Serbia can and must do more to capture Ratko Mladic and Goran Hadzic, Chief Hague Prosecutor Serge Brammertz said ahead of his trip to Belgrade.
Speaking for B92, Brammertz said that at this point he was not satisfied with Serbia’s cooperation with his office, and added that he would decide whether that remark would make it to his regular report – to be submitted to the UN Security Council in June – after he had met with the country’s officials and heard about the progress made in their search for remaining war crimes fugitives Mladic and Hadzic.
“I will consider all concrete activities undertaken, I will listen to find out what concrete efforts are being made. If I am satisfied with all the activities undertaken in that direction I will put that in my report. At this point I am not satisfied,” he said.
Brammertz added that Serbia could do much more in its cooperation with the Hague prosecution.
The top prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, ICTY, said that his talks with Serbian officials on Tuesday will focus on the latest activities in the search for the Hague war crimes indictees.
He also asserted that the EU should continue using conditioning as a means of pressure in order for Serbia to cooperate.
Asked about his reaction to hearing that Serbia’s EU membership depended on his reports, the prosecutor said this was “the wrong way to look at things”.
“The right way is to say that Serbia must arrest the remaining fugitives in order to define for itself a future through European integration. I write only about the quality of cooperation between Serbia and my office. It is not my job to make political decisions,” Brammertz explained.
Brammertz arrives in Belgrade as part of a regularly scheduled visit to assess the country’s search for the remaining war crimes fugitives. His assessment is expected to have a significant impact on Serbia’s EU accession bid, as full cooperation with the tribunal is a main condition for moving forward.
Serbia’s Deputy Prime Minister Bozidar Djelic said previously that the European Commission would base its next annual report on Serbia’s progress towards the EU on the findings in Brammertz’s June report.
While Serbian officials are rushing to complete a long list of reforms needed before Brussels can deliver a positive opinion, known as an avis, on October 12, two remaining war crimes fugitives, Ratko Mladic and Goran Hadzic, are still at large. A positive avis from the European Commission is an absolute perquisite for obtaining candidate status.
Former Bosnian Serb military leader Ratko Mladic has been indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in the Hague for genocide and other war crimes committed during the 1992-95 Bosnian war.
Hadzic, who was the leader of the breakaway Croatian Serb republic, is charged by the Tribunal with 14 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Croatia between August 1991 and June 1992.
A delegation of Dutch MPs arrived in Belgrade on Monday as part of a separate visit to the country to learn about Serbia’s efforts to track down Mladic and Hadzic. The Netherlands has been highly critical of Serbia’s unsuccessful efforts to arrest the two men, and has warned that this could stall the country’s EU progress.
Serbian MP Laslo Varga, who was set to receive the Dutch delegation on Monday, said that lawmakers would learn about the progress made by Serbia on that issue, and added he expected “some unpleasant questions”.
“They will certainly ask about the Hague cooperation, but we will attempt not to focus the talks on that subject. Of course, we’ll try, and that may be the essence of our effort, to change the image that exists about Serbia in Holland, because we think that image no longer reflects the reality,” he said prior to their arrival.
Previously, the deputy chairman of the Dutch Parliamentary Committee on European Affairs said that if the Brammertz report is negative, the lower house of the Dutch parliament will not include the ratification of Serbia’s Stabilisation and Association Agreement on its agenda.