Croatia "unpleasantly surprised" by criticism

ZAGREB -- The Croatian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has stated it was unpleasantly surprised by a statement from Serbian President Tomislav Nikolić.

It said that "such words do not help normalize the relations in the region".

The ministry commented on Monday on Nikolić's statement concerning the relations with Croatia, which he had given to the Belgrade-based Kurir tabloid.

Disagreement with the Hague decision to acquit former Croatian generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markač of charges of war crimes committed against the Serbs was "Nikolić's personal view", the Croatian ministry stated.

Croatia has completed all of its obligations regarding the Hague following international law, it continues.

The statement says the verdict "indicates clearly the two generals are not responsible for the war crimes committed in Croatia and that Operation Storm was not a joint criminal enterprise".

High ranking Croatian officials have said on a number of occasions that the verdict does not deny the crimes committed in Croatia by individuals, neither on the Serb nor Croatian side, the ministry noted.

Croatian courts have tried and continue to try war crimes suspects "and none of those cases accuse Croats or Serbs in general", said the statement.

President Nikolić on Monday stated, among other things, that Croats were "a nation on the wrong path", that "go unpunished for their crimes".