"Political cooperation between Serbia and Croatia needs to be stronger," Croatian Ambassador in Belgrade Hidajet Biscevic said in an interview with a Belgrade newspaper on Monday, adding that "economic cooperation and trade are good" and that "cultural cooperation is increasingly good."
“I have to be honest and say that our political cooperation needs to be stepped up… there have been, for a long time, no meetings at the highest level, too often daily events, statements and incidents set us back. At the same time, that has almost no effect on our economic cooperation and trade, while cultural cooperation has been increasingly more relaxed,” Biscevic told the Monday issue of the Kurir tabloid.
The ambassador said that a large portion of ordinary citizens, on both sides, ignore old stereotypes and that new generations are coming for which, “despite the parallel histories”, “new windows are slowly opening in many ways.”
Asked to comment on his statement that “the legacy of the past is too big and has lasted too long”, Biscevic suggested that “time and patience” as well as “turning to a culture of cooperation instead of insisting on old stereotypes” are necessary.
Asked to comment on announcements in Croatia that Zagreb would block Serbia’s accession to the EU, the ambassador categorically dismissed the claims as incorrect.
“I have said on many occasions here that Serbia’s EU membership is Croatia’s key strategic interest, for us to be part of the European family, share the same values and standards, regulate our relations in the European spirit of tolerance, respect for differences and non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, and for the European context to serve as a platform for us to overcome the past,” Biscevic said.
He added that Croatia setting conditions, slowing down or delaying “the realization of that clearly stated strategic interest” would be a paradox.
He stressed EU entry talks were not about setting conditions or blockades but about “respect for the negotiating rules.”
“The EU has clear fundamental negotiating rules and conditions – those who do not accept them block themselves and shifting responsibility to a member state is of no help,” he said.
Commenting on the case of Matej Peris, a young man from Split who went missing in Belgrade in the night between 30 and 31 December 2021, the ambassador said that there were a lot of unknowns in that case, but noted that Serbian police were doing their job professionally and with commitment and that they had been cooperating with Croatian police on the case.
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