Vucic in Zagreb, difficult to easy tensions

'Past is still divisive, but we must look to the future'

13 February, 20:29

    (ANSA) - ZAGREB - A first important step towards an easing of tensions in the difficult relations between Croatia and Serbia seems to have been taken in Zagreb at the meeting between the presidents of the two countries, who discussed all the issues on the table except the most divisive ones.

    ''We have not talked about the past, which is the issue that prevents us from being able to establish friendly relations between our two countries'', said Croatia's president, Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic, at the joint press conference which took place immediately after the long talk with Serbian colleague Aleksandar Vucic.

    Referring to the ongoing verbal disputes between Serbian and Croatian politicians, Vucic explained that ''as for the past we can not reach an agreement on any point, but at least we agree on the need to look to the future for the good of our two peoples''. The two presidents discussed the economic relations, Serbia's path towards EU membership, and even some serious issues, such as the demarcation of the Danube border, the missing persons from the war in the 1990s and the protection of their respective minorities. Vucic has also pledged to welcome in the coming days the representatives of the associations of the families of the missing Croatians, visiting Belgrade for the first time in the coming days. As a gesture of goodwill, the Serbian president handed documents on the fate of three people, out of the 1,495 still missing, 23 years after the end of the conflict. With regard to the border issue the two sides agreed to try to find a bilateral solution with negotiations over the next two years, and in the event of talks failing to achieve a solution, they agreed to appeal to the international arbitration. Anyway, all these agreements will have to be confirmed by the respective governments. And whereas in Belgrade Vucic holds a tight rein over Serbian foreign policy, in Zagreb President Kitarovic often happens to have disagreements with the government led by Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic.

    The two presidents also attended a bilateral economic forum at the headquarters of the Croatian Industry and Trade Association (Hgk), urging their entrepreneurs to invest more. A meeting between the Serbian president and the cardinal and archbishop of Zagreb Josip Bozanic is scheduled to take place this evening. (ANSA).

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