Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Karadžić Flown to The Hague Tribunal (Updated)

Well, that didn't take long. At around 3:45 a.m., Belgrade time, Radovan Karadžić was taken to the aerodrom in Serbia's capital for the short flight to the Netherlands and his date with the ICTY. He will finally face trial there for some of the crimes that left so many of his fellow citizens dead in Sarajevo (Lav cemetery, left) and elsewhere in Bosnia.

Letting the largely-impotent protest happen and then flame out (with Serbia's president Boris Tadic not even deigning to stay in Belgrade for the carnival of hate) looks to be a total triumph for the new government. They look strong and fair in the face of the protest, and also very competent and efficient in managing the circus.

The mystery of Karadžić's appeal is one of the few loose strings left to ponder. His lawyers claimed to have sent it right at the deadline via Serbia's postal service, but Serbian officials involved in supervising the country's cooperation with the tribunal said that it never arrived.

Update (7:45 am): Eric Gordy at East Ethnia lays the smack down more emphatically on the Radicals' pathetic rally: "What the failure of last night's meeting shows is that without support from the regime in power SRS is simply another extremist party with severely limited support and little capacity to organise anything. They could build a small base of support when they had the ability to hand out commercial real estate on the Zemunski kej."

What remains worrisome to me is the chaos that violence targeted against reformers could sow in Serbia. Having failed at the ballot box and failed on the street, nationalism doesn't have much left in its quiver. That last arrow needs to be broken as well. And Karadžić's trial has to be run in as effective and efficient a manner as possible. The ICTY has put itself on trial as well. This is the chance for the tribunal to put its problems behind it.

What the Karadžić episode shows is that Serbs will not rally to the colors of war criminals. But as I pointed out in my American Prospect article, Kosovo is a different prospect altogether. The province is effectively independent. Let it be independent quietly for a few months. (Not forever, mind you. Maybe 'til Christmas.) Give Serbia time to arrest its two remaining war crime fugitives and get the Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the European Union signed and ratified and bearing some fruit. Then start talking about Kosovo again in a cooler and more dispassionate climate.

Update (8:23 a.m): B92 has a brief article that addresses the mystery of the appeal. There was no appeal.

No comments: