Serbia insists it has fully cooperated with the UN war crimes court after the transfer former Croatian Serb leader Goran Hadzic to The Hague but the court and the EU warn this is not the end.
Hadzic was put on a plane to The Hague, where the UN court is based, on Friday. He is the 44th and last fugitive that the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) has demanded that Belgrade hand over.
Following his arrest Wednesday Serbian President Boris Tadic noted that Serbia "had closed the most difficult chapter of cooperation with the The Hague court".
Full cooperation with the ICTY has long been a key demand from Brussels for Serbia's further rapprochement with the European Union.
After the arrest of the last remaining fugitives, Hadzic this week and former Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladic nearly two months ago, Belgrade hopes to be granted EU candidacy status and a date for the start of accession talks by the end of the year.
"The European Union should not blackmail Serbia, there are no reasons to impose (new) conditions on Serbia on the road to European integration," Serbia's Interior Minister Ivica Dacic warned Wednesday.
A day later a pessimist Dacic told media that Europe would "probably come up with other conditions on Serbia's EU path" now.
"Anything can be imposed as a condition," he said.
"If anyone in the EU does not want Serbia to join, they should speak up. If the EU does not want us, we will have to live without it," he lashed out.
While welcoming the arrest as a major step EU officials also immediately added that the next step for Serbia was to push on with internal reforms and to solve the issue of Kosovo. Belgrade refuses to recognize the independence proclaimed by its break-away province while a majority of EU members have accepted Kosovo as a country.
Brussels and the tribunal have also stressed that Serbia needs to continue to cooperate with the ICTY for ongoing trials and to probe how it is possible that many of Europe's most wanted fugitives could hide from international justice in Serbia for so long.
Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic was on the run for 13 years while his military commander Mladic was only caught after nearly 16-years on the lam. Hadzic had been in hiding since 2004.
Serbia has fulfilled "its principal international obligation" with the arrest of the last fugitives, ICTY chief prosecutor Serge Brammertz told the Beta news agency.
"This chapter is closed but cooperation continues," he warned. The UN court still need Belgrade's cooperation in providing documents and facilitating witnesses in ongoing cases.
"I would be very interested to know where Mladic and Hadzic were during all this time in hiding. Who supported them and how was it possible they were in hiding?" the prosecutor said.
Very few details have yet emerged of the life on the run of the ICTY's last fugitives Karadzic, Hadzic and Mladic. Tadic vowed that he would one day unveil the results of the different probes into the fugitives support networks.
Croatian daily Jutarni List, whose country has also been dealing with the ICTY for many years offered some friendly advice to neighbouring Serbia.
"Serbia has now removed the most important obstacles on its EU path but as Croatia's experience shows, full cooperation with the ICTY never ends," it said.