DEFENSE NEWS (USA)
Posted 11/07/06 16:45
Serbia Says NATO Invite Hangs On TV Call for Mladic
By REUTERS, BELGRADE
NATO may let Serbia join its Partnership for Peace (PfP) club if Prime
Minister Vojislav Kostunica goes on television to tell the country he must
arrest war crimes fugitive Ratko Mladic, Serb officials said.
The Vecernje Novosti newspaper on Nov. 7 quoted Serbia's ambassador to NATO,
Branislav Milinkovic, as saying he got the message at NATO headquarters in
Brussels from Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer on Nov. 6.
"In this way, they would like to see decisiveness from the Serbian
government regarding the issue of cooperation with the Hague Tribunal,"
In Brussels, a NATO official declined to confirm the report.
"This is speculation," the official said. "There is no consensus yet. It
will be discussed at the highest level in Riga ... NATO still wants to see
Mladic in the Hague before granting PfP, but this is an evolving situation."
NATO leaders are due to hold a summit in Riga Nov. 28-29.
Vecernje Novosti said the United States, which dominates the Atlantic
Alliance, strongly opposes granting PfP membership to Serbia before it has
handed over Mladic, while European Union members of NATO are in favor of an
Serbia's pro-Western leaders aim to take the country into NATO, beginning
with a place in the alliance's PfP ante-room for further-flung allies and
Western powers are exasperated by what they see as a half-hearted commitment
from Serb leaders to capturing Mladic, the Bosnian Serb wartime commander
indicted for genocide but afforded hero status by some hardline nationalist
Yet the West is also keen to ensure that frustrations do not turn Serbs away
from Euro-Atlantic integration. Serbia is already last in the Balkan queue
to join the European Union because of its failure to arrest Mladic.
Kostunica often reminds Serbs of a duty to "complete our cooperation with"
the United Nations war crimes tribunal for former Yugoslavia in The Hague,
but rarely speaks bluntly of capturing and extraditing the fugitive general.
Indicted in 1995 for the Srebrenica massacre of 8,000 Muslims and the siege
of Sarajevo, Mladic is still at large. Belgrade says it does not know where
he is hiding or even if he is still in Serbia. But it insists it is doing
all it can to track him down, and it believes it ought to be given credit
for its efforts.