Thursday, April 12, 2001
Jerry Fowler, director of the Committee of Conscience, hosts a panel on the role of justice and accountability in resolving conflicts, with a focus on the former Yugoslavia. The panel included Jerome J. Shestack, Sonja Biserko, Justice Richard J. Goldstone, Ambassador Milan St. Protic.
JEROME SHESTACK: Good evening. Welcome to the Holocaust Memorial Museum. My name is Jerry Shestack. I’m a member of the Council of the Museum and chair of the Committee on Conscience. The objective of the Committee on Conscience of the Museum is to address issues of genocide and related crimes against humanity and, hopefully, to be able to arouse a national conscience in anticipation of these events, to play a role in preventing them and so that we can truly say never again with respect to genocide and the horrendous crimes against humanity.
Tonight, we deal with events in the former Yugoslavia, which has had a profound effect on our society. In the post-World War II world where human rights began to have a foundation and, one by one, the authoritarian and totalitarian dictatorships of the world in Latin America, some in Africa, and in Eastern Europe began to fall. And then we had the horrendous situation in Rwanda, then Bosnia, Croatia, and the areas of the former Yugoslavia.
Tonight, we address some of the questions of what is the justice that emerges from the tragedy that we have all witnessed in the past few years? It’s a profound question. The International Criminal Court, which has now been endorsed by nearly 100 nations around the world and is not yet ratified by all, is not yet in force, but will likely be in force, deals with the problems of how you achieve justice and deterrence, vindication for the victims, and start the process of healing and reconciliation. That is one of the issues we’re going to deal with tonight in terms of Mr. Milosevic.
We have addressed these issues in the Museum before in various of our programs, but it is always a challenge or a frustration to find that when you address issues of trying to prevent genocide, again and again you come up with situations where genocide still looms on the horizon and we have yet to be able to prevent it or even to identify it coming early enough.
Tonight’s panel, which deals with the role of justice and accountability, is indeed a very distinguished panel. Our moderator will be Jerry Fowler from the executive staff of the Museum and the Committee on Conscience.
And our three panelists are Ms. Sonja Biserko, who’s a senior fellow in the United States Institute of Peace. She is also head of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia and a member of the Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, which did so much to promote human rights during all the conflicts and preceding that in Eastern Europe. Ms. Biserko’s recent work has focused on refugee resettlement efforts to promote dialogue between the Serbs and Albanians in Kosovo and to document war crimes that were committed in Bosnia. She was a founding member of a European movement in Yugoslavia, the Center for Anti-War Action in the Belgrade Forum for International Relations. And she was a diplomat in the former Yugoslavia for over 20 years and holds a degree in economics from the University of Belgrade. So let’s welcome Ms. Biserko to begin with.
Justice Richard Goldstone is a personal hero of mine, but he is a hero for many around the world and all who believe in human dignity and worth and human rights. He is indeed a hero. I first met him in the 1980s, in the dark days of apartheid of South Africa, when he came to the United States to attend a conference on human rights along with federal judges. He is certainly one of the world’s leading authorities on constitutional law, human rights, and war crimes.
He was a leading voice against apartheid in South Africa and chaired the Commission of Inquiry regarding public violence and intimidation. It was known as the Goldstone Commission. President Nelson Mandela appointed him to the Constitutional Court of South Africa in 1994, a position which he now holds. He served as the first prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, paving the way for what the tribunal did after that and setting the standards that are now observed.
He received the International Human Rights Award of the American Bar Association in ceremonies at the Supreme Court in 1994. He served as chair of the international independent inquiry in Kosovo and is the author of For Humanity: Reflections of a War Crimes Investigator. He has numerous honorary degrees, but the title of his book, For Humanity, is one that really exemplifies him. Please welcome Justice Goldstone.
