Yesterday was a very good day. One of the most disgusting criminals of the last decades has been arrested and should be brought to justice soon. Ratko Mladic was a key operator in the ‘Balkan wars’ of the 1990s – Europe’s darkest moment after Nazi Germany. The arrest of Mladic should remind us of three things. Firstly, no matter how bad your actions, no matter how much of a safe haven you think you have – they will catch you at last. Secondly, the war and hate Mladic and his false friends have seeded in the western Balkans is far from overcome. Bosnia and Herzegovina is years away from a functioning state (let alone society) and too many conflicts remain unresolved. It is shocking how a war of a few years can destroy communities, societies, economies and very fundamental trust between neighbours within the same street for decades. Thirdly, and most importantly, the arrest of Mladic is not a day to celebrate. It is a reminder! – It should (but I wonder if it does) remind us that all what he has done could happen again if Yugoslavia were to break up today. Despite all talk and good intentions Europe (i.e. the EU) still lacks the very capacities and the inner trust it needs to prevent such disasters in the future. If there is any lesson to draw from Mladic’ arrest yesterday, then it is to become serious about a truly common foreign policy for Europe. The western Balkans still need it, the Caucasus needs it, the southern and eastern Mediterranean need it – and most importantly we EUropeans need it.
Film tip: My favourite (and most moving) film about the Bosnian war is the BBC’s semi-documentary ‘Warriors‘.