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Thursday, 5 July, 2001, 08:47 GMT 09:47 UK
What now for the Balkans?
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Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic is preparing to make his first appearance before the United Nations war crimes tribunal.
He will face charges of planning and ordering a campaign of terror, persecution and violence against the Kosovo Albanians at the end of the 1990s.
His extradition has strained Yugoslavia's governing coalition with Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica denouncing the extradition as illegal and unconstitutional.
After handing over Mr Milosevic, Yugoslavia has been promised more than $1.2bn in desperately needed financial aid from international donors that is crucial for the country's economic recovery.
What do you think about the extradition of Slobodan Milosevic? What are the implications for the future of Yugoslavia and the Balkan region? If you are from the former Yugoslavia what does this moment mean for you?
Lyse Doucet was joined by the BBC's Balkans Analyst Gabriel Partos to discuss the extradition of Slobodan Milosevic and the implications for the Balkan region in a Talking Point phone-in programme broadcast on BBC World Service Radio and on BBC News Online.
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
Whether Mr Milosevic is found guilty or not is not as important as to expose Western Powers duplicity and the fallacy of their pro- Yugoslavia policies.
Remember J.Baker's remark to Milosevic to safeguard Yugoslavia border integrity. It was the green light needed for Milosevic's aggression against Slovenia (Croatia). Thousands of innocent victims paid the maximum price. The guilt does not ends with Milosevic, it starts higher than him and goes all the way down the line.
I am very glad that the Milosevic is in the Hague but its strange how his nation who supported him all the time in the end betrayed him for over $US1.2 billion. It is very naive though if the world think that the Serbian nation is democratised - it is just an interest in the money, they are the people who did crimes in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo. The Milosevic couldn't play the game alone.
Have I been on a different planet for the last ten years? Has everyone else on the world missed the point of the Nato intervention in the Balkans? Has no one seen the mass graves hiding hundreds of murdered women and children? All at the hands of this man. Nato would have been criticised for not helping the people of Kosovo but when they do they are branded criminals! Would you rather these people continue to be slaughtered? It's typical of the world today. The rest of the world had tried talking this man out of killing innocent people but he ignored them, it was time for someone to take action.
Alex Shoffner, Prague, Czech Rep
How many Albanian lives would be saved if he would be arrested immediately on March 24, 1999?
What now for the Balkans? Same old stuff. Tribal fighting, and illegal interference by the West. But now they have sold their president for millions of dollars and can look forward to more fast food chains. What a dream world in store!
If the Serbs could sell their President, how much could we get if we sold Tony Blair to, say, the Iraqis to answer for all the people whose death he and his fellow president Clinton caused? He could go before a Human Rights court in, say, Kabul, and get a fair trial. What? Why not? What's the difference?
I am a Australian born, but my background is of Yugoslavia orgin. I am disgusted to hear that Serbia's own Prime Minister has embarrassed the Serbian Community by accepting a payout to imprison Milosevic, after all has happened in the Balkans who can the Serbian community trust as their Prime Minister? No doubt in my mind that Milosevic needs to stand trial for what has happened in the past 10 years, but what will happen to the likes of the Tudjman and the Izetbegovic just to name a few. Were is the justice there and what about the Albainans? We the Serbian people have been unfairly judged by the world. We also have been affected by the outcomes of these bloody wars.
Why on earth all these people from Serbia on this page are defending Milosevic baffles me completely. This is the same person who provoked and dragged you into pointless wars time and again. He couldn't care less about his own people as his shameless looting of his own country shows all too well. Remember this when falling over yourselves to stick up for his "rights". I think that a lot of his apologists will be staggered once the trial starts and we get a fuller picture of exactly what Slobodan Milosevic has been up to for the last few years. And a quick word to Robert V on this page who thinks that Milosevic only ever wanted to get rid of the criminals - I'm sure that's exactly what was on the minds of the Serbian snipers in Sarajevo when they were killing women and children! Get real.
Unfortunately western governments do not listen to public opinion. They have their own eco-political agendas. The Hague is just an instrument they use to justify their actions, as amply shown in this discussion. I mean, there are scores of Milosovic's calibre who are roaming the globe freely! Until and when we have the same wealth and firepower as the USA we shall see many of these "kangaroo" trials (kidnappings).
It is all about the range guys. If you fire 340 civilians from 34 meters, it becomes a mass killing and a war crime and you are immediately flown to Hague for "justice". But if you drop radiation-laced bombs from your "invisible" warplanes, it becomes the humanitarian bombing! I feel ashamed of people like Kofi Annan and his helpless organization, which is working more like a political instrument of the US. I guess, it is the new old order! I feel ashamed of Serbs. They sold their country for one billion dollars! Is it possible to reconstruct the infrastructure destroyed by the NATO with that money?
