MOSCOW, November 22. /TASS/. Moscow is concerned about the creation of the Croatian government’s working group on cooperation with Ukraine, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.
"We took note of reports on setting up a working group on cooperation with Ukraine at the Croatian government. Its objectives are to include work to transfer Croatia’s experience of ‘peaceful reintegration of occupied territories’ allegedly applicable to Donetsk and Lugansk to Kiev," the ministry said.
"The move officially confirmed by Croatia’s Prime Minister, Andrej Plenkovic, during his visit to Kiev on November 21 is a matter of serious concern," the Russian Foreign Ministry said. "The new parallel structure will, at the very least, distract the attention of the authorities in Kiev from the work on the comprehensive compliance with its obligations under the Minsk accords that has stalled recently. The latter - and this has been confirmed on numerous occasions in the "Normandy format"- are the basis for resolving the internal Ukrainian crisis that has no alternative. Efforts of all responsible representatives of the international community should be focused on the implementation of the Minsk Package of Measures."
According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, Zagreb’s intention to share its own "know-how" in peacemaking with Kiev triggers numerous questions as well, "all the more so because it came amid the agreements to step up the Croatian-Ukrainian military-technical cooperation." "It is well known that the 1995 Flash and Storm large-scale military operations ended with the forced exodus of about 250,000 Serbs from Croatia who lived there permanently," the ministry stressed. "We are confident that recommendations by foreign ‘advisers,’ which can create a dangerous illusion that a war scenario in Donbass is possible, will in no way contribute to strengthening security in southeastern Ukraine."
"Meanwhile, making mention of the Crimean issue in the agenda of the Croatian working group is completely absurd," the Russian Foreign Ministry stressed. "We would like to recall once again that the reunification of the Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol with the Russian Federation was based on the free and legitimate expression of will by Crimea residents. This issue is closed. We are urging Zagreb to tackle deep-rooted internal problems related to the rights of Serbs and other ethnic minorities in Croatia more actively instead of indulging in futile speculations."
On November 21, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said following meeting with Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko that a working group to support Ukraine, which comprises high-ranking representatives of Croatian ministries and agencies, had been set up in that country under his instructions.