Tensions Between Croatia and Serbia to Rise Again?

By , 16 Jul 2017, 15:33 PM Politics
Tensions Between Croatia and Serbia to Rise Again? Source: The Ministry of Defence

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The anniversary of the Operation Storm always brings new tensions between the two neighbouring countries.

Twenty days ago, at the inauguration of Aleksandar Vučić as the new President of Serbia, Croatia and Serbia managed to relax tensions in their relations. But, this is certain to change in the next twenty days, when the 22nd anniversary of the Operation Storm will be marked, reports Večernji List on 16 July 2017.

In the past years, this date has made relations between the two countries more challenging and has occasionally led to more radical political conflicts. Two years ago, Serbia even proclaimed an alternative “holiday,” the Memorial Day for Victims of Storm, which is marked on 4 August, when the Operation Storm began in 1995. In Croatia, Storm is celebrated on 5 August, when Croatian forces liberated Knin, the capital of the self-proclaimed Serb state.

In Croatia, the day is marked as the Day of Victory and Homeland Thanksgiving and the Day of Croatian Defenders. Croatia has resisted pressures from Serbia that it should not celebrate the event which is a sad occasion for Serbs. For years, Serbia even tried to put diplomatic pressure on other states, especially members of the European Union, to ban Croatia the right the celebrate its holiday. Of course, it is entirely impossible that Croatia would ever be ready to accept such a demand. On the other hand, commemorations for the Serbian Memorial Day have regularly brought together Vučić, President of the Republika Srpska Milorad Dodik, the Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church and others.

The day before last year's celebrations in Knin, Vučić said that “There will not be another Storm, Serbia will not allow it.” Since it was easy to read that message as a threat of possible military intervention on the territory of Croatia, Vučić added, “We are not threatening anyone, but we are saying that we will always have the power to protect our people.”

Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović spoke the day after in Knin. She said that the Operation Storm represented an honourable victory for a just goal. “It must be known that Storm was politically legitimate, ethically pure and military brilliantly operation carried out on the Croatian state territory.”

These are the positions which Croatia certainly will not change, just like Serbia will probably not change its opinion. This year, we will almost certainly see the same order of events, as well as speakers, but the details will enable us to detect in which direction the relations between Croatia and Serbia are moving.

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Croatia Traffic Info

  • Traffic is heavy on the roads towards the coast and the continent, on the roads to tourist centers along the coast and in ferry ports. Drivers are invited to adjust the driving speed to road conditions and also to keep the safety distance. Today (21/22 July from 10pm to 6am) on the Adriatic road (DC8) in Rijeka in the underpass Žabica traffic will be proceeding over one lane in both directions. Traffic ban on freight vehicles exceeding 7.5 t on some roads in Istria and in the coastal area: -Saturday, 22 July from 4 am to 2 am -Sunday, 23 July from noon (12:00) to 11 pm. There is no traffic ban on the motorways and on the state road DC1. Sections of the roads closed due to roadworks: -on the DC1 state road in Lučko (Zagreb) between Gornji Stupnik and Svetonedeljska street -on the state road 29 from Novi Golubovec (crossroad DC29, DC35) -on the DC502 Smilčić-Pridraga state road. Traffic is regulated by traffic signals/one road lane is free only: -on the DC1 state road in Knin until 31st July; -on the DC1 state road at Mostanje and on the section Sučević-Otrić. -on the DC8 Adriatic road on the section Zaton Doli-Bistrina; -on the DC66 Pula-Most Raša state road. With the sunny and dry weather, more and more cyclists and motorists are on the roads. Other vehicles (such as cars or trucks) should look carefully for bicyclists before turning left or right, merging into bicycle lanes and opening doors next to moving traffic. Check your mirrors and be aware of blind spots before turning. While at a stop sign or red light, make a complete stop in order to let bikers pass, and check for unseen riders. Respect the right of way of bicyclists because they are entitled to share the road with you. Cyclists are not immune to traffic violations: pay attention to red lights and practice arm signaling!
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  • Due to roadworks in Slovenia between Ptuj and the border crossing Gruškovje (Macelj) there are occasionally queues. Expect hold-ups especially during the weekend. Due to traffic density and occasional additional controls, during the day longer waiting times are possible at the border crossings with Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Hungary. At Harmica border crossing traffic is allowed for vehicles up to 7,5 tonnes only.
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  • All ferries and catamarans are operating according to the schedule.
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