Relations between Serbia and Croatia have been frozen for some time now and will remain such until people in power in Serbia are those who were involved in the wars during the ‘90s, Dejan Jovic, a professor at the Zagreb Faculty of Political Science, has said.
Commenting on Serbia’s decision to declare a Croatian diplomat persona non grata, which was met with a reciprocal measure by Zagreb expelling an advisor at the Serbian Embassy in Zagreb, Jovic said that it was “only an episode in a series” which would have no major impact in Croatia.
Jovic said that the relations had been frozen since 2018 at least, and that the process had started with Tomislav Nikolic’s election as president in 2012, and later succession of Aleksandar Vucic. “It is very difficult to build a positive image of Serbia with the leaders or their parties who were directly involved in the events during the ‘90s, which represent the beginning and the end of everything for Croatia. I expect the relations to remain frozen, which is better than constant confrontations,” Jovic said in a meeting with Serbian reporters, who are visiting Zagreb under the project “Pulse of Europe – Media Trips to the EU.”
The Zagreb-Belgrade relations had been severely disturbed with Croatia’s recognition of Kosovo’s independence in 2008, Jovic recalled, describing it as Zagreb’s mistake considering that there was consensus on the matter in the EU or NATO. “Recognition of Kosovo was a huge mistake of the West which will cost it dearly. It has not resolve the issue of Kosovo, but has rather created new problems. In that context, it is particularly visible that the EU has no mechanisms to settle the Kosovo issue,” Jovic specified.
Jovic also said that relations between Serbia and Croatia were not close also due to completely different foreign policy priorities and orientation, as Croatia had been fully turning to the EU, while Serbia’s foreign policy was looking at the opposite direction, such as Kosovo, relations with Russia, armed neutrality, and only partly at the EU, so there was not much room for commonalities.