News 01 Sep 16

Serbia Slates EU Response to Complaints About Croatia

Serbian officials have condemned as inadequate the response of the President of the European Commission to their complaints about the 'anti-Serbian atmosphere' in Croatia.

Milivoje Pantovic
BIRN
Belgrade
Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic. Photo: Beta

Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic and his government on Wednesday criticised the European Commission President's reply to a letter Vucic sent to the EU in August complaining about anti-Serbian policies in Croatia.

“I cannot stand it when everything is being equated and when false symmetries and balances [between Serbia and Croatia] are being made, I think that all honorable people have difficulty standing that," Vucic said.

Vucic wrote in early August to Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, to the EU Foreign Affairs chief, Federica Mogherini, and to the EU Enlargement Commissioner, Johannes Hahn, to accuse Croatia of conducting anti-Serbian policies and of fomenting nationalism.

“We have listed what we have faced over the past period, showing factographically what Serbia has had to endure, from monuments being erected in a EU country to prominent convicted terrorists, to rehabilitations and overturning of convictions of criminals from WWII and recent wars, to people who have been convicted in Serbia and then sent to Croatia to serve their prison sentences, now splashing about in the sea due to alleged illness, rather than being in prison,” Vucic wrote.

However, Serbia's Tanjug agency reported that in the return letter, Juncker merely expressed concern over the latest developments in relations between Serbia and Croatia, urging a return to a constructive bilateral engagement.

Serbia's TV N1 also said that in response to Vucic, Juncker noted that, under EU regulations, member states have an obligation to ensure that hate crimes are punished while candidate countries are also expected to comply with these same laws.

Serbia's Vice Prime Minister and Police Minister, Nebojsa Stefanovic, said it would have been better had the EU not replied at all.

“I do hope that PM Vucic will put up with those writings from the EC and by Juncker. My opinion is that it would have been better if they had not answered at all,” he said.

Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic was even tougher in his statement, accusing the EU of turning as blind eye to Croatia's anti-Serbian policies.

“Juncker did not provide the answer to any of the issues that Vucic pointed out. He did not comment on the rehabilitation of the [World War II Ustasa] fascist regime in Croatia, the acquittals of war criminals, or the raising of monuments to Ustasa terrorists,” Dacic said.

Dacic accused the EU of double standards over Serbia, which he said has to stop.

“The EU does nothing when it comes to anti-Serbian policies but always eager to lecture Serbia when they do not like something in our country,” Dacic commented.

“This cannot continue ... an anti-Serbian campaign in one of the EU member states ... is putting in jeopardy peace and stability of the region,” he added.

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