Wednesday, February 22, 2006

A little more on Serbia

A quick post to update and expand upon our discussion below on the future of Kosovo. Today's Guardian has an interesting article on Serbia, focusing on the pressure being put on the Government there to "hand over" Ratko Mladic, the General ultimately responsible, amongst other things, for the Srebrenica massacre in 1995, but also placing this in the wider context of the various other trials and tribulations facing the country in the next year or so...

The article notes that:

- The EU is holding firm on threats to pull out of integration talks, agreed upon in principle last autumn, unless the Serb Government hands Mladic over to the Hague by the end of the week. The assumption here, of course, is not just that they have not pursued him as much as they might have, but that they have actively hid him, to the extent that, if they chose, he could be in custody in a matter of days. It will be interesting to see just how strong the EU carrot really is there.

- Kosovo will become independent, on the basis, according to the director of the International Crisis Group, that the "international community has come to the conclusion that Serbia cannot handle keeping Kosovo". One thing's for sure: this debate is not for those who like their international law "pure"; or, for that matter, discernibly legal.

- Montenegro also is set to sever its last, loose federal ties with Serbia and go it alone, signalling - for better or for worse - the completion of the process of disintegration of Yugoslavia that began in the early 1990s.

Given the strength of nationalist feeling in Serbia at the moment - one of Srdjan's main concerns, I know - it seems entirely possible that the coincidence of these three factors - Mladic, Kosovo and Montenegro - might be untimely, to say the least. We can but hope that the EU is, in these circumstances, correct to add so much of its own pressure to such a highly-charged situation.

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