Doyle: European Politicians Acted Outside Terms of Peace Negotiations by Recognizing Secessionist Yugoslav Republics - July 8, 2010

Written by: Andy Wilcoxson

Hearing Date: May 27, 2010


Radovan Karadzic continued his cross-examination of former EUMM Bosnia chief Colm Doyle on May 27th.


Pre-War Atmosphere & Paramilitaries


In an October 1991 journal entry Doyle wrote, “It was apparent the deep division and the mistrust does not give confidence for a peaceful solution.”


Karadzic asked, “So already at that time you realized that the communities were divided and that there was great mistrust among them, and you even foresaw that it didn’t bode well for a peaceful solution; right?”


Doyle agreed. He said, “That is correct.” He described the atmosphere that prevailed in Bosnia saying, “Generally most of the places we went to all sides were telling us of the fears they had and the concerns they had in their communities, and that would have been true for all sides.” He said, “This is all about ethnicity. It’s about one side disagreeing with the other side, and this is part of the major problem we had.  Nobody seemed to trust anybody else if they came from a different ethnic background.”


Prior to the withdrawal of the Yugoslav Peoples Army from Bosnia and Herzegovina in May of 1992, Doyle said that he saw Croatian HOS and Bosnian-Muslim “Green Berets” paramilitary units. But he said, “I didn’t see any Bosnian Serb military units wearing uniform and organized as military units.” Although he did see, “a considerable amount of Bosnian Serbs who were carrying weapons”.

Because Doyle could not identify any Bosnian-Serb paramilitary organizations, Karadzic said this proved “The Serb community was oriented towards the JNA and it did not have any paramilitary formations.”


As far as Muslims who took over weapons from the JNA, Doyle said: “I simply do not know what amount of weapons were taken over by Muslims.”


He confirmed that Croatian HOS forced invaded western Herzegovina specifically the areas around Neum, Capljina, Stolac, and Ljubinje prior to the withdrawal of the JNA.


The International Community and Peace Negotiations


Doyle explained the establishment of the European Community’s Peace Conference for Yugoslavia. He said, “When the peace conference was established, it was established under three conditions: One was that there would be a cease-fire.  Two, there would be no change in the borders unless it was agreed by all the republics; and three, there was no recognition of a republic unless it was negotiated.”


Unfortunately, the European politicians didn’t abide by the terms of the peace negotiations. Doyle said, “Lord Carrington expressed concern himself when there was recognition given to the one of the republics and was done outside the terms of the peace mission or the EC conference on Yugoslavia.  So in that regard, what the politicians of Europe were doing may have been different to what the interpretation was to have been by Lord Carrington.”


Doyle was reflective in his testimony. He said, “It’s often the case that lessons are learned after the fact.  It doesn’t change the facts though.  I was aware myself that there was a considerable difference of opinion within the membership of the European Union as to how to deal with the whole issue of the republics of the former Yugoslavia and that depending on who had the Presidency of the European Union policies seemed to be changing, but beyond that I really don’t have a comment.”


Much to the chagrin of the judges and the prosecutors Karadzic read the following quote from Canada’s former ambassador to Yugoslavia, James Bisset:


“As the Canadian ambassador to Yugoslavia from 1990 to1992 I witnessed at first hand how western diplomatic ineptitude and clumsiness hastened the breakup of Yugoslavia and contributed to the dreadful violence and bloodshed that followed the disintegration of the country. 


“Here are a few examples:


“The financial and military support given to the separatist republics by some western governments which encouraged them to break away by forceful means without any serious attempt at negotiating the terms of secession in a non-violent manner.


“The premature recognition of Slovenia and Croatia before any guarantees of civil and human rights were given to the Serbian population of Croatia, which, because of the horrendous events that occurred there during the Second World War, made civil war inevitable.


“The encouragement of Alija Izetbegovic to withdraw his signature from the so-called Lisbon agreement and to proceed with a referendum on independence in Bosnia which everyone knew would lead to the death and displacement of thousands.”


