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Center for Balkan Development
2 CLOCK TOWER PLACE #510
MAYNARD, MA 02118
TEL : 978-461-0909
FAX: 978-461-2552
info@friendsofbosnia.org
www.friendsofbosnia.org


Press Release
October 9, 2000

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

For more information, contact Glenn Ruga: 978-461-0909

Friends of Bosnia Applauds Ouster of Milosevic and Possibility for Peace Throughout the Balkans

Calls on International Community to Link Lifting Sanctions with Serbian Cooperation with War Crimes Tribunal

BOSTON--After thirteen years of rule by a man who has created four wars in the Balkans, is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians and the exile of millions--Friends of Bosnia is cautiously optimistic for the future of Serbia and the Balkans after the transfer of power from Yugoslav President and dictator Slobodan Milosevic to the democratically-elected Vojislav Kostunica.

While Friends of Bosnia applauds the transfer of power in Belgrade, it calls on the international community to withhold full lifting of sanctions and integration into international institutions until Serbia fully cooperates with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) -- including turning over Milosevic and all indicted war criminals to the Hague.

In order for the Serbian people to fully embrace democracy and enter the arena of civilized nations, those personally responsible for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide, must stand trial in The Hague--openly and publicly. Milosevic and his army chief of staff Nebojsa Pavkovic have been indicted by the ICTY. Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, Bosnian Serb nationalists and chief architects of the genocide in Bosnia, including the massacre at Srebrenica, still remain at-large for crimes committed in Bosnia between 1992-1995--as do dozens of other Serbian war criminals.

Friends of Bosnia also calls on the international community to withhold from Serbia full integration into international institutions--such as the United Nations and the World Bank--until the new Kostunica government releases Kosovar political prisoners still in Serbia--including the celebrated pediatrician and human rights activist, Flora Brovina.

"The world is exhilarated by the events over the past week in Serbia as the people expressed their democratic power by ousting Milosevic," said Glenn Ruga, FOB Director. "This was the will of people who deeply want to change the dark course of history that Milosevic has led them down and enter the realm of civilized and developed nations."

When the celebrations are over, the hard work will begin. The feelings of the victims on all sides are still raw. Hundreds of thousands of refugees and displaced persons are still scattered throughout the Balkans. The economies of all the countries of the former Yugoslavia--with the exception of Slovenia--are dysfunctional at best. Now that Milosevic is no longer in power, Friends of Bosnia is optimistic that the opportunity fully exists for real peace in the Balkans. We hope the process can begin immediately.

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Friends of Bosnia is one of the oldest grassroots organizations in the US working exclusively to increase awareness about the Balkans and supporting efforts for a long-term and just peace. Beginning in February 1993–ten months after the outbreak of war in Bosnia–Friends of Bosnia started a campaign to educate the American public about the genocide being committed against the people of Bosnia. By organizing educational exhibits, a website, speaker series, conferences, rallies and humanitarian aid drives, Friends of Bosnia continues to be at the forefront of the national effort to bring informed awareness to the issues generated by the wars in the Balkans.