In the eve of the meeting of Croatian President Grabar Kitarović and Serbian President Vučić, Youth Initiative for Human Rights’ message is: “While our societies go towards cooperation, politicians are trying to halt that process.”

Croatia and Serbia need dialogue and cooperation. A responsibly conducted dialogue of the highest state officials about the problems resulting from the wars of the 1990s is a prerequisite for reconciliation between our societies and for the creation of good neighborly relations. Although the two presidents have failed so far to do enough for the building of trust between the two states, we welcome President Grabar Kitarović’s initiative to try, together with President Vučić, to continue the dialogue on open issues.

The Youth Initiative for Human Rights warns of the harmfulness of pressures and contamination of the dialogue process we have been witnessing for some time, which is intensified today before the meeting of Croatian and Serbian Presidents. Persistent efforts of the Governments of Serbia and Croatia and of both Presidents aim to demonstrate that cooperation between the two states is impossible and that conflict is the only possible relationship. In this way, they limit the society which already lives in co-existence, developing economic, cultural, sports, civil and other forms of cooperation.

The largest obstacle for comprehensive and free dialogue as a prerequisite for solving open issues between Serbia and Croatia is a shameless politicization of the past and politicians who do not clearly condemn nor have they stopped conducting exclusive nationalist politics since the 1990s.

For this reason, we condemn all statements and acts communicated these days from Croatia and Serbia which additionally aggravate the solving of bilateral issues of these two states, seeking to make the dialogue impossible. Here we especially have in mind the statements of President Vučić, demanding moratorium on the issues from the past; of President Grabar Kitarović, saying that “plenty of water will go down the Danube” before our countries become friendly; of Minister Vulin who reaches for animosities from the distant past in order to demonstrate the impossibility of cooperation, and the actions of Prime Minister Plenković who calls for consultations a person currently prosecuted for war crimes against Serb civilians. Such acts not only complicate the solving of the problems at the moment, but also make it impossible for present and future generations in Serbia and Croatia to work together on improving bilateral relations.

We urge Croatian and Serbian Presidents to start serious, responsible and comprehensive dialogue about open issues, including the position of national minorities, the prosecution of war criminals, the finding of missing persons from the wars of the 1990s, reparations for victims and growing national intolerance, which dialogue would result in specific and implementable policies.

Youth Initiative for Human Rights Croatia

Youth Initiative for Human Rights Serbia