ZAGREB, April 23, 2018 – Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić told a press conference in Belgrade on Monday that Zagreb was not ready for dialogue at prime ministerial level, but that Serbia would make an effort to improve communication with Croatia.
Brnabić said she had called her Croatian counterpart Andrej Plenković last week, on the day the Croatian Parliament delegation cut short their visit to Belgrade, but he did not return the call. “That shows that there is no readiness for dialogue at prime ministerial level, which is unfortunate,” she said.
Brnabić said earlier that, after the incident in the Serbian National Assembly last Wednesday, when Serbian Radical Party leader Vojislav Šešelj swore at the Croatian delegation and trampled on the Croatian flag, she called Croatian Prime Minister Plenković several times, but he did not respond.
“I am sorry that the situation with Croatia is somewhat deteriorating again,” Brnabić said, noting that the cooperation was recently encouraged by Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić and Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović. “What they both did is a brave, leadership gesture,” she said.
Brnabić expressed regret that Croatia had declared Serbian Defence Minister Aleksandar Vulin a persona non grata. “I very much regret that Minister Vulin was denied the possibility to visit Croatia, because these aren’t European values. Denying anyone travel or a visit is not a European value, dialogue is a fundamental European value.” She said that Serbia remained open to dialogue with Croatia because stability in the region was in its interest, and added that Belgrade was trying to improve communication.
Brnabić recalled several successful bilateral meetings after Vučić’s visit to Zagreb in February, citing recent meetings between the two countries’ ministers of justice and construction. She said that this was the way the two countries should continue.
Brnabić reiterated that she regretted the decision by the Croatian Parliament delegation to cut short their visit to Belgrade last week, saying that it was unnecessary. “It is important for us to be focused on the future, because without open communication between Serbia and Croatia this region cannot be stable. Stability in the region is in our interest and that’s why we will remain open to further communication,” Brnabić said, according to the Serbian national broadcaster RTS.