Hadzic’s arrest not enough to qualify Serbia for EU candidacy

20 July 2011

Hadzic’s arrest not enough to qualify Serbia for EU candidacy

SP Member of Parliament Harry van Bommel has reacted with delight to the arrest of war criminal Goran Hadžić. ‘This man has been pursued for years and it’s high time he was held responsible for his deeds,’ he says. Van Bommel stresses, however, that this does not mean that Serbia can become a member of the European Union. Hadžić’s arrest certainly meets an important demand which had to be fulfilled before an approach to the EU could be considered, but before membership can be discussed the country must take serious steps to combat corruption.

Harry van BommelIn Van Bommel’s view, cooperation between Serbia and the EU can now be intensified. “Partly as a result of pressure from the Netherlands, Serbia has now made short work of the arrest of Mladić and Hadžić, but tackling corruption requires a more long-term approach and will not admit of a rapid solution. At the same time we need some prospect of a resolution of the issue of Kosovo.”

Serbia hopes to be accepted for candidate membership of the EU, with negotiations on full membership beginning by the end of the year. Van Bommel believes that this would be too soon. The EU’s reports on the reforms to the Serbian legal system are worrying, he says, pointing at the same time to a further major obstacle to accession, the dispute with the breakaway province of Kosovo. Kosovo and Serbia are living uneasily side by side, and even the EU member states cannot agree on recognition of Kosovo as an independent country. “Mistakes were made in the admission of Cyprus in that the dispute with Turkey over North Cyprus had not been resolved,” Van Bommel recalls. “We must not repeat the same error by importing another conflict into the EU.”

With the arrest of the last war criminal sought by the International Criminal Tribunal on Yugoslavia, we are slowly but surely approaching a point where we can close this terrible chapter in the history of the former Yugoslavia. Hadžić has, however, yet to appear before the tribunal and the trial could be long and drawn out. Van Bommel notes that the cooperation of the countries of the Western Balkans remains important in this. “With the arrest of these war criminals an important step has been taken, but for a guilty verdict forceful evidence is indispensable, some of which remains in these countries. We will keep a critical eye on whether solid cooperation is continuing and if all the necessary evidence has been brought to light.”

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