As Slobodan Milosevic walked toward the helicopter that would bring him to the Hague last Thursday, he turned and congratulated the Serbian policemen who had turned him over to the officials of the International War Crimes Tribunal for Yugoslavia on a job well done. Though his comments, quoted in Belgrade’s weekly Nedeljni Telegraf, were meant as irony, he spoke the truth about the bloody decade he had ruled Yugoslavia. His people had brought him to power and it had taken his own people to bring him down. Unfortunately, not all Balkan leaders are as reform-minded as Serbian Prime Minister Djindjic, who took matters into his own hands Thursday when the Yugoslav Constitutional Court suspended the executive order to send all indicted criminals to the tribunal in the Hague.
Nor should Mr. Milosevic’s ouster and later extradition be the end of reform in the region. Mr. Djindjic and his countrymen were rewarded with over $1 billion by the European Union and the United States the day after the extradition. They will not likely receive that kind of incentive every time they face judicial, executive or legislative decisions to bring to justice those who have destroyed the region’s peace. In addition to judicial and constitutional reform, Yugoslavia needs to do some parliamentary and executive housecleaning. Another Milosevic ally, Vojislav Seselj, leader of the hard-line Serbian Radical Party and military commander under Milosevic, is still in power. The Socialist Party and the Radical Party, who kept Mr. Milosevic in power and are still calling his handover a betrayal, need to be ousted.
Though the entire government was brought down when Yugoslavia’s Prime Minister Zoran Zizic resigned on Friday in protest of the extradition, former ministers will continue working as caretakers until a new one is appointed or elected. The people of Yugoslavia should ensure that ultranationalist politicians who worked with Mr. Milosevic to kill thousands cannot continue in power.
There have been 75 public indictments of officials of the former Yugoslavia from the Hague tribunal. Of those, 25 are at-large. Other infamous Balkan leaders Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, accused in Bosnia’s three-year war in which 7,000 Muslims were executed in Srebrenica alone, have not yet stood trial or even been arrested. And now, the ethnic Albanian guerrillas, whose people were the victims of Mr. Milosevic’s war crimes, are launching their own killing sprees.
Yes, it is good that Mr. Milosevic will stand trial for crimes against Serbia’s ethnic Albanians. But true reform will only come when the Balkan states rid themselves of all ultranationalist policies and the leaders who fueled the hatred that led to ethnic cleansing in the first place.