Serbian President’s Visit to Croatia Postponed

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Aleksandar Vučić will not visit Zagreb this year.

The official visit of Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić to Croatia has been postponed. It is not known when the visit will eventually take place, but it is already certain that the return visit by Serbian President to his Croatian counterpart Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović will not happen this year. According to previous reports, Vučić was expected to visit Zagreb in November or December. The Office of the Croatian President has confirmed there has been “a change in the time frame” and that the two presidential offices were in contact, reports Večernji List on October 4, 2017.

“Given the comprehensive circumstances which influence the date of the visit, it has not yet been determined,” say sources from the Office of the Croatian President. “Comprehensive circumstances” include the latest exchange of accusations between Zagreb and Belgrade. The moves by Belgrade certainly did not help to make the visit happen.

The Serbian government recently supported the unveiling of a monument to Milan Tepić, a major of the Yugoslav National Army who committed suicide during the 1990s war in Croatia by blowing up an arms depot. Also, Serbian Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin said that the 1990s war in Croatia was a civil war, while Croatia believes that it was a Greater Serbian aggression.

In such a situation, it has been concluded that official political dialogue between Zagreb and Belgrade should be frozen. Until recently, it was considered that the conditions for Vučić’s return visit to Grabar-Kitarović were fulfilled. She spoke positively about Vučić in interviews and speeches, even saying that in Vulić she finally found an appropriate partner with whom to start the process of reconstructing interstate relations. Also, they attended each other’s inaugurations in Zagreb and Belgrade.

Vučić also sent positive signals and publicly expressed his enthusiasm that he would finally officially visit Zagreb. His predecessor Tomislav Nikolić was never invited to come to Croatia. On the other hand, with Vučić, Grabar-Kitarović initially established a relationship of trust and respect, even singing a joint declaration last year when Vučić was still the Serbian Prime Minister. The return visit of Vučić to the Croatian President has long been planned, but the intensification of political tensions has made it difficult to reach an agreement on that visit.

It was expected that the visit should bring about a substantial improvement in relationships. The Serbian media also gave great importance to the visit, even announcing that it would “normalise relations and close the old book of misunderstandings.” It was expected that it would open the way for a meeting between the two prime ministers, Andrej Plenković and Ana Brnabić and that these meetings would become regular. But, the plan cannot be realised for now.

Milorad Pupovac, the leader of the Serb national minority in Croatia, said he did not know that the visit had been delayed. “But, it is undeniable that the latest exchanges of views regarding the past do not support the dialogue and cooperation. It is difficult to predict when the visit might take place,” commented Pupovac.

Translated from Večernji List.


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