Comment by the Information and Press Department on Ukrainian-Croatian contacts on the “return of occupied territories”
We have noted the contacts between Ukrainian authorities and former Croatian Minister of Justice Vesna Skare-Ozbolt, former Deputy Interior Minister Josko Moric and former Head of the Directorate for Expellees, Returnees, and Refugees Lovre Pejkovic who arrived from Zagreb, at the end of August in Kiev. Judging by the information available from the media, the issues discussed at the meetings included the “return of occupied territories” based on Croatia’s experience of the 1990s. That experience is more than controversial, it is negative, to put it bluntly. Suffice it to recall the approximately 250,000 Serbian refugees, forced out of Croatia by the military operations carried out by Zagreb in 1995, and the numerous civilian casualties.
Regretfully, their assurances of “good intentions” and “the need to restore mutual trust” in the conflict areas were used as a guise to make dangerous statements about “compulsion” and the “acceptability” of certain “methods of peaceful reintegration.” Of considerable concern is the fact that Kiev seems eager to pick up on such signals, demonstratively ignoring its own clearly stated obligations under the Minsk Package of Measures. Therefore, any mention of scenarios for Donbass involving force would be especially damaging and immoral now, in the first days of the “school truce” confirmed in the Normandy format.
Guided by our desire to develop friendly relations with Croatia, we urge Zagreb to use every opportunity to encourage Kiev to consistently and unswervingly implement the Minsk Agreements in the interests of expediting the peaceful settlement of the domestic Ukrainian crisis, and the durable stabilisation of southeastern Ukraine.