Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe

Testimony :: James P. Lyon
Political and Economic Analyst - International Crisis Group


Probably the most overlooked of all the conditions created by the Congress for certification is that of Yugoslav aid to Republika Srpska. Republika Srpska is a political entity that covers approximately 49 per cent of the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina. An ethnically clean mini-state, Republika Srpska was created in 1992 by indicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic and his political party, the Serbian Democratic Party, known as the SDS. Karadzic and his cohorts, working hand in glove with Slobodan Milosevic and Belgrade used genocide, organized rape camps, concentration camps, and ethnic cleansing and the mass destruction of civilian homes to create the forced resettlement of nearly one million people. Today’s Republika Srpska is a state created by war criminals using war crimes.

At the signing of the Dayton Peace Accords in November 1995, the Republika Srpska leadership committed itself to adhering to international human rights standards and to allowing all non-Serb refugees to return to their pre-war homes. This has not happened. Since 1995, the SDS leadership has consistently and openly violated the letter and spirit of the Dayton Peace Accords, while attempting to maintain an ethnically pure territory. Those few refugees who attempt to return are met with terror, bombings, shootings, arson, some of which is organized by the RS police. RS politicians have consistently and flagrantly obstructed most efforts at civilian implementation of the Dayton Peace Accords. In their efforts they have received financial, military and political support from Yugoslavia. This support continues to this day, and the Kostunica government has not shown the willingness to begin to change the situation.

As a result, the Republika Srpska leadership continues to actively oppose US government policy and international community policy in Bosnia. As a result, civilian implementation continues to go far slower than desired. As a result, the security situation throughout Republika Srpska continues to be highly unstable for non-Serbs. And most importantly, because of continued Yugoslav support for Republika Srpska, the US government is forced to maintain a large and expensive troop presence in Bosnia. Until Yugoslavia changes its policy of support for Republika Srpska and the SDS, the US government cannot even begin to contemplate troop reduction in Bosnia. Until Yugoslavia discontinues this aid and stops supporting the ultra-nationalist war criminals in Republika Srpska, the US will be forced to maintain an expensive and substantial military presence in the region. For this reason alone, the issue of Yugoslav support for Republika Srpska is of vital national interest to US foreign policy.

The FRY is funding RS in three significant areas: The Army of Republika Srpska, the Interior Ministry (police), and the Counterintelligence Service.

The single largest area of Yugoslav support for the RS is the Army. All the officers in the Army of Republika Srpska – at last count approximately 300 -- as well as the approximately 2,100 non-commissioned officers hold dual rank in the Yugoslav Army. They receive their paychecks from Belgrade, as well as their retirement pensions. The chain of command for the RS Army does not stop in the RS capital of Banja Luka. It continues all the way up to the General Staff in Belgrade. All RS Army officers receive free schooling at the Military Academy in Belgrade. Last year this form of aid alone may have amounted to as much as $8,838,274. ICG analysts have noticed continued free and unimpeded movement of military vehicles across the Bosnia-Serbian border in both directions. As a result the RS Army acts as a branch of the Yugoslav Army.

The Yugoslav government continues to finance the RS Army, in a non-transparent manner. Interestingly enough, much of this aid does not appear in the official Yugoslav government budget, and appears to be transferred through “black” funds by the Yugoslav Army and Yugoslav security services. The 2000 budget for Yugoslavia does not mention aid to RS.

In 1999 the RS Army officially informed the OSCE that it had received $13.3 million in military aid from Yugoslavia. Yet, at the same time the far smaller Bosnian Croat Army, the HVO, reported that it received $ 55.8 million in aid from Croatia. What is wrong with this picture. Is it possible that the far larger Army of Republika Srpska received less than one quarter of the financial aid from Yugoslavia than did the much smaller HVO from Croatia. The answer should obviously be “NO.” The Army of Republika Srpska received and is receiving far greater amounts of aid from Yugoslavia than officially reported. Accurate financial estimates for 2000 and 2001 are not available, although some in the RS government have reported that Yugoslav aid has now dwindled to approximately $8.5 million, or perhaps to $15 million, depending on the source. In sharp contrast to Croatian President Stipe Mesic, who openly stated that he would reduce and then altogether eliminate Croatian government funding for Bosnia’s Croats, Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica has yet to make similar statements or undertake similar planning.

In addition to funding the military, the Yugoslav government is funding the KOS, the dreaded Counterintelligence Service, which has set up espionage networks through Bosnia and the neighboring states. So too, the FRY appears to be funding the Interior Ministry, which controls police forces throughout Bosnia. Currently no accurate information exists regarding the levels of support either of these two institutions receives from Yugoslavia.

In other, more troublesome areas, Vojivslav Kostunica appears to actively oppose international community policy and efforts in Bosnia. Kostunica’s current policies towards Bosnia have strengthened the SDS and obstructionist forces in Bosnia, in open disregard of international community policy. Although Kostunica has now officially re-established diplomatic relations with Bosnia and visited the country three times, in many regards his policy towards Bosnia is worse than Milosevic's. Kostunica's rise to power accompanied a significant increase in FRY support for the ultra-nationalist Serbian Democratic Party (SDS) of indicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic. During the November 2000 general elections officials of Kostunica's Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) openly campaigned for the SDS inside of Bosnia, and Kostunica's first visit to Bosnia was to attend an SDS campaign rally, thinly disguised as the reburial of a prominent Serb ultra-nationalist poet, Jovan Ducic.1 Kostunica’s support for the SDS has encouraged that party, which continues to represent a significant and serious obstacle to implementation of the Dayton Peace Accords.

Yesterday’s signing of an agreement regulating special relations between the RS and FRY is simply a continuation of this policy. The date of the signing – on the most significant Muslim holiday of the year, Bajram, prevented Bosnia’s Foreign Minister Zlatko Lagumdzija from attending the ceremonies, and may have been chosen as a deliberate insult to Bosnia’s largest ethnic group. The agreement does nothing to reduce FRY military support to RS.

Although FRY has now recognised Bosnia diplomatically, Kostunica has refused to issue an apology for war crimes committed by FRY and the Serbs, while reiterating what is no doubt his true belief – that all sides committed war crimes in equal numbers. Kostunica has never spoken out openly against Republika Srpska joining Serbia, as Croatian President Stipe Mesic has done regarding Bosnian Croat pretensions towards joining Croatia. In another contrast to Mesic, Kostunica has not undertaken any actions to halt FRY aid to the Bosnian Serb military and security forces. Most troublesome, Kostunica is attempting to link the final status of Kosovo to an RS secession from Bosnia.

Kostunica’s Bosnia policy will result in continued western frustration with implementation of the Dayton Peace Accords in Republika Srpska, as well as a strengthening of separatist Serb elements in Bosnia. It will also force the United States to maintain troops in the Balkans for an indefinite period of time. In short, Kostunica’s current policies towards Bosnia are in blatant opposition to US Government policy and international community efforts in Bosnia. In this regard, the FRY is not in compliance with the US Congress requirements for certification.