Serbia/arrest of Ratko Mladic
Paris, May 31, 2011
Mme Hostalier, I share your strong feelings when recalling the Srebrenica massacre, during which 8,000 men, women, children and elderly people were killed, doubtless on the orders of Ratko Mladic. Like you, my thoughts are with their families.
The massacre has been described as genocide by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the International Court of Justice. I can tell you – Serbian President Boris Tadic has confirmed it – that Mladic will indeed be extradited to The Hague to be tried there, despite his lawyers’ attempts to delay that extradition.
The International Criminal Tribunal’s prosecutor, Mr Serge Brammertz, has said Serbia has thus fulfilled one of her international obligations. For our part, we believe a very great step has just been taken along the path that will lead Serbia towards accession to the European Union.
Other steps must also be taken and you’re right to recall it: the arrest of the Croatian Serbs’ political leader, Goran Hadzic, who is still on the run; the reform of the justice system; the fight against organized crime and corruption; the reform of electoral law; and a commitment by Serbia to regional cooperation with her neighbours. All these points will be taken into account when it comes to deciding to launch a discussion procedure with Serbia.
Belgrade is making progress elsewhere, particularly in its relations with Kosovo. We’re also closely following the situation in the Republika Srpska [Bosnian Serb entity]. Mrs Ashton recently travelled to Sarajevo and secured the withdrawal of the referendum plan that risked threatening the cohesion of that country [Bosnia and Hercegovina], which is still extremely fragile.
Beyond the Balkans, I’d like to emphasize the very wide-ranging moral impact of this arrest. It proves clearly to all the perpetrators of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocides that, even 16 years on, there is no immunity./.