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South Slavic: August 12, 2004

12 August 2004, Volume 6, Number 27


Part I.

A program by Srdjan Kusovac of RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service.

Some of the Hague-based war crimes tribunal's most-wanted indictees might soon arrive there for pretrial detention. Information about alleged ongoing negotiations is being leaked to the media across the region. Many Western officials have stressed recently that extradition is a precondition both for the further European integration of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia and Montenegro, and for permission from The Hague for any country in the region to try some war criminals in its own courts.

If negotiations are indeed under way, who is taking part? What do the intelligence services know about it? Are the intelligence services of Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Serbia and Montenegro working together on this? Will regional forces be willing and able to overpower the security guards of the indictees? With us to discuss these issues are: Neven Kazazovic, military analyst from Sarajevo; Zoran Dragicic, assistant professor at the Faculty of Civil Defense in Belgrade; and Vlatko Cvrtila, professor at the Faculty of Political Sciences in Zagreb and head of the Croatian parliamentary Council for Security Services Oversight.

RFE/RL: The first issue is where former Bosnian Serb General Ratko Mladic, former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, and former Croatian General Ante Gotovina are hiding. The next question is whether the authorities of the respective secret services know where they are. Neven Kazazovic says that each of the three is being protected and hidden differently.

Neven Kazazovic: Karadzic and Mladic should be discussed separately, since the forces that protect them are not the same.

From the very beginning of the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina [in 1992], Karadzic sought to build up the police as his own private army of sorts. This naturally led to rivalry with the army. [Editor's note: this development mirrored what Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic had already begun in Belgrade.]

On the other hand, Mladic was a professional soldier paid by the headquarters of the Yugoslav Army [VJ]. Although it was his 30th Regiment that officially protected him, he was also under the protection of military intelligence, or, if I may say so, the VJ's secret forces assigned to special and secret intelligence operations.

RFE/RL: Might these and other secret services try to prevent any extradition of indicted war criminals?

Zoran Dragisic: These services are subject to civilian supervision, which is not much different from the situation in other countries. They cannot simply do as they please.

As far as the negotiations are concerned, the main decision lies not with the security forces but with the top political leadership in each country. They are the only ones who can make promises and deliver.

RFE/RL: According to some media reports, some of the fugitives are able to cross state borders with no trouble at all and then disappear without a trace. So can one assume that the intelligence services of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, and Serbia and Montenegro are working together in order to catch the indictees?

Vlatko Cvrtila: It is quite possible, since cooperation with the Hague tribunal is one of the biggest issues for the entire region. For years, some of the governments seem to have dragged their feet because of domestic political pressures. Now it looks that those days are largely over, and that international pressures to cooperate with the tribunal are the governments' main concern....

As for the intelligence agencies, links between them are stronger than those between their respective governments. Some of those agencies even cooperated during the war -- when they were supposedly enemies -- if it was in their interest to do so....

RFE/RL: If negotiations are taking place, who is taking part?

Kazazovic: Most likely foreigners, probably because they do not trust the authorities in Bosnia-Herzegovina to do so. Negotiations are probably going on with Karadzic, and the foreigners seem to know where he is. They keep an eye on him from a distance, even if they have yet to catch him.

RFE/RL: In that case, what might happen next?

Kazazovic: We are waiting for their final decision. What would it mean for the Americans to catch Karadzic towards the end of their election campaign? That would be an important achievement, even though the average American voter does not have the faintest idea who Karadzic might be. The [Americans] have their calculations and interests, so who are we to get involved?

As for Mladic, the situation in Serbia is undergoing a radical change, and I think they are negotiating with him, too.