ABA ROLI Releases Comparative Analysis of Criminal Defense Advocacy in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, and Serbia

May 2014


The Comparative Analysis of Criminal Defense Advocacy in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, and Serbia was released at the opening conference of the Balkans Regional Rule of Law Network (BRRLN) Conference today in Lake Ohrid, Macedonia. The report, which analyzes the profession of criminal defense advocacy in light of international law and standards, seeks to answer the question “What does a strong, independent, and effective criminal defense bar look like, and how can a regional network of defense lawyers help achieve this?” Continue reading


Balkans — War Crimes, Genocide And Name Games

Map of the districts of Cyprus, with English a...

Map of the districts of Cyprus, with English annotations, and showing the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, United Kingdom Sovereign Base Areas, and United Nations buffer zone. The TRNC section illustrates the current de facto district boundaries following this map as a guide. The northern districts are labelled in Turkish. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

June 9, 2012: Turkey announced that it will give the Tunisian government $100 million. The money is for economic and social development projects but will probably be spent very quickly since Tunisia is experiencing a severe economic crunch. Turkey will also loan Tunisia $400 million at a low interest rate. Tunisia’s Ennadha Party is a moderate Islamist party which models its political program on Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). Several Tunisian politicians are warning that the country could face another political explosion unless it can revive the stalled economy and put people back to work. The AKP has told the Tunisian government that it strongly favors a secular democracy and that Turkey will try to help the Tunisian people manage the transition from dictatorship to democracy. At the moment that means providing economic aid.

June 8, 2012: Maps stir passions in the Balkans. Bulgaria’s foreign minister and Turkey’s Bulgarian ambassador met to discuss a map that appeared with educational materials published for schools in Istanbul three years ago. The map showed a Greater Turkey of a sort, with parts of Bulgaria (including Sofia) and Greece’s Thessalonica (Salonika) included as Turkish territory. All of Armenia, part of northern Iraq, and part of Georgia were also labeled as Turkish territory. Cyprus was also included as Turkish territory. The government of Turkey has assured Bulgaria that it does not have any territorial claims on any neighboring nations. Turkey has disavowed the map and said the maps, which appeared on a compact disk, were withdrawn from the schools when they were discovered and publicized.

Greece acknowledged that it now faces an energy crisis because it cannot pay its electricity, gas, and oil bills. The government and Greek energy corporations are looking for up to $400 million in emergency bridge loans in order to avoid power cuts during the summer tourist season. Though overall demand for energy has been declining, due to the economic crisis, Greece imports most of its power, including electrical power. Tourism is a major industry in Greece and despite numerous travel and tourist bargains, tourists have been reluctant to visit Greece because of the riots and other social turmoil accompanying the economic crisis.

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Genocide (2)

Coat of arms of Serbia (since 2011)

Coat of arms of Serbia (since 2011) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With Serbia’s new president, Tomislav Nikolic, taking advantage of the accelerating debasement of the word “genocide”, the US and EU should make it clear that Belgrade’s treatment of Srebrenica is a red line.

By David B. Kanin

David B. Kanin is an adjunct professor of international relations at Johns Hopkins University and a former senior intelligence analyst for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

One thing is clear.  Tomislav Nikolic really enjoys being president.  The first thing he did after defeating Boris Tadic was celebrate – a lot, according to some reports.   (Why not?)  The next thing he did was go to Russia, demonstrating the turn in Serbian orientation he will use his pulpit to maximize (Again, why not?)  Nikolic made positive comments on the possibility of recognizing the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.  This should please Washington, since this initiative shows the good-natured Serbian president shares the American view that Kosova’s unilateral declaration of independence was an entirely unique event.  (Those who do not share the American view might point out that Nikolic’s willingness to support Abkhaz and South Ossetian separation from Georgia is directly relevant to Kosova’s contested sovereignty – supporters of the latter’s independence should point to this analogy when they attempt to convince those who have not yet recognized Kosova’s sovereignty to do so.)

Next, Serbia’s new president paid homage to his former leader Vojislav Seselj by regurgitating his old noise about a greater Serbia and making a preposterous reference to Vukovar as a Serbian town.  (The question “why not?” is not rhetorical in this case.  The Serbs lost that war, lost that town, and earned that defeat, whether stalwarts in the original or repackaged Serbian Radical Party like it or not).

Nikolic is having too much fun to stop there.  He now has volunteered his sage opinion that whatever happened in Srebrenica in 1995 was not genocide.  The murders there were a grave crime, he acknowledges, but it was not genocide.  Why should the president permit his enjoyment of victory to be speed-bumped by the fact that emotions over the mass murder committed be Bosnian Serb forces in 1995 currently are being re-stoked by the likelihood that this Fall’s local elections will elevate a Serb mayor in that town?  Why should Nikolic’s personal good time be affected by the feelings of people whose loved ones were slaughtered or by the desires of less fun-loving Serbs who would like to find a way to reconcile the anger so many of their former Yugoslav partners feel toward Serbian behavior after 1987 with their own belief that the single-tracked blame assigned Serbs for everything bad that happened in the last two decades is a tad unfair?  Nikolic won the election, and so why can’t he inflict verbal harm on anyone he chooses to insult?