Our third panelist, Ambassador Milan St. Protic, is a newcomer to the post of ambassador in Yugoslavia to the United States, but not a newcomer to the United States. He had studied at Santa Barbara and spent many years studying and teaching history in Southern California. Then he was called back to Yugoslavia. He is the grandson of Stojan Protic, who was the prime minister of the newly-formed kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1929, went to law school in Belgrade, and has been deeply involved in the fortunes of his nation ever since he was a student at Belgrade.
When he returned to Yugoslavia, he was one of the anti-Communist intellectuals who was in the forefront of the anti- Milosevic movement. And on that tense night of October 5th, with the uprising of the citizens against the totalitarian government, he was there in the streets counseling against violence and praying for what would happen.
When it did happen, his father said to him at the end of that night, I’ve been waiting for 60 years for this to happen. Didn’t ask him how he was, but there he was. And now he is the ambassador from Yugoslavia. Shortly after he came here he predicted that there would be an arrest of Mr. Milosevic, and that happened. He is very welcome in this nation for his history, for his brilliance, and for his understanding of the cause of justice. Please welcome Ambassador Protic.
We are delighted at such a welcoming audience and one that I’m sure will benefit from tonight’s colloquy. And now I turn the meeting over to Jerry Fowler.
JERRY FOWLER: Thank you very much, Jerry, and thank you -- all of you -- for coming. I apologize for our somewhat tardy start, but we’ll move things right along now.
Before I turn to our panelists, though, I need to address a couple of preliminary issues. First, I would like to extend our profound thanks to Suzy Blaustein, to Nina Bang-Jenson, and the Coalition for International Justice for their assistance in organizing tonight’s program. We’re very grateful and we wouldn’t have been able to do it without them.
We’re going to ask each of our panelists to speak for about 15 minutes and then we’ll have time for questions from the audience. When you came in, you should have received an index card which you can use to write down any questions that you have. Then when the panelists have all finished their presentations or opening remarks, museum staff will collect the cards with your questions.
You also should have received an evaluation form for tonight’s program. And if you could fill that out at the end and give it the staff on your way out, it would be greatly appreciated.
Well, the devastated background for tonight’s discussion is well-known to everyone here. As Jerry mentioned, the situation in the former Yugoslavia has been of continuing concern to the museum and the Committee on Conscience over the past decade. Tonight, we’re focusing in particular on the judicial fate of Slobodan Milosevic.
As you know, on May 24, 1999, he was accused by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia of planning, instigating, ordering, committing, or otherwise aiding and abetting in a campaign of terror and violence directed against ethnic Albanian civilians living in Kosovo in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
The ICTY’s indictment charged Milosevic with the crimes against humanity of deportation, murder, and persecution on political, racial, and religious grounds, and with the war crime of murder. The current prosecutor for the ICTY, Carla Del Ponte, has said that she is preparing a new indictment that would charge Milosevic with offenses arising out of the war in Bosnia from 1992 to 1995. Deposed by a popular uprising last year, Milosevic was arrested at the beginning of this month by Yugoslav authorities and charged, as I understand it, with corruption and abuse of power, including an allegation that he conspired with others to steal public money from the Yugoslav treasury. In a statement made after his arrest, Milosevic denied these charges saying that the money was not used for his personal gain, but for support of paramilitary groups in Bosnia and Croatia.
We’ve posed the specific questions who should try Milosevic and for what crimes? But we’re trying as well to get to the larger issues of how newly democratic societies should account for egregious human rights violations, including crimes against humanity, and the interaction between national and international mechanisms of justice.
And in discussing Milosevic in particular, we should not forget that he did not act alone. Indeed, four other men were named along with him in the May 1999 indictment, all of whom remain free. Other international indictees also are at large in Yugoslavia and their fates are implicated in these larger questions.
So without further delay, I’d like to turn the floor over to Sonja Biserko.
SONJA BISERKO: Thank you. Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests, I’m honored to be able to participate in today’s event. I’m also humbled by deep feelings this great memorial evokes in me and I believe it is the same for all that visit and spend some time here.
