tihomir orešković.jpg
Photograph: HINA/ Damir SENČAR /ds

Croatian Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic expects Serbia to comply with the conditions for further talks with the European Union, including one that it cannot prosecute Croatian citizens for war crimes, the government said in a press release on Monday.

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 for 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.  

Before the opening of the negotiations in Brussels, Oreskovic, Foreign Minister Miro Kovac and Minister of Veterans' Affairs Tomo Medved met with representatives of veterans' organisations, the government press release said.

The prime minister said that "the government will do everything to protect national interests and the interests of Croatian veterans", adding that with today's opening of the negotiations Serbia committed itself to honouring the agreed common views.

He said he hoped that Serbia would not depart from the conditions and common positions determined, noting that the EU and Croatia shared the view that Serbia would show responsibility and consistency in respect of the agreements reached.

"Statements of a daily political nature from Serbia which are contrary to the positions agreed are not contributing to the progess and strengthening of the EU and the fact that Croatia is actively advocating the integration of Southeastern Europe into the EU," Oreskovic said. 

Medved said it was important that Serbia repeal universal jurisdiction that arises from its law on the organisation and jurisdiction of state authorities in prosecuting war crimes committed in the territory of the former Yugoslavia.

He said that Croatian veterans and war victims were also interested in resolving the issue of people still listed as missing from the 1991-1995 war.

"Since Croatia had to meet all the conditions before it could enter the European Union, we demand that Serbia be treated in the same way," Medved said.

The senior government officials informed the veterans about a Croatian statement which had been read at the third EU-Serbia intergovernmental conference in Brussels on Monday.

Kovac underlined five key requirements that Serbia would have to meet under Chapter 23: ensure rights for war victims and their access to justice without discrimination, not to apply its criminal legislation in Croatia and not to prosecute Croatian citizens, cooperate in efforts to shed light on the fate of missing persons, fully cooperate with the Hague tribunal, and amend its electoral legislation to ensure that the Croatian minority in Serbia has a guaranteed seat or seats in the Serbian National Assembly, the government press release said.

Latest news

Austria seeks to create jobs, but new EU immigrants need not apply

Austria plans to create 160,000 jobs in the next three years by subsidizing companies, but the project has raised concerns because it effectively excludes people who recently immigrated from other EU countries.

Juncker: Not good for W. Balkans that some in Washington want to water down EU

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Tuesday it was not good for Western Balkan countries that some people in the new US administration gave the impression of being against the European Union because those countries needed the prospects of EU membership.

German state approves full-face veil ban

Legislation that bans face veils in select public spaces and situations was agreed by the government of the southeastern German state of Bavaria on Tuesday.

Indian restaurant Gaggan in Bangkok named Asia's best for third year

Bangkok's Indian eatery Gaggan on Tuesday was named the best restaurant in Asia for the third consecutive year by Asia's 50 Best Restaurants.

HGK: 16 Croatian companies to exhibit at IDEX defence exhibition

Sixteen Croatian companies will exhibit their products at the 13th IDEX 2017 defence exhibition in Abu Dhabi, to be held on February 19-23.

Trump and the nuclear codes: Carnival again takes aim at politicians

US President Donald Trump, Brexit, Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Germany's right-wing AfD party: Floats unveiled Tuesday for this year's Carnival parades in Cologne and Mainz once again turn to political satire to entertain revellers.

Barcelona police open fire on stolen lorry laden with gas canisters

Security forces in Barcelona opened fire on a stolen lorry laden with gas canisters to bring a rampage through the city to an end, police in the Spanish city said on Tuesday.

Stuttgart to issue bans on high-polluting diesel vehicles from 2018

Most diesel vehicles will be banned from roads in the southern German city of Stuttgart during times of heavy pollution, a bid to clean up the city's air, the German state of Baden-Wuerttemberg decided Tuesday.

Slovenia welcomes construction of LNG terminal off Krk, but won't join for now

Slovenia is not planning for now to connect to the floating LNG terminal to be built off Omisalj on the northern Croatian Adriatic island of Krk, but welcomes any additional energy source, Slovenian media say.

German court rules against automatic refugee status for Syrians

Syrians fleeing the multi-sided civil war in their home country do not have an automatic right to refugee status under the Geneva Convention, a German court ruled Tuesday.

Business conference pushes for intensified privatisation in Croatia

As long as the state authorities pay high bills, this means that the government has not yet seriously delved into the privatisation of state-run companies, although their sale can alleviate the pressure on the state budget, a business conference in Zagreb heard on Tuesday.

HND condemns judge's verbal tirade against reporters

The Croatian Journalists' Association (HND) on Tuesday condemned a verbal tirade by Sibenik Municipal Court Judge Maja Supe against reporters in the courtroom, claiming that they were not educated to report on trials and that they had called her the "most corrupt judge in the country."

Mosque attended by Berlin attacker Amri closed, police confirm

The mosque in Berlin attended by Berlin truck attacker Anis Amri has been closed. The mosque is permanently closed, read a note in German and Turkish on the door of the prayer rooms which was seen on Tuesday.

German army to expand to almost 200,000 soldiers

Germany's Bundeswehr, plans to expand its number of professional soldier to 198,000 by 2024 because of increasing duties, the German Defence Ministry announced on Tuesday.

Fired Audi engineer says he was 'sacrificed' for emissions scandal

A fired Audi engineer was "sacrificed" amid the ongoing VW group diesel emissions scandal, his lawyer claimed in court on Tuesday as he contested his client's dismissal.