The first secretary of the Croatian embassy in Serbia, Hrvoje Šnajder, has been expelled from the country for espionage. According to the pro-government Večernje Novosti, the Serbian Ministry of Foreign Affairs made this decision on Monday, November 20, 2023. The Vienna Convention was cited as the reason behind Šnajder’s expulsion, stating that the receiving state may declare a member of the diplomatic staff persona non grata at any time and without obligation to explain its decision.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Serbia did not provide any further details about why Šnajder was expelled. However, Večernje Novosti reported that there was evidence of espionage and recruitment to work for Croatian services. This led to his declaration as persona non grata because it was determined that he had violated the Vienna Convention.
Croatia’s Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs (MVEP) expressed regret over Šnajder’s expulsion and stated that it represents a step towards deterioration of mutual relations and further destabilization of sensitive regional political and security conditions in Southeast Europe. The MVEP emphasized that this decision added extra pressure on employees of Croatian embassy in Belgrade during pre-election period in Serbia.
The MVEP also reserved the right to respond to Serbia’s decision “at the time and manner it chooses.” Overall, this situation has resulted in strained relations between Croatia and Serbia.