Croatian deputy PM says his country “won’t block Serbia”

ZAGREB – Croatia’s First Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Karamarko has said that his country “will not block Serbia in joining the EU.”

Beta agency is reporting, quoting Croatia’s Hina, that he said Croatia “wants to develop good relations with neighboring countries – but Serbia must fulfill all the conditions for accession.”

“Serbia must meet some standards imposed by the EU, which it should be adopting through laborious negotiations. Everything depends on Serbia,” Karamarko told reporters in the town of Rijeka on Thursday.

He added that Croatia “wants the EU borders to move further to the East, which includes the integration of Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina,” but “reiterated that everyone must comply with the requirements of the EU.”

Asked whether chapter 23 “could be the first obstacle for Serbia,” Karamarko replied that Serbia “cannot play the role of a mini Hague (Tribunal).”

“But listen, that, universal jurisdiction and that, well Serbia can’t play the role of a mini Hague. Therefore, that should be agreed with them and the pace of their negotiations and the closing of chapter 23 depends on them,” he said.

Croatian officials in recent days repeatedly said that the negotiating criteria for Serbia should include full cooperation with the Hague Tribunal, abolishing of the country’s jurisdiction to prosecute war crimes for the entire area of the former Yugoslavia, as well as fulfillment of obligations under “the international agreement on minority rights,” the agency reported.