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EEPXXX10.1177/0888325415584048East European Politics and SocietiesTouquet and Vermeersch / Changing Frames of Reconciliation

East European Politics and

Societies and Cultures
Volume 30 Number 1
February 2016  55­–73
© 2015 Sage Publications
Changing Frames of 10.1177/0888325415584048

Reconciliation: hosted at

The Politics of Peace-Building in the Former Yugoslavia

Heleen Touquet
University of Leuven

Peter Vermeersch
University of Leuven

In this article, we examine reconciliation as a category of political practice. More

particularly, we explore the ways in which the term reconciliation has been employed
and invested with meaning in the recent legal, social, and political discussions on tran-
sitional justice and EU accession in the former Yugoslavia. Much of the literature on
the former Yugoslavia highlights the need for reconciliation and envisages it as the
ultimate goal of a process of societal and political transformation. But what does rec-
onciliation mean? Our assertion is that reconciliation is a dynamic term; its meaning
varies across discursive fields and according to the implicit assumptions associated
with it. This article investigates a number of ways in which the term reconciliation has
been given meaning in the former Yugoslavia through an exploratory analysis of three
related fields of political discussion: (1) transitional justice, in particular the arena of
discursive interaction surrounding the completion of the activities of the ICTY in The
Hague; (2) the human rights and enlargement agenda of the EU; and (3) local and
regional civil society initiatives, including the RECOM initiative, which calls for the
establishment of a mechanism for truth-telling and reconciliation across all the coun-
tries of the former Yugoslavia. On the basis of an analysis of public statements by
politicians and activists, as well as some interviews with key actors in these three
fields, we show that reconciliation is mobilized in varying and often conflicting ways.

Keywords:  Balkans; reconciliation; peace-building; European Union


In February 2015, European Union High Commissioner Federica Mogherini vis-

ited the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina and urged the country
to step up its efforts not only to address such issues as unemployment and the lack
of state administrative capacities but also to foster reconciliation.1 Statements like
these are not new. International political actors and independent monitoring reports
often highlight the need for reconciliation in the countries of the former Yugoslavia,
56  East European Politics and Societies and Cultures

portraying such reconciliation as the ultimate goal of the political and social trans-
formations that these countries are currently still going through, and arguing that
specific actions are needed to achieve this goal.2 But how exactly should that end
result be defined? What does reconciliation mean in the post-Yugoslav context? Our
basic assertion is that reconciliation is and will remain an abstract idea that in prac-
tice can encapsulate a variety of meanings and lead to a broad range of different
political actions. We do not argue that this is necessarily problematic—in fact, the
presence of diverging conceptions and practices of reconciliation may in the end turn
out to be beneficial for society. Yet we should be mindful of the discursive versatil-
ity of reconciliation when using the term in our empirical analysis: reconciliation is
always temporary, and it can always be challenged. What we observe is, in the words
of Andrew Schaap, the effective political contestability of reconciliation,3 and
instead of simply assuming that reconciliation is the much needed end goal of
political reform, we should be attuned to researching how various political actors
understand and shape that end goal.
Although the literature on the theoretical and conceptual complexity of reconcilia-
tion is growing,4 there is a dearth of empirical research on the various ways in which
reconciliation is understood, contested, and given meaning in legal, social, and politi-
cal debates in the former Yugoslavia. Of course, there is a vast literature on the former
Yugoslavia; however, most of it covers the breakup of country or focuses primarily on
the issues that led to the war and the causes and consequences of the breakup.5 New
scholarship on ex-Yugoslavia often focuses on institutional issues such as EU acces-
sion and regional cooperation6 and transitional justice.7 There is a need for a better
understanding of the current politics of dealing with the legacy of the conflict.
This article responds to this need and seeks to foster as well as contribute to the
empirical exploration of the uses of reconciliation through an analysis of discourses
in three related fields of political discussion in the former Yugoslavia: (1) transitional
justice (in particular the arenas of discursive interaction surrounding the activities of
the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia [ICTY]), (2) the
human rights and enlargement agenda of the European Union, and (3) civil society
campaigns for the establishment of a mechanism for truth-telling and reconciliation
(in particular, discussions on the topic of the RECOM initiative, the region’s most
ambitious attempt at establishing a truth and reconciliation commission).8
In order to analyze recent developments in these three fields, we examine the
discourses of civil society representatives, official administrators active in these
areas, and national and European politicians and policy makers. On the basis of an
analysis of the most vocal public statements by these sets of actors, we show that
reconciliation is a notion that is framed in varying ways. This “frame variation”9 is
related to the presence of different ideas of how to ensure sustainable peace. Each
framing, furthermore, needs to be seen as the logical outcome of a discursive dynamic
within each field of discussion.
Touquet and Vermeersch / Changing Frames of Reconciliation  57

Our study is informed by, and seeks to contribute to, sociological and political
science literature on issue framing. This concept of framing was first popularized by
Erving Goffman10 and has since then often been applied in the study of communica-
tion and the analysis of social movements.11 We seek to explore its value in the field
of post-conflict studies and expect that varying frames of reconciliation will cause
varieties of dissension and lead to various outcomes in the area of peace-building
In other words, we do not want to speculate about what successful reconciliation
in the post-Yugoslav should look like; rather, we want to examine how the term rec-
onciliation is used in political discourse and, more particularly, analyze the ways in
which the term has been framed in different fields of political discussion. We do so
by tracing the notions and preconceptions that undergird these different understand-
ings. When we examine reconciliation, we do not seek to examine it as a predefined,
known, or knowable state of affairs with certain characteristics; we seek to study the
ways in which reconciliation is proposed, promoted, and demanded. This also means
that we do not make any claims about which individuals or what types of “groups”
should be so “reconciled.”
Our work is akin to that of Jansen,12 who has explored the ways in which ordinary
people in the post-Yugoslav context have responded to top-down policies aimed at
ethno-national reconciliation. Our focus, however, is not on the perspective of the
ordinary lived experience but on international governmental agencies and civil soci-
ety. We ask what views are implicit in their reconciliation efforts and analyze how
these views vary.
Such a reflective stance is necessary to understand post-conflict societies, espe-
cially those where debates about what constitutes reconciliation have led to specific
initiatives of collective transformation, including truth and reconciliation commis-
sions such as the one in South Africa,13 reinvented traditional dispute settlement sys-
tems such as in Rwanda,14 or the apology of the United States Congress for
discrimination against Black Americans under the “Jim Crow Laws.”15 In discus-
sions surrounding these and other post-conflict initiatives, one can observe tensions
between various underlying conceptions of reconciliation. These tensions are at the
core of our analysis.
For the purposes of this article, we select the former Yugoslavia, which we regard
as a key area for several reasons. The conflicts that tore Yugoslavia apart in the 1990s
have been central in the creation of an international justice system that is sometimes
invested with the task of bringing about a more peaceful post-conflict world.16 In
addition, there is the issue of international legacy: as is the case for a number of other
paradigmatic post-conflict countries (e.g., Rwanda and Northern Ireland) current
debates about reconciliation in the Western Balkans stretch beyond the region and
are likely to have a strong influence on the way in which international actors will
understand and apply the concept of reconciliation in the future. Moreover, since the
project of reconciliation in post-Yugoslavia is so closely linked to the process of
58  East European Politics and Societies and Cultures

European Union enlargement, it is also of key relevance to current affairs in the

European Union and to the process of European integration.

