Congress of North American Bosniaks, an umbrella organization representing 350,000 Bosniaks residing in United States of America and Canada, strongly condemns the provocative actions of the Serbian government by holding military exercises in the southern region of Sandzak, which is home to a minority Bosniak population. By choosing to perform the exercise in this region, it can only be interpreted as an attempt to intimidate the Bosniak minority.
This follows the path of political intimidation and human rights abuses that Serbia has been intensifying over the last few years. Serbian government has even chosen to meddle into the religious affairs of the Bosniak minority by creating another Islamic umbrella organization with its headquarters in Belgrade, the capitol of Serbia. We demand of the international community to pressure Serbia to stop the intimidation of minorities and to play a constructive role in the region. Lasting peace in the region can only be obtained when Serbia understands that it must treat minorities and neighbors as equals.
It is troubling that the EU enlargement commissioner Olli Rehn completely ignored this event and stated on Wednesday in Brussels that Serbia “has made significant progress towards EU integration and in its cooperation with the Hague Tribunal”, despite the fact that fugitives Ratko Mladic and Goran Hadzic remain at large in Serbia. Furthermore, Beta news agency reports that the EC has called on EU member states to unblock the Interim Trade Agreement between Serbia and the EU.
CNAB opposes the lifting of the blockade until Serbia takes the following actions:
- Arrest all war criminals currently hiding in Serbia and turn them over to the Hague Tribunal.
- Stop the human rights abuses and intimidation of ethnic minorities, particularly the Bosniaks of the Sandzak region.
- Stop all unilateral relations with Republika Srpska, and all actions that undermine the authority of the central Bosnian government.
- Take responsibility for failing to stop the genocide in Bosnia and condemn all those who deny the genocide.
- Renounce all extreme nationalist elements and politics of expansion that seeks to intimidate its neighbors and undermine the rights of other nationalities.
- Perform actions of significant demilitarization and pacification to ensure they will no longer wage war against their neighbors.
Serbia has been the main source of instability in the region. It has started four wars since the breakup of Yugoslavia resulting in deaths of more than 250,000 people and the expulsion of more than 2 million from their homes. It continues to dodge the international community and refuses to accept responsibility for its actions. Time of false promises and appeasements has passed. It is time for Serbia to be held accountable and significant reforms be made to ensure lasting peace and stability in the region. Only when Serbia has fulfilled its obligation to bring lasting stability to the region should there be any talk about integration into the EU. Until then, we demand that the EU officials and the United States continue to pressure Serbia to be accountable for their actions.
On behalf of the Congress of North American Bosniaks
Professor Semir Djulic
Spokesperson of the CNAB Board of Directors