Croatia and Serbia Again Argue about Cardinal Stepinac

Total Croatia News

A cardinal who died more than half a century ago is the reason for new tensions between Croatia and Serbia.

Croatian Foreign Minister Davor Ivo Stier sharply criticized on Saturday Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dačić for his recent statement that Croatian Cardinal Alozije Stepinac was a war criminal. Stier also rejected Dačić’s proposal for a bilateral meeting, reports on February 12, 2017.

“The attack on Cardinal Stepinac from Dačić was an attack in the manner of a communist apparatchik, similar to the persecution of Cardinal Stepinac with was launched by Yugoslav communist government”, said Stier to reporters. “Unfortunately, these lies are being repeated continuously. I am sorry that some Croats are involved in that. Last year, former President Stjepan Mesić repeated the lies in Serbian media”, he added.

“As for Dačić, state secretary at the Foreign Ministry Pejčinović yesterday summoned the Serbian Ambassador, presented our position, and put forward a strong protest. We have also rejected Dačić’s request for a bilateral meeting”, said Stier.

Serbian Foreign Minister Dačić said on Thursday that it was deplorable to unveil a monument to Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac in Osijek, calling him a war criminal and describing the monument as a clear message to Serbs that crimes against them were allowed to go unpunished. “It is sad what is happening in Croatia, which is confirmed by the fact that on the occasion of the unveiling of a monument to Stepinac, a war criminal from the time of the fascist Ustasha Independent State of Croatia, the sharpest criticism came due to the fact that it is located near a parking lot”, said Dačić in a statement.

He described the monument to Stepinac as “an indicator that in Croatia there is an atmosphere in which anti-Serb policies, justifying crimes against Serbs, and rehabilitation of the Independent State of Croatia, is something usual”.

“This sends a clear message to Serbs that crimes against them will be unpunished”, said Dačić, and asked why the European Union did not respond. “Why is the European Union silent about the rehabilitation of fascism and war crimes? Does silence mean approval? Or will someone from the European Union prove me wrong.”

The monument to Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac was unveiled on Thursday in Osijek, on the eve of the 57th anniversary of his death. Alojzije Stepinac was the Archbishop of Zagreb from 1937 to 1960. While the Serbian authorities claim that during the Second World War he cooperated with the Ustasha regime in the Independent State of Croatia, many Croats consider him to be a saint who helped those who were persecuted at the time. After the Second World War, Stepinac was imprisoned by the ruling communist regime. Pope Francis has established a special commission of Croatian Catholic and Serbian Orthodox officials who are investigating his case. In Croatia, it is widely expected that Cardinal Stepinac will eventually be canonized.


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