UN resolution on genocide in Srebrenica and Western hypocrisy

Srebrenica massacre graves (Photo: Wikimedia _

On 23rd May 2024 the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution that designated 11th July as the “International Day of Reflection and commemoration of the 1995 genocide in Srebrenica”. The resolution was drafted by Germany. Eighty four countries voted in favour, including all western imperialist powers. Nineteen countries voted against, including China, Russia, Cuba and Serbia and sixty eight countries abstained. Polarisation along the geopolitical lines was obvious.

The resolution refers to the biggest single tragedy during the Yugoslav civil wars in the 1990s. This took place in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica where Bosnian Serb units, led by the subsequently convicted war criminal Ratko Mladić, massacred 8,372 Bosnian Muslim men and boys, soldiers and civilians.

No country that voted on the resolution denied the tragic event and all countries condemned it. Yet the polarisation of the vote brought into light divided interests and motivations and the corrupt nature of the process and the institutions that are not and cannot be independent of national and region capitalist interests.

The main point of contention was the unequal and inconsistent use of the word “genocide” to label the many horrible massacres in history. Namibia’s delegate, for example, explained their intention to abstain, stating that “selective amnesia is fast becoming the norm worldwide, where what our designated foes do is genocide but when we or our allies do the same, it’s not genocide”. One can think of many historical examples, but we don’t have to look far when an obvious genocide of the Palestinians has been unfolding in front of our eyes for the last nine months, with the complicity of the same western powers that voted in favour of the Srebrenica resolution.

It is obvious that, whatever the motivation for adopting the resolution at this time, it is not out of genuine concern for justice or the victims. Neither it is an attempt at reconciliation between Serbs and Bosniaks or other Balkan nationalities. Since the breakup of Yugoslavia in 1991 the role of the western imperialism in the Balkans has been to sow divisions and support nationalist, corrupt leaders who have been willing to open their country for exploitation by western capital. United Balkan peoples who democratically plan their own economy for the benefit of working people is the stuff of nightmares for imperialist powers.

Indeed, the resolution has had the same divisive effect across the Balkans. Bosnian Muslims who lost their loved ones in Srebrenica understandably welcomed it with open arms, desperate for justice and acknowledgement of the scale of crime that took place. In some cases, it might have deepened the trust in the “western allies”, although events in Gaza are certainly a complicating factor. However, any trust in the “western allies” is unfortunate because the “alliance” with western imperialism has done nothing but bring Bosnian people to the edge of poverty and into it.

In Serbia the resolution had an opposite effect where it confirmed the deep mistrust of the west. In the wars of the 90s the west was seen to unfairly back Serbian opponents; from then on it has been seen to always undermine “Serbian interests”. No doubt there is truth in this, however it constantly feeds the deep reaction that still exists in the country. The disgust felt for western imperialism isn’t translated into anti-capitalism but into more nationalism and looking towards Russian or Chinese imperialism as the alternative. Western imperialism also gives ammunition to the corrupt, right wing nationalist government, to perpetually be “the saviour” of Serbian people, where in fact it’s been the complete opposite. Serbia is one of the poorest countries in Europe, with lowest wages and highest prices of food and other goods. A vast amount of national wealth is wasted on megalomaniac vanity projects by President Vučić, the same time as foreign capital, both western and Chinese, are given an open hand to pillage natural resources and super-exploit low wage workers.

During the war, Vučić was known to have said that “100 Muslims will be killed for one Serb”. Today as President he continues the same nationalist agenda responsible for the crime in Srebrenica. Yet to hide the responsibility of the disastrous nationalist politics of the last 30 years, of which Vučić was an integral part, he has cynically shifted the narrative that dumps the responsibility on the whole people, accusing the UN of declaring Serbs a “genocidal nation”. As the national “saviour” he wore a Serbian flag in the UN General Assembly and argued against the resolution. The performance was meant for Serbian people at home, with the aim of saving his own regime.

 The show continued on his return home, with a big gathering called to “show unity of Serbia and Respublika Srpska” (“Serbian Republic”, entity of Bosnia and Herzegovina, recognised in 1995 by the Dayton Agreement). Vučić spoke of the “hardest days yet facing Serbian people”. The aim of the gathering was to “show muscles” and send a message of a possible political unity of Serbia and Republika Srpska, which would mean breakup of Bosnia, as a retaliation for the UN resolution. The gathering wasn’t as big as intended, it was a flop, but still capable of sending chills in the fragile Balkans.

Reconciliation under capitalism?

