Croatia PM cancels Serbia visit over release of war crimes suspect

Zoran Milanovic calls off Belgrade trip after UN tribunal frees Vojislav Seselj

Croatia's prime minster has cancelled a trip to Serbia after a UN tribunal released a Serbian nationalist on trial for alleged war crimes.

Zoran Milanovic was due to visit Belgrade on December 16th for a gathering of leaders from central and eastern Europe and China.

The Hague-based UN war crimes tribunal released Vojislav Seselj on grounds of ill health before reaching a verdict in his trial for atrocities committed in Croatia and Bosnia during the break-up of the former Yugoslavia.

Mr Seselj, who suffers from cancer, was freed after almost 12 years in detention.


After returning to Serbia in November 12th, Seselj was hailed as a hero at a rally of some 5, 000 supporters.

He previously said he still believed in the "Greater Serbia" idealogy that fuelled the wars in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo two decades ago.

His release, and the muted reaction from Belgrade officials , has angered Croatia, which fought a war of independence with its rebel minority Serbs from 1991 to 1995.

“The prime minister has cancelled [his trip] and it’s to do with Seselj,” a government spokesman said.

Croatian foreign minister Vesna Pusic said on Wednesday that Seselj's "wild outbursts" were setting back relations in the region.

She said she would ask leaders from the European Union to demand Serbian authorities distance themselves from Seselj's statements.