miro kovač.jpg
Photograph: HINA / MVEP / mm

Croatia expects the new Serbian government to remain committed to joining the European Union (EU), which implies full cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague, Croatia's Foreign Minister Miro Kovac said in Brussels on Thursday.

"We expect the new Serbian government to continue to be committed to joining the EU, which implies full cooperation with the Hague tribunal, recognising rulings by that tribunal," Kovac said when asked by reporters to comment on Serbia's decision not to extradite three members of Seselj's Radical Party to the ICTY.

Kovac was attending a meeting of NATO foreign ministers and met briefly with US State-Secretary John Kerry. Kovac said that the meeting with Kerry was cordial and added that a bilateral meeting would be held soon. Kovac and Kerry were to have met a few days ago in Washington, but the meeting did not materialise due to conflicting schedules.

Asked whether the replacement of ambassadors was agreed and whether the names of new candidates were known, Kovac said that that matter was in regular procedure.

"That is a regular procedure and I personally advocate that it be conducted according to procedure and rules. This summer there will be a regular rotation of the heads of diplomatic missions and consulates. We are an organised country and this Croatian government, with me as foreign minister will contribute to further organising relations in Croatia, including foreign policies and replacing ambassadors and consuls, all according to rules and procedures based on known criteria - efficiency, professionalism and of course loyalty to the country," he said.

Minister Kovac was one of the signatories today of a protocol of Montenegro's accession to NATO and when all 28 member states ratify the protocol, Montenegro will be the 29th member of the Alliance.

"The Croatian government and President have promised that we will ratify that agreement very quickly. We will endeavour to be among the first to ratify Montenegro's accession to NATO," he said.

Kovac added that it was an honour to sign the protocol and congratulated Montenegro's Prime Minister Mile Djukanovic on behalf of the Croatian government.

"That is very important news for Montenegro and Croatia, Southeast Europe and all of Europe. That is a contribution to the stability and security of Southeast Europe. A very important day for us in Croatia too," said Kovac.

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