Minister Promises No Lenience towards Serbia on EU Accession

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, October 13, 2018 – Serbia has to meet all criteria for accession to the EU and there will be no concessions in that regard, and the MOST party is making up an affair, Foreign and European Affairs Minister Marija Pejčinović Burić told a press conference on Friday after the MOST party accused the government of betraying national interests regarding Serbia’s EU negotiations.

“It is Croatia’s clear and unambiguous position that as a candidate for membership, Serbia has to fulfil all the benchmarks and criteria in order to be given the green light. We have to be clear here: There are no concessions. Hence, all the criteria and all benchmarks have to be fulfilled,” Pejčinović Burić said.

Earlier in the day, the MOST party accused the government of betraying national interests with regard to monitoring the implementation of benchmarks in Serbia’s EU negotiations, with party leader Božo Petrov saying there could be a conflict of interest on Pejčinović Burić’s part since in 2013 she was an adviser to the then prime minister of Serbia on EU accession matters.

“At the same time our ministry was supposed to be resolving serious issues in negotiations with Serbia – from the question of missing persons, to cultural assets restoration and the law on universal jurisdiction,” Petrov said.

“Obviously MOST is again using the same model to make up a new affair. It is absolutely untrue that I was ever hired by Serbia’s government or any of Serbia’s ministers. I worked on a European Union project designed to provide technical support related to the alignment of legislation,” Pejčinović Burić said.

MOST also warned of what it described as corruption at the foreign ministry. “MOST has been maliciously manipulating facts for the past year to prove its allegations of corruption at the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs. In that regard, I can once again reiterate that the Ministry and I personally have done everything possible so that the complaint received last year was immediately investigated and in September this year, the State Prosecutor’s Office (DORH) dismissed the criminal report in that case and determined that no damage had been done to the state budget. Thus the case was closed,” said Pejčinović Burić.

Petrov today raised the question of who was responsible for dissolving the commission to monitor the implementation of the benchmarks related to Chapters 23 and 24 in Serbia’s EU accession negotiations.

“The public has to know that meetings of the government’s commission tasked with determining whether Serbia is taking all the necessary steps to punish war criminals for war crimes committed in Croatia and to compensate the victims, are not being convened at all. According to publicly available information, the commission met only twice, but it has not met at all during the term of incumbent Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Marija Pejčinović Burić,” Petrov said.

Pejčinović Burić underscored that the incumbent government “has restored all mechanisms to resolve outstanding issues with Serbia, with special emphasis on the issue of missing persons.”

“This government and the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs are working actively on resolving all outstanding issues with the Republic of Serbia, with emphasis on the issue of missing persons as the top priority in relations between the two countries,” she added.

Asked if the commission in question existed, Pejčinović Burić said that the incumbent government concluded that such a commission “isn’t necessary to resolve issues.”

“Everything that the commission was supposed to do is already being done through regular mechanisms that the government has at its disposal and by special joint commissions that we have established. There is nothing that that commission needs to do that this government hasn’t begun doing. In fact, it has enhanced work on outstanding issues in relations with Serbia,” Pejčinović Burić concluded.


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