Serbia has 'clear prospect' of EU accession: Germany

26th May 2011, Comments 0 comments

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle hailed the arrest Thursday of former Bosnian Serb military chief Ratko Mladic and underlined Serbia's "clear prospect" of EU membership.

Westerwelle called Serbia's decision to take Mladic into custody "very good news for justice in Europe", noting that it fulfilled a long-term demand of the European Union and the chief prosecutor of the International War Crimes Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

"Coming to terms with the injustice of the Balkan wars is a crucial requirement for reconciliation in the region," he told reporters in Berlin.

"The arrest of Mladic helps lay the foundation for a peaceful future for the entire Balkan region."

On the issue of Serbia's bid to join the EU, Westerwelle said the country had "clear European prospects" but that good relations with "all its neighbours" remained a condition for it one day joining the bloc.

Serbia has refused to recognise its former province of Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence in 2008.

Serbian President Boris Tadic announced Mladic's arrest Thursday, ending his nearly 16 years on the run from warcrimes charges, including genocide for allegedly masterminding Europe's worst massacre since World War II.

Belgrade applied for EU membership in late 2009 and hopes to be granted the status of a candidate by December.

The EU has underscored Belgrade's co-operation with the Hague-based ICTY as one of the main conditions for Serbia's entry into the bloc.

© 2011 AFP

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