Croatia Unblocks Serbia’s EU Negotiations

By 23 December 2016

After just ten days, Croatia decided to unblock Serbia’s negotiations with the European Union.

Croatia is ready to raise its reservations on opening of Chapter 26 in the accession negotiations between Serbia and the European Union, after the issue of textbooks for Croatian national minority in Serbia was resolved in Belgrade, announced on Friday Croatian Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Davor Ivo Stier in a statement to the press, reports Index.hr on December 23, 2016.

Serbian Minister of Education and representatives of the Croatian National Council and the Institute for Textbooks signed on Friday in Belgrade an annex to the agreement on the issue of textbooks, which includes not just a translation from Serbian into Croatian language and from Cyrillic to Latin alphabet, but also covers special additions to textbooks which will include special topics of interest to the Croatian minority in Serbia, said Stier.

Croatian Foreign Minister welcomed the decision and said that this was a very good day for the Croatian minority in Serbia. “Conditions have been created that we can remove our reservations with regards to the Chapter 26. I want to say that, in the context of Chapter 23, we will continue to monitor the fulfillment of all obligations pertaining to national minorities, with an emphasis on the Croatian minority”, said Stier.

“At our request, European Enlargement Commissioner Hahn informed us and gave explanations that we had requested. The Commissioner will personally be involved in monitoring the implementation of all the commitments agreed upon”, said Stier. “On the basis of the signed agreement, conditions have been met so that we can lift out reservations on the Chapter 26”, he reiterated.

At an intergovernmental conference held in Brussels on 13 December, Croatia did not lift its reservations on the opening of Chapter 26 which covers the issues of education and culture. According to a statement given by Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković at the time, Serbia had still not fulfilled its obligations towards the Croatian minority.

Serbian officials then subjected Croatian authorities to intense criticism, while Croatia claimed that Serbian authorities were resorting to unnecessary dramatization and that the conditions can be easily met by Serbia. The international community also got involved in efforts to solve the issue, which included a rare phone call between US Vice President Biden and Croatian Prime Minister Plenković.