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NATO presses for capture of Serb war crimes fugitives by end 2006

[JURIST] NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer [official profile] Monday called on Serbia and Bosnia to step up their efforts to find wanted war criminals Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic [ICTY case backgrounders], both indicted for genocide and other war crimes committed during the 1992-95 Bosnian war. After more than 10 years as fugitives, de Hoop Scheffer expressed his hope that both men could be brought to justice before the Hague-based International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia [official website] by the end of the year. At stake is the tentative agreement between NATO [official website] and the two nations to sign a Partnership for Peace [NATO backgrounder] agreement, a document that reaffirms defense cooperation between NATO and non-member countries. Previously, UN war crimes prosecutor Carla del Ponte [JURIST report] and EU High Representative to Bosnia-Herzegovina Lord Paddy Ashdown [JURIST report] also pressed for the arrests. NATO will hold several meetings in 2006 to discuss possible extensions of a formal partnership to aspirant countries while the European Commission [official website] agreed [JURIST report] to negotiate with Bosnia to form a cooperation agreement that may result in the country's full membership [EU enlargement background materials] to the EU. Reuters has more.

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