Three Fields of Contesting Reconciliation

Reconciliation, Transitional Justice, and the Debate about the Role

of the ICTY
While many argue that reconciliation is an essential part of any post-conflict
process, there is no consensus on which steps exactly should be taken to achieve
reconciliation. Some authors have tried to solve this problem by specifying the
meaning of the term and associating it narrowly with particular forms of transitional
justice.17 According to the UN Secretary General’s 2004 report on the subject, for
example, “transitional justice encompasses the processes and mechanisms associ-
ated with a country’s attempts to come to terms with a legacy of large-scale past
abuses, in order to ensure accountability, serve justice and achieve reconciliation.”18
But such a direct linkage between transitional justice and reconciliation has also
occasioned debate. While some authors claim that reconciliation might be reached
when a transitional justice process is designed in which truth, forgiveness, and jus-
tice are promoted,19 others argue that transitional justice processes in and of them-
selves cannot provide a solution for the psychological tensions and ambiguities that
follow a conflict—they might in fact deepen the gulf between the parties formerly
in conflict.20
This discussion is, of course, highly relevant for the case of the former Yugoslavia.
How has the term reconciliation been understood and given meaning in the discur-
sive field revolving around the activities of the ICTY? Although the court’s primary
goal lies clearly in the field of international justice, it is also clear that from the very
beginning, it has had to find a position for itself in the debate on reconciliation. A
simple search on the ICTY website reveals about 220 documents that mention recon-
ciliation; these may not all be documents that support the view that the ICTY should
be directly involved in promoting reconciliation, but it demonstrates at least that the
debate looms large and cannot be ignored. We have examined these discursive acts
and have thereby focused in particular on statements that may have a direct impact
on the functioning and the public perception of the court—that is, public statements
by judges and prosecutors as well as press releases and broader media outreach docu-
ments of the court.
Analyzing the evolution of almost two decades of public documents emerging
from the ICTY’s activities, and in particular the assumptions implicit in those docu-
ments about the relationship between international justice and reconciliation, we can
detect a shift towards a clearer conceptualization of the court’s role, resulting,
recently, in a more outspoken emphasis on the distinction between, on the one hand,
Touquet and Vermeersch / Changing Frames of Reconciliation  59

the judicial mission of the court and, on the other hand, the social and political impli-
cations of the judgements made by the court. If during the early years of the court’s
existence reconciliation was more or less assumed to be a direct product of the court’s
functioning, later on that direct relationship was increasingly the object of critical
reflection and was to some extent even problematized.
The view of the early years is clearly detectable in general statements about the
reasons for the establishment of the court. In a joint statement in 1995, for example,
the president and prosecutor of the ICTY reacted to the signing of the Dayton
Agreement in the following manner: “Justice is an indispensable ingredient in the
process of national reconciliation. It is essential to the restoration of peaceful and
normal relations between people who have had to live under a reign of terror.”21
Over the years, the connection between international justice and reconciliation
was captured more specifically under the terms “individualization of guilt.” In 2001,
ICTY president Claude Jorda, for example, said in a speech in Sarajevo: “the mission
(of the Tribunal) is to promote reconciliation through the prosecution, trial and pun-
ishment of those who perpetrated war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
By ensuring that people are held individually responsible for the crimes they com-
mitted, the International Tribunal must prevent entire groups—be they national, eth-
nic or religious—from being stigmatised and must ensure that others do not resort to
acts of revenge in their search for justice.”22 In this view, reconciliation relates to the
prevention of revenge among ethnic communities, and the instrument through which
such prevention is to be pursued is the legal procedure that holds individuals, and not
ethnic communities, accountable for war crimes.
But this connection has not remained without criticism in more recent times. The
court indeed invidualizes guilt in the sense that only individual persons can be
charged and convicted. Moreover, the court simply has no choice but to work on the
level of individuals because collective guilt is a political notion that does not make
sense in the legal sphere.23 Yet the view that individualization is a straight-forward
instrument to achieve reconciliation among ethnic collectives ignores the social and
political reality surrounding the individual cases,24 and reflections by the court on
collective responsibility remain somehow unavoidable. Certainly in the early years
of its existence the ICTY did not take into account any “collectivizing” responses
by local populations and elites. Later, however, it did. This became clear, for exam-
ple, through the establishment of an ICTY Outreach Programme, which was meant
to be, among other things, a tool of education and communication with the societies
of the former Yugoslavia. The Outreach Programme started in 1999 and was initi-
ated because “the court had become deeply aware that its work would resonate far
beyond the judicial mandate of deciding the guilt or innocence of the individual
accused.”25 While some academic authors go as far as to see the programme as an
attempt to restore confidence among the populations of former Yugoslavia in an
international justice system that is mostly viewed as untrustworthy,26 it is clear that
at the very least the outreach activities are an indirect attempt to bring the ICTY
60  East European Politics and Societies and Cultures

within the framework of a broader process of reconciliation, an attempt that is based

