Friday, July 25, 2008

Fugitive life--Rodavando Karadzic.

The capture of Radovan Karadzic is a textbook example of how one man has the potential to change history. The news was celebrated in Sarajevo, which endured more than three years of siege under Karadzic’s leadership of the Bosnian Serbs. At the same time, it is a great wake-up call for Western Europe -- or it should be.For the truth is, months or even years back, the Balkans were not high on the European agenda. Whenever EU foreign ministers were to discuss the region over lunch, it roused nothing but yawns in the Brussels press room. For once, journalists are not to be blamed. It is the European politicians who are guilty for embracing the region like a caretaker government handles business.Croatia? Its leaders are in discussions on joining the EU. Bosnia and Herzegovina? Errr, anybody care? Serbia? Still not "fully cooperating" with the Hague war crimes tribunal, right? The recent Kosovo independence saga triggered some attention in Brussels but it was more of the same, tiring news: the EU’s 27 countries were sharply divided over Kosovo’s independence, and the issue was reduced to lengthy paperwork over whether to "acknowledge" the will of the people or just "take note" of it.This is not to say that handling the Balkans is easy. Not at all. Still, there was the feeling that the EU lacked, and still does, a political commitment toward its own back yard, in other words, a real strategy. Lots of energy is invested in Russian energy and even Turkey’s on-again, off-again hopes of joining the EU. But the EU states at times tend to behave as if the Balkans didn’t exist.Then comes the Karadzic story. The Balkans are suddenly exciting news, with real emotions and mystery, pumped up by images of a ruthless Bosnian-Serb leader turned white-bearded practitioner of alternative medicine. Not only Olli Rehn, the EU enlargement commissioner, and Balkans experts in foreign offices across Europe, but also the political elite and public can witness that the new government in Serbia appears to be fulfilling its promises to track down and extradite suspected war criminals. Nobody believes that Belgrade’s former inability to capture Karadzic was for real.With President Boris Tadic‘s outwardly rigorous stance on war crimes fugitives, one can expect that another major obstacle to potential EU membership – the potential capture of wanted military commander Ratko Mladic – will soon be removed. It might have an impact on Milorad Dodik, prime minister of the Republika Srpska, which makes up 49 percent of Bosnia. A wind of change in Belgrade could blow away shelters of warlords hiding in Republika Srpska, and that may push representatives of the other two ethnic groups in Bosnia to cough up their own guys who have blood on their hands. In the best scenario, Karadzic in The Hague could bring positive change in Bosnia.GREENHOUSE EFFECTTadic’s actions won’t be left unrewarded in Brussels. The ice has already started to melt in relations with Serbia, a country that still shows deep divisions between those who want to integrate with Europe and those who see Kosovo’s independence as an illegal act carried out in collusion with the Europeans and Americans. The latter tend to see Russia as Serbia’s best friend. With Karadzic in the dock, Serbia could in a short time see the EU open its doors to freer travel and trade. Should Mladic be found, countries like the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and Sweden will agree that Serbia is fully cooperating with the Hague tribunal, and the EU will be able to give its consent by granting Serbia candidate status. In the best scenario again, Bosnia, Montenegro and possibly Albania would also become candidates – perhaps as early as next year -- which would be an immense psychological boost for the region. It could also ease tensions over Kosovo, since the Serbs would be gaining a lot elsewhere.The arrest of Karadzic opens a major window of opportunity for the EU. Now is the time to step in and engage the region. Now is the time to embrace the pro-European government in Belgrade, reward it, and send a clear message that the union offers a better alternative than Russia’s support of fervent nationalists and obstruction over Kosovo. By doing so, Brussels would help the entire region.Critics often complain of the EU’s lack of will and unity when it comes to tough challenges like the Balkans, which goes a long way to explain Europe’s many failures there. It may also explain why the media and policy-makers tend to doze when Balkan issues come up. But the EU cannot ignore instability that festers just around the corner. Human trafficking, organized crime, ethnic tension, and religious conflicts are all there. EU states must put away the blindfolds and take the Balkan region more seriously. Making Pristina, Sarajevo, and Belgrade better places would help the people there -- and boost European self-esteem as well.

I upload an interactive interactive,click,,474564,,00.html

Check timeline=>

1945: Born into poverty in Montenegro, the son of a Serb nationalist fighter
1960: Moves to Sarajevo, marries, studies medicine, becomes a pyschiatrist, writes poetry and meets Dobrica Cosic, who encourages him to enter politics.
1968: Publishes poetry collection
1971: Graduates in medicine
1974-1975: Studies at Columbia University in New York
1983: Becomes a hospital worker in Belgrade
1990: Helps found and serves as President of SDS party
1992: Civil war breaks out between Serbs, Croats and Muslims after the UN recognises Bosnia-Herzegovina as an independent state.
1992-1995: Bosnian war
Nov 1995: The Dayton peace accords are brokered. Karadzic is indicted for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity by the UN tribunal.
1996: Resigns the presidency and goes into hiding.
2004: During his years on the run, he publishes a book called Miraculous Chronicles of the Night.
2008: Arrested in Belgrade, after he had been living in the city and practising alternative medicine in disguise.
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