by Jelena LOVRIC
Now come the facts:
First, Mesic's claim that Tudman only after Karadjojrdjevo accepted Milosevic's idea about the division of B-H is simply not true. For decades, and definitely since 1963 Tudman has advocated that it was necessary to reorganize Yugoslavia based on a new historical agreement between Croats and Serbs. His proposal included the creation of Greater Croatia and Greater Serbia, exchange of population and division of Bosnia-Hercegovina (B-H); for Tudman B-H is an artificial creation. In the election campaign before the first multi-party elections he talked about "the unnatural Croatian pretzel" that needs to be "filled in", while one of the first proclamations by the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) stresses the goal of creation of Croatia within "her natural and historical borders".
Third, regarding Granic's claim that the Serb aggression on Croatia and the agreement in Karadjordjevo do not go together, Warren Zimmermann, the last American ambassador to the former Yugoslavia in his memoirs mentions that in early 1992 Tudman admitted to him that he had discussed the division of B-H with Milosevic, the leadership of the Yugoslav Peoples' Army and Bosnian Serbs. "Let Milosevic take one half, he already controls that much. We would be satisfied with less than 50 percent of Bosnia. We are prepared to leave to Muslims a small region around Sarajevo... There is no peace in Bosnia because Bosnian Serbs have not been treated fairly," Zimmermann quotes Tudman. That conversations in which the President of Croatia stated the now infamous sentence "I trust Milosevic" took place two months after the fall of Vukovar and the mass killing at Ovcara.
There is not enough space to quote all the statements and recall all the facts that imply the conclusion that Tudman's Croatia did not have honorable intentions when it came to B-H and that considered Slobodan Milosevic a partner in that endeavor. Yours truly has in the past had the opportunity to hear from at least four individuals that Tudman had talked to them about the division of B-H and asked for their support and understanding for that plan. The Croatian public has had a chance to see numerous documents regarding that topic, above all shocking transcripts of conversations led in the presidential residence at Pantovcak. No doubt more documents of that nature are to be found in archives. If would be much more useful for the Croatian public if, instead of fairytales about Tudman policies and ethnic cleansing of Karadjordjevo, it were given a chance to face the truth. Lies definitely do not help Croatia. On the contrary, while the nation eagerly consumes historical forgeries, the world will show increasingly less understanding, protest notes will multiply and the Croat nation will drown in the belief that it is misunderstood by the whole planet.
"Recently, we have witnessed a significant radicalization and worsening of relations on the political scene in Croatia. In such circumstances I find it necessary to address the Croatian public, all citizens and explain my views regarding the current situation, its causes and possible consequences. As you all know the immediate cause is the indictment of General Janko Bobetko by the International Tribunal in The Hague.
"I do not believe I need to remind anyone that Croatia at one point was among the countries pushing for the founding of that tribunal, that it was established by the United Nations Security Council and that Croatia six years ago adopted a constitutional law that obliges her to cooperate with the Hague Tribunal.
"The cooperation with the Tribunal in the Hague implies precisely that - full cooperation of Croatian authorities and all of her citizens with the tribunal established by the international community in order to investigate and prosecute war crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia. Let me repeat: it implies full cooperation, in all cases and at all times. That is an obligation we have taken upon ourselves. The world justifiably expects from us to keep our word.
"General Bobetko has been indicted based on command responsibility for very specific crimes, which undoubtedly took place, and were committed by Croatian forces after a military operation.
"To make sure all of us understand, let me add that command responsibility implies responsibility of someone who either ordered that crime be committed, or knew of crimes and did not try to stop them, or found out about crimes and did not punish culprits. The same criteria were applied to Slobodan Milosevic, who is currently on trial in the Hague. Slobodan Milosevic bears most responsibility for all the evil that took place in our region during the last decade. I will soon participate in that trial as a witness, acting precisely in accordance with our constitutional law that obliges every citizen of Croatia to cooperate with the Hague Tribunal. If I can criticize the Hague Tribunal in connection with General Bobetko's case, I would focus on their failure to talk with General Bobetko before issuing an indictment. He should have definitely been given an opportunity to defend himself.
"Similarly, I cannot accept the terminology used in the indictment, which mentions clashes between Croatian forces and Croatian Serbs. All of us know that those clashes were between a part of the rebellious Serb minority instigated and controlled by Slobodan Milosevic - and the Croatian authorities. However, if our authorities were aware that an indictment against General Bobetko was being prepared a few months ago, I must direct criticism against them as well. Our authorities should have immediately demanded that the Hague Tribunal question the former Chief of Staff. I'll say that much about the basic facts and the prehistory of the whole case. And now a couple of words about the current events.
"Political activities are naturally legitimate. But it is not legitimate and it must not be permitted that someone endangers the future of this country. It is not legitimate and we shall not permit mobilization based on anti-European and anti-democratic ideas. Finally, it is not legitimate, and it is out of question that someone attempt to make Croatia a hostage of his or her ambition, privileges or fear of the truth and responsibility, respectively. No one has a mandate to isolate Croatia. No one has a mandate to abuse the fate of a man, whomever he may be, to defend his or her status. ‘Bobetko case' is not and must not become ‘Croatia case'. But, and I must be explicit here, some individuals want to exploit ‘Bobetko case' to turn Croatia into a ‘case'. Our behavior in the current situation will determine our future on the international scene.
