Netherlands to talk to Serbia about EU visa exemption

26th November 2009, Comments 0 comments

The talks between both countries will focus on improving their trade ties, greater visa freedom and more intensive cooperation in various other fields.

The Hague – Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen will meet Serb officials in Belgrade in December to discuss a proposal to allow free travel for Serbians within the European Union, his office said on Wednesday.

"The Netherlands and Serbia will hold talks on improving their trade ties, greater visa freedom and more intensive cooperation in various other fields," Verhagen's spokesman Bart Rijs told AFP.

The talks on 16 December "will not be about European integration", said the spokesman.

In July, the Netherlands had said it would support an EU proposal to lift European visa requirements for Serbs from 1 January.

Insisting on the arrest of Serbian ex-general Ratko Mladic on an outstanding genocide warrant, the Netherlands has been blocking a Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) signed by Serbia in April and seen as the first step towards membership of the 27-nation bloc.

"Serbia wants closer cooperation with the Union, to join. I say (to Serbia): make sure that the last suspects of the biggest crime committed on European soil since World War II are brought before a judge," Verhagen stated in a video posted on Dutch news site Nu.nl this week.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), which issued the arrest warrant for Mladic, is also seeking the arrest of Goran Hadzic, the wartime president of the self-proclaimed Serb republic of Krajina in Croatia.

ICTY prosecutor Serge Brammertz will present his report on Serbia's cooperation with the tribunal to the United Nations Security Council next Thursday.

"I want to hear from Brammertz that Serbia has done all in its power... to see to it that these crimes are punished," Verhagen said in the recording.

AFP / Expatica

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