On Serbian EU Accession: Ratko Mladic Caught

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in , at 5/26/2011 02:28:00 PM
A few months ago I "offered" to hasten the process of Serbian EU accession by removing one of its principle obstacles--bringing war criminal Ratko Mladic to justice. By engaging in Soldier of Fortune-inspired bounty hunting to pick up multimillion rewards for his capture, I thought it was a pretty good financial prospect as well. Nothing became of that unsurprisingly--academics are timid rather than action-ready. With Slobodan Milosevic long gone and Radovan Karazdic behind bars, Mladic was the only left at large among the triumvirate of Balkan evildoers. (I also had a previous commentary on the interesting political economy angle of the IMF recognizing Kosovo at America's behest when most UN members do not.)

But lo and behold: after years of Mladic supposedly being hidden in plain sight, the Serbian authorities have now turned him in. The timing is interesting. To me, there are shades of tolerance of bin Laden running out. And with that, he is now off to the UN International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. This is what that body had to say along with a brief backgrounder at the end:
The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia welcomes the arrest today of Ratko Mladić, General Colonel and former Commander of the Main Staff of the army of the Serbian Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina/Republika Srpska. He was indicted by the Tribunal on 25 July 1995 and was a fugitive from justice for almost 16 years.

In relation to the arrest, Prosecutor Brammertz stated the following: “I welcome the arrest of Ratko Mladić today in Serbia. We await arrangements for his transfer to The Hague where he will stand trial before the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.

We recognize the work done by the Serbian authorities, specifically the National Security Council and Serbia’s Action Team, in apprehending Ratko Mladić. We thank them for meeting their obligations towards the Tribunal and towards justice. We also acknowledge the efforts of the international community in supporting measures to secure Ratko Mladić’s arrest.

With the news of the arrest, we think first and foremost of the victims of the crimes committed during the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia. These victims have endured unimaginable horrors – including the genocide in Srebrenica – and redress for their suffering is long overdue. Ratko Mladić’s arrest is also significant for all people in the former Yugoslavia. We believe that it can have a positive impact on reconciliation in the region.

Today is also an important day for international justice. Ratko Mladić’s arrest clearly signals that the commitment to international criminal justice is entrenched. Today’s events show that people responsible for grave violations of international humanitarian law can no longer count on impunity.”


Ratko Mladić, Colonel General, former Commander of the Main Staff of the Bosnian Serb Army (VRS) is charged with genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of the laws or customs of war against Bosnian Muslim, Bosnian Croat and other non-Serb civilians in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the 1992-1995 war.

As set out in the Indictment, Ratko Mladić together with Radovan Karadžić was a key member of a joint criminal enterprise to permanently remove Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats from the territory in Bosnia and Herzegovina claimed by Bosnian Serbs. To achieve this aim, Ratko Mladić, acted in concert with others to commit crimes in the locations and at the times alleged in the indictment.

As the most senior officer of the Bosnian Serb Army during the war, Ratko Mladić was the superior of Bosnian Serb Army members and other Serb forces integrated into or subordinated to the Bosnian Serb Army. As such, he had effective control over the forces who participated in the crimes alleged. Ratko Mladić is charged with planning, instigating and ordering each of the crimes.

Ratko Mladić is charged with crimes that include:

* the murder of close to 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica in 1995.
* the murders, persecution, forcible transfer, detention and mistreatment of Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats during the campaign to permanently remove such persons from the territory under the control of the forces of Republika Srpska.
* the terror campaign and the shelling and sniping of civilians in Sarajevo by Bosnian Serb forces under his command and control which resulted in the killing and wounding of thousands, including many women and children;
* the taking of UN military observers and peacekeeping personnel as hostages in May and June 1995.

Nineteen years have passed since the first crimes listed in this indictment were committed. Sixteen years have passed since Ratko Mladić was indicted. Today he is in custody and will be brought to stand trial in The Hague.
Indirectly, it shows you how removing the main obstacle to EU accession--Mladic himself--means quite a bit to the Serbs. Although the matter of Kosovo's independence remains undecided, questions of national jurisdiction have seldom proven to be terminal hindrances to accession. Witness Cyprus. Demonstrating that there remain any number of countries that view joining the Eurozone as an attractive proposition aside, the grunt work lies ahead in meeting various EU chapters on accession.

It's not an easy task, and I daresay that the Greek experience--ironically, current Greek PM Paprendreou helped draft a plan for achieving Serbian membership--makes the supranational body more wary of fudges and kludges to meet targets alike those mandated by the Stability and Growth Pact. In that earlier post, I also mentioned how its neighbours were farther along the process. For now, however, it's truly game on and I wish our Serbian friends the best of luck.