Croatia will not withdraw its genocide lawsuit against Serbia at the International Court of Justice, ICJ, until the issue of missing persons is solved, the Croatian Foreign Minister, Vesna Pusic, said.In an interview for Croatian radio, HR, on Sunday, Pusic specified that missing persons are “the prime issue” for her.
“It is the most important issue in the human sense. Only after that issue has been addressed will there be space for the second most important issue: the question of a European future, European reforms in our part of the world, and cooperation between Croatia and Serbia”, Pusic said.
According to the official data published in July, Croatia is still searching for 1,736 of its citizens who went missing during the 1991 -1995 war.
According to data from the Serbian Association for Families of Missing Persons on the Territory of the Former Yugoslavia, Serbia is searching for about 4,000 of its citizens.
Natasa Scepanovic, the president of the association, said that as of last August, 1,958 people are still missing in Croatia, 1,698 in Republic of Srpska and 526 in Kosovo.
“Any discussion about missing persons is loaded with assumptions on both sides. That’s the first thing we have to deal with, and that would open the way up for talk about the rest, including the genocide lawsuits. But before we change attitudes, there’s no sense in raising war related subjects, ” Pusic said.
Pusic met the Serbian foreign minister Ivan Mrkic for the first time on September 24 in New York, in a fringe meeting at the UN General assembly annual session.
According to media reports, the two ministers agreed on three sets of topics for future discussion: postwar issues, economic cooperation, and stabilizing the region in the framework of a common European future.
Croatia filed the genocide lawsuits against Serbia at the ICJ in 1999, claiming that Serbia had perpetrated genocide upon Croats during the war in Croatia.
Serbia responded with a genocide lawsuit against Croatia at the same court in 2009, claiming that Croatia perpetrated genocide upon Serbs during the same war.
The Serbian lawsuit also contains charges against Croatia for genocide against Serbs in WWII.
Politicians from both sides emphasised many times that it would be smarter to solve the problem through bilateral agreements on the demands made in the lawsuits, instead of long, expensive and uncertain court trials.
Official talks on the possible withdrawal of the lawsuits are yet to take place.