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Southeast European Times: Del Ponte:"Montenegro a Reliable Partner"

Published date: 05.10.2005 17:20 | Author: Kliping inostranih medija

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Montenegro has backed the efforts of the UN war crimes tribunal from the beginning and continues to facilitate access to documents and witnesses, UN chief prosecutor Carla del Ponte said during her visit to Podgorica last week.

UN war crimes prosecutor Carla del Ponte said that she was pleased with the continuity and the quality of The Hague's relations with Montenegro. [AFP]

Montenegro continues to show good co-operation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, chief UN prosecutor Carla del Ponte said during her visit to Podgorica last week. She said she was pleased with the continuity and quality of the court's relations with Montenegro and expects this to be true in the future as well.

The Swiss-born prosecutor arrived in the republic on Thursday (29 September), following her visit to Belgrade. She met with President Filip Vujanovic and Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic in the resort town of Sveti Stefan.

"We are very satisfied with co-operation with Montenegro," del Ponte told a press conference Friday. "We are in near daily contact with Podgorica and of course our major preoccupation is the arrest of all fugitives, [especially] Mladic and Karadzic. It was important for me yesterday with your president and this morning with your prime minister to exchange some evaluations."

"We have no problems with co-operation. We receive all we are asking," del Ponte said, commending Montenegro for facilitating tribunal access to documents and witnesses. She expressed gratitude to Montenegro and particularly Djukanovic for supporting the work of the tribunal even from the beginning, "when it was much more difficult".

"Thank you very much, Prime Minister. Thank you very much for what you are doing for your country and for us," del Ponte said.

For his part, Djukanovic pledged that authorities would arrest and extradite top war crimes fugitives if they are found on Montenegrin soil. One of the UN court's three most-wanted indictees, Radovan Karadzic, is a native of Montenegro and is rumoured to make occassional crossings into Montenegro from neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) and Serbia.

Karadzic, the former president of BiH's Bosnian Serb entity, Republika Srpska, faces charges at The Hague for his role in the 1995 massacre of Srebrenica and the siege of Sarajevo.

"I asked [Djukanovic] if he were prosecutor for the ICTY what he would doto locate and find Karadzic and Mladic, and what are our errors, since it was not done after ten years," del Ponte said. "I was very satisfied about the evaluation he made. I think he would also be a good prosecutor for an international tribunal."

Djukanovic said Montenegro has been diligent in assisting the tribunal thus far and that his administration plans to continue in the same fashion. He said that everything possible must be done to encourage political, judicial and police structures in the region to do their part of the job, in order to individualise the responsibility for war crimes and to finally end that chapter in the region's history.

The prime minister said he shared del Ponte's frustration that, ten years after the end of conflict in BiH and the signing of the Dayton Agreement, some major indictees have not been captured.

Montenegro is encouraging other countries in the region to co-operate with The Hague in its belief that European and Euro-Atlantic futures must be anchored in stability and mutual trust, Djukanovic said.