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Photograph: Photo by bob, used under CC BY

Croatia on Wednesday again refused to give its consent to the opening of Chapter 23 in accession negotiations between the European Union and Serbia, the Serbian national broadcaster RTS said following a meeting of EU ambassadors in Brussels.

After a pause of several weeks in negotiations, EU president the Netherlands again tried to ensure a consensus among the member states, raising the matter to a higher level, but the Croatian representative reiterated that he could not give his consent, according to RTS.

Croatia repeated its demands that Serbia should revoke its regional jurisdiction for the prosecution of war crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s and ensure representation of the Croatian minority in the Serbian parliament. 

RTS quoted EU sources as saying that Brussels and Zagreb would continue consultations with a view to ensuring that Chapter 23 (Judiciary and Fundamental Rights) and Chapter 24 (Justice, Freedom and Security) were opened before the end of the Dutch EU presidency on June 30.

"The European Commission and some member states, notably Germany, insisted that the opening of Chapter 23 was necessary to preserve the credibility of the process, reminding Zagreb of the Croatian parliament's declaration undertaking not to block its neighbours in the EU integration processes over bilateral issues that are not part of the acquis communautaire," RTS said.

Serbian chief negotiator Tanja Miscevic said that Serbia should now wait to see further steps by the EU member states. "We are still waiting for Croatia to give its opinion. (...) We still have a few months left before the end of the presidency of the Netherlands, which has made it clear that it wants Chapter 23 to be opened during its presidency," she told Beta news agency.

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