Vučić: “I am Coming with a Message of Peace”

By 11 February 2018

ZAGREB, February 11, 2018 - Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić said on Sunday he was coming to Zagreb with a message of peace and stability, and that he was not worried about the campaign welcoming him in Croatia.

Vučić is arriving on Monday for a visit postponed several times, at a time of tense relations between the two countries, burdened by the legacy of the 1990s war and sensitive subjects dating back to WWII.

Speaking to reporters in Belgrade, Vučić said he believed "in the good intention" of Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, who invited him. "I'm going to Croatia with the wish that we do something about the future together... Peace and stability is my key message, but Serbia won't be weaker so that others are satisfied."

Vučić said he was not worried about the campaign against him and the protests announced by Croatian war veterans' associations during the two-day visit. "I'm not scared. They will take care of me there, I'm not worried... My job is to take care of the people, not have the people take care of me," he said, adding that his job envisaged that "I don't react personally but work in the interest of Serbia and its citizens."

In Zagreb, he will talk with state officials and representatives of Serbs and the Serb Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church. He said his meeting with the Archbishop of Zagreb, Cardinal Josip Bozanić, "is very important for advancing the trust between Catholic and Orthodox believers" and for a better relationship between the two churches.

Of the bilateral topics to be addressed, he mentioned the border, the fate of people gone missing in the 1990s war, the relationship of the state towards ethnic minorities, boosting economic relations, and joint infrastructure projects.

Vučić said he did not "curry favour with anyone" and "certainly won't with Croatia's leaders" who, primarily Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, want talks on war reparations, Belgrade media reported. He said no topic was taboo for Serbia and that Plenković would get "a responsible and serious answer."

Asked about the atmosphere in Croatia ahead of his visit, Vučić said he was coming "to see and hear all that I have to." He said it did not "concern" him it some would call him a Chetnik or an arrogant Chetnik because "the story of war reparations is a double-edged sword."

Asked if any agreement was possible in the current atmosphere in Zagreb, Vučić said "there was no such atmosphere in Belgrade when the president of Croatia came to my inauguration," Tanjug agency said. He said Grabar-Kitarović was a "big star" then and that this "didn't bother Serbia, as we were pleased that our neighbours feel good and bring messages of peace."

"I mean what I said, that Serbs and Croats in the future have no obstacles to better relations," Vučić said.

Earlier today, Serbian Interior Minister Nebojša Stefanović said Vucić's visit to Croatia was "risky" and that making his movements public was "unusual practice."