Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Balkan community split on Karadzic

ST. PETERSBURG — The arrest of Serbian leader Radovan Karadzic has stirred up still raw emotions among the sizable Balkan population in northern St. Petersburg.

Reaction to Monday's arrest is as mixed here as it is in Serbia, and it hinges on the same ethnic differences that triggered violence in Bosnia in the 1990s.

Karadzic, charged with genocide by a U.N. tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, for his actions in the Bosnian war, is either a monster or a hero, depending on who's talking.

Stephen Zaremba, parish priest of the St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Church, said his several-hundred-member Christian congregation feels betrayed.

"The Serbian people are angry," said Zaremba, who characterized Karadzic as a hero. "I've got a whole parish full of people who wouldn't be alive if it wasn't for him."

Zaremba thinks the international media has unfairly demonized Karadzic. In his view, Karadzic was just doing his job, even in his involvement with the killings in the small village of Srebrenica for which he's most known.

"That's part of warfare," Zaremba said. "I'm not saying he's an angel. There were slaughters on all sides."

But patrons of the Balkan Food Store and Bakery on Fourth Street N — predominantly Bosnian Muslims — celebrated his arrest.

Several did not want to give their names because they feared confrontation with neighbors, but they thought Karadzic was a terrible man who deserved to get caught.

About 3,000 Bosnians moved to Pinellas County during the 1990s as refugees of the war that split the former nation of Yugoslavia along largely religious lines.

In St. Petersburg, neighborhoods full of Bosnian Muslims and Christian Serbs are mostly separated by a drainage canal that bisects 77th Avenue N.

Several Bosnian stores and restaurants have popped up in the area, which is also home to the St. Sava church, a mainstay of Serb culture in the Tampa Bay area.

But the two religious groups don't associate with each other for the most part, still harboring bad feelings from across the Atlantic.

"You can't really discuss it without rehashing everything," Zaremba said. "Anything coming from that area is explosive."

Andrew Dunn can be reached at adunn@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8150.

>>fast facts

Arrest may bring Serbia into EU

World leaders view Serbia's arrest of Radovan Karadzic as a move aimed at getting the country in better standing with the rest of Europe. "This is good news for all the world," said Jusuf Zejnullahu, a former prime minister of Kosovo who now lives in Clearwater. "Serbia and Serbs now want to be in the European Union.

The arrest, combined with a recently elected pro-Western Europe government, will indeed speed Serbia's entrance into the 27-nation group. "We have always said that Serbia has a place in the European family," British Foreign Secretary David Miliband told the Associated Press.

Balkan community split on Karadzic 07/23/08 [Last modified: Friday, July 25, 2008 2:19pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Florida education news: Budgets, principals, vouchers and more

    Blogs

    VETO TIME? Gov. Rick Scott weighs advice on whether to reject the Legislature's education budget. • Pasco County school officials

  2. British Prime Minister May calls Manchester bombing 'a callous terrorist attack'

    Public Safety

    MANCHESTER, England — British Prime Minister Theresa May says that it is "beyond doubt" that Britain and the city of Manchester have fallen victim to "a callous terrorist attack."

    Emergency services work at Manchester Arena after reports of an explosion at the venue during an Ariana Grande gig in Manchester, England Monday, May 22, 2017. Several people have died following reports of an explosion Monday night at an Ariana Grande concert in northern England, police said. A representative said the singer was not injured.  [Peter Byrne | PA via AP]
  3. Trump condemns 'evil losers' who carried out Manchester concert attack

    Politics

    BETHLEHEM, West Bank — President Donald Trump condemned the "evil losers" responsible for the deadly attack on concert-goers in England Tuesday and called on leaders in the Middle East in particular to help root out violence.

    President Donald Trump pauses as he makes a statement on the terrorist attack in Manchester, after a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Tuesday, May 23, 2017, in the West Bank City of Bethlehem. [Associated Press]
  4. Tampa Bay Times journalists wins 17 Green Eyeshade Awards

    Human Interest

    Tampa Bay Times journalists placed first in seven categories of the prestigious Green Eyeshade awards, which honors outstanding journalism in the Southeast.