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Arrest of Karadzic Seen as Triumph for Serbia's Government

  • Ivana Kuhar

Two former U.S. secretaries of state welcome the arrest of war-time Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadžic who stands accused on 13 counts of genocide and other war crimes. They tell VOA's Ivana Kuhar Karadzic's arrest will help Serbia move towards European integration.

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who spoke to VOA on the phone, said the arrest of Radovan Karadžic is a major step toward reconciliation in the Balkans. "Well, I think it is a huge event, a watershed event. It should have happened as long time ago, but the fact that it has in fact happened, is very important for the Bosnian people and those who suffered as a result of Karadzic's policies," she said.

Karadzic topped the most wanted list of the International war Crimes Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia. He is under indictment for a long list of gruesome war crimes, including genocide and organizing the longest siege in modern day history - the 44-month blockade of Sarajevo.

The Secretary of State under President George H. W. Bush, Lawrence Eagleburger, says Karadžic's arrest represents a major step forward for international justice. "I think he's one of the last of a really miserable bunch that is still at large. He's not the only one but he's probably, with the arrest and then later the death of [Slobodan] Milosevic, I think he's probably the man who most deserves to be caught and punished."

He topped the war crimes court's most wanted list, along with his Bosnian-Serb military chief Ratko Mladiæ and the former Croatian Serb leader Goran Hadžiæ. Those two are still on the run.

European Union officials Tuesday said the arrest of Radovan Karadžic could clear the way for Serbia's membership in the 27-nation bloc.

Eagleburger says the arrest will help Serbia in its bid to rejoin the world community. "If Serbia was to get back into the good graces of the world community and of western Europeans and the U.S., and particularly the U.S., I think it was a question they realized they were going to have to do something about."

Secretary Albright agrees, and says the arrest shows the pro-Western government in Belgrade is ready to break with Serbia's nationalistic past. "I hope very much that the election of President [Boris] Tadic was the one that was based on the idea that they wanted to move forward and not look backward and I think it will be interesting to see how the vast majority of the Serbian people react to this. There clearly are those that are ultranationalists, that have already voiced their opposition but I believe that the Serbian people want to move forward," she said.

The 1992-1995 war for Bosnia's independence left over 100,000 people dead and as many as two million displaced. According to a report by the Central Intelligence Agency, the vast majority of the war crimes in those years were committed by Bosnian Serbs.

Radovan Karadžic is expected to be extradited to the International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague.

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