The chairman of the Bundestag European Union Committee, Guenther Krichbaum, on Saturday criticised Croatia for blocking Serbia's EU accession negotiations, saying Croatia was misusing the EU to solve its own outstanding issues with Serbia.
Croatia has not given the green light for the opening of the negotiation chapter on the judiciary and fundamental rights, demanding that Serbia abolish regional jurisdiction for war crimes, ensure the rights of the Croat minority, and fully cooperate with the Hague war crimes tribunal.
"There are mechanisms for solutions, even when states are engaged in discussions or quarrels," Krichbaum told Deutsche Welle, adding that in those cases it was normal to expect the states to solve problems bilaterally, without misusing EU membership for that purpose.
He said Croatia's demand regarding the Croat minority was not entirely founded. "It isn't written anywhere that this must happen through minorities' membership of parliament," he said. "In Germany, minority representatives can enter parliament through established or new parties. The German path is different but in no way clashes with European rules. In that sense, it is up to Serbia to decide how to act in this field."
Krichbaum recalled Slovenia's blockade of Croatia during its EU accession negotiations because of a border dispute, saying that Germany "urged Slovenia to give up the blockade."
"I have no understanding for the demands from Croatia because they concern bilateral topics which we expect to be solved in the envisaged modules and courts. We have international courts for that," he said, announcing measures to try to persuade Croatia to give up its intention.
"There is an appropriate European Council format at which this issue will certainly be discussed. I hope Croatia will give in. They should remember there how they were helped when they were in a similar situation and how Croatia pledged to the European partners that it would not create such blockades. Yet we see that it has done it," Krichbaum said.
He said Croatia needed the EU and the partners from the EU. "Croatia will have goals it wants to achieve. Otherwise Croatia will soon realise that neither its ideas nor its projects will be accommodated. Because in the European Union, the give-and-take rule applies."
Croatian Parliament Speaker Zeljko Reiner dismissed Krichbaum's criticisms, telling reporters in Split that those were not the positions of Germany or the EU and that Croatia would not abandon its positions.
"That's the position of one German politician," he said, adding that he remembered Krichbaum's statements before Croatia joined the EU in 2013.
That year, Krichbaum said that Germany planned to seek additional clauses for the ratification of Croatia's EU Accession Treaty so that Croatia could be monitored after joining the EU because of problems in the judiciary and the fight against corruption. Germany rejected the suggestion and the European Commission would not comment on it.