The United States has announced that it will withhold seven million dollars in assistance to the central government of Serbia for its failure to cooperate with the international war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. U.S. humanitarian and democracy-building aid will continue.
In 2005, after an initial decision to suspend assistance, the arrest and transfer to The Hague of over twelve fugitive indictees led U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to certify that Serbia was cooperating with the war crimes tribunal. Since then, there has been a lack of cooperation, particularly with regard to the apprehension of the former Serbian army commander and war crimes indictee Ratko Mladic.
Mladic is wanted for his role in the 1995 massacre of nearly eight-thousand Bosnian Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica. The murders were described by the war crimes tribunal as "the triumph of evil." Mladic was indicted for crimes against humanity in 1996. It appears that he was on the Serbian army's payroll as recently as 2002.
The U.S. has offered a reward of up to five million dollars for information leading to the arrest of Ratko Mladic. U.S. Ambassador to Serbia and Montenegro Michael Polt says, "It is time for the government of Serbia to make the right decision, to deliver Mladic to The Hague, and to free its citizens from this dark chapter of their past."
Another notorious fugitive indicted for war crimes is former Bosnian Serb President Radovan Karadzic. He is considered the architect of the Bosnian-Serb policy of ethnic cleansing against Bosnian Muslims during the mid-1990s.
Secretary of State Rice said, "America's position is clear and uncompromising. Every Balkan country must arrest its indicted war criminals, or it will have no future in NATO." The United States would like to strengthen its relations with Serbia and help it make further progress towards full integration into the Euro-Atlantic community. But Serbia must meet its international obligations and arrest those indicted by the war crimes tribunal.
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.