Croatian FM on cooperation, and genocide lawsuitsJournalist: Aleksandar Miladinović
A week before joining the EU, Croatian Minister of Foreign and European Affairs and First Deputy PM Vesna Pusić spoke for B92 about relations between Serbia and Croatia, economic projects, as well as mutual genocide lawsuits.
B92: You arrived in Belgrade a week before an important date for Croatia - before the celebration of joining the EU. Does Zagreb have a modality according to which guests both from Belgrade and Pristina will attend the ceremony?
Pusić: It seems strange to me too that in a little over a week Croatia will become a full-fledged EU member after those 10-12 years. We will celebrate with our friends from Europe and the region. For us, the region remains a key area and a very important issue and very important neighbors. Yes. We found a way in which the Serbian delegation will be present there, the highest level from Serbia, and from Kosovo.
B92: President Nikolić will be a guest?
Pusić: President Nikolić will be a guest in Zagreb...
B92: What about the Kosovo president?
Pusić: The Kosovo president as well.
B92: What will change in the relations between Serbia and Croatia after that day?
Pusić: Regarding the day after, there will not be some big changes, but I hope that they have slowly started to see some changes, in the future anyway. We have several groups of problems, but we have a great mutual opportunity. It is that the countries of the region must be and are partners in the European future. It's a chance for everyone to first stabilize their countries, and then to, economy-wise, slowly start getting on our feet.
B92: It was precisely the economy that was one of the subject of the previous meeting of delegations of Belgrade and Zagreb - it was then announced that there will be joint economic projects. Are you now coming with concrete ideas, are there specifically developed plans?
Pusić: Projects that in the direct interest of both countries are in the transport and the energy sectors. They are obvious because there cannot be borders there, quite the contrary, borders are something that transport and energy must ignore. However, we have a whole range of things that we share as interests - such as access to third markets, on the other hand, addressing the issue of CEFTA, EFTA - the Central European free trade area, compared with with European.
B92: Every time the issue of (genocide) lawsuits is raised, and whether we are at least a step closer to their withdrawal. Is this step here now, has another step been made towards the withdrawal of the lawsuits?
Pusić: Today's talks are very important where these issues are concerned. I think that both sides - both Croatia and Serbia have shown readiness for talks on the issue, and we have a few things from the past that need to be resolved as a precondition for this. This is something that is absolutely the initiative of the Serbian and Croatian sides - the EU is not mentioning that subject.
B92: To Zagreb, July 1 is definitely the most important day in the next ten days, to Serbia a somewhat earlier date - June 28 and the EU's decision on a date for the start of negotiations. This will be the final decision on Serbia made in Brussels without Croatia's vote. If you had the right to vote now, would you vote for Serbia to get a date and when?
Pusić: Absolutely. I would vote to decide on the start of negotiations between the EU and Serbia on this European council in June and for that date to be as soon as possible. However, even if we do not have the right to vote I will take part in the Council of Foreign Affairs on Monday in which we have no vote but we have a right to participate in the discussion. I will doubtless support the setting of a date for Serbia in this discussion, because I think it is important not only for Serbia but also for Croatia and for all the countries in the region, because we know from experience that it contributes to the stability of the state and its institutions, and that is in the interest of all.