Conflict 3 Bosnia

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Photojournalism by Neil Jackson

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Conflict 3 Bosnia

  1. 1. Conflict Three: Bosnia
  2. 2. Fittingly, the ovens at Dachau were last used to dispose of the bodies of executed Nazi leaders condemned at the Nuremburg Trials, trials which led to universal human rights legislation being drafted. But for all the sincere words, real politick – and the Red Army - immediately smothered the hopes of millions. The failings of our political leaders ring down the years, synonymous with the towns and countries cast adrift from us prosperous few. One recent example demonstrates the feebleness of human rights legislation when the diplomats hold sway. As war was unleashed on a progressive European people an hours flight from London, human rights legislation and the United Nations proved useless without the political resolve of the West…
  3. 3. ‘ Members of the different religious faiths mix with each other on amicable terms and show mutual respect and mutual toleration; the courts are wisely and honestly administered. Justice is awarded to every citizen, regardless of his religion or social position.’ American journalist W.E. Curtis, who visited Bosnia in 1902 Welcome to Bosnia ‘ For the next three years, British policy on Bosnia was essentially in the hands of three ministers – John Major, Malcolm Rifkind, Minister of Defence, and myself.’ Douglas Hurd, Memoirs. Lord Hurd was the European Union council president at the beginning of the Bosnian War. Any diplomatic response to Serb aggression had to be cleared with him first ‘ Evil prospers when good men do nothing.’ Irish politician and barrister John Philpot Curran or Anglo-Irish statesman Edmund Burke (uncertain provenance)
  4. 4. <ul><li>(Following slide) Outside the Neretva Hotel in </li></ul><ul><li>Mostar, Bosnia Hercegovina, 1992. </li></ul><ul><li>The pistol is not a toy. The city witnessed some of the most bitter fighting during the war in former Yugoslavia. At first Serb irregulars and the Bosnian Serb Army shelled and occupied parts of the city, looting and destroying. Later, when the uneasy pact between Bosnian Muslims (Bosniaks) and Croats fell apart, the place became the stage for a bizarre dance with death. Whilst excrement, ruins and graveyards littered the remains of the Bosniaks’ beleaguered east bank enclave, an SAS team worked in the shadow of the guns, directly for the UN commander, General Rose. </li></ul><ul><li>‘ We rounded a corner and blinked. </li></ul><ul><li>Stretching away in front of us was </li></ul><ul><li>the continuation of the same street </li></ul><ul><li>we’d just trundled down. Where </li></ul><ul><li>there’d been filth and rubble on </li></ul><ul><li>the Muslim side, here we saw bright </li></ul><ul><li>shop windows and cafes and pavements. </li></ul><ul><li>The buildings were hardly scratched. </li></ul><ul><li>‘ What the f***…?’ Keith said. ‘Did we just breeze into an episode of Time Tunnel or something?’ </li></ul><ul><li>I knew what he meant. Not only did it seem like a different era, it felt like we’d been plonked down in a different city. I hadn't seen so many neon lights and posers since the Via del Corso in Rome. </li></ul><ul><li>This, I realised, was a bottled version of the Muslim-Croat divide across the whole of Bosnia. While the Muslims suffered, the ethnic Croats just got on with it, their needs met by their big brother in Croatia proper. You couldn’t help but wonder how the Muslims had held out for so long.’ </li></ul><ul><li>Cameron Spence, All Necessary Measures </li></ul>
  5. 7. ‘ After six centuries we are again engaged in battles and quarrels. They are not armed battles, but this cannot be excluded yet.’ Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic (1941-2006), 600 th anniversary speech to more than a million people at the Mediaeval battlefield of Kosovo Polje, ‘ The Field of Blackbirds’, where a defeat by the Turks prompted the Serb exodus from their ancestral homeland. 28 June, 1989. He was elected president that year
  6. 8. ‘ I think it would be a good idea.’ Quote attributed to Gandhi on being asked his view of Western civilisation
