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Belgrade could be a step closer to European integration next month as a result of an allegedly positive report on its cooperation with international justice said to have been leaked to Serbian media this week.
In the three-page report which seems to be written by Serge Brammertz, the Hague tribunal chief prosecutor reportedly said that Serbia had made “substantial progress” in its cooperation with his office.
Brammertz is set to present his conclusions on Belgrade’s cooperation to the United Nations Security Council, UNSC, on December 12.
While a positive assessment from the prosecutor is crucial to Serbia’s hopes of one day joining the European Union, observers say the country cannot make real strides towards accession until authorities hand over the remaining two fugitives – Ratko Mladic and Goran Hadzic.
In April, Belgrade signed a Stabilisation and Association Agreement, SAA - the first step towards full EU membership for Serbia.
However, the Netherlands, with the support of Belgium, is insisting that the fugitives be delivered before the agreement is implemented. Most other members, meanwhile, would like it to go ahead as a gesture of good will towards Serbia, even without the fugitives in the dock.
According to Serbian media this week, Brammertz said that during a visit to Serbia earlier in the month, the authorities had presented serious operational plans for capturing the two men.
The prosecutor allegedly stated in the report that state agencies tasked with tracking down the fugitives had increased their efforts and were currently conducting more active and widespread searches.
“Planning and coordination between different security services, which were problematic in the past, have improved,” he is reported to have said.
According to articles on the leaked report, Brammertz also wrote that Serbia’s National Council for Cooperation with the Tribunal had played a key role in providing documents.
“Some progress has also been achieved in obtaining access to state security agency archives,” the Serbian media quote him as saying.
In addition, the chief prosecutor is reported to have said there was serious concern about alleged threats being made to witnesses, some of whom had cancelled their testimony.
The Belgrade press says Brammertz wants the Serbian authorities to create an atmosphere that would facilitate the appearance of witnesses in ongoing and future trials.
This week, Olga Kavran, spokeswoman for the tribunal’s Office of the Prosecutor, OTP, could not confirm whether the alleged leaked document, reported in the Serbian media, was authentic.
She told IWPR that Brammertz’s report had been sent to the UN and it was up to them to decide when to release it.
She added that she expected this to happen in the next two weeks, ahead of Brammertz’s trip to New York.
Aleksandar Roknic is an IWPR-trained reporter in Belgrade.
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