Plenković: Croatia and Serbia Are Two Different Worlds

By 1 May 2018

ZAGREB, May 1, 2018 - Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said in Okučani on Tuesday, at a ceremony marking the 23rd anniversary of Operation Flash, that Croatia and Serbia "at this moment are two worlds," declining to say whether he and President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović would discuss new diplomatic measures against Serbia as a response to Serbia's decision to declare Croatian Defence Minister Damir Krstičević persona non grata.

Asked to comment on statements by Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dačić that Croatia, if it wanted, would get a diplomatic war, Plenković said this was not appropriate rhetoric that Croatia should agree to, underscoring that at this moment, Croatia and Serbia were two different worlds, thus drawing a parallel to Serbian Defence Minister Aleksandar Vulin that he and Krstičević were two different world.

Plenković stressed that it could have never happened in Croatia that a member of the national parliament desecrates the Serbian flag, adding that "in this story Croatia and Serbia are not the same." They were not the same in the 1990, now or in the future, Plenković said. Everybody needs to be aware of that, including the media and the public in Croatia, the prime minister said. "Take a look at my government's rhetoric, since the election. When did we ever use the relations with Serbia as some sort of an argument for international bickering. I don't think that anyone could have thought of that," Plenković said.

He confirmed he would talk to President Grabar-Kitarović this week, but declined to say if the topic of their talks would be taking new measures as a response to Serbia's decision to declare Minister Krstičević persona non grata.

Asked if Croatian Foreign Minister Marija Pejčinović Burić would attend a debate in Brussels on Thursday on the complaint Slovenia had filed with the European Commission claiming that Croatia was in violation of European law given that it has refused to implement the arbitration ruling on the two countries' border dispute, Plenković said he was "not sure if the Slovenian foreign minister would be there either."

This kind of a debate is never held at a ministerial level, Plenković said. "We will be represented by our state secretary in the foreign ministry Andreja Matelko Zgombić and several experts and professors who will clearly elaborate Croatia's position - namely that there had been no violation of European law on Croatia' s behalf."

"On the contrary, we are sending a message to Slovenia - we want to resolve this bilateral issue. In good faith we wanted to do that in arbitration process, unfortunately, everyone knows why this process is irreversibly compromised. Croatia has offered Slovenia a solution. We will try to resolve this problem once the election in Slovenia, scheduled for June, end and once their new government is formed. This is not something that should burden Croatia-Slovenia relation. Quite the opposite," Plenković said.