Serbia can be EU candidate without Mladic arrest: Luxembourg

17th May 2011, Comments 0 comments

Serbia can become a candidate to join the European Union even if the most wanted war crimes fugitive Ratko Mladic is not arrested, Luxembourg's Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn said Tuesday.

"It is not a condition that Mladic and (the other remaining fugitive) Goran Hadzic should be arrested and be transferred, it is the political will and the efficiency of the cooperation of your government with ICTY" (International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia), that counts, Asselborn told reporters in Belgrade.

Asselborn said Serbia could get candidacy status by the end of the year if, among other conditions, it is fully devoted to the search for the fugitives.

Mladic, the former Bosnian Serb military chief, is indicted for genocide and crimes against humanity over his role in the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia.

Wartime Croatian Serb leader Hadzic is wanted by the ICTY for suspected war crimes committed during the 1991-1995 conflict in Croatia.

"I hope than in (the near) future Serbia will be able to transfer Mladic and Hadzic to The Hague," Asselborn said after meeting his Serbian counterpart Vuk Jeremic.

Failing that Asselborn said the important thing for Belgrade was to show "political will ... to do it".

That would constitute "going in the good direction and I hope that we in the European Union in autumn can analyze it in a political way and take a positive decision," he added.

However, a Dutch parliamentary delegation that visited Belgrade last week has made it clear that Serbia would not be granted a candidate status unless ICTY chief prosecutor Serge Brammertz was satisfied with the level of cooperation.

Brammertz, for his part, said last week that Serbia "can do more and must do more" to arrest the fugitives, saying "there can be no alternative" to arrest.

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

© 2011 AFP

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