Serbia’s President Vojislav Kostunica has insisted his country’s doing all it can to apprehend Ratko Mladic, as demanded by the European Union.
But he does not expect him to be handed over to the UN tribunal in The Hague in the next few days.
“Trust, at this point, can deliver much better results than any other approach,” he said.
However, his government admits it could face reprisals from Brussels.
Mladic, the former Bosnian Serb military leader, is rumoured to be hiding in Serbia.
He is indicted over the siege of Sarajevo, which claimed at least 10,000 lives, and the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, in which at least 7,500 Muslim men and boys were killed.
Dutch foreign minister Bernard Bot says authorities in Belgrade told him Mladic might be trying to negotiate his surrender with his own entourage.
Serbia’s media reported this week that Mladic’s arrest was imminent.
But at Thursday’s session of the European Parliament, the EU enlargement commissioner Olli Rehn said Serbia-Montenegro had until April to extradite Mladic.
If it did not, he said, talks on closer ties with the EU would be suspended.
EU foreign ministers are meeting on Monday and they will be discussing whether to call a halt to the stabilisation and association talks with Serbia, which hopes to join the bloc eventually.
The next round of talks is due to begin on April 5.