We are writing this public letter to commend your government’s principled stand in refusing to sign the Stabilization Association Agreement (SAA) with Serbia in the absence of its full cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). We also appreciate your government’s clear definition of full cooperation with the Yugoslav tribunal: Serbia must hand over the remaining fugitives to the ICTY before the European Union (EU) will sign the SAA.

We are writing this public letter to commend your government’s principled stand in refusing to sign the Stabilization Association Agreement (SAA) with Serbia in the absence of its full cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). We also appreciate your government’s clear definition of full cooperation with the Yugoslav tribunal: Serbia must hand over the remaining fugitives to the ICTY before the European Union (EU) will sign the SAA.

To date, it is clear that the work of and conditions set by the EU have been the most important tools in persuading Western Balkan states to cooperate with the tribunal.1 It is, therefore, essential to maintain the requirement of Belgrade’s full cooperation with the ICTY prior to SAA signature. This is the most effective way to ensure that Ratko Mladic, one of the architects of the Srebrenica genocide, and the remaining fugitives will be held to account for crimes alleged. Indeed, your government’s insistence on full cooperation with the ICTY reflects the position that, until recently, the European Union as a whole strongly supported.2 We hope that other EU member states will follow your leadership and return to a principled stance on this issue.

The Dutch government’s resolve to preserve the European Union’s valuable leverage in the Stabilization Association process lays down an important marker for international justice. You conveyed to Serbia, and to the broader international community, that justice for serious crimes, including genocide, remains at the core of Europe’s values. Maintaining a principled stance on cooperation with the Yugoslav tribunal offers the victims of the remaining fugitives – including those of the Srebrenica massacre – the chance to finally see justice for the atrocities that they have endured. They deserve nothing less.

We look forward to supporting the Dutch government’s insistence that Serbia fully cooperate with the Yugoslav tribunal when the issue of signing the SAA arises in the future.

Sincerely,

Richard Dicker
Director, International Justice Program

Lotte Leicht
EU Advocacy Director

Cc: Mr. Robert Milders
Representative to the Political and Security Committee
Permanent Representative to the EU


[1]. Former ICTY prosecutor Carla Del Ponte has stressed that “90% of all indictees brought to justice [before the ICTY] are a direct result of conditionality applied by the EU.” See “Del Ponte Urges EU to Keep Up Pressure on Serbia,” Europolitics News Neighbours, July 23, 2007.

[2]. See GAERC, Brussels, Conclusions on the Western Balkans, 15 May 2006,
http://www.consilium.europa.eu/ueDocs/cms_Data/docs/pressData/en/gena/89... (accessed on February 8, 2008); “The Commission stressed its readiness to resume negotiations as soon as full cooperation with the ICTY is achieved,” European Commission, “Serbia 2006 Progress Report,” p. 5, http://ec.europa.eu/enlargement/pdf/key_documents/2006/Nov/sr_sec_1389_e... (accessed February 8, 2008).