Davor Ivo Stier (Photo: Luka Stanzl/PIXSELL) Davor Ivo Stier (Photo: Luka Stanzl/PIXSELL)

Participants of the conference agreed that with the changing geo-political map of Europe and the world, Croatia must play a more active role in the region. HDZ MP and former Croatian foreign minister Davor Ivo Stier argued that in spite of Serbia’s insistent failure to acknowledge its past, adopt EU values and implement reforms that will put it on the path to Euro-Atlantic integration, Zagreb needs to establish a direct line of communication with Belgrade.

"While Euro-Atlantic integration and democratic reforms in Serbia should be supported, it is not realistic to expect Serbia to adopt European values and norms in the near future, if at all. However, for a number of reasons, from the economy and security to migration and radical Islam, Croatia must open up bilateral communications with Belgrade."

He added however, that this pragmatic approach to politics in the region should not affect Croatia’s bilateral relations with Serbia. "This, however, is no reason for Croatia to abandon its positions on open issues with Belgrade, quite the contrary. But a new political impulse in bilateral relations is needed, all the while bearing understanding the processes on the international scene, or better said, the current climate is better for settling relations with Serbia than it will be an a couple of years’ time."

Stier concluded that thanks to its membership of the EU, Croatia is no longer part of the bloc of countries referred to as the Western Balkans by Brussels. "However, Croatia must have an active role in the Western Balkans for its own national security. We should never forget that from the Ottomans to Milošević, attacks on Croatia have frequently come from the Balkans."

Source: HRT