Monday, July 21, 2008

Time Catches Up With Radovan Karadzic

One of the world's most wanted men has been caught. A terse statement from the Serbian government reveals that the wartime political leader of the Bosnian Serbs, Radovan Karadzic, is in custody after more than a decade as a war crimes fugitive. He's accused of orchestrating the genocide of Bosnian Muslims during the Srebrenica massacre of 1995, and ordering the killing of civilians during the siege of Sarajevo.

His capture at least partly ends a long-running embarrassment for both the Serbian government and the rest of the world. Serbia's faltering attempts to try to become a more normal country on the European and world stage have been badly affected by the fact Karadzic and his old crony Ratko Mladic have been on the run. Successive Serb politicians have been against trying too hard to arrest the pair, partly because they and the Serb nationalism they stood for are still popular among a lot of Serb people. That sticking point's made it difficult for the Serbs to try to rebuild the country, both politically and economically.

But things are a bit different now. The new Serb government has said it wants to solve the issue of war crimes fugitives. The main reason it wants to do this is so it can improve the country's relations with the rest of the world, meaning a better economy and progress towards joining the EU. Its neighbour Croatia is about to do so, having finally captured its last significant alleged war criminal Ante Gotovina in 2005. Slovenia is already in the EU, and as a result is already far wealthier than the other former members of Yugoslavia.

It's unlikely Serbia will be able to make similar progress until Mladic is also appearing before the war crimes tribunal in the Hague, but expect that to happen soon enough. It's taken 13 years since the end of the war, and eight since Slobodan Milosevic was overthrown, but Serbia's leaders are finally proving they really do want to take their country forward.


Anonymous said...

Yes, they captured Karadzic, because Serbia was pressured, they want to get into the EU, that's the only reason:)

Anonymous said...

I must say - he wasn't looking his best, was he?