We support the decision of the Prime Minister Zdravko Krivokapić to submit a proposal to the Parliament of Montenegro for the dismissal of the Minister of Justice, Human and Minority Rights, Vladimir Leposavić, because, inter alia, he publicly stated that he would accept genocide in Srebrenica only “when it is unequivocally established”.
By questioning decisions of two international tribunals, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (the Hague Tribunal) and the International Court of Justice, which had established genocide in Srebrenica, Minister Leposavić also questioned the international legal order and obligations of Montenegro under the Stabilization and Association Agreement with the European Union, and therefore should be removed from public office.
With his statement, the Minister also caused additional pain to people who already suffer from the irreparable loss of their loved ones, victims of Srebrenica genocide. We particularly regret that and sincerely sympathize with them.
Having in mind the number of court cases and convictions establishing genocide in Srebrenica, we consider the statement of Minister Leposavić particularly inappropriate and unworthy of the position to which he had been appointed. International trials provide a very important contribution to the fight against denial of genocide and revisionism also in the Balkans, and especially in the case of Srebrenica. The rules of evidence, as well as the requirement that verdicts be based on verified facts beyond a reasonable doubt, give these judgments undisputed legitimacy, especially in comparison to propaganda views intended to deny war crimes.
Eight trials before the Hague Tribunal for the crimes in Srebrenica, in which the responsibility of six persons for genocide has been finally determined to date (Radislav Krstić, Drago Nikolić, Vujadin Popović, Ljubiša Beara, Zdravko Tolimir, Radovan Karadžić, while Ratko Mladić was sentenced in first instance), and of nine persons for other war crimes and crimes against humanity, included testimonies of people who survived mass executions, as well as those who participated in those executions. At the trials, about a thousand and a half witnesses were heard and about 28,000 exhibits were considered. As many as 46 judges from 34 countries participated in two-stage trials. Fifteen judges from different countries participated in the ruling of the International Court of Justice.
The vote for denial of confidence to Minister Leposavić will be a vote for the respect of the international legal order, for Montenegro’s commitment to membership in the European Union and for reconciliation in the region. We believe that the majority of Montenegro can unite around these goals. We are aware that there will always be people unpersuaded by any evidence or verdict to change their minds and who will continue to relativize and deny this one as well as other crimes.
But only consistent determination of individual responsibility and respect for the established facts of war crimes, together with compassion for suffering of the victims, can and should lead to justice and lasting peace in the Balkans.
ADAMAS, Anđela Gogić, president
ANIMA – Center for Women’s and Peace Education, Ervina Dabižinović, coordinator
Committee of Young Lawyers of Montenegro, Maja Živković, president
European Association for Law and Finance – EALF, Katarina Bošković, president
Human Rights Action (HRA), Tea Gorjanc Prelević, executive director
Politikon Network, Jovana Marović, executive director
Women’s Rights Center, Maja Raičević, executive director