Foreign ministers Gordan Grlić Radman of Croatia and Ivica Dačić of Serbia on Saturday agreed the steps to be made to prepare their bilateral meeting aimed at reducing the differences in looking at the past and outstanding issues so that as few as possible are left to future generations.
They met in Subotica, northern Serbia on the occasion of a traditional event which Bunjevci Croats have been organising every January since 1879.
"We must work and cooperate in the interest of both countries' citizens because our citizens expect our relations to advance, notably due to the crises around us," said Grlić Radman.
Grlić Radman agreed with Dačić that the two countries have different views, but pointed out that "differences must be reduced if it is in the common interest."
"It is necessary to speak openly and honestly, and nobody can pretend that nothing happened 32 or 33 years ago," the Croatian minister said, stressing that relations are "hampered by certain outstanding issues."
We certainly do not want outstanding issues to burden neither the Croat minority in Vojvodina, nor the Serb minority in Croatia, he said.
As one of the next steps, Grlić Radman announced the arrival of Serbian officials in Zagreb - the head of the Serbian Commission for Missing Persons, Veljko Odalović, and the Minister for European Integration, Tanja Miščević.
Croatia is still searching for 1,816 people who went missing during the 1990s war. Odalović is scheduled to travel to Zagreb on Monday to discuss this issue with his colleagues from the Croatian Veterans' Ministry.
"We both welcomed that step," Grlić Radman said.
It is in Croatia's interest to help and support Serbia on its European path, Grlić Radman said, but also added that certain issues from negotiation chapters 23 and 24 must be resolved first, such as the rule of law, the issue of missing persons and Croatian detainees in camps in Serbia in the early 1990s, the prosecution of war crimes.
"I am confident that after all these meetings we will be able to seriously talk about all topics, not only bilateral ones. It is in the interest of all of us to have peace, stability and security... It is important to talk openly and reduce our differences", Grlić Radman said.