Croatia Unblocks Serbia’s EU Accession PathSoutheast Europe | June 2, 2016, Thursday // 13:56| views
Croatia has officially agreed to the opening of Chapter 23 in Serbia's EU accession talks, opening the way for the bloc to start defining a common negotiating position on the chapter.
The permanent representatives of EU member states reached consensus on the fulfilment of criteria for opening Chapter 23 in the accession negotiations with Belgrade on Wednesday, according to Tanjug.
Chapter 23 covers the rule of law and fundamental rights.
Croatia coordinated its position with the other 27 EU member states, thus removing a barrier to the continuation of the process of Serbia’s accession to the EU, the Serbian news agency said.
The opening of negotiating chapters requires the consent of all EU member states.
Croatia was the only one of the EU's 28 member-states that decided last month not to give its consent for the opening of Chapter 23, planned for June. A Croatian representative said in earlyMay that his country couldn’t agree to the opening of Chapter 23, reiterating Croatia's position that Serbia must first scrap its law on universal jurisdiction in war crimes cases committed in the former Yugoslavia, and secure representation of ethnic Croats in parliament, according to Serbian broadcaster b92.
Other EU member states, however, have insisted that the chapter must be opened in order to preserve the credibility of the enlargement process. They also reminded Croatia that the country’s parliament has adopted a resolution not to block neighbours in their EU integration over bilateral issues that are not a part of EU legislation.
Croatian Foreign Minister Miro Kovac said on Tuesday that his country has ensured that its demands were included in Serbia-EU accession negotiations, according to Croatia’s Hina news agency.