Wednesday, December 14, 2016

PM: Only Croatia blocked opening of Chapter 26

Aleksandar Vucic on Tuesday evening in Belgrade announced that Serbia had opened two new negotiation chapters in the EU accession negotiations.
Source: B92,

These are Chapters 5 and 25, with Chapter 25 also immediately closed, the prime minister told a news conference in Belgrade, and "congratulated the citizens of Serbia."
Vucic also said that he left Brussels on Monday evening, and missed Tuesday's Intergovernmental Conference between the EU and Serbia "because there was no logical and justifiable reason not to open Chapter 26 too."

"Only one EU member state has not given consent to the opening of Chapter 26, and that is the Republic of Croatia," the Serbian government quoted him as saying.

"On the table of our values and in our hearts there is no place for fascism, hatred and discrimination. We do not hate anyone, we do not want conflicts, we are not tripping anyone, we want to talk with everyone, but we want work and find compromise. Also, no one will humiliate us in any way and that is our message to our neighboring countries, Europe and the world," he said.

"On the basis of these values we had entered into negotiations with the EU and I hope that in this same way we will become a member of the EU, but if that does not happens, Serbia will be a modern country with European values which has not stepped on its vital principles," he said.

"That is why he left Brussels last night, but did not abandon the negotiation process, nor the wish that Serbia joins the community of well-regulated countries," Vucic said, and "thanked Slovakia for advocating the opening of all three chapters, and to the United States,"and "noted that U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden spoke by phone this afternoon with Croatian representatives and highlighted the need to open Chapter 26."

He said that "without the vital values there would be no us, nor the people, nor the citizens, and that for the defense of these values he left Brussels," while "Serbia is not making compromise with the European Union (EU), but with itself."

"Europe is not just a territory for us, we do not see in it only funding and money, much less a patron. Europe is a lesson that we are learning for ourselves. No one else will give us lessons and teach us what is wrong, or punish us, especially not those who are so far from ever learning that lesson. In particular, we do not intend to listen to any lectures from those who say that the whole history begins and ends with the platitude of a great Serbian aggression," the prime minister said.

Vucic said that this year Serbia has invested about RSD 33 million in books and magazines in the Croatian language, about RSD 19 million for paving roads and it is all done in order for members of the Croatian minority in Serbia "to feel much better than before," while there was now work "on the Ban Jelacic House."

Concerning media reports that Croatia yesterday blocked the opening of Chapter 26 in Brussels due to the lack of textbooks in the Croatian language, Vucic quoted an earlier statement of the Leader of the Croatian national minority Tomislav Zigmanov, who said that the biggest progress was made precisely in solving the issue of textbooks for education in Croatian.

"For this school year, textbooks in Croatian were published for pupils from the first to eighth grade, and contracts were signed for high school textbooks and it remains to solve the issue of textbooks for education in Croatian according to the model C, i.e. the publication of textbooks for the subject 'Croatian language with elements of national culture',", Vucic stated.

He added that Zigmanov also said that radio program in the Croatian language on RTV Vojvodina has been expanded from a half hour to one hour, that the question of funding the three-hour program of Radio Subotica has not been resolved, but that the lower division of the music school in Apatin has been opened in the Sonta village.

Vucic said that the Serbian government will continue the European path and will take account primarily of its national and state interests, "reforming ourselves from the inside and will belong to society of civilized European nations."

According to him, Serbia will continue cooperation with the EU and will develop he best possible relations with China and Russia and all other factors, and that he was "fighting for a strong Serbia that no one can harm in any way, economically or with the military."

The prime minister also said that Bulgaria had "small reservations" regarding Chapter 26, but repeated that Croatia was the only country that blocked it.

He mentioned that 250,000 ethnic Serbs have been driven out of Croatia, "while somebody says we have not paid the price."

"We will no longer be paying those prices. Nobody paid the price for Jasenovac, and we won't be asking that they do," he said, referring to the WW2-era fascist Independent State of Croatia (NDH), whose Ustasha regime operated death camps for Serbs, Jews and Roma, including in Jasenovac, and added:

"We will not allow, either, those who glorify the Ustasha movement, that is not Europe. By supporting and looking the other way Europe is often supporting its own forgery."

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