Croatia–Serbia relations

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Croatian-Serbian relations
Map indicating locations of Croatia and Serbia



Croatian–Serbian relations are foreign relations between Croatia and Serbia. From 1918 to 1991, both countries were part of Yugoslavia. They now share 241 kilometers of common border. In the 2011 Croatian census, there were 186,633 people of Serbian descent living in Croatia.[1] In the 2011 Serbian census, there were 57,900 people of Croatian descent living in Serbia.[2] Smaller lasting disputes include border disputes over the Island of Šarengrad and the Island of Vukovar.


With the nation-building process in mid-19th century, first Croatian-Serbian tension appeared. Serbian minister Ilija Garašanin's Načertanije (1844).[3]:3 claimed lands that were inhabited by Bulgarians, Macedonians, Albanians, Montenegrins, Bosnians, Hungarians and Croats as part of Serbia.[3]:3 Garašanin's plan also includes methods of spreading Serbian influence in the claimed lands.[3]:3–4 He proposed ways to influence Croats, who Garašanin regarded as "Serbs of Catholic faith".[3]:3 This plan considered surrounding peoples to be devoid of national consciousness.[3]:3–4[4]:91 Vuk Karadžić in the 1850s then denied the existence of Croatians and Croatian language, counting them as "Catholic Serbs". Croatia was at the time a kingdom in Habsburg Monarchy, with Dalmatia and Istria being separate Habsburg Crown lands. Ante Starčević, head of the Croatian Party of Rights, proved that Croats and Croatia do exist and reciprocated, denying Serbia.And leading his Nationalistic rhetoric. After Austro-Hungary occupied Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1878 and Serbia gained independence, Croatian and Serbian relations deteriorated, as both sides had pretensions on BiH. In 1902 major anti-Serb riots in Croatia were caused by Croatian Serbs' newspapers reprinting an article from Belgrade newspapers, titled Do istrage vaše ili naše (Till the Destruction, ours or yours), denying the existence of Croat nation and forecasting the result of the "inevitable" Serbian-Croatian conflict.

That combat has to be led till the destruction, either ours or yours. One side must succumb. That side will be Croatians, due to their minority, geographical position, mingling with Serbs and because the process of evolution means Serbhood is equal to progress.[5]

—Nikola Stojanović, Srbobran, 10.08.1902.

After Balkan wars, a part of Croats began to envisage Serbia to be to the other South Slavs what Piedmont was to other Italians: a unifying force that will help create an independent South-Slavic state. In World War I, Croats fought in Austro-Hungarian army against Serbia, while Croatian general Ivan Salis-Seewis was a military governor of occupied Serbia. Some Croat POWs volunteered to fight in Thesaloniki battlefront with Serbian army. After 1918, Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes was created. Initial Croatian zeal for the new state faded away as they republican view of a new state was ignored, and especially since the concept of "Greater Serbia" was put in practice during the early 1920s, under the Yugoslav premiership of Nikola Pašić. Using tactics of police intimidation and vote rigging,[6] he diminished the role of the oppositions (mainly those loyal to his Croatian rival, Stjepan Radić) to his government in parliament,[7] creating an environment to centralization of power in the hands of the Serbs in general and Serbian politicians in particular.[8] Police violence further alienated Croats, who began to ask for their own state. In 1928 Stjepan Radić and five other Croat politicians (supported by a vast majority of Croats) were shot in national assembly in Belgrade by a Serb deputy, enraged of continuous Croatian claims that they were 'exploited by Serbia and that Serbia is treating them like a colony'. This caused a permanent rift in Croat-Serbian relations.

World War II[edit]

During World War II in Yugoslavia, present-day Croatia was governed by the pro-Axis Ustaša government, which sought to ethnically cleanse Serbs from all territories controlled by the Independent State of Croatia.[9][10][11][12][13] Following the victory of Yugoslav Partisans, the Ustaša and the Chetniks were eliminated and both countries became part of SFR Yugoslavia.

War of independence[edit]

The period of 1991 to 1995 marked the Croatian War of Independence.[14] A self-proclaimed Republic of Serbian Krajina, created as a nation state for ethnic Serbs living on Croatian territory, was occupied by the remnants of the Yugoslav People's Army (from Serbia and Montenegro) from 1991 to 1992 and was supported by the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia through military support.[15][16] The reason for the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to support the Republic of Serbian Krajina against Croatian forces were due to common interests in upholding the status quo of keeping ethnic Serbs of former Yugoslav territories united, either within the extant Yugoslav state or as satellite states serving as proxies to Belgrade.[17]

Post-war relations[edit]

After the end of the Croatian War of Independence, the two countries established diplomatic relations on September 9, 1996.[18] Croatia filed a genocide lawsuit against Serbia at the International Court of Justice in 1999, and after Zagreb declined requests to withdraw it, Belgrade filed a countersuit in 2010.[19] Croatia has an embassy in Belgrade and a general consulate in Subotica. Serbia has an embassy in Zagreb and two general consulates, one in Rijeka and one in Vukovar.