"We must persevere in applying the rule of law in Croatia, making sure that all laws equally apply to all citizens and that no one may have any sort of privilege regardless of previous accomplishments. We must insist that open issues be not resolved in the street, in concerts and within various associations. All issues must be resolved within the institutions. That is the task for our Government.
"I believe that you understand what I am trying to say. Again we are in the situation to decide our own fate. I am sure that we have the strength to do that in the way that will demonstrate that extremists will not win, that foundations of our democracy are firm, that we are lastingly committed to individualizing guilt and resolving the legacy of war and that we are committed to building our future within the democratic world and united Europe.
"This is all I felt necessary to say tonight. I have only one goal in mind - the wellbeing of Croatia, stability of our country and her firm and recognized status in the world. Thank you!"
Thus concluded yesterday's address to the nation by president Mesic.
by B. PODGORNIK
Prime Minister Ivica Racan and president of the Parliament Zlatko Tomcic were, unofficially, somewhat surprised with Mesic's view, since two days earlier the president, at a meeting of the Government's Council for Cooperation with The Hague Tribunal, had not indicated that he would assume a position totally different from that of the Government and the Parliament.
At the meeting of the Council Mesic warned that parts of the indictment of Bobetko imply that Croatia had been in a conflict with another country, as well as of the danger of radicalization on the right side of the spectrum of the Croatian political scene. Yesterday, Prime Minister Racan, at his own request, was supposed to visit President Mesic, while that information was during the day several times denied and confirmed from circles close to the Government.
At the same time, the Government Council for Cooperation with the Hague Tribunal yesterday had another meeting chaired by Goran Granic, which was used to plan next steps that would be taken by the Government both internally and externally once the indictment of Bobetko is received. Besides members of the Council (Racan, Granic, ministers Picula, Lucin, Antunovic, Pancic and Government's chief of staff Miljenic), the meeting was attended by two members of the Parliament and legal experts and Croatain ambassadors at the UN, the EU and the Netherlands: Ivan Simonovic, Vladimir Drobnjak, and Jaksa Muljacic.
After the meeting Granic said that the Government plans to file a complaint with the Hague Tribunal regarding part of the indictment against Bobetko, to which it has a right. Besides raising the issue of whether the indictment violates the constitution, according to Granic the government will develop diplomatic activities in order to explain to the international community why it has decided to confront the Hague Tribunal. Thus, Minister Picula today meets with ambassadors stationed in Zagreb. Unofficially, there are still no reactions from abroad regarding the announced Government's dispute with the Hague Tribunal, and consequently it is too early to talk about that issue. In any case Granic yesterday emphasized that Croatia will continue to cooperate with the Hague Tribunal.
by Boris PAVELIC
"President Mesic does not support unconditional extradition of General Bobetko to the Hague Tribunal. Instead, he believes that state institutions should do everything in their power to improve his position. However, the current Government's strategy cannot achieve that, because Bobetko cannot be protected by rejecting the indictment, but only by improving his status in court as much as possible. For example it is not inconceivable that the trial hearings be conducted using a video connection between Zagreb and the Hague. In that case arrest and extradition would be avoided," our source claimed. The source added that in that case it would be necessary to convince Bobetko "to defend himself in front of the Hague Tribunal".
All that needs to be done is precisely what Prime Minister Racan stated in an interview with Novi List, that the truth can only be defended in front of the Hague Tribunal, our source reminded. There are ways to help Bobetko in other ways and some lawyers have been making such suggestions to the Government, but it has been ignoring them, our source claimed. Incidentally, President Mesic was not surprised by negative reactions to his speech; he expected them.
Therefore, it seems that co-creator of the Croatia's foreign policy [President Mesic] used his address to the nation to deliver a message to the Government that it had decided to use a totally wrong strategy in connection with "Bobetko case". Refusing to have Bobetko face the Tribunal while at the same time claiming that cooperation continues is an indefensible, zero-sum position. Therefore, it is not surprising that such Government's attitude has been dismissed in the Hague Tribunal as "totally ridiculous", our sources claimed.
Therefore, they continued, it makes sense that diplomats have no idea what to do in this situation, as the Government says one thing, while the President says another. "The Government has opted for ‘mission impossible', so that it would make sense that they follow President's advice. He has clearly described the situation, reminding that Croatia must meet its obligations to the Hague Tribunal and that those obligations cannot be avoided. But, those obligations can be met without an extradition," our source claimed.
According to the source, therefore, sources close to President Mesic believe that the best future course of action is for the Government to give up its present strategy for Bobetko's defense as it is bound to take Croatia towards sanctions and isolation. Briefly: Bobetko should be convinced to face the Tribunal, and the Government should get the Tribunal to approve video trial with Bobetko remaining in Zagreb.
"Out of question. Makes no difference," was the brief answer of the General's grandson, who has been dealing with the press on behalf of the general. Such a reaction by General Bobetko confirms the assumption of the sources close to President Mesic who told us yesterday that "the general would most likely act against president's advice". General's grandson reminded us of General Bobetko's comment on President Mesic's address to the nation, in which General Bobetko referred to President Mesic as "a power grabbing political fraud" and "provincial comedian" who acts "shamefully and arrogantly" and "lacking his own, reads somebody else's thoughts".
It is also interesting that Wednesday night Bobetko, displeased with the news report by state-owned news agency HINA, which failed to quote abovementioned General's comments, personally denied the report. HINA's response to General's protests was that Bobetko's comments were reported accurately, while only the abovementioned statements were dropped as "insults" on president's account.