Serbia's interim Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic described on Thursday as "shameful and humiliating" the EU's decision not to open policy chapters No. 23 and 24 in Serbia's accession talks, assessing that it was the EU rather than Croatia that blocked Serbia.

"Such a decision is shameful, incomprehensible and humiliating for Serbia. It is the result of a political intention to stop or slow down Serbia's integration with the EU," Dacic said, noting that the EU was at the same time opening policy chapters in Turkey's and Montenegro's accession talks.

The public broadcaster RTS quoted Dacic as saying that the EU's decision constitutes "open political pressure on Serbia to give up its clear policy of protecting its state interests."

Dacic said he would propose to Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic to hold urgent consultations on the foreign policy moves to be taken next, recalling that Serbia had done everything it had been requested to do in the process of its integration with the EU so far.

"Serbia is the key to regional stability and it invests huge effort in reforms that will result in a modern European country, and the EU should therefore stop with ridiculous explanations that Croatia and Great Britain are blocking us. No, we are being blocked by the EU because no one can convince me that the EU is not more influential than Croatia," said Dacic.

He wondered if Serbia was going in the right direction if within the EU Croatia was imposing EU membership criteria on it.

"If Croatia, a country that committed genocide against Serbs at the time of the Ustasha-run, fascist NDH (Independent State of Croatia), where a fascist salute is still loudly shouted, a country that expelled more than 200,000 Serbs in Operation Storm, carrying out ethnic cleansing, if that country is the standard for accession to the EU, then one has the right to ask if we are going in the right direction," said Dacic.

Serbia did not open negotiations on the policy chapter No. 23 (Judiciary and Fundamental Rights) and 24 (Justice, Freedom and Security) on Thursday as had been planned by the Dutch presidency of the European Union by the end of its term and that matter will now be referred to Slovakia which is to take over chairing the European Union on Friday.

Serbia's minister in charge of European integration Jadranka Joksimovic said in Brussels that failure to open the said chapters at a time when Montenegro and Turkey opened new chapters was a message that Serbia was being slowed down.

Croatia lodged objections to the policy chapter No. 23 when the adoption of a report on benchmarks for opening chapters was discussed.

Zagreb gave the green light for adopting that report in early June, which paved the way for preparing the EU's joint negotiating position, after receiving guarantees that that document would include Croatia's demands: Serbia's full cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia; full implementation of Serbia's domestic and international obligations to protect minority rights, including the rights of the Croat minority; and avoiding disputes over jurisdiction in war crimes trials.

Latest news

Syrian opposition rules out future role for President al-Assad

The Syrian opposition said Friday it would not accept any role for President Bashar al-Assad in the future of the war-torn country, reacting to a recent US shift saying that removing al-Assad is no longer a priority for Washington.

Russian Army integrates breakaway forces of Georgian province

Parts of the small fighting forces of the Georgian breakaway province of South Ossetia have been placed under Russian military control, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Friday.

Czech Republic's Pilsner Urquell beer is now Japanese

Japanese brewing company Asahi completed its takeover of the Czech brewery Pilsner Urquell on Friday, Asahi said in a statement.

Judge approves 25-million-dollar settlement of Trump University case

A US district judge on Friday approved a 25-million-dollar settlement of lawsuits and state fraud allegations against Trump University, the US president's now-defunct business venture.

Former Thai premier Thaksin to junta on reconciliation: 'Cut me out'

Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Friday announced that he is not interested in the junta-led reconciliation process, three days after the junta handed him a half-a-billion-dollar tax bill for his past business deal.

Dalic: We welcome possible deal between Agrokor and banks

The government welcomes the possibility of an agreement being concluded between the Agrokor food company and creditor banks, and the bill on vitally important companies is not a fallback plan but the result of the government's care for the overall economic and financial stability of Croatia, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Martina Dalic told a press conference in Zagreb on Friday.

Croatia, China sign action plan for cooperation in agriculture

The Croatian and Chinese ministries of agriculture on Friday signed an action plan for cooperation in the field of agriculture for the period 2017-2018, the Croatian ministry said in a statement.

ZSE indices up, Agrokor shares in focus of investor interest

The Zagreb Stock Exchange (ZSE) indices on Friday rose by more than 1.8%, with stocks of the Agrokor food and retail concern being in the focus of investor interest again.

Berlin police defend handling of Berlin market attacker

Berlin police defended themselves on Friday against accusations that they stopped surveillance on Berlin Christmas market attacker despite knowing in June 2016 he was dangerous.

Croatia, creditors tailor emergency measures to save tottering giant

Croatia's tottering retail and food giant Agrokor reached an agreement with its creditors, putting its debts standby and allowing it to continue working during emergency restructuring, the Croatian branch of Austria's Erste Bank said Friday.

Agrokor's creditors say standstill agreement to go into force today

A standstill agreement regarding the Agrokor concern's existing financial obligations to banks will take effect on Friday, additional capital will be injected into the concern in the coming days and the concern will be actively restructured, which includes a change of its management, it was said on Friday after a meeting between Agrokor's suppliers and creditor banks.

Palestinians, UN slam Israel's new settlement plan

Palestinians, Israeli activists and the UN lambasted the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday, a day after it gave the go-ahead for the first new West Bank settlement in a quarter of a century.

South Sudan rebels release three abducted foreign oil workers

South Sudanese rebels have released three foreign engineers they abducted in early March in the oil-rich Upper Nile region, Foreign Affairs Ministry official Mawein Makol Arik said on Friday.

Turkish opposition: Imprisoned party chief has gone on hunger strike

The head of Turkey's pro-Kurdish opposition party has launched a hunger strike from prison.

European leagues threaten Champions League schedule clashes

The European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) on Friday threatened schedule clashes on Champions League matchdays in an ongoing dispute with the governing body UEFA.

Danish court revokes citizenship of IS volunteer

A Danish appellate court on Friday stripped a man of his Danish citizenship for volunteering to fight for the extremist Islamic State in Syria.

Banks and Agrokor agree on key elements of standstill agreement

Member banks of the coordinating committee of financial creditors and representatives of the Agrokor food company have in principle agreed on key elements of a standstill agreement, which is expected to be signed later today, announcing changes in the company's management team, Erste Bank said in a statement on Friday afternoon.

Syrian man on trial in Sweden; mosque attack labelled terrorism

A Syrian man went on trial Friday in the southern Swedish city of Malmo, charged with terrorism and arson after an attack last year on a building used as an assembly hall by Shiite Muslims.