by Bisera LUSIC
"The Tribunal is investigating crimes based on the ethnicity, so that in Croatia one team of investigators investigates crimes committed against Croats and another one crimes committed against Serb. In that they do not take into account the nature of the war, what actually took place, nor do they take into account the hierarchy of responsibility from the outbreak of the war until today.
"One could say that such approach of the Tribunal Prosecutor actually acquits those who started the war," the deputy Prime Minister said in an interview for Globus. He added that Croatia does not view the cooperation between the Tribunal and our country as cooperation "in which Croatia is obliged to obey someone else's orders, as the Croatian government can only follow the orders of the Croatian Parliament, and no one else".
Chief Prosecutor Carla del Ponte in her recent speech in front of the UN Security Council asserted that there are still difficulties in cooperation with Croatia although some progress can be noted, especially with respect to the situation before the change of government in our country. She specified that most difficulties are related to those cases that are viewed by Croatia as harmful for her political and security interests. The most likely reason for these remarks by the prosecutor is the inability of her office to obtain new material necessary for the trial in the case Kordic-Cerkez, which is approaching its end and the lawyers should have a final word by the middle of the next month. The Chief Prosecutor criticizes Croatia because of the publication of her demands in the media, and mostly with negative commentary, while in the investigation of crimes committed after the operations "Flash" and "Storm", the Prosecutor's office is prevented from gaining access to the witnesses and documentation about those cases.
"The Hague Tribunal is applying pressure on Croatia. Our patience is wearing thin and the Government cannot accept orders from any prosecutor who does not want to accept the basic concept that the task of the Hague Tribunal is to initiate trials for individual cases," responds deputy Prime Minister Granic and adds that in the bloody war about 15,000 people perished on the Croat side, and the result of it all is that indictments are issued against Croats.
"How else can one interpret that but as a political manipulation? That is the only way I can interpret that," asserted the deputy Prime Minister. He also said that the term cooperation implies agreement and dialog, rather than diktat. He criticized the initiation of investigations for actions from 1995, even though those for actions from 1991 still haven't been completed. Namely, Croatia believes that investigations should be approached chronologically.
On the other hand the officials of the Hague Tribunal disagree with that approach and emphasize that there is no politics in their work and that every significant war crime committed in the former Yugoslavia will be investigated.
"Our only criterion is that crimes were committed," stresses the Prosecutor's Office spokesperson Florence Hartmann, and adds that the investigation of every war crime is a process, and the speed of investigation depends on the accessibility of evidence, so that ethnicity is not a factor.
"We shall oppose every idea that would politicize the situation or pull matters out of context, which can totally confuse the picture of the events in this region. But everyone must understand that Croatia cannot be pushed around anymore and that no one in this government will accept such demands.
"Croatia cannot allow an attempt to make all war crimes equal and to acquit the aggressor," warned Goran Granic. He added that the Government would not accept that even if the Hague Tribunal requests sanctions against our country in the UN Security Council.
"I am convinced that there are no Croatian interests that would demand that requested documents should not be sent to the Hague," emphasized the chief of the state, which is obviously totally different from the view expressed by Granic.