In response to Zagreb’s declaration of Serbia’s Defence Minister Aleksandar Vulin a persona non grata earlier this month, the government in Belgrade said in a statement on Thursday it would ban Aleksandar Vulin’s Croatian counterpart Damir Krsticevic.
A matching response to Zagreb’s decision has occupied Serbia’s authorities for days, and potential bans were considered for several Croatian officials, including Minister for Foreign and European Affairs, Marija Pejcinovic-Buric, and the Veteran’s Affairs Minister, Tomo Medved.
The government statement added that Serbia remained committed to preserving peace and stability in the region, as well as honouring the European principles and values in the best interest of Serbia’s and regional citizens.
A source close to Serbia’s Government told Blic daily that Belgrade exercised “full reciprocity” in making the decision.
“They banned our Defence Minister, we banned theirs,” the source said.
The source added that Krsticevic, who is also a Croatian Deputy Prime Minister, was chosen “because ahead of (Serbia’s President Aleksandar) Vucic’s recent visit to Croatia, he said Vucic should apologise for Serbia’s aggression on Croatia.”
The daily quoted the source as adding that Krsticevic was “one of the two Croatian ministers who attended a memorial service for a convicted war criminal Slobodan Praljak,” as another reason for the ban.
The move is feared to kick off new measures and counter measures from both Zagreb and Belgrade. Media are already speculating about the ambassadors being called for consultations and alike.