Serbia was one step closer toward membership of the European Union when it announced it had captured Ratko Mladic, Europe’s most wanted war criminal.
MLADIC at large was a living demonstration that Serbia stood apart from other European nations by not having resolved concerns over its role in the wars of the Balkans. The arrest of Slobodan Milosevic, the Serbian president, in 2001 and Radovan Karadic, the leader of the breakaway Bosnia republic, in 2008 marked milestones in Serbia’s rehabilitation. But full normalisation was not possible without the handover of the man alleged to have orchestrated the siege of Sarajevo and the slaughter of 8,000 Muslim men at Srebrenica. Damien McElroy writes in The Telegraph.
President Boris Tadic announced the capture of the 69-year old militia commander, who is wanted on 11 counts of war crimes, marked a historical watershed for his nation.
“A difficult period of our history is over and Serbia’s reputation is no longer tarnished,” he said. “I believe that this operation has proved that the services of the Republic of Serbia have made this country safe and have secured the rule of law, and that our work on the search for war crime suspects will increase Serbia’s moral credibility in the international arena. I believe all doors to our EU membership have been opened now.”
Praise for the Serbian action echoed around Europe with President Nicolas Sarkozy of France signling out Mr Tadic as the prime mover in ending the 16-year quest to see Mladic caught.
“It’s very good news and it’s a very courageous decision by the Serbian president,” he said. “It’s one more step towards Serbia’s integration one day into the European Union.”