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The Hague Tribunal and the Serbian Elites

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr Josip Glaurdic.

After serving as a Yugoslav diplomat for more than two decades, Ms Biserko quit her position in 1991 in protest against the policies of the regime of Slobodan Milosevic. Together with other dissidents, she founded the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia, the European Movement in Yugoslavia, and the Centre for Anti-War Action in the Belgrade Forum for International Relations. Over the past twenty years, she has worked determinedly for peace in the region and for Serbia’s open confrontation with the war crimes committed in its name during the various Yugoslav wars. Ms Biserko has lectured extensively at various universities and international organizations in the West. In 1994, she was awarded the Human Rights Award by the Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights in New York. More recently, she was a Senior Fellow at the United States Institute of Peace. In 2009 she was awarded the Human Rights Prize of the City of Weimar, and in 2010 she was awarded the Lisl and Leo Etinger Award for Human Rights by the University of Oslo.

Her talk will focus on the role of elites in the process of coming to terms with a series of verdicts by The Hague Tribunal. Post-war Serbia continues to be deeply imbued with nationalism. The glorification of traditional, “authentic” Serbian values and a continuing political and media campaign against Europe and the West have resulted in wide scepticism toward Western democratic practices, including the protection of human rights and the promotion of a human rights culture. They have resulted in the same identity matrix of the Serb ethno-nation as the one propagated by Milosevic: Serbia as the only historically correct nation and victimized by the world powers. This self-delusion has freed the nation from all the wrongs of the past – including the responsibility of bringing war criminals to justice – and possible wrongs in the future. It is a mind-set that plunges the nation into permanent conflict with its neighbours and the rest of the world, generating frustration, arrogance and aggression. The conservative political class of Serbia has never actually shown its readiness to seriously embark upon a pro-European road, despite the image of a European Serbia projected on the international scene since 2000.

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