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Karadzic Arrest a Response to Russian Energy Imperialism?

radovan072908.jpgThere is a lot of interesting discussion regarding the motives and intentions behind the recent arrest of Serbian war criminal Radovan Karadzic, but perhaps one of the most unusual explanations comes from Andre Gerolymatos, who argues that there might be a business play factoring in to get the Russians to pay more for NIS (see more info here). If we observe the moves of countries like Hungary and Turkmenistan, there is a careful balancing act to play between Russia and the West in order to extract maximum concessions (and higher energy prices) from Moscow. Gazprom is all too willing to pay, and the European Union continues to remain rather clueless … despite this, Serbia may fall into their lap.

However, recent events in Serbia have created new opportunities for the U.S. and the EU to check Moscow’s energy chokehold over Europe. Earlier this month, the Serbs formed a new government that is less concerned about protecting indicted war criminals and more committed to bringing Serbia in the EU. President Boris Tadic understood that to end Serbia’s isolation, it was essential to arrest Mr. Karadzic. Concurrently, Mr. Tadic could avoid selling Serbia’s petroleum industry at bargain-basement prices to the Russians. Mr. Tadic is gambling that quick admission to the EU will breathe new life into Serbia’s economy and alter the extreme nationalist paradigm that led the country to chaos in the 1990s. Mr. Tadic’s gesture has been hailed from Brussels to Washington as a positive move, and this good will towards Serbia will increase once the new regime hands over General Ratko Mladic, the second most wanted man in the country. The arrest of Mr. Karadzic is the result of geopolitical considerations – the Serbs want to join the West and the West now needs Serbia. In an ironic twist of events, oil and pipelines have lubricated the wheels of justice.