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Bosnia and Herzegovina: Genocide, Justice and Denial

A selection of articles from the blog Greater Surbiton has been published in book format by the Centre for Advanced Studies in Sarajevo, and can be downloaded in PDF format for free via its website. The following is the foreword to the book:

The articles in this volume were published on my blog, Greater Surbiton, since its launch in November 2007. Although Greater Surbiton was devoted to a number of different themes – including the southern and eastern Balkans, Turkey and Cyprus, Russia and the Caucasus, the meaning of progressive politics and the fight against Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and other forms of chauvinism – Bosnia-Hercegovina and the former Yugoslavia were at all times central to it. Twelve years after Dayton, when the blog was launched, the war over the former Yugoslavia was being waged as fiercely as ever – not on the battlefield, but in the realm of politics and ideas, both in the region and in the West. Genocide deniers and propagandists who sought to downplay or excuse the crimes of the Milosevic and Karadzic regimes of the 1990s – people like Diana Johnstone, Michael Parenti, David N. Gibbs, Nebojsa Malic, John Schindler and Carl Savich – continued their ugly work. Yet the ongoing struggle to counter their falsehoods was just one front in the wider war.

The period since 2007 has witnessed the rise of Milorad Dodik’s separatist challenge to the precarious Bosnian-Hercegovinian unity established at Dayton, and the consequent degeneration of the post-Dayton political order in the country; the declaration of Kosovo’s independence and Belgrade’s efforts to derail it; the struggle in Serbia between reformist and nationalist currents; the increasingly aggressive challenge of Russia’s Vladimir Putin to the West, manifested most starkly in the attacks on Georgia in 2008 and Ukraine in 2014, but also in support for Belgrade over Kosovo and for Dodik in Bosnia-Hercegovina; the increasingly apparent failure of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia to punish adequately the war-criminals of the 1990s, despite the spectacular arrests of Radovan Karadzic in 2008 and Ratko Mladic in 2011; and the increasingly stark failure of Western leaders to confront murderous tyrants like Putin, Sudan’s Omar Hassan al-Bashir and Syria’s Bashar al-Assad – reminiscent of their failure in the 1990s over Bosnia-Hercegovina.

Today, the truth about the war in the former Yugoslavia is more widely known and understood than ever. The battle for the recognition of the Srebrenica genocide worldwide has largely been won; the remains of most victims of the massacre have been identified and reburied. The deniers and their narrative have been largely discredited. Yet the Bosnian question is further from a happy resolution than ever, while the West – the US, EU and their allies – look less likely to lead positive change in the region than they did a decade ago. Kosovo’s full international recognition is still being blocked by Serbia and Russia; Macedonia, kept out of the EU and NATO by Greek nationalist intransigence, is in crisis; not a single official of Serbia has yet been found guilty by the ICTY for war-crimes in Bosnia-Hercegovina, or is likely to be in the future; and leading former-Yugoslav war-criminals such as Biljana Plavsic and Momcilo Krajisnik have been released after serving short prison-terms in comfortable conditions.

The outcomes of the struggles tracked by my blog have therefore been far from unambiguously happy. Yet the politics and recent history of Bosnia-Hercegovina and the rest of the former Yugoslavia are much better understood than they were a decade ago; new generations of scholars, analysts and activists are discovering and explaining more all the time. I hope that the articles contained in this volume have made a contribution to this process of discovery.

Marko Attila Hoare, June 2015

profilepicA blog devoted to political commentary and analysis, with a particular focus on South East Europe. Born in 1972, I have been studying the history of the former Yugoslavia since 1993, and am intimately acquainted with, and emotionally attached to, the lands and peoples of Croatia, Bosnia-Hercegovina and Serbia. In the summer of 1995, I acted as translator for the aid convoy to the Bosnian town of Tuzla, organised by Workers Aid, a movement of solidarity in support of the Bosnian people. In 1997-1998 I lived and worked in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Hercegovina. In 1998-2001 I lived and worked in Belgrade, Serbia, and was resident there during the Kosovo War of 1999. As a journalist, I covered the fall of Milosevic in 2000. I worked as a Research Officer for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in 2001, and participated in the drafting of the indictment of Slobodan Milosevic.

I received my BA from the University of Cambridge in 1994 and my PhD from Yale University in 2000. I was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow of the British Academy in 2001-2004, a member of the Faculty of History of the University of Cambridge in 2001-2006, an Associate Professor at Kingston University in 2006-2017, and am currently an Associate Professor at the Department of Political Science and International Relations of the Sarajevo School of Science and Technology, affiliated with the University of Buckingham. This blog was launched while I was living in Surbiton in the UK. I am based in Sarajevo and London.

I am the author of four books: The Bosnian Muslims in the Second World War: A History (Hurst and Oxford University Press, London and New York, 2013), The History of Bosnia: From the Middle Ages to the Present Day (Saqi, London, 2007), Genocide and Resistance in Hitler’s Bosnia: The Partisans and the Chetniks, 1941-1943 (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2006) and How Bosnia Armed (Saqi, London, 2004). I am currently working on a history of modern Serbia and leading the SSST’s Bosnian Genocide research project.

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