Serbian President Meets with Catholic and Orthodox Leaders

By 13 February 2018

ZAGREB, February 13, 2018 - The Archbishop of Zagreb, Cardinal Josip Bozanić, met in Zagreb on Monday with the visiting Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić and his host, Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, and discussed with them relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the Serb Orthodox Church. The meeting with Bozanić was organised as part of Vučić's two-day official visit to Croatia.

During the 40-minute meeting, the Zagreb archbishop and his guests discussed issues concerning Roman Catholic and Serb Orthodox believers, both in Croatia and Serbia, the Zagreb Archdiocese's press office said in a statement.

The interlocutors expressed support for efforts to deal with outstanding issues between the two countries through dialogue, so that good neighbourly relations and stable peace between them could be strengthened, the statement said.

In a separate meeting, the head of the Serb Orthodox Church in Zagreb and Ljubljana, Metropolitan Porfirije, on Monday thanked Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović and Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić for organising the Serbian president's official visit to Croatia, which he described as a brave step and an appeal for peace.

"I am thrilled by your conduct and the messages you both sent today to the Croatian public, those messages are messages of responsibility and care for normal relations between Serbs and Croats, here and everywhere else," the Serb Orthodox dignitary said at a reception in his residence.

"Serbs and Croats have always been oriented towards one another but unfortunately the time was such that we grew apart and that is why... your invitation to Mr Vučić and his really brave and responsible decision to come here, primarily constitutes a call for understanding and for peace," Metropolitan Porfirije told the presidents of Croatia and Serbia.

The Serb dignitary went on to say that it was his experience that Serbs in Croatia "are afraid" and live "in an apathy and self-isolation", which is why he sees the Serbian president's visit as encouraging for the Croatian Serb community.

After the dignitary's address, Presidents Grabar-Kitarović and Vučić were presented with a collection of essays by the sixth generation of students of the Serb National Council's Political Academy on their views on the main problems of the Croatian Serb community and possibilities of progress in the next ten years.

After that, a closed-door discussion was held.