21 July 2006

Croatia's Historic Support of Serbia Regarding Kosovo Metohija

Croatia against imposed solution for Kosovo-Metohija

Belgrade, July 21, 2006 –Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader said following talks with Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica today in Belgrade that Croatia is against any imposed solution for Kosovo-Metohija and pledged that the solution to the Kosovo-Metohija problem be found in negotiations between Belgrade and Pristina.
State reception in the honour of Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader outside the Serbian government buildingIn a joint press conference, Sanader said that the solution must be sought through cooperation between Belgrade and Pristina and that there cannot be any imposed solution. As for the Kosovo-Metohija issue, Croatia has an “absolutely firm stand”, Sanader stressed adding that there is no solution for Kosovo-Metohija without Belgrade. Sanader explained that any other solution would be wrong and announced that this firm stand of the Croatian government will remain such. Kostunica said that he informed Sanader about Serbian government’s well-known position on Kosovo-Metohija that he previously presented in several European capitals as well as in Washington DC and the UN headquarters. Both Serbia and Croatia belong to a united Europe, Kostunica and Sanader agreed. Kostunica said in a statement to the press after talks with Sanader that it is very important that the two countries find their place in their natural environment, which is the community of European states and nations. We have opened an entirely different and new chapter in relations, oriented towards a European future, said the Serbian Prime Minister, and added that this new phase in relations between Serbia and Croatia is of extraordinary importance for stability in the region. He recalled that the Serbian government has prepared an Action Plan for completing cooperation with the Hague tribunal which should allow continuation of negotiations with the EU, adding that in drafting the plan the Serbian government largely used Croatia’s experience.Kostunica said that in today’s talks ways of further improving the existing good relations between the two countries were also discussed, as well as solutions to issues from the past which are a strain on these relations, such as the question of missing persons, return of refugees to Croatia and the return of their property.
Ivo Sanader, left, and Vojislav Kostunica at today's press conference
According to Kostunica, bilateral relations have improved and today’s opening of the Batrovci-Bajakovo border-crossing confirms that relations between Serbia and Croatia are moving forward in the spirit of European integration.Sanader said following the meeting that all countries of the region should be in a unified Europe, whose political stability should rest upon Serbia and Croatia.I see Croatia and Serbia’s future in Europe, as foundations of political stability in this part of Europe, said the Croatian Prime Minister, and expressed his expectation that Serbia will soon continue negotiations with the EU on the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA), and that the agreement would be concluded by the end of the year.Sanader said that he expects that more concrete and stronger messages will be given to Croatia at the NATO Summit to be held in Riga, than at the summit in Istanbul, and added that he hopes positive changes will take place when it comes to the question of Serbia’ membership in Partnership for Peace. He said that the opening of the modernised border-crossing Batrovci-Bajakovo presents a new opportunity for the future, and added that the past shall not be forgotten, and the two sides will make efforts to resolve all open questions of a humanitarian nature. According to Sanader, the status of ethnic minorities in the two countries presents an extraordinarily important segment in bilateral cooperation and Croatia wishes that the Serb minority becomes fully integrated into Croatian society.Kostunica and Sanader agreed that the International Boundary Commission should begin work on defining the appearance of borders as soon as possible, and Sanader stressed that borders will not be changed, but the precise course of borders needs to be established.
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