Croatia’s ambassador to Serbia says disappearance of flag is ‘no accident’

NEWS 23.04.2021 10:20
Hrvatska zastava
Source: Srecko Niketic/PIXSELL

It was "no accident" that the Croatian flag was taken down from Croatian ambassador's residence in Belgrade, and the incident reflects "part of the atmosphere" in Serbia's society, which continues to "feed on hate speech," Croatia's ambassador to Serbia, Hido Biscevic, said on Thursday.

Unknown persons removed the flag from the building which has video surveillance but no guards, and the incident happened “most likely on Wednesday morning,” he said.

“I honestly wish to believe that these are individual acts, but even so they reflect part of the atmosphere in public here, which continues to feed on hate speech, radicalism, extremism and violence as acceptable norms,” Biscevic told N1 television. “Perhaps, under diplomatic norms, I shouldn’t say that, but I say it with the best intentions.”

The Serbian Foreign Ministry said this was an “injudicious and isolated act,” hoping that it “won’t cast a shadow on efforts to set Serbia-Croatia relations on new foundations so that in future they can develop in the spirit of mutual trust and cooperation.”

Biscevic said the flag “was not taken down by accident (…) We are talking about the flag, but actually talking about Serbia, about how the society here wishes to develop.”

He said there were two sides to Serbia and recalled a recent rally of support to the people of Croatia struck by an earthquake last December that was held outside the embassy. “Compare that solidarity (…) with this incident of flag desecration.”

He thanked the Serbian ministry “for an extraordinarily prompt and very clearly formulated reaction” and the police who came to the residence and were “almost embarrassed by what happened.”

Biscevic said he recently conveyed to Serbian Foreign Minister Nikola Selakovic Zagreb’s message “that we firmly believe it’s time (…) to cool it and to start governing processes, instead of having processes govern us.”

He said it was time to raise awareness “that staying at the level of such incidents can seriously endanger the future, the stability and prospects of our countries and the kind of society we wish to create both in Croatia and in Serbia.”

Biscevic would not speculate if Serbia’s top officials would react to the incident but said he would try to talk with President Aleksandar Vucic on Friday at a working lunch with the heads of EU member states’ diplomatic missions.


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