Arrest will help neuter separatism aspirations
THE arrest of Ratko Mladic, one of the world's most wanted war criminals, should help deflate Serb separatism in the region as the country moves closer towards EU membership, analysts said yesterday.
"Once Serbia is installed on the EU path, there will be less and less space for it to meddle in Bosnia," said Sonja Biserko, head of the Serbian Helsinki Committee for Human Rights.
"The arrest is most important for Serbia's winning EU candidate status," she added.
Commentators were also keen to downplay fears among some ethnic Serbs that strengthening Serbia's ties with the European Union would spell the end of Republika Srpska, the main Serb political entity within multi-ethnic Bosnia.
"The trial will not have an impact on the Republika Srpska status and the way it was created because nobody wants to further complicate the political relations in Bosnia and the Balkans," said Tanja Topic, a political analyst with the Friedrich Ebert Foundation.
Mladic, along with Radovan Karadzic, was indicted twice in 1995 for genocide and the war crimes committed across Bosnia during the 1992-95 war, and then over the Srebrenica massacre of 8,000 Muslims.
The war's end left the Balkan country divided into two autonomous regions -- the Serb Republic and a Muslim-Croat federation under a weak national government. Ethnic division remains strong in the country, hindering Bosnia's own EU aspirations and its efforts to lure foreign investment.
Many ordinary Bosnian Serbs voiced disbelief that a man they see as a hero was arrested by their wartime ally Serbia.
"We, the Serbs west of the Drina River, received a message that we are alone," said Pantelija Curguz, of the Bosnian Serb war veterans association. "With Mladic's arrest, Serbia's president and official Belgrade have shown that entering the European Union is their priority."