Written by Mladen Pupavac and Vanessa Pupavac.
Back in the late 1990s, we think it was 1997, we were asked by a Serbian policeman what we were doing when we were taking a photo of the newly opened Croatian embassy in Belgrade. The Serbian authorities were very nervous and concerned to protect the Croatian embassy from any incidents because of the recent war which might jeopardise the uneasy peace.
We recall this incident now because of Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson’s call on British citizens to demonstrate outside the Russian embassy. It is one thing for us to demonstrate outside any embassy, it is another for a government minister to call on its citizens to demonstrate against another. We should expect our government to uphold our freedom to demonstrate. But we should also expect our government to uphold the diplomatic international relations between states and the protection of embassies as the representatives of other nation states – just as other governments should do towards our embassies and other foreign embassies. It is a system based on mutual recognition that whatever our current disputes or conflicts, we ultimately recognise each other as fellow nations with mutual interests in peaceful relations.