It is more than symbolic that our meeting takes place here and today, almost on the eve of the annual Remembrance Day. This memorial and the forthcoming Remembrance Day reminds us the darkest time in the history of humankind.
They remind us not to forget and to do everything to prevent the recurrence of terror, suffering, and injustice in the future. They remind us that we all have to speak out and speak out all the time against hatred, intolerance, and bigotry that so often plague our world, although we thought that humankind would do better and know better after the horrible crimes of the Holocaust.
It also inspires one to speak out on the behalf of those who are not able to speak out, on behalf of the innocent victims of the greatest crime, the crime against humanity. It is of utmost importance that such crimes be prevented and when we fail to do so, and this is, unfortunately, why we are gathered here today, and we must see that the perpetrators of such crimes are brought to justice.
This is our responsibility towards the victims and our responsibility towards the very essence of the museum’s message to the world. We know the name of the perpetrator. We have to ask the two questions: For what crimes should Slobodan Milosevic be tried and where should he be tried?
His major crimes list as follows. Slobodan Milosevic is responsible for the implementation of Greater Serbia project. To achieve it, he waged a war which, at its core, relied on ethnic cleansing, genocide, mass rape, wanton destruction as weapons of war. The project based in crime proved to be a fallacy. The complex history of the Balkans and its multi-ethnic character demonstrated no such project was possible even at the cost of the mass suffering of the peoples in the former Yugoslavia, including Serbs.
Slobodan Milosevic appeared on the Soviet scene in a political vacuum after the collapse of the communist system after the death of Josip Broz Tito. He obviously was eager to become a new Tito. Unfortunately, he overlooked the changed historical circumstances, the new Yugoslav context, and the urgent need for the rearrangement of the Yugoslav Federation through dialogue in order to accommodate the interests of all nations. Instead, he refused the ultimate solution offered by The Hague Conference. His arrogance was based on brute power.
In his attempt to reshape Yugoslavia to his liking, he won full support at home. The Yugoslav army took his side and waged four wars, which affected millions of people, forced hundreds of thousands to leave their homes forever, displacing as many of them, sending thousands to camps, massacring and mutilating tens of thousands. Ruthlessly, he destroyed the efforts and achievements of generations of people in the region and took the Balkans essentially back.
Slobodan Milosevic started a war in Slovenia with the aim to push it out from the former Yugoslavia so as to have free hands in Croatia and Bosnia. The so-called People’s Army occupied almost 30 percent of Croatian territory, claiming it to be Serbian land. All Muslims were systematically cleansed, some 12,000 people were killed, hundreds of thousands became refugees overnight and many of them still are.
The city of Vukovar was destroyed, the kind of destruction that has not been seen since World War II. Dubrovnik, one of the most beautiful cities in the world cultural heritage was shelled for 3 months. Destroying the cultural heritage, Slobodan Milosevic tried to wipe out the cultural and national identity of its people. The nation’s cities were looted and burned, together with industry and infrastructure, fertile plains were mined so that hidden killers would maim and hurt people over decades to come.
The invasion and war against Bosnia- Herzegovina brought even greater horrors. Crimes committed there brought back the horrors of Auschwitz. Their names in Bosnia are Kereterm, Kozarac, Omarska. The new Serbian entity, Republika Srpska, was created after a total cleansing, ethnic cleansing of Muslims and Croats. It is still forbidden land for Muslims and Croats as only a handful of them have managed to return so far. Muslims were victims of genocide in Srebrenica, Prijedor, Foca, Bijelina, and many other places.
Srebrenica is perhaps the most poignant reminder of these deliberate killings, but also of unprecedented UN moral complicity in the mass murders. It has become a moral issue for the whole world since. Some were held hostage for 4 years without electricity, water, or food. Snipers from the hills killed, this time indiscriminately, some 12,000 people, including children.
