"Belgrade to stop responding to Croatian statements"

Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic has said that Serbia's political leadership will no longer comment on statements about Serbia coming from Croatia.

Source: B92, Tanjug

Vucic told a press conference on Monday afternoon that "we have been witnesses in recent days to brutal verbal attacks against the Republic of Serbia by the Republic of Croatia."

"We have always told the truth about the suffering of our people in Gradina, Jasenovac...," he said, referring to WW2 death camps ran by the Independent State of Croatia (NDH), and added:

"We spoke also about Operation Storm, and stand behind all those words."

"A top-ranking Croatian official said I spoke about the gouging of Serb eyes, I am sorry that in Croatia they did not consider the facts and condemn the crime. We did not ask them to admit the crime, all we seek is remorse. Bearing in mind that we have said all about that, that we have responded to Croatia in the politest way countless times, from this day we will abstain from any comment coming from the Republic of Croatia, because we want to put an end to the immature game of ping pong played with statements. They can continue to insult us, while we will continue with the successes and growth, because they see that as their defeat," said Vucic.

"Not because we are afraid of them," he added, "but because we want them to stop with the policy where they want to present Croatia and Serbia as two immature states playing ping pong."

Vucic then said he was saddened to see Croatian officials "unwilling to abandon this kind of fascist past, which is expressed in their comments on the anniversary of the killings of Serbs that we commemorated recently, and say they do not agree with it and are condemning those crimes in the fiercest manner."

"We are not asking them to say it was genocide, although it was, but only to offer condolences and express remorse toward the families of the victims, instead of condemning in their statements the victims' grandchildren, while glorifying the executioner grandfathers."

"We will continue with the policy of maintaining peace and stability in the entire territory, we will continue to build, despite the problems, better and better relations in the future," said Vucic.

Sports and wages

During the news conference, he also spoke about the recent Olympics to say that Serbian athletes who won medals would receive money awards on Friday, worth a total of about 3 million euros.

Vucic also revealed that he "does not wish to respond to various scum who are insulting our Olympians," but that he does want to "enter into a serious debate on the financing of sport."

The prime minister told reporters he was "not interested" in what was behind the insults targeting certain Serbian Olympians, and did not want to comment on media speculation that the background of this was a conflict inside his ruling SNS party.

When asked whether a clash of two factions in the part was in fact behind the criticism that the state was not investing enough in sport, Vucic sad he did not wish to "go into that."

Aleksandar Vucic also said there was room for wage increases in the public sector and that the government will start talks on that matter with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in September or October.

Vucic pointed out that according to the latest fiscal results, after eight months, the budget has a surplus of more than RSD 20 billion, the government said on its website.

This is two-thirds of the year, and at the end of the year we will probably have a better result by at least RSD 95-100 billion than what was agreed with the IMF, he said.

According to him, the average wage was 3.9 percent higher in June, while the unemployment rate fell for the first time below 16 percent.

He added that the aim of the Government is that after four years in office, the average unemployment rate drops to the level of the European Union, which is 11.5 percent.


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