Belgrade: Croatian state visit ends in scandal

The visit of a Croatian delegation to Belgrade was supposed to mark a turning point in relations between Croatia and Serbia. But Serbian nationalist Vojislav Šešelj trampled on the Croatian flag in front of the parliament building and insulted the guests, who then broke off their visit. Croatian and Serbian media suspect Serbia's politicians aren't entirely unhappy about the results of the scandal.

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Danas (RS) /

Implausible excuses

Danas is furious that no one in Belgrade took action to prevent the scandalous incident:

“It was more than likely that Šešelj would see the Croatian delegation's visit as a unique opportunity to stage a performance. ... For that reason it seems implausible that the state leaders could genuinely be so surprised by his vandalism. And it's even harder to believe that the parliamentary security service was unable to wrestle the flag away from Šešelj and his handful of helpers. Hang on a minute! What kind of security service can't get the better of a fat guy and two or three small-town bouncers who don't have a clue about martial arts? What would happen if parliament were attacked by armed, well-trained 'Albanian terrorists'?”

Jutarnji list (HR) /

The whole thing smacks of diversionary tactics

In the aftermath of the incident involving Vojislav Šešelj, Serbian defence minister Aleksander Vulin made provocative remarks which led to his being banned from entering Croatia. Jutarnji list concludes that all this is a calculated diversion:

“After the circus performance put on by Vojislav Šešelj during the Croatian delegation's visit to Belgrade (which many believe was initiated by the Serbian government) and Vulin's 'threat' to come to Croatia with the Serbian army, this can no longer be a coincidence. The whole thing is most likely a diversionary tactic meant to distract the attention of the Serbian public from other topics such as the growing pressure from the West to recognise Kosovo.”

Jutarnji list (HR) /

One step forward, two steps back

The incident will make relations between Croatia and Serbia even more tense, Jutarnji list comments:

“In the past twenty years the history of Croatian-Serbian relations seems to have developed according to the principle of 'one step forward, two steps back'. The ugly and uncivilised incident that occurred in Belgrade outside the Serbian Parliament and in its corridors will put an additional strain on the relations between the two countries just when they were starting to improve. ... The parliamentary president and delegation had no choice but to break off their visit. Any politician would have done the same thing after such an incident, and in this way Jandroković and the other members of parliament were able to preserve Croatia's integrity.”

Večernji list (HR) /

Serbia has disgraced itself

Večernji list points out that Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić's visit to Zagreb in February was very different to this one:

“Vučić was given a princely reception in Croatia, both in terms of personal security and respect for Serbian state symbols. ... Despite all the dissatisfaction, Croatia was a good host to Aleksandar Vučić. Serbia, however, has shown itself up, or perhaps it deliberately allowed the war criminal Vojislav Šešelj to go on a rampage. After all, Šešelj has done more harm to Serbia, which certainly won't come any closer to EU membership as a result of his disgraceful behaviour (trampling on the Croatian flag and insulting our delegation), than to anyone else.”