BELGRADE, Serbia-Montenegro – Serbia's latest plan to arrest war crimes fugitive Ratko Mladic does not specify a deadline for his capture or the role of foreign spy agencies in the hunt, the interior minister said Wednesday.
The European Union this week welcomed Serbia's plan to track down and arrest the wartime Bosnian Serb army commander, but stopped short of committing itself to resume crucial pre-membership negotiations suspended in May because of the failure to catch him.
"No deadlines are mentioned in the plan," said Interior Minister Dragan Jocic, who is in charge of the police.
Serbian officials said earlier that Mladic must be arrested by September — or attempts to capture him must be documented to the EU as genuine — if the country wants to continue the pre-membership talks.
An agreement on Serbia's association with the EU is seen by Serbia's conservative-led government as a way of kick-starting economic reforms and avoiding defeat in upcoming elections.
Although no details of the three-page plan were released, Jocic said it lists measures to apprehend Mladic, who is wanted by the U.N. war crimes court on genocide charges of involvement in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of some 8,000 Bosnian men and boys by his troops.
"Police, security services and other segments of the society have their role in the action plan, and what is very important, for the first time it envisages coordination and responsibilities of those segments," Jocic said.
He also said that the plan does not include a role for foreign intelligence agencies in the search for Mladic, who is believed to be hiding in Serbia under the protection of hardliners in Serbia's military and police.
Serbian officials and foreign diplomats have said that U.S. and British agents have already joined the pursuit for Europe's top war crimes fugitive.