Reconciliation among Balkan peoples cannot be achieved under capitalism. The Balkans is a region with an immense variety and intermingling of ethnic groups, on a relatively small area. For centuries it has suffered from foreign occupations and imperialism, as well as expansionist ambitions of Balkan countries. Capitalist national competitions, almost always backed by big imperialist powers, thrive on manufactured conflicts and “age-old hatreds” among ethnic groups. Most Balkan countries saw an alternative to capitalism however – with very different experiences. Even though Stalinism was not true socialism, the Balkans still had a glimpse of what socialist cooperation would look like. This was most true of the multi-ethnic Yugoslavia that had a somewhat different system to the more oppressive Stalinist regimes in Eastern Europe, with highest quality of life in the region and peaceful ethnic co-existence for a period, albeit it was still a bureaucratically run system.

Like the rest of the world after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the restoration of capitalism, there is a lot of political confusion in the Balkans, even more so considering its history of colonisation, war, Stalinism, and today’s return to neocolonial status. Mass socialist forces could direct anti-western sentiments into struggle against capitalism and nationalism, and for genuine socialism, but they need to be built and should coordinate across the region. There are such examples, but they are very small at present. Those forces could build on the experience of the past, take what was good and learn from mistakes.

A socialist Balkan – taking the commanding heights of the economy into democratic public ownership and management, as part of socialist Europe and world, on a free and equal basis between the different peoples , and free from oppression and imperialism, would lose any cause for ethnic “hatred” or territorial expansionism. Ethnic cleansing and genocides would be assigned to dark pages of history.


Generalna skupština UN-a usvojila je 23. maja 2024. rezoluciju kojom je 11. jul proglašen „Međunarodnim danom razmišljanja i sećanja na genocid u Srebrenici 1995. godine“. Nacrt rezolucije je izradila Nemačka. Osamdeset četiri zemlje su glasale za, uključujući sve zapadne imperijalističke sile. Devetnaest zemalja je glasalo protiv, uključujući Kinu, Rusiju, Kubu i Srbiju, a šezdeset osam zemalja je bilo uzdržano. Polarizacija po geopolitičkim linijama je bila očigledna.

Rezolucija se odnosi na najveću tragediju tokom ratova 1990-ih u bivšoj Jugoslaviji. Ona se dogodila u bosanskom gradu Srebrenici gde su jedinice bosanskih Srba, predvođene kasnije osuđenim ratnim zločincem Ratkom Mladićem, masakrirali 8.372 bosanskih Muslimana, muškaraca i dečaka, vojnika i civila.

Nijedna zemlja koja je glasala o rezoluciji nije negirala tragični događaj i sve zemlje su ga osudile. Ipak, polarizacija glasanja je iznela na videlo podeljene interese i motive i korumpiranu prirodu procesa i institucija koje nisu i ne mogu biti nezavisne od nacionalnih i regionalnih kapitalističkih interesa.

Glavna tačka spora je bila nejednaka i nedosledna upotreba reči „genocid“ za označavanje mnogih užasnih masakra u istoriji. Delegat Namibije je, na primer, objasnio njihovu nameru da se uzdrže, navodeći da „selektivna amnezija postaje norma širom sveta, gde ono što rade naši neprijatelji je genocid, ali kada mi ili naši saveznici radimo isto, onda nije genocid“. Svakako se mogu naći mnogi istorijski primeri, ali ne moramo daleko da gledamo kada nam se u poslednjih devet meseci pred očima odvija očigledan genocid nad Palestincima, uz saučesništvo istih zapadnih sila koje su glasale za rezoluciju o Srebrenici.

Očigledno je da, šta god da je bila motivacija za usvajanje rezolucije u ovom trenutku, to nije iz istinske brige za pravdu ili žrtve. Niti je to bio pokušaj pomirenja između Srba i Bošnjaka ili drugih balkanskih naroda. Od raspada Jugoslavije 1991. godine uloga zapadnog imperijalizma na Balkanu bila je da seje podele i podržava nacionalističke, korumpirane lidere koji su bili voljni da otvore svoju zemlju za eksploataciju od strane zapadnog kapitala. Ujedinjeni balkanski narodi koji demokratski planiraju sopstvenu ekonomiju u korist radnih ljudi je noćna mora za imperijalističke sile.

I zaista, rezolucija je imala isti efekat podele širom Balkana. Bosanski muslimani koji su izgubili svoje najmilije u Srebrenici razumljivo su je dočekali raširenih ruku, očajnički tražeći pravdu i priznanje razmera zločina koji se tamo dogodio. Moguće je da je u nekim slučajevima produbljeno poverenje u „zapadne saveznike“, iako su događaji u Gazi svakako komplikujući faktor. Međutim, svako poverenje u „zapadne saveznike” je neopravdano jer „savez” sa zapadnim imperijalizmom nije učinio ništa drugo osim što je bosanski narod doveo na rub siromaštva.

