THU, 05 APR 2001 01:20:46 GMT
Reactions of the Republic of Srpska (RS) to Milosevic's Arrest
Banjaluka, April 2, 2001 (AIM)
Milosevic's arrest is the internal affair of Serbia and Federal
Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY)! That would be the shortest reaction of the
RS officials to the news that former FRY President has been arrested in
The first to issue a statement in this connection was RS President
Mirko Sarovic. He took great care not to allow himself any slip of the
tongue which might attract the attention of the High Representative for
B&H:" Legal fact should be decisive and the entire case should be public
so as to protect the democracy and prevent the abuse of the entire
The RS Prime Minister, Mladen Ivanic was not very specific. His comment
only referred to the official statement on the reasons for the arrest.
"The nature of the indictment against Slobodan Milosevic points to the
resolve of the new authorities to investigate fully all aspects of the
involvement of key political figures in something that could be called
corruption", said Ivanic.
In contrast to cautious Sarovic and Ivanic, Zivko Radisic, Member of
the B&H Presidency and until recently Milosevic's party comrade and
careful student, was more explicit. This time the first Socialist in the
RS was not confused, vague or the last to react. The journalists found
him on an excursion on Mt.Kozara: "If we talk about the responsibility
for possible war crimes, in my opinion no one can be exonerated for a
crime he has committed", said Radisic.
Only former Prime Minister Milorad Dodik did not hide his pleasure with
the arrest of his fierce political opponent. After his letter addressed
to Milosevic just before the elections when he foretold his imminent
political downfall, Dodik got the opportunity to once more gloat because
of his predictions. "This is a logical epilogue of years-long
dictatorship in which Milosevic managed to create confusions and
problems for his, as well as for the people here", said Dodik adding
quite clearly that the arrest was just a first phase before his
departure for the Hague.
Radisic's reaction shows that with the loss of power Milosevic has lost
his important ideological stronghold among the Serbs who blindly
followed his political charisma. They washed their hands of him as
easily as he used them for his political ends.
How sincere are the reactions of RS officials and what do they truly
think about the departure of a politician with whom they have cooperated
so intensively over the last ten years? What they publicly say certainly
is not what they truly think. Statements that Milosevic's arrest is
Serbia's internal affair is a permissible response and the fact that
they did not overstep the permitted limits shows that they are well
aware that the noose has started to tighten and that making too much
noise would not bring anyone any good.
In contrast to the caution exhibited by political officials, the RS
public didn't approve either of the method of or reasons for his arrest.
The public opinion polls carried out by the media showed that most
people thought that Milosevic should not have been arrested and should
not be extradited to the Hague Tribunal. They link Milosevic's guilt and
responsibility with that of the leaders of other nations who were at war
with him (Tudjman and Izetbegovic). Psychologically speaking, the
problem obviously is not Milosevic's guilt, but the fact that his
extradition would be construed as collective punishment and another
Irrespective of the fact that no one is supporting Milosevic's arrest,
the citizens of RS are more certain than ever that Milosevic will end up
at the Hague. After the disintegration of the former Yugoslavia most of
them have developed some kind of attachment to Milosevic as the
incarnation of the defender of Serbian national interests. They will
call this arrest the ultimate Serbian betrayal, DOS's capitulation and
an American conspiracy, but will intimately resign themselves to the
fact that their hero has to be surrendered to the Hague Tribunal.
An anonymous collocutor of the AIM, considered well-versed in the
developments between Belgrade and Banjaluka, believes that Milosevic
might join the accused political and military leaders of the Bosnian
Serbs at the Hague and be called upon to answer for the crime of
genocide in Bosnia & Herzegovina. According to him, the top Bosnian Serb
political and state leadership at the Hague will be soon complete with
the arrest of Karadzic and Mladic so that they could all be tried in one
go. Milosevic's joining them would make the circle complete and bring to
a close the chase after the organisers and instigators of the B&H war.
For the time being, the lack of emotions in reactions to Milosevic's
arrest is a sign of the definite defeat of an ideology and policy in the
space of the former Yugoslavia. The Serbs in B&H are the best indicator
of such a change.