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Western Balkans–Salience and emotion

Ethnic map of the Balkans. Note: Henry Robert ...

Ethnic map of the Balkans. Note: Henry Robert Wilkinson published in 1951 the work Maps and politics: a review of the ethnographic cartography of Macedonia where he stated tthat this ethnic map, as most ethnic maps of that time, contained a pro-Bulgarian ethnographic view of Macedonia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Posted on May 10th, 2012 in the category Western Balkans by TransConflict

Progress toward more effective management of regional disputes will be possible only if leaders emerge inside the region capable and willing to channel their own and their followers’ emotions toward negotiations everyone accepts from the outset will lead to painful sacrifices on everyone’s part.

By David B. Kanin

In a region burdened by frozen conflict, current events are reminding everyone involved of the dangers posed by contested sovereignty.  Kosova’s ill-conceived decision to knuckle under to international pressure and accept the placement of an asterisk on its identity led Pristina to become aggressive in its demand that international overseers prevent Kosovar Serbs from holding local elections in conjunction with Serbia’s just-completed election.  Various Serbian responded to Pristina’s rhetoric by warning darkly of possible violence against Serbs in Kosova.  A few days after what proved to be relatively quiet elections – compared to what went on in France and Greece, Serbia appeared to be Europe’s island of political continuity, and not much at all went on inside Kosova – Kosovar interior minister, Bajram Rexhepi, still hinted at possible use of force north of the Ibar.  At the same time, Serbian police arrested ethnic Albanians in southern Serbia as a part of Ivica Dacic’s campaign strategy – Dacic was accordingly rewarded at the ballot box.

The internationals’ diminution of Kosova’s status put into high relief continuing disarray over what to do in the Balkans; the US and others continue to fail to bring to heel five EU members who refuse to recognize the new state.  Whether and how sputtering negotiations between Belgrade and Pristina resume depends on the outcome of the negotiations that will form the new government in Serbia on how Kosova decides to deal with its externally imposed diplomatic disadvantage.

Macedonia’s inter-communal condition is even more worrying.  Early EU membership is off the table – much as this author would wish it otherwise.  The “name” imbroglio with Greece ensures that the NATO summit in Chicago will be no more satisfying to Macedonia than was the Alliance’s poorly choreographed meeting in Bucharest in 2008.  The arrest of allegedly radical Jihadists for the murder of five Macedonian fishermen tests the stability of a piece of former Yugoslavia so far spared the horrors of major fighting.  The bombastic “Skopje 2014” project highlights ethnic Macedonian insecurity over their identity and reinforces ethnic Albanian irritation with being treated as less than a fully constituent political community.

It is worth remembering that Bosnia too remains a faltering Western enterprise.  The central state is illegitimate (or irrelevant) to two of the country’s three major communities and is too weak to provide much value to the Bosnjak plurality – witness the trade of insults and accusations over the Dobrovoljacka Street commemoration.

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Kosovo & Pristina doesn’t really want negotiations on the north

Map of Kosovo UNMIK Mission

Map of Kosovo UNMIK Mission (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Posted on May 22nd, 2012

The May 17 arrest of a young Serb employee of UNMIK’s north Mitrovica office suggests that the Kosovo Albanians have no intention of accepting a negotiated outcome for the region north of the Ibar River.

By Gerard M. Gallucci

The May 17 arrest of a young Serb employee of UNMIK’s north Mitrovica office removes any good reason for resisting the judgement that the Kosovo Albanians have no intention of accepting a negotiated outcome for the region north of the Ibar River. They do not want negotiations on the north, they just want the north. So, to head off any possibility of having to accept compromise, they will provoke the Serbs there into refusing to deal with them.

The young man arrested frequently travelled to visit family in the mixed north Mitrovica village of Suvi Do. To get there, he’d have to pass through an Albanian area. At that point, he would also have to pass by a unit of the so-called “regional” Kosovo police that EULEX allows free reign in this sensitive area. His routines were known. He could have been stopped at any time, as any of the Serbs living there can be. The decision to arrest him at this point on “suspicion” that he was involved in a demonstration in April to prevent the Kosovo Albanian police from setting up another provocative checkpoint – where there had just been a deadly explosion – was clearly political. (EULEX has still not managed to release any information on who might have been responsible for the explosion.) Many, many Serbs turned out for this. The targeting of a local UNMIK employee also allowed Pristina to take another shot at the UN office in north Mitrovica.

