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Serbia's president says EU integration is his country's top priority

Serbia's president says EU integration is his country's top priority

Serbia's president said Sunday that the country's top priority in the next year will be to become a candidate for EU membership.
Boris Tadic said 2007 will be "full of challenges" for Serbia, including a decision on the future status of its breakaway Kosovo province and the demand for it to arrest fugitive war crimes suspect Ratko Mladic.
Mladic's capture has become the key condition for Serbia's integration into the European Union. Brussels has said that pre-entry talks with Belgrade will continue only after Mladic is arrested.
The former Bosnian Serb army commander is sought on genocide charges by a U.N. war crimes court in The Hague, Netherlands, for orchestrating the 1995 massacre of 8,000 Muslims from Srebrenica.
Tadic said Serbia must either arrest Mladic or prove that he is not hiding in the Balkan republic in order to establish closer ties with the EU. The Hague tribunal officials have insisted that Mladic is in Serbia, enjoying protection from the hard-liners in the security forces.
"We must show that ... we want to become EU members" by wrapping up cooperation with The Hague court and pursuing pro-Western economic reform, Tadic said.
"The top priority of all is EU membership," he added. "We must achieve the candidate status by the end of 2007."
Pro-Western Tadic and his reformist Democratic Party have said they will find and arrest Mladic if they come to power in January's general election. Current conservative Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica has said he has been unable to locate Mladic.
The reformist bloc in Serbia faces a challenge at the January vote from nationalists loyal to ex-president Slobodan Milosevic, who waged four wars in the Balkans in the 1990s. Milosevic died in March while on trial for genocide at the Hague tribunal.


Updated : 2021-05-11 08:23 GMT+08:00