An all-day meeting on Monday between Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic and Serbia's Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic partially in Croatia and then in Serbia ended in the Serbian town of Subotica with the signing of a declaration on advancing relations and resolving outstanding issues between the two countries.

The two officials started the meeting in the eastern Croatian town of Dalj where they held talks with the local Serb minority community and then continued their meeting in the afternoon with a visit to Tavankut, Serbia, where they met with the leadership of the Croat minority in Vojvodina province.

The talks between the two officials continued behind closed doors in downtown Subotica and the signing of the declaration.

The declaration consists of six items including the launch or acceleration of the bilateral protection of minorities - the Serb minority in Croatia and the Croat minority in Serbia - followed by "an active approach to prepare a state commission to determine the demarcation line between Serbia and Croatia," as well as the beginning of the application of the Agreement on succession (to the former Yugoslavia) signed on 29 June 2001 in Vienna.

The document signed also plans to prioritise the investigation into those who went missing in the 1990s war as a humanitarian issue and to invest sincere and maximum effort in the search for the missing.

The fifth item notes the readiness to actively coordinate activities in the fight against terrorism and the refugee crisis while the final, sixth item expresses readiness to actively participate in joint development and cross-border European Union projects.

"The declaration was not signed because someone had asked us to do it, but because we decided to do it. The document we signed obliges us to personally undertake everything in our power so that we finally embark on resolving outstanding issues and the future," President Grabar-Kitarovic said after signing the declaration.

She underscored that she believed that accumulated problems facing the two minorities and relations between the two countries are partially the result of a lack of communication.

Grabar-Kitarovic said that Croatian citizens are burdened with problems in the economy, welfare and pension systems, adding however that she understands the specific problems faced by the Serb minority.

"I personally pledge that I will do everything to promote a culture of dialogue, co-existence and mutual tolerance above all at the local level in order to resolve very concrete problems that people are faced with every day and which are critical for them," she said among else.

Prime Minister Vucic in that regard added that during talks with representatives of the Croat minority, which weren't "exactly sweet," he offered concrete solutions for their problems.

"I delegated the incoming mayor of Subotica to immediately lay asphalt in Tavankut's  two main streets and I arranged with the prefect of Vojvodina province to allocate more funds in the budget for the "Hrvatska Rijec" weekly," Vucic said.

He noted that progress in the position of the two minorities would be visible very soon.

"They don't need to be spectacular results. I am not saying that Croats will start to adore Serbs or that Serbs will love Croats and I am not saying that there won't be problems around August 5 (Croatian Victory Day) with various statements and emotions but anything that is done concretely - a street, a text book, a a huge step and a good result from this meeting," Vucic said.

He added that the talks did not deal with how the voters would see this but that they dealt with essential issues.

"These relations are the backbone of good relations in the entire region and they are also significant for relations toward the European Union (EU). We did this of our own accord without any requests or pressure," Vucic said and added that that showed that Serbs and Croats have made progress.

Referring to recent problems concerning opening Chapter 23 in Serbia's EU accession negotiations, President Grabar-Kitarovic said Croatia doesn't intend to block Serbia on its EU path but wishes to see it in the EU and that she believed that that situation will not be repeated.

She added that Croatia insists on all benchmarks being met and that she hoped that in the future the two countries will have the strength for bilateral talks on all issues that might arise during the negotiations and to agree on transition measures to clear up any doubts, before they become a European problem.

Representatives of the Croat minority underscored that they were satisfied that they were given the opportunity to participate in overall developing Croatian-Serbian relations and that they hoped this was the beginning of an institutional form of communication and cooperation between Croats and authorities in Vojvodina in resolving accumulated problems they are faced with.

Latest news

Syrian opposition rules out future role for President al-Assad

The Syrian opposition said Friday it would not accept any role for President Bashar al-Assad in the future of the war-torn country, reacting to a recent US shift saying that removing al-Assad is no longer a priority for Washington.

Russian Army integrates breakaway forces of Georgian province

Parts of the small fighting forces of the Georgian breakaway province of South Ossetia have been placed under Russian military control, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Friday.

Czech Republic's Pilsner Urquell beer is now Japanese

Japanese brewing company Asahi completed its takeover of the Czech brewery Pilsner Urquell on Friday, Asahi said in a statement.

Judge approves 25-million-dollar settlement of Trump University case

A US district judge on Friday approved a 25-million-dollar settlement of lawsuits and state fraud allegations against Trump University, the US president's now-defunct business venture.

Former Thai premier Thaksin to junta on reconciliation: 'Cut me out'

Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Friday announced that he is not interested in the junta-led reconciliation process, three days after the junta handed him a half-a-billion-dollar tax bill for his past business deal.

Dalic: We welcome possible deal between Agrokor and banks

The government welcomes the possibility of an agreement being concluded between the Agrokor food company and creditor banks, and the bill on vitally important companies is not a fallback plan but the result of the government's care for the overall economic and financial stability of Croatia, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Martina Dalic told a press conference in Zagreb on Friday.

Croatia, China sign action plan for cooperation in agriculture

The Croatian and Chinese ministries of agriculture on Friday signed an action plan for cooperation in the field of agriculture for the period 2017-2018, the Croatian ministry said in a statement.

ZSE indices up, Agrokor shares in focus of investor interest

The Zagreb Stock Exchange (ZSE) indices on Friday rose by more than 1.8%, with stocks of the Agrokor food and retail concern being in the focus of investor interest again.

Berlin police defend handling of Berlin market attacker

Berlin police defended themselves on Friday against accusations that they stopped surveillance on Berlin Christmas market attacker despite knowing in June 2016 he was dangerous.

Croatia, creditors tailor emergency measures to save tottering giant

Croatia's tottering retail and food giant Agrokor reached an agreement with its creditors, putting its debts standby and allowing it to continue working during emergency restructuring, the Croatian branch of Austria's Erste Bank said Friday.

Agrokor's creditors say standstill agreement to go into force today

A standstill agreement regarding the Agrokor concern's existing financial obligations to banks will take effect on Friday, additional capital will be injected into the concern in the coming days and the concern will be actively restructured, which includes a change of its management, it was said on Friday after a meeting between Agrokor's suppliers and creditor banks.

Palestinians, UN slam Israel's new settlement plan

Palestinians, Israeli activists and the UN lambasted the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday, a day after it gave the go-ahead for the first new West Bank settlement in a quarter of a century.

South Sudan rebels release three abducted foreign oil workers

South Sudanese rebels have released three foreign engineers they abducted in early March in the oil-rich Upper Nile region, Foreign Affairs Ministry official Mawein Makol Arik said on Friday.

Turkish opposition: Imprisoned party chief has gone on hunger strike

The head of Turkey's pro-Kurdish opposition party has launched a hunger strike from prison.

European leagues threaten Champions League schedule clashes

The European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) on Friday threatened schedule clashes on Champions League matchdays in an ongoing dispute with the governing body UEFA.

Danish court revokes citizenship of IS volunteer

A Danish appellate court on Friday stripped a man of his Danish citizenship for volunteering to fight for the extremist Islamic State in Syria.

Banks and Agrokor agree on key elements of standstill agreement

Member banks of the coordinating committee of financial creditors and representatives of the Agrokor food company have in principle agreed on key elements of a standstill agreement, which is expected to be signed later today, announcing changes in the company's management team, Erste Bank said in a statement on Friday afternoon.

Syrian man on trial in Sweden; mosque attack labelled terrorism

A Syrian man went on trial Friday in the southern Swedish city of Malmo, charged with terrorism and arson after an attack last year on a building used as an assembly hall by Shiite Muslims.