on the assumption that judicial work needs to be connected to broader socio-politi-
cal processes.
The ICTY’s concern with societal influence is not only clear from the documents
that highlight the value of the public outreach programme or emphasize the court’s
role in individualizing guilt but also from documents that portray the court as an
important creator of an (authoritative) historical record of the conflict. It remains a
point of debate among legal scholars and historians, however, whether judicial insti-
tutions can indeed establish historical truths. Many would argue that it is not appro-
priate to expect a court to adopt the methodology or epistemology of academic
historiography,27 let alone expect that an exercise of establishing historical facts for
judicial reasons would lead to something like a broadly internalized and shared
vision of the history of a conflict.28 Insofar as the ICTY has created a historical
record, it is likely that such a record will be framed and reframed in the world outside
the court. There are already many examples of outright denial of the facts that the
court has established, most notably with regard to the genocide in Srebrenica.29
In light of such criticism, the optimism in the documents and statements coming
from the sphere of the court has, over the years, become more cautious. More recent
statements are careful about the possibilities of a direct link between the judicial
realm and reconciliation. They are more in line with the criticisms put forth by vari-
ous scholars that transitional justice is not necessarily conducive to reconciliation,
that the tribunal may reinforce (or indeed, has already reinforced) opposing public
narratives of the Yugoslav wars,30 and that the judicial process as such has not helped
victims31 or perhaps does not even have the capacity to help them. This cautious view
gained further force through key statements coming from the heart of the court’s
activities. In September 2013, for example, Judge Theodor Meron complained that
too often “judgements are expected to be definitive histories of the conflict,” and that
they are wrongly expected “to foster reconciliation” or “to bring victims closure
through convictions.” Meron argued that while judgements may produce some of
these results, “this is not their judicial mission nor is it a yardstick for measuring suc-
cess. . . . Judges must be blind to outside sentiment.”32
The fact that reconciliation in the former Yugoslavia is part of a sensitive domestic
political debate in various Balkan countries—most importantly but not solely, as we
shall discuss, in the context of EU accession—has made some international criminal
justice advocates refrain even more vehemently from addressing the issue in the
context of a war crimes tribunal. Like Meron, they are critical of the idea that social
change should be made an integral part of the international criminal justice agenda.
While they may not deny that judgements can have social and political implications,
they argue that it is not the court’s task or responsibility to pursue those effects
directly or take these social and political implications into consideration during the
judicial process. Discussions about some controversial acquittals since the autumn of
2012 at the ICTY—in particular those of Croatian generals Ante Gotovina and
Touquet and Vermeersch / Changing Frames of Reconciliation  61

Mladen Markač, JNA chief of Staff Momčilo Perišić, former Chief of the Serbian
State Security Service Jovica Stanišić, and former employee of the Serbian State
Security Service Franko Simatović—have brought such cautious views even closer
to the surface.33 The controversies not only show, as legal scholars have argued, that
international criminal justice jurisprudence is in full development but that ICTY
decisions might have an important influence on this development. It also reveals
something about the understanding of reconciliation in the broader debates around
the ICTY, more particularly a shift towards a more conscious understanding of the
difficulties in establishing a direct link between two dynamic fields: that of interna-
tional justice and that of societal reconciliation. This shifting understanding of the
role of the court is not only visible from Meron’s recent statements but, while the
insistence on the independence of the proceedings of the court by Meron could be
seen (and indeed has been understood) as an argument in defence of recent acquittals,
other actors within the realm of the court have also expressed caution about the link
between court proceedings and societal reconciliation. For example, ICTY prosecu-
tor Serge Brammertz said that while he believed accountability through prosecution
is still the best way to achieve reconciliation, this should not be the only way.34 In his
view, tribunals act only as a catalyst for reconciliation.
That in recent documents there is a more pronounced insistence on the distinction
between judicial decision and reconciliatory effect is a fact that should be kept in
mind when exploring, as we shall do in the next two sections, the way in which the
EU, and in particular the European Commission, has positioned itself as a promoter
of reconciliation in the context of the EU enlargement process, and how prominent
civil society actors as promoters of social change have acted towards the EU, the
ICTY, and political elites in the region.

Reconciliation and EU Enlargement: Conditionality and Transitional

The second field of political discussion we want to highlight relates to the discur-
sive practices of the EU revolving around its foreign policy and the enlargement to
the Western Balkans. This discursive field is obviously also part of a larger debate
on EU identity and reconciliation. The EU sees reconciliation as a key element of its
own identity narrative; it has proclaimed it a quintessentially European value that
needs to be promoted through foreign policy.35 The Lisbon Treaty states that the EU
“is guided by and designed to advance in the wider world, the principles which have
inspired its own creation, development and enlargement” (Article III -193(1)).
Reconciliation is an essential part of the principles the EU seeks to advance. The
European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) strategy paper for
2007–2012, for example, mentions that “transitional justice and reconciliation is
recognised as helping build consensus on disputed and controversial areas of policy
in deeply divided societies.”36 The 2012 Nobel Peace Prize has provided a further
62  East European Politics and Societies and Cultures

external ratification of the EU’s narrative of self-identification as a reconciliatory

power. The EU has “brought together nations emerging from the ruins of devastating
World Wars,” Jose Manuel Barosso and Herman van Rompuy stated in their accept-
ance speech.37 Their view is not only prevalent in the realm of the European
Commission and Council. In 2012, the president of the European Parliament, Martin
Schulz, argued along similar lines that “the EU’s principles and values of reconcili-
ation can serve as an inspiration to other regions in the world. From the Balkans to
the Caucasus, the EU serves as a beacon for democracy and reconciliation.”38
As is implicit in these and other examples, the EU understands reconciliation
primarily as the result of the normalization of state relations. Various key represen-
tatives of the EU project have framed reconciliation as a re-establishment of normal
diplomatic and political relations between sovereign countries that have been
divided by war. An ideal outcome of reconciliation, and at the same time a sign of
its success, is economic and political integration in the EU. Even if trends towards
economic and political union were in practice not primarily driven by demands
related to international security, the idea of Europe as an area of stability and peace
between formerly belligerent neighbours has had a powerful resonance in the dis-
cursive space that has accompanied the integration process. Hence, it is not surpris-
ing that the same logic has entered the discursive context surrounding the process of
further enlargement to the Western Balkans. What was initially a process that
focused on trade and aid has now become a project of democracy and stability pro-
motion through conditionality and Europeanization39 in which the post-war recon-
ciliation process between France and Germany after the Second World War serves
as a guiding example.40 In an interview in 2010, the High Representative and EU
representative Valentin Inzko explicitly mentioned the example of Franco-German
reconciliation as a “recipe” for Bosnia-Herzegovina.41 A central aspect of the EU
discourse on reconciliation in the Balkans is the notion that the region should come
to terms with history, that the past should be put to rest, and that people and politi-
cians should focus on the future.42
The implicit understanding of reconciliation as a matter of diplomatic relations,
official apology, and institutional integration (not primarily a matter of relations
between individual citizens) is clearly revealed in official EU statements in the con-
text of the enlargement process; it is reflected most clearly in the progress reports.
These are statements that frame reconciliation as a process that takes place between
countries and, in particular, between the ruling (ethnicized) elites. The overall stated
purpose of reconciliation is “regional stability.”43 That reconciliation and regional
cooperation are to be interpreted mainly in economic terms is clearly shown in the
following statement by Inzko: “Compared to six months ago, we have now an incred-
ibly good climate for regional cooperation, but, what’s even more, regional reconcili-
ation. We are speaking now of a different region, or a different era, and in this regard,
as far as regional cooperation and reconciliation is concerned, we have arrived in the
21st century.”44
Touquet and Vermeersch / Changing Frames of Reconciliation  63