  7. 9. ‘ The West is not aware of the penetration of Islam in the Balkans, where mosques are rising where there were none before.’ Serbian Orthodox Bishop Atansije, speaking of Hercegovina in 1992 (Next:) In 1992 a Bosnian Serb artillery shell penetrated the minaret of this ancient Hercegovinan mosque
  8. 11. <ul><li>Next frame : ‘Norrie’, a mercenary who told me he was a former 22 Special Air Service Squadron Sergeant Major. Employed by the Bosnian Croats as a trainer of potential officers, he later fought with the Bosniaks against his former protégés. Outside Listica, Bosnia Hercegovina, 1992 </li></ul>‘ Genocidal violence is a natural phenomenon in harmony with the societal and mythologically Divine nature. Genocide is not only permitted it is also recommended, even commanded by the Word of the Almighty, whenever it is useful for the survival or the restoration of the earthly kingdom of the chosen nation, or for the preservation and spreading of its one and only correct faith.’ Croatian President Franjo Tudjman (1922-1999) , Wastelands of Historical Truth, 1987 ‘ There was (to be) no cavalry coming over the hill. There is no international force coming to stop this.’ Sunday Telegraph 16/8/1992 Douglas Hogg MP, of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, describes to journalists at Sarajevo airport how he explained to Bosnia’s President Izetbegovic the realities of the situation as seen from the British government’s perspective
  9. 13. ‘ I don’t give a f**k. These people are paying your wages.’ Ian Greer on the Serbian government, 1992. President Milosevic paid British political lobbyists Ian Greer Associates nearly £100,000 to use his stable of tame ‘ Cash for Questions’ MPs to promote Serbian interests in Parliament. ‘ I learned to treat Britain as a hostile power, out to block anything, everything. They were prepared to go to the wall against us on Bosnia. I came to think of the British as like having the Russians around the State Department. Or maybe the Serbs themselves.’ US State Department senior official A hospital in Mostar, 1992. This doctor explains why her patients had to be moved into the relative safety of the basements; the building was situated next to an army headquarters and was coming under repeated artillery fire from the Bosnian Serb Army. The room she is standing in was an operating theatre which received a direct hit just minutes after an operation. The outer wall was a ragged hole
  10. 15. (Next): The Mostar Stari Most (Old Bridge), deliberately destroyed by Bosnian Croat soldiers on November 9, 1993. The River Neretva, which it straddled, is considered by many Serbs to be the dividing line between Serb and Croat territory. The Bosniaks don’t figure in the equation ‘ If these governments are not moved by those pictures of death and suffering, if they are not moved by the position of ethnic cleansing in Europe, two million refugees, mass graves being found in Croatia, then they should be; we cannot let things go on like this. It is evil.’ Lady Thatcher rounds on EC leaders, including then-Prime Minister John Major, during an interview with the American NBC News channel, April 15, 1993. A day later the UN voted to make Srebrenica a ‘safe haven’. Two years later, over 8,000 civilians, including children, were massacred there as Dutch UN soldiers, commanded by the craven Colonel Thomas Karremans, looked on. During that day, the colonel was filmed raising a glass with General Ratko Mladic, shaking his hand and smiling. He was promoted to full colonel shortly after his return to the Netherlands ‘ Let us do nothing - AT ONCE!’ Mathew Gordon, former United Nations chief press officer, on a previous conflict. He was translating a representative’s speech for the English-speaking press corps
  11. 17. ‘ Emotional nonsense!’ Malcolm Rifkind MP, Secretary of State for Defence, condemns Margaret Thatcher’s pro-Bosnian stance This frame: Bosniak death notices. Next: The hospital basement
  12. 19. ‘ If we had not been there it would have been worse.’ Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Secretary General of The United Nations, 1992 - 1996 ‘ There are people around here (Beverly Hills) who have armed response teams hooked up to their alarm systems. Press a button and Rambo arrives. It’s bad news if you forgot your door keys. Others fill their swimming pools with mineral water and bring in bottled mountain air from the Rockies. My dad would have loved this place; no idea is too silly.’ United Nations goodwill ambassador Geri Halliwell, If Only (September 20, 1998) blind adj 1a unable to see; sightless… 2 … unable or unwilling to understand or discern Collins English Dictionary This frame (above) ‘ press a button and Rambo arrives’. An armed Australian mercenary arrives in Split, ready to fight. Next: Toppled minaret in what was a Muslim hamlet just outside the town of Sipovo
