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ZAGREB, January 20 (Hina) – The legal framework for regional co-operation in war crimes prosecution is good, as well as Prosecutors’ Offices are cooperating satisfactorily, but families of war victims are still waiting for justice and according to assessments of non-governmental organizations, the situation is aggravated by the return of nationalistic rhetoric from 1990s into the public speech.

At the roundtable considering justice and strengthening the rule of law, organized in Human Rights House Zagreb, Marina Kljajić of the Belgrade Humanitarian Law Center said that co-operation between countries is good when it works, but she is concerned about general atmosphere that is bad.

“Due to the daily political needs and future campaigns, well-known discourse from the 90s is used, which returns us to this terrible nationalistic rhetoric,” Kljajić said.

Last year, according to Kljajić, Serbian president Tomislav Nikolić told the Chief prosecutor to be cautious about “digging” in Serbia, after the Chief of General Staff was charged for crimes in Kosovo, while on the other hand there is an intention to rehabilitate war crimes.

“The Hague convict Lazarević was welcomed by three ministers, including the Minister of Justice, Krajišnik is visiting the president of the state, which is terrible, and we also have Šljivančanin, who is represented as a moral dimension according to the ruling party”, says the representative of the Fund for Humanitarian Law.

Deputy Chief State Attorney Jasmina Dolmagić said that there is always room for progress in co-operation, but that her colleagues are working closely in the area that is related to achieving reconciliation and justice for victims of serious criminal offenses.

Since the procedures in the area of international legal aid proved to be to slow in some situations, there was a need for signing special agreements, based on which Attorney’s Office cooperates well with prosecutors in the region, said Dolmagić.

Lately, special agreements are, of course, interesting to the public. Prosecutor’s Offices are exchanging evidences based on these agreements in order to prosecute perpetrators and avoid the impunity.

The State Attorney’s Office cooperates with Serbia for a long time, and standards for prosecution are established. On the other hand, in cooperation with the Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina there is room for progress.

The problem in co-operation was illustrated by a case at the Split County Court, where inductee charged with war crime in Široki Brijeg was acquitted by a first instance verdict, since the witnesses in Bosnia and Herzegovina were questioned without attorneys’ presence, while in Croatia they have changed their testimony.

Documenta intended to invite representatives of Serbian War Crimes Prosecutor’s Office, but that was not possible since no prosecutor was appointed for more than a year in Serbia, while Prosecutors’ Officials from Bosnia and Herzegovina, first accepted the call, and then in anger upon the charges against the group from Orašje withdrew consent, said Teršelič. However, the Dutch ambassador, as well as representatives of the embassies of the United States, Serbia, Ireland, France, Spain, Austria and Australia attended the meeting.

Teršelič says that State Attorney’s Office has been working for years and that there are still many unprocessed crimes. According to her, non-governmental organizations are constantly emphasizing that the capacities of the State Attorney’s Office are too small and that budget funds for war crimes investigations are insufficient. The situation is similar in other countries as well, political will is occasionally there, but sometimes insufficient.

Culturologist Srđan Šušnica from Banja Luka said that the issue of war crimes is burdened by the context and the perception of responsibility and guilt. He says that the wars have not been concluded by a peace agreement that left politics and ideological premises unclear – what exactly was that war, who was the most responsible for it and who was the master of life and death, war and peace.

“I think it was not a civil war, all sides are not equally responsible, one side, one politics, one ideology, one regime and one state entered the war with the intention of committing ethnic cleansing and genocide. Unfortunately, that side is Serbia”, said Šušnica.

 Political analyst Žarko Puhovski said, that issue of war crimes has now been sharpened so that the decisions of the ICC are reinterpreted depending on the needs of each side. He believes that the context of social morality is again strengthened, based on the moral assumption that we in Croatia, Serbia, Kosovo have an obligation towards those who have committed war crimes.

Human Rights Action Podgorica representative Tea Gorjanc Prelević warned that the Prosecutor’s Office of Montenegro did not start a single case of war crimes on its own initiative, but all investigations have been initiated on the basis of evidence and pressures from other countries and the general environment.