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EU warns Serbia to turn over Mladic before membership talks can proceed

[JURIST] The European Union [official website] warned Serbia [JURIST news archive] Thursday that it must immediately make efforts to turn over Bosnian war crimes suspect Ratko Mladic [BBC profile, JURIST news archive] in order for April negotiations regarding Serbia's potential membership to the EU to take place as planned. EU Enlargement [official website] Commissioner Olli Rehn [official website] said that Serbia's cooperation in bringing Mladic to justice will decide whether the talks will move forward [JURIST report], despite Serbian officials' request for understanding [JURIST report] of the "complex political situation" now facing the country. Serbian officials said that the country's current moderate government could be overtaken by ultranationalists if the country cooperates with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia [official website] by hastily handing over Mladic.

Rehn is expected to meet with lead ICTY war crimes prosecutor Carla del Ponte [official profile] on Friday in order to receive an update on the steps Serbia has taken to locate and arrest Mladic. Rehn said he would keep the possibility of membership discussions open until the last possible moment if Serbia complies with the request for Mladic's capture. Reuters has more.

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