Meeting on 26 June, ICTY Chief Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte and members of the EP's Foreign Affairs Committee agreed that the EU should not sign any Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with Serbia until four alleged war criminals that remain at large, including former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and former Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladic are arrested and extradited.
"EU conditionality is a crucial tool for encouraging co-operation with the ICTY," said Del Ponte, adding: "Karadzic and Mladic shouldn't be under the illusion that they can just wait out the ICTY."
EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn announced at the beginning of the month that talks between Brussels and Belgrade would be resumed after having been on hold for nearly a year because of Serbia's failure to co-operate fully with the UN tribunal (EurActiv 4/06/07).
But, as Del Ponte pointed out: "Recent signs are positive." Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic echoed this sentiment, noting that "Serbia stands ready to fulfil its obligations" and that "all fugitives must be located, arrested and extradited". He added that he hoped the SAA could be signed by the end of the year.
While on the issue of Kosovo, views were much less harmonious, Slovenian MEP Jelko Kacin (ALDE), the EP's rapporteur on Serbia, stressed that the EU should take care to keep Serbia's accession prospects and the final status question of Kosovo separate.
Serbia is opposing a UN plan that would give Kosovo independence and Jeremic insisted: "An imposed solution is not sustainable, for it would sow the seeds of future conflicts in the region."
Socialist MEP Hannes Swoboda however warned the minister: "It is your responsibility to prepare for the eventuality of an 'internationally imposed' status settlement and ensure that it does not cause turbulence in the region."