  13. 20. ‘ There are people around here (Beverly Hills) who have armed response teams hooked up to their alarm systems. Press a button and Rambo arrives. It’s bad news if you forgot your door keys. Others fill their swimming pools with mineral water and bring in bottled mountain air from the Rockies. My dad would have loved this place; no idea is too silly.’ United Nations goodwill ambassador Geri Halliwell, If Only (September 20, 1998) blind adj 1a unable to see; sightless… 2 … unable or unwilling to understand or discern Collins English Dictionary This frame (above) ‘ press a button and Rambo arrives’. An armed Australian mercenary arrives in Split, ready to fight. Next: Toppled minaret in what was a Muslim hamlet just outside the town of Sipovo
  14. 21. ‘ Asked why the prisoners were so thin, (police chief) Mr. Drljaca said the Muslims were naturally skinny because they did not eat pork and fasted each year during Ramadan. ‘That's the way the Muslim nation is,’ he said. ‘Have you read the Koran?’’ Chuck Sudetic, New York Times , August 8, 1992
  15. 22. ‘ Beginning in April, Serb forces attacked Muslims and Croats living in towns, villages, and smaller settlements, most of which were undefended and contained no military targets. Muslims and Croats were mistreated and killed. Men were often arrested and taken to detention centres, while women and children were forced to leave their homes, and were either detained or forced to leave the municipality… Many detainees were also deliberately killed, by members of paramilitaries, police or other Serb forces.’ Extract from the Summary of Judgement against Momcilo Krajishnik, highest ranking politician at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
  16. 23. (After driving from the Omarska camp to the Manjacha processing camp) ‘ The eerie silence lasted around ten minutes. ‘You got a Dedo Crnalich on this bus?’ came the first call in the bus right next to Djemo. Now they were after Dedo, a guy everyone in Prijedor knew, the owner of one of the nicest restaurants in town, an athlete, and someone always involved in one public office or another. As he was getting out, one of the beasts said, ‘Now let me show you how hamburger meat should be ground up,’ and drew a sharp knife across Dedo’s back, right at the door of the bus. Blood spattered all over everyone crumpled up on top of each other by the door. They could hear Dedo’s blood gurgling and his breath expiring as his body went into convulsions; then the deathly silence returned.’ Rezak Hukanovich, The Tenth Circle of Hell A peasant farmer released from detention. He told me (via interpreter) that his children and grandchildren had been murdered
  17. 24. ‘ Asked why the prisoners were so thin, (police chief) Mr. Drljaca said the Muslims were naturally skinny because they did not eat pork and fasted each year during Ramadan. ‘That's the way the Muslim nation is,’ he said. ‘Have you read the Koran?’’ Chuck Sudetic, New York Times , August 8, 1992
  18. 25. ‘ Time is a violent torrent; no sooner is a thing brought to sight than it is swept by and another takes its place.’ Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius (AD 121 - 180) Meditations book 4, section 43 Aurelius was depicted in Gladiator ‘ At this stage the fighting in Bosnia Hercegovina began to break the bounds of imagination. Around the Konjic area, Serb units guaranteed the Croats safe passage as they were retreating. When Gornji Vakuf was being contested, a fight between Croats and Moslems was being monitored by a nearby Serb unit. After some hours the Moslem guns fell silent. The Serb commander radioed his Moslem counterpart. ‘Why have you stopped firing?’ he asked. ‘ We’ve run out of ammunition. Give us some ammunition,’ the reply came. Instead the Serb commander requested the Croat co-ordinates which the Moslem commander duly supplied. Over the next four hours, the Serb unit pounded the Croats into surrender. The following morning at dawn, the Moslem commander ordered his men to run up the Yugoslav flag instead of the Bosnian ensign in order to thank the Serbs.’ Misha Glenny , The Fall of Yugoslavia Above: mortar impact. Next: The main street through Gornji Vakuf