The EU’s 2011–2012 Enlargement strategy document mentions “enhancing

regional cooperation and reconciliation” as one of the key objectives. In the progress
reports on Bosnia-Herzegovina, in 2011, 2012, and 2013, the term reconciliation is
included in the section on good neighbourly relations, under the heading “regional
issues and international obligations.” The sentence is the same in each report (and the
exact same sentence can be found in the 2011 report on Croatia): “Bosnia and
Herzegovina continues to actively support the Igman initiative on reconciliation,
which brings together NGOs from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia and
Montenegro and the RECOM initiative.”
These examples show that the EU frames reconciliation in terms of a process that
takes place between regional neighbours (countries). Only the 2010 progress report
on Bosnia-Herzegovina represents an exception. In this report, an explicit link is
made between the issue of missing persons and reconciliation: “Working towards the
resolution of the remaining (missing persons) cases within a reasonable timeframe is
essential for the reconciliation process.” Yet in that same report the Serbian
Parliament’s declaration on Srebrenica is mentioned as a significant step towards
reconciliation: “Relations with Serbia improved overall. Serbia’s parliament adopted
a declaration on Srebrenica, which was welcomed as a significant step towards
The strategy of issue linkage (the fact that the EU seeks to make enlargement
dependent on reconciliation) now appears in various places and contexts in the prog-
ress reports and the EU’s official communications, but it is also rooted in a longer
history of EU foreign policy towards the region. Already shortly after the end of the
conflict in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the EU defined reconciliation as one of the main
aims of its policy towards the Western Balkans. Both the Regional Approach (1997)
and the SAP (1999) were geared towards “reconciliation, reconstruction and
reform.”46 In this sense, reconciliation has from the beginning been understood as a
step towards political and economic stability, along with the often mentioned but
equally vague “regional cooperation.”47 At the Thessaloniki Summit in 2003, EU
leaders officially recognized the Western Balkan countries as potential EU candi-
dates, realizing that if these countries were to accede, they would be the first EU
member states with such a recent history of conflict. Therefore, the EU has signifi-
cantly altered the enlargement process, adding a new chapter in the negotiations,
Chapter 23, on the rule of law and human rights protection, covering the issues of
reform of the judiciary, preventing and combating corruption, human rights protec-
tion, political rights, national minority and returnee rights, processing war crimes,
and cooperation with the ICTY.
Cooperation with the ICTY was an essential element of conditionality even before
the enlargement process towards the Western Balkans. In other words, reconciliation
is not only understood as related to the politics of enlargement, it is also understood
as closely related to cooperation with ongoing transitional justice systems. In the
understanding of the EU, transitional justice should lead to reconciliation, and the
64  East European Politics and Societies and Cultures

most important aspect of transitional justice is cooperation with the ICTY.48

According to Pierre Mirel, the former director of DG Enlargement, “[Reconciliation]
is part of the Stabilisation and Association process that was established in 2000 that
includes [the] prosecution of war criminals, whether before the ICTY or locally, sup-
port [for the] return of refugees, good neighbourly relations, [and] regional coopera-
tion. All these elements . . . should lead to reconciliation.”49 This means, for instance,
that Western Balkan countries have been stimulated to hunt down and arrest suspects
or hand over certain military documents.
With regard to stepping up the level of government cooperation with the ICTY the
EU’s strategy of issue linkage has generally been regarded as successful. An esti-
mated ninety percent of all those indicted for war crimes were brought to justice as a
direct result of EU conditionality. However, there are disadvantages. The support of
the member states for this form of conditionality has not been stable. Governments
have sometimes ignored prosecutors’ assessments or interpreted them differently.
Moreover, it has brought the discussion revolving around the essentially legal pro-
ceedings of the ICTY into the political context of European international relations.
As Subotić has argued,50 ICTY conditionality has made cooperation with the court
not a matter of a moral choice but one of practical and political strategy. More
recently, the EU has even gone a step further along this road and has also supported
local war crimes trials. The results of this support have been mixed at best.51
It is important to note, however, that the EU has not developed any clear unified
strategy to link enlargement conditionality with a demand for supporting reconcilia-
tion initiatives outside of the judicial sphere of international or domestic transitional
justice or refugee return. Various EU representatives have paid lip service to the
RECOM initiative, but cooperation with RECOM has never been a requirement for
EU accession. Although the demand to “deal with the past” is sometimes mentioned
in debates in the European Parliament, we cannot see such a broadening of focus
across EU actions, and the debates in general remain strongly connected to the judi-
cial sphere of transitional justice systems.52
The EU’s framing of reconciliation in the Western Balkans presupposes equal par-
ties (countries) willing to take steps in a process of symbolic reconciling and re-
establishing common ground or a consensus over formerly divisive issues. As a
result, the term reconciliation acquires the connotation of being a kind of rapproche-
ment between different ethno-national groups, and such understanding has been
criticized for its tendency to reinforce a simplifying “groupist” view of the con-
flict53—a view of the conflict as a war between ethno-national groups—thereby
legitimizing ethno-nationalist accounts of the conflict.54
The EU’s approach also starts from the assumption that the political representa-
tives of these countries act as representatives of their people and of the various
groups of victims of the conflict. As a result, the EU vocally supports symbolic polit-
ical gestures by the various heads of state of the former Yugoslav countries and hails
them as examples of reconciliation. Croatian president Ivo Josipović and Serbian
Touquet and Vermeersch / Changing Frames of Reconciliation  65

president Boris Tadić, for instance, received the European Medal of Tolerance in
2012. At the awards ceremony, EP president Martin Schulze said both Tadić and
Josipović had faced great challenges in “putting the past behind and to focus on
progress and on the future,” adding that “through tolerance and reconciliation,
through the work of Presidents Tadić and Josipović, the Western Balkans have over-
come painful division and are on the right path.” In the speech he also mentioned the
example of the EU: “the European Union was founded on the commitment that war
in Europe must be prevented and that reconciliation of arch-enemies is the best way
to ensure peace.”55
All the presumptions we have discussed here stand in contrast with the notions
underlying civil society actors’ and individual citizens’ understandings of

