The government rejected the indictment and extradition of the general, and the president of the republic reminded the public of the constitutional obligation of every citizen of Croatia to cooperate with the Hague tribunal. That obligation, naturally, includes departure of all indicted individuals to the Hague.
Differences in connection with the most important issues among the state leadership and isolation of the authorities, indicate that analyses of causes, assessments and projections of the Croat position in the international community either differ or are non-existent.
In my opinion, the activities now carried out by the government should have been carried out earlier, especially in the world centers (Washington, Moscow, Beijing, Berlin). We must systematically, with arguments and with a lot of detail, explain events and the flow of the Homeland War, who started that war and why. Once the tribunal issues indictments, the likelihood of a successful war against the tribunal is minimal.
Let us set aside for now, at this time of complaints and objections, the legal and even moral component of the "Bobetko case". What sort of political analysis is possible? What do we need to think about?
One of the possible directions of development of relationships in South Eastern Europe, north from Greece, and south from Romania and Hungary (perhaps even Slovenia), is the pacification of the region.
Strategic interests of the West are focused on oil corridors in Asia, republics in the Caucasus Mountains, states bordering Russia and China, Middle East and the suppression of international terrorism.
The region that traditionally bears the name Balkans is not on that list and therefore needs to be pacified. That would gradually free up some of NATO forces stationed there (enough forces will remain to maintain presence along the south western flank of Russia) and reduce expenses.
As far as foreign policy strategists from the West are concerned, only that goal matters.
Ways and paths taken to reach that goal are of secondary or minor importance (only open military conflict is excluded). National interests of states, ideologies, historical memories and desires of nations also do not matter.
That so-called Balkan project may be accomplished, among other through strong regional integration, creation of a modern, political or economic, association in the South Eastern Europe, a federation or confederation of states.
The issues of internal organization, legal status and name (Balkania, South European Alliance, Danube confederation, or Slav-Albanian union) of that whole are unimportant, since it is believed that in the long-term the true destabilizing factor in that part of Europe are neither Serbs nor Croats, but Albanians. Albanians, enjoying wide autonomy within a wider union, could accomplish their desire for unification, in a way that is acceptable for the West.
That is the current thinking in the West. Arrogant Western European politicians refer to the Balkans as the "European yard". The yard, as we all know, is a space outside the house.
The reader may say: but popular support is needed for integration! No union is possible if the people oppose it.
In principle that is true. However, a recent example is instructive in that context. President of RF Yugoslavia Kostunica and president of Montenegro Djukanovic (in the presence of European Solana), agreed to form a union, Serbia and Montenegro, without previously consulting even their own governments!
When at the time it was suggested to dictator Stalin of the powerful Soviet Union to reconcile with Tito and Albanian Communist leader Enver Hoxha, to at least listen to what they have to say, he refused by saying that "an eagle does not listen to a chicken".
As far as large powers are concerned, servility is the desirable model of behavior for small states.
Today, modes of pressure are refined and include attitude of the EU countries, creation of financial dependence, oversight of key economic levers, especially banks and companies in the energy sector, targeted financing of certain non-governmental organizations etc.
Fine, what do all those examples have to do with the indictment of general Bobetko?
First, some of influential experts in world capitals are convinced that nationalism is the greatest obstacle for the creation of the Balkan union, let us call it that way. In the United Stated and in a part of Western Europe, nationalism is viewed negatively, either as an anachronistic exclusion of others, or as a primitive attitude of individuals.
Unfortunately, even in Croatia, the view that nationalism is not simply natural love towards one's own state without any hatred towards others, honest patriotism as everywhere elsewhere in the world, but a dangerous extremist "hearth" policy, "rightist and rabid", as some of our worked up leftists and mega-internationalists like to say, is becoming more prevalent. These extremist leftists do not realize that their statements actually strengthen extremist nationalism, which, naturally, is unacceptable.
Given that the Homeland War is seen as the foundation of the Croat nationalism and the independent Croat state, indictments and trials of wartime commanders and consistent emphasis on Homeland War's allegedly dominantly or primarily criminal character are attempts to destroy that Croat national value.
No vows, not even the official policy of the government that all direct perpetrators of crimes will be investigated and tried, help in that case.
Secondly, the indictment of General Bobetko has to a large extent brought Croatia together, and also destabilized the authorities in Croatia. In a destabilized, economically weak state, the resistance to imposed associations will also be weak. Citizens stop caring about the fate of their own state, as recently, Zdravko Mrsic stated in Vjesnik.
In mid 2001, after the elections in Croatia, I have written about that in Vjesnik, in relaxed atmosphere, during a meal in Rome, a Western politicians told me: the first president of Croatia, Franjo Tudman, an excellent example of pro-independence nationalist, is dead. The "patriotic" politician Drazen Budisa has been removed. Now only Ivica Racan remains. It's his turn.
I'll repeat one of my old dilemmas. When we wake up one day and ask for the date, will they tell us it's December 1, 1918 [the day of establishment of Yugoslavia]?
The author is an academician, university professor of international law