The international community’s message can hardly be clearer: the progress of BH towards European integration has been halted by the RS’s failure to support BH in cooperating with The Hague—and someone will have to pay the price for the delay.

The circle over the "continued freedom" of Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic seems to be closing. For the first time after so many years, the issue is not just them, but--above all--Republika Srpska. The message delivered by the international community is clear: if they are not arrested by the time of the NATO summit in Istanbul, Bosnia and Herzegovina will not be admitted to the Partnership for Peace program, leaving the future of Republika Srpska in question. At the same time, fewer and fewer people are ready to continue paying such a huge price for their freedom: poverty, squalor, isolation, lagging behind others, no future….

Nine years ago, Radovan Karadzic spoke before SRT cameras in response to news about the fall of Srebrenica. "Srebrenica should be the breaking news, both as a complete example of the superiority of Serb arms and at the same time as an example of Serb nobleness…. No civilian has died since the end of combat operations, there is absolutely law and order…." That was the measure of truth at the time.

Today, the recently published RS Srebrenica Report may shock many, stating as it does that thousands of civilians were killed there, that they were "liquidated with zolja rocket launchers, hand-held launchers, grenades and bullets…." According to the commission that drafted the document under heavy international pressure, the Srebrenica executions were carried out "in ways which amount to serious violations of international law, and the perpetrator inter alia concealed the crime by moving the bodies."

The truth has finally come out in Republika Srpska, too, although the Report does not contain any of the perpetrators’ names and some other important statements are missing. It is clear that hundreds of people had to have known of "secondary graves," yet they have kept silent about them for nine years. The graves are being opened now and the RS police have suddenly found tens of boxes with documents about these times and events.

Dragan Kalinic, Speaker of the RS National Assembly, president of the SDS and formerly a close associate of Radovan Karadzic, has sent an alarming message about the price of the continued freedom of Karadzic and Mladic. "The legal and political continuity of RS, its position in BH and its future can be brought into question." His remarks were widely commented on by the public in RS and BH: "Kalinic is trying to save his own skin"; "he cares more about power than about Karadzic"; or "his call to Karadzic to surrender is the voice of a desperate man…."

It is obvious that there has been a thorough, in many ways astounding, change in the rhetoric used by the RS government in its "reminders" that the most wanted war crime indictees must be arrested. Republika Srpska, the High Representative Lord Ashdown said recently in an interview to the SENSE agency, "is paying an enormous price, primarily political, for the fact that Radovan Karadzic is still at large." To make perfectly clear what that price is, Ashdown repeated three times in the course of the half-hour interview that "because of its failure to cooperate with the Tribunal, RS is at risk of losing its international legitimacy, based precisely on the laws it does not respect" – the Dayton Accords.

The message can hardly be any clearer: the progress of BH on its way to European integration has been halted by the failure of RS to support BH in cooperating with The Hague, and someone will have to pay the price for the delay. As for responsibility for the continued freedom of Karadzic and Mladic, the ball is clearly in the RS’s court now, in the laps of those whose past is directly or indirectly linked with the people on the wanted posters.

The focus thus shifts from the field of justice to the field of politics, into spheres far beyond Republika Srpska. It looks likely that Bosnia and Herzegovina will not be admitted to the Partnership for Peace-- which would lead to Euro-Atlantic integration--at the NATO summit in Istanbul. Quite a few people say that in fact this will be "Karadzic's greatest victory."

In the meantime, Karadzic "has gone into folk songs, while the people have gone to the dogs," Zeljko Kopanja, director of the Banja Luka Nezavisne novine, told SENSE.