Netherlands blocks Serbia-EU trade deal

The Netherlands has prevented the EU from agreeing to extend new trade benefits to Serbia.The block comes despite a positive report from the chief UN war crimes prosecutor on Belgrade’s co-operation.

Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen: “I made clear that according to my view at this moment, there is no full cooperation so therefore there will be no interim agreement although we of course fully applaud and support the positive steps which have been taken by the Serbian government.”

In Brussels for the meeting, Deputy Serb Prime Minister Bozidar Djelic branded the Dutch stance as “unfair”: “It is heartening to see that today 25 countries have defended the case of Serbia along with the entire European Commission and it is extremely disappointing that one country, and as we have heard, one man, will make the decision on the future of Serbia’s European integration.”

The Dutch insist that Serbia arrests Ratko Mladic. The former Bosnian Serb military commander is the top remaining war crimes suspect at large, following the capture in July of Bosnian Serb ex-President Radovan Karadzic.

The issue is particularly sensitive for the Netherlands because Mladic is charged with genocide over the massacre of more than 8000 Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica in 1995.

Dutch peacekeepers in the town were unable to prevent the slaughter.

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