  19. 27. During a siege in Gorazde, the SAS team commander on the ground told forward headquarters at Gornji Vakuf of the dire situation the town was in. ‘ The pocket has gone, James. It might not fold tonight, and it might not fold tomorrow. But the pocket has fallen, mate, believe me. The Serbs will be here any –’ ‘ Wait a minute! Hold it!’ An unfamiliar voice had burst through on the radio… I recognised the voice now. It belonged to a Major, a member of the (SAS) Regiment on (General) Rose’s staff in Sarajevo. Just as we were monitoring the transmissions in and out of the pocket, so of course, was UNPROFOR’s forward headquarters. This Major, I remembered now, was a liaison officer, an LO on the general’s staff. ‘ Charlie, this is Richard at headquarters. Watch your choice of words man.’ ‘ What the hell do you mean?’ Charlie said. Despite the frailty of the signal you could hear the mixture of astonishment and indignation in his voice. ‘ I’m saying that you should think before you speak. This isn’t just a military situation that we have on our hands here. The whole thing is highly politically charged. Gorazde has not fallen, it will not fall.’’ Cameron Spence, All Necessary Measures
  20. 28. ‘ And if, to be sure, sometimes you have to conceal a fact with words, do it in such a way that it does not become known, or, if it does become known, that you have a ready and quick defence.’ Florentine diplomat and political philosopher Niccolo Machiavelli, 1469-1527, Advice to Raffaello Girolami when he went as Ambassador to the Emperor (October 1522) ‘ Nothing strengthens authority so much as silence.’ His Florentine contemporary Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)
  21. 29. ‘ Everything has changed for us. But the real difference is that the shelling could start at any moment. When your main reason for being alive is luck , life becomes very strange. I don’t think people who have not been in that situation can understand it. It’s not so much a question of whether we survive, it is a question of staying normal. After all the refugees, the dead bodies and the destruction, all those terrible things, the question is this: tomorrow, when all this is stopped, how will I live without remembering? Will I have a smile as before? Will I be happy as before? That is the question for all of us to answer, but I don’t know the answer.’ Emir Tica, 25, speaking from Travnik to Ed Vulliamy, Seasons In Hell A front-line command bunker, with rock sangars on the ridge-line beyond (post-war photo) ‘ According to Marco Altherr, former head of the International Committee for the Red Cross in Yugoslavia, the conflict there was ‘the first time I’ve seen such strong and effective propaganda on both sides. When you’re talking to either side, they’re absolutely convinced they’ll be slaughtered by the other side.’’ Ian Traynor, Yugoslavia’s Brutal Television War
  22. 31. ‘ Sa nama nema neizvesnosti’ (With us there is no insecurity) Electoral promise of Slobodan Milošević’s Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS). The SPS armed Bosnian Serbs just prior to the start of the war ‘ Nato involvement is something that is not going to happen.’ Cambridge-educated British Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd, Sunday Times , February 13, 1994
  23. 32. In 1994, Serbian independent radio station B-92 dressed an actor in former-Yugoslav leader Marshall Tito’s military uniform and had him stroll round Belgrade for two days. As word spread, he was greeted by adoring crowds and also berated by those angry at the war. As the crowd grew, the police intervened and moved on film-maker Želimir Žilnik and his cameraman, but allowed ‘Tito’ to carry on with the walkabout. Tito had died 14 years previously. ‘ It shows that the common people have lost touch with reality. Everything you tell them through the media they absorb like a sponge.’ Slobodan Stupar, deputy director of B-92
