Serbia's chief negotiator for accession negotiations with the European Union (EU) Tanja Miscevic suggested on Wednesday that contentious issues between Serbia and Croatia have to be resolved by agreement at the bilateral level and that that should not have any impact on the negotiations.
"Bilateral issues should be negotiated. I'm certain that it is also in Croatia's interest to discuss that," Miscevic said in an interview with Radio-Television Serbia in response to announcements from Zagreb that Croatia could set conditions for Serbia's progress in European integration by demanding the abolishment of universal jurisdiction for war crimes and improving rights of the Croat minority in Serbia.
Stressing that she understood Croatia's interests and did not expect Zagreb to back down on its demands, Misecvic believes that this need not be a reason to set conditions for the opening of new negotiating chapters.
Recalling that some bilateral issues had already been "brought into the negotiating process," Miscevic said that "Croatia itself also had that problem" with Slovenia, but that in situations where one member state dissented, other member states could exert pressure.
"However, the tendency is that bilateral issues be resolve bilaterally for the purpose of not delaying negotiations," she said.
Miscevic explained that Serbia's aim was that Chapters 23 and 24 be opened together with Chapter 5 on public procurement. "Chapter 5 is completed and opens the door to opening Chapter 23," she said.
Recalling that the western Balkans had shown its dedication to the EU with its participation in the migrant crisis, Miscevic underscored that Belgrade wanted to additionally impose itself on Brussels.
"That is why we are trying to impose ourselves and the refugee crisis showed how important it was to include the western Balkans. We wish to show that that process is important for us and not only membership," Miscevic told RTS.