Serbia Freezes Ties with Hague Tribunal after Gotovina's Acquittal
A bus of the embassy of Croatia in the Netherlands drives into the prison in The Hague, 16 November 2012. It was reported to pick up former Croatian general Ante Gotovina to bring him to the airport. EPA/BGNES
The Serbian government met on Friday in Belgrade and decided to reduce its cooperation with the Hague-based UN War Crimes Tribunal to a technical level.
The decision came as the tribunal acquitted two former Croatian army generals in an appeals process, overturning the verdict that found them guilty of committing war crimes against ethnic Serbs in Croatia, B92 reported.
Serbian Minister Rasim Ljajic, who also serves as head of the National Council for Cooperation with the Hague Tribunal (ICTY), made the announcement in a news conference after the government session Friday.
He explained that at Serbian PM Ivica Dacic's initiative, his cabinet considered political and legal implications of the acquittal as the first item on its agenda.
The Serbian government concluded that the tribunal, instead of serving justice, once again caused the pain to the victims of the so-called Operation Storm - the 1995 Croatian army and police onslaught against that country's Serb areas.
"This ruling is a slap in the face of international justice and the process of reconciliation in the region, and will not contribute to an overall normalization of relations between the states and the peoples in the region of the former Yugoslavia," said Ljajic.
The government today also removed all items from its agenda that were meant to allow for documentation to be submitted to the Hague Tribunal. However, the minister noted - "this does not mean that Serbia is ending its cooperation" with the court. Rather, it will now be conducted "on a technical level".
The Hague Tribunal was due to organize a conference in Belgrade on November 22, 2012, but in the wake of today's acquittal, none of Serbia's state officials would attend, Ljajic also revealed. Serbia also decided not to offer "any sort of logistical support" in order to organize the conference.
Meanwhile, the tribunal said that it "regretted to inform" that the conference in Belgrade had been canceled, while "a new date would be announced as soon as possible".
Ljajic explained that Hague Judge Fausto Pocar, who was against the acquittal of Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac, had canceled his participation in the conference as well.
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