  24. 33. ‘ The overriding priority is the safety of British troops.’ Conservative MP David Sumberg, Hansard , May 3, 1995 ‘ If that were so, the troops should have been kept out of harm’s way on Salisbury Plain preparing for a war they would never have to fight since to do so would have compromised their precious safety. This attitude was not only craven and cowardly – it was contemptuous of the armed forces themselves.’ Martin Bell, Through Gates of Fire This frame: Bosnian Croats bury a 21-year-old soldier
  25. 35. ‘ We are more often frightened than hurt; and we suffer more from imagination than from reality.’ Seneca the Elder, Roman rhetorician, 1 st Century AD (twenty centuries ago). On December 14, 1995, the Americans finally had their way against the timid British politicians, and the Dayton Peace Accords were signed in Paris. To the relief of the combat troops, NATO head-dress replaced the scorned pale blue helmets of the UN –- and the killing stopped almost overnight. But by then over 100,000 innocent civilians had died ‘ Appeasement was a term of praise between the two world wars of the twentieth century; it is a term of abuse today. But the peacemakers have their ration of praise, in phrases which have come down through twenty centuries and will be remembered when the arguments of today are forgotten.’ Douglas Hurd, Memoirs, first published in 2003
  26. 36. A year later, in 1996, ‘a freshly retired Douglas Hurd, now acting as deputy chairman of NatWest Markets, visited Milosovic in Belgrade in pursuit of a lucrative contract to advise on the privatisation of Serbian utilities.’ Unfinest Hour , Brendan Simms. Cambridge don Simm’s assessment of the baron’s business interests Sir Rifkind’s nose also caught the whiff of lucre once the war was over. The International High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Lord ‘Paddy’ Ashdown , had to put Rifkind in his place in 2003: ‘There were… meetings with… ex-British Tory Minister of Defence Malcolm Rifkind who came to Bosnia representing a private British consultancy firm bidding for business on Bosnian privatisation projects. I had to explain to him that I was not a British official, charged with helping British business, but an international civil servant who could have no part in this process.’ Lord Paddy Ashdown, Swords and Ploughshares
  27. 37. ‘ I am ashamed to say that the British government, by a huge miscalculation, has been an unwitting accomplice to… a policy of such incompetence and arrogance that it is akin to the appeasement of the Nazis.’ Sir John Nott, Defence Secretary during the Falklands campaign, in The Times , December 1, 1994 This frame: smashed houses in another village. Next: Tom Factory, GV. After years of lethal resistance, NATO involvement is finally allowed to take off ‘ At the height of the Bosnian crisis, in May 1993, Poland’s first post-Soviet president, Tadeusz Mazowiecki, at the time serving as a UN rapporteur on human rights, blasted the British government for opposing military intervention. ‘Any time there was a likelihood of effective action, a particular western statesman (British Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd) intervened to prevent it.’’ Matthew Omolesky, Düsseldorfer Instituts für Außen- und Sicherheitspolitik (DIAS) (Dusseldorf Institute for Foreign and Security Policy). June 26, 2006
  28. 39. ‘ SECRET TAPE recordings made by the late President Franjo Tudjman of Croatia prove that he and his close circle were directly involved in perpetrating war crimes and stole £1 billion from his war-racked country. The Tudjman tapes, whose existence was not known until now, were recorded at the Pantov presidential palace where the Balkan dictator had his office until his death last December. From the palace, in a forest outside Zagreb, Tudjman and his cronies masterminded Croatia's role in the Bosnian war. The Deputy Chief Prosecutor at the (Hague War Crimes) tribunal, Graham Blewitt, said that had Tudjman lived the tapes would have provided evidence of involvement in atrocities. ‘I'm confident we could have established his responsibility for the crimes that were committed,’ he said. The tapes also show how the Tudjman regime plundered the country of 1 billion pounds, leaving workers unpaid, massive unemployment and a banking crisis.’ The Independent , 1 November, 2000. This frame: A Japanese photographer walks the deserted streets
