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After Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria may also slow down Serbia on its European integration path by setting conditions for the opening of Chapter 23, Belgrade media reported on Friday.

Bucharest and Sofia have announced possible blocking of Serbia's European path, demanding greater rights for their national minorities and greater representation in state administration, Vecernji Novosti newspaper said.

Quoting unnamed diplomatic sources, the newspaper claims that Romania and Bulgaria are the only European member states that are "quietly supporting" Zagreb whose "envoys have been lobbying for weeks in the European capital."

Vecernje Novosti says that Croatian officials have been pushing the argument that Chapter 23, which deals with judiciary and fundamental r, should not be opened in negotiations with Serbia until it fulfils three conditions: "withdraws the law on universal jurisdiction for war crimes, improves the status of the Croat minority in that country and fully cooperates with the ICTY in The Hague."

The paper claims that Bucharest and Sofia too insist that Serbia upgrades the rights of the Romanian and Bulgarian minorities and to secure minority representation in the Serbian parliament.

The paper further notes that the conditions set by Bulgaria and Romania are nothing new and are just being dragged out again, adding that the two countries are prepared to compromise while Croatia isn't. Bulgaria and Romania could succumb to pressure by the most powerful EU member states and be satisfied with a transition measure for their demands to be met during the negotiation process, Vecernje Novosti claims.

Serbia's chief negotiator with the EU, Tanja Miscevic, told the newspaper that Serbia had done everything it was required to open Chapter 23 and that "now we can wait for the EU to decide."

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