Accused Serbian war criminal hailed as hero
The NY Times notes today that when accused Serbian war criminal Vladimir Lazarevic surrendered himself to the UN tribunal at The Hague last month, he was hailed in his own country as a national hero. Serbia's Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica hailed Gen. Lazarevic's decision to turn himself in as "patriotic, highly moral and honorable." The leader of the Serbian Orthodox Church gave him an audience and praised him as a defender of the nation. When he flew to The Hague, he was accompanied by Serbia's justice minister. Rights groups were aghast at such pomp for a man accused of overseeing the killing of 700 ethnic Albanians and the forcible expulsion of 800,000 more when he was military commander in Kosovo in 1999. (NYT, Feb. 14)
Meanwhile, Serbain President Boris Tadic visited Kosovo/a for the first time since the province became a UN protectorate six years ago. Illustrating the continued deep divisions there, he visited a Serb monestary which had been damaged in attacks by ethnic Albanians, and his motorcade was assaulted with eggs and rocks by hundreds of Albanian protesters. (B92, Belgrade, Feb. 14) The US-based Public International Law and Policy Group (PILPG), has drawn up a draft constitution for an independent Kosova. The fifty-page document, commissioned a year ago by Kosovo/a's then prime minister Bajram Rexhepi, is to be delivered this week to Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj and President Ibrahim Rugova. (B92, Feb. 14)
Supported by the occupied province's Albanian majority, independence is nearly certain to draw a violent response from Serbia, even under the "moderates" now in charge there. How long before this one goes back to the brink?