EU-support program for deserters and conscientious objectors from the Yugoslavian army

The German Member of the European Parliament DR.CHRISTOF TANNERT (PSE) explained and renewed his demand for a EU-support program for deserters and conscientious objectors from the Yugoslavian army. During the presentation of his new research about "Military service and conscientious objection in the states of the Western Balkans" (also availablein the next days as download in the internet in German, English and partly also in Serbo-Croat language at http://www.christof-, who is member of the Committee for Human Rights in the European Parliament, demands that "all Member States finally start to grant asylum to deserters and conscientious objectors from Yugoslavia according to the principles of humanity". With this demand he refers to a resolution of the European Parliament, that called for the support of conscientious objectors and deserters from the former Yugoslavia already in 1993, but which has not been put into practice by the Member States yet.

Even if there are no exact figures about numbers of deserters availible evidence points to very high numbers of deserters. The Yugoslav Government had called 200,000 deserters from the war in Bosnia and the war in Kosovo back to arms and granted them amnesty already last fall. In Hungary thousands of refuges fear to state that they are deserters- probably because they hope for a quick end of the war in Yugoslavia. Their situation worsens every day while hundreds of deserters are being imprisoned in the north of Yugoslavia. Because of those facts TANNERT demands: "The governments should act and weaken the Yugoslav army through active support of desertion and conscientious objection in Yugoslavia"

"They [the governments of the Member States] should commission a program that allows deserters to build up a new existence, prepares them for their return to a normal life and the construction of a civil and democratic society. If 50.000 deserters from Yugoslavia received 5,000 Euro each, this kind of demobilization would cost 250,000 Euro. The present deployment of the German army alone costs at least three times that much." says TANNERT in the introduction to his research, which covers Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia and Yugoslavia.

TANNERT refered in this context also to his draft of a "Codex for the right to conscientious objection in the Member States of the European Union", which he suggested to be commissioned as a initial report for the Committee for Human Rights: "The necessity for such a harmonisation of the laws in the EU is clearly demonstrated by the case of the 36 year old father of a child Lazaros Petromelidis, who declared his refusal to perform military service in 1992."
Petromelidis was sentenced to 4 years in prison in Pireaus last week on Thursday, because he wanted to perform a civilian service, but not a civilian service with the length of 39 months. Recruits of his age and family situation can, according to Greek law, perform 4 months of military service and buy of the remaining 8 months.

The reserach that was published today was commissioned as a complement to TANNERTS research about military service and conscientious objection in the applicant states to the European Union which was published 1998 as a brochure under the title "The Human Right to conscientious objection and the European Parliament".

for further information please contact: Karl Piberhofer, Office Dr.Tannert, Tel.: +32-2-284 7454

Cornelius Graubner
International Secreteriat
European Bureau for Conscientious Objection
Bureau Européen de l`Objection de Conscience
35, rue van Elewijck
B-1050 Brussels
tel.: +32-2-646.6244 fax: +32-2-640.0774