Serbia: Croatia sets two conditions for EU adhesion

'Belgrade must end interference judiciary, protect minority'

04 April, 12:55

    Croatian Foreign Minister Miro Kovac Croatian Foreign Minister Miro Kovac

    ZAGREB - Croatia has set two conditions for Serbia to continue its path towards EU membership: ending interference of its judiciary in trying war crimes committed across the whole territory of former Yugoslavia and regulating the rights of the Croatian minority in Serbia with a bilateral agreement, Croatian Foreign Minister Miro Kovac said.

    ''Without these two points, which must be carried out before the adhesion, Serbia will not be able to continue the negotiations'', explained Kovac.

    Two weeks ago, Croatia had already vetoed the opening of talks with the EU on the chapter regulating human rights and justice. Kovac recalled that Germany and the United Kingdom had set as a condition for the opening of talks with Belgrade the start of the normalization of relations with Kosovo.

    ''For this reason, Serbia had two wait two years before starting negotiations and in Belgrade nobody protested'', he added. Croatia, in a similar way, does not mean to give up on its two conditions which, according to Kovac, are based on the same presuppositions to those tied to relations with Kosovo: ''reconciliation and good neighborhood relations''.

    The law Zagreb wants to see abolished allows Serbia to judge war crimes committed by all sides in the conflict during the 1990s, also in Bosnia and Croatia, thus extending its jurisdiction outside the Serbian State's territory. The law allowed many ethnic Serbian suspects to be tried by Belgrade, as requested by the international community. Meanwhile, it has also opened the possibility for Croatian citizens, former soldiers and officers, to stand trial in Serbia, if arrested. So far, only one such trial has taken place, sparking protests in Croatia.

    The Croatian minority in Vojvodina numbers some 50,000 people, against 80,000 before the dissolution of Yugoslavia. Its status is regulated by internal Serbian law, and Zagreb now insists on an agreement with an international reach.

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