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Balkans

ANNIVERSARY OF OPERATION ‘’STORM’’ 02. 08. 2013.   >>  18:24 0

ANNIVERSARY OF OPERATION ‘’STORM’’

Josipovic: ‘’Storm’’ was necessary

Croatian President Ivo Josipović says the present relations between his country and Serbia are "most burdened by the past."

But he also noted that his first official meeting with his Serbian counterpart Tomislav Nikolić, expected to take place this fall, should be a "new impetus" to the development of bilateral ties.

"I see my coming visit to Belgrade more as a new impetus than a new beginning. Considering the difficult past and the recent war, many issues have been opened and relations have thawed over the past three or four years," Josipović said in an interview for the Friday edition of Vecernje Novosti.

 He said the past is the biggest burden on the relations of Serbia and Croatia - missing persons, refugees, succession of the former Yugoslavia, housing and wartime pensions, among other issues.

 Josipović says Croatia did not have any reservations towards Nikolić and the first meetings with the Serbian president have been encouraging.

 Asked whether the plans for furthering relations with Serbia could be spoiled by the upcoming anniversary of Operation Storm, which Belgrade and Zagreb see very differently, Josipović said he hopes this will not be the case, because for Croatia, Storm was necessary for the liberation of the country, it ended the war and without it "Croatia would not be free and independent."

"The fact that many Serbs were killed in the operation gives the Serbian side the right to see it differently. Even though we will probably have to reconcile ourselves to the fact that we see certain historical events differently, I still expect Serbs to understand the significance of Storm for the freedom of the Croatian state. At the same time, Croatia needs to treat all victims with the due reverence, punish all crimes and enable everyone who wants to return to do so," said the Croatian president.

Josipović said he would like Serbia's membership talks with the EU to begin and finish as soon as possible, noting that Croatia's experience shows that "the work pays off."

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