I am not a supporter of Slobodan MiloseviÁ by any means, but neither am I a supporter of the views and actions of the international community which is trying him. I can think of many leaders of the US, Britain, many European and other so called "developed" nations which should also be tried for crimes against humanity, war crimes, abuse of power and suchlike. George Bush (senior and junior) and Margaret Thatcher come to mind among many others. MiloseviÁ is just being used to pretend that the Western capitalist nations and the international "community" are actively promoting democracy and fighting against evil and tyranny across humanity. In reality this is far from the truth and we shouldn't be deceived by the lies and elaborate deceptions. The enemy comes from within, these so-called patriots of democracy and freedom aren't what they seem. We aren't being fooled.
Abeba Isahac, New York, USA
There will be wars in Europe every time European economy threatens the US economy. Everything else is just makeup and packaging for the masses. As for Milosevic, he is so transparently an American man that it wouldn't surprise me if the world finds out in 50 years that he actually walked away free from The Hague under a different identity.
Why stop at Milosovic? Why not English PM Tony Blair?, US President Bill Clinton?, Albright?, UK Foreign Minister Robin Cook?, and a whole host of other Nato leaders who were involved in the direct murder of 500 innocent Yugoslav citizens, and 26 RTS employees. Robin Cook went on TV and told the world that the World Court is "not for British foreign Secretaries or US Presidents". It is a court of victors, and its nothing more than Kangroo justice. I hope no Indian leader will every support this court is so-called "judges", and help to pay and finance it.
Slobodan should have never been arrested. He only wanted to clean his country of criminals.
It is of course terrible, what Milosevic did during his time in office and he should stand trial. However state terrorism in the form of NATO's bombings was also a war crime as defined under International Law. Were the International Court truly impartial, the likes of Blair and Clinton would stand trial for that. I find it hard to believe they ever will. There is also little chance of anyone standing trial for the genocide being commited every day in Iraq under the guise of economic sanctions or for the ethnic cleansing of Kurds in Turkey made possible thanks largely to American equipment. It is obvious why much of the world has little faith in the Court and its actions.
Akonjang Bryant, Buea, Cameroon
I hope this is a lesson for all the Serb leaders of the future: " Don't mess with Kosova". If you are stupid enough and you do, you will spend the rest of your life in a little prison cell like a dog.
By accepting Milosevic by illegal and unconstitutional means regardless of his guilt (remember the adage that one is innocent till proven otherwise and American process of law that if one is arrested illegally his case is thrown out regardless of guilt), does that mean the IWCT is also guilty of a crime and should be brought to justice if they accept this extradiction? The Western international community continues to amaze.
Milosevic's arrest is irrelevant. The only way the genocide against Kosovans and Bosnian Muslims will be avenged is when there is a reawakening of the Arab World and Turkey. When they will no doubt liberate Bosnia and establish a viable Muslim state. Revenge against Serbs will come then. Then there will be peace.
The Yugoslavian Judiciary still
lags behind in the reform process
and is stacked with Milosevic
cronies. In an ideal situation
Yugoslavia should have had
first go at him. But the reality is
the local courts need to go through
reform first or else we risk getting
meaningless results. In the meantime
let the Hague have a go. He's not
going anywhere. The Serbs will
get their chance.
As an archaeology student, thinking of the recent loss of the Bamiyan Buddhas, I wonder if the shelling of Dubrovnik, a world heritage site, can be added to the charges against Milosevic?
They should put him in the same cell with Clinton, and give them Mira to make their days more miserable. But, be careful, because they could corrupt your guards and judges!
I cannot believe what the president of Serbia has done. He has successfully
broken the law and plunged the country into a crisis. This could have been
prevented by following the law and he could have been sent to the Hague later.
Now the country may fall apart thanks to a man who hid in Montenegro during the
NATO bombing. I hope it is not too late for Kostunica to sort it out.
Mohammed Argungu, Abuja,Nigeria
Judging from some of the comments by correspondents in non-Western countries, maybe we in the West should turn our backs on their inherent problems (for example, poverty and lack of human dignity resulting from bad governance) instead of trying to help. Of course, they will still clamour to reach our shores for a better life.
I think Nato, and in particular General Clarke, who ran the campaign of teror that killed thousands of civilians should go on trail.
Only after all the war criminals are behind prison bars will justice be fully satisfied. Milosevic is just a first step in the process. Karadzic, Mladic and countless other Bosnian Serbs and Serbian war criminals should have been in the cells long ago.
Arresting Milosevic is not enough justice. We will believe the tribunal if they deal with him as a terrible war criminal. To me, Milosevic is better off dead!
