent behaviour by random Mr Nobodies, erstwhile neighbours, even friendly, if somewhat brutish, beer hall companions. “The banality of evil” that Hannah Arendt spoke of and which was repeated in the Rwandan massacres and Eastern Europe during World War II.

‘Bilo, pa prošlo’

Tako lokalni i regionalni lideri manipulišu kako najbolje mogu, izmjenjujući jezik koji Evropa očekuje sa razornim nacionalizmom koji još mnoge od njih drži u igri i koji sprječava jednu stranu da vidi štetu koja je učinjena drugoj. Primjeri klečanja, kao što je učinio Willy Brandt u Varšavi, su veoma rijetki, iako je posljednjih godina bilo nekoliko pozitivnih gestova.

Ključni problem je apsolutno odsustvo zajedničke priče, koju minimalno dijele veliki dijelovi tih društava, kad su u pitanju ključne činjenice rata i njihovo značenje. Ovaj problem se manifestuje na različite načine. Prvo, često postoji manjak empatije prema patnji drugih i previše poricanja istinitosti činjenica koje su dokazane ali koje zamagljuje dominantni politički diskurs (i demagogija) stvarajući paralelnu realnost. U situaciji u kojoj ne postoji zajednički obrazovni sistem, održava se simbolika da te iste pojedince vide kao zločince na jednoj strani dok ih na drugoj tretiraju kao heroje ili mučenike.

Štaviše, ponekad ublažena, ponekad opet oživljavajući, politička sklonost balkanskog iredentizma (velika Albanija, velika Srbija itd) opravdava napad kao formu odbrane. Kao što sam mogao vidjeti u Foči kad je u maju 2011. u Srbiji uhapšen Mladić, mnogi bosanski Srbi, i mladi i stari, još slave generala kao branitelja njihovog naroda od muslimanske prijetnje iz Sarajeva, baš kao što mnogi Hrvati vide Gotovinu kao heroja, a sličan je i stav mnogih kosovskih Albanaca prema OVK. Legenda o dobrom starom borcu za slobodu.

Kad je rat tako bratoubilački, on uništava tkivo društva i prije ili kasnije frustrira skoro svaku međunarodnu inicijativu da se takva zemlja stavi na ‘normalne’ noge. Ovo ostaje slučaj u Bosni koja, pored stalne političke i institucionalne brane, vidi kako njeno postojanje stalno dovodi u pitanje jedan od njenih konstitutivnih dijelova, baš kao i 1992, čineći običnu vlast skoro nemogućom.

Nepomirljivost nekih priča je jasna na terenu kad, na primjer, ocjenjuje uticaj sudskih procesa na društvene percepcije pravde, uključujući stavove žrtve. Nekoliko srpskih organizacija u istočnoj Bosni kritikuju ono što vide kao opći nedostatak suđenja za zločine počinjene protiv Srba, poput onih za koje optužuju Nasera Orića, komandanta Bosanske vojske u ratu. Tog istog Orića rodbina srebreničkih žrtava smatra herojem i njegovo nedavno hapšenje u Švajcarskoj, na temelju srbijanskog zahtjeva za izručenje, navelo ih je da zaprijete otkazivanjem komemoracije (Orić je izručen, ali u Sarajevo, i tu odluku su, kako se i očekivalo, Srbi kritikovali). Često previdljiva činjenica je neka vrsta manipulacije ili medijatizacije genocida i pojma etničkog nasilja od strane izvjesnih organizacija i interesa. Ovaj model, koji ponekad izaziva incidente, doprinosi, kao samoispunjujuće proročanstvo, stvaranju etničkih ili tenzija zajednice – ili strahova od njih. U ovom pogledu, uloga vjerskih lidera je bila i ostaje često kao veoma negativna. Za neke stručnjake na terenu, oni su i dio problema – a ne rješenje, kako to međunarodna zajednica tvrdoglavo insistira.

