Too early to set EU date for Balkans: FM ministers

13th March 2006, Comments 0 comments

13 March 2006, AMSTERDAM — Dutch Foreign Minister Ben Bot has described it as regrettable former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic died before the end of his war crimes trial.

13 March 2006

AMSTERDAM — Dutch Foreign Minister Ben Bot has described it as regrettable former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic died before the end of his war crimes trial.

"It would have been better from a historical point of view - and especially for his victims - for the law to have run its course," Bot said.

He was attending an informal meeting of EU foreign ministers and their counterparts from the western Balkans in Salzburg, Austria when news of Milosevic's death emerged on Saturday. An autopsy indicted he died of a heart attack.

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said Milosevic's death may help Serbia to look to its future as a member of the European Union. Solana was Secretary General of Nato in 1999 when the military alliance bombed the Serbian capital Belgrade to force an end to the war in  Kosovo.

Current Nato chief Jaap de Hoof Scheffer echoed the view Milosevic's death prevented justice being done.

Separately on Saturday, EU foreign ministers meeting in Salzburg issued a joint declaration confirming the commitment the western Balkans and Albania will be allowed to join the EU. 

"The target is membership and full integration, but it will be a long and demanding road," Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik said.

Bot agreed it was far too early for a timetable on when the Balkan country could join the EU. He also said no date should be set yet in relation to a free trade agreement between the EU and the Balkans.

In 2003 the EU gave a commitment the western Balkan countries could eventually join. Despite opposition even within his own Dutch Christian Democrat Party to the further expansion of the EU, Bot said "the Netherlands always makes good on its promises".

The former Yugoslav countries have to cooperate with the war crimes tribunal in The Hague as a condition of membership of the EU. 

Mient Jan Faber, the former secretary of the Dutch inter-faith peace movement IKV said it was "sad" for Milosevic's family and for the former President of Yugoslavia himself that his body had "given out".

Faber, a longtime campaigner for justice for the victims of the Balkan wars, said it was very important more energy was expended to bring war crime suspects Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic to justice.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2006]

Subject: Dutch news + Slobodan Milosevic

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