Croatian President Stjepan Mesic, who is on a farewell visit to Germany, on Wednesday held a news conference for German reporters in Berlin, at which he commented on the situation in Croatia and neighbouring countries and recalled Germany's contribution to the recognition of Croatia as an independent country and its successful integration with Euro-Atlantic associations.
"German-Croatian relations have been on the rise since the war, when Croatia became a victim of the Serbian aggression," Mesic said, calling for closer economic ties between the two countries. Speaking of relations with neighbouring countries, President Mesic described them as good, particularly relations with Montenegro. He criticised the situation in neighbouring Bosnia-Herzegovina, blaming it on the Bosnian Serb political leadership, notably the prime minister of the Serb entity, Milorad Dodik. "There are still people in Republika Srpska who believe that the tailoring of borders in the region has not been completed and every now and then bring up the issue of a referendum on secession, wishing to complete what (former Serbian president Slobodan) Milosevic had started," President Mesic said, calling on European countries not to allow this.
President Mesic said he believed that Croatia would join the EU within a year, but that "the process will not be completed with that". We will be satisfied only when all countries in the region join the EU, President Mesic said, adding that it would be the best guarantee of peace in this part of Europe.
Asked what course he expected Croatia to take after the forthcoming presidential elections, President Mesic said he was confident that Croatia would remain on the European road regardless of who would win the elections. He also expressed doubts regarding a Gallup survey showing that only 26 percent of Croatians support Croatia's EU membership. "I don't believe the percentage is so low, but reasons should be sought in the Slovenian blockade," he said.
Asked to comment on the fact that members of Bosnia's Serb and Croat communities with dual citizenship would be privileged in relation to Bosnian Muslims because of the possibility of visa-free travel to the EU, and the possibility that they could start turning more to Belgrade and Zagreb, President Mesic said that this would not be good. "The Croats and Serbs in Bosnia-Herzegovina should understand that Bosnia-Herzegovina is their homeland and that Sarajevo is their capital," President Mesic said, adding that it would be good "for someone in Belgrade, too, to state that clearly". Commenting on documents sought from Croatia by the Hague war crimes tribunal, President Mesic said he was confident that Croatia had submitted enough documents for the next report by the tribunal's chief prosecutor, Serge Brammertz, to be positive. He noted, however, that "nobody sought any artillery logs from Serbia over Vukovar".
Earlier in the day, President Mesic met German President Horst Koehler, the Mayor of Berlin and Prime Minister of the federal state of Berlin, Klaus Wowereit, and the Prime Minister of the federal state of Brandenburg, Matthias Platzek. President Mesic, whose second and last term in office expires in February, will end his farewell visit to Germany by attending a dinner with German members of parliament and business people.