Social Democratic Party (SDP) MP and former deputy foreign minister Josko Klisovic on Thursday said that the European Commission's non-paper in which it rejects some of Croatia's objections regarding the opening of Chapter 23 in Serbia's EU accession talks was not a "rejection" but just the EC's opinion.

"I don't think it is a rejection, the EC is only expressing its opinion and our position so far has been that (Serbia's) law (on universal jurisdiction for war crimes) is not part of the European acquis communautaire and that it should not be (a condition for) closing the chapter, however, this has to do with some other matters which we consider to be important in the context of opening that chapter," Klisovic told reporters in parliament.

Klisovic is convinced that the law whereby Serbia extended its jurisdiction for crimes to other former Yugoslav states does not contribute to regional cooperation which, he stressed, is an important part of Serbia's accession negotiations.

"There is also the problem of legal security for our citizens who do not know whether they may or may not exit the country," Klisovic noted. He believes that in the context of regional cooperation and good neighbourly relations it would be good for the Croatian and Serbian governments to come to an agreement.

"I think that it would be good to sit down and resolve that issue, which we, the former government, tried to resolve with Serbian authorities but unfortunately without success. They did not wish to repeal the law and still don't. By raising this issue in the context of Serbia's accession negotiations we want that matter and its implications to be taken seriously in Belgrade, primarily its political implications for bilateral relations and relations in the region as well as for respect of the rule of law, principles of security and all other EU values," Klisovic said.

He commented on the EC's interpretation that other EU member states had similar laws, for example France, which in the 1990s passed a law on jurisdiction over war crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.

"I presume that France assessed that there was no political will at the time in those regions to prosecute such crimes. Let's remember, (Slobodan) Milosevic was in power at the time. That was a completely different context and it was perhaps assessed that something of that nature was necessary. Today we don't see any need for that law and for Serbia's exclusive jurisdiction over Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and other former Yugoslav states," Klisovic said.

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