The BBC reports that the family of Ratko Mladic, the former Bosnian Serb General who masterminded massacres of thousands and who is currently wanted by the Hague for war crimes, have been in ‘secret negotiations’ with the Serbian government:
Zoran Stankovich, the Serbian minister involved, has denied that the talks are about Mladic’s surrender.
“I spoke with (his son) Darko and his mother just before New Year’s Eve, in this office. I can’t talk about it for obvious reasons,” he said.
“As you know, while something is still in progress any comment will be inappropriate. It would only interfere with the ongoing investigation.”
Serbia wants to join the EU at some stage, and won’t want to suffer the same embarrasment as Croatia, whose membership talks were delayed because they weren’t co-operating sufficiently with the Hague.
Even more pressing though, are the upcoming negotiations over the future status of Kosovo. Demonstrating that they are acting in good faith, they will reason, can only help their cause, and decrease the chances of Kosovo gaining full independence.
So, I can see two potential reasons for releasing this story:
- One, they are making it up, or making an inconsequential discussion seem like more than it is, in order to persuade the world that they really are looking hard for Mladic.
- Two, they are actually negotiating his surrender.
The loudmouthed cynic who stands on my right shoulder would have me put my money on option one.
But the tiny voice of the optimist that stands wittering away on my left shoulder, seems to think that this is an opportunity for the EU and US to make it clear to the Serbian government that everything rides on the handover over Mladic and, more, on the handover of Radovan Karadzic.
I’m off to the bookies.