News 14 Jan 15

Croatia Election Result ‘Will Affect Ties to Serbia’

A Croatian Serb leader, Milorad Pupovac, said Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic’s win in the presidential elections will do further damage to strained relations between the two neighbouring countries.

Sven Milekic
BIRN
Zagreb

 

Milorad Pupovac. Photo: Beta.

A member of the Croatian parliament and leader of the Serbian minority, Milorad Pupovac, said the result in the Croatian presidential elections could have a further negative impact on Croatia-Serbia relations.

Relations between the two countries were already troubled by a number of issues including genocide trials before the International Court of Justice and the early release of the alleged Serbian war criminal Vojislav Seselj from The Hague.

Pupovac said the election of Grabar Kitarovic, who is backed by the centre-right Croatian Democratic Union, HDZ, would not improve matters.

“Relations between Serbia and Croatian certainly will not improve for at least another year,” Pupovac said, adding that Grabar Kitarovic was unlikely to change the agenda on which she won the elections.

She would “work against the government in Zagreb and on an anti-regional policy. She will also endeavour to protect the Croats in Serbia, but also to control the process of Serbia's European Union accession,” Pupovac predicted.

Grabar Kitarovic’s comment that she would work to win better status for Croats “in neighboring countries," including Vojvodina and Serbia, drew criticism in Serbia for allegedly implying that the northern province of Vojvodina was a separate country.

“This is a slip of the tongue, which in other countries would not be possible. This is a lapse that would also not be possible in other parties, but in the HDZ it is,” Pupovac added.

Grabar Kitarovic's campaign stressed Croatia's orientation towards Western Europe and the US, making little mention of the western Balkans.

She said Josipovic had take too lenient an approach towards Serbia, warning that she would condition Serbia’s progress in its EU path to obtaining more information on missing persons from the 1990s conflict.

Josipovic said he would only insist on Serbia going through the same EU accession process that Croatia did.

Early in his presidential term, Josipovic worked hard to improve regional relations with Serbia and Bosnia.

He met Serbian President Boris Tadic in the eastern town of Vukovar in 2010, when Tadic visited the mass grave at Ovcara and apologized for the crimes committed there by Serbian paramilitaries and the Yugoslav army when they overran the town in 1991.

Vukovar, which endured a massive destruction and human casualties during an 84-day-long siege by Yugoslav army and Serbian paramilitaries, has a special place in Croatian collective memory.

 

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