In his pursuit of a Greater Serbia, Slobodan Milosevic unscrupulously manipulated Serbs in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and finally in Kosovo. He is responsible for the exodus from Krajina after having prevented northern Serbs from negotiating with the Croatian side. He is also responsible for the exodus of Sarajevo because he tried to blackmail the international community by always creating a new reality on the ground. He’s equally responsible for the disastrous refugee plight in Serbia.
In the period from ’95 to ’99, Slobodan Milosevic refused to end repression against Kosovo Albanians, thus contributing to the radicalization and abolishment of a peaceful resistance policy. To that he responded by retaliating against the civilian population, the method in which he was a master of. One of his collaborators testified recently that there was a plan before the intervention to expel Albanians so as to bring their number well below a million. Tens of thousands of Albanians were killed, thousands of houses destroyed, almost a million people expelled.
Slobodan Milosevic led Serbia into that intervention with an aim to humiliate the international community once again and, thus he allowed destruction of his own country. The last 2 years of his regime will be remembered for the repression of his own population, suppression of media, purging of judiciary and university. He initiated and furthered rampant corruption.
Serbia is now one of the most corrupt countries in the world. It is an economically devastated country, too. The society has collapsed together with its institutions, a massive brain drain has taken place, the economy’s ruined, people are depressed and confused. These are the consequences of Milosevic’s reign. It will take decades to restore Serbia to its normalcy.
However, ladies and gentlemen, Slobodan Milosevic is not the only man who is responsible for all these crimes. A Greater Serbia project was supported and actively promoted by leading power structures, including the army, the church, and the intelligentsia.
We should not forget the role of the leading writer and politician Dobrica Cosic, whose entire work has been devoted to the myth of Serbs being victims throughout history. This gave more fodder to the idea that the victim can perpetrate any crime. The Serbian political elite had its own role in the implementation of the regime’s policies where many of the opposition parties, in fact, supported Milosevic.
Who should try Slobodan Milosevic? The arrest of Slobodan Milosevic is an important step, but it is only a step in a long and a painful process of catharsis. Slobodan Milosevic has been indicted by The Hague Tribunal for crimes against humanity. Charges were brought against him by Belgrade regime cannot compare in gravity to the allegation of crimes against humanity and genocide being pursued by the International Tribunal.
The Hague Tribunal was founded by the UN Security Council as an international court for the crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia. Full cooperation with the ICTY is obligatory for all states. It applies to the Belgrade new government, too, the crimes that he has been charged with go against the fundamental principals of a civilized world. They go against the very essence of humankind.
They concern not only Serbia, they concern the international community as a whole. And only the international community can guarantee that Slobodan Milosevic will face justice, a justice that will vindicate innocent victims and offer a way out from the moral and political quagmire in the Balkans. It will also show a way to the Serbian people towards reckoning their recent past without which there can be no stable peace and security in the region.
No reconciliation is possible without The Hague deliberations and it is essential for these deliberations to be successful, that Slobodan Milosevic is brought to justice in this court.
RICHARD GOLDSTONE: What I would like to do as briefly as I can is to look at the question of the judicial fate of Slobodan Milosevic in three different contexts: Firstly, in the international context; secondly, in the context of the Balkans, the Balkan region; and thirdly, in the context of Serbia. It’s a long agenda and I’m going to have to do it a little bit telegraphically.
From the international perspective, one must see the question in the context of the weakening of national sovereignty in relation to serious human rights violations and particularly serious humanitarian law violations since the Second World War.
It is more than appropriate that this discussion should take place in the particular museum because the weakening of national sovereignty is a consequence, a direct consequence, of the Holocaust. It was the shot to the conscience of humankind that led to the concept of crimes against humanity being added to the lexicon of war crimes, the idea that some crimes are so huge or so egregious that they’re crimes not only against the immediate victims, they’re crimes not only against the people in the country where they were committed, but they are truly crimes committed against the whole of humankind.
