Croatian Ministers Explain Decision to Ban Serbian Minister Vulin

By 23 April 2018

ZAGREB, April 23, 2018 - Croatia's government would like to see improvement in the bilateral relations with Serbia, however, statements made by Serbian Defence Minister Aleksandar Vulin do not contribute to such developments, Croatian Foreign Minister Marija Pejčinović Burić said on Sunday.

Minister Pejčinović Burić, who was on a North American tour over this weekend, said that the Croatian Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs was compelled to decide that Vulin was not welcome to Croatia following his statements that "it is only the Serbian Army's supreme commander, Aleksandar Vučić, who can decide on his travel to Croatia and that this cannot be decided by Croatian ministers".

The Croatian ministry condemned Vulin's statement and forwarded a protest note to the Serbian embassy in Zagreb.

Croatia is committed to developing better relations with Serbia, however, both countries must respect each other and refrain from provocations, the Croatian minister said adding that "unfortunately, Minister Vulin is not a person that can contribute to that end."

Croatian Interior Minister Davor Božinović said on Sunday that the Serbian minister Vulin kept making statements in contravention of good neighbourly relations which was why the Croatian foreign ministry decided to declare him persona non grata.

Asked whether Vulin, who is the defence minister in the Serbian cabinet, could act that way without "a green light being given" by his superiors, Božinović said that this was a matter that concerned the internal relations in the Serbian government.

Vulin has said that the Serbian Supreme Commander (President Vučić) is in charge of decisions on his travels. This is their internal business and we can have our opinion on that, the Croatian minister said.

Underscoring by Vulin the function of Vučić as the army supreme commander who would decide on allowing anybody to enter Croatia is unacceptable and inappropriate attempt to negate Croatia's sovereignty, the Croatian foreign ministry stated in its protest note.