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20/2015
February

Initiative for RECOM

CIP -
,
341.322.5(497.1)"1991/1999"
GLAS
!Glas Inicijative za Rekom. - Beograd :
Inicijativa za REKOM, 2012 (Beograd :
Publikum). - 28 str. : fotogr. ; 21 cm
Tira 1.000
ISBN 978-86-7932-048-3
1.
a) - - 1991-1999
COBISS.SR-ID 193321996

IMPRESSUM
!The Voice is the official monthly publication of the Initiative for RECOM.
All issues are available on the website: www.ZaREKOM.org
News about the Initiative for RECOM is available on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ZaREKOM.
PerKOMRA.ForRECOM and on Twitter: @ZaREKOMPerKOMRA
The RECOM team:
email: regional@zarekom.org Phone: +381 (0)11 3349 766 Fax: +381 (0)11 3232 460 Cell: +381 (0)63 393 048

Belgrade, Publisher: Humanitarian Law Center


2334-6744
Initiative ISSN
for RECOM

COBISS.SR-ID 512389815

CONTENTS
EDITORIAL
Zdravko Grebo
!We Shall Overcome....................2
IN THE NEWS
!Coalition for RECOM Supports Statute Changes....................5
!Debate on Dealing With the Past
at the Croatian National Theatre in Rijeka....................6
IN THE NEWS
Oliver Frljic
!It is Glorious to Forget in the Name of the Motherland....................8
INTERVIEW
Pjer Zalica
!Weve Concealed Too Many Dark Secrets ....................11
Zlatko Pakovic
!The Need for Complete Social Overhaul is Huge....................14
IN THE NEWS NEWS ABOUT RECOM
!Report on the RECOM Process: OctoberDecember 2014.....................19
The Seventh Assembly of the Coalition for RECOM....................19
!The Letter to Presidents/Members of the Presidency
of Bosnia and Herzegovina ....................20
!The Tenth Forum for Transitional Justice in Post-Yugoslav Countries ....................21
Panel I: Achievements and Priorities in Criminal Justice
the Civil Society Perspective....................22
Reparations for the Victims of Wars in the Former Yugoslavia....................25
Panel II: Achievements and Priorities of Transitional Justice
Academic Perspective ....................25
Discussion ....................26
Panel III: Victims Perspectives....................29
Panel IV: Using Facts in Theater Plays....................32
Panel V: Using Facts in Film....................32
Closing Remarks....................33
The Initiative for RECOM in the Media....................34

European Commission. This document has been produced with the financial assistance of
the European Union. The contents of this document are the sole responsibility of Coalition for
RECOM and Humanitarian Law Center as project holder and can under no circumstances be
regarded as reflecting the position of the European Union.

EDITORIAL

!We Shall
Overcome
Zdravko Grebo
Photo: Sutra.ba

Bracket the inelegance of praising a project you yourself are part of, but - I do think that
in all these years RECOM has indeed achieved some huge things. I say this, first, because I
think that neither the initiators nor the designers of the project understood how much potential there really was in this action, because when the Initiative for RECOM was launched
and we began to explain its goals, the tissue of the former Yugoslavia was still wounded. It
was hard. War memories, which even today are not quite in the past, were fresh and sensitive. But if you have managed to gather together various stakeholders in a single action
different social groups, and interests or victim groups and if you managed to show that
it was at least possible to talk, that a dialogue was possible (consensus is certainly more difficult), you have shown that it is possible to gather together associations of inmates, victims,
veterans, lawyers and media workers, who are all trying, from their own angles, to contribute to the same idea I think thats a huge contribution.
Although the initial idea is still being challenged from different perspectives and in different ways, the greatest success is that the idea has been able to survive all this time, despite
the diversity of the participants, the groups and individuals who have, nevertheless, made
this idea what it is now. In sum, if the idea of RECOM is to establish the human losses in the
armed conflicts I use neutral terms intentionally in the war, or rather wars, that took
place in the former Yugoslavia, and if you manage to bring together around this idea people
whom you cannot even imagine would so much as even look at each other, let alone talk,
then this is, in my opinion, the greatest achievement of the Coalition for RECOM.
RECOM is the only truly regional initiative which, even among its ardent advocates, has
been without conflicts, controversy, or dispute. And ultimately, why not say that there are
friends of mine Im talking about some prominent figures in the Coalition for RECOM
who even today are a bit hesitant about it. However, RECOM is the only truly regional initiative, unless you want to consider which would be rather cynical that the court in the
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Hague is another such regional institution which tries war criminals from Serbia, Croatia,
Kosovo, and so on.
If you manage to bring together
In my opinion, this is an idea that is trying to achieve, in a
people whom you cannot even
very honest way, a medium-term objective: to establish human
imagine would so much as even
losses. The idea has two long-term objectives: 1) to prevent that look at each other, let alone talk,
facts not be established, as was the case after the Second World then this is, in my opinion, the
War; and 2) to prevent facts being manipulated by the victors
greatest achievement of the Coalition for RECOM
or the losers it is all the same which is to say, facts being
used for political, utilitarian purposes, and every time there is
an opportunity say, a conflict resorting to these facts. Jasenovac seems to be the most obvious example. Some 700,000 people were killed in Jasenovac - or according to Zeraljic 70,000
- or according to Franjo Tudjman, 7,000. Regardless of who is right here, obviously no one is
right. Every human life counts, even if there is only one, but these people are repeatedly dug
up and abused ultimately, in order to legitimize armed conflicts.
Hence, the achievement of the Coalition for RECOM is truly great. In the countries that were
once in conflict, no one has ever managed to establish, on this regional level, the facts about
the number of people killed and their names. What remains for us when I say us, I mean
our RECOM family are the circumstances under which these people died. In the end, we
agreed that the Preamble to the Statute state this benchmark the circumstances. But people
in Sarajevo say to me thats a betrayal, and it reduces matters to the question of determining the immediate cause. Why betrayal? Well, because we were the victims, because we were
attacked, because they were the aggressors, because genocide was committed in Bosnia and
Herzegovina, because we had the mass rapes andconcentration camps, and thats not fair. My
answer is RECOM wants to establish the facts. Numbers sound ugly, because people are
not numbers - lives lost especially are not numbers. Establishing the circumstances under
which these people lost their lives is one thing; but the analysis, the assessment of the causes
of conflict is a whole other story, and it is not a story for RECOM. Of course, it is easy to say
that causes should be established by political analysts, historians, and so on. I personally have a
very precise opinion about all that I know how the war broke out on my island, I know who
instigated these crimes, but all that is a whole other level of the story.
So, establishing the facts is the first task; then comes historical interpretation of the beginnings and, if you want, the end of the conflict; and then, third, comes punishing the war
criminals, which is a matter for the courts. The third level is something quite strange, a recent creation namely, the Hague Tribunal. Therefore, I really think that if the second and
third levels the analysis of the causes of the conflict and the trials ever become controversial, the first task (establishing the facts) can greatly contribute to the prevention of any
future manipulation of dead people.
We had the Forum, we had the Assembly meeting, some issues were reopened. Bu in the end,
the Assembly adopted a version of the Statute proposed by the delegates for RECOM. This is
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still an non-governmental initiative. The process has taken a long time. Now, in the end, we
have whats best the Statute the best we could collectively extract from ourselves. Having
adopted amendments and proposals I wasnt always in favour of (but for the sake of a shared
success, why not accept them?), I really dont know if there is anything else the Assembly of the
Coalition for RECOM could do.
RECOM is the
And so the final version of the Statute was adopted, and now we have someonly truly regionthing we have been struggling with for the past two years, something I had a
al initiative
role in as one of the advocates. Two years ago, we began visiting the capitals of
the states of the former Yugoslavia we met with Vujanovic, Josipovic, Ivanov, with the
BH Presidency, with Vucic, with the new government of Kosovo. And there we achieved
something that will have to be realized now.

Our problem, the problem of the final success and realization of RECOM, is that RECOM must
now move from this phase to the state level. The presidents I mentioned had their representatives in the preliminary phase legal experts through whom presidents took part in the process.
But now comes the deciding moment: whether RECOM will definitely be buried, or there is still
a chance. I think that there is a chance, and the chance lies in the fact that this group consisting
of the heads of states could decide to adopt the Initiative in the text previously proposed. On the
basis of this text, an intergovernmental regional body is to be officially instituted that will begin a
difficult and laborious task the task of establishing the facts.
I sincerely hope that this is possible. What is slowing us down a bit in between these two
steps, are the general elections being held in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In an election atmosphere, it is never appropriate for any politician to be affirmative and to say, Yes, I firmly
stand behind this idea. Zeljko Komsic did stand behind it, Bakir wavered, Radmanovic
was against. Soon, Croatia will have its own presidential elections, and although Josipovic
has always been in favour of RECOM, recently he began making small concessions. I understand, they are politicians, they love votes. In Kosovo, strange things have happened in
relation to the formation of the government. We will see what Serbia will do we may see
some turbulence there as well, although their government has said yes.
I want to believe that people are ready to do their job honestly especially the political
elite, the media, the civil society. Which is to say not to be propagandists, directing their
voice against the others, wherever they may appear to be coming from. If that happens in
this environment, in the Balkans, where people take a whole century to come to their senses... but I hope it wont take that long
I had many doubts. Today, when I think about it, I do not regret a single day, a single hour I
spent promoting RECOM.
We shall overcome.
The author is a Law Professor at the University of Sarajevo, and a public advocate of the Initiative for
RECOM.
Initiative for RECOM

IN THE NEWS

!Coalition
for RECOM
Supports

Statute
Changes
November 17, 2014

At its Seventh Assembly, held on November 14, 2014 in Belgrade, the Coalition for RECOM
has expressed support for the changes made to the RECOM Statute by the Envoys of the
Presidents of Montenegro, Serbia, Croatia, and Kosovo, and the Bosniak and Croatian2
Members of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The changes addressed the Envoys
mandate to examine the constitutional and legal options for the establishment of RECOM in
their respective countries. The Coalition has reviewed the changes carefully and estimates
that the essence of the Draft Statute has been preserved, [that] the abolition of the punitive
powers of the Commission removes the suspicion that RECOM would have judicial authority, and [that] the procedure for the nomination and appointment of members of the selection committee and the Commission has been significantly simplified. The Coalition for
RECOM has welcomed the changes in the funding of the Commission, according to which
RECOM is to be funded through domestic and foreign donations, as well as through funds
from international organizations, rather than by funds provided by the
The Coalition points
signatory parties, as previously proposed by the Coalition. The Coalition
out that the Envoys
has especially welcomed the Envoys position that among the objectives
and Presidents/
of the Commission is the enhancement of educational programmes in
accordance with the facts established by the Commission. The Coalition Members of the Presidency are in complete
points out that the Envoys and Presidents/Members of the Presidency
agreement.
are in complete agreement that the Commission should establish the
facts about war crimes and other human rights violations committed
during the period between January 1, 1991 and the end of December 2001.

