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Serbia Bans Croatian Defense Minister In Tit-For-Tat Move


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Serbia has barred Croatian Defense Minister Damir Krsticevic from entering the country until further notice, following a similar action by Zagreb.

The Serbian government imposed the ban on April 26 against Krsticevic, who is also a deputy prime minister, saying the move was a "reciprocity measure."

On April 22, Croatia said Serbian Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin was not welcome to make a visit to a memorial service for the victims of a World War II concentration camp in Jasenovac.

Zagreb accused Vulin of undermining its sovereignty with a statement in which he claimed that his right to travel to Croatia was not up to the Croatian government.

In a statement, Serbia's government said Croatia’s move was "against good neighborly relations and respect for basic European values, which include the freedom of movement."

"The government of Serbia remains committed to preserving peace and stability in the region and respecting European standards and values, in the interest of the citizens of Serbia and the region," it added.

Vulin has called Croatia’s decision an attempt "to silence those speaking about the crimes” committed at Jasenovac, where around 100,000 Serbs, Jews, Roma, and anti-fascist Croats were killed by the Ustashe regime, a quasi-protectorate under Fascist and Nazi patronage.

Relations between EU candidate Serbia and Croatia, which is a member of the bloc, have been strained since Croatia's declaration of independence from the former Yugoslavia in 1991, which set off a four-year conflict with rebel ethnic Serbs supported by Belgrade.

On April 18, a Croatian parliamentary delegation cut short a visit to Belgrade after nationalist politician Vojislav Seselj, recently convicted of war crimes by a United Nations court, reportedly stamped on the Croatian national flag and cursed the visitors.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, and dpa
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