The High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Christian Schmidt made several decisions public, on Wednesday, marking the 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica – Potocari Memorial Center by which he expanded the Center’s work by adding to it the Research and Education Institute. He also announced a national register of convicted war criminals adding that they will be prohibited from running in the elections or being appointed to public functions.
Schmidt recalled that his predecessors made a great contribution to the establishment of this Center, from Wolfgang Petrich, who in 2001 made the decision to establish the Srebrenica-Potocari Memorial and Cemetery Foundation, then Paddy Ashdown, who in 2003 transferred ownership of the Battery Factory to the Foundation and finally Christian Schwarz-Schilling, who passed the Law on the Srebrenica-Potocari Memorial Center in 2007.
“If we are talking about obstacles to building trust and the path to lasting peace, there is hardly a greater challenge than disrespecting the victims of the survivors and all those who suffered during the war. Their voice must be heard more strongly with the full involvement and support of society. In order to facilitate this, we must face the denial, revisionism and distortion of the truth established by international and domestic courts. This effort requires comprehensive and well-designed measures,” said Schmidt.
He thanked all survivors, victims, organizations and all domestic and international factors that have not forgotten this issue.
“Today I made a decision and I have some more decisions open in the drawer, with which I want to deal with issues concerning the victims, the Memorial Center and the further struggle for their status as well as the status of the Center itself. These decisions will do the following – they will enable the Srebrenica-Potocari Memorial Center to further develop and expand activities that are important for remembering the genocide in order to prevent its denial, revisionism, prevention of repetition of human rights violations and contribute to further reconciliation. The Center will be expanded by the Institute for Research and Education. We will have an international team consisting of experienced experts on genocide and dealing with the issue of genocide to contribute to this Center. Together with the leaders of the Center, my vision for the further development of the Center is not only to carry out the commemoration, which is important but to approach the education of young generations in Europe, to show them and teach them what happened here,” Schmidt said.
Schmidt recalled that former US President Bill Clinton, who opened this Center 20 years ago, spoke via video link and reminded everyone of the activities they should carry out in the future.
“I have another set of decisions in my drawers. I invite the BiH authorities and the international community to take matters into their own hands. If there are obstacles, I am ready to put my signature on them. This refers to the integration, and entry of data into the criminal records of people who have been convicted of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes by international courts and the Hague Tribunal. The fact that such people are not registered in the appropriate records and everyone is acting as if nothing happened cannot be tolerated. The second decision refers to the ban on the election and appointment to public positions of all persons convicted of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, as well as the ban on the awarding of awards and decorations to those persons. Some things will follow, including activities related to the payment of damages and compensation for victims of genocide and war crimes,” the High Representative concluded.