Friday, April 25, 2008

Holland and the SAA

Some news on Serbia's SAA from Holland. The Dutch parliament had a meeting on it on 24 april. Minister Verhagen is prepared to sign if the EU makes sure that Serbia doesn't enjoy any of its benefits as long as Mladic isn't delivered. For the opposition parties even this little consession was too much.

After an SAA has been signed it has to be ratified. A part is ratified by Europe: this usually happens quite fast. The other part is signed by the EU memberstates: this can easily take more than a year even if it is not controversial. But when the European part has been ratified the country already gets some benefits. It now looks as if this European ratification will be delayed and conditional on the extradition of Mladic.

B92 has some news on the subject too. There are also reports on the a more liberal visa regime for Serbia. The article claims that Verhagen would support such a move while the dutch newspaper article below suggests that he would not support it.

Only a few newspapers in Holland reported about the issue. Below a translation of the most complete article I could find an article about the meeting:

Nederlands relaxes attitude towards Serbia
The Netherlands is possibly yet prepared to sign an greement between the EU and Serbia. The coalition parties support minister of foreign affairs Verhagen in his effort to find a "creative solution", so appeared thrusday in a debate in parliament.
Verhagen refused for months to sign an agreement between the EU and Serbia. First Serbia had to put Mladic on the plane to [...] The Hague, was the demand of Verhangen, who was nearly alone with that wish inside Europe.
But now Verhagen is prepared possibly to sign. At least he finds that the EU should make a gesture towards Serbia in order to support the pro-European parties in the 11 may elections. "I want to tell the Serbian voters that we have nothing against ther country and that it should join the EU", said Verhagen, who will have a meeting with his EU collegues on this subject on tuesday.
According to Verhagen the EU could conclude the agreement, but make the accompanying advantages dependent on Serbia's cooperation with the tribunal. This concerns cheaper visa, scholarships for Serbian students and easier access for Serbian products to the European market.
Until now the full parliament supported Verhagens tough policy against Serbia. The oppostion parties want to cling to that. "The Netherlands should stay principled and keep its back straight" said GL president Femke Halsema. According to her it is far from sure that a gesture from the EU towards Serbia will bring the pro-European parties an election victory.
The three coalition parties support Verhagen. "It is good that the minister's thinking keeps evolving", judged CDA parliamentarian Karien van Gennip. "We should not restrict the minister in his freedom to act" said PvdA parliamenraian Luuk Blom.
CU parliamentarian Joël Voordewind said that he trusted that Verhagen "will not rashly put his signature under the agreement".

No comments: