Slovak FM on "wrong decision"

BELGRADE -- The decision to tie Serbia's destiny to Ratko Mladić will turn out to be historically wrong, says Slovak FM Miroslav Lajčak.

The decision on whether Serbia has fullfiled the conditions to continue with her EU integration process should be made by the ministers of the EU member states – not by the Hague Tribunal's chief prosecutor, Lajčak told B92 in an interview.

The diplomat believes that the government in Belgrade could soon receive appraisal that it is fully cooperating with the Hague-based court, and also said that his country would not support any initiative that would put recognizing Kosovo as a condition for Serbia to join the EU.

However, he noted that the Serbian government "should be aware" that in the later phases of association, they will be asked to have good cooperation "with all neighbors in the region".

The former Slovak ambassador to Belgrade and high international representative in Bosnia thinks that insisting on Chief Hague Prosecutor Serge Brammertz's opinion amounts to "seeking an alibi for own decisions".

"It's wrong to tie an entire country to one man. I believe that soon an appraisal of full cooperation will come," said Lajčak, who is on an official visit to Serbia.

The Slovak minister and his Belgrade friends gathered at the Slovak embassy last night to mark the tenth anniversary of the so-called Bratislava Process.

It concerts a meeting organized in 1999 by the Slovak foreign ministry, that included invitations to Serbia opposition and NGO figures, aimed at uniting them against the Milošević regime and the country's isolation that lasted many years.

Lajčak says he expected Serbia to be more engaged and more enthusiastic about joining the EU.

Gratitude

On Friday, Lajčak met with top Serbian officials, including President Boris Tadić.

After the meeting, the president's press office issued a statement saying that Tadić thanked Slovakia for supporting Serbia's territorial integrity and sovereignty.

Tadić expressed his gratitude for the support to Serbia's integrity and sovereignty, expressed by Slovakia's peaceful and diplomatic actions directed at preserving Serbia's sovereignty in Kosovo and Metohija, said the statement.

Regarding Serbia's European integration, Tadić stated that EU membership was Serbia's strategic goal, and he pointed out that Slovakia was providing full support.

"He underscored that visa liberalization for Serbian citizens would stimulate an acceleration of the reform process for the whole society," the statement read.