Croatia to block Serbia from joining EU over war crimes law News
Croatia to block Serbia from joining EU over war crimes law

[JURIST] Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic said Thursday that Croatia will block Serbia from joining the EU unless it changes a 2003 law [text, PDF] allowing Belgrade to prosecute Croatians for war crimes committed against Serbs in Croatia. The law would allow Serbia to have universal jurisdiction for the prosecution of war crimes committed against Serbs in Croatia. Milanovic said [Balkan Insight report], “It is unacceptable to us, as it would be unacceptable to any other [country], if we had such a law.” Croatian Justice Minister Orsat Mljenic described the law as Serbia’s attempt to have a “mini Hague Tribunal, with Belgrade becoming the center for prosecuting everything that happened on the territory of former Yugoslavia.” The comments made by Croatia’s prime minister might pose a challenge to Serbia’s admission to the EU as a country seeking admission must meet several conditions [EU official website], one of which being “the consent of the EU institutions and EU member states.”

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website; JURIST backgrounder] and the Balkan States continue to prosecute those accused of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity during the Balkan conflict of the 1990s that left more than 100,000 people dead and millions displaced. Earlier this week the International Court of Justice (ICJ) [official website] ruled [judgment, PDF] that Serbia and Croatia did not commit genocide [JURIST report] against one another’s citizens during the 1990s wars that erupted after the division of Yugoslavia. Last week the ICTY upheld [JURIST report] the genocide convictions of two Bosnian Serbs during the 1995 Srebenica massacre. In July a Dutch court found the government responsible for 300 deaths [JURIST report] in the Srebrenica massacre. Last January the appeals chamber for the ICTY upheld [JURIST report] the criminal convictions of four Serbian senior officials stemming from the Bosnian Civil War [JURIST news archive]. The ICTY was created [text, PDF] in 1993 by UN Resolution 827 to adjudicate the alleged war crimes perpetrated in the region of the former Yugoslavia since 1991.