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Berlin, 01 June 2007

Statement by Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn on Serbia

In February, the EU Foreign Ministers welcomed the Commission's readiness to resume negotiations on a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with a new government in Belgrade, provided it shows clear commitment and takes concrete and effective action for full cooperation with the ICTY.

The Commission assesses that Serbia has now demonstrated clear commitment to full co-operation with the ICTY in its government programme, in meetings with the EU, and in public statements by President Tadic, Prime Minister Kostunica and other members of the new government.

In recent weeks, concrete actions have matched this commitment.

Yesterday, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina worked together to arrest ICTY indictee Zdravko Tolimir, a senior military aide to General Mladic. Also yesterday, the Serbian National Security Council was created by government decree, which is a key step to create a clear chain of command and ensure effective co-ordination with the ICTY. The Serbian authorities conducted an operation on 15 May at the request of the ICTY, linked to the search for General Mladic. Serbia has invited ICTY Chief Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte to visit the country next week, in order further to enhance operational co-operation with the Tribunal.

Following an extensive and careful assessment, I can therefore confirm that the Commission can resume negotiations on a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with Serbia. The Commission will set the date for the next round of SAA talks upon the return of Chief Prosecutor Del Ponte in light of the finding of her visit.

The pace of negotiations from thereon will depend on Serbia's continued effective co-operation. Conclusion of the negotiations depends on full co-operation with the ICTY. I expect the Serbian government to make the most of next week's visit and to maintain the positive gradient towards full co-operation that has started well already."

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