2 Th
 e President of Macedonia, Gjorge Ivanov, has informed the Coalition for RECOM that he would support the
establishment of RECOM if the Presidents and Members of the BH Presidency reach a consensus on this issue.
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As regards the researching of the political and social circumstances that decisively contributed to the outbreak of the wars and the commission of war crimes and other violations of
human rights, some believe that it is crucial for RECOM to inquire into the causes of the war
simultaneously with the facts while others are of the opinion that inquiry into the causes of the
war should be undertaken only after the facts about war crimes have been established. Both
options would be in full accordance with the proposals of the Coalition for RECOM.
The Coalition expects the Presidents / Members of the BH Presidency to inform the public and national parliaments about their decisions to jointly support the establishment of
RECOM, and to do so no later than the end of January 2015. In this way, the post-Yugoslav
countries would for the first time in the history of post-conflict societies begin to be able to
construct, independently, and with no conditions or pressure from the international community, a regional mechanism for dealing with the past, which has the potential to eliminate the deficiencies of criminal justice, as well as the lack of information on the detection of
the remaining mass graves, and to ensure respect for the facts and the personal experiences
of those who suffered as a consequence of the wars.

!Debate

on Dealing
With the
Past at the
Croatian
National

Theatre
in Rijeka

Public discussion in Rijekas CNT


Photo: Coalition for RECOM

19th November, 2014


The Croatian National Theatre Ivan pl. Zajc (CNT Ivan pl. Zajc) and the Coalition for RECOM on November 19, 2014 organized a public discussion entitled The use of facts in the
theatrical portrayal of the reality of the 1990s as an introduction to the play The Croatian
Theatre, the final instalment of the Trilogy of Croatian Fascism, an authorial project by the
producer Oliver Frlji and the dramaturgist Marin Blaevi.

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The speakers included the producer of The Croatian Theatre, Oliver Frlji, the theatre producer from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Dino Mustafi, who has directed plays addressing war
themes and dealing with the past, particularly the 1990s wars, and the representative of the
Coalition for RECOM, Sven Mileki. Mustafi is also a public advocate for the Coalition for
RECOM, a broad coalition of associations, organizations and individuals from all seven of
the newly-established states in the territory of the former Yugoslavia, who advocate the establishment of a regional commission to determine the facts about the wars fought between
1991 and 2001. One of the commissions primary tasks will be to compile a name list of all
people from the territory of the former Yugoslavia who were killed, imprisoned, expelled
or otherwise made to suffer, as well as to open a broad social dialogue on all the crimes and
events which shaped our social reality.
Marin Blaevi, the dramaturgist at CNT Ivan pl. Zajc, focused the discussion on the
theatre as a mirror of social reality, in which role it raises questions about and explores
issues not addressed by the academic community, the media or even the civil society. The
facts established by the police and the courts, and by non-governmental organizations and
commissions, must of necessity be contextualized, in order to demolish state myths and
the interpretations of history based thereon. As regards the mass crimes and extirpation
of human rights committed during the last wars, the facts must be presented at all levels
and through all available channels, in order to ensure for the victims at least some recompense and to expose the perpetrators to societys censure in cases where court judgement
are lacking.
A number of war veterans sat in the first row during the discussion. After the producers explained to them how postdramatic theatre deals with documentary and political facts, they
left peacefully without asking any questions. With the assistance of the Sarajevo theatre producer Dino Mustafi and the Coalition for RECOM activist Sven Mileki, Frlji and Blaevi
explained why it was important for all sides in these parts to deal with their crimes. The audience, which packed the CNT lounge, was informed that Oliver Frlji was engaged on the same
project in Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia. Sven Mileki explained the ways in
which the Coalition promotes the establishment of a region-wide body to prepare a name list
of all who were killed, went missing or were incarcerated as a result of the war.
Two days before the panel discussion in Rijeka, the 10th Forum for Transitional Justice
was held in Belgrade. At the Forum, the producers Dino Mustafi, Andrej Nosov, Stevan
Bodroa, Pjer alica and Lazar Stojanovi, the dramaturgist Amir Baovi, and the Sarajevo actors Maja Izetbegovi and Alban Ukaj spoke about the artists need and responsibility to deal with matters neglected or forgotten by official politics and left out of official
historiographies.

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IN THE NEWS

!It is
Glorious
to Forget

in the Name
of the

Motherland
Oliver Frljic
Photo: Veernji list

Nationalism, according to Ernest Gellner, is a political principle, which requires a coincidence of political and ethnic boundaries. The nationalist narrative constructs the public
memory of those facts that can legitimize this principle. Anything that questions the aforementioned correspondence becomes officially forgotten, or has its meaning relativized.
In such a context, the place where counter-memory appears is of paramount importance the
memory that belongs to minority groups and that is marginalized by the dominant culture.
When it serves as an instrument for various forms of social domination and resistance to it,
memory becomes a political agent. As regards the politics of the post-Yugoslav theatre space,
this space can be constituted precisely where official memoricide is reWhether it is about
sisted, what official historiography has forgotten is commemorated, and
General Gotovina
radical reinterpretations of facts are offered that do not proceed from the
or anyone else a
premise of the nationalist congruency of the political and the national.
crime is a crime.
Sophocless Antigone showed this a drama of imposed memories and imposed oblivion,
followed by the assertion of a resulting oblivion and counter-memory. The story of a sister
who decides to bury and mourn her brother who has been denied this right by decree of the
highest center of political power, this play can function as an allegory of post-Yugoslav societies and their policies of remembering and forgetting. But more than that, the play is about
the theatre as a place of liberating memory that has been prohibited.
The special status of memory, and specifically of counter-memory, has interested me in my
own theatre work from the very beginning. This is precisely the point at which the wider
publics proverbial lack of interest in this medium is converted into distinct social antagonism. Instead of staging a conflict between fictional characters, theatre in this case generates
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a drama in the wider social field, in the space of normed forgetting and remembering in
which theatrical space appears as transgression.
My own theatre worldview and language a source of constant misunderstandings and
challenge in most of the areas where I work has been crafted precisely by my watching the
Croatian theatres active or passive participation in officially prescribed oblivion. My misunderstandings with the Croatian theatre community culminated with the play Croatian Theatre, which was subjected to professional and media lynching
because it asked some questions: Can we still call theatre that
The gradual becomingwhich most of the Croatian theatre world has been producing
fascist of Croatian society
since the war, if we agree that theatre should be a social, ethical
came about by, among other
and artistic act that has the courage to call a crime by its name,
things, the uncritical attitude
to deprive it of the right to rationalization, and to determine its
towards the authorities at the
guilt? What kind of theatre is it really, this majority Croatian
time when they sponsored the
theatre, that fails to recognize the tragedy of its fellow citizens?
murder of Croatian citizens of
What kind of a theatre is that which responds to fascism with
the wrong nationality.
fascism?
The fascism of the Croatian theatre I dealt with in that play, about which the theatrical left
and the theatrical right were both equally appalled, should be given a broader meaning - the
way it was defined by Michael Foucault, for whom alongside historical fascism, the fascism
of Hitler and Mussolini, there exists the fascism in all of us, in our heads and in our everyday behaviour, the fascism of that makes us love power, that makes us want precisely that
which dominates and exploits us. The gradual becoming-fascist of Croatian society came
about, among other things, through the uncritical attitude towards the authorities at the
time when it sponsored the murder of Croatian citizens of the wrong nationality, as was
the case with members of the Zec family, the murders in the Pakrac Valley, the naval port of
Lora, the establishment of the concentration camps for Bosniaks in Western Herzegovina,
the killing and expulsion of Serbs during Operation Storm. The Croatian theatre community
has failed to give names to these crimes, much less deny them the right to have a justification or to determine their guilt.
On the contrary, in this period, the theatre community, through its work and public action,
and sometimes literally by taking up arms, took part in the HDZs war-propaganda machinery. In 1991 Hrvoje Hitrec established The Croatian Artists Company, which included,
among others, actress Jasna Bilusic and actor Perica Martinovic, as well as director Josko
Juvancic and actor Ljubomir Kapor. Quite apart from from this Company, actor Sven
Lasta, and directors Miro Medjimorec and Slobodan Praljak also joined the war. Kresimir Dolencic becomes a sort of court director in charge of directing various Tudjman ceremonies, the most famous of which was the Gojko Susak funeral and the military parade
at Jarun. In 1997, Zlatko Vitez directed in the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb a birthInitiative for RECOM

day event for Franjo Tudjman in which, among other participants, appeared Ena Begovic,
Dragan Despot, Vanja Drach, Kruno Saric, Josko Sevo, Zlatko Crnkovic, Zarko Potocnjak, Franjo Kuhar, Mladen Vulic, Zvonimir Zoricic, Ivan Brkic, Ivanka Boljkovac, and
Marko Torjana.

Theatre should be a
There are many more examples, and these are sufficient to show that the
social, ethical and
majority of theatre people in Croatia succumbed to the national hysteria,
and that among them, unlike with some of their colleagues from Belgrade, artistic act that has
the courage to call a
no anti-war discourse was articulated, even when Croatia was deep into
crime by its name.
carving up Bosnia and Herzegovina, or when the information about the
war crimes committed by the Croatian army became public. It is not surprising, then, that
such a theatre community, which carried out its part in the officially prescribed forgetting
and silence, now wants to forget its own self at that time.

