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The arrest of the former Bosnian Serb commander is good news for the relatives of those killed at Srebrenica; for international justice, which may be slow but has a long memory; for Serbia, which has taken a leap towards integration with Europe; and for the European Union, which, despite its economic and political troubles, has shown its potential to transform even intractable Balkan disputes. That the arrest took place on the same day as a visit by Cathy Ashton, the EU's foreign affairs boss, was a coincidence. But few doubt that the EU played a big part through the power of its unique tool, enlargement. The promise of EU membership, on condition that Serbia first cooperate with war crimes prosecutors, strengthened the resolve to find Mladic.
Even if Brammertz says Serbia has more to do (Goran Hadzic, former leader of the Croatian Serbs, is still at large), Serbia will probably win EU candidate status this year. Whether it can start talks immediately (i.e., in early 2012) or, more likely, be asked to do more homework first will depend on how far Tadic pushes judicial reform and reconciliation with Kosovo. Montenegro, already a candidate, may also be deemed fit to begin accession talks. Senior Eurocrats cling to the hope that this month's election in Macedonia will produce a government able to end the tedious dispute with Greece over the country's official name, clearing the way for talks to begin. Bosnia might look less dire if Serbia moves closer to Europe. Even Albania, denied candidate status because of its democratic failings, still sees the EU as its destination.