Major Roadblock Cleared for Serbia to Join EU

Posted June 6th, 2011 at 2:45 pm (UTC-5)
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European Union President Herman Van Rompuy says that Serbia's arrest and extradition to The Hague of wanted war criminal Ratko Mladic has moved the Balkan nation significantly closer to EU membership.

Speaking after a meeting Monday with Serbian President Boris Tadic, Van Rompuy said that while the path ahead for Serbia's joining the European bloc is still difficult, Mladic's arrest represents the removal of a major roadblock. But Van Rompuy also called on Mr. Tadic to work on strengthening Serbia's democratic institutions and enhance its rule of law as it moves forward with its EU bid.

Mr. Tadic said he hopes to hold full EU membership talks in early 2012.

Mladic is accused of masterminding the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys and the three-year siege of Bosnia's capital, Sarajevo, in which 10,000 people died.

The former Bosnian Serb wartime commander was captured in Serbia May 26, after 16 years on the run. He has been charged with genocide and war crimes.

Van Rompuy called Mladic's trial at the international war crimes court in The Hague a triumph of international justice.