Magazine article Europe-East

Eu/serbia : Don't Make Eu Membership Hostage to Srebrenica, Says Ambassador

Magazine article Europe-East

Eu/serbia : Don't Make Eu Membership Hostage to Srebrenica, Says Ambassador

Article excerpt

Serbia's chances of joining the EU must not be held hostage by the 1995 genocide of Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica, Serbia's Ambassador to the US Ivan Vujacic has said. Asked about the Netherlands' insistence that Serbia's EU membership process be stalled until it hands over the alleged perpetrator of the Srebrenica massacre, Ratko Mladic, to the International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague, Vujacic told Europolitics New Neighbours, on 21 January, that "we are not expecting the Dutch to cave in - just to be understanding of our position". He said Belgrade remained "very determined" to get Mladic for its own sake but that linking membership to Mladic was like not allowing Germany join the EU until 1960, when Holocaust architect Adolf Eichmann was finally caught. Serbia's top priorities for 2009, he said, were to achieve visa-free travel with the EU and become a candidate for EU membership. Acknowledging this was "an ambitious plan," he predicted it would be "at least four or five years" before Serbia could join.

Vujacic also criticised the EU's handling of neighbouring Bosnia's aspirations to join, saying the Commission was being too prescriptive, notably as to the content of Bosnia's constitution. He said the EU should instead demand that certain systems in Bosnia - for example customs control - be unified while leaving the Bosnians work out the details and meanwhile providing financial incentives for Bosnia to join.

EULEX DEPLOYMENT WELCOMED

Turning to Kosovo, the ambassador welcomed the deployment, in December 2008, of the EU's rule of law mission in Kosovo (EULEX), noting it was part of a United Nations six-point plan that was neutral as to the future status of Kosovo. …

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