ZAGREB, March 18, 2018 – Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić said in an interview with Croatian Television on Saturday that the Croat minority should not have a guaranteed seat in the Serbian parliament, expressing hope that the issue of border delimitation on the Danube would not require arbitration and her willingness to address the issue of missing persons from the 1991-1995 war.
Speaking in her first interview with Croatian media since taking office, Brnabić talked about top priority issues between Croatia and Serbia – the rights of the Croatian minority in Serbia, the border and the missing persons.
Leaders of the Croat community in Serbia have said that steps have been taken to improve their status, but they continue to insist on a guaranteed seat in parliament based on the 2004 agreement on the protection of the Croat minority in Serbia and the Serb minority in Croatia.
Brnabić, however, said she did not support the idea that each ethnic minority should be awarded one representative in parliament, “because I think we have developed a mechanism to fully protect the rights and freedoms of the ethnic minorities institutionally.”
On the subject of border delimitation on the Danube, Brnabić said she hoped that no arbitration would be necessary and that the two countries would manage to find a solution through bilateral talks within the next two years. Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović and her Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vučić agreed at their recent meeting in Zagreb that this issue should be resolved within two years. Brnabić said that the Serbian government had designated a delegation for border negotiations with Croatia.
She said she was pleased with the efficiency with which the two governments had started to address the outstanding issues after Vučić’s visit to Croatia.
As for the missing persons from the war, the Serbian prime minister said she hoped the issue would be resolved as soon as possible. “This is certainly one of the most difficult and most important issues for the families of those people and generally for the relationship between Croatia and Serbia,” she added. She said she was glad that Croatian Justice Minister Dražen Bošnjaković would visit Belgrade on March 23 and discuss this issue with his Serbian counterpart Nela Kuburović.
Speaking of her working relationship with President Vučić, Brnabić said she consulted the president a lot “because he is a person who I think knows Serbia the best.” She added that she did not mind being called “Vučić’s extension”, saying: “I know who I am and what I am and my results will show that.”
Brnabić said that Croatia and Serbia had a huge potential for economic cooperation. “In 2017, our trade increased by 14 percent in relation to 2016, but it is still low considering our potential,” she concluded.