Belgian FM: Concessions to Belgrade “illogical”

BRUSSELS -- Karel De Gucht and Carla Del Ponte met in Brussels Wednesday.

After his talks with Hague chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte, Belgian foreign minister Karel De Gucht said that many of his colleagues have “misanalyzed the situation, believing that by making concessions on the issue of the surrender of Karadžić and Mladić they could get Serbia to take a softer stance towards Kosovo".

De Gucht said that making concessions on the issue of Karadžić and Mladić will not change Belgrade's hard-line stance on Kosovo.

"Kosovo and the ICTY have nothing to do with each other", he noted.

Belgrade's cooperation with the Tribunal "is now worse than it was before”, at the time when the talks were suspended, De Gucht, who recently visited Belgrade, said.

The Belgian minister said that the Western diplomats were mistaken if they believed that making concessions to Serbia would have no consequences for the region. De Gucht believes these consequences might be "catastrophic".

Touching upon the talks he recently had in Sarajevo and Zagreb, the Belgian foreign minister expressed his concern that this development might give "a totally wrong signal for the numerous cases tried before national courts”.

“Belgium cannot support the continuation of the negotiations when the situation [with Belgrade's cooperation with the Tribunal] is worse now than it was when the negotiations were suspended”, he concluded.

In his view, it would be “wrong and illogical to renew negotiations with Serbia”.

“They think it’s not that important anymore, but they’re wrong”, Carla Del Ponte told a SENSE correspondent when asked to explain "the magic disappearance" of Karadžić and Mladić from the latest EU political documents.

The conspicuous disappearance comes after years and years of EU’s persistent reminders that Belgrade must fulfil its obligation to surrender the two to the Tribunal, SENSE reports.

"I'm telling those who still wish to receive me – and fewer and fewer prime ministers and foreign ministers now find the time or interest to do so - that since last October, Belgrade has not been cooperating with the Tribunal at all. Not only has it failed to provide full cooperation – there has been no cooperation whatsoever,” Del Ponte told journalists.

Del Ponte left Brussels for Rome, where she will meet Italian foreign minister D'Alema. She said she expected the international community “not to make compromises at the expense of justice".