Playing "where's Ratko?" again

So the domestic media have quieted down a bit on the wait for the arrest of Ratko Mladić. But international media have moved in to fill the gap. First the Sunday Times reported on ongoing negotiations for Mladić's surrender, now the International Herald Tribune has joined in (see, of course, B92 for the full story). It does not help that the government is denying everything, since they would have to deny it whether it is true or not. But as outward signs that something is happening, look at the arrest of 11 Srebrenica suspects in RS and the revival of claims by right-wing parties about an "anti-Serbian campaign" led by NGOs. Signs from outside can be misleading, of course. The last time I saw large numbers of riot police on the streets, I had already begun speculating by the time I overheard three of them complaining to each other about what a waste it was to bring them out for a sports match.

Shock and huh

It's been slow blogging for me this week as I have been preparing texts for other people. One of them is now out, a piece for TOL on what appear to be the effects of the "Scorpions video" (not to be confused the video for the mediocre old heavy metal tune "Rock me like a hurricane," and no, there will be no bitterly pointing out from me that it is possible to distinguish between things that rock and things that blow). The others may be a while out, but it is all a part of the effort to use my short time here as intensively as possible.


Headline of the day

Dutch troops still traumatized by Bosnia
THE HAGUE, Netherlands | June 22, 2005 5:11:47 PM IST
Forty percent of Dutch soldiers who served in Srebrenica during the Bosnian war needed psychological help after the massacre, reports Radio Netherlands.
Poor things! It must have been really hard on them to abandon the people of Srebrenica and leave them at the mercy of General Mladic and his associates. My heart goes out to them.


Welcoming a new Euro blog

There is a new blog in the neighborhood, the European Tribune. It is modelled after the popular US political blog Daily Kos, which heaven knows has inspired any number of new entrants into this interesting medium. For now it seems to focus mostly on the part of Europe closer to St. Tropez than to Petrovac na moru, but maybe if enough of the readers of the Balkan blogs join up this could be shifted an inch or so.


A European time-out?

Olli Rehn, the EU's enlargement commissioner, has an op-ed in yesterday's Paris edition of the Times.

The piece begins by describing the doom and gloom that's enveloped the Brussels club after the Franco-Dutch slap of a few weeks ago, and this week's failed summit.

It then dives into the matter by stating,
Certainly we need to pace ourselves after last year, when 10 new members joined the Union.
The rest is very much along those rather surprising lines. The tenor is one of sauve-qui-peut enlargement -- we'll take a big leap (RO, BG, maybe HR) so we can retreat better (TR, the rest of the Balkans). We'll be proactive now so we can slack later.

Check this:
We have to take into account the concerns of those who consider that enlargement is moving too fast. Since the enlargement agenda is already stretched to its limits, we must be very cautious about taking on new commitments. But the EU was founded on the principle of sticking to one's word.
This means that Bulgaria and Romania will join the Union in 2007, if they fulfil the conditions. It also means that accession negotiations will start with Croatia and Turkey once the two countries meet the strict criteria.
Translation: we'll let them in because we signed all the papers already but after that the door will close. In fact, the entire piece -- despite referencing the Western Balkans -- only mentions the four countries with which there's some sort of formalized ties already: RO, BG, HR, and TR.

The only other place mentioned is Kosovo because the EU realizes that this is the problem to tackle this year and next, but for purely instrumental reasons -- because the Kosovo Albanians, after years of peaceful resistance, have learned the lesson that being peaceful will get you no points while violence will help advance your agenda.

With Bosnia or Macedonia, let alone Albania, no such instrumental argument can be made, or at least not as convincingly as for Kosovo. That's why I think the European perspective has received a serious blow in these countries -- perhaps a fatal one.