Croatia unblocks Chapter 26 in Serbia's EU accession talks
Croatian Foreign Minister Davor Ivo Stir said on Friday that his country has "unblocked Serbia."Source: Beta, Tanjug
This means that Zagreb "removed its reservations" regarding the opening of Chapter 26 (education and culture) in Serbia's negotiations to join the EU, the Beta agency has reported, quoting the N1 broadcaster.
"The conditions have been met for us to lift our reserves concerning Chapter 26, and I want to say that within Chapter 23 we will monitor the fulfilling of all obligations concerning national minorities, with the emphasis on the Croat minority," said Stir.
Zagreb's decision to lift the veto came after the Serbian Ministry of Education signed earlier in the day annexes to a memorandum of cooperation with the national textbook publisher and representatives of Serbia's seven national minorities that have access to education in their mother tongues.
The annexes will ensure an additional 84 textbooks in minority languages, including 18 in Croatian.
Stir said he welcomed the document signed by the Serbian minister of education and representatives of the Croat minority.
Croatian media said that the signing was attended by ambassadors of Croatia, the EU, and Bulgaria.
"I want to say that at our request, (EU) Commissioner Hahn reported to me and gave further explanations that we requested and it is clear from these explanations that the commissioner will be personally involved in overseeing all obligations in the field of minority education," Stir said on Friday.
Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic on Friday afternoon said he was "grateful to Croatia" for unblocking Chapter 26.
But when reporters in Belgrade told him the news, he was "surprised," Beta is reporting, and asked:
"The conditions have been met? What is it I did over the past seven days?"