Serbia – another obstacle overcome

In finally arresting Ratko Mladic, Serbia has overcome one of the prime obstacles to its European ambitions, whilst strengthening the foundations for peace and reconciliation throughout the Western Balkans.

The apprehension of Ratko Mladic marks a decisive moment in the history of Serbia and the former Yugoslavia. For over fifteen years, the former Bosnian Serb general – indicted on fifteen counts, including genocide and complicity in genocide – has successfully evaded capture, suggesting that he was aided and abetted by loyal and deeply-embedded elements within the Serbian state. Indeed, the timing of his arrest – ahead of a critical report by Serge Brammertz, the chief prosecutor of The Hague Tribunal,  and with Serbia keen to secure EU candidate status – will invariably raise questions about whether Mladic could have been detained earlier. The challenge of securing the arrests of Mladic and Karadzic, however, reflects the challenge of eliminating the stains of the Milosevic-era; the remnants of which continue to inhibit and haunt Serbia’s progress.

Whilst the EU’s conditionality will be lauded as a prime motivating factor, it has played only an indirect role. The current Serbian government has grounded its political standing in being able to demonstrate tangible progress towards membership of the EU. “I believe that the doors for Serbia to joining the EU are open”, Tadic declared during the press conference to confirm Mladic’s arrest; on the very day that Catherine Ashton, the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, visited Belgrade. With Tadic’s Democratic Party lagging behind the Serbian Progressive Party (who in previous months have mobilized tens of thousands of protesters to take to the streets of Belgrade), securing EU candidate status prior to elections schedule for spring 2012 has become of paramount importance. Apprehending Mladic was a major obstacle in this regard.

Kosovo too remains an important consideration. Extraditing Mladic will provide the Serbian government with greater leverage in the current negotiations between Belgrade and Pristina, potentially helping them to secure support for a historic compromise that would allow both parties to continue down the path of EU accession. Aware of the potentially negative fallout of Mladic’s arrest, Tadic also used his press conference to reiterate calls for an independent UN-led investigation into the allegations of human organ trafficking in Kosovo, contained in a report by Dick Marty, the Council of Europe’s special rapporteur; whilst calling upon others in the region to reflect upon – and acknowledge – their own roles and responsibilties.

These respective considerations have certainly played a key role in encouraging the Serbian government to act upon anonymous tip-offs and others pieces of intelligence, whilst stepping up efforts to secure such information and restrict the logistical support Mladic received. Following Karadzic’s arrest, little in the way of formal investigation was conducted in order to determine how he evaded capture for so long. For Serbia to strengthen the rule of law and tackle the long-standing problem of organized crime, rooting out these elements of the security architecture is an urgent priority.

Today, however, President Tadic should be lauded for the decisive steps taken – in arresting Karadzic and Mladic, and issuing an apology for the Srebrenica massacre – to promote conflict transformation in the Western Balkans. Mladic’s apprehension will help soften attitudes towards Serbia in neighbouring countries, particularly Bosnia and Herzegovina, thereby removing one of the major barriers to improving regional and inter-ethnic relations. Mladic’s arrest also confirms that Serbia is committed to coming to terms with its role in the conflict of the nineties. Should others follow suit, then the basis for lasting peace in the region may finally have been found.

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0 Response

  1. What a great article! Congratulations! But, there is little mistake. Ratko Mladic is not only ”the former Bosnian Serb general”, in the same time he is the former high ranking communist ex Yugoslav people Army Officer, full of evil and bad spirit. He served together with colleagues Muslim and Croatian nationality, during aggression on the Republic of Slovenia, Republic of Croatia and Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. All of them accepted Radovan Karadzic, PhD., as a Commander-In-Chief till April 06, when started war in Sarajevo, or May 15, when started conflict in Tuzla, known like surprised attack on ”Tuzlanska kolona”! Leadership of Party of the Democratic Action accepted ex communist YPA Officers, all three nationalities, trying to hide their hypocracy, and hiding how guilty they’re in not doing any action against genocide in Srebrenica on July 11, 1995! For our knowledge, we need to know that the Second Corps of the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, just before genocide in Srebrenica had approximatelly eighty thousand (80.000) armored soldiers with weapons! But, the question is why 2nd Corp of Bosnian Army in Tuzla never try to stop genocide in Srebrenica. Very simple answer is: for Muslim and Croatian Officers in brand-new BDU’s of Bosnian Army was easier to lie about their heroic past in local papers, selling their story to the corrupted journalists and buying them for appartments, including job-offers, then to STOP this genocide! But, all of this is impossible because ex Counter-Intelligence Officers – Yugoslav people (communist) Army, after Apr., 06 in Sarajevo or May 15 in Tuzla, start to work the same job in Army of the Republic of the Bosnia and Herzegovina: units, brigades, divisions, corps and Joint Chief of Staff with the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, black-mailing them for their dirty past! Only, ex YPA high ranking officer Col. Jovan Divjak, spoke in public (Federal TV, Talk-Show: ”General’s”, 2006), about their past and now must to go in jail because he discovered secret stories about his colleagues before Apr. 06 in Sarajevo, or May 15 in Tuzla! The conclusion is very simple in this case: small group of people in ex YPA rule over this country in Bosnia and Herzegovina, pretending that their colleagues-friends, Serbian nationality are guilty for genocide in Srebrenica and everything else! ”Blind the whole World” is old Jewish proverb, but the question is how long will small group officers, w/paramount privileges in Bosnian Society today (retirement, flats, expensive cars and houses, including private companies and money in banks) keep all of us in dark? If last 15 years the opposite party was in charge for hiding of general Mladic, there in Serbia then who here in Bosnia and Herzegovina wants to hide all secrets under the Bosnian carpet known as a ”ćilim”!?

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