Diplomatic tensions between Croatia and Serbia amid World War II
Diplomatic relations between Croatia and Serbia soured rapidly on Sunday (July 17) after Zagreb banned what Serbia considers a private visit by its president, Aleksandar Vučić, to the site of a concentration camp of the World War II in Croatia, where thousands of Serbs perished.
This diplomatic incident showed that the return to normal relations between these two former enemies, whose ties were severed during Croatia’s war of independence against Belgrade (1991-1995), is still fragile.
Serbian officials explained that, following a written request from Croatia, Mr. Vučić canceled the visit “for the sake of good relations” between the two countries.
The Serbian newspaper Danas published the note sent by Croatia to Serbia, which reminds Belgrade that each visit by a foreign official must be coordinated by both parties.
“The fact that Croatia was not officially informed of this visit is unacceptable”the Croatian Foreign Ministry said.
He also pointed out that any visit by a senior foreign official to the Jasenovac memorial site “cannot be of a private nature…Once the conditions for such a visit have been met, it will be agreed through the usual diplomatic channels”.
Meanwhile, Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić-Radman said that “the president of a country is a protected person and such an arrival requires the involvement of the Croatian authorities”.
Serbian Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin replied that all Croatian officials would now have to announce and justify their visit or passage to Serbia and would be placed under a special surveillance regime.
Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Zorana Mihajlović, who is also in charge of Mines and Energy, canceled her official trip to Zagreb to protest Croatia’s ban.
Some Croatian media have speculated that Mr Vučić’s sudden decision to pay a private visit to Jasenovac was intended to divert public attention from the news that a Ukrainian-owned plane carrying 11 tons of Serb weapons destined for Bangladesh had crashed in northern Greece.
Radio Free Europe reported that Serbian Defense Minister Nebojsa Stefanović confirmed that the weapons on board the plane were made in Serbia and that everything was done. “in accordance with international rules”.
“Anyway, it is difficult to understand what the purpose of Mr. Vučić’s abortive private visit would have been, but it is clear that it would not bring anything good to the bilateral relations of Croatia and the Serbia, nor to the Serbian community in Croatia”can we read in a chronicle of the Croatian news site Telegram.
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