- The Washington Times - Monday, April 9, 2001

Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica speaks of former dictator Slobodan Milosevics arrest as the most important "social catharsis" for his country. Yet he was reluctant to imprison him, and let Serb Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic order the security forces to pull off the arrest instead. Now that Mr. Milosevic is resting peacefully in what has been deemed "the Hyatt wing" of the Belgrade central prison, Mr. Kostunica is insisting that the former dictator should not be extradited to the Hague at any cost. Behind these maneuvers lies the real question: Are the Serbian people ready to face the part they played in the ethnic wars of the last decade by sending Mr. Milosevic to the Hague?
As it is now, Mr. Milosevic is being tried on charges of corruption and abuse of power, such as diverting state funds. The Yugoslav government is not charging him with crimes against humanity, as the United Nations war crimes tribunal in The Hague has. An envoy for the tribunal attempted to have him served an arrest warrant last week in Belgrade, but was met with resistance by the Serbian government. His extradition to The Hague would mean that many of the Serbian people would have to come to terms with their support of a dictator who orchestrated three campaigns of ethnic cleansing in the Balkans.
The Serbs seem to think Mr. Milosevics trial in their own republic within Yugoslavia will exterminate all ghosts that may yet be lingering from the past decade of war. "There will be no hide-and-seek everything will come out," Mr. Kostunica assured the New York Times about his governments upcoming trial of the former dictator. Even Mr. Djindjic is hesitant to send him to The Hague. However, a trial on corruption charges affecting only the Serbian people is not the forum for justice for someone who has persecuted the Bosnian, Croatian and ethnic Albanian people over the past decade, and whose actions have adversely affected neighbor republic Montenegro and surrounding countries like Macedonia, Albania, Germany and Italy, to name a few.
The United States certification Monday that Yugoslavia had reformed enough to continue receiving funds from the $100 million aid program to Yugoslavia aptly came with strings attached. Secretary of State Colin Powell said U.S. support for a summer conference of donor countries aiding Yugoslavia would be connected to the countrys cooperation with the war crimes tribunal. This will remain a key leverage point, as the Yugoslavian government has estimated it still needs another $600 million to make it through the year, according to the Financial Times.
The certification also means the United States would continue to support aid from Yugoslavia from the IMF and the World Bank. The United States can use its influence with these institutions to block loans if no cooperation with The Hague is forthcoming. In this the United States needs to keep the pressure on until the Yugoslav government finally hands Mr. Milosevic over to The Hague. Otherwise, the Serbs will merely confirm that they are trying Mr. Milosevic for losing the war not for starting it. The "social catharsis" the Serbs themselves seek would remain incomplete.

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