Historians: On the basis of everything the Commission has said so far, one gets the impression that it is willing to concern itself with the first two types but wants nothing to do with the third. The Commission, we are told, will concern itself with "the past and search for the roots of events in the effort to gain an understanding of the whole truth by studying developments in the period after Tito". The past and causes of events are the subject matter for historians. The majority of citizens are interested in historical facts only during the period of their life they spend in elementary and secondary school. For the citizens of Serbia, the causes and reasons for the American war of independence are of very little significance whereas for historians quite the opposite is true. The Commission would say that it will concern itself with the causes of the war waged in the region of the former Yugoslavia because this war impacts the citizens of Yugoslavia today. Let us assume, then, that one of the results that the Commission will find will be that the war in Yugoslavia was caused by the major powers abroad. What is the significance of this truth for Serbia today? For her historians, it is of great significance. The same applies to those people who believe that Serb military leaders in Bosnia are national heroes. The determination of the academic truth, therefore, would create the kind of conclusions that would leave the citizens of Serbia to continue to believe that the war that was waged in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo was undeniably just and absolutely spotless. The academic truth makes assumptions that make it impossible to determine any kind of new truth; if anything, it can only serve to confirm the old truth. If the Commission is going to concern itself with this kind of truth, then it would be better if it were renamed the Old Truth Affirmation Commission.
The Commission might also concern itself with legal truths. In a judicial system in which the courts are functioning and working in accordance with the law, the establishment of these kinds of commissions would be superfluous. It would be hard to find a reason why, in addition to an efficient justice system, a separate body would be established to determine the truth. The purpose of every court is, in fact, to establish the truth and the truth it establishes then in turn draws certain appropriate consequences. That is how it is in societies in which the courts conduct business according to the letter of the law. However, in the Serbian society such courts are rare. Hence, the founding of a commission that would seek to determine the truth by investigating the criminal accountability for war crimes committed during the last ten years in Serbia makes a lot of sense indeed. The only problem lies in the fact that this truth would have no legal consequences. As one member of the Commission stated, "this Commission will not be any kind of substitute for the judiciary".
Crimes: The truth needs to be determined only where it is contested and where it can lead to some kind of consequences. It is not contested that the major powers were involved in the destruction of Yugoslavia. It is not contested that the Slovenes, Croats, Muslims and who knows who else were involved as well. There are few citizens of Serbia who would disagree on this point. However, what is contested is our role in all this. This is the kind of dilemma that does not enjoy any kind of general consensus among the citizens of Serbia. It would appear for this reason that the most useful thing would be to determine precisely this kind of truth. By the same token, however, it would appear that this is exactly the kind of truth with which the Commission will not concern itself.
For eight years in the region of the former Yugoslavia and Yugoslavia today, crimes were committed in the name of Serbdom, the Serb nation and the Serbian state. Because they were committed in our name, those crimes - whether we like it or not - formed the modern Serb identity. Hence, the only sensible purpose and goal for founding this Commission should be to determine whether crimes were truly committed or not. That is the only truth that neither historians nor our courts (at least in the foreseeable future) will recognize. The Commission needs to determine the truth and then to confront the Serbs with the truth. Things will be easier for us afterwards: we will know whether there were crimes committed or not and whether we should feel guilty for participating in them in the last 14 years, willingly or not, directly or indirectly.