Saturday, April 19, 2008

Dulic, the SAA campaign and the ambassador return

The translated article below was adapted as the newspaper original was changed. According to the new version an SAA would be enough for the return of the ambassadors

Serbia's "pro-Western" parties and a couple of NGO's had organised a delegation to the Netherlands to try to move the position of our government on the SAA treaty. Among their program was also a public meeting that I could attend on 8 april. The main speaker was Serbia's parliament speaker Dulic. Most of what he said was in line with expectations. He got my attention however when he tried to visualize the threat of a Radical victory by talking about Mladic as minister of defence if they win. Not only sounded it exaggerated, but it made me also wonder how he hoped to convince Europe to embrace Serbia if its most likely next government is the devil himself. Afterwards I asked him whether he hadn't painted the Radicals a bit too black. He answered that he hoped that one day Serbia would have two normal political movements who alternated in power, but that the time was not yet there for Serbia. When asked for more concrete objections against the Radicals he mentioned their aggressive rethorics. Maybe he should watch his own rethorics a bit too...

One argument that Dulic and others often make is that Croatia got its SAA when Gotovina was still a free man. I got an opportunity to check this with a member of our government. The EU had previously made a decision that that should be a condition and the Dutch government believes it should not be withdrawn. With Croatia such a condition was never made.

As also B92 reports there seems to be some compromise in the works. I got similar signals. But it is unclear to me how that should work. A "clear commitment" from Serbia's government before the elections seems rather unlikely and Tadic may claim to be authorised to sign the treaty, but I doubt that that claim could be upheld if any changes were made. If a decision from Serbia's government would be required it would become little more than a ploy to make the DSS look bad for blocking the SAA. And even as a gesture it would mean little as for ratification delivery of Mladic would still be required.

Then there was another interesting newspaper article yesterday with the title "Serbian ambassadors back with EU agreement" in NRC Handelsblad. It was written by Petra de Koning. Below the translation:
Brussel, 18 april; changed 23 april. If the EU offers Serbia an agreement on closer cooperation, the ambassadors that were withdrawn in protest to Kosovo's recognition will return.
That has been offered by Serb representatives to the EU memberstates according to diplomatic sources in Brussel. In exchange for an agreement Serbia would also be prepared to form some kind of cooperation with the EU EULEX mission that will take over from the UN from half june.
Serb politicians from pro-European parties make these weeks their utmost efforts to achieve an SAA with the EU before the 11 june elections. The Netherlands, supported by Belgium, has until now blocked such an agreement as Serbia doesn't fulfill the requirement of "full cooperation" with the ICTY in The Hague. Most other EU countries and the European Commission find it now more important to help the pro-European parties in Serbia to win the elections.
Under pressure from his European colleges minister Verhagen promised at the end of last month "creative thinking" about a possible solution. According to sources in Brussel and The Hague the Netherlands have asked Serbia for a written declaration that the country will fully cooperate with the tribunal. Then possibly would the Netherlands be prepared to sign an agreement with Serbia, but it is not clear whether before or after the Serb elections. For the ratification by the national parliaments full cooperation with the tribunal would still be required.
Until now Serbia is not prepared to make a written promise of full cooperation with the tribunal.
Minister Verhagen reacts laconicly to the promise that the Serb ambassadors will return if Serbia gets its SAA. According to him the EU earlier has pointed out that Belgrade can improve its relations with the EU memberstates by allowing the ambassadors to return.

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