Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said in Zagreb on Saturday that a group of Serbian army personnel had attempted to enter Croatia at the Bajakovo border crossing in the morning, unannounced and in violation of international law, with the aim of causing an incident, but were prevented by the Croatian border police.
"This morning, around 6.30, Croatian police stopped 11 Serbian army personnel from entering Croatia at the Bajakovo border crossing. Their visit was not announced or agreed and their aim was to visit Jasenovac in Serbian army uniforms. Their attempted visit obviously was not of a commemorative nature, as it should have been, to pay tribute to the victims (of the WWII Jasenovac concentration camp), but was obviously planned as an act of provocation with the aim of causing an incident," Plenkovic told reporters at the government headquarters.
He said that an unannounced entry of members of a foreign army into the territory of another state was against international law. "This is unacceptable to the Croatian state and we strongly condemned this act," the prime minister said.
"Croatian citizens should know that the Croatian government and all its institutions protect our legal order and do not allow such provocations. The Croatian state institutions effectively exposed this attempt by the Serbian army to provoke an incident," Plenkovic said.
Asked if the Croatian government had contacted the authorities in Serbia about this incident, Plenkovic said it would have been normal if the Serbian authorities had announced their visit to Jasenovac.
Asked to comment on Serbian Defence Minister Aleksandar Vulin's statement that Croatia should apologise and that it was "the follower of Pavelic's fascist ideology," Plenkovic ironically said that "these Vulin's eleven" should honour the rules and refrain from provocations and violations of international law. "Everything else is a classic exercise of petty politicking and raising tensions between Croatia and Serbia. We have heard this story from them many times and have never fallen for it. We are pursuing a serious policy as a member of the EU and NATO."
"We respect the rights of ethnic minorities in Croatia, including the Serb minority, and we expect the same from Serbia. We want Serbia to treat Croatia and the Croats in Serbia with respect," he added.
Asked what Serbia wanted to achieve with this provocation, Plenkovic said that the question should be addressed to the government in Belgrade.