Well done US, but when will Ariel Sharon for killings Palestinians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps, Robert Mugabe, India's prime minister for war crimes in Kashmir, Vladimir Putin for war crimes in Chechnya, be brought to the Hague?
You don't want to do that, do you?
I am happy I am not a Yugoslavian. To sell your former head of state for a promised $1.3 billion is just unbelievable. Very soon Serbia will realise it is just a promise. They should ask Russia what they got a decade after the break up of the Soviet Union.
How come the USA never investigated killings conducted in Vietnam or Iraq? Why does the USA never care about killings in Sri Lanka?
Thanks to Mr Milosevic (but not only him, I agree)10 million people spent 12 years suffering, loosing their dearest ones, and their homes. What is one arrest compared to that? With what sentence can dead become alive again? But at least, last night Mr Milosevic and his family spent one sleepless night. At least that.
Ivan, Belgrade, Yugoslavia
Serbia has done the right thing , by sending Milosevic to the Hague. I ask you when will Croatia , Bosnian Federation, Nato do the same?
I don't think Croatia will ever send their generals or politicians to the kangaroo court .How many
Serbs where killed in Krajina and how many where forced out of their homes? No kangaroo court for the Croats
I'm thankful Milosevic is headed to the Hague for the sake of Croatia. Not just for vengeance's sake (though admittedly that has a part), but because it will be easier for the Croatian government to extradite its alleged war criminals in the eyes of the Croatian public. When Croatia's General Blaskic received his 40+ year sentence it was the first real destabilizer to the new-at-that-time Croatian government. The fact that the primary aggressors weren't being pursued made it difficult for Croatia to comply. Now with some Serbs on the dock, Croatia can flush a few more of its war scum out. Now let's see them bring in Mladic and Karazdic and then we'll have a fairer set of trials in a regional sense.
Ivan, Zagreb, Croatia
If anybody should put Milosevic on trial it should be the Serbs. And if somebody should extradite someone that would have to be USA, Germany, UK, France.
He is responsible for losing territories and Serbian lives. This is the greatest shame in the history of the Serbs. I only know that I could not live with myself if i had to extradite someone like Djindjic did.
The only reason Slobodan Milosevic was handed over because Serbian people accuse him for losing four wars in less than 10 years, not because they think he was responsible for atrocities committed against humanity. Once they hand Karadjic and Mladic we may say that the Serbian people have purged themselves like the Germans did after the Second World War.
Now, when Milosevic is on the way to Hague, I can see many killers smiling, defending themselves and trying to find justification for what they did. Yes I am talking about General Clark, Tony Blair, Gerhard Shroeder, Jaimy Shea and more. Since they need to clean themselves, I don't think they will let Milosevic have a fair trial, because fair trial would show the world real criminals - Albanians and Nato.
It is not possible for him to have a fair trial, simply because the sentence that would be fair, for the things he did, does not exist. If he would live for another 1,000 years he could not repay for the suffering he caused.
I think it's great that finally my brutal history is exported to Holland. I'm so glad that I have a smart prime minister. Now someone should charge Albanians for their crimes, Serbs are not the only bad ones.
Since the Serbian government ignored a ruling of the Federation Constitutional Court, one might have some doubts as to whether the rule of law exists in the FRY, but that is an internal matter for that country to sort out. There is no doubt that as a matter of international law Milosevic had to be handed over.
The next question is, when are Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic going to The Hague? They are rumoured to be living in the eastern Republika Srpska. Mladic is said actually to be enjoying the protection of the Republika Srpska army, which the Republika Srpska government denies. Their transfer to The Hague would certainly be a major contribution to the Bosnian peace process. It is now time to order SFOR to find them and arrest them. There is no satisfactory answer to the question why this has not already been done.
Peter, Bosnia and Herzegovina (expat)
No, he will not get a fair trial, but you will certainly have something to write about and some politically engaged "lawyers" will boost their careers.
Remember George Orwell's proverb: "All creatures are equal but some are more equal then others" What about the Croatian, Kosovo-Albanian, Bosniak and Western War Criminals?
Milosevic will not get a fair trial - the ludicrous Lockerbie judgement is proof of that. Why are new charges relating to Bosnia and Croatia being cooked up if the evidence relating to Kosovo was so convincing? Milosevic has been declared a war criminal by Clinton, Blair, Cook etc. so it will take brave judges to defy them. There are none at The Hague.
Just to inform you how much the US Government recognizes The Hague. Our government is in the process of passing a bill (introduced by Senator Helms) which would prevent extradition of US citizens to the Hague.
I smell a double standard!
Milosevic is extradited
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