“Such incidents are certainly not conducive to understanding (…) We hope and wish for the relations between Croatia and Serbia to be good because it makes sense that we should have stable relations,” he told the press.
Croatian Ambassador Hido Biščević told N1 television on Thursday it was no accident that the Croatian flag was taken down from his residence and that the incident reflected “part of the atmosphere” in Serbian society, which he said continued to feed on hate speech.
Unknown persons removed the flag from the building which has video surveillance but no guards most likely on Wednesday morning, he said.
The Serbian Foreign Ministry said this was an “injudicious and isolated act,” hoping that it “won’t cast a shadow on efforts to set Serbia-Croatia relations on new foundations so that in future they can develop in the spirit of mutual trust and cooperation.”
Grlić Radman said that because of such incidents “we can’t say the relations have good prospects, we can’t talk about a good future, but we must believe in a good future.”
He announced that he will go to Subotica on 28 April for the laying of the cornerstone of a new Croatia House. His talks with local officials will also address an initiative, opposed by Croatian linguists, to declare the Bunjevci dialect an official language in that town in northern Serbia.
The minister reiterated that the initiative was contrary to the Croatia-Serbia agreement on the protection of national minorities.
He said that on 27 April the prime minister of the Vojvodina province, Igor Mirović, would visit Petrinja, struck by a devastating earthquake last December.
Serbia’s EU path “goes also across Croatia”
The minister went on to say that Serbia’s EU path “goes also across Croatia.” Before Serbia joins, it is necessary to resolve the issue of the war missing, universal jurisdiction, and reparations for POWs, he said.
Serb representatives have three guaranteed seats in the Croatian parliament and Croatia wants Croats in Serbia to be represented as well, he added.
Serbia “must actively and strongly deal” with reforms, the fight against corruption, and the rule of law, he said.
Serbia was granted EU candidate status in March 2012 and began accession negotiations in January 2014.
Although Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and President Zoran Milanović have not yet agreed on the appointment of new ambassadors and consuls, Grlić Radman said he did not think the process was blocked and that there was “only one Croatian diplomacy.”
He dismissed the possibility of a quota or a 50:50 model (between the president’s and government’s proposals). He said “agreement must be reached” and that one could talk about the list of candidates the government had sent the president, but that the government was not in favour of quotas.
He said the candidates were “professional diplomats who have proved themselves on the job.”
Milanović, on the other hand, wants it to be known who is behind which ambassador for responsibility’s sake, saying that this has been the practice before.
For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page.