EU hails Hadzic arrest as key step in Serbia's EU bid
(BRUSSELS) - The arrest of war crimes suspect Goran Hadzic on Wednesday is another "important step" for Serbia in its path towards joining the European Union, the EU said.
EU president Herman Van Rompuy, European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton also said they expected the one-time Croatian Serb rebel leader to be transferred to the UN war crimes court in The Hague "without delay."
"The European Union strongly welcomes the arrest of Goran Hadzic by Serbia's authorities," Van Rompuy, Barroso and Ashton said in a joint statement.
"This is a further important step for Serbia in realising its European perspective and equally crucial for international justice," they said.
The arrest, less than two months after Serbian authorities captured wartime Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic, "sends a positive signal to the European Union and to Serbia's neighbours," they said.
"The Serbian nation is in the process of confronting the past and turning the page to a better European future."
They added: "We expect Mr. Hadzic to be transferred to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague without delay.
"Full cooperation with the ICTY continues to be essential on Serbia's way towards the European Union."
Hadzic, 52, faces 14 counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes for the murders of hundreds of people and deportation of tens of thousands Croats between 1992-1993.
He was the last remaining fugitive wanted by the UN war crimes court.
Serbia had already taken a giant step towards the EU in May when it arrested Mladic after a 16-year manhunt, meeting a key condition set by the 27-nation bloc.
The Serbian government, which applied for EU membership back in late 2009, is pushing to get a fixed date to start accession talks with Brussels.
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