In a move that has sparked controversy and strained relations between Croatia and Serbia, the first secretary of the Croatian embassy in Serbia, Hrvoje Šnajder, has been expelled from the country for espionage. The Serbian Ministry of Foreign Affairs made the announcement on Monday, November 20, 2023, stating that the decision was made in accordance with Article 9 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.
The Vienna Convention allows receiving states to declare a member of diplomatic staff persona non grata at any time without obligation to explain their decision. However, little information has been released regarding the reasons behind Šnajder’s expulsion. According to pro-government Večernje Novosti, evidence of espionage and recruitment to work for Croatian intelligence services led to the decision.
The Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs (MVEP) of Croatia expressed regret over Šnajder’s expulsion and emphasized that it represents a step towards further destabilization of sensitive regional political and security conditions in Southeast Europe. They also stated that they reserve the right to respond to Serbia’s decision “at the time and in the manner it chooses.”
This incident has caused tensions between Croatia and Serbia to rise even further, adding to an already volatile situation in the region. It remains to be seen what impact this decision will have on future relations between these two neighboring countries.