IBNA/Interview: Croatian pressure on Serbia approved by Germany and the US

IBNA/Interview: Croatian pressure on Serbia approved by Germany and the US

Belgrade, April 12, 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Milos Mitrovic

Last week Croatia, as a European Union member state,  blocked the opening of the Chapter 23 in accession talks between Serbia and the EU. Zagreb demands from Belgrade to apply a bilateral agreement which guarantees that the Croatian minority in Serbia would be represented in Parliament. Croatia also insists that Serbia should cancel its universal jurisdiction for processing war crimes committed in the whole territory of the former Yugoslavia, and fully cooperate with The Hague Tribunal.

“I think that Croatia would never do anything to Serbia without, at least, the tacit approval of Berlin and Washington”, president of Belgrade Forum for the World of Equals and former FR Yugoslavia Foreign Minister Zivadin Jovanovic said in the interview for IBNA. At the same time, Jovanovic says that Serbia should discuss its problem with Croatia “at many sides, despite the delicacy”.

The Serbian government hopes that the majority within the EU would pressure Croatia to unblock the accession negotiations. Do you expect this will be the case?

“I believe that the right addresses for this kind of messages and politics are in Brussels, Berlin and Washington. While our public bothers itself with Croatian lack of cooperativeness and disrespect of good-neighboring relations with Serbia – the key is in the fact that Zagreb always does what Brussels, Berlin and Washington approve. Therefore, we can say that it is good that Serbia expects the reaction from Brussels. At the same time, Brussels is rather an international center, while concrete decisions are being made in Berlin and Washington. In each Croatian act toward Serbia we should recognize the handwritings of Berlin and Washington.

The 75 years of the foundation of the former Nazi puppet “Independent State of Croatia” was marked in Belgrade last week. Premier Vucic extensively spoke of crimes committed against Serbs. Do you regard this ceremony as a part of the actual election campaign or as a state manifestation?

“The commemoration in the period of electoral campaign was a coincidence.  Every year in April we commemorate the victims of the genocide against Serbs which was committed in the “Independent State of Croatia”. I am a little surprised because nobody in Serbia says this was genocide, mentioning “crimes” instead of it. I cannot claim that some reaction on commemoration could be connected with the elections. But one thing is certain – Serbia often roams in its EU path from an ultimate optimism, enthusiasm and promises that it would be supported, to ultimate disappointment like now. Serbia has to understand that anti-Serbian approach is the constant in Croatian policy. Serbia should improve it’s relations with Croatia gradually, step by step, without rushing and retreat. In relations with Croatia we can never claim that we have “the best relations ever”. The cautious and longer term approach is what we need. There are setting the preconditions by Croatia, and this will be the case in the future. But this does not depend so much on Croatia, but rather on its international mentors”.

Do you claim that Croatian blockade of Serbian talks with the EU is supported by United States and Germany?

“To put it simple, I think that Croatia would never do anything to Serbia without, at least, tacit approval of Berlin and Washington. But Serbia should discuss its problem with Croatia at many sides, despite the delicacy. Serbia did serious mistakes since October 2000 until today by giving concessions to Croatia in economy, politics and in almost all other domains in bilateral relations. And the principle of reciprocity from Croatian side was never applied. This has led to absurd we have today. Croatia doesn’t understand the extents of the crimes it has committed. It has to change its position toward Serbia and Serb nation fundamentally. Serbia has rushed toward Croatia and now it reaps the fruits of such politics. When Tadic (former Serbian president Boris) was circling in Vojvodina with Mesic (former Croatian president Stjepan), the latter was ogling the best Serbian companies and nobody asked whether Tadic was doing the same with Croatian companies in Slavonija”.

Do you think that foreign countries interfere in Serbian electoral campaign? For example, Austrian officials often praise PM Vucic, while Putin’s United Russia supported ruling Serbian Progressive Party…

“I have no idea about that, but the ambassadors of the United States and Netherlands have visited Novi Pazar and Zukorlic (Muamer, leader of the Bosniaq Democratic Community of Sandzak) in the midst of electoral campaign which is the sign of support to his option. If this option is taken into account, one should wonder what US and Netherlands support? The problem is that there’s no serious politician in Serbia who would say ‘don’t interfere in our internal affairs’. This is the example of interference of the officials which represent the overall interests of their countries – ambassadors. It’s like the heads of states have supported Zukorlic”.