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FRI, 20 APR 2001 00:41:22 GMT

Milosevic’s Arrest: Joy for Slovenia

The news that Slobodan Milosevic had been arrested was received with enormous satisfaction in Ljubljana

AIM Ljubljana, April 7, 2001

Since most of the journals are not published on Sundays, the news about the operation of the arrest of Slobodan Milosevic was carried primarily by electronic media (only in regular news shows, unlike Croatian TV 1 which had a special news show in which only this was reported and weather forecast). In fact, on Friday majority of Slovenian dailies and their commentators were still estimating that it was quite possible that Serbian authorities would very quickly “deliver the leader to The Hague”.

After the information on the arrest had been confirmed, the first to react was Milosevic’s colleague from the former joint presidency and the current Slovenian President Milan Kucan. Kucan welcomed the news and expressed conviction that “the new democratic political and judicial administration in Serbia is capable of defining a policy that will be a recognisable alternative to Greater Serbian concept cruelly pursued by Milosevic’s regime”, which would enable Djindjic’s administration to accelerate Serbia’s return “among European democratic peoples”; which is also a reason for “Slovenia to rejoice and support Serbia in this”.

That is why the “arrest of Slobodan Milosevic is a warning to all those in the world who think that they can toy with the destiny of the people and nations unpunished, and jeopardise security in the world”, added Milan Kucan in the end. The comments in the media were similar. “How typical! Early morning hours. Milosevic with a gun in his hands... Threats that he would commit suicide and kill his own family. The posture of a merchant who trades with life and death. A few shots in the air. And then surrender”, that is how Milosevic’s arrest was retold from an armchair in Ljubljana by Mitja Mersol, Editor-in-Chief of Delo. He estimated that in case Milosevic’s journey did not go on to the Hague, it would perhaps be “pleasing for the Balkan bargaining sense”, but “justice and history” would not be satisfied.

The editor of the commentary in Delo and former correspondent from Belgrade (a decade and a half ago) Boris Jez reminded that March 31 was at the same time the date when “precisely ten years ago the war on the territory of former Yugoslavia began with the first victims on Croatian and the Serb side – in Plitvice”. Jez concludes: “Just a few hours later Milosevic was actually taken to prison. However, the background of the arrest better than any other former contradictory complaints of official Belgrade confirms that international demands were indeed founded that the former Serb ‘leader’ be tried for crimes committed against other peoples exclusively in the Hague. It was obviously exaggerated to expect that after September 24 last year, and then the unrest on October 5 and elections on December 23 Serbia and Yugoslavia would resolutely return to the road to democracy. Because among those who voted against Milosevic and his party were also those who were disappointed with his defeat in the battlefields of Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Kosovo, and especially the loss of the “cradle of Serbdom” – Kosovo, where his political ascent had begun, but also his political fall in the end of the nineties. Now he is reproached for it both by those who are in power and who look upon Milosevic as if he could have resided in Brussels or Washington. That is the true background of the known Kostunica’s statement that the White Court (in Belgrade) and the White House were to blame for the Serb misfortune”, concluded Boris Jez.

The Dnevnik daily from Ljubljana estimates that “Milosevic’s arrest is the result of statements given by his former most intimate associate Mihalj Kertes. “Former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic, the great architect of the bloody events in the Balkan in the past ten years, was arrested and imprisoned yesterday in Belgrade without the use of force, after 26 hours of offering resistance to the attempts of the police to take him to the judge under suspicion that he had abused power... Milosevic’s last battle will be legal... Such a denouement, against the consequences of which it had warned more than ten years ago – where Milosevic’s ways were leading – can be interpreted by Slovenia as recognition of its own decisions made at the time when, failing to understand the developments on the territory of multiethnic Yugoslavia, many reproached it for selfishness”, Dnevnik comments.

Mirko Lorenci from Maribor Vecer daily asks the question how it is possible that a man “who used just a few sparingly uttered words” for so long “fooled majority of the Serbs and a large part of the international community?” And furthermore: “What has he done in his career that was do ‘great’? He started and lost the wars in Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Kosovo and even in Macedonia now, in which – and in concentration camps – hundreds of thousands of victims died, and then he had to give in because of bombing by the NATO. He has left behind millions of his impoverished compatriots, and states which hardly deserve to be called that, he has also left behind a pile of signed peace and other agreements which he has never implemented and for which he deserves the title of the ‘master of political deception’”, writes Lorenci.

In his assessment of Milosevic’s role, historian Dr Bozo Repe stresses that “Milosevic might have fallen because of American disappointment, because he refused to play the way they wanted it”. And had he obeyed the USA “they would have considered him a peace-maker as Holbrooke made it clear in one of his latest interviews; in one way or another he could have bought a peaceful old age for himself”. One should not doubt that Repe is convinced that Milosevic “must go to the Hague”, because “the Serbs have no right to put him on trial on their own, just because of some financial embezzlement”.

The most interesting estimate what will happen to Slobodan Milosevic was the one made by Yugoslav sociologist Vladimir Goati in the latest Saturday issue of Delo. His thesis on the “latent suicidal syndrome” was known back in 1989 already when he compared the fact that both Milosevic’s parents had committed suicide with the fact that Tudjman’s step-mother and step-father had also done it. “In 1991 after bombing of the presidential palace, I made a psychological robot of Milosevic. My thesis was that his road was predictable because he was sentenced to self-destruction, physical or political suicide. When he declared that nobody would take him to prison alive I believed in the truthfulness of that prediction. The decisive element why he did not kill himself was most probably the presence of his wife and daughter in the villa. Had he been alone – he would have probably killed himself. In the period until his extradition to The Hague he will most probably either kill himself or be killed because he is an unpleasant witness. The credibility of his testimony is questionable, because he is not a valid source”, Vladimir Goati concludes.

Svetlana Vasovic

(AIM Ljubljana)