Cause and Effect in European Politics and Law

Carl Bildt: Bosnia must look into the future not fight with the past

Adelina Marini, October 28, 2009

The role of the politicians is to form the future not constantly fight the past. This is what the Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt said in response to a question what the EU could do to help Bosnia, especially against the background of the failure of the trial against Radovan Karadzhich in the Hague. Bildt, who was a special EU representatives for former Yugoslavia, participated in the Dayton negotiations that led to an end of the Bosnia war and later he was appointed a special representative of the EU for Bosnia and Herzegovina, added that the trials in the International Crimes Tribunal for former Yugoslavia are difficult because history still is very divisive. However, he said, with time and the work of the Tribunal, the differences will settle and the reconciliation process will begin.

"You must focus on the future. If you only deal with the past you will never leave the past. We have X number of examples in Europe when we haven't agreed on the past but we were concentrated in the future. I'm not quite certain if we were sitting down swedes and Danes and agreed on what happened in 1521 when they sort of knocked our heads down in the blood bath of Stockholm we would agree entirely on that. We would probably disagree fundamentally but we work decently well together". The Swedish diplomat gave another example of which he said he did want even to mention and which still caused great division in Europe. But he underlined that the EU is based in the principle of moving forward to the future.

Mr. Bildt was quite abrupt in answering the question about what the EU can do to help Bosnia: "We are expecting thoughts from the Bosnian leaders themselves. I mean it's their country, it is they who have to look at ways which they can make certain that their country is not sliding further behind". According to Mr. Bildt the EU has already done enough but it cannot do everything, especially without the Bosnian leaders. "After all, it's their country, not ours", concluded the Swedish foreign minister.

In the mean time, the trial against the former leader of the Bosnian Serbs Radovan Karadzhich has been renewed yesterday in his absence. Karadzhich again boycotted the session. In the next couple of the days the prosecution will present the charges. During the trial beside witnesses' stories, recordings from cell phone conversations will also be presented of which it becomes clear that Karadzhich had ordered the Serbian forces to turn Sarajevo into a "black cauldron where 300,000 Muslims will die", the BBC reported.

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