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Europe

Serbian PM Pledges Full Cooperation with War Crimes Tribunal

Full cooperation with the Hague war crimes tribunal is Serbia's responsibility and is directly connected with defending territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country, the Serbian prime minister said on Saturday.

Mirko Cvetkovic addressing the Serbian parliament

Serbian Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic hopes to push Serbia toward the EU

"Serbia will fully obey the international law both when it comes to The Hague and to the unilateral declaration of Kosovo's independence," Mirko Cvetkovic said in an interview with Beta news agency.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in February and was recognized by majority of EU countries and the United States. Serbia and its ally Russia oppose it.

Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic was arrested on Monday night in Belgrade and is waiting extradition to The Hague. His warlord Ratko Mladic and Croatian Serb Goran Hadzic are still on the run.

EU prospects

Cvetkovic said he expected an easing of EU conditions on Serbia after clear confirmation that Belgrade was fulfilling its international obligations to The Hague.

Serbia and the EU are yet to ratify the Stabilization and Association Agreement between the Balkan country and the 27-member block.

Cvetkovic said he hopes Serbia will get the candidate status for the EU by the end of 2008 or the

Last-minute appeal

Meanwhile, Belgrade daily Politika reported that Radovan Karadzic's lawyer filed a last-minute appeal late on Friday seeking to prevent the Bosnian Serb leader's extradition to the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague.

Attorney Svetozar Vujacic had until Friday midnight to file an appeal. He refused to tell local media from which post he would file it and refused to confirm whether he had filed it because "that's part of the defense strategy."

Vujacic said earlier he expected a Belgrade court to reject the application, but that he wanted at least a delay so Karadzic's wife and daughter could visit him in custody in Belgrade.

The court will have three days to discuss the appeal and will most likely meet and decide on Monday. Serbia's Ministry of Justice has to sign the extradition warrant before Karadzic can be sent to The Hague.

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