Magazine article Europe-East

Eu/croatia: Gotovina Arrest Hailed, Deadline Set for Other War Crimes Indictees

Magazine article Europe-East

Eu/croatia: Gotovina Arrest Hailed, Deadline Set for Other War Crimes Indictees

Article excerpt

Zagreb's EU accession talks were postponed in March as its cooperation with Ms Del Ponte's ICTY in The Hague was deemed insufficient. The negotiations were eventually launched on October 3 even though General Gotovina was still at large. EU Ministers made clear at that time that sustaining full cooperation with ICTY would remain a requirement for progress throughout Croatia's accession process. They also welcomed the "clear commitment" by the Croatian Prime Minister that full cooperation would be maintained until General Gotovina was in The Hague.

On hearing of General Gotovina's arrest in the Canary Islands, Commissioner Rehn was quick to turn his sights on the Balkans' other 'most wanted' war crimes indictees. "I urge the authorities in other countries, notably in Serbia and Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina to step up their efforts and continue to work until full cooperation is reached and the remaining indictees, including [Bosnian Serbs] Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic, are brought to The Hague", he said.

His comments were echoed by the President of the European Parliament, Josep Borrell, who said it was important to pull out all the stops to find these fugitives and "put an end to this intolerable situation". He said General Gotovina's transfer to the ICTY on December 9 reflected "the Parliament's interest in seeing all war crimes suspects brought to justice".

Still in the Parliament, the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE) described the arrest as "good news for Croatia". "This is a first step towards justice and the last obstacle that was clouding its accession to the EU", said ALDE leader Graham Watson. Cecilia Malmstrom added that prompt arrest ("before Christmas" - Carla del Ponte has set a deadline of December 14 - Ed.) of Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic "would enable us to turn a page in history and move towards closer European cooperation in the region". …

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