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Presidents Of Croatia, Serbia-Montenegro Apologize For Wartime 'Evils'

Belgrade, 10 September 2003 (RFE/RL) -- The presidents of Croatia (pictured) and Serbia-Montenegro jointly apologized today for what they called "all the evils" committed by their countries during the 1991-1995 war. The apologies came as Croatian President Stipe Mesic arrived in Belgrade, marking the first visit by a Croatian head of state to Belgrade since the country proclaimed independence from Yugoslavia in 1991.

Mesic met with Svetozar Marovic, the president of Serbia and Montenegro. Marovic told Mesic: "I want to apologize for all evils that any citizen of Serbia and Montenegro inflicted upon or committed to anybody in Croatia."

Mesic said he accepted the apology, and then made a similar apology to Marovic.

Relations between Serbia and Montenegro -- a loose union which replaced the disbanded Yugoslav federation in February -- and Croatia have been gradually improving since the end of the war.

During his one-day visit, Mesic is due to discuss regional cooperation and prospects for membership in both the EU and NATO with Serbia and Montenegro officials.

During his one-day visit, Mesic is also scheduled to meet Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Zivkovic and senior officials from Montenegro.

Talks are expected to focus on regional cooperation and prospects for membership in both the European Union and NATO.

Ties between the two countries improved notably following the 1999 death of Mesic's predecessor, Franjo Tudjman, and the fall of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic one year later.