Croatia blocks Serbia's accession negotiations

Brussels has opened two new chapters in the EU accession talks with Serbia. Croatia, however, blocked the opening of the chapter on education and culture, as it already did on other issues last spring. This has provoked angry reactions and harsh criticism from the Serbian side. Is Zagreb's obstructive stance justified?

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Jutarnji list (HR) /

Serbia wants to have it both ways

Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić left Brussels earlier than planned on Monday. His angry departure is just a show for the Russians, writes Jutarnji list:

“Vučić's theatrics in Brussels followed a carefully prepared script. It all has to do with Serbia's relations with Russia. … Vučić wants both trumps in his hand, Russia as well as the EU and Nato. And he is well on his way to achieving this - also thanks to hysterical performances like this one. The Russians are pleased and no one holds it against him in Brussels. They're accustomed to such behaviour, we hear, and it doesn't really matter as long as he plays along in the end. But the EU Commission needs to understand that Croatia won't give up its claims vis-à-vis Serbia that easily - neither as regards the return of cultural treasures looted during the war nor as regards the rights of the Croatian minority in Serbia.”

Novi list (HR) /

Balkans once again a pawn of the big powers

Croatia's blockade stance is worrying, the daily Novi List points out, warning that only the Zagreb-Belgrad axis can guarantee peace in the Balkans:

“First the Serbian elite must finally grasp the political reality and accept that Serbia's hegemony in Southeast Europe hasn't existed since 1991. And the Croatian leadership should stop trying to lecture its neighbours about how to get into the EU. … For once again the interests of the major powers are colliding in the Balkans. Putin's Russia wants to maintain and if possible extend its influence in Serbia, while the West is doing all it can to prevent this. Erdoğan wants to use the Bosniaks to build a bridge for Turkey to the Balkan Peninsula. Only if Croatia and Serbia reach a consensus at least on the basic issues can instability and war be prevented in the region.”