Border dispute[edit]

Due to the meandering of the Danube, the eastern border of Baranja with Serbia according to cadastral delineation is not followed, as each country controls territory on their side of the main river flow.

Further south, near Vukovar and near Šarengrad, there are two river islands (Vukovarska ada and Šarengradska ada) which have been part of SR Croatia (during Yugoslavia) but during the war they came under Serbian control.

Croatia is asking that the islands be returned because of the Badinter Arbitration Committee decision from 1991 that all internal borders between Yugoslav republics have become international. Serbia's position is that the natural border between the countries is the middle of the main flow of Danube, which would make the islands Serbian territory.[20] Military occupation of the islands ended recently after an incident in which Serbian military opened fire and arrested the mayor of Vukovar Vladimir Štengel with 19 other Croatian civilians and 8 children who were going to visit Zvezdan Kisić, the mayor of the Serbian town Bačka Palanka.[21] These islands are now under Serbian police control.

Consulate General of Serbia in Vukovar[edit]

Serbia established a diplomatic mission in Vukovar, Croatia on 5 February 1998,[22] twenty days after the end of the reintegration process of Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Syrmia into Croatia, which was the end of the Croatian War of Independence. The consulate is responsible for five Slavonian counties: Vukovar-Syrmia County, Osijek-Baranja, Brod-Posavina, Požega-Slavonia and Virovitica-Podravina county.

Due to the huge interest of local citizens, in the beginning consulate operated also in Beli Manastir.[23] The consulate is at the end of the war played a very positive role in the life of the local Serbian minority in the city and region.[22][24][25][26]

Representatives of the consulate are frequent interlocutors of local and national media when it comes to issues of protection and promotion of Serbian identity in the Danube region.[27][28] Consulate organizes and participates in various cultural and educational projects and humanitarian actions, some of which are: celebration of the signing of Erdut Agreement,[25] showing of documentary films,[29] donation of equipment,[30] organizing concerts[31] etc. On the occasion of 150 anniversary of the birth of Nikola Tesla, consulate was, in conjunction with the U.S. Embassy in Zagreb, co-financed Days of Nikola Tesla in Osijek.[32]

Over time the consulate achieved close cooperation with minority institutions and organizations such as Joint Council of Municipalities, Eparchy of Osječko polje and Baranja, and Radio Borovo.

International organizations[edit]

Both countries are full members of the Southeast European Cooperation Process, of the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe, of the Central European Initiative, of the Southeast European Cooperative Initiative and of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation.

Popular culture[edit]

Rivalry in basketball[edit]

A big rivalry in basketball started since the first important big match within the European Championships just after the split of Yugoslavia. Croats were leading by two and there were only four seconds left; Serbian Sasa Djordjevic took the ball and made a three-pointer making Serbia win the game and then successively become the European Champion.[33] Afterward, on Euro championship 2001, Croats were hardly beaten by 88:60. Last match on big competitions was World championship 2010, were Serbia also won 73:72.

This rivalry went on also to clubs. Serbian clubs dominate in regional league, where they won nine times (Partizan eight times), and Croatian club won only one title. Particularly at the final game of the regional ABA league with Partizan from Serbia and Cibona from Croatia. This time the Croats were leading just 0.6 seconds before the end of the game. When all seemed finished, the serb from Partizan, Kecman, took the ball and made it from the other side. The Serbian team won again. [34]

Rivalry in football[edit]