  29. 41. ‘ During the escalation of the conflict, few ‘front line’ photographs appeared (in the media). The extensive omission of maps or drawings, which could have made war operations easier to understand, was particularly striking. Clearly, the aim was to make it difficult for the recipient to trace the actual course of (the) conflict, in order to increase confusion, fear and feelings of anxiety. In this way, the (Croatian) government secured its monopoly of true information and insight into actual relationships… … ‘ Belgrade’s counterpart of the Zagreb Vjesnik is the daily newspaper Politika , and, in 1991, reporting in this newspaper was subject to a content analysis. Amongst the findings was that subjects were not selected on the basis of their news value, even in the case of war events, but rather on the basis of the political significance of the published reports. The researcher found that such selection criteria served to promote propaganda goals. Instead of portraying reality, reality was interpreted in order to influence the reader more effectively.’ Dushan Reljic, Killing Screens: Media in Times of Conflict Page 55 (PDF file, website) from the Central Europe Review This frame, post-war: a convoy from Hereford Humanitarian Aid delivering supplies to somebody’s enemy, 2000 ‘ During the escalation of the conflict, few ‘front line’ photographs appeared (in the media). The extensive omission of maps or drawings, which could have made war operations easier to understand, was particularly striking. Clearly, the aim was to make it difficult for the recipient to trace the actual course of (the) conflict, in order to increase confusion, fear and feelings of anxiety. In this way, the (Croatian) government secured its monopoly of true information and insight into actual relationships…
  30. 42. ‘ During the escalation of the conflict, few ‘front line’ photographs appeared (in the media). The extensive omission of maps or drawings, which could have made war operations easier to understand, was particularly striking. Clearly, the aim was to make it difficult for the recipient to trace the actual course of (the) conflict, in order to increase confusion, fear and feelings of anxiety. In this way, the (Croatian) government secured its monopoly of true information and insight into actual relationships… … ‘ Belgrade’s counterpart of the Zagreb Vjesnik is the daily newspaper Politika , and, in 1991, reporting in this newspaper was subject to a content analysis. Amongst the findings was that subjects were not selected on the basis of their news value, even in the case of war events, but rather on the basis of the political significance of the published reports. The researcher found that such selection criteria served to promote propaganda goals. Instead of portraying reality, reality was interpreted in order to influence the reader more effectively.’ Dushan Reljic, Killing Screens: Media in Times of Conflict Page 55 (PDF file, website) from the Central Europe Review This frame, post-war: a convoy from Hereford Humanitarian Aid delivering supplies to somebody’s enemy, 2000 … ‘ Belgrade’s counterpart of the Zagreb Vjesnik is the daily newspaper Politika , and, in 1991, reporting in this newspaper was subject to a content analysis. Amongst the findings was that subjects were not selected on the basis of their news value, even in the case of war events, but rather on the basis of the political significance of the published reports. The researcher found that such selection criteria served to promote propaganda goals. Instead of portraying reality, reality was interpreted in order to influence the reader more effectively.’ Dushan Reljic, Killing Screens: Media in Times of Conflict Page 55 (PDF file, website) from the Central Europe Review This frame, post-war: a convoy from Hereford Humanitarian Aid delivering supplies to somebody’s enemy, 2000
  31. 43. ‘ There is no Bosnian culture.’ Henry Kissinger urging a Croat/Serb partition of Bosnia on the Charlie Rose Show , September 14, 1995. During the Vietnam war, Kissinger relayed President Nixon’s order to initiate war on Cambodia. He ordered General Alexander Haig to mount ‘a massive bombing campaign in Cambodia. Anything that flies on anything that moves.’ Whitehouse telephone transcript, December 9, 1970. In 1973 Kissinger won the Nobel Peace Prize. ‘ Political satire became obsolete when Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.’ American satirist Tom Lehrer ‘ Serb forces also destroyed cultural monuments and sacred sites of importance to the Muslim and Croat populations.’ Extract from the Summary of Judgement against Momcilo Krajishnik, Yugoslav politician
