EU-Western Balkans Summit in Sofia: Stabilize the conflict region!
EU should enforce punishment of war crimes and promote a coming to terms with the past in the Western Balkans (Press Release)
In order to stabilize the conflict-ridden region of the Western Balkans, the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) demands all suspected war criminals in the countries of the former Yugoslavia to be prosecuted and punished. On the occasion of the EU-Western Balkans Summit next Thursday in Sofia, the human rights organization called for initiatives towards a coming to terms with the past – especially in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, and Kosovo – in order to resolve the ongoing tensions between the countries, and to promote reconciliation between the different ethnic groups. As stated in the STP’s new memorandum on necessary steps to bring the Western Balkans closer to the EU, this would have to include sanctions for the denial of genocide crimes and crimes against humanity during the wars in Bosnia, Croatia, and Kosovo in the 1990s. Apart from that, there will have to be decisive measures to fight antiziganism, corruption, and nepotism.
“The EU must live up to its leadership role in the Western Balkans, enabling the individual countries to develop into democratic and just societies in which human rights and minority rights are guaranteed,” emphasized Jasna Causevic, the STP’s expert on Southeast Europe, in Göttingen on Tuesday. Thus, the summit in Sofia must lead to an obligation for the political elites in the six Western Balkan countries to carry out fundamental reforms and to lay the basis for being accepted into the European family. However, the EU will first have to liberate the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina from the straitjacket of the Dayton Agreement, which cemented the country’s ethnic division and allows the leaders of the various ethnic groups to veto politically important decisions.
Apart from that, the STP demanded measures to resolve the fate issues of refugees, internally displaced persons, and persons who went missing during the wars in Bosnia and Herzegovina (1992-1995), Croatia (1991-1995), and Kosovo (1999). This issue should be on the summit agenda as well. The same applies to the problems of refugees and migrants on the Balkan route. Their human dignity must be respected, and they have a right to international protection or asylum. Further, Serbia must finally be urged to recognize Kosovo.
In the wake of the summit, the STP sent its memorandum on the prospects of EU-accession to the representatives of the EU member states and the six Western Balkan countries Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, and Kosovo.