ZAGREB, October 17, 2020 – Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlic Radman have expressed a readiness to intensify dialogue and improve relations between their countries for the benefit of both nations and the Croat minority in Serbia and the Serb minority in Croatia.
The Serbian president has expressed a willingness to ensure “representation of the Croats in the provincial and in local parliaments in Serbia in the way Croatia has ensured for its Serb minority,” Grlic Radman told a joint press conference after bilateral talks with Vucic on Friday evening.
The meeting was held after the formal handover of the birth house of Josip Jelacic (1801-1859), the Ban (governor) of Croatia, in Petrovaradin to the Croat community in Serbia.
“We are ready, already next week when the formation of the new government begins, to make access to local administrations for members of the Croatian community in Vojvodina considerably easier,” Vucic confirmed.
Grlic Radman described their meeting as “affirmative, good and substantial.”
“Peace, stability and good neighbourly relations are of the utmost importance. I think there is a good will on both sides that we need to intensify the dialogue,” Grlic Radman said, adding that the relationship between the two countries can be improved.
He said that efforts should be stepped up in the search for missing persons from the 1991-1995 war, adding that both countries were looking for 1,869 people in total.
“We have opened a new chapter of cooperation. We see the past through different glasses, but we live in the present and need to define the future. We are oriented towards each other,” the Croatian foreign minister said.
Noting that the talks were “neither pleasant nor easy” for either of them, Vucic said that such talks are the best because regardless of the differences of views on the past, steps have been agreed that will benefit both the Croats in Serbia and the Serbs in Croatia.
“It is good for our nations for us to come closer together rather than grow apart, and there are many reasons for that. We are both much smaller than we think of ourselves,” Vucic said, stressing the need to preserve peace and improve ties between the Serbs and Croats.
Agreeing with the need to intensify the search for missing persons from the war, he said that the number of Serbs unaccounted for since the war was not smaller than that of missing Croats.
“This is a civilisational and, above all, humanitarian issue, whether someone’s mother will be able to light a candle on her son’s grave, regardless of whether her son is a Serb or a Croat. We need to make progress, that is important for the sake of those families. We need to intensify our efforts, and that’s what we also expect from the Croatian side,” the Serbian president said.