And the consequence of our national sovereignty began to weaken in the face of such crimes is that it was recognized and is recognized today in international law that any people, anywhere, have the right and the duty to prosecute people who commit crimes against humanity wherever they may be committed and, notwithstanding the absence of a connection between the courts of the country, bringing such a person to trial, and the country where the crimes were committed.
One of the other results of this weakening sovereignty is universal jurisdiction, the idea that in respect to these huge crimes that people can be brought to court in a country that has no connection with the place or the people who were affected by the commission of the crimes themselves.
The Geneva Conventions of 1949 were the first means of international recognition of this universal jurisdiction, obliging all nations that ratified the Geneva Conventions to bring to trial people who commit grave breaches of those conventions. And the establishment of the two United Nations War Crimes Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and then, in 1994, for Rwanda in the face of the terrible genocide there, is a further marker on this road towards universal jurisdiction and the weakening of national sovereignty.
The Security Council, acting under Chapter 7, which, as Ms. Biserko has indicated, bounds every member of the United Nations. Every member is obliged by the United Nations Charter to comply with Chapter 7, Resolutions of the Security Council. Those powers were used to set up the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
So it’s against that background that one must ask and answer the question as to what the judicial fate of Milosevic will be.
There’s a clear legal duty on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, on Serbia, to hand Milosevic over for trial. That there can be no doubt about. And in addition to the international legal obligation, there was the additional obligation that the FRY undertook when Slobodan Milosevic signed on behalf of his country, as its head of state, the Dayton Agreement in 1995.
Finally, as far as the international context is concerned, it should not be left out of the cart that the whole question as to what will happen and whether or not Milosevic will face trial in The Hague is very relevant to the future of the International Criminal Court, which will certainly be underway by the end of next year.
Twenty-nine countries have ratified it; it needs another 31 before the court will be underway. It’s obviously not the time and there’s no time to talk about the great regret that all of us who support that court have for the negative attitude towards it of the United States government and particularly the Senate.
Let me turn to the Balkan context. There’s clearly a welcome process of democratization underway in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in Croatia, and more recently, since the accession to power, of President Kostunica, in Serbia. With regard to the International Criminal Tribunal, there has been more compliance than there has been until now by Croatia.
Bosnia-Herzegovina, generally speaking, has always been extremely cooperative with regard to assisting and responding positively to requests from the prosecutor and the judges of the International Tribunal.
Clearly in the Balkan area, serious problems still remain to be resolved: Kosovo, in particular, and also Montenegro. Until they’ve been resolved there’s going to be no lasting permanent peace in the Balkans.
In addition, clearly Serbia wants to and needs to rejoin Europe and to rejoin the international community. I would suggest that they’re not going to be able to do that until there has been full compliance with international obligations under the United Nations Security Council statute in relation to the Yugoslavia tribunal.
Perhaps most importantly as to this question is the fact that the major victims of the regime of Milosevic are not in Serbia. The victims are in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia. Over 200,000 people killed, murdered, during the four wars that he was responsible for initiating and losing. Many tens of thousands of women raped; many millions of people forced from their homes into refugee status or displaced persons.
Finally, the Serb context. And obviously I hesitate to deal with the Serb context because I’m very aware as a South African of the danger of people from far away coming into South Africa, or even from afar proscribing solutions. But I hope that what I’m going to say is common cause and based on fact, for the most part.
Firstly, the question of extradition. President Kostunica and some of the members of his cabinet have talked about the inability of his government to send Milosevic to The Hague because of the constitution prohibiting extradition. Well, as the federal justice minister of Grubac has stated that’s not correct.
To send Milosevic to The Hague is not extradition. Extradition is sending somebody from one country to another country for a criminal trial. The International Criminal Tribunal, set up by the United Nations Security Council, is not a country. The tribunal is as much a part of Serbia as it is part of the United States or South Africa or the other 189 members of the United Nations.
