Politics

European Commission Rejects Croatia’s Arguments in Its Dispute with Serbia

By 14 April 2016

Croatia under growing pressure to change its position.

The European Commission considers that the question of the Serbian law on universal jurisdiction for war crimes should not be a condition for opening negotiations on Chapter 23 Judiciary and Fundamental Rights, reports Index.hr on April 14, 2016.

According to a "non-paper", an internal document of the European Commission, Serbia’s Law on Organization and Jurisdiction of Government Authorities in War Crimes Proceedings, in which Serbia declared itself authorized to conduct proceedings for war crimes committed in the entire former Yugoslavia regardless of nationality of the perpetrators or the victims, "does not violate the sovereignty" of the counties of former Yugoslavia and does not interfere in the internal affairs of these countries.

Croatia has not given the green light for the opening of Chapter 23 between the EU and Serbia. Zagreb wants Belgrade to abolish regional jurisdiction for war crimes, ensure the rights of the Croatian minority in Serbia and achieve full cooperation with the ICTY.

The Commission in its internal document states that Serbia, even if it were to abolish the article of the law on the jurisdiction over the territory of the former Yugoslavia, could continue to prosecute war crimes in the context of universal jurisdiction, "which is not disputed even by Croatian authorities". Brussels further states that this issue should be resolved through cooperation between the two countries.

However, the European Commission is not the one making decisions in any step of the process of accession negotiations and can act only on the basis of the mandate that the EU member states give to it unanimously.

The European Commission has for several years recommended the opening of accession negotiations with Macedonia and that recommendation has the support of almost all member states, but Greece still does not allow it, on the basis of the allegedly controversial constitutional name of the country.

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