  32. 44. Bosnian culture in the form of mosques, cathedrals, museums, libraries, schools and bridges was destroyed by the Bosnian Serbs as they rewrote history. The Serbian parliament refused to condemn the Srebrenica massacre on it’s tenth anniversary in 2005. However, a flame is kept alive in community groups spread throughout Europe and beyond, where traditions and culture such as folk dance are taught to the children of the refugees. Even as the children of Republika Srpska are taught to hate their former neighbours through poisonous school textbooks. Meanwhile, a search of the Royal Netherlands Army Museum website reveals no reference to Srebrenica. The cowardice of the UN and its military commander has, like the Bosniaks in the history of the Bosnian Serbs, been airbrushed from history
  33. 46. ‘ The British were reluctant (to join step with the Germans and back Croat claims for national recognition just prior to the Bosnian war), but were won round after having been offered a concession by the Germans, ten days earlier, on the opt-out clauses of the Maastricht Treaty. These clauses made it easier for John Major to sell the treaty to his party in the House of Commons. It was also a shameful trade-off that ignited another war… Did we really abandon the Bosnians to their fate for the political expediency and convenience of the then ruling party at Westminster? I believe that we did.’ Martin Bell, Through Gates of Fire. Mr Bell’s emphasis
  34. 47. ‘ The British were reluctant (to join step with the Germans and back Croat claims for national recognition just prior to the Bosnian war), but were won round after having been offered a concession by the Germans, ten days earlier, on the opt-out clauses of the Maastricht Treaty. These clauses made it easier for John Major to sell the treaty to his party in the House of Commons. It was also a shameful trade-off that ignited another war… Did we really abandon the Bosnians to their fate for the political expediency and convenience of the then ruling party at Westminster? I believe that we did.’ Martin Bell, Through Gates of Fire. Mr Bell’s emphasis ‘ A myth arose… that Britain capitulated on recognition of Croatia as a shady quid pro quo for German help over the negotiation of the Maastricht Treaty. This is a preposterous notion, and utterly untrue. It was given credence by Genscher’s (German foreign minister until 1992) comment to the effect that ‘We helped you on Maastricht, please listen to us on this one.’ This was a personal plea made by him, not the opening sentence of a bargain to which we were committed. We got our way at Maastricht because I refused to sign the treaty unless we did. I did not owe the Germans any favours over Maastricht, and Douglas Hurd did not agree to recognise Croatia on that account.’ British Prime Minister in 1992 Sir John Major, The Autobiography. Former banker Sir John applied to become a bus conductor on leaving school but was beaten in his quest by another applicant
  35. 48. Who to believe? Sir John, a politician, a man surrounded by people out to line their own pockets? Or former BBC war correspondent Martin Bell, who has risked his life many times to find the truth? Whatever the case, time proved yet again that without political will, the high-sounding words of Nuremberg and the human rights treaties were hollow. The idea that everyone, everywhere has inviolate rights is false. They say the Vietnam War which finished in 1975 was lost on America’s television screens. Beside a smashed bridge, surrounded by wrecked homes, a Bosnian soldier said to me, ‘You photograph this then the Europeans, the Americans will help us. No-one can stand and do nothing as this happens to us. This is Europe.’ But he was wrong. Something happened to us since 1975. Below: Making a difference. Unpaid volunteers from a British aid convoy heading home, leaving a still-shattered country This has been an extract from Conflict . Click here to visit Conflict

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