Hahn: Croatia must not block Montenegro’s accession talks

Johannes Hahn; Photo: Tanjug / Dragan Kujundžić

BRUSSELS – Commenting on the long-running dispute between Croatia and Montenegro over the ‘Boka Navy’ heritage, Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, said both countries should avoid misusing open bilateral issues in the EU accession process. This is what the Commissioner answered when Marijana Petir, a member of the European Parliament, asked him to declare on Montenegro’s ‘illegal ownership’ of the ‘Boka Navy’, as it, in her opinion, belongs to Croatia.

The EU Commissioner said that the European Commission’s (EC) document of 6 February 2018 related to the ‘Credible enlargement perspective for the Western Balkans countries’ underlined that the rule of law, justice and fundamental rights remain the topmost priority for all countries negotiating to accede the EU, including Montenegro.

As for the ‘Boka Navy’ issue, the EC noticed that, according to the international legislation, identification and protection of intangible cultural heritage belong to the state on whose territory the aforementioned intangible cultural heritage is situated.

“These issues are determined by UNESCO’s Convention concerning the protection of the world cultural and natural heritage. Even though some its provisions are present in the EU legislation, the EU didn’t sign the Convention. Therefore, the EC cannot interfere in procedures for recognition of UNESCO’s heritage,” Hahn was adamant.

News agency Tanjug yesterday reported the EU Enragement Commissioner would require the future EU member states to pledge that they will not block other countries of region in their accession negotiations.