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EU: No Negotiation with Serbia without Mladich

The European Union (EU) suspended membership negotiations with Serbia over their failure to capture Serbian General Radko Mladich, known as “the Bosnian butcher.”

EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn in a statement he made yesterday in Brussels announced the suspension of aid and trade talks with Serbia who failed to deliver Mladich to the international court in The Hague.

Rehn said he discussed the issue with Carla Del Ponte, Chief UN War Crimes Prosecutor in The Hague, and that the Chief Prosecutor’s report is negative and negotiations have been suspended. Brussels is enforcing stricter rules for new and prospective candidates, including Turkey, due to the “enlargement fatigue” caused by the 5th enlargement wave on 1 May 2004.

The EU postponed negotiations last year with Croatia, as the country did not turnover Gen. Ante Gotovina; the process was restarted on October 3 together with Turkey.

In yesterday’s news conference, Rehn called Belgrade’s failure to arrest Mladich a “disappointment,” and clearly expressed that negotiations will not start before the Serbian general is put to trial. The Commissioner said Serbian government cannot control the military institutions and intelligence units, and the meeting to be held on May 11 will not take place.

Serbian PM Voyislav Koshtunitsa maintained they did everything necessary to arrest and return Mladich to the court, and that the EU decision will harm the country as well as the government. Chief Prosecutor Del Ponte believes Serbia is able to determine Mladich’s position and arrest him, and she welcomes the EU decision.

The EU still faces strict criticism for not having intervened in the war from 1992-1995, where 250,000 people, namely Bosnians, were killed.

On the 10th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre, termed the biggest murder in Europe after World War II, the EU for the first time joined in commemoration ceremonies. Though the Union’s former term president British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw joined the ceremonies, his statement that he just represents his country not the EU, saddened Bosnians.

On the second anniversary of the fifth enlargement on 1 May 2004, in the meantime, the EU declared the whole of Europe has gained from the process.

Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs Joaquin Almunia, joined by Rehn, at a joint news briefing they held, said the fears concerning the fifth enlargement experience did not prove true and all members new and old have definitely gained from the process. The fifth enlargement experience, Rehn added, must alleviate concerns from now on.

Upon the question how the positive experience of the fifth enlargement will affect Turkey’s prospective membership, Almunia answered the two issues must not be confused. Almunia pointed out they reached the conclusion that the fifth enlargement was successful with assessments made two years later, adding the negotiations with Turkey have just started.

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