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“I hope that now the doors stand open,” said a hopeful President Tadic, who, one German newspaper reports, “made it clear Belgrade expects a speedy entrance to the EU” in return for Mladic’s apprehension.”
Serbia’s joining the EU has always been Tadic’s goal. America would also like to see Serbia in the EU, since it would loosen that country’s ties with Russia. But even without membership, the newspaper states Serbia stands to gain financially from the EU for Mladic’s capture. Serbia was losing 1.2 billion dollars a year while its most famous fugitive was at large. Certain EU funds were blocked and access to favourable credits were in short supply. That will now change.
The reason Serbia “found” Mladic this week after so many years of supposedly searching so long and hard was plainly evident at his first extradition hearing. He was described as appearing “frail” and walking “very slowly.” A prosecutor said he is taking a lot of medication, and his lawyer stated his physical condition is so poor, he can’t communicate, which caused the judge hearing his case to cut short the questioning. One of Mladic’s arms is also apparently paralysed, possibly due to a stroke.
So it seems obvious that if Tadic was going to realize his dream of getting into the EU, he had to act quickly. A dead Mladic would be of no value to his plans for Serbia. Besides, a very sick Mladic is probably not gong to be extradited anywhere, as his lawyer maintains, which would help satisfy the Serbian nationalists who regard him as a hero and are very upset with his arrest. Altogether, Brammertz last year estimated 65 percent of Serbs were against the still elusive Mladic’s apprehension.
Like Pakistan’s intelligence agency with Osama bin Laden, Serbian security forces were also accused of protecting Mladic. No reason seems to exist why Mladic could not have been arrested years ago. After his indictment, he was still seen at soccer games and in restaurants in Belgrade. He also remained in the Serbian army until he was forced to resign in 2001. His residence in Belgrade was also known. After 2001, Mladic went underground where he was “still protected by elements of the security service and army.” His last reported presence in Belgrade was in 2006.
“The Serbs seemed to look wherever Mladic was certain not to be,” reported the German publication Spiegel.
While Mladic’s arrest outwardly does serve the cause of justice and reconciliation, important if Serbia is to move forward and join the international community, its apparent cynicism however undermines these virtues. Besides, what kind of a warning does his arrest convey to other would-be criminals if the message is you will be protected and won’t be made to answer for your crimes until you are very old and sick, if ever? And since this very important arrest was not done for the right reasons, the Serbian government of Boris Tadic has failed its test of credibility, integrity and trustworthiness both inside and outside its own borders.
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