The decision by Croatian authorities to declare Serbian Defence Minister Aleksandar Vulin “persona non grata” was not the first decision by the Croatian authorities in recent decades to declare certain foreigners unwanted on the territory of Croatia, reports Jutarnji List on April 23, 2018.
Vulin was banned from entering Croatia after a statement that the decision on whether he would visit Croatia to attend a commemoration for the victims of the Jasenovac concentration camp would be made solely by the supreme commander of the Serbian Army, President Aleksandar Vučić, and not by Croatian ministers. Vulin was supposed to come to Mlaka near Jasenovac, where Serbian Orthodox Patriarch Irinej consecrated the renewed church of the Prophet Elijah.
A state can name as “persona non grata” diplomats from other nations, foreign politicians, but also foreigners of various professions for whom the government believes that they have endangered the reputation of the country or are dangerous or detrimental to it interests.
According to available sources, Vulin is the third foreign national who was banned from entering Croatia in the last 27 years, not counting foreign diplomats officially accredited to Croatia.
The first person who was not accredited as a diplomat in Croatia and was declared unwelcome was Swedish politician and former Prime Minister Carl Bildt. At a time when he was banned from entering Croatia, Bildt was the EU peace mediator for the territory of the former Yugoslavia.
The ban was provoked by Bildt’s public comment immediately after the operation Storm in 1995, when he stated that Croatian President Franjo Tuđman was responsible for war crimes against the Serbian population during the operation in the same way that the head of the so-called Republic of Serbian Krajina Mile Martić was responsible for war crimes committed against Croats. “I do not want to see him in Croatia ever again,” allegedly said President Tuđman at the time.
More than twenty years later, in March 2016, the government led by Tihomir Orešković declared notorious Serbian war criminal Vojislav Šešelj as persona non grata. The reason was Šešelj’s statement, given shortly after the first-instance ruling of the Hague Tribunal when he was cleared of responsibility for war crimes. “My dear Kolinda, get ready, I will soon come to an official visit to you,” wrote Šešelj on social networks, referring vulgarly to Croatian President Kolinda Grabar Kitarović. The acquittal was later overturned.
Situations in which states demand an expulsion of diplomats accredited to their territory occur more often. While some such decisions are publicly announced, others are done in silence and without publicity. For example, during the 1990s, one diplomat from the US embassy had to leave Croatia after he caused a traffic accident in Zagreb.
Last month’s expulsion of a Russian diplomat from Zagreb, in protest about still unclear circumstances of the attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter is the United Kingdom, reportedly was not the first time that a Russian diplomat was expelled from Croatia.
Also, in the late 1990s, the Croatian authorities demanded a significant reduction in the number of diplomats accredited at the Iranian embassy in Zagreb. The Iranians had much more diplomats in Zagreb than was thought appropriate given the size and importance of Croatia.
Translated from Jutarnji List (reported by Slavica Lukić).
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