Miro Kovač.jpg
Photograph: HINA/ Darko VLAHOVIĆ/ ua

Croatian Foreign Minister Miro Kovac said on Thursday that an agreement to remove Croatia's blockade to the opening of Chapter 23 in Serbia's European Union accession negotiations had not been reached yet and that the public would be informed once it was.

European Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn said in Brussels earlier today that an agreement had been reached with Croatia and that it should be confirmed next week at a meeting of the Coreper, the committee of the member states' ambassadors.

Serbian media reported that Croatia had given its consent in writing for the opening of Chapter 23, but the Croatian Foreign Ministry refuted this, claiming it was propaganda aimed at misinforming the public.

Kovac told reporters that he talked about this with Hahn in Paris on Tuesday evening but that an agreement had not been reached yet, stressing that Croatian demands must be acknowledged. "We talked on that occasion about that possible solution. We expect to reach an agreement in the days ahead. We still haven't fully reached it."

"When we reach it, we will clearly inform the Croatian and the European public. For the time being, I wouldn't speculate... We are discreet, serious... We don't release some information to foreign media about some negotiating processes. This is too serious a matter. We don't work like that," Kovac said.

Asked about the Serbian media reports, he said Serbian media reported many completely unfounded things. "What I can tell you is that Croatia is really... talking with the European Commission, the member states and the Dutch EU Presidency about a solution. We want to find a solution which will clearly acknowledge Croatia's demands."

"Without meeting those demands, it won't be possible to make progress with regard to Serbia. It's possible that those demands will be met. We are working on it."

Croatia has requested that in order to open Chapter 23, on the judiciary and fundamental rights, the EU should ask Serbia to fully cooperate with the Hague war crimes tribunal, to repeal its law on the prosecution of war crimes committed throughout the former Yugoslavia, and to ensure the rights of its Croatian minority.

"I'm an optimist. I think it's possible to find a solution. I think we are close to a solution," Kovac said. "Croatia's interests, which we are working on and are also European interests, must be represented.

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