Drugi zajednički pristup, međutim, je onaj koji održava sličnost normalnosti. Mnoge lokalne vlasti u Republici Srpskoj, suočene sa velikim finansijskim i socijalnim problemima, često nastoje da zakopaju prošlost i naglase razvoj i turizam u ovoj predivnoj ali depresivnoj regiji. Iz ove prizme bi se mogao sagledati i projekt Andrićgrad u Višegradu, koji je osmislio filmski reditelj Emir Kusturica i lansirao 2014. da obilježi sto godina od atentata Gavrila Principa (mučenika za mnoge Srbe) na nadvojvodu Franza Ferdinanda. A ipak Višegradu nedostaje jedinstvena komemorativna ploča za masakre 1992. Prošlost je za mnoge zvaničnike i građane neprilična.

Prešutan sporazum o šutnji je dio političke scene na izvjesnim nivoima, dok je na drugima, dijalektika genocida, govor mržnje i stalne kontroverze. Štaviše, dalje od političkih centara, mnogi mladi ljudi, u mjestima kao što su Bosna i Kosovo, ponekad poprimaju apolitičan stav prema ratu i njegovim tragičnim posljedicama. Više vole da se fokusiraju na svoje neposredne materijalne potrebe i, ako mogu, migriraju prema zapadnoj Evropi, što je još jedna od zanemarenih drama u regionu.

Ponekad najenergičniji aktivisti, društvena manjina, traže demokratizaciju i dobru vlast od elita, smatrajući to stvarnim prioritetima umjesto prošlosti i njenih duhova, nerješivih distrakcija umjesto onog što je danas zaista važno. Ovo je ideja iza zajedničke poslovice bilo, pa prošlo.

‘Bilo, pa proslo’

So local and regional leaders juggle as best they can, alternating the language that Europe expects with the divisive nationalism that still keeps many of them in the game and which prevents one side from seeing the damage it has done to another. Examples of a bended knee, such as that of Willy Brandt in Warsaw, have so far been rather rare, although there have been a few positive gestures in recent years.

A core problem is the absolute absence of a common narrative, minimally shared by large segments of these societies, in terms of the key facts of the war and its meaning. This problem manifests itself in different ways. First off, there is often a lack of empathy towards the suffering of others and too much denial of the veracity of facts which have been demonstrated but which are blurred by the dominant political discourse (and demagoguery), creating a parallel reality. In a situation where there is not a shared educational system, a symbology is maintained whereby the same individuals are viewed as criminals by one side while often being treated as heroes or martyrs by the other.

Moreover, sometimes toned down, sometimes resurgent, the political bias of Balkanic irredentism (Greater Albania, Greater Serbia etc.) justify attack as a form of defence. As I was able to see in Foca with the May 2011 arrest of Mladic in Serbia, many Bosnian Serbs, young and old, still venerate the general as a defender of their people before the Muslim threat of Sarajevo, just as many Croats view Gotovina as a hero, and likewise many Kosovo Albanians’ attitude towards the UCK. The good old freedom fighter legend.

When a war is so fratricidal, it destroys the fabric of society and that, sooner or later, frustrates almost any international initiative designed to put such a country on a “normal” footing. This remains the case of Bosnia, which, besides its permanent political and institutional logjam, sees its existence repeatedly questioned by at least one of its constituent parts, just as in 1992, making ordinary governance almost nigh possible.

The irreconcilability of some narratives is clear on the ground when, for example, assessing the impact of the judicial processes on societal perceptions of justice, including victims’ views. Several Serbian organisations in Eastern Bosnia criticise what they see as a general lack of prosecution of crimes committed against Serbs, such as those NaserOric, the Bosnian army general in the war, is accused of. The same Oric is considered by relatives of Srebrenica victims as a hero and its recent arrest in Switzerland, on the basis of a Serbian extradition request, led them to threaten with the cancellation of this week’s commemoration (Oric was eventually extradited, but to Sarajevo, which decision was predictably criticized by Serbia). An often overlooked fact is a sort of manipulation or mediatisation of genocide and of the idea of ethnic violence on the part of certain organisations and interests. This pattern, sometimes blowing out incidents out of proportion, contributes, as self-fulfilling prophecy, to create ethnic or community tensions –or fears of them. In this regard, the role of religious leaders has been and remains often a very negative one. For some field experts, they too are part of the problem – and not the solution as the international community stubbornly insists.

