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  Milosevic in the Hague: What it Means for Yugoslavia and the Region

media release

Milosevic in The Hague: What it Means for the FRY

Belgrade/Brussels, 6 July 2001: Slobodan Milosevic’s appearance before the International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague this week was an historic and cathartic moment for the Western Balkans. The International Crisis Group welcomes the bold and positive action by the Serbian authorities in transferring the former President to face war crimes charges. But this momentous event has also exposed the deep structural problems of the Yugoslav Federation and in the short term has precipitated the sense of crisis rather than ending it.

In a new briefing paper published today, “Milosevic in The Hague: Background and Implications”, ICG provides an authoritative account of the events leading to Milosevic’s transfer, and analysis of its consequences. Already the government of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) has collapsed, and the ruling Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS) coalition is so divided and traumatised that it may not survive. FRY President Vojislav Kostunica is trying to form a new federal government, but this may be impossible without new elections, the results of which are highly uncertain.

In this context, ICG notes a striking development – the growth of pro-independence sentiment among Serbs themselves. Previously the pressure for independence had come from Montenegro, however all that seems to hold the federation together now is Serb concern about the legal implications for Kosovo. The shock of Milosevic’s transfer may yet alter both Montenegrin and Serbian politics.

“The need to reshape the Yugoslav federation has never been more urgent,” said Mark Thompson, ICG’s Balkans Program Director. “If the EU, U.S. and FRY prove unable to redefine the policies and roles of Serbia and Montenegro in a meaningful manner, the dissolution of the “third Yugoslavia” will not be long in coming.”

Milosevic’s arrival in The Hague will also have a wider impact on the region. International pressure on Croatia to deliver indictees will increase, and the prospect of Bosnian Serbs Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic also facing justice seem better than ever.

However the donor countries who approved more than a billion dollars in aid to Yugoslavia following Milosevic’s transfer must not lose sight of the fact that there are dozens of other indictees still at large in Serbia and Republika Srpska. Belgrade must improve its cooperation with the international community in both Bosnia and Kosovo if aid is to continue to flow.

ICG analysts are available for interview
Contacts: Katy Cronin, Sascha Pichler at ICG Brussels +32 2 536 00 64 or 70 [email protected]
This briefing and all other ICG publications are available on our website www.crisisweb.org


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