Rivalries between Croatian and Serbian football contenders became especially famous to the world in the early 1990s, starting with the historic Dinamo Zagreb–Red Star Belgrade riot, which emphasized in some peoples' eyes the breakup of Yugoslavia. The Croatian national football team and the Yugoslav national football team played on only a few occasions—the first being in 1999 for UEFA Euro 2000 qualifying Group 8. Nevertheless, the rivalry between the two teams has been described as one of fiercest in the world.[35][36][37][38] Fourteen years later, for the first time in history, Serbia as an independent country played national team against the Croatian team on March 22, 2013 in qualification group A of the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The match, which Croatia won 2-0, was closely followed around the world.[39] The football federations of Serbia and Croatia agreed to ban foreign guests fans at the two games because of security concerns.[40] Later, Croatia drew Serbia 1-1 in Belgrade which meant Serbia was disqualified. During the match, Miralem Sulejmani, who was in a goal scoring opportunity, was knocked down by a tactical tackle from Josip Šimunić for which he was given a red card.[41]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Population by Ethnicity, by Towns/Municipalities, 2011 Census". Census of Population, Households and Dwellings 2011. Zagreb: Croatian Bureau of Statistics. December 2012. 
  2. ^ "Official Census 2011 Results". Republički zavod za statistiku. Retrieved 3 February 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Cohen, Philip J.; Riesman, David (1996). Serbia's Secret War: Propaganda and the Deceit of History. Texas A&M University Press. ISBN 0-89096-760-1. 
  4. ^ Anzulovic, Branimir (2001). Heavenly Serbia: From Myth to Genocide. New York University Press. ISBN 1-86403-100-X. 
  5. ^ Bilandžić, Dušan (1999). Hrvatska moderna povijest. Golden marketing. p. 31. ISBN 953-6168-50-2. 
  6. ^ Balkan Politics, Time magazine, March 31, 1923
  7. ^ Elections, Time magazine, February 23, 1925
  8. ^ The Opposition, Time magazine, April 6, 1925
  9. ^ "Croatian holocaust still stirs controversy". BBC News. 29 November 2001. Retrieved 29 September 2010. 
  10. ^ "Balkan 'Auschwitz' haunts Croatia". BBC News. 25 April 2005. Retrieved 29 September 2010. No one really knows how many died here. Serbs talk of 700,000. Most estimates put the figure nearer 100,000. 
  11. ^ "Deciphering the Balkan Enigma: Using History to Inform Policy" (PDF). Retrieved 3 June 2011. 
  12. ^ "United States Holocaust Memorial Museum about Jasenovac and Independent State of Croatia". Retrieved 3 June 2011. 
  13. ^ Genocide and Resistance in Hitler's Bosnia: The Partisans and the Chetniks, 1941–1943 pp20
  14. ^ Chuck Sudetic (January 3, 1992). "Yugoslav Factions Agree to U.N. Plan to Halt Civil War". The New York Times. Retrieved December 16, 2010. 
  15. ^ Martić verdict, pp. 122-123
    "The Trial Chamber found that the evidence showed that the President of Serbia, Slobodan Milošević, openly supported the preservation of Yugoslavia as a federation of which the SAO Krajina would form a part. However, the evidence established that Slobodan Milošević covertly intended the creation of a Serb state. This state was to be created through the establishment of paramilitary forces and the provocation of incidents in order to create a situation where the JNA could intervene. Initially, the JNA would intervene to separate the parties but subsequently the JNA would intervene to secure the territories envisaged to be part of a future Serb state."
  16. ^ "Final report of the United Nations Commission of Experts established pursuant to security council resolution 780 (1992), Annex IV – The policy of ethnic cleansing; Prepared by: M. Cherif Bassiouni.". United Nations. December 28, 1994. Retrieved March 19, 2011. 
  17. ^ Brown & Karim (1995), p. 120
  18. ^ "Yugoslavia-Croatia ties". The New York Times. 10 September 1996. Retrieved 17 June 2010. 
  19. ^ Balkan Insight7,590 likes · 148 talking about this. "Balkan Insight". Facebook. Retrieved 2013-01-21. 
  20. ^ "Čija je Šarengradska ada?". (in Serbian). Radio Television of Serbia. 7 February 2010. Retrieved 4 January 2013. 
  21. ^ "Slobodna Dalmacija: 29". Retrieved 2010-06-11. 
  22. ^ a b "Yugoslav Daily Survey, 98-08-14". Retrieved 2013-01-21. 
  23. ^ "Yugoslav Daily Survey, 97-12-17". Retrieved 2013-01-21. 
  24. ^ "Najveći odaziv od rušenja Miloševića - mJutarnji". 2008-01-20. Retrieved 2013-01-21. 
  25. ^ a b
  26. ^
  27. ^ "Generalni Konzulat Republike Srbije". Retrieved 2013-01-21. 
  28. ^ (2004-04-29). "VuCafe.Org". VuCafe.Org. Retrieved 2013-01-21. 
  29. ^ "Vesti - Vukovar: Film o nestalim Srbima". B92. Retrieved 2013-01-21. 
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^ "Školica - Teslini dani u Osijeku". Retrieved 2013-01-21. 
  33. ^
  34. ^
  35. ^ CNN - SPORT - Football - Top 10 international rivalries Retrieved November 6, 2008.
  36. ^ Goal - News - Portugal v Spain & the 10 most intense international football rivalries Retrieved June 26, 2012.
  37. ^ Reuters - Soccer - Serbia and Croatia in World Cup stare-down Retrieved July 31, 2011.
  38. ^ Caufght offside - Fifa 2014 World Cup qualifying draw: Some hugely interesting fixtures ahead Retrieved July 30, 2011.
  39. ^ [1] Daily Record: Croatia 2 Serbia 0: Hurricane of hatred blows itself out as Croats breeze by deadly rivals. March 22, 2013
  40. ^ Sportske - Vest - Domaci Fudbal - Bez navijaca u Zagrebu i Beogradu (Without fans in Zagreb and Belgrade) Retrieved July 20, 2012.
  41. ^ "Is this the worst tackle ever? Croatia's Simunic brutally attacks during crunch Serbia qualifier". Retrieved January 6, 2015. 

External links[edit]