Underscoring that this was his third visit to Montenegro in a short period, Croatia’s minister of foreign and European affairs, Gordan Grlić Radman, said Montenegro could continue counting on Zagreb’s support on its path to full membership in the EU.
However, he underscored that it is important to open dialogue and address outstanding issues between the two countries.
“I believe that issues need to be resolved in the spirit of mutual respect and good neighbourly relations and within the framework of international law. That implies the resolution of the fate of missing persons, prosecuting war crimes and the rights of war victims,” said Grlić Radman after the talks with Montenegro’s Ranko Krivokapić.
Grlić Radman added that that also involves the problem of border demarcation and the ownership of the Jadran training ship which is now in the hands of the Montenegrin navy.
The two ministers discussed changing the name of the winter swimming pool in Kotor which was renamed last year after water polo player Zoran Džimi Gopčević, who was a guard of the infamous Morinj war camp which led to Croatia sending a protest note to the then government in Montenegro.
Grlić Radman said that he hoped an agreement would be reached for the long term lease of premises in Donja Lastva near Tivat by the Croat minority.
The two officials also discussed an initiative to erect a monumental plaque as a sign of respect to a Montenegrin JNA general, Vladimir Barović, who committed suicide on Vis Island during the JNA aggression against Croatia because he refused an order to bomb Croatian coastal towns.
“Barović showed humanity in a way that decent and fair people do, people who do not wish to cause damage to a nation that did not do any harm to his compatriots,” said Grlić Radman.
He further underscored Croatia’s support for the Croat minority in Montenegro and to its organisations: the Croatian National Council and Croatian Civil Initiative. He welcomed a decision by the new Montenegrin government to appoint a Croat – Adrian Vuksanović – as a minister in the government.
Krivokapić thanked Croatia for its support to Montenegro in efforts to fulfill the EU accession criteria.
“Croatia has given us unreserved support in that area with the wish to resolve some outstanding issues as soon as possible. Fostering historical remembrance, repentance and reconciliation on the examples of Morinj, Dubrovnik and some other issues, we are building a new trust, showing our readiness to apologise and take responsibility for all the mistakes, primarily by Montenegro,” Krivokapić said.
The two officials agreed that the current geopolitical situation has opened the door to the EU for new members and that Montenegro needs to fulfill all the membership benchmarks as soon as possible and start closing negotiation chapters.
After the meeting, Grlić Radman and Krivokapić laid wreaths at a monument marking the Christmas uprising of 104 years ago and Montenegro’s struggle for independence.
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