Germany on Tuesday pressed Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica to hand over war crimes suspect Gen. Ratko Mladic to international authorities and respect Montenegro's upcoming vote on independence. Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier met with Kostunica at a tense moment in Serbia's relations with the EU. The bloc suspended talks with Belgrade after it missed a deadline to hand over Mladic to the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague.
Steinmeier underlined the demand to give up the former Bosnian Serb military commander, his office said in a statement. The meeting also addressed Sunday's referendum in Montenegro to decide whether to maintain its union with Serbia or become completely independent. The republics currently share defense and foreign ministries.
Steinmeier "underlined the EU's position that every regular result of the referendum must be respected," his office said. Kostunica has urged the EU to show more understanding for the situation Serbia faces. It is trying to push through judicial and economic reforms, while facing the possibility that Montenegro will break away and negotiating the future of Kosovo.
Steinmeier also urged Kostunica to encourage the Serbian minority in ethnic Albanian-dominated Kosovo to participate in interim government organizations there, currently run by the U.N. That, he said, would help create a "multiethnic, democratic Kosovo, where all citizens, regardless of their ethnic origin, can live together in freedom." The Serbian province came under international administration following a 1998-99 war, reports the AP.