Croatia has managed to incorporate into the EU's draft negotiating position on Serbia its main demands that concern Serbia's cooperation with the UN war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague, including the acceptance of all of its decisions and rulings, minority rights, and Serbia's law on regional jurisdiction for war crimes, Foreign and European Affairs Minister Miro Kovac said on Friday.
"After we achieved this in talks with the European Commission, we received a document called the Draft Negotiating Position. It is the property of EU member-states... now all member-states will be discussing Serbia's obligations under Chapter 23 (Judiciary and Fundamental Rights) based on that document," Kovac said at a news conference dedicated to the current foreign political developments.
He stressed that Serbia would get the green light for opening talks on Chapter 23 only when all the member-countries' positions were incorporated in the negotiating position and it was adopted.
He said that a coordinating body for foreign and European affairs would establish an inter-departmental group consisting of officials from the ministries of justice, the interior and war veterans' affairs to discuss the content of the EC document and determine Croatia's positions and try to have them incorporated in the EC's negotiating position on the chapter concerning judiciary.
"It will not be possible to open that chapter without the incorporation of Croatia's positions," Kovac said, adding that Croatia was not blocking Serbia on its path to the EU but wanted the principle of the rule of law to be respected.
To show that we are constructive, we have incorporated our demands in transitional benchmarks, which are to be dealt with by Serbia in the next stage of its negotiations, said Kovac.
"If it wants negotiations to progress fast, Serbia will have to deal with that soon," Kovac said, expressing hope that it could happen in the next 12 months.
He said that now Croatia had to define its conditions which Serbia would have to meet in order to make progress in that chapter.
Speaking of the border dispute with Slovenia, Kovac said briefly that he had a good relationship with his Slovenian counterpart Karl Erjavec and that dialogue was under way on the matter.
As for an upcoming referendum in Great Britain on whether or not the country should stay in the EU and possible scenarios, Kovac said Croatia acted "in line with the presumption that Britain will stay in the Union."
Commenting on his recent official visit to Israel, Kovac said that it was very successful but was overshadowed by a misquote of one of his statements, adding that it was not good "to report information that is not true because of the Croatian public."
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