Politicians comment on Karadžić bust

BELGRADE, BRUSSELS -- Government ministers and opposition parties have reacted to the arrest of Radovan Karadžić.

Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremić, DS, said this morning that the arrest was proof that Serbia is "serious when it comes to her European fate".

He was speaking in Brussels ahead of a meeting with EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn.

His party fellow Democrat Defense Minister Dragan Šutanovac said on Tuesday that the arrest of Radovan Karadžić shows that the new Serbian government is determined to honor its domestic and international legal obligations.

"With the arrest of Karadžić, we have jumped over a big hurdle on the pathway toward European integrations," Šutanovac said in a statement received by Tanjug.

"No-one can doubt any more that the government will uncompromisingly resolve the inherited problems," he said.

In spite of repeated calls for his voluntary surrender, Karadžić was detained, the defense minister said.

"I appeal to the remaining indictees to surrender themselves voluntarily, because that is in the interests of the state as well as in their own interests," the minister said.

Šutanovac congratulated everyone who took part in what he called this big and important state task "absolutely aware of the fact that the Hague Tribunal has recently failed to demonstrate that it treats all crimes equally and in a just manner", the statement said.

Speaker Slavica Đukić-Dejanović, SPS, spoke about her party's press release in the wake of the news that one of the two most wanted war crimes fugitives was in custody in Belgrade.

She said the procedure was "difficult", but that "international and domestic law must be respected".

The SPS statement also adds that this party, now in a power-sharing deal with the coalition gathered around the DS in the Serbian government, "still opposes extradition of Serbian citizens although the cooperation with the Hague Tribunal is Serbia's international obligation, while amendments to laws and constitutional solutions since 2000 have created possibilities for extraditions".

"The SPS will consider the circumstance under which Karadžić was arrested and will ask that the public be acquainted with information about the duration of his stay in Serbia under control of the security services."

The Socialists also said that they will not allow themselves to be "subject of political manipulation" since "all the parties in the previous government also supported full cooperation with the Hague, including extraditions".

While in opposition since 2000, the SPS was vehemently opposed to this cooperation.

Last night, the party said that Serbian police, MUP, now headed by SPS leader Ivica Dačić, "had nothing to do with locating and arresting Radovan Karadžić".

New Serbia (NS) leader Velimir Ilić, meanwhile, said that the arrest "came as a surprise", and added that the event represents "a step closer to the EU" for Serbia.

But, he wondered, "what will this EU bring to us".

"I believe the nations should declare itself on entering the EU, rather than one politician or one party doing that," the former infrastructure minister said.

"The Hague Tribunal has acquitted all those who were against Serbia. Ramush Haradinaj and some Croatian generals were set free, too. The Hague Tribunal has not been just when it comes to crimes committed against the Serbs. That court has not been honest toward Serbia," Ilić said.

"The last act of revolt for Serbia was to hide Karadžić and Mladić," he continued, and asked "why obligations toward Serbia are not being fulfilled, while the Serbian authorities fulfill theirs".

Serb Radical Party (SRS) Secretary General Aleksandar Vučić was more blunt in his reaction to the news to say that it is "horrible".

Vučić said Serbia was "on its way to disappear", because President Boris Tadić has started to "consolidate his dictatorship", using Karadžić's arrest "to return favor to those who have helped his form an unnatural government with the Socialists".

According to this SRS official, the first such favor was the return of recalled ambassadors to EU countries, the second the arrest last night, while the third will be "recognition of Kosovo within a year".

"Tadić has done all for Serbia to disappear and for people who are a symbol of patriotism to disappear," Vučić concluded.

Meanwhile, the Liberal-Democrats (LDP) welcomed the arrest in a statement issued in Belgrade, saying that it is "the only way to discover the full truth and face the crimes committed in the name of the citizens of Serbia".

This, according to the statement, is the only way for Serbia to move forward.

"The citizens of Serbia have for years been hostages of the Milošević policy and Hague fugitives who with their hiding jeopardized the interests of the people of Serbia. The arrest of Karadžić is the only way to discover the full truth," the LDP said.