Croatia Blocks Part of Serbia’s EU Negotiations

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Serbian Prime Minister Vučić has left Brussels in protest.

Croatia has blocked the opening of Chapter 26 of the negotiations between the European Union and Serbia, and Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić has left Brussels in protest, reports on December 13, 2016.

Vučić, who came to Brussels on Monday saying that he would return immediately to Belgrade if he did not succeed in unblocking of negotiations with EU High Representative Federica Mogherini, said that the negotiations were still blocked. Therefore, the Serbian Prime Minister will not attend a conference on Tuesday on which two additional chapters will be opened. “Serbia has been patient and tried not to react, but will now talk differently”, said Vučić.

European diplomatic sources say that, with regards to the opening of Chapter 26 – Education and Culture, there are several member states, including Croatia, which have a number of objections in relation to education in minority languages. According to these sources, Croatia has complaints about textbooks for students in Croatian language. Serbia did make certain progress – it started translating the existing textbooks for primary schools into Croatian language, but it has not started working on special textbooks intended for members of the Croatian community. All EU member states have agreed for Serbia to open Chapter 5 – Public Procurement and Chapter 25 – Science and Research.

Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dačić said that the Croatian blockade was a “small thing” which showed “unprincipled position”, since the chapter being blocked allegedly has nothing to do with Croatia’s demands. “Are we going to open this chapter now or in five months – you think that Serbia will be scared or would threaten its national interests because of this?” Dačić asked reporters.

He added that the European Union should “pay a lot more attention to what is happening in Croatia”. “If Croatia is the one who will decide whether Serbia will join the European Union, then I am immediately not so much interested in that anymore”, said Dačić.

Intergovernmental Conference on Accession with Serbia will be held on Tuesday at the sidelines of the General Affairs Council, which is composed of Ministers for European and Foreign Affairs of the EU member states. At that meeting, ministers will adopt conclusions on enlargement which will call on Serbia to respect the rights of national minorities. “Special attention should be paid to respect for fundamental rights, including the protection of vulnerable groups, and non-discriminatory treatment of minorities in Serbia, including in the field of education, use of minority languages, access to the media and religious services in minority languages”, state the conclusions which the Council should adopt later on Tuesday.


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