Croatia to officially announce its objections at today’s meeting?
In order to continue the EU accession negotiations in Chapter 23, Serbia will have to fulfil the conditions announced by Croatia. Although it has still not been officially confirmed, Croatia has blocked negotiations, and they will not be continued as long as Belgrade fails to meet the criteria, reports Večernji List on April 8, 2016.
The conditions have still not been officially announced, but in his previous statements Croatian Foreign Minister Miro Kovač clearly said that Croatia would not give its consent for the opening of Chapter 23 as long as Serbia does not solve the issues of minority rights, achieves full cooperation with the ICTY and abolishes the jurisdiction to prosecute war crimes in the entire territory of the former Yugoslavia.
Commenting on information about the blocking of negotiations, Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić said that “the Serbian ship will continue to sail safely” whatever anyone in the neighbourhood does. “We want peace and stability and we are investing a lot of energy in it. As if something has happened in the region and now everybody wants to protect their political position by being against someone. The law that Croats are talking about was adopted in 2003 and was the basis for Serbia to arrest those responsible for crimes at Ovčara and in Srebrenica”, said Vučić.
Croatian First Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Karamarko said that Croatia would not block Serbia’s accession to the EU and that it wants to develop good relations with Serbia and to move the external EU border to the east by having Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia enter the EU. “However, Serbia must meet all the standards imposed by the EU, which we had to meet as well”, said Karamarko, adding that Serbia with its law on universal jurisdiction for war crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia “cannot try to be a mini-Hague Tribunal”.
The debate on the opening of Chapter 23 with Serbia should take place at Friday’s meeting of the working group of the Council of the European Union, where Croatia is expected to explain its objections. A source from the EU said that the agenda of the meeting included the point about “implementation of benchmarks for opening Chapter 23 with Serbia”. That means that Croatian diplomats will for the first time explain to their counterparts from the 27 other member states in the Council of the EU why should Serbia get new benchmarks for its negotiations with the European Union.