Reconciliation from Below: The Role of Civil Society

The term reconciliation has not only been employed by international and state
actors in the judicial and political sphere. Its meaning has also been actively shaped
by the views and actions of activists and civil society organizations. In this section,
we focus first on the discussion revolving around RECOM; then we briefly zoom in
on the case of Prijedor. Both examples clearly illustrate the existence of tensions
between various frames of reconciliation coming “from below.”
RECOM is a consortium set up by three high-level NGOs (Humanitarian Law
Centre, Serbia; Documenta Zagreb; and Research and Documentation Centre,
Sarajevo) aimed at establishing a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) for
all the countries of the former Yugoslavia. RECOM is a regional cross-border initia-
tive strongly rooted in a network of NGOs and individual activists. Since its official
start in 2006,57 it has organized 127 public discussions in which 6,187 people have
participated. These gatherings took place across the region and fostered citizens’
deliberations on the issue of transitional justice and reconciliation.58 RECOM’s
activities towards setting up a TRC have made it run into several problems related to
the conceptualization of reconciliation. RECOM’s view that any attempt at reconcili-
ation should go beyond current state borders has turned out to be an important obsta-
cle: the establishment of a region-wide truth commission requires the full support of
all the region’s governments, and this has proven hard to obtain. Within the RECOM
network, moreover, there has been a lack of consensus among civil society organiza-
tions on whether reconciliation could indeed be acquired through the actions of a
cross-border network. In 2008, for example, one of the leading organizations, the
Sarajevo-based Research and Documentation Centre, withdrew from RECOM
because it no longer believed that such a cross-border regional strategy was viable,
especially given the fact that organizations from Croatia and Serbia were leading
RECOM. Similarly, local NGOs from Bosnia complained that their voices were not
heard in Belgrade and Zagreb.59
66  East European Politics and Societies and Cultures

The reports of the public citizens’ consultations furthermore reveal that there has
been, among organizations and citizens, a variety of views with regard to how one
can come to terms with the losses and legacies of the war and how, in this context,
reconciliation should be interpreted.60 Many victims’ organizations directly opposed
the term reconciliation because they argued it was another word for “forgiving,”
which they were not prepared to do. The Association of Mothers of Srebrenica stated
that they found the very use of the word reconciliation offensive. In an attempt to
solve the disagreement, RECOM saw itself forced to specify the aspects of reconcili-
ation that they wanted to focus on: the suffering of individuals (victims and perpetra-
tors), the fate of missing persons, the right to truth, the role of bystanders, and the
recognition of the suffering of others. RECOM foregrounded the principle of “giving
voice to the victims,” which was reflected in the RECOM Statute, adopted in 2011.
It is perhaps telling that the term reconciliation does not feature in this text; rather,
we find there various references to restoring “confidence between individuals, peo-
ples, and states in the region”61 and the need “to create a culture of compassion and
solidarity with victims.”62 Especially, shared victimhood became a central operating
term in the context of RECOM, something that eclipsed the term reconciliation, even
though it was understood that the two terms were related. Nataša Kandić, for exam-
ple, the director of the Humanitarian Law Centre (Belgrade), pointed out that “justice
for victims” needs to be foregrounded as something around which consensus can be
built: the participants of the citizens’ consultations, she argued, “mostly understand
[reconciliation] as a creation of a new atmosphere, a new climate in which there will
be more compassion for all victims, especially for victims from other ethnic com-
munities, through manifestations of solidarity and respect.”63 And, as Kandić argued,
the citizens’ discussions around a TRC show that people are mostly concerned about
individual victims, and not about “ethnic communities,” “groups,” or entire “coun-
tries,” which are the focus of reconciliation attempts by the international community
or governments. Several participants of the citizens’ consultations called for an
acknowledgement of the victims of all sides. “The role of civil society is not only to
mention and honour its own victims while ignoring the victims from the other side in
the conflict.”64
Through framing reconciliation in this way, RECOM has emphasized aspects of
the term that have remained largely absent from the EU and ICTY understanding of
the concept. As, for example, Eugen Jakovcić from Documenta (Zagreb), one of the
three NGOs that initiated RECOM, argued when comparing the RECOM initiative
to the ICTY, “Victims need something more than a court-established individual
responsibility for war crimes. This need of the victims, combined with a large num-
ber of missing persons from the entire region of the former Yugoslavia, is the main
motivation behind the initiative for RECOM.”65 The argument here is that victims
feel a deep need for recognition that has not been adequately addressed by either the
governments of the region, the so-called international community, or the ICTY. The
stress on the fate of individuals caught up in the conflict also challenges
Touquet and Vermeersch / Changing Frames of Reconciliation  67

the preconceived notion central to the EU’s understanding of reconciliation that

political elites are the legitimate representatives of the victims from their respective
“sides.” During a consultation in Zenica in 2010, for example, Zahid Kremić (presi-
dent of the Association of Returning Refugees in Doboj) argued, “No one is allowed
to speak on my behalf because I am the one who suffered. I can give a mandate or
an authorization to someone to represent me. So it is a message for those preparing
for elections: you can’t speak for me or us, whether there is a thousand, two, five or
ten thousand of us.”66 Vehid Šehić, from the Citizens Forum of Tuzla, formulated it
in this way: “You are talking here about Bosniaks, Serbs, Croats, and I advocate the
inclusion of another category no one mentioned—the victim. There are some of us
who do not belong to any ethnic entities and we are not national minorities, we are
something ‘former’ that no one cares to mention.”67 The RECOM consultations also
demonstrated that there is a widespread feeling among NGO representatives that
politicians have a vested interest in instrumentalizing the process of dealing with the
past. Many NGO representatives believe that politicians cannot be relied upon to
lead or support any type of truth-finding. Senka Jakupović (DIAKOM, Prijedor),
for example, argued, “We need people who have suffered the horrors of war and
their truth, and we will impose that truth upon the politicians and they have to
accept it eventually.”68 Nedeljko Mitrović (Organization of the detained, killed, and
missing soldiers and civilians of the RS) said, “the entire (RECOM) project must be
free from politics. . . . When I say free from politics I mean free from instrumental-
ization and manipulation.”69
While the public consultations surrounding RECOM clearly illustrate how civil
society organizations may find a consensus around reconciliation when it is framed
in terms of shared victimhood, discussions around specific cases show how fragile
such a consensus might be. A number of victims’ and war veterans’ organizations, for
example, have criticized RECOM for putting all victims on an equal footing, or they
have voiced suspicion about RECOM’s generally supportive view of the ICTY.70
The public discussions around Prijedor are also a case in point.71 In the early
2000s, Prijedor was generally considered a success story of foreign intervention, and
the large-scale return of refugees was thought to have improved “interethnic rela-
tions in the town.”72 Indeed, since the end of the 1990s, many refugees have, despite
opposition by local Serb political leaders, returned to this north-western Bosnian
city. War-time mayor Milomir Stakić and many others responsible for the ethnic
cleansing of the city and neighbouring villages have been convicted by the ICTY.
One would expect the place to be conducive to RECOM’s attempts at propagating a
victim-based approach to reconciliation, yet despite some positive developments, the
atmosphere has remained strained, mostly due to the denial of war-time atrocities
well documented by international nongovernmental organizations such as Amnesty
International,73 Human Rights Watch,74 TRIAL,75 Bankwatch,76 and others.
The existence of frame variation is clear in particular in the ongoing discussions
around the lack of a monument for non-Serb victims in the city, and especially in the
68  East European Politics and Societies and Cultures

