Dutch to reject EU-Serbia accord

Tourism

Holland will not ratify a key accord towards Serbian membership of the EU due to Belgrade's failure to cooperate over its fugitive war criminals.

The EU's Stabilisation and Agreement Association (SSA) is a precursor to formal membership talks, and was a key plank of pro-Western Serbian President Boris Tadic's knife-edge election victory in February and his bloc's parliamentary win in May.

Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen justified his decision to reject the accord in parliament, saying that Serbia's promise of cooperation with the International Criminal Court (ICC) was not total, the ANP news agency reported.

Verhagen based his decision on a report by the ICC's prosecutor, Serge Brammertz, stating that no real progress had been made in the hunt for Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic, the military leader and the president of the Bosnian Serbs at the time of the Srebrenica massacre.

Nearly 8,000 Muslim men and boys were executed during the slaughter in 1995.

Both Belgium and the Netherlands had been opposed to signing the SSA with Serbia whilst Belgrade refused to hand over the fugitives to the international court.

However in April, ahead of the parliamentary elections in Serbia, both Brussels and The Hague agreed to sign the deal so long as Serbia offered “full cooperation” with the ICC, and on condition that Serbia did not benefit from the accord in the meantime. (eubusiness)

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