As Bosnia marks the commemoration of the 15th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre on Sunday, excerpts from Ratko Mladic’s secret wartime diary are making the rounds in the press, unveiling the chilling mind of the Bosnian Serb general.
“Refuse the [peace] plan and pursue war”, reads one entry in the wartime diary of Ratko Mladic, former military leader of Bosnian Serbs. The diary, portions of which were published by Bosnian and Croatian press and French daily “Libération” on Friday, reveals the general’s desire to refuse international peace negotiations in 1994, following more than two years of bloody war in Bosnia.
The diary, which was taken from his wife’s home in Belgrade, begins in June of 1991, when Serbia and Croatia declared independence from the former Yugoslavia. The writings end in 1996, one year after the Dayton Agreement marked the end of the Bosnian war.
The diary brings to light Mladic’s war-hungry nature, as well as that of Radovan Karadzic, the former leader of Bosnian Serbs who was arrested in July 2008 and is on trial at the International Criminal Tribunal of the Former Yugoslavia. The two men notably shared the same confidence about their prospects for victory in the war and repeatedly opposed Slobodan Milosevic, then the Serbian president, who died in The Hague before his trial.
Years on the run
French daily "Libération" noted that Milosevic appeared to be a “more finessed politician and diplomat” than either Karadzic or Mladic. Milosevic, feeling the winds change and the increasing pressure from the international community in 1994, summoned the two men in attempt to persuade them to accept the peace agreement. The effort was in vain.
Mladic refused to cooperate with the international community, even after being warned of the potential repercussions of such a refusal. In 1995, after NATO’s intervention, the peace agreement was enacted without Karadzic and Mladic. For years, Mladic has been a fugitive with an international warrant out for his arrest, charged with genocide and crimes against humanity committed in the Srebrenica massacres of 1995.
The massacres occurred in July of that year, when Bosnian Serb armed forces commanded by Ratko Mladic killed 8,000 Muslims in the little village of Srebrenica. The village is located in the east of the former Bosnia and Herzegovina, and had been designated as a “safe zone” by the UN in 1993. This ethnic cleansing, considered to be the climax of the conflict, was qualified as genocide by the International Court of Justice, the UN’s top judicial body.
‘Violence, massacres, rapes’
If the role played by Mladic in the Srebrenica massacres is no longer debated, the public has been eager to read what he wrote about the events. But the general addresses Srebrenica only briefly; “Libération” identified the segment on the massacre as “his shortest entry, just 9 pages handwritten”. In those pages, the former military chief mainly relays the statement made by General Rupert Smith, Commander of UN Peacekeeping forces in Bosnia, proving that the UN was indeed aware of the massacres. “They say there is violence, massacres, rapes”, Smith allegedly said. “You would do well to let in the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Committee of the Red Cross”.
Two days before the Srebrenica commemorations, Mladic’s fugitive status once again has people talking. Srebrenica victims’ associations have asked Serbian President Boris Tadic to everything in his power to arrest Mladic. If some accuse Serbia of protecting Mladic in order to avoid reopening symbolic wounds and unsettled financial responsibilities, others hope that Serbian determination to get closer to the EU and NATO could mean a renewed effort to capture one of the most wanted men in the world.
Date created : 2010-07-10