The EU decided to restart the process after Zdravko Tolimir, a former Bosnian Serb general accused of genocide over the 1995 Srebrenica massacre in which more than 7,000 Bosnian Muslims died, was arrested by Serb authorities last week.

Carla del Ponte, the UN war crimes prosecutor, returned from Serbia on Wednesday praising the arrest of Tolimir.

'Concrete actions'

Olli Rehn, EU enlargement commissioner, said after consultations with Del Ponte: "I am glad that she confirms that Serbia has now demonstrated clear commitment to full co-operation with the [tribunal] and that, in recent weeks, concrete actions have matched this commitment.
 
"Next Wednesday we will hold the next round of talks on this important agreement, which will bring concrete trade and economic benefits for Serbia."
 
"I am exceptionally happy that in less than a month of
the new government ... we have managed to restore ties
with the European Union"


Bozidar Djelic, Serbia's deputy prime minister
The Stabilisation and Association Agreement is an accord that candidate countries conclude with the European Union to open up trade and boost political co-operation, eventually leading to actual accession talks and full membership.

Since the talks were suspended, Serbia has held a general election and the Democratic party of Boris Tadic, the president, has joined the governing coalition as its largest member.

Bozidar Djelic, the deputy prime minister of Serbia, welcomed the EU's announcement saying "this is fantastic".

"I am exceptionally happy that in less than a month of the new government, and with the help of our allies, we have managed to restore ties with the European Union."

Barroso urged Serbia to now help to bring Mladic and Radovan Karadzic, a former Bosnian Serb leader, who are both wanted for war crimes, to justice.

"I encourage Serbia to continue improving its co-operation with the tribunal in The Hague, to ensure that all remaining indictees are brought to justice, thus achieving lasting reconciliation in the Western Balkans," he said.