The arrest of General Mladic is a shameful page in Serbian history. Politicians are remembered for their deeds. Besides, the following generations of people will often remember different events than those that politicians distinguished themselves by. For instance, Milos Obrenovic, who did much to secure Serbian autonomy in the 19th century, is remembered for his killing the leader of the First Serbian Uprising, Karageorge, who was actually his political rival. Slobodan Milosevic will be remembered for his courageous struggle as he tried to defend the honour and dignity of Serbia and the Serbs at Tribunal hearings at a time when the entire western world tried to demonize him as dictator and murderer. And there are many more examples of this kind. The incumbent Serbian President, Boris Tadic, is a feeble politician that chose to extradite Radovan Karadzic and General Ratko Mladic to The Hague for legal lynching.
The entire world is singing hallelujah to the victory over the criminal of global proportions. In Sarajevo, he was called “a Hitler Nazi”; in Zagreb, the murderer of hundreds of Croats; Turkey demands that he be immediately executed, while Australian television tells their audiences about the way he made parents eat their own children.
Serbian politicians are jubilant on the assumption that they have surmounted the last barrier on their way “to Europe”, but the independent Serbian news media point to the dark side of and betrayal by the disgraced top-echelon politicians. Serbian patriots take to the streets in many cities, marketplaces is where the arrest of Mladic is currently being discussed and assessed, and you will never hear a word of approval of the authorities’ move! Belgrade remains packed with police, which means that the government is aware of how the people feel about their betrayal.
The world is gushing and exulting with joy without bothering to fathom out the essence of what is happening. People have barbaric notions cudgelled into their heads that Serbs are guilty of all that happened in the Balkans. Few will really know of actual occurrences. We studied the events in the Balkans; we know documented facts, political and military leaders, and the chronology of developments; we do know what actually happened during the breakup of Yugoslavia, and we wrote a lot about General Mladic and his inner circle. We are also aware of the political reasons for setting up the Tribunal, and of the anti-Serbian campaign, launched by many European and world centres.
The struggle that is being waged around the General is a struggle of good and evil, of patriotism and treachery, loyalty to one’s duty and unscrupulousness, military honour and disgrace. Ratko Mladic has long since become legend… The Daily Telegraph has included him on the list of 30 best-known military leaders of this day and age, adding in a comment that many army officers who had talks with him see him as a genius of tactics, albeit a “madman”. Throughout the war, politicians, reporters and, above all, the military, – the blue-beret peacekeepers, tried hard to secure a meeting with him. The enemy feared him, while Serbs idolized him for his reputation for honest dealing, military professionalism, courage and fidelity to his country, and also humaneness. Mladic often said that his guiding principles were dignity, honour, faith and freedom. Whenever the General could, he saved people, whether Serbs, or Croats, or Muslims.
I met the General on several occasions. He has a memory like sponge and knows a lot about Russian poets and writers. Ratko Mladic is a wonderful storyteller. He graphically reproduced the details of a dinner with an English lord, of his meeting with a US military attaché on the staircase of the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow, and conversations with French Generals. He is simple to deal with, he is clever, well-educated, knows his worth, he is a high-calibre military professional, and yet his life philosophy is akin to that of an ordinary peasant. His life philosophy is quite simple: the people of Serbia went through untold suffering throughout their history, survived genocide on several occasions but always forgave their malefactors, and were kind and well-wishing with regard to their neighbours. The Serbs had never actually believed that the tragedy might repeat itself. In that war, the people of Serbia are again suffering, are again subjected to genocide. “I will do my best to prevent this from ever happening again. The Serbian people in Bosnia-Herzegovina will live in an independent state”. When I talked about him with his officers and men, I realized that they not just liked him, but actually idolized him. His war-fighting skills instilled hope in Bosnian Serbs for the creation of their own state. And that is precisely how it all worked out. Today Respublika Srpska in Bosnia-Herzegovina is around thanks only to the policy of Radovan Karadzic and the war-fighting skills of General Ratko Mladic. His troops’ love for him and his entire people’s strong belief in him made him convinced of his right cause.
I am very sorry that today’s Serbian government has, in a bid to please those who destroyed and tried to do away with Yugoslavia, organized a round-up of the man whom it should have glorified as a national hero, described as the winner and seen as a true defender of Fatherland.
The purpose of the unseemly move is clear, with all Serbian political quarters elaborating on it since the arrest of Mladic. Today’s Belgrade is prepared to extradite Mladic in exchange for Serbia’s EU membership. My foot it gets it. The Europeans and Americans have still many conditions up their sleeve that Belgrade will be urged to meet shortly. One of these is recognition of the independence of Kosovo. Several days ago, the US Ambassador to Kosovo, Christopher Dell, said that accepting the reality of an independent Kosovo is a precondition for considering Serbia’s joining the European Union. This will be followed by a whole list of other conditions, such as the independence of Vojvodina, autonomy for Serbia’s southern districts, joining NATO etc. etc.