Cooperation and Integration in Southeastern Europe
Staff-prepared summary of the East European Studies discussion with Vuk Draskovic, President, Serbian Renewal Movement and noted journalist, Serbia; Davor Glavas, journalist, IREX Pro-media Program, Croatia; Vladimir Bozovic, Attorney, Member, Republic Coordinating Center for Kosovo, Montenegro; Fuad Turalic, Professor, former Cabinet Member, Republika Srpska government, Bosnia-Herzegovina.
This meeting was scheduled at, relatively-speaking, the last minute at the request of the sponsors of the National Prayer Breakfast program. The actual Prayer Breakfast meeting took place on Capital Hill in the morning. These four political leaders from the different states of the former Yugoslavia were part of a larger group participating in the National Prayer Breakfast program. Overall, while all four speakers endeavored to put as positive a spin as possible on efforts to promote cooperation and integration in the former Yugoslavia, not surprisingly it was clear that these endeavors have a long way to go.
Davor Glavas from Croatia was the most upbeat, holding out hope that the younger generation now emerging in all of the countries of the former Yugoslavia would not be prisoners of the past as earlier generations had been. He emphasized that the series of wars that erupted as part of the breakup of Yugoslavia – in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo – were, in his words, "the unfinished business of our fathers and our grandfathers." He cited several examples of a growing degree of cooperation among the youth and younger professionals in the media in the new countries of the former Yugoslavia, and indicated that these were positive signs of emerging cooperation.
Vladimir Bozovic of Montenegro, reflecting his professional focus on the situation of minorities in Kosovo, spoke of the continuing human rights and other minority problems in that troubled province, citing how few refugees forced out at the end of the war in May 1999 have been allowed to return. He also underlined the difficulties of the protection of the existing minorities and the continuing problem of the preservation of non-Albanian cultural and religious landmarks in Kosovo.
Professor Fuad Turalic, a Muslim from Bosnia who survived the whole war living in Serb-controlled Banja Luka, served as a minister in the government of reformist former Prime Minister Ivanic of the Republika Srpska. Turalic emphasized that the key to the successful integration of the two entities within Bosnia created by the Datyon Peace Process – the Muslim-Croat Federation and the Bosnian-Serb Republic – rested on continued economic development and prosperity. Continuing ethnic, refugee and other political details were not as important in this process of integration as economic development.
Vuk Draskovic of Serbia was the last speaker and perhaps the best known to an American-based audience. Draskovic is the President of what was once, but no longer, one of the largest opposition political parties to Milosevic in Serbia – the Serbian Renewal Movement, a former deputy prime minister in the Serbian government, and a noted author and journalist. In his remarks, Mr. Draskovic denounced the current post-Milosevic political situation in Serbia claiming that the only improvement in the situation in the past two years has been the removal of Milosevic from power. He decried the fact that under President Kostunica and Prime Minister Djindjic all the key power structures under Milosevic – the secret police, the military and the vast organized crime network – are still in place and, in fact, have become even stronger. Radical reform of the system still has not taken place. In response to a question, Mr. Draskovic vigorously denied that paramilitary units linked to his political party had operated in Croatia during the war of 1991-1992, and in the process denied that he and his party were responsible for any war crimes that may have been committed there in the name of his party.