10

That theatre folks are suitable material for oblivion and for convenient ideological moulding
was shown with a post-war example, where once again we saw their high degree of mobilization
in a war that continued by other means. I am referring to the Request by 555 prominent Croatian public figures to the Government, which required that the Croatian government refuse to
extradite General Gotovina to the Hague Tribunal, and that it request from the Hague Prosecution the suspension of prosecution on the basis of the official indictment. The request was
signed by the following theater artists: Nada Abrus, Jasna Ancic, Inge Appelt, Ivica Barisic,
Slavko Brankov, Mirela Brekalo, Lukrecija Brekovi, Ivan Brkic, Miljenko Brlecic, Senka
Bulic, Helena Buljan, Boris Buzancic, Zlatko Crnkovic, Branka Cvitkovic, Velimir Cokljat,
Dragan Despot, Boris Dvornik, Nina Erak, Mato Ergovi, Lidija Florijan, Emil Glad, Ivo
Gregurevic, Goran Grgic, Nives Ivankovic, Darko Janes, Vjekoslav Jankovi, Zdenko Jelcic,
Ivan Joncic, Jasna Jukic, Trpimir Jurkic, Ljubo Kapor, Marija Kohn, Adam Koncic, Bozidar
Koscak, Niko Kovac, Franjo Kuhar, Drazen Kuhn, Niksa Kuselj, Danko Ljustina, Mirjana
Majurec, Slavica Maras-Mikulandra, Tomislav Martic, Ante-Cedo Martinic, Mise Martinovic, Maro Martinovic, Perica Marinovic, Damir Mejovsek, Igor Mesin, Boris Miholjevic,
Darko Milas, Helena Minic, Vedran Mlikota, Suzana Nikolic, Mia Oremovic, Frane Persin,
Sinisa Popovic, Zarko Potocnjak, Ksenija Prohaska, Ivica Pucar, Nada Rocco, Sinisa Ruzic, Davor Svedruzic, Boris Svrtan, Alen Salinovic, Krunoslav Saric, Josko Sevo, Glorija
Soletic, Milan Strljic, Zvonko Torjanac, Romina Vitasovic, Zlatko Vitez, Edo Vujic, Mladen
Vulic, Ivica Zadro, Mirta Zecevic, Zvonimir Zoricic, Jozo Zovko, Vladimir Geric, Branko
Ivanda, Josko Juvancic, Lawrence Kiiru, Vlatko Perkovi and Zeljko Senecic.
Nomina sunt odiosa, but none of these names found their way onto any indictment that
sought to prosecute those who had participated in a joint criminal enterprise, the common
purpose of which was the forcible and permanent removal of the Serbian population from
the Krajina region, including by plunder, damaging or complete destruction of the property
of the Serbian population, in order to discourage or prevent the return and re-settlement of
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members of that population in their homes. For, whether it is about General Gotovina or
anyone else - a crime remains a crime, and Croatian actors and theater professionals should
finally realize that the ethnicity of the victim or the aggressor ought not to be a criterion of
remembering or forgetting.
And until that happens, there is The Croatian Theatre, which is equally hated by actors and theatre
professionals and defenders, and by the Catholic Church and most of the Croatian public. Such
a broad coalition of haters already shows the power of theatre which, if only it wanted to retain a
minimum of moral honesty for itself and the society it represents, would become a privileged place
of the memories that all other institutions are in the business of erasing.
The author is a theatre director from Croatia

INTERVIEW

!Weve

Concealed

11

Too Many
Dark

Secrets
Pjer Zalica
Photo: Radiosarajevo.ba

In and by his films, this director fought against the war of which he himself was a prisoner. This
is how some of the most significant creations, on life in besieged Sarajevo and the war in Bosnia
and Herzegovina, including a documentary, filmed during the war, Children as any other, were
created. He has also made two feature films, Fuse and Days and Hours. Pjer Zalica is one of the
most famous directors in the region and Dean of the Academy of Performing Arts in Sarajevo.
Even when you are dealing with the most difficult issues, such as war and the breakup of Yugoslavia, it seems that youre focused on finding the positive and the good in
people. How do you make that happen and why is that important to you?
Emotion is a force. Often a terrible, destructive force that can dissolve us. At the same time,
sometimes, only emotion can save us, warn us forcefully that something is wrong, or make
us feel that something is just right. Emotion often comes before logical or analytical insights,
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preceding or justifying it. In addition, emotions are what we all have in common, and they are
not dependent on cultural, geographical, theological or any other assumptions. Some people
are emotionally disabled and cant feel or sympathize, but that, in itself, belongs to the realm of
psychopathy. However we can safely say: we all feel justice or injustice, love or anger, hatred or
passion. Therefore, when telling stories of emotion, feeling is what I center on. I believe that is
the central and the strongest point for universal communication. As for the focus for good in
difficult circumstances, there is no mystery there: no times or circumstances are so bad as to
make one incapable of distinguishing between what is basically good and what is basically evil.
If someone claims that to be the case, he is simply looking for an excuse for the bad things he
has done. There can be no justification for such things. To understand,
To understand, to forto forgive, thats fine, but to justifyit is not. And as to how it is that I
give, thats fine,
succeed in anythingI really have no idea. Im trying, I guess.
but to justify it is not.
There is a growing number of films and theater performances dealing with things
that official history remains silent about. Does the public recognize and respond to
artworks and to artists messages? Can art change official narratives?

12

Art has always at least partially dealt with what has been glossed over. I dont think that is
exclusively the prerogative of our times. Art has always focused on the forbidden. Maybe
weve swept too many things under the rug, concealed too many dark things. Maybe we have
been skillfully pretending that they had not happened, or we have called them something else,
totally inappropriate names. Maybe now, they are catching up with us, popping up like the
devil, like a jack-in-the-box, more than we would usually expect. Some people welcome exposing those dark secrets, others not at all. Those who encourage such processes are usually in a
minority. And they are not just artists. The media, science, history, first-hand witnesses, many
of them are doing something courageous and the only right thing facing the truth. On the
other side are all those who want to weaken the process or, if possible, to make it disappear.
Among those forces there are many artists. They too make movies, write books, draw, compose, take part in theatrical performances... It is simply a struggle of two concepts: truth and
good, versus evil and lies. Sounds a bit like a fairytale. And it is. Because divisions are not so
surgically clean. I dont believe that there are absolutely correct people, immune to mistakes,
nor do I believe in completely bad people. I dont believe that some are as good as angels, and
everything they say and do is right, while the latter are purely wrong and evil. I doubt that. But
this doubt doesnt discourage me on the contrary, I think its all the more reason to be constantly trying to do the right thing, with the awareness that we possibly make mistakes. I do
not believe that anyone will emerge as a winner from that process.
What was it like to make films during the war in Sarajevo?
It was a horrible experience from which I, unfortunately, profited artistically. Needless to
say, Id give up on that acquisition quite happily if only I could bring back even one life lost
in vain in that hellish siege. It was abnormal. It is not normal to be held captive, under siege,
even though you havent done anything. It is not normal to have someone constantly try to
Initiative for RECOM

kill you by any means possible. It is not quite normal that in such circumstances you still have
a need to live, to feel, and to create... We were all like one happy family in hell. Incomprehensible. While filming a documentary about children in the war, I asked a boy who loved to
sing to sing about how it felt for him to be in a war. Improvising, he sang this verse: It was
cheerful, it was horrible. It was horrible, but we refused to admit it.
Some people welcome
From time to time I come across a statement that claims the siege
exposing those dark seof Sarajevo never even happened. That it was made up. I feel sorry
crets, other are not at all.
for the people who are willing to stoop so low, but I am also terriThose who encourage
fied knowing how many people are willing to believe these miserable
such processes are ususouls. Which brings us back to your previous question.
ally in a minority.
In your most popular film, which deals with one of the greatest Yugoslav bands, Plavi
Orkestar, you raise the issues of politics, the system and nationalism. Have you ever felt
pressured, by yourself or by others, because of that approach to art?
Im not an activist to be honest. I see myself as a bass guitarist who directs movies. I do not really
choose dangerous topics. The media, for example, have often labeled me as someone who deals
with irrelevant topics. For years I have been trying to make a comedy, but in vain. I start well, and
then, because I deal seriously with my material, I dont have the nerve to bypass the things I think
are important. And so the comedy goes down the drain. But some humor survives, and Im quite
happy that it does. However, after each film there have been some unpleasant reactions. Fuse, for
example, was characterized as an anti-Serb, anti-Croat and anti-Bosniak movie. One critic argued that Fuse was anti-Bosniak because in no frame in the film could you see a mosque. I didnt
find that nonsensical attack unusual. What was unusual to me was actually my first reaction I
thought, Impossible, how could I have made can a film in Teasanj, and not show a mosque... So,
you start following the pattern of idiocy, albeit unconsciously. I try to protect myself from that
pattern as much as possible. Although you claim that you dont feel the pressure, that there is
no self-censorship, it is still there somewhere, crouching, waiting, and always doing something
there. As long as it is unconscious, its ok. But when it becomes conscious, then its over, you
should change your job, go into politics, because there it is an advantage.
What is your opinion of RECOM? From the perspective of an artist, how important is
it to determine the names of all the victims?
An artists perspective is not specific to this issue, or at least it shouldnt be. On a human,
individual level, there is nothing more important. I personally am not looking for any particular name from the war. I know whom Ive lost. And I know how much it matters. On
the other hand, on a general level it is no less important, because it is simply a question of
respect for life. The nations in our regions all pride themselves on how honor is the first and
most important thing. So where is the problem then? The problems are numerous, because
twenty years after the war, that job is still not done.
Jelena Grujic Zindovic

Initiative for RECOM

13

!The Need
for Complete
Social
Overhaul

is Huge

Zlatko Pakovic
Photo: Blic.rs

14

In his theater work, director, writer, critic and columnist, Zlatko Pakovic, has been dealing
with social issues for more than twenty years. His latest play, Ibsens Enemy of the People as
Brechts Didactic Piece, which premiered late last year at the Center for Cultural Decontamination (CCD), is certainly one of the most engaged and most significant plays performed in
Serbia in recent years.
The performance was preceded by an unusual procedure workshops with the public
across Serbia. Tell us more about them.
Once we had sketched-out this play with the composer and the two actors, we started to
perform the outline in different cities and towns. After each performance, we talked with
the audience. We organized it as part of a CCD project called Studies of Context.
In Nis, we performed for young children, between ten and twelve years
I support RECOM
old, mostly Roma, very neglected by society and by their own city. We
in every respect.
performed in Novi Pazar, also in a mixed ethnic environment, for an audience of high school students and the elderly. Then in Uzice, for a group of outstanding teachers of literature and their students, whom these teachers guide and teach in a very original
way. Then we performed in Subotica. We went to different parts of Serbia, both geographically
and ethnically, and performed for audiences of different ages and from different social backgrounds. We recorded these conversations with the audience. Their questions were important
to us and served as a kind of roadmap for our further work. Then we brought that material
together for a play that had its premiere on December 20th last year.
How did the audience react? What did they take to be universal and what was specific?
Initiative for RECOM

The unanimous reaction was total immersion in what they were watching and this to us was
very important. Indeed, when we present people with something that we ourselves believe
and that we are sincerely interested in, in artistic and political terms, then they responded
with sincere interest. For me as a director and a kind of a guide through this play, it was
curious how we had to adapt the segments on some important theater-related issues, and
key political issues of our society, to the age structures of our audience. When I spoke in
front of second, third, or fourth graders, I generally avoided theoretical theatrical and literature-related, terms or I used them very carefully, by finding examples suitable for children.
In contrast, in Subotica, before college students, especially those interested in becoming
professionally involved in theater, I could use those terms, and introduce the audience to
the theory of theater, I could engage them with the essence of Brechts theory of epic theater
which is preceded by the theory of didactic theater.
The aim of these studies of context was not only to show what we do,
but to allow the children and young people to get involved in theater
or other artistic work on their own, while applying the method we
used. This was quite interesting, because in the end it generated some
artwork, and their own plays.

Only when free people


join their energies,
can a genuine demand for a social
change come about.

