Enlargement

UN prosecutor urges Brussels to suspend Serbia talks

01.02.06 @ 10:14

  1. By Teresa Küchler

Brussels should suspend EU association talks with Serbia to pressure Belgrade into arresting top Bosnian Serb war-crimes suspect Ratko Mladic, UN top prosecutor Carla del Ponte has urged.

  • Carla del Ponte -"Pressure worked well with Gotovina and Croatia" (Photo: The Council of the European Union)

In an interview with French newspaper Le Figaro on Tuesday (31 February), Carla del Ponte called upon the EU to step up pressure on the Balkan country before a new round of talks in February begins.

The chief UN war crimes prosecutor is currently on a European tour in a bid to convince EU governments of the necessity to suspend EU-Serbia and Montenegro talks on a Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) - the first legal step to EU membership - unless Mr Mladic is brought before the UN tribunal.

Referring to the effect of earlier, similar pressure on Croatia, she said "The EU refused to open talks with Croatia because Zagreb hadn't arrested General Ante Gotovina. I want the EU to adopt the same attitude with Belgrade, which is not cooperating with the tribunal."

"Everybody has understood that the moral argument did not work (…). Pressure, on the other hand, worked well with Gotovina and Croatia," she said.

The UN prosecutor accused the EU of being too reconciliatory towards Serbia, saying that the union today is "negotiating with a country that hides perpetrators of genocide."

"Does it want to put an end to that situation or not?" she asked.

Hide and seek

Meanwhile, Serbian and Montenegro defence minister Zoran Stankovic earlier this week admitted to holding secret talks with the family of former Bosnian Serb general Ratko Mladic, but insisted he does not know where the war fugutive is hiding.

Mr Stankovich also denied rumours that talks about a possible surrender had already been held with Mr Mladic, while dismissing earlier accusations by Carla del Ponte that the Serbian military is protecting Mr Mladic.

"He is not hiding in any military facility and no active military servicemen are protecting him".

"We don't have any information on his whereabouts," he told the BBC.

The former Bosnian Serb general has been charged with genocide and other crimes related to the Bosnian war in the early 1990s.

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