Arrest of Mladic insufficient to justify Serbia’s accession to EU

26 May 2011

Arrest of Mladic insufficient to justify Serbia’s accession to EU

‘The arrest of General Mladic is great news for the survivors of the massacre in Srebrenica but still does not justify Serbia’s accession to the European Union,’ says SP Member of Parliament Harry van Bommel, who cites the fact that other major war criminals sought by the International Criminal Tribunal on Yugoslavia (ICTY) continue to move freely around the country. In addition, Serbia still has to settle its dispute with Kosovo, which has declared its independence from the former Yugoslavia republic.

Harry van BommelVan Bommel has just returned from a working visit to Serbia, Kosovo and Albania and met in the first of these with Serbian President Boris Tadić and Public Prosecutor Vladimir Vukcevic to discuss the hunt for Mladic as well as that for fellow wartime General Ratko Hadzic. In common with the ICTY chief prosecutor, he did not come away from the meeting persuaded that Serbia was cooperating fully with the tribunal. For Van Bommel, Mladic’s arrest came as a welcome surprise. “President Tadić told us during the meeting that Mladic had not been seen in Serbia since 2006,” he says. “He obviously couldn’t tell us that they were probably already on his track.”

Serbia is hoping that the country will, before the end of the year, be accepted as a candidate for EU membership. In Van Bommel’s view, that would be too soon. “The last war criminal must be arrested and the Kosovo issue settled,” he argues. “When Cyprus joined the EU we made the mistake of allowing this to happen before the dispute with Turkey over North Cyprus was resolved. This is a fault which we should not repeat.” In addition, Van Bommel sees EU reports on the reform of Serbia’s judicial policies as a source of concern. “Serbia must develop further towards becoming a normal state under rule of law. Without that there can be no question of EU membership.” The Dutch Parliament will debate Serbia’s further rapprochement with the EU in the autumn.

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