Today is the 10th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre. AP quotes the commander of EU peacekeepers in Bosnia saying “the net is closing in” on the two men responsible for the worst massacre in Europe since World War II.
Nice, except that’s followed up by the dumbest quote I’ve seen this morning (it’s early yet): “It’s a bit like getting Osama bin Laden,” he said.
No, it’s not.
Patrick Moore, a veteran observer of Balkan affairs at Radio Free Europe, wrote a piece last month that explains why Serbian officials are only now, ten years after Srebrenica, going after the two most wanted men in Europe.
On June 24, The New York Times quoted Serbian government officials acknowledging for the first time they were in contact with the secret network protecting General Ratko Mladic about his surrender.
This is indeed good news and will send a signal to aspiring war criminals everywhere. But a few things need to be said, not the least of which is that Mladic and his accomplice, Radovan Karadzic (said to be hiding in Montenegro), could have been found and arrested at nearly any time since the fall of Milosevic had the Serbian government really wanted to.
The footage of the massacre that was shown at the Milosevic trial and subsquently on Serbian TV was a huge impetus for the arrest of several of the “Scorpions” shown on the video and the subsequent announcement about what seems to be a narrowing hunt for Mladic. Top Serbian officials have, for the first time, expressed remorse for that monstrous crimes that were committed with the collusion of (and sometimes by) the Serbian state in the name of the Serbian nation.
Yet the Serbian government did nothing in late May when they were first given a copy of the video in late May by human rights activist Natasa Kandic. They sat on it. Only after Belgrade TV stations (led by the independent broadcaster B-92, brave as ever) showed the footage did they jump into action. Meanwhile, Serbian Parliament failed to approve a statement explicitly condemning, no strings attached, Srebrenica. Draw your own conclusions.
I’ve not seen the tape, but a good friend happened to be in the Hague courtroom the day it was shown at the Milosevic trial, and confirms that it is indeed a horrifying spectacle. Most Serbs still haven’t come to grips with Serbia’s role in Yugoslav wars of the 1990s. Airing footage like this will help speed the process, but the nation is still in thrall with its supposed role as a historical victim.