Croatian Outgoing Defence Minister Ante Kotromanovic on Friday commented on a press release issued by the Serbian Foreign Ministry, stressing that his previous statement was neither scandalous nor warmongering, as the Serbian ministry claimed.
"I am extremely happy that you and your prime minister realised the value of advocating peace in which, in case you forgot, we have been living for many years. However, I regret that you failed to recognise those values earlier and thus save tens of thousands of innocent victims. Let me remind you that four war conflicts (Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo) had been initiated by the then Serbian government in which you and your prime minister had been high ranking officials. This is why I am very happy to hear that today you advocate peace and stability of the region," Kotromanovic said in a statement released by the Croatian Defence Ministry.
This was Kotromanovic's reaction to the press release issued by the Serbian Foreign Ministry, led by Ivica Dacic, in which it said it was shocked to hear the Croatian defence minister talk about uncontrolled armament, thus directly sending a threat to Serbia, at a time when Serbia and its Prime Miniseter Aleksandar Vucic, as well as the entire region, are advocating peace, stability and reconciliation. The Serbian ministry said Kotromanovic's statement was "scandalous and warmongering."
"My statement is neither scandalous nor warmongering. Had you read it or listened to it carefully, you would have known that I have emphasised that Croatia most definitely does not have hostile intentions towards Serbia, that we respect it as our neighbour and support its aspirations to join the European Union, but as a NATO member state we are entitled to our own defence and to developing our own system and our own funds," Kotromanovic reiterated.
He, however, said that Dacic's statement that "Serbia is neither nervous nor frightened and we hope Croatia won't be either once Serbia takes appropriate protection and defence measures," was scandalous.
"I can only tell you that Croatia will be neither nervous nor frightened, because this is not who we are. We are glad if we in any way helped the Serbian government to decide to allocate more money to the development of its own army because investing in the defence is investing in one's own security," the Croatian Minister said.
He told Dacic he had no reason to be nervous and frightened.
"I remind you that Croatia is a member of the European Union and NATO which both advocate permanent peace. Our duty is to lead our country and equip our army the best we can, same as you," Kotromanovic said.