Bosnia calls for Serbia to hand over Ratko Mladic


Bosnia’s foreign minister tells MARY FITZGERALDthat justice must be done for reconciliation in the Balkans

SERBIA SHOULD follow this week’s parliamentary resolution condemning the killing of thousands of Bosnian Muslims at Srebrenica by arresting Ratko Mladic, the man who led Serb forces during the 1995 massacre, Bosnia’s foreign minister has said during a visit to Dublin.

The Serbian resolution, which was narrowly passed on Wednesday, expressed sympathy for the victims and apologised for not doing enough to prevent the massacre, but stopped short of calling the killings genocide.

“It is a step in the right direction at the right time,” Sven Alkalaj told The Irish Timesyesterday. “While it falls short of saying this was genocide . . . it shows the willingness of Serbia’s leadership to move forward and to have better relations with its neighbours, including Bosnia-Herzegovina.”

Belgrade’s next step should be the capture of Mladic so that he can stand trial at the war crimes tribunal at The Hague, Mr Alkalaj said. The former general is believed to be hiding in Serbia.

“Besides words, they should show action by delivering Ratko Mladic,” said Mr Alkalaj. “I think if Serbia wants to make real progress on the road towards the European Union, they must deliver Ratko Mladic and the other fugitives to show that they are committed to full justice . . . we know there cannot be reconciliation if justice is not done. I think this would be real proof that the Serbian leadership means what it says.”

Mr Alkalaj met Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin during his two-day visit to Dublin. Mr Martin reaffirmed Ireland’s support for EU membership for the countries of the western Balkans, including Bosnia. “Ireland offered to help Bosnia-Herzegovina in preparing itself to achieve this objective and meet the established criteria for membership,” the Department of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

EU officials have urged the ethnically divided country to take a more rigorous approach to implementing reform and demonstrate it can act as a single and functioning state.

Nato has demanded the same in relation to Bosnia’s bid for membership of the military alliance.

Earlier this week, European enlargement commissioner Stefan Fuele stressed the importance of Bosnia moving “from a post-Dayton to a pro-European era”, and expressed hope that elections scheduled for October could prove a step in this direction.

Discussing Bosnia’s bid to join Nato, Mr Alkalaj argued that membership was vital for the stability of his country and the wider Balkans.

“If Bosnia- Herzegovina is stable, the region is stable . . . EU accession is important for the reforms within the country but Nato is important for stability. It is of the utmost importance that we join Nato as soon as possible.”