Tomislav Nikolić.jpg
Photograph: HINA/ TANJUG/ik

Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic has described as unacceptable Croatia's blocking the European integration of Serbia, "which has met all conditions", the national public broadcaster RTS reported on Tuesday.

Commenting on the conclusion of the Working Party on Enlargement and Countries Negotiating Accession to the EU (COELA) that Croatia's consent for the opening of policy chapters in Serbia's EU entry negotiations was lacking "for substantial reasons", while the consent of Great Britain was lacking for "technical" reasons - the situation with the referendum on Great Britain's exit from the EU, Nikolic said that fortunately, the EU was made up of countries where reason prevailed.

"Whatever we do, and we have done a lot, Croatia always shows with some move that its time has come to have a say about Serbia's fate. It is unacceptable that one country can stop another country, which has met all conditions, from joining the EU," Nikolic told reporters during a visit to Krusevac.

The Serbian president went on to say that he was not worried about "the Croatian administration sometimes wishing to show its nationalists that they still own it." "Maybe I am wrong to say that a large number of Croatian politicians still listen carefully to what ultranationalists in Croatia are saying and thinking about a problem and lack the courage to present their policies," he said.

As for Brexit and the possibility for him to defend now with more arguments his "both the EU and Russia" position, Nikolic said that that position was the only right one and that Serbia would advocate it in its state policy.

"Don't think that I am happy about the crisis in the EU because, regardless of how the situation turns out, we will be affected very much, being a small country that has been relying significantly on cooperation with the EU in recent years," he said, adding that Serbia's future status would depend on the EU, which he wished to survive and prosper.

"If the EU judges that we have met the conditions, we will become a member. If it sets conditions which we do not want to meet, we will not join," he said.

Tanja Miscevic, who heads Serbia's team in negotiations with the EU, said earlier that Croatian officials claimed the decision on the opening of policy chapters was a political one. The official position is that Zagreb cannot greenlight the opening of policy chapters because Croatia currently has a caretaker government, said Miscevic.

She said that the process of EU enlargement was expected to slow down now that Britain had decided to leave the EU, but that she believed that Western Balkans "can be a part of the answer to Brexit" and serve "to show the EU and its members the reason for Europe's unification - peace and stability, solidarity, European values and the rule of law."

Miscevic said that "there is still a chance that chapters No. 23 and 24 will be opened by the end of the Dutch presidency, June 30."

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