There were different reactions and questions that depended primarily on age and level of
education, as well as on existential and social conditions. Things are not the same if you live
in a Roma ghetto in Nis, as they are in an apartment in downtown Belgrade or in a house
in Subotica. Its not the same living what is known as safe civic life, as living on the edge of
existence, where anyone can scare you off, where parents sell their own children. We saw
kids who dont have enough to eat every day.
Who is more worried about their future those who are on the margins or those in the
center of Belgrade?
The disproportionality is really interesting here. It seems to me that those who live more
comfortably are more concerned about their lives. Thats devastating. Children born in a
ghetto and in shanty towns have limited desires, much like they are limited in what society
offers them. It is interesting that it does not affect their immediate feelings as much as it
does those who have much higher expectations. Its tragic, its something that defeats you,
because you come across children who dont believe that they are able to attend school,
among whom you see really smart kids, as smart as everywhere else. On the other hand,
those who expect much more from life are much more unhappy some trivial things and
silly things affect them much more. On an emotional level, I had to deal with a variety of
things. If an instructor who brought the children to us, told us that the kids hadnt eaten
anything, and if we were offering them something other than food, then we were forced to

Initiative for RECOM

15

ask ourselves about the essence of this work we are doing. However, we must continue to
ask fundamental questions, but we also must be prepared for what is most important the
practice of liberation, helping others and ourselves.
What do you expect from this play? Will it mobilize people, what will be its effects?

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We must think first. You cant do good without knowing what good is. Our work is focused
on that goal to talk about what is good and to show that it is not difficult to reach that
conclusion. Its actually the simplest of things: to expect the majority to know what is good
and what is bad. It is important to start from there. With this
We must continue to ask fundaplay, weve established one major fact that nothing feels as
mental questions, but we also
good as freedom, that the greatest pleasure is when a man is
must be prepared for what is
free, when he thinks, and when he creates freely, and without
most important the practice
obstacles. And when free people join their energies, then a
of liberation, helping others
genuine demand for social change can come about. We simand ourselves.
ply wanted to comb through some basic issues and feelings,
and do what Brecht and Ibsen did, which is to make a theater play not merely what we come
to watch in a theater a kind of cry, a condemnation or lament but a true attempt to mobilise the public, at least while the show goes on. In the approach we used, everyone had to
take responsibility, because without it there is nothing. Each of us must be accountable for
our actions towards others and to ourselves, thats the whole point.
When you apply the concept you are talking about to the war history of the region and
to the relationship our societies have with it, what emerges?
What are we actually talking about when we talk about transitional justice? Thats a very
complex issue. The question is should we focus our attention solely on the transition that
takes place within our society or the transition yet to occur, or are we perhaps talking about
the transition that s been around for a long time in Europe and the world, of which we are
only one part. Theres another issue we have to resolve, and that is the legacy bequeathed
to us by Slobodan Milosevic and his regime. The destruction we ended up with after ten,
twelve years under this regime is appalling. Remember that in the news we watched astrological forecasts. It was said that the alignment of the planets was such that it favored the
unification of all Serb lands. In a report from Dubrovnik, a soldier said that he was so well
trained that he could target someones bowl of soup in the city, but no one asked any more
about this battlefield and this soldier who aimed at civilians eating their soup. Reports from
the front lines at the time were the first reality shows. Milijana Baletic, who still works at
TV Vojvodina, used to knock, unannounced at the doors of non-Serbs, aksing them questions like Is it true that tonight five Ustashas are spending the night at your house? Those
were reality shows on which peoples lives and deaths hinged.
Initiative for RECOM

The extent of the destruction was so terrible that now our society literally has to have treatment. We all live damaged lives, because we spent two decades under the pressure of so
many immoral things. We have been sweeping more and more things under the carpet, but
symptoms keep breaking out. Imagine someone telling you 20 years ago that Aleksandar
Vucic, the then spokesman for Vojislav Seselj, was to be the Prime Minister of the country,
and Ivica Dacic, a former spokesman of Slobodan Milosevic, the Minister of Foreign Affairs? Wed all have probably bought a one-way ticket, or walked away from here, forever.
But we havent left, and they were promoted despite all the terrible things theyd done. And
then you ask what do the public think? To make things even more complex, what they
were offered during the elections instead of Vucic and Dacic wasnt much better or was no
better at all, than those two, and in some respects was even worse. The previous government masterfully prepared the way for this one. Things are terrible, and how are we to get
out of it, I don't really know. But if we start to think and if we refuse to accept the errors
in logic not only with regards to thinking but also with regards to our own lives, then the
change has already begun. If we start from there, we will have guidelines about how to deal
with other matters.
It is very important to keep this in mind as well: our time is running out. Various political
figures keep lining up, but time slips away. None of us would be against it, if these people,
who now lead this country, such as they are, with their moral and social profiles, did something good. I really want this government, under the man I still cant believe is in office, to be
the best of all governments so far, better than the government of Zoran Djindjic, because
we do not have much time left. Twenty something excellent years went by in a time-vacuum,
and through a terrible re-patriarchalization and balkanization of society. As Zoran Djindjic
used to say, if a war criminal can do something good for once, let him do it. But that does
not mean that he should be pardoned, as war crimes have no statute of limitation.
At the same time, we must begin to form opposition the opposition to this system of values.
A growing number of artworks are engaging with the process of dealing with the war
past. Do you believe that art can initiate or accelerate this process in our region?
I believe in the power of art that is indiginous and totally specific, and that belongs only to
the arts. Art, when it is true art, creates a new form, a new form that is a new mode of association and cooperation between people. A work of art is great and serious when the artist
manages to create a new form. Only a new form can bring new meaning.
There are shiny, interesting, heavy, stormy artistic performances, but they lack a new form,
because the artists and the people working on them do not bother to come up with a new
form. Instead, they apply trite, worn-out forms, but the essence of creation is absent, and the
artist is part of mass reproduction. In this way, art lags behind life.
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17

Only when a new form is found and (Ill say it without any modesty) I think our play,
through which we found a new form of communication within the artwork and with the
audience does that, only then do glimmers of light slowly shine through toward a possibility
of social change.
Indeed, some serious artists, especially in the world of theater, have emerged in the region.
Rados Urban is one such artist in our country, and Oliver Frljic is an exceptional personality,
who works throughout the region and accompanying these two artists, there are many others.
There are also some others about whom there is a lot of talk, who get awards and such, but in
fact do nothing but loudly, and in an attractive way, apply old, worn out forms. Critics should
jump in there and say a word or two. But critique is on a downward slope here, not only when
it comes to theater, but also when it comes to social criticism. Those who criticize our government, our political habits, use, actually, old forms of criticism.

18

People actually have to start to think. Chomsky puts it nicely: If I still think and teach students what I taught five years ago, then either there is something wrong with the class Im
teaching or with me. This should be taken seriously. If someone has been doing the same
thing for twenty years, putting the same play on, only maybe with a different content, then
he really is not doing anything time has stopped there, just like it has stopped in our society. This is the essence of our defeat. The essence of art, therefore, is to introduce new form,
which then introduces new meaning, and in this way produces social change.
Do you support the Initiative for RECOM?
One of the most important things is to record the names of all of the victims, to finally know
who, where, when and by whom someone was killed, and who was responsible for those
deaths. This is one of the things being done. I think that it is also very important that everyone in the region begins to communicate with everyone else. And that is the essence of this
project the fact that it takes place on the territory of the former Yugoslavia, among the
parties that were once at war. In short, I support it in every respect. I see a lot of resistance,
and we need to discover the reason for it. Resistance comes from different sources, and as
far as I know, it comes from the non-governmental sector as well, which is quite appalling.
Jelena Grujic Zindovic

Initiative for RECOM

IN THE NEWS NEWS ABOUT RECOM

!Report on
the RECOM
Process:
October
December

2014

The Presidential Envoys for RECOM3 ended their mandate on October 29, 2014. In one year
and in consultation with the presidents, including those members of the Presidency of
Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) who had delegated envoys they had jointly compiled the
Changes to the RECOM Statute which, in their opinion, represent the legal and constitutional options for the establishment of RECOM.

The Seventh Assembly of the Coalition for RECM


In accordance with the rules of the Coalition for RECOM, the Coalition Assembly resolved to
support the Changes to the RECOM Statute, which it had originally adopted on March 26, 2011.
On November 14, 2014, the Coalition held its Seventh Assembly, this time in Belgrade (Serbia),
with 104 delegates, representing 1950 members, taking part in it. With one vote against and two
abstentions, the delegates supported the Changes to the RECOM Statute, compiled by the
envoys of the Presidents of Montenegro, Serbia, Croatia and Kosovo, and the Bosniak and Croatian members of the Presidency of B&H,4 in conjunction with the task of examining the constitutional and legal options for the establishment of RECOM in each country.
In an extensive debate, the delegates stated that the Changes preserve the very essence of
the Draft Statute, that the removal of RECOMs punitive powers removes any suggestion
that RECOM assumes a judicial authority, and that the procedure for the nomination and
election of members of selection committees and members of the Commission has been
considerably simplified. On behalf of the Coalition for RECOM, the delegates strongly
welcomed the changes in the funding of the Commission, which envisage that RECOM be
3 Prof. Zlata Djurdjevic, envoy of the President of Croatia; Prof. Sonja Tomovic Sundic, envoy of the President of Montenegro; Legal Advisor Selim Selimi, envoy of the President of Kosovo; Deputy Mayor of Sarajevo, Aljosa Campara,
envoy of the member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina; ICTY liaison officer, Goran Mihaljevic, envoy of
the member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina; and Judge Sinisa Vazic, envoy of the President of Serbia.
4 Th
 e President of Macedonia, Gjorge Ivanov, informed the Coaltion for RECOM that he would support the decision
on the establishment of RECOM if the presidents and members of the BH Presidency reach a consensus.
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19

funded by domestic and foreign donations, as well as by international organizations, rather


than through contributions from states, as the Coalition initially proposed.
Delegates especially welcomed the Envoys position that the objectives of the Commission
should include the promotion of educational programmes in accordance with the facts
established by the Commission.
When informing the public on its support for the Changes to the Statute,5 the Coalition
noted that the Envoys and Presidents and Members of the B&H Presidency reached complete
agreement on the Commissions task of establishing the facts about war crimes and other
human rights violations committed during the period from January 1, 1991 through the end
of December 2001. The Coalition indicated that two opinions were expressed with regard to
RECOMs task of exploring the political and social circumstances that decisively contributed
to the outbreak of the wars, and to the commission of war crimes and other violations of human rights: it is crucial that RECOM investigate the causes of the war and investigating the
causes of the war is possible only after the facts about war crimes have been established. Both
opinions are in full accordance with the Coalitions Proposal of the Statute of RECOM.

