Melia: Serbia Lucky To Have BIRN, HLC, and Saša Janković
The Deputy Assistant to the US Secretary of the State, Mr. Thomas Melia, stated that Serbia should feel lucky for having organizations like the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) and the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN), because it is important for every government to listen to organizations and people who publish important information, and to take measures based on this information.
Speaking of the HLC Report, which alleges that soldiers of the 37th Motorized Brigade, which was at the time under the command of the present Chief of General Staff of the Serbian Army, Ljubiša Diković, participated in the killing of Albanian civilians in Kosovo in 1999, Mr. Melia stated that this represents an „important point of reference“.
„We hope that the Government of Serbia will take this Report very seriously“, Mr. Melia emphasized. Mr. Melia is in charge of the Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labour.
“I have not yet had an opportunity to read the Report, but we know that the HLC is a well-respected organization with a very good reputation in the region and in the world“, Mr. Melia stated.
„I would also like to point to what BIRN has recently done“, Melia stressed, reminding the listeners that its action was much criticized and alleged to be not patriotic enough.
“It is important for every government to listen to the people and organizations which publish important information and to take appropriate actions based on this information“, Mr. Melia stated.
He added that he had spent most of his career working in non-governmental organizations.
“That is why I know that the task of independent centers is to pose unpleasant and difficult questions. And I know that it is the task of government to listen to the information and use it to make decisions important for the development of the government’s work“, Mr. Melia highlighted.
“We can see this with the HLC and BIRN. Serbia should feel lucky to have such organizations, and I hope that, following the first quick reactions, government officials will take this information seriously“, Mr. Melia stated.
On Saša Janković and the Situation in the Media
He also stated that Serbia deserves recognition for having independent monitoring institutions, such as the Ombudsman.
In Melia’s opinion, Ombudsman Saša Janković has built up a reputation as a qualified professional with a good team of associates.
“Janković’s reputation has been emphasized by the fact that the Parliament re-elected him for the position of Ombudsman two years ago“, Mr. Melia said.
Speaking of the situation in the media, Mr. Melia stated that, despite certain material difficulties, it is important that journalists are focused on their work.
“The media in every country, including the US, are dealing with difficulties in identifying a financial model which works, but the market will regulate this. In the meantime, it is important that journalists and editors are focused on their trade“, Mr. Melia stated.
Dissatisfaction with the results of investigations into the burning of the Embassy building and the murder of the Bytyqi brothers
He stated that he had talked with the Serbian Minister of the Interior, Nebojša Stefanović, in Belgrade, and that he had mentioned that Washington is not satisfied with the results of the investigations into the burning of the US Embassy to Serbia in 2008 and the murder of three US citizens, the brothers Agron, Mehmet, and Ylli Bytyqi, crimes committed in 1999.
“We are not satisfied with the results of the investigation into the burning of the Embassy, because it has not been completed to date; but we do continue to cooperate with the Government of Serbia, and are becoming convinced that a certain progress has been made“, Mr. Melia emphasized.
He hopes that the investigation into the burning of the Embassy will be completed in the near future, and announces that in the forthcoming weeks his colleagues from the US Government will come for the purpose of having new talks on this topic.
“Washington and the US are still concerned about the murder of the Bytyqi brothers, and are regularly asking the Serbian government these questions. Mr. Stefanović has stated that they are actively trying to obtain information which would lead to the resolution of the case“, Mr. Melia explained.