Former Serbian President Delivered Himself to The Hague

Partnership for peace – in exchange to Mladic and Karadzic

Serbia’s ex-president Milan Milutinovic left from Belgrade to The Hague with a governmental flight. Milutinovic will have to face the trial of the International Tribunal for former Yugoslavia. Belgrade mass media reported that Milutinovic volunteered to yield to the Hague Tribunal, while the official authorities of Belgrade addressed to the Tribunal with a request to give the former president an opportunity to prepare for the trial being free.

Milan Milutinovic remained on the position of the Serbian President until the end of December 2002. The Hague Tribunal charged him with war crimes and genocide of the Albanian population of Kosovo in 1998-1999. Milutinovic virtually faces the same charges as the ones of the former President of the Unified Republic of Yugoslavia, Slobodan Milosevic. However, in contrast to Milutinovic, Milosevic refused to stand up in front of the tribunal's prosecutors. He was delivered secretly. Milutinovic followed the example of the former President of the Serbian Republic in Bosnia, Biljana Plavsic, who volunteered to surrender to the Hague Tribunal.

Until the end of the last year, Milutinovic possessed political immunity as a person, taking the head position in the republic. That is why he could not be delivered to the Hague. On his own part, he rejects all charges that were brought against him at court. He is determined to stand the trial and to defend himself. The BBC reported that the former Serbian president was expected to make his first court statement in the middle of the current week.  For the time being, it is not known, if Milutinovic is going to be allowed to return to Belgrade during the process (Milutinovic suffers from a heart disease). Needless to mention that they did not grant such a permission to Milosevic. By the way, Milosevic trial is going to be resumed this week, after a week break due to the defendant’s illness.

The London institute of peace and war studies has recently made a report, in which it was stressed that the fact that the Yugoslavian authorities are not ready to deliver General Ratko Mladic to the Tribunal, imperils Belgrade’s plans concerning its membership in NATO’s Partnership for Peace program. The experts of the institute pointed out with reference to Western diplomats and Belgrade analysts that Mladic was protected by Yugoslav special services on the territory of Yugoslavia. It was added that no political force ventured to deliver Ratko Mladic over a political risk that might follow that. Florence Hartman, a Hague official spokeswoman, has repeatedly stated that General Ratko Mladic and former Serbian President Radovan Karadzic should be delivered to the Tribunal. Belgrade mass media also reported that an American ambassador that deals with searching and charging war crime suspects, was going to bring a warning from the American administration to Belgrade. Allegedly, it will be said that the USA’s economic help to Yugoslavia might be questioned, if the Yugoslav government was not going to start cooperating with the Hague. “Cooperating” implies Mladic’s and Karadzic’s arrest.

Sergey Yugov

Translated by Dmitry Sudakov

Author`s name Olga Savka