Good neighbourly relations with Serbia are in Croatia's interest, says Kovac

Croatia's Foreign Minister Miro Kovac has said that Croatia is interested in having good neighbourly relations with Serbia, that it will support Serbia on the path to the EU but that Serbia will have to meet EU membership criteria and, among other things, revoke its jurisdiction for war crimes committed on Croatian soil.

"We have to define a solution under which Croatian courts will prosecute war crimes committed in Croatia and Serbian courts will prosecute crimes committed in Serbia. That is good neighbourly cooperation," Kovac said in an interview with the Belgrade daily Blic issue of Monday.

Asked if the new Croatian government would change the country's policy towards Serbia, he said that "good neighbourly relations with Serbia are in Croatia's interest."

Noting that Croatia "has stoically tolerated unbelievable outbursts of irrational behaviour from Serbia", Kovac said that that did not help Serbia.

"We want cooperation, not confrontation. We expect verbal attacks from Serbia to stop," he said.

He would not agree with the assessment that the two countries' relations were at the lowest level since 2000.

"Croatian-Serbian relations are developing well, notably on the economic front, but they can and must be better. In 2000, there was a visa regime between our two countries. There are no more visas today," said Kovac.

Kovac said he wanted to solve problems and help build relations between the two countries to make them resemble those between France and Germany.

"I want to contribute to lifting the psychological burden off young generations in terms of Croatian-Serbian relations," he said, noting that this was not an easy task.

"One has to have the courage and face the past, deal with the war legacy and speak without complexes about the war that Slobodan Milosevic waged in Croatia in the 1990s," said Kovac.

Asked if he minded being perceived by a part of the Serbian public as a "pro-Ustasha minister", Kovac said that he advised those people "not to read newspapers or watch programmes that spread such nonsense."

He said that the future Prime Minister-designate Andrej Plenkovic would decide whether he would remain in his post in the next government and that individual positions in the new government had still not been discussed.

Kovac said that he was confident a meeting at the ministerial level between Croatia and Serbia would be held soon.

"There are many outstanding issues that we should discuss," he said, describing cooperation between Croatia and Serbia as crucial for peace and stability in Southeast Europe.

Last update: Mon, 19/09/2016 - 09:39
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