Dejan Anastasijevic: Yes, and I believe it will be. The bottom line is that the decision about sending Milosevic to The Hague won't be Kostunica's to make. It's in the hands of the judiciary, and most of them don't think like Kostunica. In fact, Kostunica is isolated even among the politicians of the post-Milosevic Yugoslavia most other senior politicians accept in principle that Milosevic will be sent to The Hague at some point.
Kostunica's comments reflect his own nationalist outlook and his sense of national dignity, which doesn't include sending people for trial in The Hague. But more importantly, they're part of a practical rivalry between himself and Zoran Djindjic, the current prime minister of Serbia who will almost certainly face off against Kostunica for the federal presidency in the next election. Kostunica's positions on this issue reflect his desire to win the hearts and minds of the people who voted for Milosevic in the last election. He'll need to win every vote he can get, and he may be trying to sell himself to Milosevic voters as an acceptable replacement. And he can't do that by delivering people to The Hague. Even if he's able to delay it, however, Kostunica's resistance won't be enough to keep Milosevic in Serbia.
The fact that Milosevic was arrested to coincide with a deadline required by U.S. lawmakers for the release of $50 million in aid has prompted some in the West to consider bringing new demands on Serbia making delivering him to The Hague the price for further economic aid. Would this work?
In the short term, it might actually be counterproductive. The authorities have a ready-made excuse in that they don't yet even have the laws passed to allow Milosevic to be sent to The Hague, and they want to try him in Serbia first. Even Carla Del Ponte, the chief prosecutor of The Hague tribunal, has said she doesn't expect to see him there for the next two months. But pressure will certainly increase as the year drags on. Many people in the government are very much aware of how desperately Serbia needs foreign money, and to reschedule its massive debt. Serbia owes $18 billion, which is a lot of money for a country of this size. This is an area where the U.S. has Serbia over a barrel. They can destroy the economy by simply refusing to reschedule the debt. So ultimately, if Belgrade fails to deliver him, the West will find it easy to pressure them into backing down.
Milosevic was initially arrested for corruption. Are the charges against him multiplying?
Already they've raised the possibility of charging him with resisting arrest and inciting his security guards to attack the police. There may be further charges, too. And, of course, we've seen the outline of his defense, which his lawyer set out in his failed appeal against his arrest. He will argue that he never stole any money, but he admits diverting funds to provide military and humanitarian aid to Serbs in Bosnia and Croatia. And also to fill holes in Serbian economy. The court will have to prove that he diverted funds for his personal gain. He says he was not motivated by greed. But prosecutors will say using state money to fund his own party is bad enough. It will be an interesting trial. He's already confessed to breaking several laws; the debate will be about his motives.