Western leaders hail ‘historic’ arrest

Politicians and regional figures say arrest of Bosnian Serb general offers chance for justice over 1992-5 conflict.

Ratko Mladic arrest
Ratko Mladic, indicted over the Srebrenica massacre of 8,000 Muslims, had been in hiding for years [REUTERS]

Western and regional leaders have welcomed the arrest of Ratko Mladic, the Bosnian Serb general accused of genocide during the 1992-95 Bosnian war.

Barack Obama – The US president

Today is an important day for the families of Ratko Mladic’s many victims, for Serbia, for Bosnia, for the United States, and for international justice. 

While we will never be able to bring back those who were murdered, Mladic will now have to answer to his victims, and the world, in a court of law.

On this important day, we recommit ourselves to supporting ongoing reconciliation efforts in the Balkans and to working to prevent future atrocities.  Those who have committed crimes against humanity and genocide will not escape judgment.  

May the families of Mladic’s victims find some solace in today’s arrest, and may this deepen the ties among the people of the region.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen – NATO secretary-general

Almost 16 years since his indictment for genocide and other war crimes, his arrest finally offers a chance for justice to be done.

Gen. Mladic played a key role in some of the darkest episodes of Balkan and European history, including the siege of Sarajevo and the massacre of thousands of Bosnian men and boys in Srebrenica in 1995.

David Cameron – British prime minister

He is accused of the most appalling war crimes both in terms of what happened in Srebrenica but also in Sarajevo. There is a very good reason why the long arm of international law had been looking for him for so long.

Ben Rhodes, Deputy White House national security adviser

The United States looks forward to Mladic’s quick transfer to the UN tribunal at The Hague. The arrest showed that such criminals would be brought to justice.

Nicolas Sarkozy – French president

This is very good news, it’s very big news. This is … another step towards Serbia joining, one day soon, the European Union.

Catherine Ashton – European Union foreign policy chief

This is an important step forward for Serbia and for international justice.

We expect Ratko Mladic to be transferred to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia without delay. Full cooperation with the ICTY remains essential on Serbia’s path towards EU membership.

Ban Ki-moon – United Nations secretary general

The arrest of former Bosnian Serb wartime commander Ratko Mladic represents “an historic day” for international justice.

This is an historic day for international justice.

It marks an important step in our will to end impunity. I thank the Serbian government and president for their efforts.

Serge Brammertz – UN prosecutor

I welcome the arrest of Ratko Mladic … we await arrangements for his transfer to The Hague where he will stand trial before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

We recognise the work done by the Serbian authorities, specifically the National Security Council and Serbia’s Action Team, in apprehending Ratko Mladic.

Jose Manuel Barroso – The president of the European Commission

The arrest of Ratko Mladic is therefore a very positive development for the European Union, for Serbia’s neighbours, but most of all for the rule of law in Serbia itself. The families of his countless victims deserve justice.

Franco Frattini – Italian foreign minister

The arrest of former Bosnian Serb military chief Ratko Mladic on Thursday is “a turning point” that brings Serbia closer to the European Union.

This is a test of great democratic maturity for Serbia that brings it even closer to Europe and the European Union, a process that Italy has strongly encouraged and that will now have to be further accelerated.

This is a real turning point that we welcome.

Carl Bildt – Swedish foreign minister

Obviously highly important. We can start to close a tragic chapter in the history of Europe. I warmly congratulate President Tadic. I knew his determination to achieve this, and know how hard he worked for it. The European prospects of Serbia are now brighter than ever.

Liam Fox – British defence secretary

It’s clearly one that has to be welcomed. It gives the people of Serbia a chance to close, or at least begin to close, a very unhappy chapter in their history.

It’s a reminder to all those who fly in the face of international justice that sooner or later they will be brought to book for their crimes.

Jadranka Kosor – Croatian prime minister

The arrest of Ratko Mladic is a good news for all of us, for the whole world … It is a good news in the context of reaching eventual justice, stability and final peace in this part of the world.

We expect also the arrest of Goran Hadzic.

Croatia, as a victim of the aggressive policy of Slobodan Milosevic, welcomes Mladic’s arrest and also expects the arrest of Goran Hadzic.

This is good news for us, for this part of Europe and for the world, but also for all the victims of Milosevic’s destructive policy. This is also good news for regional stability and peace based on justice.

Hajredin Kuci – Kosovo deputy prime minister

This is a good signal for Serbia to regret the crimes that did happen, punish the perpetrators and close the chapter of confrontation and turn to the chapter of cooperation.

This is good news for world justice. It is good news for the families of the victims in the whole former Yugoslavia and this is a good signal that those who generated crisis and those who committed crimes will face justice.

Widney Brown – Senior director of international law at amnesty international

It took more than 15 years but at last the people who suffered have hope that he will be brought to justice.

The Serbian authorities need to renew their efforts to arrest the remaining indicted suspect General Goran Hadzic … and bring him to justice.

Munira Subasic – head of the Association of Mothers of Srebrenica

I want to congratulate Europe and Tadic. I’m sorry for all the victims who are dead and cannot see this day.

Source: News Agencies