Monday, August 24, 2009

Karadzic to blame self-interest of west for Yugoslav break-up

Karadzic to blame self-interest of west for Yugoslav break-up

By Neil MacDonald in Belgrade

Published: August 21 2009 03:00 | Last updated: August 21 2009 03:00
Radovan Karadzic, the former Bosnian Serb leader, will seek to put western powers on trial for the break-up of the former Yugoslavia as he prepares to defend himself against charges of war crimes and genocide.

In a written interview with the Financial Times, Mr Karadzic said he had already begun "requesting information from countries such as Germany, France, [the] United Kingdom and the United States" that he claimed would detail how they had put their strategic self-interest ahead of peace for Balkan ethnic groups.

"I hope that through my trial, the people of Bosnia will see what was done to us by members of the international community, and how we were manipulated," said Mr Karadzic, who has also pressed Italy and Malta for records of arms shipments to the Bosnian army that his troops fought against.

Mr Karadzic's inquiries about the late cold war period could become fodder to delay one of the most anticipated trials to emerge from the 1992-1995 war that left about 100,000 dead.

The trial, at the United Nations tribunal in The Hague, is expected to begin in weeks after the presiding judge said yesterday the case was ready to proceed.

Mr Karadzic will conduct his own defence, like Slobodan Milosevic, the former Serbian and Yugoslav president who died while on trial three years ago.

He declined to say how he would characterise the July 1995 massacre at Srebrenica - already deemed genocide by the tribunal - or the three-and-a-half year siege of Sarajevo by his forces.

Ethnic Serbs initially fought to stay in Yugoslavia, where they formed the largest group. Muslims and Croats in the crippled federation's most ethnically mixed republic had voted for secession in 1992, knowing Bosnia-Herzegovina would win quick recognition from leading EU member states and the US.

"The break-up . . . was not in the interest of the people of Yugoslavia, but it was in the interest of certain western powers . . . after the death of Tito," Mr Karadzic said, referring to the long-time communist ruler who died in 1981.

While he expressed regret about the Bosnian war, Mr Karadzic did not acknowledge personal culpability. Instead, he said, Bosnian Muslim leaders should have respected the deal hammered out by EU officials just before fighting broke out, dividing the country internally into three separate "national" units.

"The war in Bosnia was a useless exercise," he said. "After rejecting the Lisbon agreement in 1992, the Muslims ended up with the same territory in 1995."

Mr Karadzic's views echo those of the Serb-controlled entity's prime minister, Milorad Dodik - a former western favourite who has tangled with the EU and US diplomats holding postwar supervisory powers.

"High representatives . . . have managed to alter the letter and spirit of the Dayton agreement by decree," Mr Karadzic said.

"However, I am optimistic that positive changes can be made once democracy, rather than dictatorship, is allowed to return to Bosnia."

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