Dutch FM says SAA hinges on Mladić arrest

Dutch FM Maxime Verhagen says the arrest of Gen. Ratko Mladić remains the condition of ratification of the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA).

He was addressing his country’s parliament.

Verhagen told MPs that the EU has agreed to put the SAA into force “as soon as Mladić reaches the Scheveningen detention unit.”

At the same time, the Dutch parliament supported the loosening of the government’s position on Serbia, which at the EU Council of Ministers Dec. 7 session allowed for the unfreezing of the Interim Trade Agreement with Belgrade.

The trade deal is part of the SAA.

Highlighting this as a “reward” for Serbia based on the satisfaction Hague tribunal Chief Prosecutor Serge Brammertz expressed with the current level of Serbian cooperation in his report to the UN Security Council, Verhagen said that Belgrade must keep working on arresting Mladić and Goran Hadžić.

Otherwise, the full implementation of SAA “will be nowhere in sight,” Verhagen said.

He went on to say that the EU ministers will put the issue back on the table in June 2010, when Chief Prosecutor Brammertz will reassess Serbia’s cooperation in a new report to the Security Council.

The opposition party VVD was the only one to voice dissatisfaction with the Dutch government’s decision to soften its stance on Serbia, accusing the government of going too far.

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