European Union task forces have not yet discussed the opening of negotiations with Serbia on Chapter 23 (Judiciary and Fundamental Rights), Hina learnt on Wednesday from sources close to the EU, while the issue of preparations for the opening of this chapter has been removed from the agenda of the enlargement task force over Croatia's objections.
The enlargement task force was scheduled to discuss the preparations for the opening of Chapter 23 with Serbia on Monday, but according to the same source, the issue has been removed from the agenda after Croatia made several objections.
The opening and closing of negotiating chapters in accession talks with EU hopefuls is decided by EU members by a consensus.
Several weeks ago, the Croatian Foreign Ministry set a condition for the opening of negotiations on Chapter 23 with Serbia, asking Serbia to respect minority rights, cooperate with the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague, which means that Serbia is no longer authorised to process war crimes in the entire former Yugoslavia.
Croatian Foreign Minister Miro Kovac reiterated on Wednesday that full cooperation with the Hague tribunal must be included in the negotiation benchmarks.
"It is clear that complete cooperation with the tribunal in the Hague has to be included in negotiation benchmarks. It is also very clear that Serbia cannot be a judge for all the countries of the former Yugoslavia for war crimes, including Croatia. That is impermissible and that will have to be part of the negotiation benchmarks that Serbia has to meet," he said.
Croatia also expects Serbia to fulfil its obligations pertaining to an international agreement on the protection of minorities, he continued,. "Croatia has been implementing its obligations for some time regardless of that agreement. We expect the Croat minority to be represented in the national parliament, based on the legislation, as foreseen by the international agreement between Croatia and Serbia."