Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic has told the website Telegram that she “hopes for better relations with Serbia once all election cycles are over.”
When in June of last year she met with then Serbian PM Aleksandar Vucic, both in Croatia and in Serbia, it seemed that relations between Zagreb and Belgrade would improve, the article noted.
“I’d say the Subotica declaration that we signed then was a positive document that expressed the desire of both sides to start resolving outstanding issues, that were also listed there,” Grabar-Kitarovic said, and added:
“I think that elections in both countries have certainly not contributed to resolving the issue, because when you have caretaker governments and in addition, the somewhat elevated rhetoric because of elections, then that does not create an atmosphere conducive to resolving outstanding issues. But we believe that with the stabilization of the situation in Croatia and the appointment of a new government in Serbia, there will be stronger and more concrete talks to resolve outstanding issues and further improve relations.”
Croatia’s relations with other neighbors are not quite stellar, either, the website said: there are border disputes with Slovenia and Montenegro, a polemic with Bosnia-Herzegovina caused by Grabar-Kitarovic’s statement about the number of Islamic State fighters returning that country, while there is a dispute over the oil company Ina with Hungary.
“I can say that I have good, very good relations with all leaders of our neighboring countries. You mentioned a few problems, we are aware of these outstanding issues and believe that there is a mutual desire in all of these countries for their solution. Recently Hungarian President Ader was in Croatia, who also expressed his intention to resolve outstanding issues between Croatia and Hungary, and I would say that relations have to a fair degree settle down. At one point I was really worried about the development of these relations, that’s why I went to Hungary for talks with the president and the prime minister, for a meeting of the Visegrad Group. I believe that relations have improved a lot in recent months and are moving in the right direction,” she said.
“Concerning Montenegro, they appreciate the support they have had from Croatia in NATO, we are aware that we will also have to cooperate on their path to the European Union – and we are ready to help Montenegro and all other countries: politically, to maintain the momentum of enlargement, i.e., the consolidation of Europe, and certainly with technical knowledge that we have from the time of our (membership) negotiations,” Grabar-Kitarovic said.
“Regarding Slovenia, the parliament unanimously adopted a very clear decision that we were leaving the arbitration proceedings due to the fact that arbitration had been irreparably compromised. Slovenia itself is also aware of this fact, believe me. Despite all these issues I have very good and fair relations with President Pahor, and I hope that we will continue to work in that direction. I said the other day in Slovenia that I hope the border issue at this point, practically, does not represent an obstacle to people on either side, that it will not dominate our relations which are in general very positive, and that we will continue to talk in that direction, and of course I welcomed the arrival of more than a million Slovenians vacationing on the Croatian coast,” she added.
Grabar-Kitarovic then spoke about Croatia’s relations with Russia, which she said were “very fair – but could be much better.”
“The fact is that the Russian Federation is present here in the southeast of Europe and will continue to play its role both in economic and in terms of connecting with the countries in this region. After all, I recognize the right of each country to be a member of NATO, or to develop relationships with others, to enter into some other associations or to be neutral, consistent with its political will. However, we must talk with Russia a lot more, because there are now a multitude of issues that represent our common interests: from the fight against terrorism in the international arena, and even to the issue of migration that swept us two years ago, which was primarily the result of unrest, the war in Syria and elsewhere, for which the role of the Russian Federation is necessary,” she said, and added:
“When we look at the neighboring Bosnia-Herzegovina, Russia is one of the countries that are the guarantors of peace and stability there. So, there are a lot of bilateral, regional and global issues about which Croatia and Russia can and must talk. Preparations are underway and I will visit Moscow by the end of this year.”