Monday

22nd Jan 2018

Croatia and Serbia sign pledge to cooperate

  • Croatia's Grabar-Kitarovic (l) and Serbia's Vucic symbolically met on a bridge on the Danube. (Photo: Croatian presidency)

Croatia and Serbia on Monday (20 June) signed a declaration on improving relations aimed at protecting their respective minorities and definitively define their common border.

The text is "the first step in the thawing relations between Croatia and Serbia," Serbian prime minister Aleksandar Vucic said.

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"The agreement deals with essential, serious, strategic issues for Serbia and Croatia. We should try to talk more with each other, show greater respect for each other," he said.

Croation president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic said the signature showed "a genuine willingness on both sides to move forward in resolving outstanding issues".

The signature was part of a day of symbolism to demonstrate good relations between the two former Yugoslav countries who each other fought in the 1990's. Until a few weeks ago, their relations were strained by Croatia's blocking of Serbia's EU accession talks.

Grabar-Kitarovic and Vucic first met on a bridge on the Danube. Then they visited the village of Serbian mathematician Milutin Milankovic in Croatia and went to Serbia to sign the declaration.

Under the declaration, the two countries committed to actively initiate or accelerate processes aimed at enhancing bilateral protection of minorities - Serbs in Croatia and Croats in Serbia.

The text also plans to start negotiations to define the border line between the two countries according to international law and to accelerate the implementation of a 2001 agreeement on life after Yugoslavia.

The two countries also commit to make effort to search for missing persons from the wars.

The impact of the declaration will however depend on the situation in both countries.

The Croatian government has just collapsed after infighting in the coalition and the parliament dissloved itself while Grabar-Kitarovic was meeting Vucic. Next elections could take place in September.

In Serbia, their is still no government after elections in April. Vucic said he would announce his cabinet in June but he has still not done it.

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