Milorad Pupovac Aleksandar Vučić.jpg
Photograph: HINA / Zoran ŽESTIĆ / TANJUG / mm

Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said during a meeting with Serb National Council (SNV) president Milorad Pupovac in Belgrade on Friday that Serbia wants to cooperate closely with the new Croatian government despite what he described as numerous indications of problems encountered by the Serb community in Croatia.

Vucic reiterated Serbia's wish and intention "to cooperate with the Croatian state and the new government despite numerous signals that reveal the complexity of problems encountered by Serbs on a daily basis," the Serbian government said in a statement after the meeting between Vucic and Pupovac.

The SNV president informed the Serbian PM about the current political situation in Croatia and the status of the Serb community.

"Serbs and Croats belong to the family of European nations, and progress in our relations means stabilisation and peace in the Western Balkans," said Vucic.

Considering the fact that this year "the 75th anniversary of the establishment of the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) and the Ustasha death camp Jasenovac" will be marked, Vucic called on Pupovac to commemorate the establishment of the Jasenovac camp together with the governments of Serbia and the Bosnian Serb entity of Republika Srpska.

Earlier in the day, Pupovac met with Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic to discuss the status of the Croatian Serb community, the Serbian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

During his visit to Serbia, Pupovac gave interviews to the local electronic media, saying that good relations between Belgrade and Zagreb required a good status of the Croatian Serb community.

Recalling the long negotiations that preceded the formation of the new Croatian government, Pupovac said that the new government "is only forming and defining its policies" and that "it has started out in an unusual way, both in terms of its platform and its choice of ministers."

"We do not have any experience with the way it is starting out. We will give them some time to start building a relationship of trust with us and with the Croatian public. At the moment, that trust is not very high," said Pupovac.

He noted that the status of Croatian Serbs had deteriorated and that that caused unease in the Serb community.

"I am concerned about an increase in nationalism and intolerance and public insensitivity to that. Is is not alarming when five to eight thousand people take to the streets, shouting 'For the homeland ready' and calling for the expulsion of prominent reporters to Serbia?"

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