Prime Minister Meets with Veterans Associations about Serbia’s EU Negotiations

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Prime Minister Orešković and ministers of foreign and veterans’ affairs meet with veterans’ associations which are protesting against Croatia’s decision to unblock Serbia’s EU accession negotiations.

Prime Minister Tihomir Orešković, Foreign Minister Miro Kovač and Veterans’ Affairs Minister Tomo Medved met today with representatives of associations of veterans of the Homeland War, reports Večernji List on July 18, 2016.

The theme of the meeting was the opening of chapters 23 and 24 in accession negotiations between Serbia and the European Union. The representatives of veterans’ associations were informed about the positions of Croatia which will be expressed at the third meeting of the Intergovernmental Conference of the EU and Serbia at the ministerial level.

“At the time of the Intergovernmental Conference and the opening of negotiations on chapters 23 and 24, Croatia wishes to take this opportunity to repeat its views that were an integral part of the compromise that led to the adoption of the EU Common Position for chapters 23 and 24, thus enabling the continuation of Serbia’s accession process.

Without prejudice to other important aspects of the rule of law under these two chapters, Croatian believes that issues resulting from the war are crucial in this respect. These are: full cooperation with the ICTY, the de facto suspension of the legislation with which Serbia arbitrarily expanded its jurisdiction to prosecute war crimes in neighbouring countries, and full implementation of legislative framework for the protection of minority rights, in accordance with national and international obligations.

Ensuring the rights of victims of war and their access to justice and the judiciary, without discrimination, including the right to compensation for damages, is also an important indicator of an effective justice system and, together with cooperation in resolving the issue of missing persons, the essential element of lasting peace and reconciliation.

Croatia strongly condemns recent statements by Serbian officials, especially those made by acting special war crimes prosecutor Milan Petrović, which clearly show the reluctance of Serbia to take necessary steps to suspend and finally abolish the conflict of jurisdiction in war crimes cases. Such relativization of obligations arising from chapter 23 calls into question Serbia’s readiness for meaningful negotiations in these two chapters, which are crucial to improving the rule of law. There will be no progress in Serbia’s accession negotiations without meeting the above conditions.

Furthermore, the resolution of all issues which are legacy of the war, with a constructive regional cooperation and good neighbourly relations, remains an important political criterion.

Croatia will closely and carefully monitor the implementation of the benchmarks in chapters 23 and 24, as well as all other measures and obligations in the relevant negotiating chapters in the course of the accession process, focusing on areas that have already been recognized as issues of particular importance. Croatia remains committed to the ongoing expansion of the European Union, on the basis of fulfilling all the necessary criteria”, said the statement released by the government.

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