Mutual genocide lawsuits won't be withdrawn

BELGRADE -- Aleksandar Vučić says the court in The Hague will decide about issues from the past, while the political elites in Serbia and Croatia will focus on the future.

(Tanjug)
(Tanjug)

The deputy prime minister spoke in reference to the mutual genocide lawsuits filed by the two countries before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, thus making it clear that no agreement to drop the lawsuits had been reached.

He made the statement during a joint news conference in Belgrade on Monday with Croatia's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Vesna Pusić.

"Let us not poison our relations because of the fact that we see past events in different ways, Croatia in its own way and Serbia in a completely different one," Vučić said.

He stressed that the authorities in both countries were "primarily dealing with the present and the future," that the Serbian side presented its position, "and believes what's most important is what we will do in the future - and it goes without saying, everyone will fight from their side to prove that the positions presented in the suit and the countersuit are true."

"Whether that will be productive or not - I'm afraid it won't make anybody very happy," Vučić said, and added he was "certain that the discussion about other topics he had today with Pusić "would bring progress to the mutual relations between the two countries and their citizens."

Pusić told the news conference that both sides agreed to do everything in order to prevent the issue of the mutual genocide lawsuit from spilling over to the daily politics, and that it represented "resolving of issues from the past."

"There was a desire and efforts were made to solve this issue in a different manner - unfortunately this did not succeed. The conditions that were necessary were not met, and we today still have the issue of the missing persons on the agenda," she said.

The International Court of Justice will launch a debate in the dispute between Serbia and Croatia on mutual genocide suits on March 3.

As the sides in the dispute did not file tort claim against the other, the court will not tackle this matter and will discuss the allegations from the suit and countersuit and establish whether Croatia and Serbia, as countries, conducted genocide in the territory of Croatia in the period from 1991 to 1995 covered by the suit and countersuit.

Croatia filed its charges of genocide on July 2, 1999, demanding financial compensation in the amount determined by the court, punishment for all war criminals, information about missing persons and return of stolen cultural heritage.

Serbia filed its countersuit on January 4, 2010, accusing Croatia of genocide and ethnic cleansing that affected 230,000 Serbs during Operation Storm.

Serbia wants the court to order Croatia to punish those responsible, pay compensation to Croatian Serbs for their losses and provide legal conditions for a safe return of Serb refugees to their homes and normal life.