Dacic and Grlic Radman: It is important to reduce differences in the positions of Belgrade and Zagreb

28. Jan 2023.
This evening in Subotica, Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Serbia and Croatia Ivica Dacic and Gordan Grlic Radman agreed on the steps that will precede their bilateral meeting, aimed at reducing the differences in the positions of Belgrade and Zagreb, so that open issues would not burden Serbs in Croatia and Croats in Serbia.

"We believe that regardless of the fact that we think differently about issues from the past, we need to look for ways and mechanisms for cooperation", Dacic said and added that they both welcomed the framework of talks reached by Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic at the Summit in Davos.

Dacic said that he discussed several important topics with Grlic Radman and that it was agreed that a platform for their bilateral meeting would be prepared in the coming months. "We are preparing the meeting with the desire to see what we can do in concrete and operational terms towards the development of our bilateral relations, what would be best for our citizens, states and peoples", Dacic said.

Dacic added that it was agreed that a meeting of representatives of the Foreign Ministries of Serbia and Croatia would be held in the next month, who were supposed to make an overview of the issues that would be the subject of discussion at the bilateral meeting.

It is necessary, he said, to make an analysis of the situation, an inventory of issues that Belgrade and Zagreb will deal with, as well as to see who on the Serbian side will be the National Coordinator for cooperation with the Croatian counterpart.

Dacic announced that Minister Tanja Miscevic would discuss issues and experiences of Croatia related to European integration with Radman, who is the Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, as well as issues related to certain chapters.

Grlic Radman emphasized that it was in the interest of the citizens that the officials of both countries work and cooperate. "Politics is an extremely responsible discipline, and our citizens expect the promotion of our good-neighbourly relations, and this reflects political maturity, especially at a time of great challenges and crisis situations around us", Grlic Radman said.

Expressing his satisfaction that he met with Dacic at the "Veliko Prelo" traditional festival which had been organized in Subotica for more than a century by Bunjevci Croats, Grlic Radman outlined the next steps in the relations between the two countries, from working on the inventory of priority issues to be discussed, to the arrival of the Minister of European Integration Tanja Miscevic in Zagreb, because, as he emphasized, it was in Croatia's interest to help and support Serbia on its European path.

“I presented my colleague Dacic with a plan to resolve our issues. Dacic said that differences must be reduced, but in order for the common view not to be different, it is necessary to speak openly. Nobody can pretend that nothing happened 32 years ago. There is something hampering our relations. We certainly do not want our outstanding issues to burden the Serbs in Croatia as well as the Croats in Serbia”, said the Croatian Foreign and European Affairs Minister.

As he said, he presented a plan to Dacic that included a meeting between assistant ministers of the two ministries, "who will have consultations and give an inventory of relations, of everything that will be discussed, including contractual relations and all other matters of importance for our relations".

He said that the next step would be a meeting of coordinators for open issues at the level of state secretaries. Croatia, as he said, had a person who would be responsible for relations with Serbia and expected Serbia to appoint its own. He added that this person was in the rank of deputy minister.

Grlic Radman said that the third step, related to European integration, was announced by Minister of European Integration Tanja Miscevic. "I invited her to visit Zagreb. It is in Croatia's interest to help and support Serbia on its European path. That is why we also need to discuss the rule of law, Chapters 23 and 24, minority rights, missing persons, the prosecution of war crimes, compensation for inmates”, Grlic Radman said.

He added that Croatia was able to provide answers, expertise and experience to Serbia. He emphasized that it was good news that the efforts aimed at accounting for missing persons would continue, adding that Croatia was searching for 1,816 people.

He said that President of the Commission for Missing Persons of the Serbian Government Veljko Odalovic would arrive in Zagreb on Monday, where he would meet with his colleague from the Ministry of Croatian Veterans. According to him, all these steps will precede the bilateral meeting with Dacic, which will be well prepared.

"We will be able to talk seriously about everything, not only bilateral topics, because peace, stability and security are in the interest of all of us", Grlic Radman said.

"There is no alternative to ensuring that all citizens are safe, that they have good relations, that border issues have been resolved, that all issues are discussed, that differences have been reduced, that is important", he said and emphasized that it was important that political responsibility is taken into consideration.

Being politically responsible we want to leave as little as possible for future generations, for the heirs of our policies which can only be universal, Grlic Radman said.

"We approached these issues that we will discuss in a positive manner and in the spirit of good- neighbourly relations and responsibility for regional stability within the countries of the Western Balkans and especially Serbia towards the EU member states", the Croatian Minister said.

Dacic also welcomed the cooperation of Serbs in Croatia and Croats in Serbia and positively evaluated the fact that Serbs were participating in the government in Croatia, as well as the important role played by Minister Tomislav Zigmanov in the Serbian Government, who, as he added, was also active in bilateral relations between the two countries.

Furthermore, Dacic said that he was pleased to take part in the “Veliko Prelo” traditional festival - one of the events related to Croats which take place in Serbia, and expressed his desire and expectation that these would give impetus to our further bilateral relations.

Source: Tanjug

Photo: MFA