Serbian president reacts, tells Croatia: "Stop this"
SDP leader Zoran Milanovic's comment about Serbs being "a small nation, a handful of miserable people" is reminiscent of what Ante Pavelic thought about them.Source: B92, Tanjug
This is what Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic said on Thursday, after audio recordings were published from a meeting Milanovic - currently campaigning in Croatia's snap parliamentary elections - held with Croatia's "defenders", i.e, veterans from the early 1990s wars.
The audio file can be accessed on SoundCloud, where it has been posted by Croatia's Jutarnji List daily.
Nikolic's reference to Ante Pavelic concerns the leader of the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) Ustasha regime. The NDH was a Nazi-allied Second World War entity that ran death camps for Serbs, Jews, and Roma.
Among his other comments, Zoran Milanovic describes Serbia as "... being presented as a diplomatic powerhouse... (but) it is a handful of miserable people who for 150 years don't know whether to move toward Macedonia, (Serbian northern province) Vojvodina, Bosnia, Croatia - they aren't even ten million (people), f*ck it - they want to rule half the Balkans."
Milanovic, who until earlier this year served as Croatia's prime minister, also describes another neighbor of Croatia - Bosnia-Herzegovina - as "not a state at all, but a big sh*t" and pledges that if Bosnia's Serb entity (RS) seceded - Croatia would not leave ethnic Croats in Bosnia "alone with Bosniaks."
The 1992-95 war in Bosnia-Herzegovina ended with the Dayton Peace Agreement that organized the country into two entities: the RS, and the Muslim (Bosniak)-Croat Federation (FBiH).
Although the media described the audio file as "secret", Milanovic, speaking for Nova TV, said he was "aware that the conversation was being taped" and added: "That was not normal, but I understood, kept silent, and laughed."
In his comments on Thursday, Serbian President Nikolic said that his country was "offering a hand of reconciliation."
"I am afraid the passage of several decades has had no effect whatsoever on many people in Croatia. We will not close our border or break off relations with Croatia. We are still extending a hand of reconciliation and whether we will have good relations is up to Croatia," he told Sputnik.
"The fact that Serbia has been silent is not a sign of its weakness, but of its willingness to live in peace with everyone, including Croatia," Nikolic said, urging those in Croatia "who can stop this" - to do so.
"There," he continued, "we have in mind Serbs in Croatia who might once again become the object of persecution due to such statements - and to that Serbia surely would not be allowed to look at, and remain indifferent."
Finally, Nikolic remarked that he was unable to understand "the real motive" for Milanovic's statements - other than "the (election) campaign."