miro kovač.jpg
Photograph: HINA/ Daniel KASAP / dk

The Serbian Foreign Ministry has sent a protest note to the Croatian Ambassador in Serbia, Gordan Markotic, over statements by Croatian Foreign Minister Miro Kovac to the Croatian media on April 16 "which insult and disparage Serbia", reads a statement issued in Belgrade on Thursday.

The Serbian Foreign Ministry said on its official web site that it "considers it inappropriate for Croatian officials to describe in their public statements the enforcement of Serbian laws as 'a historical perversion' and to imply that Serbia 'is a country where plans for the 1990s wars originated'."

The ministry went on to say that Croatia would "contribute to the promotion of bilateral relations and good neighbourly cooperation if it refrained from such statements."

The Serbian ministry "takes this opportunity to point to the fact that nationalist incidents and hate speech occur in Croatia almost on a daily basis, which causes anxiety among members of the Serb ethnic minority, which is a direct consequence of the failure of the relevant Croatian state institutions to appropriately sanction and publicly condemn such incidents."

"The Serbian Foreign Ministry is particularly worried about the participation of Croatian singer Marko Perkovic Thompson in a religious panel for young people in a Catholic school in Sibenik on 16 April 2016 and his lectures to primary and secondary school students, which were accompanied with the songs 'Cavoglave' and 'Jasenovac and Gradiska Stara' that glorify the Ustasha ideology and contain threats to Serbs," the Serbian ministry said.

The Croatian Ambassador and representatives of the Serbian Foreign Ministry "have agreed that after a new Serbian government is formed, officials of the two countries should hold more frequent meetings to discuss outstanding issues," the ministry said in a comment on the content of its protest note.

In an interview with the Jutarnji List daily of April 16, Kovac said: "It is clear that full cooperation with the Hague war crimes tribunal is a requirement for (EU accession) talks. It is also absolutely clear that the country where plans for the 1990s wars originated cannot be the judge and policeman for war crimes for all former Yugoslav countries, including Croatia. Just think about it. It's absurd, moreover it's a historical perversion and prevents good neighbourly cooperation."

Serbia is holding early parliamentary elections on Sunday.

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