MAJOR: Serbia-Croatia relations rapidly deteriorating

WWII resurfaces - The two countries have now barred each other's defense ministers

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As events continue to deteriorate in the Balkans, this recent row illustrates a process which may be irreversible. Serbia and Croatia fought several wars against each other, WWII and again in the 1995 period during the Third Balkans War. The background is that Serbian Defense Minister Vulin wanted to attend the ceremonies paying respects to the Serbian victims in Croatia at Jasenovac. Jasenovac was a WWII era concentration camp where Croatian Ustasha’s sent Serbian civilians to their deaths in an historically documented ethnic cleansing campaign which all together claimed the lives of over half-a-million, including countless children murdered by (we’d like to think heretical) Catholic nuns.  Vulin was told he would not be allowed to attend. In response, the Serbian government acted with reciprocity – the Croatian Defense Minister Krsticevic, was stripped of his right to enter Serbia. Serbs and Croats have a visa-free travel agreement, standard for those existing between post Yugoslav states. As NATO has forced ‘moderates’ like Vucic to take a clear stand regarding Russia, President Vucic has increasingly failed to meet NATO’s expectations in that arena. The article below alludes to a statement that Vulin made, which Krsticevic responds to. That statement was:  ‘Who is hiding Jasenovac is hiding crimes, celebrates operation Storm’.  – J. Flores

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The Serbian government adopted  reciprocity measures towards Croatia, where Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister of this country  Damir Krsticevic аre not welcome in Serbia, until further notice.

Reciprocity measures that the Government of Serbia adopted were in response to the note of the Croatian Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, dated April 21, when they banned Serbian Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin from their country.

The Government of Serbia stated that these actions of Croatia are contrary to good cooperation between neighbours and respecting basic European values, which also includes the freedom of movement.

The Defence Minister of Croatia reacted to the statement from Belgrade, and he stated that the decision to ban him from Serbia is not justified. In addition, it is uncertain whether the current crisis in relations between Belgrade and Zagreb will end with the mentioned measures related to the two ministers of defense, or if it could go even deeper, as suggested by Croatian media.

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Zagreb newspapers ‘Vecernji list’ states that in case that Serbian government declares a Croatian Minister undesirable, Croatia will have to reach out for new diplomatic step and that would be to immediately withdraw croatian ambassador from Belgrade, for consultations. , “Vecernji list” stated, as quoted by Tanjug, that that practically means “freezing political relations on the present level”, which are already “cold” and low enough.

To this, the head of Serbian diplomacy, Ivica Dacic, said that if Croatia did so, then Serbia will again take reciprocal measures and immediately withdraw serbian ambassador from Zagreb, to the consultations . Dačić told the Sputnik portal: “In that case, we would be forced to react reciprocally. However, we should turn to a positive agenda, because the relations between the Serbs and Croats are crucial for the stability of the region. “

The Serbian government stated, in its official announcement, that it will remain committed to building good neighborly relations with Croatia, refraining from actions that could contribute to violating relations with its neighbors. Also, the government remains committed to maintaining peace and stability in the region and respecting European principles and values, in the interests of all citizens of Serbia and the region.

The Minister of Defense of Croatia said, for N1, that Serbia’s counterpart is not justified, unlike the decision of the government in Zagreb (on the ban on Vulin), which he considers justified. “Our decision, the decision of the state was justified. This was our response to the provocation of Mr. Vulin, and this would be something that any other modern state that takes care of its sovereignty, dignity and national interests, would do. I never insulted anyone. I did not say anything that is not true, I did not go to Serbia or say anything bad, but this decision is unjustified, this is the decision of the Government of the Republic of Serbia,  that i can deal with and this decision speaks more about them” quoted by Beta.

He said that he and Vulin are “two different worlds”, adding that he was focused on the development and strengthening of the Croatian Army, and that in his work he is always driven by values, responsibilities and  that he also never does something to someone else, that he would not want to be done to him. “That’s how I was in the homeland war and after compulsory retirement and while working in the private sector and also today as the Minister of Defense of the Republic of Croatia,” Krsticevic said. He said that Croatia wants cooperation, dialogue and a focus on the future. This is Croatia, a member of the NATO, a member of the European Union, which is oriented towards the future, this is a serious, modern state that we have, “Krsticevic said and added that he is in constant contact with Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic.

translated by Marija Flores, for FRN – from Politika.rs

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