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.