Balkanski gosti

I am working on getting a fine bevy of guestbloggers to populate East Ethnia in my absence. Welcome to your mental space Mr Teekay, of Over at Teekay's, who in contrast with me actually knows how to operate one of those computer machines all the young folks are using these days. With any luck, at least one more person will be climbing on board. Watch this space for announcements...

History, memory and tourism

As long as I am continuing to post during my hiatus (once I actually leave Wednesday, don't expect much), let me draw your attention to a very fine analysis of the new Berlin Holocaust Memorial by Ulrich Buechsenschuetz. He is not too sanguine about its symbolic value, and his photos show the place having more potential as a picnic spot (or as he puts it, "a fun maze") than as a site serving its intended purpose.

Appalling notes on domesticity

There is an interesting conflict over jurisdiction in the case of the notorious KP Dom in Foca, which ICTY would like to refer to a domestic court. But which domestic court? Both Bosnia-Hercegovina and Serbia-Montenegro are claiming jurisdiction. The ICTY prosecutor wants the case referred to a Bosnian court, in the territory where the crimes were committed.

As reported by SENSE, the accused are offering different strategies to argue that their cases should either remain before ICTY or moved to a venue friendlier than the one where they committed their crimes. The deputy warden of the KP Dom in Foca, Savo Todovic, claims that he would be unable to present a defence in a Bosnian court. The commander of the guards, Mitar Rasevic, raises a similar concern but does not oppose a trial in Bosnia-Hercegovina as long as it is speedy. Accused rapist Gojko Jankovic argues that Bosnia-Hercegovina's witness protection regime makes a fair trial impossible.

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The accused: top to bottom, Gojko Jankovic, Savo Todovic and Mitar Rasevic. Photos courtesy of ICTY.

Gojko Jankovic argues that he can be considered a citizen of Serbia-Montenegro since he lives there and has applied for dual citizenship. Savo Todovic justifies the claim for competing jurisdiction on the fact that he has been a citizen of Serbia-Montenegro for the past two weeks.

The case is an early illustration of one of the basic dilemmas that is going to confront ICTY as it prepares to close shop and refer cases to domestic courts. First, it is not clear which courts are "domestic," as governments continue to claim proprietary rights over their victims and their criminals. Second, the obligation to prosecute would seem to be on a permanent collision course with the right to a defence. Serbia-Montenegro has compromised more than the law by appearing to offer fast-track citizenship to individual criminals from neighbouring states. People have been complaining for years that an outside institution like ICTY cannot dispense justice--but is it possible that an outside institution protects both witnesses and accused better than a kobajagi domestic one can?

Thanks to loyal reader and regional cuisine specialist AR for tips and links. This was important enough for East Ethnia to break its pre-travel silence.


Inspired by Amtrak

Just like those "high speed" Acela trains that get you to their destination only when you have the good luck to find them running .... East Ethnia is now entering a period of, erm, limited service. I am off next week for a journey, and will not be posting with any frequency until 10 June or so.

I'll be leading a group of students on a summer study program for two weeks, then rewarding myself with a couple days of relaxation in lovely Budapest, and then I should resurface in Belgrade in the second week of June. Rely on the excellent Balkan blogs in the link list on the right to keep you supplied with commentary in the meantime, and enjoy the onset of summer!

60 years later

At the end of the day, it becomes clear to me that this blog has had nothing clever or poignant to say about the spectacles that have been made to celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of the victory over fascism. The reason has to be that I am not persuaded that fascism has been defeated. Widespread declarations of virtue notwithstanding.


NYT observes that controversial director is controversial

Dan Halpern has a piece in the Sunday NYT Magazine profiling Emir Kusturica. A lot of it is dedicated to rehashing the "which side is he on?" controversies that have followed the director since 1992, for which Mr Kusturica has a ready answer: "Nobody's perfect." Mr Halpern also interviewed Nele Karajlić (Nenad Janković), who has a simpler explanation: "Emir likes to make a mess." That really is about the extent of it, but it might be worth reading for some colorful descriptions of the films.