Charles Ingrao, director of the program said that the ultimate goal of the program was to dispel myths about the events in the former Yugoslavia between 1991 and 1995 and to obtain unequivocal, scientifically based truths.
"The project will be fully successful if politicians and leaders of the countries of the former Yugoslavia accept facts established by scientists and act on their basis," Ingrao says.
In the most recently published study the focus is on ethnic cleansing and other war crimes committed in Bosnia-Hercegovina during the war.
"Most victims are to be found among Bosniaks, about 70 percent. They were victims of Serb forces. Still, there is no evidence proving that either one of the three warring sides had plans about ethnic cleansing," Ingrao said.
NEZAVISNE NOVINE: What is the ultimate goal of the project conducted during the last seven years in the former Yugoslavia by the "Scholars' Initiative"?
INGRAO: The goal is to dispel myths and establish scientifically based truths about what happened during the war in the former Yugoslavia. The "Scholars' initiative", which gathers 350 scientists from all over the world, including many from the former Yugoslavia, is trying to come up with a single story and picture of what happened in this region between 1991 and 1995. Our goal is that politicians face facts and forget about myths and cooperate based on facts. We have relied mostly on evidence and materials collected by the Hague Tribunal, but also Borislav Jovic's and Branko Mamula's memoirs, as well as documentation of the Sarajevo Research-Documentation center, UNHCR and other sources.
Which myths are you referring to?
For example the myth that Franjo Tudman and Alija Izetbegovic planned a genocide of Serbs in Croatia and Bosnia-Hercegovina, about which the press in Croatia and Bosnia-Hercegovina wrote in 1991. We established that there is absolutely no evidence that such a plan existed.
We have found evidence that the Yugoslav People's Army had plans for intervention, in case that was necessary, in Bosnia-Hercegovina. At this moment, we have no evidence that the YPA had plans for ethnic cleansing of Croats or Bosniaks. We have statements by some politicians and high military officials from that time, such as Borislav Jovic or Branko Mamula that could indicate possibility of ethnic cleansing, but in documentation we have not found proof about such plans.
Also, it has been claimed that 200,000 Bosniaks were killed [in the war], which is not true. Our evidence is very close to what was established by the Research-Documentation Center from Sarajevo, therefore, that the overall number of victims in Bosnia-Hercegovina is slightly above 100,000 persons. Also, it is not true that Serb forces raped 50,000 women. Our research indicates that there were about 20,000 rape victims, but we are still looking into that issue.
In this study you focused on ethnic cleansing and other war crimes committed in Bosnia-Hercegovina. What were your conclusions?
Everyone agrees that crimes were committed by all sides. However, everything points out that most crimes were committed against Bosniaks. According to rough estimates, Bosniaks were about 70 percent of killed and expelled persons between the Spring and Autumn of 1992. It is very difficult for me to say who's guilty, but everything that was done was done by individuals. Croats committed similar crimes both against Serbs and Bosniaks, with small differences. Out attention focused on Croat crimes against Bosniaks, as well as the operation "Storm", including burning of whole towns. We have indications that Bosniaks have committed premeditated war crimes. In the region of Bratunac war crimes were committed against Serbs under the command of Naser Oric, as well as in 1995 by the units commanded by Atif Dudakovic. We have many indications that war crimes were incited and organized by Serb leaders. It is believed that especially Slobodan Milosevic and Ratko Mladic incited war crimes, as is shown by events in 1995.
However, we addressed separately the definition of the term "genocide" which is not synonymous with ethnic cleansing. Only a few most severe cases of ethnic cleansing in Bosnia-Hercegovina can be classified as genocide, while the worst massacre, without doubt, took place in Srebrenica.