BELGRADE, Serbia – The war of words between Serbia and Croatia’s foreign ministers intensifies by the day. “If the official Zagreb decides to withdraw ambassador from Belgrade, as it was speculated, we will do the same and with our ambassador in Zagreb” the Serbian chief of diplomacy stated.
If Croatia wants a diplomatic war, they will get a diplomatic war, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Ivica Dacic said and expressed the expectation that the cooler heads will prevail and that it will continue through good neighborly cooperation.
If Zagreb decides to withdraw ambassador from Belgrade, as it was speculated, we will do the same with our ambassador in Zagreb. We are ready to play this game to the very end if they want it, but I fear that the ‘Serbian problem’ in Croatia is a very difficult and incurable disease” Dacic said in an interview with the “Informer “.
Dacic assures that Serbia will apply all reciprocal measures in relation to Zagreb.
“They proclaimed our ministers a persona non grata, we did the same thing with their minister. Our policy with Croats is reciprocity” he said.
He pointed out that reciprocal measures are a common practice in diplomacy. According to him, Serbia is not satisfied with that, but it is forced to react and respond to their actions.
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“If there are new hostile steps by the authorities in Zagreb, we are ready to react. Nevertheless, I hope that we will turn to positive things because relationship between Belgrade and Zagreb are crucial for the region’s stability” Dacic noted.
To the statement of some Croatian officials who are demanding even a break in diplomatic relations with Serbia, he assessed that Croatia is heading in the wrong direction.
“I do not know what they will do, but I repeat, Serbia will react and always answer with the same measures because it is a diplomatic rule. Reciprocity is the mother of diplomacy. That’s how both Donald Tramp and Vladimir Putin do it” added Dacic.
He pointed out that with this he answered the question whether, if the Croats want it, we will end diplomatic relations.
According to him, Serbia is ready to give up when Croatia abolishes the senseless measures towards Aleksandar Vulin. “This is certainly not the way we should go. We hope that cooler heads will prevail and that we will continue through good neighborly cooperation, the path set by President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic and President Aleksandar Vucic. But if someone wants a diplomatic war, they will have a diplomatic war” Dacic stated.
When asked if it is possible that Croatians will block Serbia’s negotiations with the European Union he said: “I do not think it is certain that Croatia will block the opening of new negotiating chapters with the EU in June. They tried it before and it did not work for them or it did not last for a long time.”
The row between the two former Yugoslavian Balkan states has a history going back to the 2nd World War, as well as the issues raised by the manner which the NATO led war in the 1990’s was resolved. In recent weeks, Serbia’s Minister of the Armed Forces, Vulin, was barred from entering Croatia. His aim was to travel into Croatia to the Jasenovac memorial observations held every year. At the Jasenovac concentration camp, over 700,000 Serbian and others, including women and children, were systematically annihilated at this infamous death camp.
As modern Croatian leadership is made up in part of ‘exonerated’ war criminals from the 1990’s war and period, the state has had a difficult time living up to EU’s ostensible ‘values’ against ethnic cleansing, institutional racism, and historical revisionism with regard to Croatia’s role in the Third Reich.
Marija Katic is a Serbian-to-English Translator and Journalist at FRN. She is a graduate of the Belgrade Faculty of Law, and is a member of the Bar Association of Serbia. She also serves as legal counsel for the Center for Syncretic Studies and its Fort Russ News subsidiary.