After reading the quote, Karadzic attempted to get Doyle’s opinion to see if he agreed with the assessment of the Canadian ambassador, but before the witness could answer the prosecutor objected saying, “it’s now going too far.” According to Ms. Uertz-Retzlaff “putting to the witness whatever politician elsewhere in the world meant on a certain topic where the witness has already taken and stated what he knows about it and what he can say to it, I think that is not assisting this Trial Chamber and it’s irrelevant.”


Judge Kwon upheld the objection saying, “The Chamber agrees with Ms. Uertz-Retzlaff’s observation. We are of the opinion you exhausted this topic, so move on to your next topic, Mr. Karadzic.”


Radovan Karadzic is accused of masterminding a “joint criminal enterprise” in the indictment. The cause of the war is obviously the key issue in the trial. It destroys the central plank of the prosecution’s case if the war was caused by something other than a Serbian conspiracy.


In order for the indictment’s theory of a Serbian “joint criminal enterprise” to hold-up, the Serbs have to be the protagonists, and everyone else has to be reacting to what the Serbs were doing. For the judges and the prosecutor to conclude that evidence, like the quote from Bisset, that runs contrary to the core allegation in the indictment is “irrelevant” is illustrative of their intentions in this trial.


The quote from Bisset wasn’t the only evidence that Karadzic had at his disposal. He also went through a document that was exhibited by the prosecution in connection with Doyle’s evidence. The document (exhibit P941) was the minutes of a meeting between Secretary Vance and Lord Carrington.


Among other things the document said:

“Dr. Karadzic said that the Serbs were willing negotiate.  Regrettably the Muslims have always negotiated in bad faith. The Muslims had accepted the 18th March [Cutileiro] principles, but had now reneged from them.  They were only interested in a Muslim state.”


“The Serbs were willing to return territory and were content to remain part of Bosnia-Herzegovina within the existing boundaries, but the Serbian people of Bosnia wanted full autonomy from the Muslims and Croats.”


“Dr. Karadzic said that he had issued instructions to stop his forces from harassing those Muslims and Croats who are willing to ‘leave’ Serbian areas from signing papers to that effect.  He confirmed that any such paper would have no validity in the light of a final settlement.”


“Karadzic was willing to accept UN monitors at all Serbian artillery positions in and around Sarajevo.”


Bosnian Referendum on Independence


Another of the exhibits admitted by the prosecution was an EUMM report (exhibit P942) drafted by Doyle on the January 24, 1992 meeting of the Bosnian Parliament.


The report said, “The main feature, among others, discussed [at the meeting] was the question of whether a national referendum be held on the question of sovereignty and, if so, the wording and date.” In his report Doyle said of the EUMM, “We were some kind of cosmetic device to provide legitimacy to the Assembly just by appearing there.”

His report said, “There were considerable recesses to consider certain points. At 0100 hours it appeared that a ‘deal’ had been struck.  An agreed document was circulated to all members laying out the wording of the referendum.  The concession by the SDS was to be matched by agreement to allow regionalization to each ethnic community.  What this was to mean exactly was not clear.  However, as the president of the SDS, Mr. Karadzic began to speak, it became clear that what was intended by the SDA/HDZ was not as had been understood by the SDS.  After a further recess, the president of the Assembly declared that as no progress was being made, the session was being concluded and the SDS withdrew.”


Doyle said, “The Bosnian Serbs did not want this referendum to go ahead if there was not an agreement by consensus.”


Doyle testified that he had “concerns in relation to whether or not the decision on this referendum was constitutional or not.” He said, “I sought an opportunity to try and get a proper legal definition on all of these issues from the highest legal authority in the state, and I could not get from them a definitive interpretation of this referendum.”


He described Bosnia as a constitutionally dysfunctional entity saying, “I was concerned to try and find out what exactly the constitution stated, and that’s why I attempted to get a proper explanation for it, but I couldn’t get a definitive, and the normal path that would be taken in a democratic institution with a standard set of rules and regulations that would be accepted by all parties, but it was my belief that the elements of the constitution were being used to the benefit of each side for their own purposes.  Therefore, I don’t know whether there was a unilateral acceptance of the constitution of Bosnia.”


Karadzic said he would leave the legal and constitutional issues surrounding the referendum for the next day. A complete transcript of this hearing is available at:



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