Bosnia: Muslims step up demands to abolish Serb entity

Sarajevo/Belgrade, 1 August(AKI) - Bosnian Muslims on Friday welcomed the indictment of Radovan Karadzic before the Hague-based United Nations war crimes tribunal and stepped up demands for the abolition of his project, the separate Serb entity, Republika Srpska (RS).

The territory was created in the Dayton Peace Accord that ended the war in 1995 inside what is now Bosnia-Herzegovina.

A move to abolish it has been revived by the Muslim member of the entity's three-man presidency, Haris Silajdzic.   

But RS' Prime Minister Milorad Dodik rejected the proposal saying it was an attempt by Muslims to punish the RS and its first president Karadzic.

“It’s definitely clear that the RS is not part of such a scenario, because she has her legitimacy,“ Dodik said.

“The problem is that some people in Sarajevo (should) wake up, look left and right and realise that the RS is there. It will remain there permanently."

A defiant Karadzic appeared before the UN tribunal on Thursday charged with 11 counts of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. He told the court he would defend himself and enter a plea before the court on 29 August.

The event was carried live by television stations in Bosnia and Serbia and many reacted emotionally to his court appearance.

“I cannot even look at him,” said Sarajevo resident Naira Sanderovic who lost her father and brother in 1992-1995 Bosnian civil war. “He revives all those difficult images."

The Mothers of Srebrenica, which represents relatives of the victims of a massacre in the eastern town in July 1995, when up to 8,000 Muslims were killed by Bosnian Serb forces, said in a statement Karadzic was “just one of the ideologists of the project of genocide and ethnic cleansing”. 

“Karadzic and his followers have invented such a project, which was realised because of active and continuous participation of all institutions of the self-proclaimed Republika Srpska,” the statement said.

Mothers of Srebrenica said that the trial of Karadzic should be used “not only to determine his individual responsibility for the project of genocide and ethnic cleansing, but also for the correction of the effects of that project”.

The statement echoed demands by Bosnian Muslim leaders for the abolition of the Serbian entity RS, which they called a “genocidal creature”.

Meanwhile, Serbian media on Friday published details of Karadzic’s claim that he had signed a deal with the US in 1995 that would spare him from prosecution if he stepped down as president of the RS.

Several Belgrade newspapers published facsimiles of the alleged agreement signed by Karadzic and US envoy to the Balkans, Richard Holbrooke, architect of the Dayton accord.

"I negotiated a very tough deal. He had to step down immediately from both his posts as president of the Serb part of Bosnia and as head of his party. And he did so," Holbrooke told US network CNN.

But he denied that immunity from prosecution was part of the deal. The US State Department also denied the existence of such a document.

Karadzic claimed that he made a deal with Holbrooke that involved his withdrawal from public life.

But Belgrade analyst, Slavko Zivanov, pointed out that Holbrooke told “only half the truth". He told Adnkronos International (AKI) that the deal was made, but didn’t say what Karadzic was promised in return.


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