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SV's Bjørn Jacobsen calls for an independent investigation of Norway's role in the Bosnia war after the Ny Tid revelations. Conservative Inge Lønning criticizes Stoltenberg's lack of remorse.


- I follow this case very closely.

This is stated by Thorbjørn Jagland, head of the Storting's Foreign Affairs Committee, via the Labor Party's political adviser Stein Hernes. However, Jagland does not at this time want to comment on the party and former UN mediator Thorvald Stoltenberg's role in the Bosnia war.

For his part, Bjørn Jacobsen (sv), a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, is clear in his desire for an independent examination of Norway's role in the 1995 Sbrebrenica massacre and the Bosnia war 1992-1995.

The background is the description that in a Dutch investigation report is directed at Stoltenberg. In last week's edition, Ny Tid reported that Stoltenberg's choice as UN mediator was described as "unfortunate", partly because he was generally regarded as a "Serbian supporter". On July 29, Ny Tid also revealed that it was a Norwegian colonel in command of the Dutch UN forces when the Sbrebrenica massacre occurred in July 1995. The revelations have surprised several in the Foreign Affairs Committee.

- There will be more reports on this case, and Norway must just start putting our own people on the case to find out what has happened, says Jacobsen in the Foreign Affairs Committee.

Wishing apology

In Ny Tid's column last week that Professor Arne Johan Vetlesen attacked Stoltenberg's statements and his "co-responsibility for Srebrenica". Balkan expert and professor Svein Mønnesland, for his part, went out and said that Stoltenbergs had escaped the Norwegian public far too easily. He singled out this summer's TV series "With the Balkans in the blood" on NRK as an example of how little critical journalism Stoltenberg is exposed to in Norway.

Mønnesland calls for an independent review of Norway's role in the Srebrenica massacre, where 8000 Bosnians were executed. In total, more than 600 Norwegians with various tasks at this time must have been stationed in Tuzla, the sector headquarters that was also responsible for the Srebrenica area.

SVs Jacobsen does not want to go into more detail on individuals and blame issues as at this point you do not know enough. But he points out:

- An apology would not be unnatural in any case, as this is absolutely necessary for the most important people in this case, namely the victims. This is the only way the world can move forward, he says.

UN Kofi Annan, USA Richard Holbrooke and Britain's Jack Straw are among those who have now apologized for the failure to save Srebrenica's victims, updated at the 10-year mark for the massacre this summer. Poland's Tadeusz Mazowiecki resigned in July 1995 as a UN rapporteur in protest at the unwillingness to rescue innocent civilians in Srebrenica.

Remuneration for freedom of error

In contrast, Thorvald Stoltenberg told Ny Tid last week: "No, I do not regret anything." He refuses to apologize.

Right-wing Inge Lønning, who sits as deputy chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, indirectly criticizes this lack of willingness to admit that something could have been done differently.

- An apology will be important symbolically for the victims, and should come. This will be a "redress" for the victims. No one should say that there is nothing to regret here, and that nothing could have been done differently. It must simply be wrong, and there must obviously be things that both could and should have done differently, says Lønning.

However, payroll is not as open to a Norwegian investigation, as Mønnesland and Jacobsen call for. The Dutch investigation led to the government having to step down.

- Strong reasons suggest that one should get an investigation, but at an international level, both to learn what really happened, and to prevent something like this from happening again. No one should be interested in putting difficulties in the way of getting to the bottom of this and finding out what went wrong and who failed. Individuals and individual countries should not allow prestige in the case, but rather focus on finding out what happened, says Lønning.

Bosnia evaluation

However, Lønning is not sure about whether an investigation should be initiated from the Norwegian side, not because the question is not important or that one should not get to the bottom of the case, but because there are so many parties involved.

NUPI researcher Kari M. Osland wants a general examination of Norway's role in the Bosnia conflict rather than an examination of the Srebrenica massacre in particular.

- It is difficult to imagine what usefulness it will have to initiate an evaluation of Norwegian individuals and the Norwegian contingent when it comes to Srebrenica in particular. It could have contributed to lessons learned if an evaluation of Norway's role and involvement during the wars in the Balkans from 1992-1995 had been initiated more generally, says Osland at the Norwegian Institute of Foreign Policy.

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