Serbia did not open negotiations on two policy chapters 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.

The planned accession conference with Serbia will not be held because agreement has not been reached by all member states, Hina was told at the Council of the European Union.

The Netherlands planned to open negotiations with Serbia on chapters 23 (Judiciary and Fundamental Rights) and 24 (Justice, Freedom and Security) before the expiry of its EU presidency on June 30.

Croatia lodged objections to chapter 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 in Serbia; and avoiding disputes over jurisdiction in war crimes trials.

Asked where the hitch was in agreeing the EU's joint negotiating position, without which the policy chapters cannot be opened and which is agreed by consensus of all member states, the Croatian Foreign and European Affairs Ministry said that "negotiations on that document are continuing tomorrow."

Serbia's Minister for European Integration Jadranka Joksimovic said in Brussels that failure to open those chapters at a time when Montenegro and Turkey opened new chapters is a message that Serbia was being slowed down.

"We see the failure to open chapters with Serbia as a broad political message of slowing Serbia down on its path of European integration. Had that been done for all countries in the process, we would have understood that to be the result of insufficient coordination due to all that is happening in the EU at the moment. As it is, we wonder why Serbia is being sort of politically slowed down," Joksimovic said.

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