Another common approach, though, is that of maintaining a semblance of normality. Many local authorities in the RepublikaSrpska, facing major financial and social difficulties, often try to bury the past and emphasise development and tourism in this beautiful but depressed region. One could see from this prism the Andricgrad project in Visegrad, overseen by the film director Emir Kustu rica and launched in 2014 to mark the 100th anniversary of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand by GavriloPrincip (a martyr for many Serbs). Yet Visegrad, however, lacks a single commemorative plaque for the massacres of 1992. The past, for many officials and citizens alike, is an inconvenience.

This tacit agreement to keep silent is part of the political scene in certain levels, as does, in others, the dialectic of the genocide, hate speech and the continual controversies. Moreover, away from political centers, many young people, in places as Bosnia and Kosovo, sometimes opt for an apolitical stance on the war and its tragic consequences. They prefer to focus on their immediate material needs and migrate to Western Europe if they can, another of the often overlooked region’s dramas.

Sometimes the most energetic activists, a social minority, demand democratisation and good governance from the elites, considering these the real priorities instead of the past and its ghosts, unsolvable distractions from what really matters today. This is the idea behind the common saying bilo, pa proslo (Let sleeping dogs lie).

Pomirenje unutar Evrope?

Napori za neku formu pomirenja na Balkanu uglavnom su poticaj predanih organizacija civilnog društva. Sve je više i regionalnih sastanaka na vrhu, u sklopu diskursa jačanja odnosa, ‘Evrope’, i gledanja u budućnost – iako postoji velika razlika između onog što neki zvaničnici govore kad su u diplomatskoj posjeti i njihovog regularnog govora kod kuće. Neke od tih dinamika i izazova nisu isključive za Bosnu ili Balkan, nego su uobičajene u društvima pogođenim sukobima, masovnim kršenjima ljudskih prava (genocid ili ne) i konfliktnim pričama.

Sve u svemu, često se perspektive o Balkanu razlikuju između onih koji samo žele da vide region kroz prizmu 1990, njegovih Srebrenica i etničkog sukoba, i onih koji samo žele da razgovaraju o “uspjesima” i veličaju – ponekad malo previše – tranformacijski potencijal evropske integracije.

Prirodno, realnost je kompleksnija, preplićući nove dinamike, od kojih su neke pozitivne a druge manje pozitivne, sa starim dinamikama. Ali naivno je pomisliti da je integracija cijelog Balkana u EU, kako ide zvanična retorika, lijek za praktično sve probleme od kojih pati region. Od loše vlasti i demokratskih prepreka; neuspjeha sporazuma o dijeljenju vlasti kao što je Dejton i žestokih incidenata, kao nedavno u Makedoniji, geopolitičkih poteza Rusa i drugih aktera; i samog vladajućeg društvenog sadržaja, “Evropa” je predstavljena kao jedini put bez alternative i krajnje mirovno sredstvo ili game changer za cijeli region.

Ako pomirenje nije moguće danas, moglo bi možda doći sa generacijskom promjenom. Kao i zaborav. Ali bez organskih promjena u društvu, kao što vidimo danas u EU, nasljedstvo prošlosti – i prošlih sistema – postaće otporno i ponovo će iskrsnuti, na mnoštvo načina, da uvjetuje i sadašnjost i budućnost.

Kao što je Tony Judt ustvrdio u njegovom vizionarskom djelu “Velika iluzija”, “Evropa” se može suočiti s nekim problemima; ne može uraditi drugo. Prije 20 godina nije bilo “Časa Evrope”, usred zlatne ere za EU i pakla na Balkanu. Zvanična politika i konvencionalna mudrost danas uglavnom raspravlja, poput automata, da će se opisani problemi jednostavno riješiti ulaskom u EU. Sa Unijom usred političke fragmentacije i evropskog projekta u krizi – u kome je grčka tragedija samo jedno poglavlje – ovo može izgledati kao zapanjujući čin puste želje.

Reconciliation within Europe?

