The opening of negotiation Chapter 23 in Serbia's European Union entry talks is still not on the agenda, Serbia's chief negotiator Tanja Miscevic said on Wednesday, refuting Croatian newspaper Vecernji List's claims that Croatia is blocking Serbia in those talks.
The EU spokeswoman for foreign affairs and the security policy, Maja Kocijancic, said the European Commission was looking forward to the next steps in Serbia's association process and the opening of Chapters 23 and 24.
The discussion is under way and the Commission is ready to move forward with the next steps as soon as the necessary unanimity of the member states is achieved, Kocijancic told Tanjug news agency.
According to European sources, Council of Europe working bodies have still not discussed the opening of negotiations on Chapter 23 and preparations for opening the chapter was taken off the agenda of the enlargement working group because of Croatia's objections.
Several weeks ago, the Croatian Foreign Ministry set conditions for Serbia for opening Chapter 23 - respect for minority rights, cooperation with the Hague war crimes tribunal, and judicial reform, which includes abolishing jurisdiction for war crimes committed on the territory of the former Yugoslavia.
Serbia considers Croatia's conditions as bilateral issues which should be solved bilaterally and not as part of Serbia's EU accession negotiations.
Belgrade's electronic media on Wednesday quoted Vecernji List as saying that Croatia is blocking Serbia in the negotiations because unlike the other 27 member states, it has not submitted its positions on the opening of Chapter 23 because of which this topic has allegedly been taken off the agenda of EU enlargement bodies.
"There are no conditions or pressures of any kind, but attempts to understand the member state which has a question in the negotiating process," said Miscevic.