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Monday, November 6 11:25 PM SGT

Kostunica grapples with war crimes in Yugoslavia (excerpts)


President Vojislav Kostunica has agreed to allow the UN war crimes tribunal to open an office in Belgrade and plans to set up a truth commission to deal with Yugoslavia's wartime past, the foreign minister said Monday. (1)

"We cannot and we should not avoid facing the consequences of war and responsibility for crimes," Foreign Minister Goran Svilanovic was quoted by the Beta news agency as saying.

Kostunica told visiting Austrian Foreign Minister Benita Ferrero-Waldner that the decision to allow the war crimes tribunal office to open did not indicate a shift in position over the fate of Slobodan Milosevic, wanted for trial for crimes against humanity, an Austrian diplomat said. (2)

Kostunica reiterated that he had other priorities than to hand over the former Yugoslav president for trial at the Hague-based International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), said the diplomat.

The diplomat said Kostunica had indicated that it was more important for the country to tackle "its current severe economic problems" than handing Milosevic over to the ICTY.

In talks with Ferrero-Waldner, who currently heads the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Kostunica said he was "ready to accept the opening of an ICTY bureau in Belgrade," said the diplomat.

The people of Yugoslavia should be informed about "everything that was done either in the name of alleged Serb national interests or against the Serb people," said Svilanovic, who was appointed as part of the new government on the weekend.

The first move would be to "enable" the ICTY to open its office in Yugoslavia, and "together with our investigators, collect crimes that can be found on our territory," Svilanovic said. (3)

"The second step would be to form a truth commission, comprising people of full confidence of our public," he said, adding that such findings should be followed by "establishing concrete responsibility and trials in the territory of our country."

Such a commission would be based on one established in South Africa after the end of apartheid, which probed human rights abuses under apartheid and recommended reparations for victims.


Further reading

1) 'An Impartial Tribunal? Really?' by Christopher Black at

2) 'Meeting with Carla del Ponte on NATO's Crimes of War' by Michael Mandel at

(3) 'David Rohde, Srebrenica and the New Justice' by Jared Israel at
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