Former Serbian and Montenegrin politicians testified at Radovan Karadzic’s Hague trial that the Bosnian Serb ex-leader didn’t want to create a larger Serbian state.
Vladislav Jovanovic, a former Yugoslav ambassador and foreign minister, denied that Serb leaders in Karadzic’s Bosnian stronghold town of Pale and in Belgrade wanted to establish a unified Serbian state or ‘Greater Serbia’.
Testifying as a defence witness for Karadzic at the Hague Tribunal this week, Jovanovic said that Serbia did not have any territorial ambitions towards any of the former Yugoslav republics, “particularly not towards Bosnia and Herzegovina”.
According to the witness, “the maximum goal” of Karadzic and the Bosnian Serb leaders was to “remain in a joint state”, Yugoslavia.
“You never expressed a wish to separate [Bosnian Serb region] Republika Srpska from Bosnia and Herzegovina and annex it to Yugoslavia,” Jovanovic said, responding to Karadzic’s questions.
During his testimony, Jovanovic suggested that the Bosniaks were responsible for the death of hundreds of civilians in Sarajevo, which was besieged by Bosnian Serb forces for more than three years during the 1990s conflict.
As well as Bosniak and Croatian leaders, Jovanovic blamed the war in the former Yugoslavia on the international community.
Karadzic, former president of Republika Srpska, is charged with genocide in Srebrenica, the persecution of Bosniaks and Croats, a terror campaign against civilians in Sarajevo and taking international peacekeepers hostage.
The indictment alleges that the crimes were committed as part of a joint criminal enterprise, whose members included late Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic, which aimed to forcibly and permanently remove the non-Serb population from Bosnian territories which would then become parts of a new, larger Serbian state.
Former Montenegrin president Momir Bulatovic also testified in Karadzic’s defence this week, claiming that the Serb leaders’ goal was not the separation of ethnic groups in Bosnia, but “political autonomy”.
Bulatovic claimed that Karadzic never said anything to him which would make him believe that the Bosnian Serb leader was in favour of expelling Bosniaks and Croat. He added that he was never aware of a joint criminal enterprise aimed at committing crimes against other ethnicities.
While accepting that war crimes and ethnic cleansing took place, Bulatovic said this was not the result of Karadzic’s policies but “the collective mentalities of people who acted instinctively” because of the great suffering of Serbs during World War II.
Karadzic’s trial resumes on Monday.
To the media in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the arrest of Radovan Karadzic, indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, ICTY, for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, was a true sensation, and one to be exploited day after day.
In July 1995 Srebrenica was shelled and occupied by the Army of Republic of Srpska,VRS, despite being declared a protected area by the United Nations. More than 7,000 people were killed, the victims of genocide.