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Coalition for RECOM Press Conference, 9 March 2017, 11:00 a.m. Media Center, Belgrade

Topic: Blockade of Dealing with the Past and of the RECOM Process

Speakers:

Nataša Kandić,

Žarko Puhovski PhD (Croatia) and

Zdravko Grebo PhD (BiH), public advocates of RECOM Initiative

The process of establishing transitional justice in the countries which have emerged from the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia is in serious crisis. The main reasons why this is so are the lack of political will of new governments to prosecute war crime perpetrators, weak state institutions which have not become effective and independent, although 17 years have passed since the war ended, the strengthening of extreme nationalism, interruption of the dialogue with civil society about the past, the prevention of access to documents owned by state institutions and the lack of consistent support for EU transitional justice.

The RECOM Initiative is the only civil initiative to have gathered the prime ministers and presidents of the countries in the region around the idea of setting up a Joint Commission in order to make a list of the civilians and soldiers who died or went missing in connection with the wars in the former SFRY. Although the official delegates for RECOM drafted an Amendment to the RECOM Statute in October 2014, which clearly defined the tasks, objectives and activities of the Regional Commission, the procedures for RECOM have not started yet. The main reason why this is so is that the regional cooperation regarding the right to truth about the past is no longer felt to be a political and moral obligation of the new leaders. In the region, governments and presidents are initiating national instruments which do not promise to make a contribution to dealing with the past – on the contrary, they promise to  further delay it.

The Coalition for RECOM welcomes the initiative of the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights that the regional countries should formally assume ownership over the RECOM Process, although it also thinks that, at this moment, the more effective participation of the EU institutions is required.

Simultaneous interpretation into English is provided.