Croatian police officials advise Serbian counterparts on EU accession
A high-level delegation from Serbia’s Ministry of Interior visited Zagreb on 30-31 October 2013 to learn about Croatia’s experience in meeting the requirements for European Union (EU) membership in the area of the rule of law. The focus of discussion was on Chapter 24 of the EU acquis communautaire, which covers the issues of Justice, Freedom and Security. The workshop, organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with the Croatian Ministry of Interior and the Centre of Excellence of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, was designed to share the lessons learned in Croatia’s eight-year EU accession process. It is part of a broader UNDP programme aimed at sharing Croatia’s EU accession experience with other countries in the region.
“The demands of EU accession get tougher with every round of enlargement, and the greatest scrutiny of all applies to the chapters devoted to rule of law,” said UNDP Resident Representative Louisa Vinton in welcoming the delegation. “This puts a big burden on the Ministry of Interior.” Croatia faced some of its biggest challenges in Chapters 23 and 24, and Serbia’s path will be even harder now that it is clear that all negotiations will both start and finish with these chapters, agreed Croatian Assistant Minister of Interior Nebojša Kirigin. He and Deputy General Police Director Zvonimir Vnučec offered Croatia's full support to Serbia in the EU accession process.
The delegation consisted of 15 Serbian officials responsible for negotiations on Chapter 24, including Zoran Golubović, advisor to the General Police Director, and Bogoljub Živković, Assistant General Police Director. Presentations held during the study visit focused on the experiences of the Croatian Ministry of Interior and State Attorney’s Office in the areas of the Internal Control Service; External Borders and Schengen; Asylum and Migration; Organised Crime and Corruption; Terrorism; and the Fight against Drugs. Croatian speakers included Mladen Pemper on terrorism, Dalibor Jurić on police cooperation, and Krešimir Sikavica and Nataša Đurović on organized crime and corruption.
The visit builds on work by UNDP’s Senior Regional Advisor on Rule of Law, Filip Dragović (a Croatian former Assistant Minister of Interior), who held initial discussions with Serbian counterparts in Belgrade in September. The EU decided in June 2013 to open accession negotiations with Serbia, and the explanatory screening process (a chapter-by-chapter review of Serbia’s status vis-à-vis the acquis) has been completed. The study visit to Zagreb was timed to coincide with preparations for the bilateral screening process for Chapter 24. The coming months will be busy for Serbia as these activities will be followed by the European Commission’s adoption of a framework for accession negotiations and the holding of the first intergovernmental conference no later than in January 2014.