No hasty moves from EU on Serbia, diplomats say

Other News Materials 29 July 2008 15:17 (UTC +04:00)

The European Union is to keep a close eye on developments in Serbia following the arrest of war crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic, but is not going to rush to open its doors to the Balkan country, officials agreed Tuesday.

At a meeting in Brussels, representatives of EU member states agreed that while Karadzic's arrest on July 21 was a very important step for Serbia's new, pro-EU government to have taken, it was not enough in itself to warrant offering Belgrade a political reward, reported dpa.

The EU is keen to forge closer ties with Serbia, but it will not consider doing so until Karadzic is transferred to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague, and until the ICTY's chief prosecutor, Serge Brammertz, certifies that Belgrade is fully cooperating with his organization, diplomats said.

The decision confirms a similar statement from EU foreign ministers, who met the day after Karadzic's arrest.

Karadzic is currently under arrest in Belgrade. His lawyer is reportedly fighting his extradition by every means possible, including posting the appeal against extradition from a remote location in order to delay its delivery.

However, officials expect Karadzic to be transferred to the ICTY "very soon." Brammertz is to visit Belgrade in August, an EU diplomat said.

The EU has long said that all the states of the Western Balkans, including Serbia, should join the bloc when they are ready to do so.

But relations with Serbia have been damaged by the support of most EU member states for the breakaway province of Kosovo, which declared independence from Serbia in February.

Twice this year, the EU has offered Serbia deals on issues such as trade and travel just before national elections, in a bid to boost pro-EU forces in the country.

Observers say that that policy has been largely successful, as Serbia now has a pro-EU president and government.