The push for some form of reconciliation in the Balkans has mainly been led by committed civil society organisations. There is also growing regional summitry, framed within a discourse of boosting relations, “Europe”, and looking to the future – although there is a big difference between what some of these officials say when on a diplomatic visit and their regular talk at home. Some of these dynamics and challenges are not exclusive to Bosnia, or the Balkans, but are usual in societies affected by conflicts, massive violations of human rights (genocidal or not) and conflicting narratives.

Overall, often the perspectives about the Balkans vary between those who only want to see the region through the prism of the 1990, its Srebrenicas and ethnic conflict, and those who only want to talk about “advances” and extol –sometimes a little too much- the transformational potential of European integration.

Naturally, the reality is more complex, intertwining new dynamics, some of which are positive and others less so, with old dynamics. But it is naïve to think that the integration of the entire Balkans in the EU is, as goes the official rhetoric, an antidote for practically all of the problems which beset the region. From bad governance and democratic setbacks; the breakdown of power-sharing agreements such as Dayton, and violent incidents, such as in Macedonia a few weeks back; geopolitical moves by Russian and other actors; and the reigning social content itself, “Europe” is presented as the sole path with no alternative and the ultimate peace tool or game changer for the whole region.

If reconciliation is not possible today, maybe it could come with a generational change. And forgetting. But, without organic changes in a society, as we are seeing today in the EU, the legacy of the past –and of past systems- tends to be resilient and reappear, in myriad of ways, to condition both present and the future.

As Tony Judt argued in his visionary “A Great Illusion”, “Europe” can deal with some problems; other things it cannot do. There was no “Hour of Europe” 20 years ago, in the midst of a golden era for the EU and hell for the Balkans. Official policy and conventional wisdom nowadays largely argues, almost in autopilot, that the problems described will just resolve themselves once in the EU. With the Union in the midst of political fragmentation and the European project in crisis – of which the Greek tragedy is just a chapter-, this would seem an astonishing act of wishful thinking.

Francisco de Borja Lasheras stupio je u Evropsko vijeće za vanjske odnose u septembru 2013. kao pomoćnik direktora Ureda u Madridu i Policy Fellow. Između 2007. i 2009. radio je za Fundación Alternativas Observatory of Spanish Foreign Policy (Opex), kao koordinator za politiku o sigurnosti i odbrani, i predavao komparativne evropske politike na George Washington University Study Center. Poslije službe u stalnoj španskoj misiji OSCE-a, Borja je proveo nekoliko godina na Zapadnom Balkanu, kao Seconded National Expert pri misijama OSCE-a u Bosni i Hercegovini, na terenu, kao oficir za ljudska prava, i Albaniji, na čelu Misije. Borja je diplomirao summa con laude na Deusto University’s Faculty of Law i magistrirao na Harvard University, gdje je studirao međunarodne odnose i politiku. Pisao je o Zajedničkoj sigurnosti EU i politici odbrane, strateškim razmišljanjima, međunarodnim intervencijama, NATO-u i multilateralnim trendovima.

Francisco de Borja Lasheras joined the European Council on Foreign Relations in September 2013 as Associate Director of the Madrid Office and Policy Fellow. Between 2007 and 2009 he worked for the Fundación Alternativas´ Observatory of Spanish Foreign Policy (Opex), as Coordinator on Security and Defence Policy, and taught comparative European politics at the George Washington University Madrid Study Center. After serving at the Spanish Permanent Representation to the OSCE, Borja spent several years in the Western Balkans, as Seconded National Expert to the OSCE Missions in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in the field, as human rights officer, and Albania, with the Head of Mission. Borja graduated summa cum laude at the Deusto University´s Faculty of Law and holds a Master’s Degree at Harvard University, where he studied international relations and politics. He has published on the EU´s Common Security and Defence Policy, strategic thinking, international interventions, NATO and multilateral trends.

Tekst je prvobitno objavljen na European Council on Foreign Relations portalu (11.07.2015).

Prevod: Dijalog BiH2.0

This article was originally published on the European Council on Foreign Relations portal (11.07.2015).

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