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Interview 27 Jun 16

Serbian EU Chief Says Chapters May Open in June

Ahead of the last session of the working group under the Dutch EU presidency, Serbia's head of negotiations expressed mild optimism over Serbia's chances of opening Chapters 23 and 24.

Milivoje Pantovic
Birn
Belgrade
Head of the Serbia Nagotiation Team Tanja Miskovic. Photo: Aleksandar Andjic

The head of Serbia's EU negotiation team, Tanja Miscevic, says there is still time to open Chapters 23 and 24 in June and that outstanding issues with neighbouring Croatia will soon be solved.

"Last week there were still talks about a joint approach of the EU to the opening of Chapters 23 and 24 with Serbia. There is still time to achieve Holland’s agenda - to open those Chapters,” Miscevic told BIRN.

The EU working group on the Serbian negotiations has its final meeting under the Dutch presidency on Monday to discuss a joint approach on opening Chapters 23 and 24.

A European Council working group on April 6 pulled opening the chapters - dealing with the rule of law, the judiciary and human rights - from its agenda after Croatia failed to give them a green light.

However, Miscevic said she does not think Croatia is “using the EU to press Serbia” but is trying to solve bilateral issues through the negotiation process.

“Croatia... did not had full support among other EU countries for their point of view. Serbia is ready to solve bilateral issues with Croatia,” Miscevic said, recalling that both countries are working on solving the impasse.

Serbia's Prime Minister-designate, Aleksandar Vucic, and President of Croatia Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic recently discussed the issues burdening relations between the two countries, she noted.

Croatia is demanding that Serbia pledges full respect for national minority rights, full cooperation with the Hague war-crimes tribunal, ICTY, and scraps a law giving Serbia jurisdiction to try war crimes committed in all the 1990s conflicts in the former Yugoslavia.

Even if the chapters are not open during the Dutch presidency, they will be opened in the near future," she said.

"We are dedicated to the EU and we are more than interested in implementing EU standards, including rule of law and human rights,” Miscevic added.

Asked about Slovakia assumption of EU presidency in July, Miscevic said she was confident that Slovakia’s policy towards expansion of EU will be positive and supportive.

“We had both technical and political talks with representatives of Slovakia so we know that the process of enlargement of the EU is very important to them,” Miskovic said.

Slovakia takes over the presidency of the EU from The Netherlands on July 1.

Miscevic also stated that Britain's exit from the EU following a referendum will not put in Serbia’s own path to the EU in jeopardy.

“Britain’s exit will not happen for the next two years. Also, our negotiations basically just began, there is a lot of work. Our logic is that we need reform and adjustment to EU standards, not just membership.

“For Serbia it is important to monitor processes going on within the EU. For start, no officials in Brussels want to talk about 'Plan A' or 'Plan B', or what will happen after the referendum in the UK,” she said.

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