Mladiću moj, problem je tvoj

The daily paper Danas is reporting today that the hiding place of Ratko Mladić, under indictment since 1995, is known to the government, to ICTY, and to journalists who are declining to release it beyond saying that it is «a large city in the interior of Serbia.» That his hiding place is known to people in power will probably not come as much of a surprise, but the news is coming out after a period of publicity surrounding new evidence, which many people are interpreting as preparation for Mladić's quick arrest. Authorities are denying the report, with Rasim Ljajić, head of the national council for cooperation with the Hague, observing that «the impression is created that we know where Mladic is, that we have known all along, but do not want to extradite him.» You don't say.

Thanks to loyal reader FB for pointing me to the BBC report by Matt Prodger which quotes an unnamed journalist making what will probably be a reliable prediction: «If Mladic were arrested tomorrow, there would be a huge outpouring of national outrage - from a handful of people.» For more perspective, have a look at the June issue of Republika, which has several articles on the subject (with thanks to Filaloganoga for the reference in the comments to an earlier post).

Serbia to Sapporo, let Kirin fend for itself

Okay, this offering from AR has to be the last word on the territorial ambitions ranging from the deep Balkans to the Japanese archipelago:

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

This one comes from an exhibition by the artist Aleksandar Dimitrijević at the Contemporary Art Institute of Sapporo. Which must be a sister city of Nikšić.


More grafitti news

Seen on the wall of the train station in Petrovaradin:

Србија до Токија, преко Милвокија
(or if you prefer: Serbia to Tokyo, by way of Milwaukee)

Yugo, girl!

Whitewash against whitewash

I am familiar enough with Belgrade's grafitti campaigns, usually from the far right, or that part of it unable to print posters, scrawling expressions of support for their favorite indictee (the spots where people changed «Šešelj srpski junak» to «Šešelj srpski šupak» and «Šešelj srpski junac» are personal favorites). Since I am arriving there tonight, I do not know how widespread the slogans pictured below (declaring «Scorpions Serbian heroes» and «Ten years since the liberation of Srebrenica») are.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

The photos (courtesy of the mighty B92) show the grafitti being painted over in white by members of the Democratic Youth. Thanks to AR for bringing them to my attention.


Feast Ethnia

Credit has to go to the mysterious R Byrne for suggesting a guest blogger in the first place. I am (almost) back, but the really good news is that Teekay has agreed to remain. Follow the unique mixture of Northwestern (or is it New English) laconicity and Alpine precision as East Ethnia develops into your very squishy Balkan brain trust.

Prime minister tells foreign minister to get lost

...and about time it was.

Prime Minister Adnan Terzic of Bosnia and Herzegovina today dismissed the country's Foreign Minister, Mladen Ivanic, by accepting a resignation Ivanic had tendered in December last year. The move came amid mounting indications that early elections might be called to solve political gridlock.

The government has been in permanent crisis over a range of issues for months, most recently appointments to new central-level security forces. Its reform program also came under pressure when the EU put moves towards closer integration on hold due to Republika Srpska's refusal to consider a central police force whose administrative regions would not coincide with the current boundaries between the two "entities" that make up Bosnia.

Ivanic, who represents a supposedly moderate Serb party, has vowed to continue with his duties and disputes that the premier can sack him without parliamentary approval, according to press reports. Ivanic's party issued a statement that read in part, "The self-proclaimed and self-styled prime minister of Bosnia-Hercegovina, Adnan Terzic, in his sheer desire to build
Bosnia-Hercegovina for himself and one nation [i.e., the Muslims or Bosnjaks], is without any reservation violating the Bosnia-Hercegovina Constitution and the Law on the Council of Ministers forgetting about the scope and responsibilities of his post."

Terzic said the dismissal was necessary because Ivanic was obstructing government appointments, forcing the international high representative to step in. BH Radio 1 on 7 June quoted Terzic as saying that it would be "disastrous for Bosnia" to "forcibly and thoughtlessly strip the high representative of his Bonn competences," which allow him to sack officials whose activities obstruct implementation of the Dayton accords.

The Bonn powers have come under pressure from several sides; applied in a more transparent manner, they still seem to be quite necessary. What will those say who've been maintaining that the high rep was nothing but a foreign interloper and that Bosnia's politicians were perfectly capable of dealing with the issues on their own? Maybe they can find some silly quote from Hobbes or Machiavelli to support their position?

Ivanic, by the way, is a little p. of s. (That's my personal, unscientific, and quite possibly libelous view.) Foreigners have fallen for his passable English, good manners, intellectual pretense, and measured words for much too long.

Povratak otpisanog

Hello to the distinguished readers of East Ethnia from Budapest, which is still lovely but where it seems the bars now close at 12. Tomorrow I make my way to Belgrád from whence I will slowly resume blogging duties. Not just I, but also the two loyal readers I dined with last night, think that Teekay did a fantastic job in my absence. The coverage of the Srebrenica tape here has been some of the best material in English on the net.

For my part, what I learned while shepherding 17 students on a tour of Czech and Polish concentration camps over the past couple of weeks has been:

✮The utility of the Naški language diminishes in direct relation to how far north one has travelled.

✮Students are always happy to engage in a comparative discussion of atrocity memorials using sponsorship as an independent variable.

✮The sort of sleeping accommodations provided to students remain every bit as sketchy as they were when I was a student.

Other things I remain uncertain about, especially the most important ones.


Tape questions

In my last post, I asked a few questions relating to the videotape that was shown at the Milošević trial last week. Some of them have now been answered by Nataša Kandić, the human rights lawyer who brought the tape to light, in an interview with Senad Hadžifejzović of Bosnian TV Hayat during his news show Saturday night. (Additional information can be found in an article in today's Observer by Tim Judah and Daniel Sunter that explains the trajectory of the tape from its production all the way to the courtroom and TV.) Kandić said Del Ponte's reference to "additional tapes" that would be shown at The Hague was in fact to additional footage on the same tape, which runs to around two hours. One bit shows Legija and the Scorpion guy discussing executions near Cazin, where they were "fighting" on the side of renegade Muslim warlord Fikret Abdić. (Their talk about the "delivery of packages" leaves little to the imagination.) One important bit of information Kandić gave was that the prisoners from Srebrenica were brought all the way to Trnovo, where some sort of military operation -- probably diversionary -- was taking place, in order for them to appear as casualties of fighting rather than execution. (I'm not sure to what extent this would apply to other prisoners who were brought for execution to other locations around Srebrenica.)

What becomes clear from all this is that the Scorpions seem to have been a highly effective killing machine -- while I'm weary of comparisons with the Holocaust, they do appear as some sort of roaming Einsatzgruppe that would go wherever their services were needed.