Secondly, one of the objections raised by President Kostunica is following the footsteps, unfortunately, of Milosevic himself and members of the former government criticizing the tribunal for being biased or being anti-Serb. Well, I can state, because I worked there for 2-1/4 years, I’ve had a long association with my successor, Louise Arbour. I’ve only met Carla Del Ponte once, but I certainly keep contact with people I worked with in The Hague Tribunal.
Let me not only deny categorically that there’s any anti-Serb feeling in that tribunal, because it simply is not true, but let me say, too, that if there was, it would become public and patent within a day. In the Prosecutor’s Office there are, today, over 300 professional people working. They come from over 40 nations, from Russia, from India, from Pakistan, from just about every Western European country, from the United States and Canada, and China. If there was any political agenda, any dishonesty, inappropriate political agenda, it would be reported within 24 hours. The sort of people working in the Prosecutor’s Office are not the sort of people who would make themselves party to any inappropriate agenda.
It’s one insurance that the international community has and it’s an insurance that the United States government I’m afraid hasn’t realized when they talk about rogue prosecutors and rogue judges in the international criminal court. It simply cannot work that way. You cannot get people, professional people of that caliber, whether they’re lawyers, computer technicians, investigators, you name it. They are not going to become party to that sort of politically dishonest or biased endeavor.
There are a number of possibilities. I can understand without any question the desire of the present government of President Kostunica and the people of Serbia wanting Slobodan Milosevic to stand trial for crimes committed against his own people because that he committed serious crimes against his own people is patent. And such a trial certainly should and no doubt will take place. But there can be no question that that is in no way inconsistent with a trial before the International Tribunal in The Hague, either before or after he has faced trial at home.
There are other possibilities, too, that in my view should be investigated. The statute of the International Tribunal makes provision for trials to be held outside The Hague with the consent of the president of the tribunal. It seems to me that it would be worth investigating a trial by The Hague Tribunal of Slobodan Milosevic in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Clearly there are security problems and clearly there are other logistical problems that would have to be worked out. And of course, as I’ve mentioned, it would need the agreement and consent of the president of the tribunal.
But certainly it’s been my experience that the closer to home that trials take place, the better. It’s very important for the people who have suffered at the hands of a criminal to be able to witness it firsthand the meting out of justice to such a person.
Whether the order is home trials first and international trials second or vice versa, what would be fundamentally important would be a quickly resolved undertaking, a firm undertaking by the present government of President Kostunica to hand Milosevic for trial to The Hague Tribunal, as I say, in The Hague or in Belgrade or elsewhere in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
I have no doubt that symbolically it would be important and essential for Milosevic to appear in The Hague and to plead to the charges against him there.
As Mr. Fowler mentioned, Carla Del Ponte is talking about further charges being added arising from the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It’s a matter of regret to me that an indictment arising out of Operation Storm has been so long in coming because clearly serious war crimes were committed against Serbs by the Croatian army in the Krajina. Part of the delay, without any question -- and again, I know this from firsthand, part of the delay has been the result of non-cooperation by the Milosevic government with the tribunal and the refusal to give access to the victims of Operation Storm.
Let me conclude by saying that I have no doubt -- and, again, I speak from some experience in my own country in South Africa and the work I’ve done in Rwanda, to know that the crimes which were committed by the Milosevic security forces, by the Milosevic government, fundamentally important that the details should be known by the people of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, by the people of Serbia.
They, more than anybody else, need to know the truth, they need to face it, and it’s not going to come out if Milosevic simply stands trial in Serbia before local judges for crimes of extortion, election frauds, and crimes of that sort which will completely leave out of the count and ignore the many hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of victims in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina and other parts of the Balkans.
MILAN ST. PROTIC: Thank you very much. I cannot but notice that probably the most visible constant remark or feeling that people have or some people have towards the democratic forces in Serbia and Yugoslavia is skepticism. They were, most of them, most skeptical about our chances to win elections in September and eventually in December.
