Ratko Mladic arrest in Serbia grips Europe's media

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The long-awaited arrest of Europe's most wanted fugitive, former Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladic, has gripped nations across the Balkans and beyond.

Gen Mladic has been indicted for genocide, including the massacre of at least 7,500 unarmed Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim) men and boys at Srebrenica in 1995. Dutch UN troops in Srebrenica did not manage to protect the civilians.

There is a general mood in European media that Serbia has finally ended a dark chapter with this dramatic arrest. Here is a selection of media comments from around Europe.

SERBIA - Politika (pro-government broadsheet newspaper)

The biggest obstacle on Serbia's European path is surmounted: undisguised, but aged to the point of being unrecognisable and with visible health problems such as stiffness of the left arm, Gen Ratko Mladic… was arrested.

A world-class event: Ratko Mladic in a cell...

Mladic did not put up resistance: asked by the police, he peacefully showed his ID under the name Milorad Komadic.

Serbia let years go by without arresting Ratko Mladic; nevertheless, it is never too late for a piece of good news...

The new Serbia, the one headed by [President] Tadic, has demonstrated that it is ready to face its fate. Current events show that it is also ready to steer this fate in a proper way.

There was no person in the streets of Lazarevo yesterday who was not bitter that it was their village which was marked out as the last stop in Gen Mladic's concealment. They are convinced that this is all a huge fraud and that the best-known Hague indictee had been brought to the house in 2 Vuk Karadzic Street the night before the arrest.

The general for revenge, blood and tears... Goodbye, butcher!

Fulfilment of obligations towards the Hague tribunal... New era in Serbian-EU relations.

This is an opportunity for Serbia. Why did it all take so long?...

Serbian President Boris Tadic has shown strength and an ability to keep the situation under control.

Mladic's arrest will not bring anyone back to life, but a trial can bring at least some satisfaction. The entire region cried: "Finally!"

Ratko Mladic at that time brutally forced the Netherlands to face the facts. Sometimes it takes aggression to stop you standing powerless in the face of barbarism.

After 16 years, the images are still painful to see... The peasant Serb general confronted the civilised Netherlands with his moral arrogance. The Netherlands was proud of its lack of militarism. The Dutch battalion troops were no Rambos, not like the American soldiers, but warriors for justice and peace.

Image caption,
Many commentators say the arrest has improved Serbia's chances of joining the EU

The message sent to criminals on the run is unequivocal. Even 15 years after the events, there is no statute of limitations for war crimes or genocide. This is an important signal that strengthens the international criminal courts...

Mladic being on the run and the support within the armed forces that made it easier were a major obstacle on Belgrade's road to Brussels...

Mladic's arrest isn't everything, but it does give a substantial political boost to rapprochement between Belgrade and Europe.

The arrest of the greatest European criminal since World War II, Ratko Mladic... is down to the [European] Union, its model, its values of justice and freedom, its force of attraction and the persistence of its diplomats...

Haunted by the threat of decline, Europeans tend to forget this truth, of which the Serbs dramatically remind us: the "European model" is still the ultimate reference for all those who aspire to development and freedom.

Mladic's arrest is very important for the Serbian authorities as the situation around the wanted general was one of the main barriers on the country's path to the European Union.

The Belgrade government faced heavy pressure from the West to hand over war criminals. After the wrenching of Kosovo away from them, European Union membership was the only option for the Republic of Serbia. However, the only obstacle in the way of that was the handing over of Mladic - who is still a "hero" for many people - to the war crimes court.

(Quotes provided by BBC Monitoring, Caversham Park, Reading, UK.)

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