!The Letter to Presidents/Members of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina

20

On December 10, 2012, the Coalition for RECOM sent a letter to the Presidents and Members
of the B&H Presidency, reminding them that the Assembly had endorsed the Changes to the
RECOM Statute, whereby the conditions were created for a new step towards the establishment
of the Regional Commission for establishing the facts about war crimes and other serious violations of human rights in the wars in the former Yugoslavia (RECOM). In this letter, the Coalition
submitted that it expected the Presidents/Members of the B&H Presidency to reach an agreement on the ways in which they would inform the public and their respective Parliaments on the
decision to jointly support the establishment of the Commission. The Coalition invited the Presidents/Members of the B&H Presidency to be attentive to the proposal by the President of the
Croatia that all of them, within the agreed deadline, send an open letter to the public and their
Parliaments concerning their joint support for the establishment of RECOM.
On the same occasion, the Coalition informed the Presidents/Members of the B&H Presidency that in the meantime it had made significant progress in documenting human losses,
camps and other detention facilities in the wars of the 1990s.
On the International Day of Human Rights, the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) from Serbia
and the Humanitarian Law Center Kosovo (HLCK) set up on the website of the Kosovo Memory
Book the Register of killed and missing persons in connection with the war in Kosovo in the
period from January 1, 1998 until December 31, 2000. The Register contains 13,517 war victims,
whose deaths or disappearances in connection with the war is confirmed by 27,511 documents.
For three years the Center for Dealing with the Past Documenta, from Croatia, and the HLC
have been jointly conducting empirical research on victims who lost their lives or went missing during the war in Croatia, by taking statements from witnesses and family members.
5 The Coalition for RECOM Supports the Changes to the RECOM Statute, press release, November 17, 2014.
Initiative for RECOM

In late 2013, the Association for Transitional Justice, Accountability and Remembrance
in B&H (TJAR) and the Center for Democracy and Transitional Justice (CDTP) launched
a joint project, Mapping camps and other detention facilities in B&H, which directly
contributes to fulfilling the part of RECOMs mandate that refers to compiling the list of
of the places of confinement connected to the war and individuals who were unlawfully
confined and tortured.
The current standstill
Given that the new Presidency was elected in B&H6 after the Envoys, in consultation with
the Presidents and Members of the BH Presidency, had drafted and adopted the Changes to
the RECOM Statute, the Coalition is obliged to consult with the new Members of the Presidency: the Croatian Member Dragan Covic, and the Serbian Member Mladen Ivanic.7 Also
contributing to the current standstill of the RECOM process were the presidential elections in Croatia,8 held on January 11, 2015.
If the year 2015 sees the kind of political support RECOM enjoyed in 2014, prospects will
be solid for post-Yugoslav countries to begin constructing for the first time in the history
of post-conflict societies, independently, and with no external conditions and pressure from
the international community a regional mechanism for dealing with the past that has the
potential to eliminate the deficiencies of criminal justice as well as to remove the political
obstacles to finding the remaining mass graves, establishing the facts about all war crimes,
and ensuring respect for the experiences of others and their dignity.

!The Tenth Forum for Transitional


Justice in Post-Yugoslav Countries
The only unit of measurement is todays rally
of Radicals here in Belgrade. Im asking you
now: Who are the winners? Just imagine the
situation ten years ago would it have been possible for us to talk in this room while
they protested outside? There would have been an unnaturally disproportionate exercise of power, violence and might against a group of people who believe in basic human
values. Today we are here, and although some have lost a lot, especially their loved
ones, our system of values triumphs over those losers protesting in the square.9
The Tenth Forum was dedicated to the achievements of transitional justice, the promotion
of the use of facts in works of art, and listening to the voices of the victims. The Forum was
6 The Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina was formed on November 17, 2014.
7 The Serbian Member of the BH Presidency, Nebojsa Radmanovic, did not participate in the process of RECOM.
8 The second round of presidential elections is to be held on January 11, 2015.
9 Branislav Radulovic, a lawyer from Montenegro, member of the Coalition for RECOM.
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21

held on November 15 and 16, 2014 in Belgrade, and it was organized by the Coalition for
RECOM. The Forum was attended by 158 members of the Coalition for RECOM and 150
representatives of civil society organizations, artists, writers, academic researchers of transitional justice, journalists and other professionals or activists dealing with transitional justice
in post-Yugoslav countries. At the Forum, twelve panelists talked about the achievements
in the field of transitional justice from the perspective of civil society and academia; sixteen
panelists discussed the use of facts in works of art; and twelve victims spoke about their personal experiences in the war and about the search for the mortal remains of their loved ones.
The Forum was opened by Natasa Kandic, Project Coordinator of RECOM, and by Professor Zdravko Grebo, the Public Advocate of the Initiative for RECOM. In their key-note
addresses, they announced a new phase of the RECOM process, in which the Coalition will
monitor, help and encourage state institutions to establish RECOM. They invited the members of the Coalition to prepare for new activities and reminded everyone of the rapidity
with which changes take place in the Balkans.

22

Professor Grebo said: When it comes to civil society and the non-governmental sector, we
have completed our mission. Of course, I myself will not let anyone use our achievement
unchecked and solely according to their own ideas. We have reached a momentum when the
Heads of States, through their Envoys, should take the matter into their own hands, because
we cannot, even if we wanted to, complete the task ahead of us on our own.

Panel I: Achievements and Priorities in Criminal Justice the Civil Society Perspective
Criminal justice for the crimes committed during the wars of the 1990s in the former Yugoslavia has not yet come close to achieving its objectives. In all countries of the region, the
disproportion between the crimes committed and the crimes prosecuted continues to stand
out. At the same time, there is not a single proceeding before national courts that honestly
and objectively discloses the role of the state in organizing and carrying out the crimes, or
that prosecutes top officials, the masterminds of the crimes. Of particular concern is that
a strong political influence on the judiciary is still obvious in all countries. This influence
is manifested in different ways, but the most obvious one is the obstruction of war crimes
trials. The panelists and participants in the debate concluded that the number of court proceedings steadily declines every year.
Tea Gorjanc Prelevic, from the Human Rights Action organization, said that, despite the
European Commissions recommendation that the practice of impunity for war crimes be
terminated, the authorities in Montenegro act as though the prosecution of war crimes
is pretty much completed. The lack of will, obvious on all levels, to punish war crimes in
Montenegro is a logical consequence of the fact that the current Prime Minister of Montenegro assumed the same position at the time when the crimes were committed. For a justice
system that strives to join Europe, this very fact should be an incentive to demonstrate independence and a willingness to understand and deal with the crimes from the past. And although it is clear that Montenegro does not have such a judiciary in place, it is by now quite
Initiative for RECOM

clear that the European Union insists on such a judiciary in order to accept Montenegro.10
So, in the end, some hope still remains, said Gorjanc Prelevic.
Vesna Terselic, Head of Documenta, made a similar remark on the attitude of the authorities
towards the prosecution of war crimes in Croatia. In Croatia, she said, the State Attorneys
Office has been entrusted with dealing with those who in the 1990s participated in covering up
the crimes. It was reasonable to expect that in the new political circumWe have reached a
stances some professionals would take advantage of the opportunity for
momentum when
better work, but this has inevitably meant that the continuation of interthe Heads of States,
rupted procedures has been entrusted to those individuals who, out of
through their Envoys,
sheer political opportunism, have deliberately forgotten about them, so
should take the matter
as not to jeopardize their position or promotion in the police structures
into their own hands.
or the State Attorneys office, said Terselic.
In Serbia, criminal justice for war crimes has had modest results compared to the scale and
character of the crimes committed during the wars in the former Yugoslavia, despite a solid
legal and institutional framework, said Sandra Orlovic, Humanitarian Law Center executive director. With regard to the system of protection and support during war crimes trials,
first the victims and then the witnesses bear the worst consequences of the irresponsible actions of institutions. One of the reasons for such modest achievements in the field of prosecuting those responsible for war crimes is the fact that Serbia, unlike B&H and Croatia,
lacks a Strategy for War Crimes Prosecution. In this regard, the adoption (and application)
of a Strategy, which would bind all relevant institutions to assume greater responsibility and
undertake specific tasks to improve the prosecution of war crimes in the near future, is imperative, said Orlovic.
Of all the countries in the region, B&H conducts the largest number of war crimes trials.
Such a vast judicial apparatus was supposed to be an adequate response to the fact that the
largest number of crimes was committed in B&H and that B&H has most victims. Dzenana
Karup Drusko, from the TJAR, drew attention to the states failure to implement the National Strategy for War Crimes Prosecution adopted in 2008. The Strategy envisaged that all
proceedings of complex cases be completed by 2015, and the rest by 2023. It is quite clear
that these deadlines will not be met, she concluded.
In B&H too which carries the heaviest burden of war legacy the judiciary faces political
obstruction, despite the fact that the countrys status is still one of an international protectorate.
This was the conclusion by the European Commission in its report on Bosnia and Herzegovinas
progress in 2014. This is particularly evident with regard to agreements with other countries in
the region, which, among other things, are designed to allow the extradition of nationals sus10 There have been no serious efforts to combat impunity for war crimes. [...] Montenegro must step up its efforts to
combat impunity and to effectively investigate, prosecute, and punish war crimes in accordance with international
standards. Report of the European Commission on the Progress of Montenegro in 2014, as quoted by Tea Gorjanc
Prelevic.
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23

pected or convicted of war crimes. Dzenana Karup Drusko spoke about that as well: No small
number of persons against whom Bosnia and Herzegovina is conducting criminal prosecution,
including those who have been legally adjudicated, find their refuge in Serbia, Montenegro or
Croatia, through dual citizenship. In addition, the agreements Bosnia and Herzegovina signed
with Serbia, Croatia and Montenegro on the execution of criminal sanctions are not being respected (e.g. the cases of final judgment against Momir Savic, Bosko Lukic, Velibor Bogdanovic,
Mirko Todorovic). Most of the unresolved interstate issues on the prosecution of criminals have
been resolved politically, by signing protocols and agreements, but those have not solved the
fundamental problems, noted Dzenana Karup Drusko.

24

In contrast to B&H, Kosovo has a very limited local capacity to prosecute war crimes. For several years now, EULEX has been narrowing its mission and transferring responsibilities to the
Kosovo authorities. The question is how will the Kosovo institutions cope with their greater
obligations to the victims of the war in general, and specifically to missing persons. Generally
speaking, sufficient political support is still lacking, and so are adequate mechanisms for the collection of relevant information for the investigation of war crimes and missing persons. Witness
intimidation is still a worrying problem, even though the police have made significant progress
by establishing the Directorate of Witness Protection, said Nora Ahmetaj from the Center for
Documentation, Research and Publication. She urged the NGOs and the Coalition for RECOM
to encourage the European Commission to develop a strategy of transitional justice in post-conflict societies which would replace the obligation of cooperation with the ICTY an obligation
that has been seen as an instrument of transitional justice for years.
Discussing the achievements and priorities of the Hague Tribunal, Mirko Klarin pointed
out that the most valuable legacy of the Tribunal are judicial facts: the facts of what happened, what the victims suffered, how it happened. We may not have always accurately
determined who the culprits were certainly, thats a serious drawback. But even without
identifying the guilty persons, it is extremely important to preserve for the future the facts
that have been established, and to present them in the right way to the communities of victims - and also to the communities to which the perpetrators belong, concluded Klarin.
RECOM Process: Professor arko Puhovski
We kept on failing, time and again, we suffered rejections, we begged, they refused, they
kept saying, Wait, well see, and somehow some of them got sick of us. And thats the current
state of affairs. It is important, however, to bear in mind that we did not reach what is called
a point of no return. Thats the point of irreversibility. Everything can still change. We could
not choose whom to talk to, but we talked to those who, if they had good will, could do something. The question was whether we could convince them that it would be good for them to do
so. But now we come to the point when we have the clear position of the Croatian President,
shared for now by two and a half other Presidents. And that position, roughly, sounds like this:
The President, in consultation with the other Presidents of the post-Yugoslav states, gives to
his Parliament a statement of his support to the RECOM process, and therefore the President
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requires that the Parliament take the steps necessary to make RECOM become what it was
intended to be from the very beginning an interstate, i.e. a regional commission for establishing the facts about war crimes and other serious violations of human rights committed in
the territory of the former Yugoslavia.
And so, our great success, should it ever come about, would be to disseminate all that nastiness to the public of the post-Yugoslav states. But that would be a success in the sense in which
Zdravko Grebo spoke about it in his keynote address preventing
The reports generally
what is now a post-Yugoslav victimology competition, as to who has
concluded that REthe most victims, and who then has the best strategic position for the
COM has become an
next conflict. This would be prevented if we succeed in the things we
interstate project.
have been doing. And thats why we are in fact dealing more with the
future than with the past.

