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Thursday, 5 July, 2001, 11:38 GMT 12:38 UK
Mixed views on Balkans pair
Radovan Karadzic
The whereabouts of Radovan Karadzic are unknown
By Richard Miron

Bosnian Serb Prime Minister Professor Mladen Ivanic has indicated his willingness to co-operate with the war crimes tribunal which is seeking two of the most notorious Balkan war leaders, Radovan Karadzic and his military Chief of Staff Ratko Mladic.

Both of the wanted men are still at large and are believed to be in Republika Srpska, a Serb enclave within Bosnia.

Ratko Mladic
Ratko Mladic was Karadzic's military commander
Although Professor Mladen Ivanic says his visit to The Hague is not connected to the trial of the former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, he has confirmed that the Bosnian Serb leadership is now keen to work with the tribunal.

"There is a readiness in Republika Srpska to co-operate," he said. "If that is the case then generally the shape will be much better, and this issue will not be so difficult as it was in the last few years."

The arrest and trial of Slobodan Milosevic has put political pressure on Republika Srpska to hand over those Bosnian Serbs sought by the tribunal.

The noose around them is tightening all the time. There is no-one in Yugoslavia who is very keen on defending them or protecting them

Dr Jonathan Eyal
Dr Jonathan Eyal, an expert on the Balkans at the Royal United Services Institute in London, says that Professor Ivanic's visit to The Hague is an effort to head off that political pressure.

"I suspect that the Bosnian Serb leaders are still trying very hard to avoid any serious extraditions from their territory to The Hague," he said.

"What they're trying to achieve is the middle way, whereby they start co-operating with the international prosecutor without making many promises."

International pressure

There is also political pressure among some Bosnian Serbs not to hand over Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic and others who still retain influence in Republika Srpska.

Srdja Trifkovic, a former spokesman for the Bosnian Serb government, says the current government is unnecessarily bowing to the will of the international community.

I personally take a rather jaundiced view of these proceedings. I do not think that the vehicle that we have in The Hague is the right one

Srdja Trifkovic
Bosnian Serb spokesman
"I suppose they hope that they will now make themselves fully compliant members of the international community," he said.

"However, I personally take a rather jaundiced view of these proceedings. I do not think that the vehicle that we have in The Hague is the right one."

Radovan Karadzic has always been a defiant figure and maintained during the war that he acted for the defence of his people.

"We are right, we are fighting for our rights and no pressure on Serbia can help. We are not going to co-operate with those who are punishing Serbian people," he said.

But Radovan Karadzic and the others sought by The Hague tribunal now find themselves without powerful allies in Serbia, and according to Dr Jonathan Eyal, it is only a matter of time before the Bosnian Serb leadership is forced to hand them over.

Former Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic
Milosevic's extradition has increased calls for other war crime suspects to appear in court
"The noose around them is tightening all the time," he said.

"There is no-one in Yugoslavia who is very keen on defending them or protecting them, so I suspect that in the months to come either they become really the hunted dogs of the Balkans or they will hand themselves over."

Their arrest is a much sought after prize by The Hague tribunal, and given the changed political circumstances, it now seems that after years at large they may finally face justice.

See also:

30 Jun 01 | Europe
The Hague's wanted men
02 Jul 01 | Europe
Milosevic allies vulnerable
11 Aug 00 | Europe
Profile: Radovan Karadzic
05 Aug 00 | Europe
Mladic blamed for Bosnia massacre
05 Jul 01 | Europe
Serb 'Adolf' innocent of genocide
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