January 14, 2008 / 2:48 PM / 12 years ago

No change in Serbia cooperation view-new prosecutor

AMSTERDAM, Jan 14 (Reuters) - The new chief prosecutor of the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague has no plans to revise his predecessor’s view that Serbia is not fully cooperating with the court, his spokeswoman said on Monday.

Belgian Serge Brammertz took over as chief prosecutor this month from Carla del Ponte, who left the job after eight years with a bitter report to the U.N. Security Council criticising Serbia for deliberately failing to arrest top suspects.

"He will not be making any new assessment at this time unless there are significant developments which warrant one," Brammertz’s spokeswoman said, adding that the new prosecutor was still working on familiarising himself with the job.

"Until such a time the report the previous prosecutor provided to the U.N. Security Council still applies," she said.

The prosecutor’s view of Serbian cooperation is seen as crucial for Serbia’s hopes of joining the European Union.

Before leaving her post, Del Ponte urged the EU to make the handover of Bosnian Serb wartime commander Ratko Mladic — indicted for the genocide of Bosnian Muslims at Srebrenica — a condition for Serbia’s accession to the bloc.

But new EU president Slovenia said last week it wanted Serbia to sign a Stabilisation and Association Agreement, the first rung on the ladder to eventual accession, this month even though some member states are still holding out for Mladic.

Slovenia said Brammertz would meet EU officials soon, but said it was the bloc that would have the final say on what constituted full cooperation. Serbia insists it is fully cooperating and says it hopes to sign the deal on Jan. 28.

There is growing pressure in the EU to take the step to help Serbia’s pro-European reformist President Boris Tadic, who is seeking re-election in a vote scheduled for Jan. 20 with a second round likely on Feb. 3. (Reporting by Emma Thomasson; Editing by Ibon Villelabeitia)

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