Serbia Tried for Genocide But EU Pulls its Punches
Serbia today becomes the first country to be tried for genocide at the world’s highest court — just as the European Union shies from punishing the Balkan nation for failing to hand over Ratko Mladic and other indicted war criminals.
The International Court of Justice hearing in The Hague will open this morning. It will decide whether Serbia made a premeditated attempt to destroy Bosnia’s Muslim population in 1992.
The case, brought by Bosnia, is the first time that an entire country has been tried for genocide. Billions of dollars of compensation are at stake.
However, EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels are expected to threaten only to “disrupt” economic and political ties with Serbia if it does not hand Mladic over by April 5.
EU diplomats insist that they are taking tough action, but the threats are a big disappointment for the UN’s chief war crimes prosecutor, Carla del Ponte, who has made clear that only full suspension of EU membership talks will force Serbia to surrender Mladic, who is considered a hero by many Serbian nationalists.
A source at the international war crimes tribunal, where Ms del Ponte works, said: “Only with the option of suspension will Belgrade take the move — otherwise they will not do anything. Any ambiguity will leave Belgrade with the feeling that they can wait. They don’t know what disruption means — they are only afraid of suspension. It has been 10½ years of wasted opportunity.”
Mladic, the former Bosnian Serb army leader who led the 1995 massacre of 8,000 Muslims in Srebrenica, has been on the run since. Ms del Ponte insists that he is being protected by Serbian authorities.
The stepping up of pressure on Serbia at the two different UN bodies in The Hague — the International Court of Justice and the war crimes tribunal — contrasts with the EU’s lack of definitive action.
On February 21 the EU began talks on political and economic ties with Serbia, leading to entry negotiations and ultimately full membership of the Union. Many EU countries believe that the prospect of eventual membership is the only way to stabilise Serbia, and play down the importance of surrendering indicted war criminals.
EU foreign ministers will threaten to delay the next stage of the talks, due on April 5, if Mladic is not handed over by then, but have rejected calls to suspend the talks indefinitely.
“‘Disruption’ would not freeze the talks, but would certainly slow them down and negotiations would not continue as planned. This is a clear shot across their bows,” an EU official said.
The hearing at the International Court of Justice is scheduled to last six weeks, although the 16 judges are expected to deliver their verdict in about a year.
This is absolute ludacris. They are threatening us? I really hope I'm not the only one that finds something wrong with this. If we don't hand over Mladic we are going to be charged for genocide as a whole nation but if we do then we wont?
#1: How can you charge a whole nation for genocide? Only people involved in wars should be charged, not a whole country?
#2: If this does happen, what the hell is up with Germany, Japan, Rwanda, etc. who have done "just a bit" more in the genocide part than we have dont you think?
#3: I am shocked they can make a threat
to a country so public and honest. This is pure bully-ness...
It is shocking what they are making our citizens and land go through. They tore up our country, killed and bombed schools, children, hospitals, killed us to the ground economically...and now they want to label our whole country (i.e. every citizen of Serbia and Serbia's name) as genocidal.
I am so fu*king pissed off right now.