Luxembourg's Foreign Minister
Jean Asselborn gave his hosts a reassuring signal when on Tuesday in Belgrade he stated that Serbia could continue on its EU integration path, even if it does not manage to capture the outstanding war crimes fugitives before year's end, reported the Serbian news agency Tanjug.
"It is possible for Serbia to become a candidate without capturing Mladic and Hadzic," said Asselborn at a joint news conference with his Serbian counterpart
Ratko Mladic, the former commander of the Bosnian Serb Army, and Goran Hadzic, a former president of the Serb enclaves in Croatia, are the highest ranking fugitives sought by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). Their capture has routinely been seen as a pre-condition for Serbia's candidacy for the EU.
Asselborn drew a sharp parallel between Serbia and Croatia, which was not prevented from pursuing EU membership although it had not extradited former General Ante Gotovina to face war crimes charges until much later, Xinhua reported.
"I believe that in the near future Serbia will be able to arrest and extradite Mladic and Hadzic," said Asselborn, adding that it was vital for Serbia to show it possessed the political will to arrest them.
In June, Chief Prosecutor for the ICTY Serge Brammertz is scheduled to deliver a report on Serbia's cooperation with the war crimes tribunal to the UN Security Council. The recommendations of this report could impact the EU integration process of Serbia.