EU Supports Croatia-Serbia Dialogue, Vučić Shocked with War Reparations Request

By 8 February 2018

ZAGREB, February 8, 2018 - European Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy Commissioner Johannes Hahn said after talks with Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić in Belgrade on Wednesday that he appreciated Vučić's proposal for a six-month moratorium on historical topics as a contribution to relations with Croatia.

Speaking at a news conference he held together with Vučić, Hahn said that the region did not need only politicians but statesmen as well. A long-term perspective is needed and sometimes it's better to refrain from commenting on a topic in order to make progress, Hahn said, adding that he valued such a contribution.

Speaking in an interview with the Croatian weekly Globus ahead of his visit to Croatia on February 12-13, Vučić said that it would be best if Croatia and Serbia could agree not to comment on traumatic topics from the past that caused most tensions in their relations for some time, for example, six months. Vučić said that he would propose that at his meeting with Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović.

Commissioner Hahn said that for a start it was necessary for Croatia and Serbia to have correct relations, underlining the two countries' importance for the region. Those are two important countries and their having good relations would be good for building the future, for joint initiatives and actions, said Hahn.

Commenting on Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković's statement that during his visit to Zagreb the issue of war reparations should be discussed as well, Vučić said that he was "surprised and shocked" by the statement.

"As for war reparations, I was surprised and shocked by the topic Plenković raised. All I can say is - if I were him I wouldn't open that issue. I'm afraid that Croatia not only cannot get anything but could lose a lot. I could substantiate this with thousands of various, serious arguments," said Vučić.

He reiterated that he was coming to Zagreb in good faith, and that his delegation would also include experts wishing to discuss issues from the past, but that his primary intention was to discuss the future.

Vučić said that he was not afraid of the protests to be staged in Zagreb against his visit and that he was confident "the other side, too, would approach the talks constructively".