Croatia PM Visits Serbia to Break Ice

Croatia’s Zoran Milanovic will arrive in Belgrade on Wednesday on a visit aimed at improving the currently tense relations between the two countries.Milanovic will meet his counterpart, Ivica Dacic, on his first official visit to Belgrade, after ties deteriorated following the election of a new government in Serbia last year.

The two premiers will discuss cooperation between Croatia and Serbia, regional links and mutual support on the path towards EU integration.

Croatia is due to join the EU in July, while Serbia is hoping to obtain a date to open membership talks this year.

Relations between the two countries have been chilly since a more nationalist coalition replaced the centrist Democratic Party-led government in Serbia last May.

Serbia’s new government is made up of the Serbian Progressive Party, Dacic’s Socialists and the United Regions of Serbia.

Tensions also worsened after the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia, ICTY, acquitted two Croatian wartime generals last November.

Croatia’s President, Ivo Josipovic, did not attend the inauguration of Serbia’s new President, Tomislav Nikolic, after the latter appeared to express support for a “greater Serbia”.

However both sides have recently agreed that relations need to improve.

Dacic recently said he wished to meet his Croatian counterpart in order to stop matters deteriorating further.

“We might disagree on some questions but our relations can’t be as if we were living in an ice age. We have to cooperate,” Dacic told Al Jazeera Balkans on January 9.

Croatia’s Foreign Minister, Vesna Pusic, meanwhile told the Serbian daily newspaper Dnevnik on December 31 that relations were “heading in the right direction”.

“The purpose of the [Milanovic-Dacic] meeting will be to take a positive step and not just have a good photograph for the press,” Pusic said.

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