Foreign Minister Miro Kovac on Monday commented on an open letter by former President Ivo Josipovic to incumbent President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic and his claims about the failure of Croatia's foreign policy in the case of Serbia's EU entry talks, saying this it was this government that invested a lot of effort to rectify omissions made in 2013.
"We invested a lot of effort to rectify omission made by the previous government in 2013 when the process of combing through Serbia's judiciary and legislation started. The former government did not seize the opportunity to point out to the intolerance of the law on universal jurisdiction over war crimes by which Serbia declared itself competent for giving justice.
We found a very awkward situation, but with a lot of effort we did manage to incorporate what was critical for Croatia into the EU criteria. So, when it comes to Chapter 23, it means that Serbia must, as it is its obligation as well as the position of all EU member states, revoke the conflict of jurisdiction, which means that the law must not apply to any country, including Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina." Kovac said.
He underscored that Croatia managed to negotiate with the Union that Serbia must respect the legal framework for the protection of ethnic minorities and respect the agreement it signed with Croatia 12 years ago.
"This means that the Croat minority must have seats in the Serbian parliament, just as the Serbian minority enjoys that right in Croatia. We also negotiated Serbia's obligation to secure the right to access justice without discrimination to war victims so that they could seek damages before Serbian courts.
There is also an obligation to cooperate with Croatian authorities in finding missing people and Serbia's relations with the UN war crimes tribunal at The Hague, including the extradition of war criminals. And this is only one chapter. And there are 35 of them. Should Serbia fail to suspend the contentious law, it will block itself and it will not be able to join the European Union," Kovac said.
Commenting on Josipovic's letter to Grabar-Kitarovic in which he suggested solutions to the dispute with Serbia but also said that Croatia's foreign policy was counter-productive, detrimental and unsuccessful, Kovac said:
"Mr Josipovic, as former president and criminal law professor, shows that he is either intentionally manipulating the fact or that he does not understand them, or a combination of the two. His letter surprised me because he claims that Croatia has universal jurisdiction which is true but this only applies to criminal law, while Serbia has a special law for war crimes."
Kovac said that with this letter, Josipovic had joined the election campaign. "This hurts me and it is difficult for me because he is a former president, but it turns out that Josipovic protects Serbia's interests more than he does the interests of his own country.
Josipovic sent an open letter to Grabar-Kitarovic, saying that Croatia's foreign policy was unsuccessful in its attempt to block Serbia's EU entry talks and that it kept implementing a counter-productive and detrimental policy that had no chance to succeed and that had negative consequences for Croatia's international position, including the position of the EU and relations with the neighbours.