Serbian president to be delivered to Hague Tribunal. Labus is likely to replace Milutinovic

Despite protests of the federal government and top officials of Yugoslavia’s military, Serbian authorities have made the decision to deliver associates of the Yugoslavian ex-president, who are accused of war crimes in Kosovo, to the Hague Tribunal. B-92, a Belgrade broadcasting station reports that the Serbian Ministry of Justice has already issued arrest warrants for Milosevic’s four close associates: ex-Vice-Premier of Yugoslavia Nikola Sainovic, ex-Foreign Minister Vlaiko Stojiljkovic, ex-commander of the General Staff Dragoljub Ojdanic, and incumbent president of Serbia Milan Milutinovic. Concerning the latter, Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic said that Milan Milutinovic would not be delivered until the end of his term. The term of his office expires at the end of year. In accordance to the law, the incumbent president of Serbia enjoys immunity.

Another ultimatum made by the US Congress to Serbs has expired on March 31. Now, as a result of Serbian government’s last initiative, Yugoslavia is very likely to receive financial aid and Washington’s support in the IMF, the things so desired by Zoran Djindjic. He told journalists: “The day of March 31 is not a judgement day. We cooperate with the USA and the European Union and hope to improve our cooperation. Very soon, we will do everything possible to raise the country’s ratings.” Zoran Djindjic has already started his election campaign.

As we know, Yugoslav President Voislav Kostunica strictly criticizes this kind of “cooperation” with Hague, when extradition cannot be done legally without adoption of the necessary laws by parliament (the Serbian government issued a resolution to allow extradition without the necessary laws). The president thinks thatattention should be paid to the opinion of Skupstine concerning the problem. At the same time, Kostunica has already stated his opinion about the Hague Tribunal on a Yugoslavian TV program: “Every time I think about the Hague Tribunal and its bias procedures, I feel sick.” Still, the president realizes the situation perfectly well and says that he cannot influence “delivery methods that are not legally based.” It is an open secret that the key roles in Serbia belong not to President Kostunica but to the prime minister. Russian specialist for Yugoslavian problems Elena Guskova said that the Yugoslavian federation today is “a very unsteady formation, and Kostunica’s position requires that he should compromise.” “Serbia’s complete dependence upon the will of the West demonstrates the restricted opportunities of the country. Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic performs the main role in Yugoslavia’s new democratic regime, and the political situation is not favorable for Kostunica today.”

We remember that Hague Chief Prosecutor Carla del Ponte visited Belgrade in September 2001 and demanded the delivery of more than ten people suspected of committing war crimes to the tribunal. Incumbent president of Serbia Milan Milutinovic was on her list as well. Moreover, the chief prosecutor demanded that the Serbian president be delivered to the tribunal even before the end of his term. Her opinion is that, when it came to war crimes, no immunity should be mentioned, even when it concerns the president.

The other day, the author of this article received a letter from a Serbian patriot journalist. “It is cold here. Winter has come back here. Buildings are white with snow, and Serbia with sufferings. Railwaymen are still on strike, and farmers have recently joined them. Forty large-scale businessmen, representatives of the Serbian diaspora, will hold a session at Intercontinental hotel. Perisic is waiting for trial. The high command (Yugoslavia’s Supreme Defense Council)did not dismiss HQ commander Pavkovic and head of the military secret service Tomic. Settlement of the problem was postponed. The agony of the authorities continues. The fixed day is coming (March 31), and the Dutch prime minister has presented a list of sixteen people to be immediately delivered to Hague and Milutinovic is in Belgrade. Djindjic is thinking about a person to substitute him with; the majority of people believe that Mirolub Labus (Yugoslav vice-premier) may become the new president of Serbia. Only criminals know their business very well. A Red Cross office was robbed in Belgrade, and 200,000 euro in cashwas stolen.” Sergey Stefanov PRAVDA.Ru

Translated by Maria Gousseva

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