U Srbiji je rezolucija imala suprotan efekat gde je potvrdila duboko nepoverenje u zapad. U ratovima 90-ih opšte mišljenje je bilo da zapad nepravedno podržava srpske protivnike; od tada do danas smatra se da zapad uvek radi protiv „srpskih interesa“. Nema sumnje da u tome ima istine, ali to neprestano podstiče duboku reakciju koja još uvek postoji u zemlji. Opravdano gađenje koje ljudi osećaju prema zapadnom imperijalizmu na žalost nije prevedeno u antikapitalizam, nego u još više nacionalizma i gledanje na ruski ili kineski imperijalizam kao alternativu. Zapadni imperijalizam takođe stvara pogodno tlo za korumpiranu, desničarsku nacionalističku vladu i neophodnost da ona uvek bude „spasitelj“ srpskog naroda, dok je u stvari sušta suprotnost. Srbija je jedna od najsiromašnijih zemalja u Evropi, sa najnižim prihodima i najvišim cenama hrane i drugih proizvoda. Ogromna količina nacionalnog bogatstva se rasipa na megalomanske projekte predsednika Vučića, dok se u isto vreme stranom kapitalu, i zapadnom i kineskom, daju razrešene ruke da pljačkaju prirodne resurse i super-eksploatišu niskoplaćene radnike.

Poznato je da je Vučić u ratu izrekao da će „100 muslimana biti ubijeno za jednog Srbina“. Danas kao predsednik nastavlja istu nacionalističku agendu odgovornu za zločin u Srebrenici. Ipak, da bi sakrio odgovornost pogubne nacionalističke politike u poslednjih 30 godina, čiji je i sam sastavni deo, cinično je stvorio narativ koji baca odgovornost na ceo narod, optužujući UN da su Srbe proglasili „genocidnim narodom“. I opet kao nacionalni „spasitelj“, u Generalnoj skupštini UN-a je na ramenima nosio srpsku zastavu, plakao i govorio protiv rezolucije. Predstava je bila namenjena srpskom narodu kod kuće, sa ciljem da spase sopstveni režim.

Predstava je nastavljena i po povratku kući pozivanjem na „Sve-srpski Sabor”, sa namerom da se „pokaže jedinstvo Srbije i Republike Srpske“. Vučić je po običaju podizao tenziju govorom da „najteži dani tek predstoje srpskom narodu“. Cilj sabora je bio da se „pokažu mišići“ i pošalje preteća poruka o mogućem političkom jedinstvu Srbije i Republike Srpske, što bi značilo raspad Bosne, kao odmazda za rezoluciju UN-a. Sabor nije bio tako velik kako je planirano, ali je ipak poslao jezu po krhkom Balkanu.

Pomirenje pod kapitalizmom? 
Pomirenje među balkanskim narodima se ne može postići u kapitalizmu. Balkan je region sa ogromnom raznolikošću i pomešanosti etničkih grupa, na relativno maloj teritoriji. Vekovima je patio pod stranom okupacijom i kolonijalizmom, kao i ekspanzionističkim ambicijama samih balkanskih zemalja. Kapitalistička nacionalna nadmetanja, gotovo uvek podstaknuta od strane velikih imperijalističkih sila, prosperiraju na veštački isprovociranim sukobima i „vekovnoj mržnji“ među narodima. Međutim, većina balkanskih zemalja je videla alternativu kapitalizmu – sa veoma različitim iskustvima. Iako staljinizam nije bio pravi socijalizam, Balkan je ipak imao uvid u mogućnost socijalističke saradnje. To se najviše odnosilo na multietničku Jugoslaviju koja je imala dosta drugačiji sistem od represivnijih staljinističkih režima u istočnoj Evropi, sa najvišim kvalitetom života u regionu i mirnim etničkim suživotom u tom periodu, i pored činjenice da je to ipak bio birokratski sistem.
Kao i u ostatku sveta nakon pada Berlinskog zida i restauracije kapitalizma, na Balkanu postoji velika politička konfuzija, čak šta više još veća, s obzirom na istoriju kolonizacija, ratova, staljinizma i današnjeg povratka neokolonijalnom statusu. Masovne socijalističke snage bi mogle da usmere antizapadni gnev u borbu protiv kapitalizma i nacionalizma, i za istinski socijalizam, ali njih treba izgraditi i koordinirati širom regiona. Takvih primera ima, ali su trenutno veoma mali. Te snage bi mogle da se oslanjaju na iskustvo iz prošlosti, da uzmu ono što je bilo dobro i da uče iz grešaka.

Socijalistički Balkan, kao deo socijalističke Evrope i sveta, što podrazumeva nacionalizaciju ekonomije i demokratsko samoupravljanje i slobodne, ravnopravne odnose među narodima, bio bi oslobođen od ugnjetavanja i imperijalizma i tako izgubio svaki razlog za etničke „mržnje“ ili teritorijalni ekspanzionizam. Etnička čišćenja i genocidi bili bi pripisani mračnim stranicama istorije.

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June 2024