Still no green light from Zagreb.
Croatia insists on its position that Serbia cannot open EU accession negotiations in Chapter 23 until it agrees to fulfil Croatian demands. That was demonstrated on Wednesday at a meeting of the Committee of Permanent Representatives of the 28 EU member states, report Večernji List and dnevnik.hr on May 5, 2016.
Croatia has its position and is actively working to find a solution in dialogue with other EU member states and in consultation with the European Commission, according to unofficial sources from the Croatian Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs.
The Netherlands, which holds the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union and hopes to open Chapter 23 with Serbia in June, has again brought this topic to debate, hoping that something had changed after the elections in Serbia, but Croatian Ambassador Mato Škrabalo reiterated that Zagreb has not given a green light.
“We still have the status quo. The remaining 27 states have given the green light, but one country has not done that. We hope that this will soon change, but this debate demonstrated that nothing has changed for now”, said a source familiar with the debate which was held behind closed doors.
At the same time, according to reports by Serbian media, sources in the EU say they will continue with consultations between Brussels and Zagreb, and that the goal remains for the Chapters 23 and 24 to be opened by the end of June, during the Dutch presidency.
Serbian sources claim that at a meeting in Brussels “the European Commission and some member states, notably Germany, insisted that the opening of Chapter 23 was necessary to preserve the credibility of the process, reminding Zagreb about the declaration adopted by Croatian Parliament which pledged not to block neighbours in their European integrations due to bilateral issues which are not part of the European legislation”.
At the same time, Serbian media claims that “there is less and less time for the necessary procedural preparations”. Head of Serbia’s negotiating team with the EU Tanja Miščević said that “Serbia should wait” to see what further steps EU countries would undertake. “We are still waiting for Croatia to give its opinion… There are only a couple of months left until the end of the Dutch presidency”, said Miščević.