A cynic might say that the arrest was Pristina’s way of “recruiting” Serbs to take part in its “dialogue” over the north that it plans to unilaterally launch in September. The truth, however, is more basic than that. The Kosovo Albanians do not want to negotiate over the north, they want to have their “rule of law” imposed there so that they can use it to enforce more “returns” and eventually push the Serbs out entirely. They expected the internationals to do this for them; first UNMIK, then the ICO and EULEX. Having failed in that, they have mounted steady provocations since July 2011. Now they see the internationals pushing them to talk with the northern Serbs. So they provoke the Serbs, either to set off violence that they can use to justify new repression or to simply strengthen the hands of those Serbs opposed to talks.

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Millet, nation, community

Български: Етнографска карта на Европейска Тур...

Български: Етнографска карта на Европейска Турция на Ернст Равенщайн. English: Ernst Ravenstein’s Ethnographical Map of Turkey in Europe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Posted on April 3rd, 2012 in the category Western Balkans by TransConflict

As a signifier, Bosnjak – which is gaining traction as a national identity in Sandjak (in both Serbia and Montenegro), and among Balkan Muslims in Western Europe – is coming to connote a political identity associated with access to state power, “European” credentials and Islamic legitimacy.

By David B. Kanin

Arab Spring” works too well as a simple slogan; the term permits various protagonists to appropriate fluid, diverse, and interacting developments to serve very different agendas.  Brussels and Washington congratulate themselves as being the indispensable models for democracy and cultural diversity.  This goes beyond government propaganda – one NGO maven was cited in the Washington Post as saying Egypt (for example) had no alternative to moving forward in cooperation with the United States.

The “Occupy” phenomenon, which exists more as twittered electrons than as an effective popular movement, embraces Arab revolts as part of its rhetoric of global revolution.  Western Occupiers, however, have yet to demonstrate anything like the efficacy of those who organized so well and sacrificed so much last year in the Middle East and North Africa.  Asserting that their lack of organization and strategic coherence are strengths rather than weaknesses will get the much less than 99 percent who take to US and European streets only so far.

In turn – outside of Tunisia, perhaps – some of the Arab heroes of 2011 are finding themselves eclipsed by savvy politicians and opportunists associated with old regimes or patronage networks (to include traditional regional and tribal configurations).  Activists in Egypt and elsewhere could suffer the fate of those who drove revolutions in 1789, 1848 and 1968.  Some eventually could follow the example of Serbia’s Otpor, which adjusted to its post-Milosevic popular rejection by translating the credit it gave itself for the events of October 2000 into an entrepreneurial credential used to advertise services to would-be revolutionaries in the Middle East and elsewhere.

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War crimes and proconsulship in the Balkans

English: Ethnic composition in BiH by municipa...

Image via Wikipedia

Posted on March 8th, 2012 in the category Western Balkans by TransConflict

The logic of contemporary post-war intervention and proconsulship in both Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina is impossible to divorce from concepts of collective national guilt.

By Matthew Parish

Political liberalism is a tradition within international relations that finds its origins in the thinking of US president, Woodrow Wilson. An academic and an idealist, Wilson thought that relations between states could and should be based upon moral principles rather than the brutal and ever-shifting vaguaries of the balance of power that characterised European diplomacy in the nineteenth century.  This ideology has recurrently infected US politics, from the drive to promote decolonisation in the aftermath of World War II to the fight against communism in Indochina. It has also been a pervasive theme of western foreign policy in the Balkans since the end of the Cold War. As Yugoslavia disintegrated into bloody violence, US President Bill Clinton’s team of advisors determined that some sides were more responsible than others. The Serbs and to a lesser extent the Croats were brutal butchers, while Bosnia’s Muslims and Kosovo’s Albanians were for the most part victims of aggression inflicted by others.

This factual conclusion shaped the US administration’s moral vision of how post-war Balkan political geography ought to be configured. Bosnia’s Serbs and Croats must not be rewarded for their aggression. Bosnia must remain a unified, multi-ethnic country, notwithstanding the efforts of two of its three ethnic groups to tear the territory apart. By contrast Serbia must be dismembered, because Serbs cannot be trusted to treat their Albanian minority properly. This inference – from atrocity to moral outcome – would have suited Wilson’s reasoning admirably.

The premise of this argument – that Serbs in particular where disproportionately barbarous – is contested, but significant empirical evidence in its favour exists at least in the Bosnian case. Atrocities committed against Muslim civilians in Srebrenica, Brcko, Omarska, Zvornik and other places were broadcast around the world and shocked the conscience of the international community. The siege of Sarajevo is cited as another heinous war crime, and the arbitrary shelling of a city of half a million people for three and a half years was a shocking cruelty. Sieges usually are so. The majority of commentators accept that Serb forces were disproportionately responsible for the carnage of the Bosnian war. Whereas the population of Bosnia in 1991 was 44% Bosniak, 31% Serb and 17% Croat, the number of deaths in the Bosnian war were 66% Bosniaks, 25% Serbs and 8% Croats. Thus relative to population sizes, Bosniaks suffered disproportionately while Croats were disproportionately fortunate. Continue reading