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Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) leader Andrej Plenkovic has called for defusing tensions between Croatia and Serbia, and recalled that many outstanding issues stem from the aggression by the Greater Serbia regime led by Slobodan Milosevic against Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo.

"All issues in the relations with the neighbours date back to that period (during the aggression)," Plenkovic said in the northern town of Krapina on Thursday when asked by the press to comment on European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker's reply to a letter from Serbia's Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic.

In his reply to Vucic, the EC president expressed his concern over the latest developments in relations between Serbia and Croatia and encouraged a return to constructive bilateral engagement. Juncker also underlined that "good neighbourly relations and regional cooperation, as well as reconciliation, are fundamental principles which must be respected by all candidate countries and potential candidates, as well as by all EU Member States themselves. These principles are a commitment, for the whole region. The EU expects all countries concerned to continue to respect these commitments."

Plenkovic holds that Juncker's letter is aimed at defusing the tensions and encourages avoiding irresponsible statements.

Plenkovic went on to say that raising tensions and irresponsible statements were not the HDZ policy.

The HDZ will pursue the policy that safeguards our interests in the manner that suits a member of NATO and the European Union, the HDZ leader said during a walkabout in Krapina where he stopped within the campaign trail in the 3rd constituency.

Plenkovic said that he would prefer dialogue as a method to solve outstanding issues.

Croatian Foreign Minister Miro Kovac of the HDZ said on Thursday that the European Commission president's letter to Serbia showed that Croatia was right when it said that complaining would get Serbia nowhere.

"Juncker's letter clearly confirms that we were right when we said that complaining, which Serbia did and is doing, would get it nowhere," Kovac said on the fringes of an informal meeting of Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) foreign ministers in Potsdam.

He was commenting on Serbia's appeal to the European Union to "protect" it from Croatia and Juncker's reply, in which he urged Serbia to build good neighbourly relations.

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