[JURIST] Officials from the monitoring committee of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) [official website] released a draft resolution [text; press release] Monday praising Serbia for the reforms it has made since joining the Council of Europe (COE) in 2003 but stressing that the country still has work to do. The committee particularly praised the Serbian government's continued efforts towards European integration, indicated most recently by the September 9 ratification of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) [text, PDF; JURIST report] between the EU and Serbia. The country has also shown increased cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website], but the committee officials cautioned that the Serbian government must use peaceful methods in its dealings with Kosovo, strengthen its democratic government, and institute more aggressive legal and judicial reforms. In the resolution, the committee members recommended that the COE:
[W]orks with the Serbian authorities to develop, where appropriate, new targeted co-operation programmes in the fields of strengthening of democratic institutions, local and regional democracy, reform of the judiciary and of the Public Prosecutors Office, the fight against corruption, human rights, mass media, and education, making full use in particular of new funding opportunities, including within the framework of the European Unions Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA).The Parliamentary Assembly is scheduled to debate the draft resolution [schedule text] in early October.
After negotiations began in late 2005, Serbia [JURIST news archive] initialed the SAA in November and signed it in April. The EU has made Serbia's cooperation with the ICTY a key element of its membership process. This July, a Serbian prosecutor said the government planned to extradite [JURIST report] Bosnian Serb leader and former fugitive Radovan Karadzic [JURIST news archive] to the Hague to face a war crimes indictment. In 2006, the EU suspended membership talks [JURIST report] with Serbia after it had failed to meet a deadline for arresting war crimes fugitive Ratko Mladic [JURIST news archive] and turning him over to the ICTY.