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Institute for the Research of Genocide Canada

The Future of the Balkans

Institute for the Research of Genocide Canada
Published: November 4, 2011  


Written by Osman SOFTIĆ:

Mr. Osman Softic is member of the International Expert Team of the Canadian Institute for Genocide

When a Conference on Balkans is moderated by Darko Tanaskovic, a leading Serbian orientalist scholar and a former Milosevic diplomat, who inspired crimes against Bosniaks, then it is not surprising that the discussion was of Buddhism (!?), and that Yasushi Akashi (again) accused the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina for the Markale massacre.

‘New Balkans and European Enlargement˝ was the title of the conference held In Milocer, in Montenegro, on 21-22 October, 2011. The conference was organized by the European Centre for Peace and Development (ECPD), headquartered in Belgrade, Republic of Serbia.

Conference in Montenegro would’ve probably gone unnoticed, just as many similar events had in the past, had it not been for the fact that some of the key figures who participated in it as VIP guests, still continue to cause nervousness, insecurity and fear among the Bosnian Muslims. Key participants of the conference were Yasushi Akashi and Boutros Boutros-Ghali, whose role in mediating the war in Bosnia was both biased and unfair towards the victims of the Bosnian war.

One of the moderators of the conference was Darko Tanaskovic, a professor at the Faculty of Philology in Belgrade, orientalist and a former Milosevic diplomat, but also inspirer of crimes against Bosniaks. Tanasković in his writings largely contributed to demonization and propaganda war as well as dehumanization of the Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims) prior to the Serbian aggression on Bosnia and Herzegovina and the genocide against the Bosniaks.

Darko Tanaskovic was one of those who prepared the public in Serbia and Montenegro and the Serbs in Bosnia to accept genocide as a means of defense. He and his fellow orientalists systematically conditioned the Serbian people to believe the Bosnian Muslims were a threat, marking them as ‘Poturice’ - pejoratively using this construction, which meant they were guilty of treason of ancestral faith (for having converted from Orthodox Christianity to Islam some 500 years ago). Tanasković, while writing for both daily and weekly newspapers and other publications such as journal ‘Vojska’ - ‘Army’, issued by the Yugoslav Army, with his fellow orientalist, Miroljub Jeftić, often portrayed Islam as backward and violent.

When in 1991 and in the early 1992 it was almost certain that Bosnia will not remain in a rump Yugoslavia, Tanasković described the Bosnian government’s appeals to Turkey for assistance as shameful return to their ‘poturice’ mentality, stating that ‘poturice’ are worse than the Turks themselves.

Tanasković warned: ˝The fear of Serbs from the Turks, is much worse and much more dangerous than their fear of Germans˝. Tanasković was writing that the greater danger for Yugoslavia emanates from Islamic fundamentalism than it is caused by deteriorated relationship between Serbs and Croats. Then he warned of the danger of an Islamic state in Bosnia and Sanjak, although the emphasis was on the Kosovo Albanians. In the post-Milosevic era Tanasković returned to the same job, on this occasion, only to intimidate the citizens of Serbia and scare them of Wahhabis in Bosnia and Sandzak, while still denying genocide against Bosniaks in Srebrenica.

Tanasković wrote the foreword to the book titled ˝Terrible, but helpful truth˝, authored by Milivoje Ivanisevic, whom the Hague Court characterized as genocide denier for his the relativisation of the shameful fact that it (commission of genocide against Bosnian men and boys in Srebrenica in July 1995) has been established and proven fact by the International Tribunal for War Crimes in the Hague.

Representatives, peacemakers, activists and academics from among Bosniaks did not take part in Milocer conference, neither did any of the victims who had survived the war.

This is hardly surprising, given that during the conference, among other things, the book˝ (In The Valley Between War and Peace) written by Yasushi Akashi was launched. In the book the former, arguably pro-Milosevic biased UN envoy to the Former Yugoslavia, presented a detailed vision of the key political figures with whom he negotiated during the wars in former Yugoslavia. During the conference break Akashi gave his statement for the press, saying that˝ it is still unclear which of the two warring sides fired the grenade whose explosion at the Sarajevo Markale market on 5 February 2022 caused a 66 dead and wounding 140 people˝.

Therefore, his participation in the conference does not contribute to building peace in the Balkans. Rather his presence has sown fear and insecurity among the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina, particularly the Bosniaks as the biggest victims of the war. It is very odd, however, that the conference discussed the future of the new Balkans, not only in the absence of Bosniaks, but also in the absence of Turkish representatives without whose contributions and the positive role, there cannot be any talk about a stable, peaceful and prosperous Balkans. Greek representatives, however, were amply represented at the conference.

It is unthinkable that the future of the Balkans of which Bosnia and Herzegovina is an integral part, is being debated by those who inspired aggression against B&H or those who acted as apologists for the Serbian policy of expansionism and state-terror which had caused such a huge destruction of Bosnia and claimed the loss of more than 200 thousand innocent lives. In addition, any remotely serious observer of multiculturalism and inter-religious tolerance would be rather surprised if he found out that in the context of a multicultural society in the Balkans the conference talk was about Buddhism, knowing well that the Balkan peoples are mainly Orthodox Christians, Catholics and Muslims. Is it not a sort of nonsense and the failure of the conference, at least if its aim was to consider the improvement of relations among the Balkan peoples, religions, and attempts at their rapprochement?

The absence of Turkish participants at the conference the Balkans future, and the role of Darko Tanaskovic, as one of the keynote speakers and moderators of the conference in Montenegro, clearly indicated that it was an exclusive gathering of, ‘like minds with predictable conconclusions’, as one of prominent US scholars on Balkans later described it. Certainly it was not a sincere quest to finding solutions for a durable and lasting peace in the Balkans as this would be all but impossible to achieve without a significant role of Turkey, arguably the largest economic and military powers not only in the region but further afield. Any genuine discussions and planing for creating peaceful and stable Balkans can not succeed without involving Turkey as a partner, especially because of its historical role in the Balkans.

Darko Tanaskovićs as a leading Serbian Orientalist, argued in his book published last year, that a growing economic expansionism of Turkey represents a potential threat to the stability and independence of Balkan countries. He argued, without serious evidence, that Turkey wants to return to the Balkans as neo-imperial power. Quite surprisingly, Tanasković’s book ˝Neosmanism and the return of Turkey to the Balkans ˝ was, published, not in Belgrade but by the Official Gazette of the Republic of Srpska (smaller Bosnian entity under Bosnian Serb political control), was an upgrade of his earlier text, previously published in the Journal ‘Policy’.

It argues that the new policies of the Erdogan AKP government in Turkey represented an ideological amalgam of neo-osmanism, Islamism, Turkism and Ottoman imperialism.

Tanasković should know full well that Turkey now has the greatest potential for investment in our region and that presence of Turkey would have certainly been desirable at this meeting even considering it from an economic aspects alone. Even though Tanasković is aware of that, he continues to expound what he is best at, that is frightening the Serbs by the Turks and ‘green transversal - meaning an imagined geopolitical fundamentalist Islam-dominated geographical region, which was effectively cited by war criminals such as Milosevic, Karadzic, Seselj, Mladic and their acolytes as a pretext for Serbian regional expansionism and genocidal policies against the citizens of B&H in the 1990s.

Institute for the Research of Genocide Canada