"Brussels pressing Zagreb to open border with Serbia"

Brussels and the strongest European power centers are "strongly pressing Zagreb to open border crossings with Serbia," according to a Belgrade daily.

Source: Vecernje novosti
(Beta/AP, file)
(Beta/AP, file)

Vecernje Novosti writes today that Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic "has already had a number of unpleasant telephone conversation with European leaders who do not understand his actions, and have warned him to 'slow down' and 'come to his senses'."

Specifically, he has been asked to respect the agreements that Zagreb has signed with the EU, according to the article.

At the same time, during Thursday, communication was taking place through official channels between Serbian and Croatian governments - "but their positions remained frozen."

After Croatia closed its borders for freight traffic coming from Serbia last weekend, and Serbia on Thursday introduced countermeasures blocking imports of Croatian goods, a move "Belgrade was forced to take" - "Zagreb has gone a step further and made it drastically more difficult for Serbian citizens to enter the country."

Since Belgrade has not responded with new moves, the ball remains in the Croatian yard, writes the paper. According to the article, Croatia should now "release the crossings" after which Serbia would "withdraw the countermeasures in order to resolve the crisis."

"Complete chaos reigned" on the ground during Thursday, the daily said. Croatian border police at first did not let Serbian citizens across the border, to then allow those entering on foot or in vehicles with license plates of other countries. They also allowed Serbian cars coming from the direction of Bosnia, so huge lines of vehicles formed on the Raca, Samac, Bosanski Brod and Gradiste border crossings.

The general commotion was made worse by Croatian border guards at Bajakovo-Batrovci occasionally allowing Serbian passenger cars through, and then closing the crossing again, which resulted in "citizens no longer knowing where to go." Trucks were still blocked at the border yesterday.

Meanwhile the paper said it "received confirmation" that Western diplomats in Zagreb see Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic's "undiplomatic rhetoric" as part of the election game.

According to the report, Serbia has been receiving support from its neighbors, but also from EU institutions. EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn, who will today visit Belgrade, is trying to mediate between the two countries.

He stated that "the EU stands by Serbia in this pan-European crisis which can be solved only with a common approach."