[JURIST] The Serbian National Assembly [official website, English version] on Tuesday ratified a Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) [PDF text; EU backgrounder] to guide it toward accession [EU materials; Serbian government materials] to the European Union (EU) [official website; JURIST news archive]. The parliament voted 140-28 in favor of the agreement [official press release], which sets forth benchmarks for evaluating Serbia's prospective membership, particularly with regard to trade. The agreement will take effect upon ratification by EU member states, the EU Council of Ministers and the European Parliament [official websites]. Also Tuesday, the parliament approved a 900-million-euro agreement with Russia [JURIST news archive] to grant the Russian natural gas company Gazprom majority ownership of Naftna Industrija Srbije (NIS) [corporate websites], Serbia's state oil monopoly. AP has more.
After negotiations began in late 2005, Serbia [JURIST news archive] initialed the SAA in November and signed it in April. The EU has made Serbia's cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website; JURIST news archive] a key element of its membership process. This July, a Serbian prosecutor said the government planned to extradite [JURIST report] Bosnian Serb leader and former fugitive Radovan Karadzic [JURIST news archive] to the Hague to face a war crimes indictment. In 2006, the EU suspended membership talks [JURIST report] with Serbia after it had failed to meet a deadline for arresting war crimes fugitive Ratko Mladic [JURIST news archive] and turning him over to the ICTY.