area of the former Omarska camp, situated at a mining complex that is now owned
by the global corporation ArcelorMittal.77 Various returnee and survivor organiza-
tions have urged both the owner of the Omarska site and the mayor of Prijedor to
build a memorial, and several groups of citizens and activists from the Prijedor area
such as Izvor, Centar za Mlade Kvart, Jer me se tiče and others have, as a way of
protesting the status quo, built their own memorials. The citizens’ association Jer me
se tiče (Because I Care), for example, has erected small self-made monuments in
Bugojno, Foča, and Konjić.78 The discussions around the missing memorial at
Omarska show that “solidarity with victims” is not necessarily a frame conducive to
the reconciliation debate among citizens and civil society organizations.79 While
ArcelorMittal did set up a consultation process to find consensus on the question of
the memorials—both the victims’ organizations and the local authorities were
invited, and the religious organization The Soul of Europe was assigned to take care
of the coordination and make sure that all participants accepted a focus on victim-
hood—no agreement was found.80 One of the reasons was related to the local author-
ities’ view that a monument for the non-Serbs would be counterproductive for the
recognition of equal victimhood. While the RECOM’s view on equal victimhood as
a shortcut towards reconciliation was supported by a number of citizens’ associa-
tions, others disagreed. Both ArcelorMittal and Mayor Pavić 81 argued on that basis
that a memorial for non-Serb victims would upset efforts at reconciliation and hurt
inter-ethnic relations.


We have considered the tensions implicit in discourses on reconciliation in three

different areas of political discussion: ICTY, the EU, and local civil society. The
ICTY’s idea of reconciliation rests on three pillars: avoiding the recurrence of con-
flict by convicting the perpetrators, the individualization of guilt, and the creation of
a historical record. The belief in the extent of the influence of ICTY on reconcilia-
tion has changed over the years. Documents from the early post-war years attest to
the great hopes that the tribunal could make a major contribution to reconciliation.
These expectations have faded over the course of the tribunal’s existence, and espe-
cially since 2012 in the context of a number of controversial acquittals. Nevertheless,
the underlying consensus is still that the ICTY acts as a catalyst for reconciliation,
even if other factors outside the tribunal might have greater direct influence.
For the EU, cooperation with the ICTY is a condition for EU accession and is
understood as a key function of reconciliation in the Western Balkans. There is no
notable evolution in the EU’s discourse on ICTY and reconciliation, despite the dis-
cussions that have taken place at the tribunal. EU documents and speeches frame
reconciliation mainly as a diplomatic process and a symbolic agreement between
countries, and in some cases, between clearly defined ethnic groups. It presupposes
Touquet and Vermeersch / Changing Frames of Reconciliation  69

a process of re-establishing political stability between two or more equal (ethnicized)

groups represented by elected politicians.
Civil society groups have put forth very different ideas of what reconciliation
means and what steps are necessary to achieve it. In the case of the RECOM civic
consultation process, reconciliation is talked about as dependent on victim recogni-
tion. Such a framing is less concerned, or sometimes directly opposed to, ethnic or
groupist understandings of the post-conflict reality. As a result, they also oppose the
political instrumentalization of the victims’ fate by politicians, who are often not
regarded as legitimate representatives. Our brief analysis of activist demands for a
commemorative symbol in Prijedor reveals a significant power asymmetry between
victims’ organizations and local political elites, as well as among certain sections of
the civil society. The way the problem of reconciliation is experienced in such spe-
cific settings is far removed from how it is framed within the realm of international
judicial proceedings or in the context of the high-level politics associated with EU
The problems of victims’ organizations will therefore persist, as they will not be
adequately addressed by EU enlargement procedures nor by local political elites,
despite numerous statements on the importance of reconciliation and dealing with
the past for the Western Balkans.

  1. “Remarks by High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini at the end of her visit to
Bosnia and Herzegovina,” available at http://eeas.europa.eu/statements-eeas/2015/150223_02_en.htm
(accessed February 2015).
  2. See, e.g., Antonija Petričušić and Cyril Blondel, “Reconciliation in the Western Balkans: New
Perspectives and Proposals,” Journal on Ethnopolitics and Minority Issues 11, no. 4 (2012): 1–6;
Aleksandar Pavković, “A Reconciliation Model for the Former Yugoslavia,” Peace Review 12, no. 1
(2000): 103–9.
 3. Andrew Schaap, “Reconciliation as Ideology and Politics,” Constellations 15, no. 2 (2008):
  4. See, e.g., Jens Meierhenrich, “Varieties of Reconciliation,” Law and Social Inquiry 33, no. 1
(2008): 195–231.
 5. Sabrina Ramet, “Explaining the Yugoslav Meltdown, 2: A Theory about the Causes of the
Yugoslav Meltdown: The Serbian National Awakening as a ‘Revitalization Movement,’” Nationalities
Papers 32, no. 4 (2004): 765–79; Sabrina Ramet, “Explaining the Yugoslav Meltdown, 1: ‘for a Charm
of Pow’rful Trouble, like a Hell-Broth Boil and Bubble’: Theories about the Roots of the Yugoslav
Troubles,” Nationalities Papers 32, no. 4 (2004): 731–63.
  6. Dimitar Bechev, “Carrots, Sticks and Norms: The EU and Regional Cooperation in Southeast
Europe,” Journal of Southern Europe and the Balkans 8, no. 1 (2006): 27–43; Efstathios T. Fakiolas and
Nikolaos Tzifakis, “Transformation or Accession? Reflecting on the EU’s Strategy towards the Western
Balkans,” European Foreign Affairs Review 13 (2008): 377–98.
 7. Janine Natalya Clark, “The Limits of Retributive Justice: Findings of an Empirical Study in
Bosnia and Hercegovina,” Journal of International Criminal Justice 7, no. 3 (2009): 463–87; Lara J.
Nettelfield, “From the Battlefield to the Barracks: The ICTY and the Armed Forces of Bosnia and
Herzegovina,” The International Journal of Transitional Justice 4 (2010): 87–109; Jelena Subotić,
70  East European Politics and Societies and Cultures

