Saturday, November 26, 2005

Poems honour Karadzic and Mladic

By Vincent Dowd
BBC arts reporter

Serbia and Montenegro has withdrawn a submission to a UN-funded arts project as it glorified Bosnian Serb leaders indicted on war crimes charges.

Recordings of the poetry were to have been included on a list of "masterpieces of oral heritage".

The Serbian Cultural Institute is an independent group based in Belgrade.

It insists it was "an oversight" that two poems praising Bosnian Serb leaders Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic were submitted to the Unesco project.

A CD of recordings of epic verse, mainly historical, was to be sent by the government in the capital, Belgrade, to the UN organisation to be assessed for possible World Heritage status.

Both Karadzic and Mladic were indicted a decade ago on genocide charges following the massacre of Muslims in Srebrenica.

It is generally believed both men are in hiding somewhere in Serbia-Montenegro.

Karadzic is himself a published poet and a new book of his verse appeared only a few weeks ago.

Motives unclear

The Serbian Cultural Institute says the verses praising the two men were recorded on recent field-trips to various locations including Serb-dominated parts of Bosnia.

They say the man in charge of the project has been dismissed and the entire idea has now been abandoned.

Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Draskovic claimed this had been an attempt by people still loyal to the old regime to dupe Unesco.

It is hard to be certain what the institute's motives were - but it is a reminder that in the former Yugoslavia, questions of cultural identity and loyalty still loom large.

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