Sunday

29th May 2022

War crimes report damages Serbia's EU bid

  • Srebrenica memorial -UN-hatted Dutch soldiers in 1995 failed to stop the massacre, creating a sense of national responsibility on the Mladic case (Photo: Ayuto)

The international tribunal in The Hague is planning to tell the UN that Serbia's efforts to catch top war crimes fugitives "have not been sufficient", destroying its chance of getting EU candidate status this year.

The latest report by Serge Brammertz, the chief prosecutor in the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) - seen by EUobserver - paints a damning picture of Serbia's co-operation in the hunt for Goran Hadzic and Ratko Mladic.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"Their capture is Serbia's most critical outstanding obligation. To date, Serbia's efforts to apprehend the fugitives have not been sufficient ... Without a notable improvement in the level of co-operation, the fugitives will not be arrested," it says.

"Serbia's failure to arrest these two men undermines its credibility and the strength of its stated commitment to fully co-operate with the ICTY. It also threatens to tarnish the successful completion of the ICTY's mandate and presents an obstacle to fulfilling the international community's commitment to international justice."

The text, covering the past six months of ICTY work, notes that Serbia's National Security Council is "focused on a limited number of leads and [has] failed to implement the agreement to widen the scope of the investigations."

It adds that the council has ignored "persistent" ICTY requests "to examine the role played by networks of people supporting the fugitives to evade justice." It also notes that "despite numerous requests, Serbia has taken no steps to assist in locating and apprehending Radovan Stankovic" - a prisoner who escaped from prison in Bosnia in 2007 and who is said to be hiding in Bosnia or Serbia.

The report, to be presented to the UN Security Council on 6 June, effectively destroys Serbia's chances of receiving EU candidate status in autumn.

The European Commission is in November planning to publish an opinion on Serbia's eligibility to join the Union. But even if the commission takes a soft approach, The Netherlands has promised to veto the EU candidacy decision unless Brammertz gives a green light.

"[The] next report by ICTY prosecutor, Mr. Brammertz, due 6 June, will be key to EU decision making on Serbia later this year. [The] EU has agreed that further steps on Serbia's path towards EU will only be taken if EU member states unanimously decide that full co-operation with the ICTY exists," the Dutch foreign ministry said in a statement to EUobserver on 18 May.

Ratko Mladic is wanted in connection with the Srebrenica massacre of some 8,000 Bosnian Muslim boys and men in 1995. UN-hatted Dutch soldiers at the time failed to stop the killing, creating a sense of national responsibility to stay firm on Mladic down the line.

By contrast, the Brammertz paper gives Croatia the thumbs up.

"In general, Croatia continues to respond in a timely and adequate manner to ... requests for assistance and provides access to witnesses and evidence as required," it says. It notes that key documents concerning the prosecution of Croat general Ante Gotovina remain "unaccounted for", however.

Croatia expects to complete EU accession talks in June or July and to join the EU in mid-2013.

Aside from its failure to find escapee Stankovic, Brammertz also praises Bosnia.

"The authorities of [Bosnia], at both the state and entity levels, responded promptly and adequately to requests for documents and for access to government archives. The authorities also continued to assist by facilitating the appearance of witnesses before the ICTY," he says.

The report notes that ICTY prosecutors expect to complete their case against Radovan Karadzic - a top Bosnian Serb indictee - in late spring or early summer next year.

It says that Karadzic' cross-examination of witnesses is gobbling up most of its time and points out that the evidence collection comprises some 9 million pages, including the notebooks of Ratko Mladic in their entirety.

Opinion

They got him!

The Serbian population has gone through hardship and frustration and has often been regarded as the wrongdoers by the international community. Hopefully the arrest of Ratko Mladić means that Serbia can move on, writes Jos Boonstra.

France aims for EU minimum-tax deal in June

EU Commission vice-president Valdis Dombrovskis said on Tuesday that Poland's recovery plan could be approved within a week. This could also help unblock Warsaw's reluctance to agree to the tax deal.

MEPs boycott trip after Israeli snub

Last-minute Israeli blacklistings and red lines have prompted MEPs to call off an official trip, posing the question if Israel can belittle the EU Parliament with impunity.

EU states warn of looming food-price crisis

Prices of cereals, fertilisers, and oilseed have shot up drastically in several European markets due to Russia's war on Ukraine, prompting some member states to seek EU aid.

Opinion

When Reagan met Gorbachev — a history lesson for Putin

Neither Reagan nor Gorbachev achieved their goal at the famous Reykjavik summit of 1986. Despite that fact there are lessons that current leaders — particularly Vladimir Putin — could adopt from these two iconic leaders.

Opinion

Orbán's overtures to Moscow are distasteful and detrimental

Some Western European politicians are reviving the chimera of a negotiated settlement. None of this makes the current, half-hearted approach towards sanctioning Russia look better — nor does it shed any favourable light on the cravenness of Hungary's current government.

News in Brief

  1. Dutch journalists sue EU over banned Russia TV channels
  2. EU holding €23bn of Russian bank reserves
  3. Russia speeds up passport process in occupied Ukraine
  4. Palestinian civil society denounce Metsola's Israel visit
  5. Johnson refuses to resign after Downing Street parties report
  6. EU border police has over 2,000 agents deployed
  7. Dutch tax authorities to admit to institutional racism
  8. Rutte calls for EU pension and labour reforms

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic delegation visits Nordic Bridges in Canada
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersClear to proceed - green shipping corridors in the Nordic Region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers agree on international climate commitments
  4. UNESDA - SOFT DRINKS EUROPEEfficient waste collection schemes, closed-loop recycling and access to recycled content are crucial to transition to a circular economy in Europe
  5. UiPathNo digital future for the EU without Intelligent Automation? Online briefing Link

Latest News

  1. EU summit will be 'unwavering' on arms for Ukraine
  2. Orbán's new state of emergency under fire
  3. EU parliament prevaricates on barring Russian lobbyists
  4. Ukraine lawyer enlists EU watchdog against Russian oil
  5. Right of Reply: Hungarian government
  6. When Reagan met Gorbachev — a history lesson for Putin
  7. Orbán oil veto to deface EU summit on Ukraine
  8. France aims for EU minimum-tax deal in June

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us