NEWS

Serbia seeks end to Mladic pressure

By Jovana Gec – The Associated Press BELGRADE – The foreign minister of Serbia-Montenegro appealed yesterday to the EU to stop pressuring Belgrade into handing over war crimes suspect Ratko Mladic, saying the demands could backfire following Slobodan Milosevic’s death in UN detention. Vuk Draskovic told reporters that the situation in Serbia was «very complex and serious,» and suggested that nationalist pressure on Belgrade’s democratic authorities was rising amid the controversy surrounding Milosevic’s death. «Those who have caused the most evil have raised their heads again, expecting to come back (to power),» Draskovic warned. «Our friends in the EU and the United States seem not to hear that.» As Draskovic spoke in Belgrade, European Union officials in Brussels said they had no intention of scrapping the deadline by which Serbia must hand over Mladic or face possible isolation. EU spokeswoman Krisztina Nagy said there was «no change in our position in light of recent developments.» «I believe the time is right for Europe, the international community, to bravely change their policies toward Serbia and help us,» Draskovic said. «I expect, demand, beg,» he added, that Serbia-Montenegro immediately be admitted into NATO’s Partnership for Peace program, without any conditions, and that international support for the beleaguered country be stepped up. «Obligations must be fulfilled,» he said of Belgrade’s pledge to hand over Mladic. «But, they (obligations) must not be pronounced as obstacles that cannot be bypassed.»