Reparations for the Victims of Wars in the Former Yugoslavia


Igor Cvetkovski, from the International Organization for Migration, concluded that, in the
post-Yugoslav countries, reparations and the establishment of truth, the very basis of transitional justice and its practice, have been ignored and swept aside.
The panel was moderated by Nenad Golcevski, Outreach Program, ICTY.

Panel II: Achievements and Priorities of Transitional Justice Academic Perspective


Professor Svetlana Slapsak strongly advocated for a gadfly11 ethic in contemporary Balkan
politics and societies. As she put it, In narratives formed by the newly created identities,
there doesnt seem to be any room for accountability, punishment and reconciliation.
This area can be installed in our new societies only through the cooperation of activism,
academia and the arts. However, the state system itself, with all its injustices that are now
becoming disclosed in impermissibly large numbers, is not the target of these demands.
Among concrete achievements in the field of transitional justice in the Western Balkans,
Jelena Subotic, Assistant Professor at Georgia State University, singled out the creation of
an archive of documents and the introduction of the concept of transitional justice into
public consciousness. Subotic explained these achievements in the following way: Thanks
to the activity of the ICTY and, to a lesser extent, the national courts for war crimes,
today we have many documents and much information on the human rights violations
of the 1990s, and their value is priceless. None of these documents would exist today
without international courts and the persistence of human rights activists in the pursuit
of international justice. While in the former Yugoslavia transitional justice might not be
so popular, nor treated with the respect it deserves (and really needs), one very important
11 One of Platos more successful figures a metaphor from The Apology (30e-31c) when Socrates warns the Athenians that if they kill him, they would lose the gift that God has given them: namely, to have someone who constantly
reminds them of their problems, needling them, making them think. He compares Athenian democracy to a large and
noble, but slow and immobile horse, whom only a gadfly can move.
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fact should nevertheless be noted: namely, that everyone knows by now what transitional
justice means. This is no small thing. Activists in the field of transitional justice have
managed to incorporate the idea of post-conflict justice and dealing with the past into the
overall national discourse. We may not like everything it has produced, but the dialogue is
still there. This is a very big difference compared to the state of transitional justice fifteen or
even ten years ago. Transitional justice is present, and this will not change.
Jasna Dragovic Soso, Senior Lecturer at Goldsmiths, University of London, indicated that,
at least in the professional literature, truth commissions are essentially political institutions.
The truth these commissions transmit inevitably privileges one narrative of the past, thus in
fact suppressing or ignoring all other narratives. Thus, decisions about which narrative would
be privileged, how to define victims and perpetrators, or how to determine the cause and
responsibility for the events and crimes that any truth commission is trying to describe, are
ultimately political decisions and their significance is huge. When it comes to recognizing the
inherently political nature of truth commissions, I think it is a good starting to point precisely
to RECOMs approach, which is primarily aimed at establishing the facts and naming individual
victims. Creating an archive of officially accepted and confirmed facts about human losses and
violations of human rights in the region, along with a narrative that focuses on the victims, is
the first step towards something I consider very important - a dialogue about the past.
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Eric Gordy, Lecturer at the University College London, said that in his opinion, which had
emerged out of his research and study, the foundation for sustaining dialogue about the past
and overcoming conflicts related to it is shared memory, built not only on established facts
but on mutual recognition and acknowledgement. Generating this is a process that requires
openness and clarity, and probably also some emotional distance from the facts and events that
are being considered.... the road away from incoherence involves free communication not
only across the national and the symbolic realms, but also between institutions and the public.
Over the last two decades this is what has happened the least, and it is what is needed the most.

Discussion
Jelena Subotics praise of the Hague Tribunal and the archive of documents generated most reactions. Munira Subai, President of the Association of the Mothers of Srebrenica and Zepa,
warned that the Hague Tribunal will in the end be assessed by the victims whether it should
get a pass or fail, regardless of who defends it and how much. Anyone can say what they want,
but we the victims have the right to say whether its mandate was good. Simo Spasic, President
of the Association of Families of the Kidnapped and Murdered in Kosovo and Metohija, supported Munira Subasics position, adding that it is the victims who will ultimately decide whether to
give support to any court, including the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
Amir Kulagi from Srebrenica was very critical of the President of the Hague Tribunal: We
shall erect two walls, two commemorative pillars at the entrance to the Potocari Memorial
Center the Pillar of Shame and the Pillar for Honourable People. Mrs. Subotic, Mr. Theodor
Meron will certainly be at the top of this Pillar of Shame, whether you like it or not.
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Dragan Pjeva, a refugee from Croatia and President of the Coordination of Serbian Associations of Victims Families, whose mother, Boja, was killed by members of the Croatian special
police in September 1993, together with dozens of villagers from Serbian villages in Medacki
Dzep, believes that the ICTYs acquittals have damaged the victims in both Serbia and Croatia:
We must conclude that the ICTYs recent acquitting judgments have sent the process of dealing with the past all the way back to its beginnings, and perhaps even farther back. I have in
mind Serbia and Croatia especially. The process of dealing with the past has been stopped. I
can illustrate this with Croatian Defense Minister Ante Kotromanovics first comment after the
acquittal of the Croatian generals: 'Now we are as clean as a whistle.
We are all ready to
Participants also offered their views on the Initiative for RECOM, often
confusing the Initiative with the future Commission.

forgive everything
and to be humiliated
for the sake of truth.

Andjelko Kvesi, Representative of the Croatian Association of Detainees


from Bosnia and Herzegovina, commented on the achievements of the RECOM process: Im
not absolutely satisfied with what RECOM has done so far, and with the fact that it hasnt
managed to introduce the Croat population from Bosnia and Herzegovina into its activities.

Kada Hoti from the Association for Mothers of Srebrenica and Zepa said: I was happy
about RECOM at the beginning. I still think it has some results, but I am confused what
have we defined, what will be the conclusion, and what will be submitted to the governments.
Vesna Tereli called for patience and more energy: More energy has still to be invested
in getting the Initiative for RECOM closer to everyone. We need to continue to explain why
it would be so important to have a commission that will further research the facts of the
crimes and of the fate of the victims and the perpetrators of these crimes. I understand that
we are impatient, and I especially understand the impatience of all those from the associations of victims, because its been more than twenty years now, since 1991, and so little has
been done through trials and through all other forms of dealing with the past. A big responsibility is on all of us to be successful in bringing everything we propose through this initiative closer to the public in our countries.
Kushtrim Koliqi from INTEGRA of Kosovo criticized the Inter-Ministerial Group for Dealing with the Past, founded by the Prime Minister of Kosovo, because it includes representatives of governmental and non-governmental as well as international institutions, but has no
representative of the victims. According to him, this is a failure of the Inter-Ministerial Group,
which has a mandate to draw up a Strategy for Dealing with the Past, that is, for dealing with
the legacy of the war. And the legacy of the war is, in fact, the victims.
Branislav Radulovi, a lawyer from Podgorica, said that holding the Forum on the same day
when Seselj holds his public protest is a great achievement of transitional justice: The only
unit of measurement is todays rally of the Radicals here in Belgrade. Im asking you now: Who
are the winners? Just imagine the situation ten years ago would it have been possible for
us to talk in this room while they protested outside? There would have been an unnaturally
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disproportionate exercise of power, violence, and might against a group of people who believe
in basic human values. Today we are here, and although some have lost a lot, especially their
loved ones, our system of values wins over those losers protesting in the square.
Amir Kulagli from Srebrenica: What remains for the victims, what remains for the Srebrenica
victims after twenty years, except to talk? Our story has many goals. First, to induce empathy
in those who do not see us as victims. Second, to incite the academic community, the judicial
community and civic organizations to be part of the front which will give us at least some justice.
Thirdly, I feel that if mother Munira or mother Kada, or any other mother doesnt speak up about
her suffering, or that if I dont speak about my suffering I feel that I am betraying all those victims and that I have become an accomplice of those who killed our loved ones.
Kulagli added his assessment of the achievements of the RECOM process: I am happy to see
that the victims havent lost confidence in the Initiative for RECOM and are ready to continue
to fight for it to become what we always wanted it to be. And that should be the message of our
meeting. Dont be impatient. If we fail to carry this burden through to the end, our initiative will
have failed. And one more thing: lets not get too carried away by talking about how exclusive
RECOM is. RECOM is really the only good thing in one segment of transitional justice, but how
to integrate it with other pillars of transitional justice or its mechanisms is the real question?
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Fikret Grabovica, President of the Association of the Parents of the Murdered Children of
Sarajevo, said: RECOM is really a good idea, but the extent to which the objectives, envisaged
by the Statute, will be realized is another question. As Mr. Andjelko Kvesic has mentioned that
he is the only representative of the Croatian associations of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the question is whether and to what extent RECOMs tasks will be realized in the first place, if Bosnian
Croats and Bosnian Serbs and their associations are not represented appropriately. We must
put effort into including all those who will be able to respond and who will participate in the
implementation of all these tasks. Because if that doesnt happen, I am afraid the implementation of RECOM will suffer from many shortcomings.
Milisav Stojkovi, President of the Center for the Protection of Families of War Victims
from Kosovo and Metohija, raised the question of equal treatment of victims and criminals:
Do we really need another hundred years, as with the First World War: some saying one
thing, others another? When will a realistic attitude and reasoning ripen which will stop us
from equating victims and aggressors, something that is being done everywhere today? How
much longer will we also have to continue hearing about criminals and aggressors?
Mirjana Uakar, from the Association of the Erased from Slovenia said: In Slovenia we
have hundreds of war veterans, heroes. We dont say anything about the murdered young
soldiers, nineteen and twenty years of age. We have only heroes who won the ten-day war.
We have a president who does not care about the problems of the Erased.
Temelko Risteski, Dean of the Law School in Skopje: I urge us all to stand up to the divisions created by politicians, because in the Balkans, divisions along national or religious
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lines can easily turn into antagonistic oppositions. We have seen what civil war really is.
Today we spoke here of the consequences of the civil war, of the difficult consequences. We
have heard terrible things. We must not let it happen to us again. Life is the highest human
value, and so we should fight to create a climate in which we can live together.
The panel was moderated by Nenad Golcevski, Outreach Program,
ICTY.

