Serbia and Croatia to Exchange Lists of War Crimes Suspects

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, March 24, 2018 – Over the next 30 days, Serbia and Croatia will start preparing lists of persons suspected or accused of war crimes on both sides in order to exchange data and avoid incidents on the border, the two countries’ justice ministers agreed in Belgrade on Friday.

We have agreed that next week we will submit the names of the task force members so that they can meet in the next 30 days and begin work on the exchange of data on war crimes suspects on both sides, Dražen Bošnjaković of Croatia told Hina after meeting with his Serbian counterpart Nela Kuburović.

Bošnjaković said they wanted to avoid incidents such as when a war crimes suspect arrive at the border and find themselves “in an unpleasant situation.” He said commissions for such lists were formed already in 2010, “but at some stage they stopped working.”

The second issue the two judicial delegations raised today was the prosecution of war crimes, concluding that “expert task forces should be formed” to draw up an agreement which would encompass and define all issues relating to that matter in order to “avoid standstills and waiting,” Bošnjaković said.

Asked if he had the impression that anything would get done, given that Croatia had already set conditions for the opening of policy chapters on the rule of law in Serbia’s accession negotiations with the European Union, he said he expected both sides “to make progress together.” Croatia is very interested in supporting Serbia on its EU journey and expects it to achieve the standards necessary for joining the EU, notably rule of law standards, Bošnjaković said.

He said he was “satisfied with today’s meeting” and that, “as far as the exchange of lists is concerned, I think we can expect results very soon.” He added that “now it is necessary to resume the work that was begun in 2010 and simply interrupted.”

The Serbian Justice Ministry said after the meeting both sides agreed that “there is good will by both countries to cooperate and resolve all outstanding issues in the judiciary.” Kuburović and Bošnjaković said the judicial issues between the two countries “are complex and outstanding, but solvable if there is patience and it is done step by step.”

Both sides “expressed openness and mutual respect as well as willingness to establish partner relations and ties,” the ministry said in a press release, adding that they agreed to form two joint commissions for dealing with the issue of war crimes trials and the exchange of lists of persons accused or convicted of war crimes.

Bošnjaković said his ministry was willing “to help and extend expert assistance to the colleagues in Serbia any time” in the European integration process, the press release said.

The two sides also talked about the fight against corruption, constitutional amendments and introducing e-judiciary, agreeing that “all outstanding issues should and must be resolved through bilateral negotiations and the work of task forces.”

The Serbian ministry said it hoped today’s meeting “is the first of many and just the beginning of cooperation, which is imperative in order to arrive at joint solutions.”

Before the opening of policy chapters 23 and 24 on human rights and the rule of law in the Serbia-EU accession negotiations, Croatia insisted that Serbia change its law on universal jurisdiction in war crimes and demanded a better status for the Croat community in Serbia as well as full cooperation with the Hague war crimes tribunal.

These conditions were not met, but the chapters were opened anyway.


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