While Radovan Karadzic remained a fugitive from UN prosecutors, his freedom proved a major obstacle in the way of closer relations between Serbia and the EU. And, even now that he has been arrested, the way is not totally clear.
Despite urgings from the EU Enlargement Commissioner to allow Serbia improved trade benefits, it is reported the 27 member states will make Belgrade wait until he has been transferred into the custody of the International War Crimes Tribunal in the Hague. They also want to see if Serbia will co-operate fully with the court.
But Karadzic and his legal team are playing a game of cat-and-mouse, doing everything they can to put off the day he goes to the Hague for as long as possible. His lawyer claims the appeal against extradition is in the mail, though the postal service says it does not have it, and the court says it has not arrived.
Karadzic’s lawyer Svetozar Vujacic said: “He will not say anything at the first hearing. He will ask for a 30-day delay to see what happened to his laptop computer and discs which were taken from him. It is not fair that our own authorities took a citizen’s defence material. You can imagine what will happen to him in the Hague.”
Karadzic might still have strong support among many people in Serbia, but the government’s desire to join the European Union is stronger. And with EU ambassadors heading off on their summer break, it looks as though any progress will have to wait until September at the earliest. Although one diplomat said if Karadzic’s colleague Ratko Mladic were captured, they could react sooner.