Plenković Calls for Lowering Tensions with Serbia

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The Prime Minister said that the blockade of Serbia’s negotiations with the EU should not be dramatized.

There is nothing dramatic in the fact that Croatia has not given Serbia the green light for the opening of Chapter 26, which relates to education and culture. It is in the interest of both countries that Belgrade approaches the issue in a constructive manner, said on Wednesday Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković at the beginning of the session of the government, reports Nacional on December 14, 2016.

“There is nothing dramatic, this is a process which is proceeding. There is a manner of communication and negotiation which is well established and I do not see anything objectionable here, indeed, I expect public statements to be calmer. Croatia is a responsible member of the European Union, which wants stability and prosperity for its neighbours. Therefore, I expect Serbia to approach the issue in a constructive manner in the interest of both countries”, said Plenković.

He stressed that he was speaking to both “the public in Serbia and the Serbian government, as well as to the Croatian public”, calling on statements like the ones which could be heard on Tuesday not to be too dramatic.

The Prime Minister recalled that Croatia had given consent for the opening of two negotiation chapters between the European Union and Serbia in the framework of the intergovernmental conference which was held on Tuesday – on Chapter 5 relating to public procurement and Chapter 25 relating to science and research – but it had reservations about Chapter 26 relating to education and culture.

“I want to send a message that Croatia has certain expectations which Serbia and its government should fulfil when it comes to the rights of the Croatian national minority, particularly in terms of education, in the context of the primary and secondary school textbooks. We believe that, with a fairly simple and specific engagement, Serbia can send the right signal and then it will establish conditions for the opening of this chapter”, said Plenković.

“We had a dialogue with representatives of Croats living in Serbia, we understand these problems. There are certain obligations that have been on the table for many years, and I expect that this will be resolved”, he concluded.

Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić said on Tuesday that Serbia would not allow anyone “to humiliate and trample on it”, especially not Croatia whom he called “a forgery of European values”, after Croatia blocked the opening of Chapter 26 of the accession negotiations between Serbia and the European Union.

In addition to Croatia, Bulgaria also had reservations on the issue. Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister in charge of European Affairs and Minister of Education Meglena Kuneva confirmed that her government had not received the requested information and therefore could not withdraw its reservations.


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