Serbia can resume EU membership talks when Mladic and Karadzic jailed

The chief prosecutor of the U.N. war crimes tribunal, Carla Del Ponte, said Wednesday she was worried the European Union might resume talks on a pre-membership agreement with Serbia before a fugitive leader from the Bosnian war is brought to justice.

Del Ponte harshly criticized Belgrade for not cooperating with the Hague tribunal in the hunt for war crimes suspect, former Bosnian Serb general Gen. Ratko Mladic, and urged the EU to stick to its requirement that he be apprehended before negotiations with Serbia can resume.

Slovenian Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupelj said after a meeting of EU foreign ministers last week some of the conditions imposed on Serbia could be postponed until after the negotiations have re-started. The EU has not officially confirmed whether this is being considered.

"I read ... the Slovenian foreign minister publicly said the negotiations must resume. That is my worry, that this could happen and jeopardize" the hunt for Mladic and another suspect, Radovan Karadzic.

Del Ponte said Belgrade's action plan to apprehend Mladic was "just a smoke screen."

"They have done nothing. Belgrade is not cooperating with us," she told journalists after a meeting with EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, where she sought renewed EU guarantees that the EU would not renege on its earlier requirements, the AP says.

The EU froze talks with Serbia on the interim EU membership Stabilization and Association Agreement on May 3 after Belgrade missed a deadline to extradite Mladic to The Hague.

Mladic and Karadzic, the former political leader of Bosnia's ethnic Serbs, have been on the run since the Bosnian war ended in 1995. Both were indicted on charges of genocide and other war crimes during Bosnia's 1992-95 war.

Del Ponte confirmed Tuesday she is to retire from the post in September and warned that Mladic and Karadzic could end up going free.