Serbia to wait for deal with Croatia until Sept. 24

Aleksandar Vucic says Serbia will start implementing a package of measures at midnight tomorrow if there is no agreement with Croatia to open border crossings.

Source: B92
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The prime minister addressed reporters late on Tuesday in Belgrade after a meeting of his government and of the Bureau for Coordination of Security Services, and said that the government authorized him to negotiate with Croatian officials.

Vucic said he would "strive to reach a deal, and if not, a package of measures is ready."

He specified it will span "three levels" and be of "political, legal, and economic nature."

"I hope we won't have to implement them," said the prime minister.

He also told reporters that he spoke with Croatian counterpart Zoran Milanovic and that their conversation will continue "this evening, tonight, and tomorrow morning" in order to reach an agreement by midnight on Wednesday.

"The government has prepared a package of measures that will be undertaken by Serbia, if these talks fail, as a measure to protect itself and its economic interests, starting on September 24, at 00:00 hours," Vucic told journalists, and added:

"Serbia has been protecting in the best possible way not only its own interests but also those of citizens of Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries mostly threatened by war."

According to him, in that, "Serbia has defended European values and was the first country to register refugees, and treat them in a human manner, although there was no control in the EU territory, on their way toward Serbia."

"Both Schengen and Dublin (agreements) have been trampled on in Greece. Then they (refugees and migrants) transit Macedonia... we were the first to accept them, register them, and feed them," said Vucic, stressing that Serbia "has not taken any measures against Greece and Macedonia."

He added that this "never occurred to anyone" and that he was "neither sad nor unhappy because of it" but rather "pleased by and proud of the Serbian government's actions."

"We have faced a grave crisis, not for the first time, not a single one can pass us by because we're in that kind of place. We have showed a human face. Then barbed wire, fences, and tear gas fired into the Serbian territory happened. We reacted calmly, with the goal of having best of relations," stressed the prime minister.

Unofficially reports earlier in the day suggested that the Bureau's meeting was considering banning entry of goods from Croatia as Serbia's countermeasure that would be in force for an undefined period of time.

The meeting was held in light of the migrant crisis and Croatia's unilateral decision to close its border with Serbia for cargo traffic.

Earlier in the day, Vucic announced that unless the EU reacted to Croatia's decision by 14:00 CET today, Serbia would announce its response.

Also on Tuesday, he referred to Croatia's decision as "a brutal attack on Serbia and Serbia's economy."

He said that the "official, oral response" from Zagreb "belongs in the twilight zone," adding that Belgrade was told "to send half the refugees to Hungary, and only half to Croatia, and then Croatia would allow Serbian trucks (across the border)."

Croatian officials accused Serbia today of "having a deal with Hungary" whereby it was "sending refugees (from third countries) to Croatia in an organized manner," and threatened to completely shut down the Bajakovo-Batrovici crossing.

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