Foreign Minister Kovač: Croatia Is Not Blocking Serbia

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According to Croatian Foreign Minister, Croatia is helping Serbia to become more mature.

Croatia is not blocking Serbia on its path towards European integration, but is helping it to transform and become mature for EU membership, and that is useful for long-term partnerships between Croatia and Serbia, said Croatian Foreign Minister Miro Kovač on Monday in Warsaw, reports Jutarnji List on May 9, 2016.

Kovač was a guest at the forum dedicated to Croatia as the youngest member of the European Union and he talked about Croatian policy towards refugees, the election of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the security and stability in Europe, and the Croatian position towards the accession of countries of Southeastern Europe to the European Union.

Responding to a question from the audience whether Croatia was blocking Serbia, Kovač said that Serbia formally started negotiations in January 2014, but that the first two chapters were opened in December 2015. “Do you know why? It was about Kosovo. In fact, Germany and the United Kingdom insisted that Serbia has to open a dialogue and establish relations with Kosovo. Have you ever heard anyone in Serbia or in the European Union talk about the blockade of Serbia? You did not!” said Kovač.

“Therefore, Croatia is helping Serbia to meet the criteria which are key for the most important chapter in the negotiations, and that is the chapter covering justice, fundamental rights and freedoms. Croatia has a very friendly approach”, said the Minister.

Kovač said that the Dutch presidency of the EU had the ambition to open Chapter 23 in June. “It is still possible, but we want to get some things incorporated in negotiating benchmarks”, said the Minister. “Basically, Croatia is helping Serbia to transform and become mature for EU membership. I can promise you that we will soon be close to a solution”, he said.

“The negotiating process is difficult and takes a lot of time. You have to change just as Croatia had to change during its negotiations from 2005 to 2011, and it is useful in the long run”, he said, adding that he hoped “that the next Serbian government would be pro-European and that Serbia will remain on the European path”.

Responding to a question about who will be the new Secretary General of the United Nations, Kovač said that the “procedure was known but it would eventually be a decision of the Security Council”. “I think that the new Secretary General will be from Eastern Europe, but only if there is a consensus within the group”, he added.

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