Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Daily Alert - War Crimes Arrests Still Key To EU Bids

The former Yugolslav Army Chief of Staff Nebojsa Pavkovic is the twelfth indicted war crimes suspect to surrender to the Serb authorities this year. Pavkovic, who has been charged by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia with war crimes in Kosovo, now faces extradition to the Hague. The Serbian government is anxious to step-up its co-operation with the UN as part of efforts to strengthen ties with the EU, with a view to eventual membership. However, despite the flurry of extraditions this year, Belgrade still has much further to go. Serbia is among the last Balkan states to take the first steps of the lengthy accession process. Although the European Commission has recommended that Serbia start negotiations with the bloc on signing a Stabilisation and Association Agreement, EU ministers are unlikely to endorse this until Serbia makes further progress in tracking down war crimes suspects still at large.

There are nine remaining Serb and Bosnian Serb suspects to be arrested. These include Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic, who are wanted in connection with the Srebrenica Massacre of 1995.

The EU demonstrated the importance it attaches to the issue of extradition in its decision to suspend the start of Croatia's accession talks. This followed allegations from the UN tribunal that the Balkan state was not doing enough to track down indicted war criminal General Ante Gotovina. The government hopes to persuade the EU in its review of Croatia's progress tomorrow that it is doing all it can to track down the general. However, without securing the arrest of Gotovina, the government may struggle to convince both the EU and the court of its full compliance.

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