The Serb National Council (SNV) on Thursday organized a traditional reception on the occasion of Christmas according to the Julian calendar, at which "messages of peace, tolerance and mutual respect were sent," Croatian state news agency Hina said.
In his address, SNV president Milorad Pupovac noted that last year, due to the epidemic, people met less.
“That is not so as to restrict freedoms and the need to socialize. Our freedoms and needs are restricted more by increasingly loud policies of seductive words and increasingly deep economic inequalities,” he said, adding that faith in medicine will not lead to the risk of people losing their homes.
He said many in the Banija region in central Croatia lost their homes in the December 2020 earthquakes, and that this led to a loss of villages, towns, and jobs. “Having lost all that, it’s realistic that Banija could become nobody’s house.”
Pupovac said it was necessary to do more to stop emigration and provide the prospect of a better life. “That means we should turn the policy of too many words… into a policy of talks, the policy of private interests into a policy of public assets.”
PM: It’s necessary to reduce nervousness and polarisation
Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said these were challenging times due to global crises, natural disasters and a pandemic, and that they affected each individual and society as a whole.
“In a time of peace we should reduce nervousness and polarization, make a step towards one another, a step of respect, understanding and truth, but we should also look to the future and cooperation.”
Plenković said he would insist on a policy of dialogue, cooperation and respect, the post-earthquake reconstruction of Banija, the search for those gone missing in the 1990s war, the sentencing of those who committed war crimes, the normalization of relations with Serbia, and on respect for the Serb minority.
He called on everyone to contribute to that, “so that, by working together, we can make society better and life in Croatia better for everyone.”
Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandrokovic called for solidarity, mutual respect and unity. “We need more understanding and love, and less hate and intolerance, we need bonding, not division,” he said, adding that it is necessary to build a world of peace and cooperation.
“We must take account of all people, of the fact that peace, democracy and freedom do not come of their own accord but must be fought for,” said Jandrokovic.
The Serbian president’s special envoy Veran Matic said solidarity in misfortunes was genuine and unreserved, from floods to earthquakes. “How is it possible that misfortunes bring us together, while everyday political life distances us?”
Speaking of the search for the war missing, he said it was impossible to make serious progress without unity in the search. “Facing the past together and grieving together pave the way for the normalization of our relations.”
Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomasevic said Zagreb always was and would be home to everyone living in it, regardless of ethnicity or faith.
Among those present at the reception were Deputy Prime Minister Boris Milosevic, Culture Minister Nina Obuljen-Korzinek, Foreign Minister Gordan Grlic-Radman, MPs and embassy representatives.
The patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Porfirije, wished believers a happy Christmas, saying that the message of Christmas was peace among people, giving space to others and those who are different, and that diversity was a gift from God.