Two faces of Republika Srbija: the hopeful future, the shameful past

Just as Novak Djokovic showed off the best of Serbia with his Wimbledon win yesterday, so today the world saw the worst - war crimes suspect Ratko Mladic at The Hague.

Just as soon as Novak Djokovic showed the world the best Serbia has to offer, the engraving barely cold on his Wimbledon trophy, so the world witnessed the very worst: Bosnian Serb war crimes suspect Ratko Mladic back at the War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague, defiant, unrepentant, disruptive, unapologetic.

Today Mladic was removed from his hearing after quarrelling with the judge, the court entering a plea of not guilty on his behalf. He faces a total of 11 counts of genocide of Bosniaks and Bosnian Croats in Bosnia-Hercegovina and Srebrenica; persecutions; extermination and murder; deportation and inhumane acts; terror and unlawful attacks; and the taking of UN hostages.

He is charged in connection with the Srebrenica massacre – Europe’s single worst atrocity since World War Two – in which 7,500 Muslims were massacred, and is also charged over the 44-month siege of Sarajevo from May 1992 – in which 10,000 people died.

So, how easy will it be for new Serbia to consign Mladic, Slobodan Milosevic and Radovan Karadzic to the past? And what does the future hold for the Serbia of Djokovic and president Boris Tadic?

The arrest and prosecution of Mladic, and the determination of Tadic to face down the ultra-nationalists who protested his capture, will do much to accelerate Serbia’s rehabilitaion, removing one of the key barriers to accession to the European Union; Djokovic’s advance to the summit of the tennis world rankings, and his imperious dethroning of Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon the icing on the cake.

Certainly, the unreconstructed elements are still there, from the pro-Milosevic graffiti scrawled on walls in central Belgrade and the selling of Mladic t-shirts at Belgrade’s main train station, to the subtle distrust of foreigners – or at least those who obviously look like foreigners.

Yet in Tadic and Djokovic – the man every Serbian boy wants to be, and every Serbian girl wants to be with, whose visage adorns billboard after advert after magazine cover – the future is brighter for Serbia than perhaps it’s ever been, even more than after the fall of Milosevic a decade ago.

As Misha Glenny wrote in The Guardian recently:

“It was fitting that Serbia’s president, Boris Tadić, himself announced the arrest of Ratko Mladić in Belgrade. Nobody has put in a greater effort to run down the indicted war crimes suspect than Tadić… What Boris Tadić has done with Mladić is to take a huge step towards the moral rehabilitation of Serbs and Serbia whose reputation was so catastrophically compromised by the wars of the 1990s.

“He deserves our support and respect.”

Though one can never forget the horrors of Milosevic, Mladic and Karadzic, nor should, Serbia now is a much changed place, its leaders looking outwards, to the future, to Europe, to the world, where its favoured son now sits atop.

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60 Responses to “Two faces of Republika Srbija: the hopeful future, the shameful past”

  1. slobodan

    I have no idea what are you trying to prove with that video link. Nobody here disproves that the Srebrenica killings happened or that Mladic is more than likely to blame. What is your point? Do you even understand what was written to you this entire time by countless posters? Are you trying to spread anti-Serbian propaganda, cause that is the only reason why would you even link that video. Sad man, open your eyes already!

  2. beebo

    also get you facts straight on the “number of killed in sarajevo”;

  3. Freedom Seeker

    WHO CARES? Mladic is arrested and will rot in Jail… so Serbians and Serbs, get over it, your leader was a war criminal and he got punished.

    If you want to clean your past, just admit it happened and let’s move on with it.. Mladic is NO hero.. he is a CRIMINAL, on the other hand, Djokovic is and i agree with the article, he does represent a new face of Serbia.. NEXT!

  4. beebo

    obviously you care freedom seeker! when was Mladic “the leader of the serbs”? more lies, more propaganda by ignorant people. who here has said that Mladic is a “hero” on this board? you are as sick as the american generals who have invaded nations around the world and killed millions in the name of “democracy”. you freedom seeker are nothing more than a modern day racist nazi.

  5. Dragan

    Pozdrav za svim ljudima dobre volje iz Beograda.
    Citam sta pise gospodin Shamik ako ga tako mogu nazvati i ne mogu da verujem sta sve covek daje sebi za pravo da pise. Mi Srbi nismo cvecke ali nismo ni gori od ostalih naroda. Od nas su napravili cudovista i kasapine. Pustite nas ljudi da zivimo i pogledajte prvo sebe pa sudite drugima. Razumem ja da vam treba neko u koga cete upirati prst kako bi sebe uzdigli i opravdali sopstvene bolesne postupke ali dosta bre vise. Srbi ne mrze nikog i najveca glupost koju sam cuo je da u Beogrdu stranci nisu dobrodosli. Beograd je grad koji je uvek bio otvoren.

    Pozdrav svima!

  6. slobodan

    I love how ignorant some people are, like this “freedom seeker”. He has absolutely no idea what he is saying. God bless him.

  7. MrRevnitelj

    Alo bre. Olosu,Americki!
    Ako neko na ovoj zemaljskoj kugli treba da se stidi,to siguno nije Srbin i Srbija,vec ste to Vi i nacija koja je mladja od mog obora za stoku!
    Vi ste bre RAK u zdravom telu,za koji nema leka…ali , naci ce se lek i za Vas.
    Zapamtite,svako ko je Srbin je General Ratko Mladic! Pozdrav Srbima,PRAVOSLAVLJE ILI SMRT!

  8. Darko Petrovic

    Dear Shamik,

    I was referring to disorderly behaviour at The Hague Tribunal as a small incident, not the overall appearance of Mladic. Serbia has proven that it has already confronted the past with this, but going as far as saying that Serbs hold a “subtle distrust of foreigners – or at least those who obviously look like foreigners” and that we are only now ready to see what has happenned in the past is completely untrue. Serbs love having foreign visitors, and incidents occur just like in ANY nation in the world but are very rare. Additionally, lets not forget that Serbia tried to start an investigation into Albanian organ trade since 1999 but was blocked by the wonderfully “Democratic” United States. I guess the “Democratic” U.S. doesnt want to face some ugly things it has supported in the past.
    It is getting a bit ridiculous for us Serbs constantly reading articles posting about how we are the only perpetrators of violence in the 1990’s. Lets not forget the 3000 Serb civilians killed DAYS after Srebrenica.



  9. beebo

    here is a Norwegian documentary (in English) that shows what muslims from bosnia (investigative journalists, head of the bosnian army and officers) themselves have to say about the horrific actions muslim warlord Naser Oric and Bosnian president Izetbegovic took during the war. this clearly shows how over 1500 serbs were killed around srebrenica years before it fell;

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