According to the Serbian media, Croatia, which has so far repeatedly slowed down Serbia’s progress towards the European Union, mainly due to bilateral issues, is one of EU member states that oppose opening of new negotiating chapters. The reports came one day after the visit of the European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy Johannes Hahn to Belgrade, during which he announced the possible opening of three new negotiating chapters by the end of the year, reports Index.hr on December 6, 2016.
Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić said on Monday, after his meeting with Hahn, said he was very optimistic about opening of new chapters, and that next week a meeting on the issue would take place. Vučić said he was confident that “Chapter 5 (public procurement) will certainly be opened”, but added that regarding Chapters 25 and 26, relating to education, science and culture, there was no agreement between EU member states.
“They want to see whether they will get something out of Serbia and that will decide whether the chapters will be opened now or later. There are also issues which are coming from Croatia, as well as the issue of relations between Belgrade and Priština. We certainly will not give up our national and state interests just so that someone would allow us to open the chapters”, said Vučić, without disclosing any more details about conditions being put to Serbia.
Serbian media pointed out that Croatia, before the recent opening of Chapters 23 and 24 on human rights and the rule of law, insisted that Belgrade had to change the law on universal jurisdiction for war crimes and demanded a better status for Croatian minority in Serbia and full cooperation with the Hague Tribunal.
That condition has again become current in recent days because the Hague Tribunal (ICTY) withdrew the top secret classification from the international arrest warrants for three associates of Serb national leader Vojislav Šešelj, who are accused before the Tribunal for contempt of court. It demands from Serbia to immediately extradite the members of the Serbian Radical Party to the Tribunal. “Croatia is in the group of countries which have insisted on this particular issue in recent months”, writes the Serbian media.
European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy Johannes Hahn said on Monday in Belgrade that he believed the EU member states would very soon agree on the further progress of Serbia in the negotiation Chapters 25 and 26.