Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Mladic Arrest

I don't know if it's considered odd or not, but when I logged on to facebook this morning just before 9AM and saw the link a friend posted about the arrest of Ratko Mladic, the author of the Srebrenica genocide in 1995, I let out a small cheer, the kind most people let out when their favorite baseball team clinches the pennant. After 16 years on the run, hiding, like bin Laden, more or less in plain sight, this guy will finally face justice at the ICTY.

Like the capture of bin Laden or Hussein, or the recent decision about John Demjanjuk and others before them, now that Mladic will receive his punishment for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, one hopes it provides some comfort to the heirs of those Muslim males who were annihilated in Srebrenica on that July day 16 years ago, simply because they were Muslim.

This means a lot for Serbia, a place I'll be flying to in 5 days before heading down to Kosovo a few days later. Joining the EU is of high importance to Serbia, with the capture of Mladic representing a very big obstacle. With that out of the way, there remains one more fugitive on the loose, Goran Hadzic, and the very big question surrounding Kosovo. The latter issue is by far the more complicated one, where Serbia simply does not want to let what it calls its "cradle" to fall away to the Albanians.
Talks about the future of Kosovo almost mirror those that keep Israel-Palestine in the news: how do they split the land?

But Serbia is not being a very good sport about all this, as demonstrated by their reluctance to join President Obama in Warsaw this weekend, simply because Kosovo's president will be on hand. Romania will also not be attending, for it does not recognize Kosovo's independence for fear that it could set a precedent for Romania's large ethnic Hungarian population. But for Serbia, if you really want to join the EU, and you want Brussels to view you as a cooperative, modern, Western-leaning state with the values to match, doesn't treating your counterparts in Kosovo with a greater deal of respect play in your favor?

The Mladic arrest is long overdue, but so is solving what is a forgone conclusion. Kosovo is an independent state and should be recognized as such, home to an Albanian majority, but with Serb enclaves. The two parties must reach an agreement on how they can live side by side and work to join the rest of 21st century Europe where disagreements over land have largely become a thing of the past.

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