Del Ponte points to tough EU “dilemma” in Western Balkans

The UN prosecutor said the EU faced the difficult choice of integrating the Western Balkans without war crime suspects jailed or waiting decades for true peace to be established.

The international Prosecutor for former Yugoslavia, Carla Del Ponte, reiterated calls for Croatia and Serbia-Montenegro to fully co-operate with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and hand over war crime suspects. Otherwise, the EU should not integrate these countries, she said.

“It is hard to imagine Croatia, Serbia-Montenegro […] and Bosnia-Herzegovina joining the European Union with each nation preparing ideologically the next conflict,” she said at a press conference in Bern on 1 September.

Del Ponte said that the EU faced a dilemma: “Either integrate the Western Balkans even before a genuine reconciliation process has taken place and risk importing conflicts, or wait until a solid peace is established, but this may mean decades, and nobody can predict what can happen in the mean time.” 

“Should the EU begin stabilisation and association talks [with Belgrade] on Oct. 5, while Mladic is still at large, this would gravely compromise the prospect of an arrest anytime soon,” she warned. The EU will decide on 5 October whether to open so-called “stabilisation talks” with Belgrade.

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