“I feel terribly sorry this has happened. One cannot say anything else but express support for a successful defence,” Milanović told reporters during a visit to Pakrac, where he attended an event commemorating the 31st anniversary of the start of the Homeland War in the area of that western Slavonian town.
“It is practically impossible to take a big city without completely destroying it. If someone is willing to defend it,” Milanović said, recalling that the Iraqi city of Mosul had been defended for eight months before it fell.
Close to 700,000 Ukrainian refugees have arrived in the EU.
The Croatian president said that it was a question for the government if Croatia was ready to take in Ukrainian refugees, noting that he could say that “we are morally ready for it.”
“There is an information blockade. The Russian side is releasing what it wants, and that is very little. The other side actually does not know anything,” Milanović said, adding that Croatian ambassadors could not do much either, notably the ambassador in Moscow because Russia shared little information.
PM Andrej Plenković said earlier on Wednesday that Croatia’s Ambassador to Ukraine, Anica Djamić, had left Kyiv and was on her way to Lviv.
Milanović said that “one should always be concerned” when anyone threatens the use of nuclear weapons, and that that “would be the end of the world” but he does not think that that is happening now.
Answering a reporter’s question, Milanović said that he had not spoken to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, adding that he did not know how it could help and that it was too late to send peace messages.
“I would not want the conflict to move to cities because if it does, it will become horrible,” he added.
Milanović expressed confidence that the war could be ended only by Ukraine and Russia or Russia and the USA, adding, “This is their conflict”.
“If Berlin and Paris had been in charge, and they could not do it, war would not have happened…the Minsk Agreement was not implemented, who is to blame?” he said.
“If Europe had had a stronger role in this, and it was incapable of it, this conflict might not have happened,” said Milanović.
There is no threat to Croatia
Milanović noted that PM Plenković should not have said that the level of the army’s preparedness had been raised.
“That has caused alarm in the public. This is a serious matter… the level of the army’s readiness has not been raised and will not be in the current circumstances. The army operates as in normal conditions, there is a slightly higher degree of protection, but that is within the remit of the Armed Forces’ Chief-of-Staff,” Milanović said, explaining that “this means one more guard.”
“That has nothing to do with a more serious or any threat to Croatia. That has not occurred for the time being and will not occur,” he said.
Milanović noted that at present he did not see any reason for holding a session of the National Security Council, and that Croatia should focus more on the rights of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
BiH, Kosovo deserve EU candidate status, too
The presidents of Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia said in an open letter on Monday that Ukraine deserves the prospect of immediate EU membership.
In addition to Ukraine, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo, too, deserve EU candidate status, Milanović said today.
“I was willing to sign (the letter) only if that status was granted to Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo,” with the latter not having been recognised by all EU members, said Milanović.
He added that Croatia “wishes BiH well” and that Sarajevo should understand that.
Milanović also called for making a decision to launch accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia “which the EU has been mistreating for years”, noting that this “is equally important to Croatia as is Ukraine.”
In a direct message to Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik, Milanović said that “it would be good if they returned to BiH institutions” and that he could soon phone him.
“Republika Srpska cannot get out of BiH, that’s impossible… They belong in the West, the the Serb people belong in the West, not in Russia,” he added.
As for Belgrade, Milanović said that now was time for it to decide where it belonged, “whether it is the EU or Russia, for sentimental reasons which I can understand.”
Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić is not giving in to pressure from the West and does not want to introduce sanctions against Russia but has said that Serbia respects the territorial integrity of Ukraine.
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