European Western Balkans

Belgrade, Zagreb still at odds over Serbia's jurisdiction law

Miro Kovač

TANJUG_maliSUBOTICA – Serbian and Croatian Foreign Ministers Ivica Dacic and Miro Kovac on Friday reiterated a willingness for further improvement of relations between their two countries, but noted that disagreements remained over Serbia’s law on universal jurisdiction over war crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia.At a press conference in Subotica, northern Serbia, Kovac said Croatia found Serbian indictments against Croatian citizens unacceptable, while Dacic noted that the law had been passed 14 years ago with support from international factors.

It is not being discussed today, but it will be discussed in the coming years in Serbia’s EU accession talks, Dacic said.

There is concern in Croatia following Thursday’s statement by a Serbian official that the law applied to Croatia and that some of its war veterans would be indicted, Kovac said.

“That law will have to be changed as part of the European accession. We expect the Serbian top officials to voice a clear position on this,” Kovac said.

The head of the Serbian Prosecutor’s Office for War Crimes, Milan Petrovic, told Radio Free Europe Thursday Serbia was not considering scrapping the law and that it would continue to implement it.

Twenty-one years have passed since the war and it is time the two countries had solid foundations for long-term cooperation, Kovac said.

Issues from the war, including the issue of missing persons, must be solved and they will be one of the European criterions, Kovac noted.

“We will advocate Serbia’s EU accession, but we will seek a fulfilment of all criteria. They are part of Chapter 23,” said Kovac, adding that he would like to see a quick signal from Serbia that the law would not apply to Croatia.

Later on Friday, at a reception marking the anniversary of the Democratic Alliance of Croats in Vojvodina, Kovac said that the conditions for Serbia’s EU accession would also include guaranteed parliamentary representation for Serbia’s ethnic Croats.

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