A lot of people doubted the democratic forces in Serbia are worth any support and trust because they, and I quote, “proved to be inefficient and unable to unite in order to overthrow Milosevic’s government through elections.” Well, we proved them wrong and with a decisive force, I may add.
A lot of people were also skeptical, very much so, about the prospects of Milosevic’s arrest. And I remember vividly, and probably some of you do, too, just a couple of weeks ago, or maybe a little more, we had a sequence of panels similar to this one where the major topic was the arrest of Milosevic and skepticism towards the new government in Belgrade and its readiness to do the necessary thing.
When I said pretty clearly and openly that that’s going to happen very soon, that was, in a lot of ways, accepted as a -- my diplomatic inexperience. Well, we proved them wrong, too.
Now there’s the new kind of skepticism going around, that Milosevic is not going to be tried for all that he is accountable for, but that the Serbian government is going to limit itself or the prosecutor is going to limit itself only to corruption, financial fraud, and abuse of power. That was just the beginning. We needed firm grounds to be able to put Milosevic in custody.
All we could get hold of at that point was his implications and his role in financial fraud, but the indictment is still not repaired and finished. And almost on a daily basis we see back home that Milosevic’s responsibility is becoming more and more serious. He is already being very much proven to be involved in serious assassination, attempts and assassination, unfortunately, successes organized in Yugoslavia. And I’m pretty sure the next step is going to be his role in all that happened in former Yugoslavia.
All we need is a little patience, a little trust in what we are doing back home, and a little less skepticism. There’s been enough of skepticism.
I believe that we have proven so far that we are a responsible democratic government who is prepared to do all of this stuff not because someone from the outside world, from the international community, is pressing us to do so, but because we believe in justice, we believe in democracy.
We believe that everyone who is found accountable for serious crimes should pay for it. We are the ones who fought against Milosevic for 10 years. We were the ones whose lives were at stake out there.
Let me add a little note there. Even at times when the international community was ready to compromise with Milosevic, sign agreements with him, labeling him a major factor of peace and stability, we were still against him, despite the willingness of the international community, or better to say major powers, to deal with Milosevic, out of conviction, not because we want to please anybody.
What happened in our country last fall and the tremendous uprising of our nation against the local -- our -- dictator, I believe gave us the right to face Milosevic ourselves. Crimes that he is allegedly accountable for were committed in our name, in the Serbian name, and we felt very much offended by that.
And we believe that it’s up to us to clarify what really Milosevic’s regime was; do it in our own country, in our own way. And if the expectations of the international community and The Hague Tribunal are not met by what we are going to do back home, then we can go further.
That, of course, does not mean that both the Serbian and the Yugoslav government are not ready to cooperate with The Hague Tribunal and especially with the Prosecutor’s Office. We’ve been already doing that in a number of elements, including the preparation of the draft on legislation which is going to enable full cooperation between our authorities and The Hague Tribunal. That draft has been already prepared and should be passed by the federal parliament by the end of May.
In the meantime, we have done a number of steps in order to establish cooperation within the limits of our existing legislation, sometimes even overpassing it.
Now one more thing, we do consider Milosevic and his associates most responsible for the misfortunes, injustices, and crimes committed in former Yugoslavia. But we also strongly believe that those people are not the only ones.
Justice Goldstone mentioned the responsibility for the Storm operation, but we believe that there are much more people who are responsible for crimes committed against the Serbs, not only in Croatia, but also in Bosnia and especially in Kosovo since NATO and the international forces got in. People are being -- civilians are being killed there on a daily basis. Just maybe a little more than a month ago, a bus full of civilians was blown up, and that’s happening almost every day.
Our military and security forces who enter the security ground zone Presevo Valley, due to the decision of the NATO headquarters, are being shot at every day. Even soldiers of KFOR have been killed in and around Kosovo. Just yesterday, a Russian soldier was killed.
So there’s a lot of things going on that someone should be taken responsible for. We, in Serbia and in Yugoslavia, and I can assure you of that, are going to do what we have to do, but I don’t know about the others.