Sunday, 25 February 2018 | News today: 0

Vucic: Serbia and Croatia must try to improve relations

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Croatia and Serbia vowed on Monday to intensify work on minority rights, border issues and searches for missing persons from their 1990s war, in an effort to improve ties that remain sour decades after the collapse of Yugoslavia, Reuters reports.

Croatia’s President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic and Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic met in Zagreb, Croatia, on Monday. Around 1,000 people gathered to protest on the main Zagreb square against the visit by the Serbian President.

“It is a democratic right to protest. However, I absolutely cannot support any insults or hate speech,” Grabar-Kitarovic said at a joint press conference with her Serbian counterpart, Hina reports.

“The relations between Serbia and Croatia are burdened with the past, which this time we have not talked about… It is our task to talk and seek solutions for issues which divide us,” Grabar-Kitarovic said.

Serbia and Croatia are the two biggest republics to emerge from Yugoslavia, which collapsed in 1991. They have sought to improve ties since a 1991-1995 war, but difficulties remain. To join the European Union, Serbia must resolve outstanding issues with its neighbors, including Croatia.

Speaking at the joint press conference, Vucic said he hoped Croatia would not obstruct Serbia’s European journey. “What we will ask for is that we, Serbs, and you, Croats, have better relations because that’s significant for both nations,” Vucic said.

Referring to Serbia’s EU perspective, Grabar-Kitarovic said her intention was “that we show that we are mature and responsible to deal with those issues within our bilateral dialogue and that we don’t need pressure from the international community for that.”

The two presidents said they had agreed to improve cooperation in the ongoing search for several thousand missing Croats and Serbs from the 1991-95 war. They also said the two former foes would try to resolve border issues in the next two years. If they cannot, they would turn to an international court.

“We will try to change the atmosphere in the next 100 days, and all Serbian officials will have to do everything possible for better mutual relations. It will be a signal of goodwill from our side,” Vucic said.