The arrest of Ratko Mladic is a welcome development that should remove the last major obstacle to closer relations between Serbia and the United States and the EU nations. For too long, the Western powers have placed an excessive emphasis on his apprehension as a condition (explicit or implicit) for Serbia’s full inclusion in the Western community.
If the objections now continue, Serbs will understandably conclude that the Mladic issue was little more than a convenient excuse that Western governments used to justify a less-than-friendly policy toward Belgrade. An expected improvement in relations now that Mladic has been apprehended is especially pertinent with respect to Serbia’s path toward membership in the European Union.
The arrest will have little substantive impact on prospects for reconciliation in Bosnia-Herzegovina or anywhere else in the former Yugoslavia, however. The trend in Bosnia over the past year or so is toward renewed tensions rather than reconciliation, and that trend is being driven by factors that have little to do with the Mladic issue.