serbia, european union.jpg
Photograph: Photo by Byron Howes, used under CC BY-ND

The Croatian government on Tuesday set up a commission in charge of monitoring how Serbia is meeting benchmarks from the negotiation on Chapters 23 and 24 within the accession negotiations with the European Union, the Croatian government stated in a press release.

The task force consists of ministers of Homeland Defence War Veterans' Affairs, Finance, Defence, Interior Affairs and several other government officials.

Serbia opened two key chapters in its EU accession negotiations in Brussels on Monday -- Chapter 23, dealing with the judiciary and fundamental rights, and Chapter 24, concerning freedom, justice and security.

Croatia had blocked the opening of Chapter 23 for some time, demanding guarantees that Serbia would not abuse its law on universal jurisdiction over war crimes trials and that it would ensure rights for the Croatian minority in Serbia and full cooperation with the Hague war crimes tribunal. The EU's common negotiating position now incorporates, at Croatia's request, the need for regional cooperation and good neighbourly relations in prosecuting war crimes, including a goal to avoid a conflict of jurisdiction.

Serbia will have to fully cooperate with the Hague tribunal, respect and implement all its rulings, and all the accused will have to be handed over to the Hague tribunal. Serbia will also have to work with Croatia in searching for missing persons and mortal remains and in exchanging information. It will have to make it possible for war victims to seek compensation and ensure that the Croatian minority in Serbia has its guaranteed representative in the National Assembly, Croatian Foreign Minister Miro Kovac said.

"All these have become Serbia's obligations as of today, after it accepted the negotiating framework for judiciary and fundamental rights," Kovac said. He also added that the disputed Serbian law was "de facto suspended".

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