Dacic and Plenkovic meet in Zagreb: "If we have to live together, then let's live in peace"
In his address, the head of Serbian diplomacy told Serbs in Croatia that Belgrade will always be with them
A reception on the occasion of the upcoming Orthodox Christmas was organized in Zagreb, Croatia, by the Serb National Council (SNV), attended by the First Deputy PM in Government of Serbia and Minister of Foreign Affairs Ivica Dacic, Minister for Human Rights Tomislav Zigmanov, as well as the Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic.
In his address, the head of Serbian diplomacy told Serbs in Croatia that Belgrade will always be with them.
"We (Serbia and Croatia) don't have the same opinion about many issues, but we have to talk. That's why we're here today, Vucic wanted us to find a place to revive the conversation. To solve all the open issues we have. This is possible through normalization of intensified political relations and without hidden agendas," said Dacic, congratulating Croatia on the entry into the Schengen zone.
"According to the way it is written, Runjanin composed the Croatian national anthem, but also the Serbian song 'Rado ide Serbin u vojnike' ('A Serbian gladly serves in the military'). He was born in Loznica, (Serbia) lived in Vinkovci (Croatia), died in Novi Sad (Serbia). How was that possible? Because we had other enemies, and now we are each other's enemies. And the results of censuses tell us that maybe we don't need to be enemies because it seems that we could disappear soon," said Dacic.
He recalled Zoran Milanovic's visit to Serbia when he was Croatian prime minister.
"If someone, who doesn't know us, were to look at Ivica Dacic and Zoran Milanovic, would they be able to tell so easily who is a Croat and who is a Serb? Usually, Christmas Eve is spent in the company of loved ones, and I don't believe that we are really each other's favorite loved ones. But if we have to live together, then it's right to live in peace," said Dacic.
Plenkovic: Improving relations despite difficult legacy
Prime Minister of Croatia Andrej Plenkovic said that he was glad to have the opportunity to be at this gathering once again.
"The mood is good, exactly the way it should be in these moments. From the first day of my government, I wanted all national minorities to be partners, to build equality, to serve the interests of civilization, to contribute to reconciliation," Plenkovic said.
There is, he said, a difficult legacy that burdens relations between Croatia and Serbia and added that relations must be improved, but be based on the truth, on real steps, apologies and reconciliation.
That is why, he pointed out, the government will do everything for those families who are still searching for the missing, to build bridges of cooperation. He added that he also does this personally, sometimes to the detriment of his popularity among his own voters.
He thanked the representatives of SNV and political representatives of the Serb national minority for their support, loyalty and sincere partnership for the seventh year.
"I am especially glad that the Croatian minority in Serbia got a new lease on life. This fact, that a Croat is a member of the government in Serbia, is new. It gives you personally a chance, but also to all Croats living in Serbia, to articulate their ideas," he said Plenkovic.
According to him, Serbs in Croatia can and should contribute to improvement of relations.
"Croatia has solved all its national tasks, in only 31 years of its status as an internationally recognized state. Now we have to raise the economic status of citizens, to prevent petty grabs, that will not pass, that someone profits from the switch from the kuna (Croatian currency) to the euro. The government will improve cooperation with the Serb minority and other minorities. To all who are here, and to all Orthodox believers, I wish you a very merry Christmas," said Plenkovic.
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