Croatian Ambassador to Serbia Zeljko Kupresak said that Serbian and Croatian governments need to discuss the possibility of withdrawing the genocide lawsuits they have filed against one another at the International Court of Justice, ICJ.
In an interview with daily Blic, Kupresak said that dropping the lawsuits before the ICJ is not a precondition for EU membership of either country, but it is of great importance for relations between the two neighbours.
"We must do everything to prove we are able to solve our own problems without mediation," the daily quoted the ambassador as saying.
Croatia filed a genocide lawsuit against Serbia at the ICJ in 1999, and after it declined requests to withdraw the suit, Belgrade filed a countersuit on January 4, 2010.
The presidents of the two countries, Ivo Josipovic and Boris Tadic, respectively, agreed at meeting in the Croatian coastal town of Opatija last week that an out-of-court settlement could be the solution to the genocide lawsuits.
"An out-of-court settlement does not mean giving up trials against those who committed crimes. Those people shall be brought to face justice," Serbia's Tadic said.
Croatia's Josipovic agreed with Tadic and added that "the lawsuit will no longer make sense if we agree on the issues stipulated in it."
Speaking about effect of the presidents' meeting, Kupresak said that it had served as a first step in improving relations between the two neighbouring countries.
"I think we'll continue in that direction. The first and fundamental thing that has emerged from meetings of the two presidents is a calming of relations between Serbia and Croatia. This was definitely needed at this time and they did it brilliantly," the daily quoted him as saying.
When asked if he had any information on whether the two countries' prime ministers would meet soon, the ambassador said that during last year's visit to Belgrade of then Croatian PM Ivo Sanader, the two sides agreed that Serbia's prime minister would make a return visit to Zagreb.
"I am optimistic that this will happen very quickly," he said. He cited a conference organised by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, scheduled to be held in Zagreb in May, as a possible opportunity for the two prime ministers to meet.
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