The Croatian Foreign Ministry said on Friday it had forwarded a note to Serbia rejecting its attempt to meddle in Croatia's internal matters.

The ministry called on Serbia's highest state officials not to use, in communication with representatives of Croatian state authorities, "the language of the failed Yugoslav communist system and the aggressive Greater Serbia policy from the 1990s which was militarily and morally defeated."

It also called on them to communicate with representatives of Croatian state authorities in the spirit of the fundamental European values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, rule of law and respect for human rights, including those of ethnic minorities.

Serbia's highest state officials can show and prove their genuine commitment to the application of the fundamental European values and to Serbia's officially proclaimed goal to join the European family by complying with the commitments undertaken in the EU accession negotiations, notably regarding the judiciary and fundamental rights, which requires Serbia, among other things, to conduct meaningful regional cooperation and good neighbourly relations in dealing with war crimes by avoiding a conflict of jurisdiction, the ministry said.

In the spirit of good neighbourly cooperation, Croatia expects Serbia to start dealing with outstanding issues in that regard as soon as possible, the ministry added.

On Monday, the ministry sent Serbia a protest note over "unacceptable statements" by Serbian officials about the annulment of a verdict against Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac. On Tuesday, Croatia's ambassador to Belgrade, Gordan Markotic, was handed a protest note by the Serbian Foreign Ministry strongly protesting over the annulment by a Croatian court of a 1946 conviction of Zagreb Archbishop Stepinac, which Serbia sees as a rehabilitation of fascism and the Ustasha-ruled 1941-45 Independent State of Croatia (NDH).

On Thursday, Belgrade news agencies reported that the Serbian Foreign Ministry sent Croatia a protest note over a Supreme Court decision quashing a verdict against Branimir Glavas for war crimes against Serbs in the early 1990s. Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said this indicated "Croatia's clear policy not only to rehabilitate the fascist, Ustasha NDH, but also criminals from the last war."

"The message of that shameful act is that it is allowed and normal to commit crimes against Serbs with impunity whereby, aside from the constant hate speech, it's open season on Serbs. Such a policy by Croatia has led to an increase in incidents and violence against Serbs from Croatia and Serbian citizens," the Serbian Foreign Ministry said in a press release carried by Beta news agency on Thursday.

The Tanjug agency said today that the Serbian ambassador in Zagreb, Mira Nikolic, refused to accept Croatia's protest note because of its "offensive content regarding Serbia."

According to Tanjug, Dacic said on Thursday that Serbia sent a note to Croatia after the news on the quashing of the Glavas verdict and "what happened in Srb (Croatia) and over numerous other incidents in Croatia lately."

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