Quiet impatience – these are the words that can be used to describe the relations between Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and the newly elected President of Croatia, Zoran Milanovic.
This distant relationship is also evident from the content of the congratulatory note that Vucic sent after Milanovic’s electoral victory. The two politicians have had clashes as Prime Ministers of Serbia and Croatia respectively, and now they will meet again, albeit in new roles.
Vucic’s congratulatory note to the winner of the presidential elections in Croatia strikes as being rather cold: “Mr Milanovic, congratulations on your election as President of the Republic of Croatia. Aleksandar Vucic.”
Want to open a company in Serbia? Click here!
Not a word about expectations for the future or issues that might be on the table during a possible meeting. This congratulatory note is in stark contrast to the one Vucic sent to the newly elected Austrian Prime Minister Sebastian Kurtz: “The great confidence, shown by your knowledge and political experience, also carries a great responsibility. I am confident that, with the same willingness and dedication to work, you will continue to lead Austria through success and prosperity, for the benefit of the whole of Europe,” said Vucic.
In his debates against the other presidential candidate, Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic, Milanovic was harsh on the official Belgrade, stating, among other things, that Belgrade was responsible for the crisis in Montenegro and that he would exert constant pressure on Serbia.
However, the opposing views of Vucic and Milanovic seem to go much deeper than electoral rhetoric and date back to the time of the great migrant crisis of 2015, when Prime Minister Milanovic strongly criticized the then Prime Minister Vucic.
Also, Milanovic was accused of stopping trucks from Serbia at the Serbian-Croatian border but had to concede afterwards. He soon lost the elections, and President Grabar-Kitarovic assumed a leading role in relations with Serbia.
During a symbolic meeting on a bridge over the Danube, Prime Minister Vucic and Croatian President Grabar Kitarovic announced the restoration of Serbian-Croatian relations. A declaration was adopted on the resolution of key issues: the question of missing persons, national archives and borders on the Danube. A year later, she participated in the investiture of Vucic as President of Serbia.
“Serbia has always been a negative topic during the election campaign. However, we do not want to interfere. Let the Croatian people choose who is to be president. Whoever is elected, it is everyone’s duty to try to find a common language,” said Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic.
And that common language will be hard to find now, at least for next year. In Croatia, the HDZ government will coexist with Milanovic, while Serbia is soon to go through parliamentary election campaign soon.
This post is also available in: Italiano