Croatia is not halting Serbia on its journey towards the European Union, but is helping it to transform and become a mature candidate for EU membership, and that will benefit relations between the two countries in the long run, Croatian Foreign Minister Miro Kovac said in Warsaw on Monday while taking part in a panel discussion in the National School of Public Administration.

Addressing the panel discussion dedicated to Croatia as the EU newcomer, Kovac answered questions about Croatia's policies, including Zagreb's insistence that Serbia should meet certain requirements before opening the policy chapter on judiciary and fundamental rights as part of its accession talks with Brussels.

"When it was about Kosovo and when Germany and Great Britain insisted that Serbia should open dialogue with Pristina, did you hear anyone say it was the blockade of Serbia? No, you didn't," Kovac said.

"Croatia is assisting Serbia in meeting the criteria for the most important chapter in the negotiations, and that is judiciary, fundamental rights and freedoms. Croatia has a very friendly approach," the Croatian minister said.

As for Croatia's insistence that Serbia should revoke its law that enables its judiciary to prosecute war crimes committed in the territory of the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s, Kovac explained that those wars had been waged in Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo. "Fortunately, they are over." Those wars were not waged in Serbia, but Serbian courts may prosecute perpetrators of war crimes committed in former Yugoslavia, he explained.

This enables Serbian courts to act as mentors and law enforcement authorities for the whole of the former Yugoslavia. "Can you imagine courts in Germany after the Second World War having jurisdiction over war crimes committed in the whole of Europe. Would that make any sense?," Kovac said.

During his stay in Warsaw, Kovac will hold talks with his Polish counterpart Witold Waszczykowski, and the Polish parliament's foreign affairs committee and the Polish-Croatian group of friendship.

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