Arrest Mladic: a good day for the Netherlands brings back bad memories

The news of the arrest of former Yugoslav general Ratko Mladic on Thursday has inevitably brought back into the headlines the Dutch role in the fall of Srbrenica which cost the lives of 8000 Muslims in 1995.

The Volkskrant carries a strongly worded article headlined ‘How Mladic changed the Netherlands’. The footage of Dutchbat general Thom Karremans having a toast with Mladic has become a ‘traumatic symbol of Dutch cowardice’, the paper writes. It goes on to explain how the Dutch institute for war documentation NIOD exonerated Dutchbat – too few troops and weapons, lack of UN support – and how the subsequent governments and the Dutch military have since then tried ‘to live down’ the shame of Srbrenica by going all out on other missions.
Trouw – which carries the same photograph of former general Karremans and Mladic toasting – focuses on the reaction of the new generation of politicians which, it writes, has been one of ‘joy and a feeling of justice being done.’ The paper notes that the relief of the politicians at the news of the arrest, in spite of the fact that the events happened before their time, shows that Srbrenica remained ‘a raw nerve’ in Dutch politics.
Elsewhere in the paper former Defence minister Joris Voorhoeve is quoted as saying ‘This is the best news in the whole of my career’. Voorhoeve came under heavy criticism at the time but always claimed the enclave could have been saved if his proposals to deal with the situation in Srbrenica had not been rejected. Voorhoeve: ‘Srbrenica marked me. But that does not matter. The pain of the families left behind and the Dutchbatters are much more important’.
The Nrc reports on a telephone interview in Nieuwsuur with former general Thom Karremans in which he says Mladic’ arrest is ‘a good operation’.

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