- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 3, 2001

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia — There is growing concern that the hasty extradition of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic may turn against the new reform leaders in Belgrade.
The timing of the extradition — the evening before donor nations met in Brussels to work out a $1.3 billion aid and loan package for Yugoslavia — was clearly intended to send a message to Western leaders that Yugoslavia wants to play by their rules.
The government still holds wide support in spite of daily protests since the extradition, with thousands out on the streets yesterday, but many fear that support could evaporate if the government cannot soon show economic benefits.
The $1.3 billion pledged in Brussels will not by itself make much of a dent in Yugoslavia's worsening poverty. It already has loans of more than $12 billion incurred during Mr. Milosevic's time in office, and international officials estimate that the poverty rate will increase for another 18 months.
"If the money doesn't in fact start coming in, then things can get very complicated, and it's going to work in favor of exactly those parts of the political world we don't want to see around," said Radmila Nakarada, a researcher at the Institute for European Studies and a member of a newly formed Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
She said the biggest worry is that demagogic politicians — such as Vojislav Seselj, leader of the hard-line Serbian Radical Party — will exploit people's suspicion that the extradition was a sellout.
"They're going to say: 'They sold Milosevic for so-and-so much money and you aren't getting any of it.' And that's going to be a very powerful weapon," she said.
Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic ordered the extradition of Mr. Milosevic on Thursday, even after Yugoslavia's Constitutional Court ruled that it needed more time to consider the move. Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica said he wasn't aware of the action until he heard about it on television.
Mr. Milosevic was indicted by the International War Crimes Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague in 1999 for crimes committed against ethnic Albanians in the Serbian province of Kosovo.
As soon as Mr. Kostunica and Mr. Djindjic came to power in October, the West started putting pressure on them to extradite Mr. Milosevic.
Serbian police arrested him in March, just hours before a U.S. deadline to show concrete cooperation with The Hague or lose out on $50 million in American aid.
"After 10 years of isolation, we are practically bankrupt," Mr. Djindjic told the German economic daily Handelsblatt in an article published Sunday.
"If we don't show the population soon that things are getting better, the political situation could become very critical."
But Miss Nakarada said the way the extradition was handled "made it look less like the right thing to do and more like a transaction."
Thousands of Milosevic supporters from across Serbia gathered yesterday outside the federal parliament, chanting "Traitors, traitors," and carrying posters with their hero's face and signs such as "Kostunica, do you sleep soundly at night?" Many of them waved flags of Mr. Milosevic's and Mr. Seselj's parties.
Although the people who attend such protests are a lost cause as far as Mr. Kostunica and Mr. Djindjic are concerned, they hope to see that the disquiet doesn't spread in a country where unemployment is estimated to be as high as 50 percent.
Most Serbs are willing to give their leaders a little more time to improve their living conditions. In one poll released last week, more than a third of respondents said they would be satisfied with even a small sign that things will get better.

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