OPINION

Milosevic purified?

The establishment of an independent international criminal court for crimes against humanity has always been a vision for those who put the respect of fundamental human values above all political objectives. This is, perhaps, the reason why Washington has opposed its creation, while providing ample financial support to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). Of course, the fact that the United States of America does not recognize its jurisdiction to try American citizens is blatant proof that it was set up by the West as an additional means of repression. War crimes tribunals have always been set up by the victors; the ICTY is no exception to the rule. Otherwise, the list of offenders would also include Western figures, as it is obvious that it was not just the local warlords who committed war crimes, NATO did so as well. Carla del Ponte, the chief prosecutor of the UN war crimes tribunal, says that she has no direct evidence against the alliance, but it is clear that she can only lash out in one direction. The fact that the trial of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic serves blatant political objectives does not rid him of the heavy responsibility for crimes committed primarily against the Serbs and Serbia, who have both paid a very high price for his policies. As the leader of an authoritarian and corrupt regime, he not only abolished democracy but also did not hesitate to sell out the rights of the Croatians and Bosnian Serbs in order to keep himself in power. Milosevic entered into negotiations with the West believing that he would be able to appease it. In the context of this policy, he not only recognized the court which he is facing today, but he also handed over Serbs wanted by the tribunal. Western leaders, however, used him to impose settlements in line with their interests in the region, only to do away with him later on. The arrogance and the vindictiveness of the West, however, could bring the opposite result, that is, to make Milosevic into a symbol of resistance. He has nothing to lose and he is doing everything he can to wear a martyr’s crown. It is worth noting that the West’s handling of the issue is driving the Serbian people toward proclaiming him a hero. The tribunal could have a purifying effect on Serbia’s former strongman.