Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic
Photograph: HINA / Zoran ŽESTIĆ / TANJUG/ mm

Serbia's Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic is convinced that relations with the new government in Croatia could be better and expects the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) to have more courage for some moves that Zoran Milanovic's government led by the Social Democratic Party (SDP) did not deal with.

Speaking in an interview with the N1 regional television channel, Dacic said he believed that he would cooperate better with Tomislav Karamarko from the HDZ than with Zoran Milanovic, underscoring that "Karamarko and I know each other well" back from when we were both ministers.

"Maybe the HDZ will have more courage to make some moves that the SDP did not have enough political will for at certain times because someone might have accused them of not being national enough. We don't need to bring our relations to a phase of love but of common interest," Dacic said.

Asked whether in relations with the new government in Croatia, Belgrade would insist on Cyrillic alphabet signs and minority rights in Vukovar, Dacic underscored that he believed that that was a "civilisational achievement."

"If that is a problem for modern-day Croatia or modern-day Serbia, then all I can say is that we are lagging in development," Dacic said. "We are interested in the status of our people living in Croatia and the status of your people living here."

Asked whether this would be a condition in future negotiations with Croatian authorities, Dacic said that Serbia respects Croatia as a neighbour. "On the other hand, we don't want to say that we like you. Why? Because when someone says that they like you and is lying, then tomorrow they will hate you the most," Dacic said, assessing that Croatia's stance with regard to Kosovo was in contradiction to Serbia's national interests.

"Seeing that you have taken up a position that is in contradiction to our national interests, we like you like we do Papua New Guinea because they voted in a similar way (with regard to Kosovo being admitted to UNESCO). That goes for Montenegro and Macedonia too...but we are here. We live with each other. We don't have anything better regardless of what we are like. As such, let's live normally if we can. However, I believe that Serbia and Croatia have a lot in common, more than what divides us," Dacic said. 

He commented on deteriorated relations because of Croatia's ballistic projectiles and said that this emerged because of fear that these could be used against Serbia.

"It is assumed that your arms could be used only against Serbia or perhaps Republika Srpska. I don't know what you need it for, nor why we would need it. I think we've entered an era of disarmament. There is an agreement we have both signed that regulates disarmament. When you arm yourself that means that certain threats exist. We need to work on a region without arms," Dacic said.

Asked to comment on relations in the region, Dacic said that it would be better if there was a trilateral initiative involving Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia rather than one comprising Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Turkey. "Turkey is acting like Bosnia and Herzegovina's sponsor and as if we are children who don't know what we are doing," he said.

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