Tuesday, November 13, 2007


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (November 13,2007) – A member of the Bosnian Presidency Haris Silajdzic sent a letter to European Commission President Jose Manuel Barrosso expressing his disappointment with the decision of the European Commission to allow Serbia to initial the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with the EU, while at the same time it has delayed doing the same with Bosnia.

“The European Union has insisted for years that a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with Serbia will be possible only after all indicted war criminals, especially Ratko Mladic, are attested and transferred to the Hague. The European Commission has lately reduced this obligation of Serbia to general terms, stressing that talks with that country can start after Serbia achieves “full cooperation” with the Hague Tribunal, but senior EU officials have clearly stated that this also means that Mladic first needs to be arrested”, Silajdzic said.

This week, however, we have witnessed the fact that international obligations are subject to broadest possible interpretation, because Serbia was allowed to initial the Stabilisation and Association Agreement even without taking concrete steps towards arresting persons indicted for the most gruesome of all crimes – the crime of genocide, Silajdzic said.

And while Bosnia fully respects the right of the European Commission to independently decide whether to continue talks with any other country, it is of critical importance for Bosnia to have legitimate rights and interests concerning this issue, he added.

Silajdzic reminded that on February 26 this year the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that Serbia is responsible for violations of the Convention on Preventing and Punishing Acts of Genocide by failing to prevent genocide in Bosnia and arresting persons indicted for committing genocide. The Court ruled that Serbia needs to, without any delay, arrest and transfer to the Hague all such persons.

“Serbia continues to ignore this court order and to violate its international obligations towards Bosnia, which stem from the Convention on Genocide”, Silajdzic said.

“Considering these international obligations and in light of the European Commission’s earlier clear positions we can view this Commission’s decision only as a decision influenced by the announced resolution of the status of Kosovo”, Silajdzic said.

“I take the liberty to remind you that this strategy does not promise results, because history has shown that concessions to Serbia in one field did not bring results in other fields. What is more important, however, is that I am disappointed with the fact that the Commission has effectively embraced a country which continues to violate the most important international obligations towards another potential member of the EU”, Silajdzic reminded and added that a country that is suffering violations of those obligations has been effectively rejected by the Commission.

The European Commission has rejected to initial the Stabilisation and Association Agreement with Bosnia under the explanation that the Bosnian police reform has still not been implemented.

Silajdzic added in the letter that the decision of the European Commission to delay talks with Bosnia, while at the same time it continues talks with Serbia, seriously threatens to encourage obstructionists to diminish the possibility of police reform.

“While Serbia has been allowed to allow the perpetrators of genocide to escape justice, Bosnia is forced to wait at the doorstep of the EU as long as the leadership of Serbia and the RS insist on the preservation of the RS police, an organisation identified by the International Court of Justice as an organisation that took part in the perpetration of genocide in Srebrenica”, Silajdzic said.

Such a scenario, Silajdzic added, not only ignores the victims of genocide, as well as European and international obligations, but also threatens to undermine the stability of Bosnia and the entire region.

“I therefore hope that the European Commission will soon review its approach to the entire process of European integrations in the region and that its decisions will not be motivated by factors that are not directly connected to defined obligations”, Silajdzic concluded.

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