Austria and Hungary Pressure Croatia to Unblock Serbia’s EU Negotiations

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Pressure grows on Croatia to withdraw its objections.

The European Commission and EU member states are planning to step up pressure on Croatia to withdraw its conditions to Serbia for the opening of Chapter 23 in accession negotiations with the European Union, reports Večernji List on April 11, 2016.

However, Croatian Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs says that there will be no change of position, at least not until after the election campaign in Serbia is over and that country gets a new government.

“We are following electoral campaign in Serbia and events concerning its membership talks with the EU. However, no promotional activities, no matter how successful in the country or abroad, cannot replace the adoption of the fundamental values of the EU, such as, among others, respect for the rule of law and human rights, including minority rights, and a commitment to good neighbourly cooperation. We should allow for the election campaign to pass and for the new government to be formed in Serbia, which we hope will continue its process of joining the EU”, said in a statement a spokesperson for Foreign Minister Miro Kovač.

After Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz publicly said that he supported the opening of Chapters 23 and 24 in negotiations with Serbia, sources from Brussels say there is little chance that any country would side with Croatia.

“We will not allow anyone to block Serbia’s EU integration. We will not allow it to any EU institution or any country”, said Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto. Although Hungary had numerous objections about Serbian judiciary, especially regarding the treatment of minorities, it seems that these problems have been resolved. The Hungarian minority has five MPs in Serbia’s parliament. “Relations between Hungary and Serbia are at the historically highest point”, said the Hungarian Minister.

If Croatia continues to insist on its three conditions to Serbia – the abolition of the controversial law about jurisdiction for war crimes in the entire territory of former Yugoslavia, minority rights and cooperation with the Hague Tribunal – it is expected that the political pressure will increase from major centres such as Berlin because the separation of Serbia from Russia and its “anchoring” on the European path is a priority for the West. The ideal situation would be for Croatia and Serbia to resolve these problems in bilateral talks.


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