Panel III: Victims Perspectives

Activists in the field of


transitional justice have
managed to incorporate
the idea of post-conflict
justice and dealing with
the past into the overall
national discourse.

Bekim Gashi is from the village of Trnje, in the municipality of


Suva Reka, Kosovo. On March 25, 1999, members of the 549th Brigade of the Army of Yugoslavia killed at least forty villagers from
Trnje, among whom were Bekims mother Hyra and four sisters:
Selvete, Luljeta, Blerta and Lumtrurije. Their bodies have not
been found. For the war crime in the village of Trnje, the War Crimes Prosecutor of the
Republic of Serbia issued an indictment against two officers of the 549th Brigade. The trial
has not yet commenced.
I do not know if you can imagine my mental state, but if only for a second you can glimpse
into my soul, you will feel my pain; for me this is the greatest pain in the world. I and all
Albanians want to live in peace and we want to have good neighbourly relations with the
Serbs. This also obliges the Serbian state and people of Serbia to apologize for the crimes,
for the terror and barbarism against the Albanian people.

Nada Bodiroga was born in Slavsko Polje, Croatia. Her parents, Danica and Teodor Samardzija, stayed behind in the village after Operation Storm by the Croatian forces on August 4, 1995. She is still waiting for the results of the analysis of the mortal remains found on
the doorstep of her parents torched house.
The answer was I heard every word: The remains found are not of human, but animal
origin. Again, I suffered a shock. I dont even remember how I got out of the police building. I still cannot sleep. I just do not know anymore whom to turn to, whom to ask, whom to
believe. I ask only one thing to inform me in writing whether the analysis of the exhumed
remains has been conducted and of what nature they are. I will go on. I wont give up. I want
the truth. I have the right to know the truth.
Kada Hoti from Srebrenica, member of the Mothers of Srebrenica and Zepa, lived
with her husband Senad and son Samir in Srebrenica. Both were killed between
July 11 and 17, 1995.
He has never come back, not even today... I have acquired the courage, the strength to fight
and look for the missing, to look for the perpetrators. I get tougher, I cry a little, and then I
say again at least I am not ashamed of anyone. No one in my family was a criminal. Praise
be to beloved Allah, no one! I have my suffering, my tears, my pain. But how does a criminal
fall asleep when the images start coming back? I say, thats harder for him. We received a letInitiative for RECOM

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ter from Vlasenica in which one such man described a similar life, a life that I would never
want anyone to have, even those who killed my child.
Suncica Anti is a displaced person from Kosovo. She lives in Serbia. On July 31, 1999, in
the village of Koretin, in the municipality of Kosovska Kamenica, her husband Negovan
and her uncle Novica Ilic were killed. KFOR buried them at the cemetery in Kosovska Kamenica. For fifteen years she was unsuccessfully trying to obtain from the administration of
UNMIK and KFOR a document that would verify that her husband had been killed. Only a
few months ago was she able to get a death certificate, on the basis of which she has managed to obtain basic welfare for her child and herself.
Mevludin Lupi comes from Zvornik, from the Lupic family, fifteen of whose men were
killed between June 1 and 7, 1992. His father Ramo, uncle and brothers, cousins were all
shot at Gerina klanica in Karakaj, in Zvornik. Thanks to the family members insistence on
testifying before the investigating judge in Belgrade, and thanks to their logistics, Mevludin directly contributed to the Office of OWCPs indictment of the Zvornik municipality
wartime President and Commander of the Territorial Defense unit. He was indicted for the
murder of approximately seven hundred men, captured on June 1, 1992 in Bijeli Potok.

30

When the trial was completed in Belgrade, and when I saw my fathers name and the
confirmation of his death in the text of the judgment, I was hoping that this kind of justice
would be served. But the verdicts were disastrous. The man who had all the power, got six
years. The man who commanded the Territorial Defense and all those units stationed there,
was sent to prison for fifteen years. Our suffering will remain with us, and you can perhaps
comfort us with your compassion, because we need it...
Ljubisa Filipovi was displaced from Kosovo and is now living in Montenegro.
With the help of the Great Britain Fund, I organized that ten houses for returnees be
built in Prizren. These houses are erected on old foundations, but no one has moved in
yet. There is no freedom of movement, and no one can guarantee the returnees safety,
they dont have schools in their own language, nor employment, and so no one can survive
and live there. We should be working on reconciliation, on return, permanent return. I
believe that, first and foremost, people must get reconciled. It is only then that return is
possible. There is no other way.
Marica eatovi is from Novska in Croatia. Her husband, Mihajlo, was killed on November
21, 1991, together with the couple Iso and Sajka Raskovic, and Ljubomir Vujic, all in the
Raskovics family home. They were killed by members of the Tigers, the Croatian Armys
First Guard Brigade.
Let me tell you, I went to all those court hearings. Only those who are strong, who have a
strong will, only they can take it and go through all those courts, in any country of the ones
that have recently emerged. All those wrongs you have to suffer through in these courts,
when defendants or their commanders lie, lie while looking at you in the eye, you simply
Initiative for RECOM

cant endure it. Its inappropriate. In the end, in the retrial, both defendants got acquitted.
And so was the one tried in absentia. [...] Now in the final judgment, I have not read it, but,
generally, the judge seems to have somehow explained that the Croatian state was indeed responsible, because my parents were killed by Croatian soldiers. So here I have some kind of
satisfaction maybe.
Amir Kulagli is from Srebrenica. His father Safet was killed on May 8, 1992, by a gunshot
in the back. He was about sixty years old, and 100 percent disabled. He was on crutches,
both of his legs broken.
My father was one of the examples of a crime without a punishment. Among us here, there
are many similar experiences we have the facts but no recognition. Many crimes will remain without punishment, and they will certainly remain long in the hearts of all of us who
lost someone. I thought that a man could die only once when he loses his physical life. But
finding bones in four or five mass graves tells us that you can die a second time. They first
dismembered the body, then scattered its parts around. [...] Not only did they dismember
the bodies, but after that they systematically denied that those people ever existed. This is
what comes hardest in the end it lands on you like the final blow.
Nikola ao is a refugee from Croatia. His parents, Ljubica and Petar, lived in Banija, in the
village of Ljeskovac. The mother was bedridden. Nikolas parents were killed on August 5,
1995, in Dvor na Uni. They left the column of refugees and signed up to remain in Croatia.
We waited far too long, for nineteen years. My wish is that you find peace of mind like we
did. We buried our parents in Belgrade. Their bones got their eternal home. We are
satisfied with that. Now, this second part that needs to happen, finding those who committed the crimes that in itself will be yet another torture.
Munira Subai is President of the Mothers of Srebrenica and Zepa. She said: In the
Srebrenica genocide I lost twenty-two members of my immediate family, and over a
hundred from my extended family. Last year, I buried two tiny bones of my son Nermin,
found in two mass graves, twenty-five kilometers apart. And yet, I did not give birth to
such a child my child was born with hands and feet and eyes, a head and all. There. But
then again, he is with 6,500 of his friends, neighbours, friends, so Im at peace, sort of. I
have found at least some peace.
Desanka Pejinovi is a displaced person from Kosovo. She last saw her nineteen-year-old
son Slobodan on March 26, 1999, when after breakfast he went to the city of Pec/Peja. Her
neighbour told her he went over the hill with his Albanian friends.
We are all ready to forgive everything and to be humiliated for the sake of truth. They are
neither among the dead nor among the living, and so I beg, not only RECOM, but all people
of good will, of good character, I beg them wholeheartedly to help us. It is unbearable to wait
for the bones, to make him a grave, to pay mothers dues. I am sorry if I am burdening you,
but its hard for me, you understand me better than anyone else.
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Desanka read a poem by Dragica Majstorovic, whose son Ivan, a junior in the Pristina
high-school, disappeared on August 19, 1999:
Murderer, you will be forgiven, just tell me where my son lies buried?
Did you rest a stone on his breast or scatter over him fine sand?
Perhaps you laid him in my field?
How did you convict him? What guilt did you find in him? What did you tell him at the end?
Did you have his eyes covered? Or did you look the child bravely in the eyes?
The panel was moderated by Nataa Kandi.

Panel IV: Using Facts in Theater Plays

32

An introductory video was screened, with excerpts from six theater plays that deal with the
war in Yugoslavia and the facts concerning it. The excerpt from Hypermnesia, directed by
Selma Spahi (B&H), was especially funny, because it shows the crazed residents of a Sarajevo skyscraper whom a soldier at the border orders into lines by nationality, then asking
themto sign a document that they are voluntarily leaving their property... When you watch
the whole video, you can see for example young men who play themselves (Generation 9195, directed by Borut eparovi, Croatia), whom their parents or society wanted to push
into the war through their poisonous ideologies of hatred. You can also see Kosovo society
(Patriotic Hypermarket, co-produced by Novi Sad, Pristina and Belgrade), in which both
Serbs and Albanians acknowledge that both are shit and that too much suffering had been
inflicted by stupidity, corruption, and primitivism. You can see a segment from Aleksandra
Zec (directed by Oliver Frlji), recounting a real event the murder of young Aleksandra
Zec, her father and mother, and the guilt and responsibility burdening the conscience of
Croatian society... We then saw a theater report on the Srebrenica survivors (The Potocari
Party, directed by Stevan Bodroa, Serbia), as well as a report on the death of the Erased,
directed by Oliver Frlji, which shook the public in Slovenia.
The session was moderated by theater critic, Bojan Munjin.

Panel V: Using Facts in Film


The films selected are based on generally accepted facts, in some cases established before
the court, but not generally known to, or ejected from the public realm. The selection included the experiences of people whose lives were dramatically changed by the war, with
full recognition that it had changed all of our lives. In accordance with the primary focus of
the Initiative for RECOM, the selection highlighted the views of the victims. The aim was to
examine and comment on the role of film as a means of making that view accessible to all,
but also the role of film as an instrument of exploring personalities and context in relation to
this specific and neglected problem.
Three Windows and a Hanging, written by Isa Qosja, focuses on a raped Albanian woman a
victim who becomes a criminal after she reveals her story to the media. Director Janko Baljak
spoke about the thorough research that went into his film Vukovar Final Cut, and the unique
Initiative for RECOM

experience of working on the first co-production between Croats and Serbs for this type of
film. Ivana Lali, author of Witnesses, showed footage of the statements of key witnesses in
court trials and cases of violence against civilians in Kosovo. Serving as a protected witness
drastically changes ones future life in the community. It also changes the witnesss understanding of the events he or she testifies about, changing sometimes the rest of their lives and
personalities, including their identities. Children Like All Others, a film by Pjer alica, looks
at children who emerged from the war physically and mentally injured. Revealing their inner
world, alica pointed out that in B&H there are no children undamaged by the war.
The session was moderated by Director Lazar Stojanovi.

