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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
06BELGRADE750 2006-05-12 15:01:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Belgrade
Cable title:  

BETTER RHETORIC, LITTLE PROGRESS ON MLADIC HUNT

Tags:   PREL PGOV SR ICTY 
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This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BELGRADE 000750 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: CLOSURE OF ICTY
TAGS: PREL PGOV SR ICTY
SUBJECT: BETTER RHETORIC, LITTLE PROGRESS ON MLADIC HUNT

REF: A. BELGRADE 687


B. BELGRADE 738

C. BELGRADE-EUR/SCE EMAIL OF MAY 11

D. BELGRADE 745

Classified By: Ambassador Michael C. Polt, reasons 1.4 (b,c,d)



1. (c) Summary: Since the EU's May 3 decision to halt SAA
talks with SaM over the government's failure to hand over
Mladic to The Hague, the GoS' rhetoric against Mladic has
intensified, more Mladic supporters have been detained, and
police have staged more publicized raids of Mladic's family's
property. The efforts show a change in tactics, and a
long-overdue attempt by the government to de-glorify the
fugitive. Meanwhile, a number of senior officials tell us
Kostunica is committed to bringing Mladic in, but needs more
time to do it. This newfound determination, even if genuine,
has not yielded a result ) though those in charge of the
search operation tell us the increase in public pressure is
helping. End summary.

RHETORIC SHIFT



2. (u) Since the EU's May 3 lockdown on SAA negotiations
with SaM, the government's tack on ICTY cooperation has
changed noticeably. Following the decision, Kostunica began
using - for him - much stronger language to describe Mladic
as dishonorable and selfish (ref a) and has finally adopted
our long-held position that new deadlines are meaningless and
that Mladic needs to be turned in immediately. Other public
statements by GoS officials have similarly reinforced the
government's commitment to finding Mladic, though some - like
that of President Tadic - were confusingly vague and
uninspiring. While these statements mark a departure on
tactics, and perhaps indicate a stronger effort to change
hearts and minds in Serbia to effect Mladic's capture,
Kostunica has still been careful not to publicly step outside
the boundaries of his voluntary surrender policy.



3. (u) The EU's decision also prompted a hastily-planned
pro-Europe/anti-government rally by center-left
micro-parties, led by president of the newly-formed LDP,
Cedomir Jovanovic. The rally drew some 5,000 supporters,
despite a short planning timeframe, little funding, and no
support from local government or police, who maintained
normal traffic patterns around the rally point at Republic
Square instead of blocking off streets as is the norm for
marches. Outspoken reformist and Agriculture Minister
Dulic-Markovic, formerly of the micro-party Civic Alliance
but now a G-17 Plus member, attended the rally, which was
slightly larger than a similar anti-government rally
organized by the Radical party in February.

PRIVATE COMMITMENTS



4. (c) Privately, Kostunica reiterated his public comments
about deadlines to the Ambassador in a meeting on May 9 (ref
b). He gave few details about operational aspects of the
hunt for Mladic, nor any indication that a handover was
imminent. He did, though, try to lay some responsibility for
the failure in the laps of USG and other intelligence
services, a charge the Ambassador rejected. (Kostunica's
profound displeasure with the EU's decision to stop the SAA
talks shortly before the May 21 Montenegro referendum also
suggests he harbors little hope of a Mladic capture before
then.) MINFIN Dinkic, meanwhile, told the Ambassador in a
May 10 pull-aside that he was convinced Kostunica was
committed to getting Mladic, and confirmed that the PM had
instructed security services to shoot if necessary to
apprehend him (ref c). Echoing Tadic's public comments,
Dinkic implored the international community to give Kostunica
more time to bring Mladic in. Tadic told the Ambassador (ref
d) in a meeting May 10 that, while he thought an arrest would
be better for Serbia, Kostunica was unlikely to abandon the
voluntary surrender strategy, noting that the manner in which
Mladic was brought in and handed over would be critically
important to Serbia.



5. (c) In a meeting with Emboffs May 12, ICTY Cooperation
Council Chairman Rasim Ljajic said Kostunica has hung "all of
the government's policies" on the Mladic issue. He said the
EU decision has backed Kostunica into a corner, and that the
PM would do whatever was necessary to bring in Mladic,
including by force if that was needed to keep the coalition
afloat. He stressed, though, that Kostunica would never
publicly abandon the "voluntary surrender" policy, as an
outright arrest would surely cause the Socialists to stop
supporting the minority government and bring down the
coalition. Ljajic said a "Lukic or Beara" scenario was most
probable, whereby the government brought Mladic in by force
but portrayed it to the public as a surrender. Ljajic said,
though, that there is no way to predict when this might
happen.

OPERATIONAL IMPACTS



6. (c) Senior sources involved in the effort to locate and
apprehend Mladic, meanwhile, have noticed a positive impact
on the effort from the GoS's recent shift in rhetoric. The
PM's negative portrayals of Mladic, the continued arrest of
alleged Mladic supporters (the most recent was announced only
days ago ) a former Mladic driver), and the high-profile
raid on Mladic's house in the Belgrade suburb of Banovo Brdo
) undertaken with an abundance of police manpower and the
closing down of neighborhood streets ) all have contributed
to a palpable tension in the Mladic support camp, note
investigators. Call-ins to a recently-established "tip-line"
are up, and Mladic supporters who are being interrogated are
more nervous than before. While this has not brought any
fresh leads or brought the government any closer to an
arrest, senior sources believe the chances for finding Mladic
are better now because of the GoS's public campaign.

COMMENT



7. (c) By all accounts, the GoS, and Kostunica in
particular, seem to be taking the Mladic issue more
seriously. Kostunica reportedly told his ministers that
finding Mladic is a "priority." The EU decision has had a
real catalyzing effect on the government, turning DSS's
biggest win ) the start of SAA talks ) into its most
spectacular failure, and Kostunica seems to be feeling the
heat of this. The change in rhetoric and the increase in
public (even if perhaps staged) assaults on the Mladic
family's personal space are not likely for the benefit of a
fed-up international community. They might instead be the
start of an attempt to prepare the Serbian public for
Mladic's eventual transfer.

POLT