This night I was watching news from Belgrade where some 15.000 demonstrators were involved running battles with riot police after a Belgrade rally in support of Radovan Karadzic. In every capital one can find hardliners, extremists or simple hooligans so this event itself is not very dangerous. However the serious question from my point of view is, that according to my rough estimate more than a half of average Serbs in some degree is against the government’s plan to extradite Karadzic to the UN war crimes tribunal.
I can find few reasons why one opposes the extradition Mr. Karadzig:
- The picture of crime itself has changed during his 13 years on the run. Even today’s headlines are describing Srebrenica with slogan “worst civilian massacre in Europe since WWII”, there is also many arguments about political PR game behind exaggerated death numbers, misrepresentation of early reports and manipulated pictures. Probably a massacre happened but maybe not like that picture which main stream media has offered.
- ICTY is widely seen as partial “winner’s justice” and indeed Haague can not deal with warcrimes made by US or Nato. Thereby there is not so much confidence for fair judicature in ICTY among Serbs.
- ICTY’s reputation with internal – Balkan – matters is also not very good. Everybody remembers the release of Ramus Haradinaj who was indicted warcrimes against Serb, Albanian and Romani civilians in Kosovo and also Muslim Mujahediin commander Naser Oric walked this Summer as a free man from Haague. Serbs (Croatian, Bosnian and Serbian) instead have got some long sentences.
- Government’s motivation to extradite Karadzic is not accepted among many Serbs who look that again only one more act to please EU to get membership status in coming years. Without this EU perspective the trial could as well taken place in Belgrade. Besides attraction of EU heaven gains support only slight majority of population.
My conclusion is, that
- there is indisputable arguments to accuse Mr. Karadzic about warcrimes etc.,
- there is strong argumentation not to extradite Mr. Karadzic to ICTY, and
- warcrimes of all actors – including Bosniacs, Croats, Serbs, US/Nato – should get punishment.