Closing remarks
arko Puhovski: Our achievements are still hanging in the air, but they exist. We have a
great opportunity to move from civil society into the intergovernmental sphere. That in itself would be an extremely rare achievement for any civil society. In other words, it launches
a whole new phase.
If RECOM succeeds, its establishment will send a general signal to the whole region of the former Yugoslavia to interrupt all war crimes trials. This is not necessarily connected or logical,
and it is not right, it is actually bad - but I am convinced that this is what will happen if RECOM
is established. People will say, Well, OK, now they will do it, lets leave the trials, its been a long
time, we wont bother anymore, let the Commission do the job. Because in the countries we live
in, courts are the single worst part of the state organization. Why? Because they themselves dont
believe that they are part of the state organization. Courts always talk about the state as something they themselves are not. And hence, they have been handling war crimes trials as has
been repeatedly shown and said here as homework imposed from outside. After RECOM, no
one will pressure them anymore from the outside - or from the inside, for that matter. This is the
sad reality. And the second thing that seems terribly important to me is justice. This year is the
centenary of the First World War. So many lies, so many misconceptions, so many nationalisms,
after a hundred years, in the interpretation of the First World War, show that one should not
expect that after 'only' twenty-five years since the Yugoslav wars everything will become clear.
How much more is there to be done? Even if we transfer our work to others, to the state, we
still have to subtly work with the public about what our side had done. Since everyone talks
as much as they want about what others did. There is no way that the majority of perpetrators will even be identified, let alone punished. We need to live with that. What needs to be
done now is to shame the political positions that led to the wars. In doing so, we will do one
other thing that everyone here rejects: we will equate the victim and the aggressor, because
we will count and name the victims, and both sides had victims. If it just so happens that the
circumstances under which the deaths during the war occurred remain part of RECOMs
mandate, we will have the basis to finally end the war.
Closing remarks: Nataa Kandi
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I am an optimist. In the debate on RECOMs tasks, and proceeding from the Christian idea
that all people are equal in death, the view was gradually crystallized that RECOM should
compile a list of human losses, civilians and combatants, or as Zarko says, victims and aggressors, and to determine the circumstances in which they lost their lives. As regards the relation
between the courts and RECOM, we have concluded that RECOM thanks to its regional
character and intensive data collection over a limited period of time is in a good position to
eliminate the limitations of trials, limitations that, among other things, exist due to difficulties
in obtaining evidence possessed by more than one country. RECOM thus has the potential to
encourage the trials, which are fewer today than five years ago. That was the conclusion made
by nongovernmental human rights organizations at yesterdays panel as well. One trial takes
several years, final judgment are scarce, victims are disappointed in trials, court services invite
them to testify and then never get back to them again. All the activities of RECOM will be
organized within a predetermined time-frame i.e. within three years during which time a
high number of certificates and other evidentiary materials will be assembled. That will bring
great pressure on the courts. In addition, the establishment of the Special Court for war crimes
committed by members of the KLA is a strong legal argument against the pessimistic attitude
that the establishment of RECOM would terminate war crimes trials. At stake here are two
mechanisms: RECOM can encourage new trials, while the facts established by courts will help
RECOM create a complete picture of what happened.
34

The Initiative for RECOM in the Media


In the period covered by this report, the media, particularly in Croatia and Montenegro,
have extensively covered the decision of the Assembly of the Coalition for RECOM to support the Changes to the RECOM Statute suggested by the Presidential Envoys, and the Forum for Transitional Justice. Journalists reported on these events in the context of the rally
held by Vojislav Seselj, highlighting the contribution of the Coalition for RECOM in alleviating victims fears, sown during the war by the Chetniks. The reports generally concluded
that RECOM has become an interstate project.12

12 Rekom e utvrditi injenice o ratnim zloinima u eks-Jugoslaviji [RECOM will establish the facts about war
crimes in ex-Yugoslavia], Tportal.hr, 11/18/2014: http://www.tportal.hr/vijesti/hrvatska/359289/Rekom-ce-utvrditicinjenice-o-ratnim-zlocinima-u-ex-Jugoslaviji.html (accessed 12/16/2014)
Korak blie ka formiranju REKOM-a [A Step Closer to RECOM], Sven Milekic, BIRN Zagreb, 11/18/2014: http://
www.balkaninsight.com/rs/article/korak-bli%C5%BEe-ka-formiranju-rekom-a (accessed 12/16/2014)
Rekom prerasta u meudravni projekt [RECOM is Becoming an Inter-State Project], Boris Pavelic, NoviList.hr,
11/18/2014:
http://m.novilist.hr/PogledajClanak.aspx?id=725689&datum=20141118 (accessed 12/16/2014)
Koalicija za REKOM podrala Izmjene Statuta REKOM-a [The Coalition for RECOM Supports the Changes to
the RECOM Statute], PCNEN, 11/18/2014:
http://www.pcnen.com/portal/2014/11/18/koalicija-za-rekom-podrzala-izmjene-statuta-rekom/(accessed
12/16/2014)
Rekom e utvrditi injenice o ratnim zloinima u eks-Jugoslaviji [RECOM will establish the facts about war
crimes in ex-Yugoslavia], Tportal.hr, 11/18/2014: http://www.tportal.hr/vijesti/hrvatska/359289/Rekom-ce-utvrditicinjenice-o-ratnim-zlocinima-u-ex-Jugoslaviji.html (accessed 12/16/2014)
udo mira: REKOM [The Miracle of Peace: RECOM], Svetlana Slapsak, Pescanik, 11/28/2014: http://pescanik.net/
cudo-mira-rekom (accessed 12/16/2014)
Initiative for RECOM

Damir Pili from Slobodna Dalmacija described his stay in Belgrade in the following way: The
schizophrenia was total: on the left bank of the Sava river I talked to a prominent non-governmental activist, a longtime campaigner for the rights of victims of ex-Yugoslav wars and one
of the most daring voices of the Serbian conscience; while on the right bank of the Sava river a
disturbed Chetnik leader spoke to me, an as yet unconvicted war criminal and one of the greatest
culprits for the ex-Yugoslav wars a clash of radically disparate, inconceivably opposite worlds.
And although I was surrounded by civilian victims of war, antiwar activists and independent intellectuals from five neighbouring countries, in the conference room of the Crowne
Plaza Hotel I felt I was actually among normal people. At the Square of the Republic, on the
other hand, I felt I was among human scum. The official flags of different countries fluttered
in front of the hotel, while at the Square there fluttered only the blue flags of the Serbian
Radical Party and black Chetnik flags with skulls.
At 'Crowne Plaza', people talked in a civilized manner about the tragic fates of individual
victims of war, while at the Square of the Republic, primitive and inflammatory rhetoric
offended entire nations: Croats were called Ustashas, Bosniaks Balijas, Kosovo Albanians
Shiptars. On the left bank of the Sava river, several hundred people spoke in a low voice
about the horrors of the Yugoslav wars, while on the right bank, thousands many of whom
35

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were dressed in the black uniforms of the Chetnik guerilla movement, with Chetnik hats
and cockades screamed and invoked the Greater Serbia and new wars.13
Unlike the media in Montenegro and Croatia, in Serbia only one portal, e-novine, reported on
the changes to the RECOM Statute and on the Forum for Transitional Justice. The weekly Pecat,
co-founded by Aleksandar Vulin, a Minister in the Government of Serbia, published his opinions (on multiple pages and in five consecutive issues, from November 14 December 12, 2014)
against the establishment of RECOM. His argument was that the real intention behind RECOM
was to declare Serbia the main culprit for the outbreak of the war, aggression and war crimes.

Presidential Elections in Croatia


On January 11, 2015, the second round of presidential elections was held in Croatia. The
new President of the Republic of Croatia is Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic. Now it is up to the
Public Advocates of the Initiative for RECOM to familiarize President Grabar Kitarovic with
the political achievements of the RECOM process.

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13 etnici na Trgu, rtve u hotelu [The Chetniks in the Square, the Victims in the Hotel], Damir Pilic, Slobodna
Dalmacija, 11/22/2014:
http://www.slobodnadalmacija.hr/Spektar/tabid/94/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/265224/Default.aspx (accessed 12/16/2014).
rtve su vane, a ne eelj [The Victims are the Important Ones, Seselj is Not], Drago Pilsel, PCNEN, 11/18/2014:
http://www.pcnen.com/portal/2014/11/18/zrtve-su-vazne-a-ne-seselj/ (accessed 12/16/2014)

Sign for Establishing RECOM


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For your own sake.
So that everybody knows. Lest we forget.
Initiative for RECOM
So it doesnt happen again. To move on.

THE RECOM PROCESS


The debate about the best way to uncover the truth and for
truth-telling about the past was launched in May 2006 at the
First Regional Forum for Transitional Justice, organized by the
Humanitarian Law Center (Serbia), the Research and Documentation Center (Bosnia and Herzegovina) and Documenta
(Croatia). At the Forum, participants representatives of
NGOs and associations of missing persons and victims from
the successor countries of the former Yugoslavia committed
to a regional approach in the establishment of the facts about
war crimes, arguing that the war had taken place in more than
one country, and that in most cases victims and perpetrators
did not reside in the same state.
The Coalition for the founding of a Regional Commission for
Establishing the Facts About War Crimes and Other Gross
Violations of Human Rights Committed on the Territory
of the Former Yugoslavia (RECOM) was constituted at the
Fourth Regional Forum for Transitional Justice on October
28, 2008 in Pristina/Prishtin. Over the course of three years,
through intensive consultations across the former Yugoslavia, with over 6,000 participants, the Initiative for RECOM
prompted the most extensive social debate ever in this region.
Based on the proposals, requests, needs and views of the
participants in the consultative process, a Draft Statute was
drawn up and presented to the public on March 26, 2011.
It was then submitted, together with more than half a million signatures in support of the process, to the highest state
institutions of the countries in the region.
In October 2011, a regional team of Public Advocates for
RECOM was established to press for the final stage of the RECOM Process. The states in the region have been requested
to institute an independent, inter-state regional commission
for the establishment of the facts about all victims of war
crimes and other serious human rights violations committed
on the territory of the former Yugoslavia between 1991 and
2001. The official position of the Coalition for RECOM is that
RECOMs main task should be to establish the facts about war
crimes and to compile a list of all casualties, killed and missing persons and that the final decision on other objectives and
tasks should be made by the governments of the region who
will jointly establish RECOM.
The main goal of !The Voice is to provide information about the
RECOM Process to the members of the Coalition for RECOM,
to the many supporters of the Initiative and to all those interested in its development. In addition to this, !The Voice focuses
on the progress of transitional justice in the region.
It is available in in Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian/Montenegrin,
Albanian, English, Macedonian and Slovenian.
Initiative for RECOM

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Initiative for RECOM