ZAGREB – The presidents of Croatia and Serbia agreed on Monday to work on improving their strained relations in order to boost the latter’s chances of gaining entry into the European Union.
Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic welcomed her Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vuvic to the Croatian capital Zagreb for a two-day official visit aimed at addressing issues of bilateral interest.
“I think Serbia and Croatia will have to have much better relations in the future,” Vucic told reporters following his meeting with Grabar-Kitarovic.
Vucic’s visit came after the EU announced a new strategy on Feb. 6 to help Balkan countries become members of the bloc in exchange for reforms centered around human rights, the economy and neighbor relations.
Croatia has been a member of the EU since 2013, but EU officials have said they do not envisage Serbia’s integration until 2025.
The two heads of state agreed Monday to form a joint commission over a territorial dispute affecting some 145 kilometers (90 miles) of their common border, setting aside two years for an agreement to be reached.
The pair also discussed other issues, such as exchanging information with regards to 1,945 people who disappeared during the Croatian War of Independence (1991-95).
Vucic would also meet with the nation’s Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic during his trip to Croatia.
Meanwhile, the Croatian president expressed her intention to assist Serbia on its path towards EU entry.
Croats and Serbs share the same languages as well as similar traditions, though Croatia is traditionally Catholic and Serbia traditionally Christian Orthodox.