“Europe Is a State of Mind: Identity and Europeanization in the Balkans,” International Studies Quarterly
55 (2011): 309–30.
  8. RECOM stands for “Regional Commission Tasked with Establishing the Facts about All Victims
of War Crimes and Other Serious Human Rights Violations Committed on the Territory of the Former
Yugoslavia in the period from 1991-2001”; see http://www.zarekom.org/The-Coalition-for-RECOM.
 9. David A. Snow, R. Vliegenthart, and C. Corrigall-Brown, “Framing the French Riots: A
Comparative Study of Frame Variation,” Social Forces 86, no. 2 (2007): 385–415.
10. Erving Goffman, Frame Analysis: An Essay on the Organization of Experience (Harmondsworth:
Penguin books, 1975).
11. Dietram Scheufele and David Tewksbury, “Framing, Agenda Setting, and Priming: The Evolution
of Three Media Effects Models,” Journal of Communication 57, no. 1 (2007): 9–20; Robert Benford and
David A. Snow, “Framing Processes and Social Movements: An Overview and Assessment,” Annual
Review of Sociology 26 (2000): 611–39.
12. Stef Jansen, “If Reconciliation Is the Answer, Are We Asking the Right Questions?” Studies in
Social Justice 7, no. 2 (2013): 229–43.
13. Audrey R. Chapman and Hugo Van der Merwe, Truth and Reconciliation in South Africa: Did the
TRC Deliver? (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008).
14. Bert Ingelaere, “Peasants, Power and the Past: The Gacaca Courts and Rwanda’s Transition from
Below” (Universiteit Antwerpen, 2012).
15. K. Andrieu, “‘Sorry for the Genocide’: How Public Apologies Can Help Promote National
Reconciliation,” Millennium—Journal of International Studies 38, no. 1 (2009): 3–23.
16. David Scheffer, All the Missing Souls: A Personal History of the War Crimes Tribunals (Princeton,
NJ: Princeton University Press, 2012).
17. Laurel E. Fletcher and Harvey Weinstein, “Violence and Social Repair: Rethinking the
Contribution of Justice to Reconciliation,” Human Rights Quarterly 24, no. 3 (2002).
18. “The Rule of Law and Transitional Justice in Conflict and Post-conflict Societies” (report by the
UN Secretary General, 2004), 4, http://www.gsdrc.org/docs/open/SSAJ152.pdf.
19. Jacob Bercovitch and Richard Jackson, Conflict Resolution in the Twenty-First Century:
Principles, Methods, and Approaches (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2009), 153; Aletta J.
Norval, “‘No Reconciliation without Redress’: Articulating Political Demands in Post-transitional South
Africa,” Critical Discourse Studies 6, no. 4 (2009).
20. R. Phillips, “Commentary: Ambiguity in Narratives of Reconciliation: A Commentary on
Positioning in Accounting for Redemption and Reconciliation,” Culture & Psychology 13, no. 4 (2007):
453–60. For an overview of the spectrum of different conceptions of reconciliation, see, e.g., Meierhenrich,
“Varieties of Reconciliation.”
21. “The Tribunal welcomes the parties’ commitment to justice. Joint statement by the President and
the Prosecutor” (press release), http://www.icty.org/sid/7220.
22. “The ICTY and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Bosnia and Herzegovina” (press
release), http://www.icty.org/sid/7985.
23. Eric Gordy, Guilt, Responsibility and Denial: The Past at Stake in Post-Miloševic Serbia
(Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013), 6–7.
24. Clark, “The Limits of Retributive Justice.”
25. Outreach Programme, http://www.icty.org/sections/Outreach/OutreachProgramme.
26. Johanna Mannergren Selimovic, “Perpetrators and Victims: Local Responses to the International
Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia,” Focaal, no. 57 (July 30, 2010): 52.
27. Berber Bevernage, “Writing the Past out of the Present: History and the Politics of Time in
Transitional Justice,” History Workshop Journal 69 (2010): 111–31.
28. Clark, “The Limits of Retributive Justice.”
29. Olivera Simic, “Remembering, Visiting and Placing the Dead: Law, Authority and Genocide in
Srebrenica,” Law Text Culture 13 (2009): 273–310.
Touquet and Vermeersch / Changing Frames of Reconciliation  71

30. Jelena Subotić, “Stories States Tell: Identity, Narrative, and Human Rights in the Balkans,” Slavic
Review 72, no. 2 (2013): 306–26; Janine Natalya Clark, “Missing Persons, Reconciliation and the View
from Below: A Case Study of Bosnia-Hercegovina,” Southeast European and Black Sea Studies 10, no.
4 (2010): 425–42.
31. David Mendeloff, “Truth-Seeking, Truth-Telling, and Postconflict Peacebuilding: Curb the
Enthusiasm?,” International Studies Review 6, no. 3 (2004): 355–80.
32. TEDx Hague Academy, http://www.tedxhagueacademy.org/node/34.
33. The court’s Appeal Chamber has argued that the war crimes committed by the subordinates of the
accused military or political leaders do not fall under the criminal responsibility of the latter since these
crimes were not intended by them. They do not constitute a joint criminal enterprise (JCE). In the wake
of these acquittals, Judge Meron has been accused for choosing sides, abandoning the larger goals of
transitional justice, and focusing instead on the interests of the military and of powerful states—those
same interests that have traditionally hindered the further development of an international criminal justice
system. According to numerous human rights NGOs, this is highly problematic.
34. He said, “One very clear lesson learned from our experience at the ICTY is that, while prosecu-
tions alone are not enough, they are an essential pre-condition for redress and reconciliation” (“ICTY’s
20th Anniversary—Address of Prosecutor Serge Brammertz,” statement), http://icty.org/sid/11321.
35. S. Pogodda, O. Richmond, N. Tocci, R. Mac Ginty, and B. Vogel, “Assessing the Impact of EU
Governmentality in Post-conflict Countries: Pacification or Reconciliation?,” European Security (2014):
1–23; Catherine Guisan, “From the European Coal and Steel Community to Kosovo: Reconciliation and
Its Discontents,” Journal of Common Market Studies 49, no. 3 (2011): 541–62.
36. Katy A. Crossley-Frolick, “The European Union and Transitional Justice: Human Rights and Post-
Conflict Reconciliation in Europe and Beyond,” Contemporary Readings in Law and Social Justice 1
(2011): 33–57.
37. http://eeas.europa.eu/top_stories/2012/121012_eu_nobel_peace_prize_en.htm.
38. http://www.europarl.europa.eu/the-president/en/press/press_release_speeches/press_release/2012/2012-
39. Heather Grabbe, The EU’s Transformative Power: Europeanization through Conditionality in
Central and Eastern Europe (Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006).
40. Guisan, “From the European Coal and Steel Community.”
41. “Inzko: Bosnia needs Franco-German recipe,” Euractiv, http://www.euractiv.com/enlargement/
42. It is beyond the purpose of this paper to treat the aspect of time and time past in depth here.
Bevernage offers an insightful analysis of the philosophical and ethical aspects of how time is conceptu-
alized in societies dealing with a violent past. Berber Bevernage, “Writing the Past out of the Present:
History and the Politics of Time in Transitional Justice,” History Workshop Journal 69 (2010): 111–31;
Berber Bevernage, “Time, Presence, and Historical Injustice,” History and Theory 47 (2008): 149–67.
43. Although reconciliation is often mentioned as a strategic objective and desired goal, it is never
specifically defined in any EU document. We can infer some of the meaning the EU attributes to it by
analyzing where and in combination with what other concepts it is used.
44. http://mobile.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUSTRE6502RJ20100601.
45. The declaration on Srebrenica was, however, firmly criticized by various Bosnian victims’
organizations because it failed to recognize genocide.
46. Othon Anastasakis and Dimitar Bechev, “EU Conditionality in South East Europe : Bringing
Commitment to the Process,” April (2003): 1–20.
47. Bechev, “Carrots, Sticks and Norms”; Anastasakis and Bechev, “EU Conditionality in South East
48. D. Guzina and B. Marijan, “Strengthening Transitional Justice in Bosnia: Regional Possibilities
and Parallel Narratives,” CIGI Policy Brief 30 (2013), http://www.cigionline.org.
49. http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/war-crimes-justice-remains-key-to-enlargement.
50. Jelena Subotić, “Stories States Tell.”
72  East European Politics and Societies and Cultures

