Slovenia rejects Dutch compromise on Serbia
No breakthrough for deadlock surrounding Serbian membership of the EU.29 April 2008
THE NETHERLANDS - Slovenia, the current holder of the rotating EU presidency, has rejected a Dutch-Belgian compromise proposal aimed at breaking the deadlock surrounding Serbian membership of the EU.
The majority of the European Union's member states are in favour of signing a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with Serbia, a step that would put the country on the road to EU membership.
Close European ties with Belgrade are regarded as essential to ensuring stability in the Balkan region.
However, opposition from The Netherlands and Belgium has hampered progress for months. They want to keep up the pressure on Belgrade to track down war crimes suspects from the 1990s Balkan conflict so that they can face trial.
Among those yet to be brought to justice is Ratko Mladic, former head of the Bosnian Serb forces, accused of genocide in connection with the Sebrenica massacre in 1995 in which some eight thousand Muslims were killed. The enclave had been under the protection of Dutch UN peacekeepers.
With the aim of breaking the impasse over EU accession, Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen submitted a proposal last week in which the Agreement would be signed by the EU but only come into force once the Serbian government had taken the necessary action to ensure that the war crimes suspects could be brought to justice.
After talks with his Serbian counterpart Vuk Jeremic, Slovenian Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel said the situation was "complicated". Although a breakthrough on the issue seems to be no nearer, he still emphasised that various options of "sending a positive signal" to Serbia are under consideration.
EU foreign ministers are due to reach a decision on the issue later on Tuesday.
[Radio Netherlands / Expatica]