Croatia unblocks Chapter 26 in Serbia’s EU entry talks

Croatia lifted its reservation on the opening of Chapter 26 in Serbia’s EU accession negotiation, Croatian Foreign Minister Davor Ivo Stier said on Friday.

The conditions had been created for suspending the reservation, he said at a news conference, adding that Croatia would be watching Serbia’s compliance with obligations to the Croatian minority as part of Chapter 23.

Croatia’s decision came after a memorandum on cooperation in the publishing of textbooks in minority languages and scripts was signed earlier on Friday between Serbia’s Education Ministry and representatives of ethnic minorities.

The annexes will ensure an additional 84 textbooks in minority languages, including 18 in Croatian, according to local media.

Chapter 26 in Serbia’s EU entry talks, which regulates education and culture, could be opened early next year, it was said.

The official Zagreb used the same scenario in the case of Serbia as did Slovenia when Croatia was in the EU accession negotiation process. Back then, the Croatian-Slovenian border was the subject of contention. The U.S. administration intervened and relevant chapters were opened, which just goes to chose that, after all, the EU members and NATO mostly abide by what the White House has to say. A telephone call from the U.S. Vice President Joe Biden to the newly appointed Croatian PM, Andrej Plenkovic was all it took for Croatia to remove its objections towards the opening of Chapter 26 in Serbia’s accession talks.

“There are two important reasons why Zagreb did what it was told. Chancellor Merkel, as the only true European leader, has a lot to deal with in Germany so the Croatian-Serbian conflict regarding the EU matters is the last thing that she needs. Secondly, the Americans need Serbia as a partner in fighting terrorism and a possible new refugee crisis, as well as in controlling the increasingly aggressive Islamism in Bosnia and Herzegovina”, one of the more prominent diplomats in Zagreb and an expert on the Balkan relations has said.

(Xinhua, Vecernje Novosti,  25.12.2016)

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