51. See, e.g., the Institute for War and Peace Reporting on the issue, http://iwpr.net/report-news/eu-
52. See, e.g., this intervention by Franziska Brantner, MEP: “How we deal with the past is an impor-
tant part of joining the EU. The ICTY has been mentioned. This is crucial, but we also feel that the local
war crimes tribunals need to work better” (EU debate on progress report for Croatia, 16 February 2011).
53. Rogers Brubaker, “Ethnicity without Groups,” European Journal of Sociology 43 (2002): 163–89.
54. Jansen, “If Reconciliation Is the Answer, Are We Asking the Right Questions ?”
55. http://www.europarl.europa.eu/former_ep_presidents/president-schulz/en/press/press_release_speeches/
56. One exception perhaps is the continuous emphasis the EU has placed on the issue of refugee return
within the context of enlargement. Refugee return is an important part of process of reconciliation as the
EU defines it, because it involves regional cooperation.
57. “Recom development process—Report 1,” www.koalicijazarekom.org.
58. The consultations have been recorded, and the files can be found on the RECOM website.
Additionally, a book on the consultations has been published, consisting of nearly 500 pages of statements
and remarks by participants (The Recom Process [Publikum: Belgrade, 2011]). Our examples come from
this book.
59. J. Rowen, “Mobilizing Truth: Agenda Setting in a Transnational Social Movement,” Law & Social
Inquiry 37, no. 3 (2012): 705–6.
60. For an overview of the evolution in the debate on reconciliation within RECOM see J. Niesser,
“Nemoj mi samo o miru i ljubavi!,” Versöhnung als Tabu auf dem Gebiet des ehemaligen Jugoslawien?,”
Kakanien Revisited, n.d., http://www.kakanien.ac.at/beitr/re_visions/JNiesser1/ (accessed 20 March
2015); J. A. Irvine and P. C. McMahon, “From International Courts to Grassroots Organizing: Obstacles
to Transitional Justice in the Balkans,” in Transitional Justice and Civil Society in the Balkans, ed. O.
Simić and Z. Volčić, Springer Series in Transitional Justice (New York: Springer, 2013); and A. Kurze
and I. Vukušić, “Afraid to Cry Wolf: Human Rights Activists’ Struggle of Transnational Accountability
Efforts in the Balkans,” in Simić and Volcić, eds., Transitional Justice and Civil Society in the Balkans.
61. J. Niesser “‘Nemoj mi samo o miru i ljubavi!’ Versöhnung als Tabu auf dem Gebiet des ehemali-
gen Jugoslawien?” Kakanien Revisited, n.d., http://www.kakanien.ac.at/beitr/re_visions/JNiesser1/
(accessed 20 March 2015).
62. The Recom Process, 460.
63. Ibid., 320.
64. Tanja Topić, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Banja Luka, quoted in The Recom Process, 319.
65. The Recom Process, 298
66. Ibid., 296.
67. Ibid., 66.
68. Ibid., 92.
69. Ibid., 92.
70. A. Di Lellio and C. McCurn, “Engineering Grassroots Transitional Justice in the Balkans: The
Case of Kosovo,” East European Politics & Societies 27, no. 1 (2012): 129–48.
71. It is not our aim here to provide an in-depth analysis of the case of Prijedor. For more information
on Prijedor and the issue of the monument for Omarska, see Refik Hodzić, “Living the Legacy of Mass
Atrocities: Victims’ Perspectives on War Crimes Trials,” Journal of International Criminal Justice 8
(2010): 113–36; and S. Sivac-Bryant, “The Omarska Memorial Project as an Example of How
Transitional Justice Interventions Can Produce Hidden Harms,” International Journal of Transitional
Justice 1, no. 11 (2014).
72. R. Belloni “Peacebuilding at the Local Level: Refugee return to Prijedor,” International
Peacekeeping 12, no. 3 (2005).
73. http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/EUR63/001/2006.
Touquet and Vermeersch / Changing Frames of Reconciliation  73

74. http://www.refworld.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/rwmain?page=country&category=&publisher=HRW&
75. http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/Treaties/CCPR/Shared%20Documents/BIH/INT_CCPR_NGS_BIH_
76. http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/Treaties/CCPR/Shared%20Documents/BIH/INT_CCPR_NGS_BIH_15949_
77. Twenty years after the war, the site still remains restricted to outsiders, and no monuments to
commemorate the dead have been built. ArcelorMittal allows free access only on August 6, the day of
78. http://www.slobodnaevropa.org/content/bugojno-foca-i-konjic-postavljeni-memorijali-zrtvama-
79. Our analysis here is shared by Sebina Sivac-Bryant, see S. Sivac-Bryant The Omarska Memorial
Project as an Example of How Transitional Justice Can Produce Hidden Harms,” International Journal
of Transitional Justice, 1, 11 (2014)
80. http://in.mobile.reuters.com/article/financialsSector/idINL6E8J6ARC20120806.
81. http://www.idoconline.info/digitalarchive/public/index.cfm?fuseaction=serve&elementid=

Peter Vermeersch is a professor of social sciences at the University of Leuven (KU Leuven) in Belgium.
He is research coordinator at the LINES institute (Leuven International and European Studies) and the
author of several books, among others, The Romani Movement: Minority Politics and Ethnic Mobilization
in Contemporary Central Europe (Oxford, New York: Berghahn Books, 2006). More information:

Heleen Touquet is a post-doc and part-time professor at the faculty of social sciences at the University
of Leuven. Her research on postethnic mobilization in Bosnia-Herzegovina has been published in Europe-
Asia Studies, Nationalism and Ethnic Politics, Nationalities Papers and Studies in Ethnicity and