Jewish Leader Accuses Foreign Ministry of Dissuading Ambassadors from Going to Jasenovac

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, April 12, 2019 – The head of the Coordinating Committee of Jewish Communities in Croatia, Ognjen Kraus, on Friday accused “high-level officials at the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs” of having phoned ambassadors to Croatia to talk them out of going to the commemoration held today at the site of the Jasenovac World War II concentration camp by ethnic minority groups and antifascist organisations which boycotted the official state commemoration for the fourth consecutive year.

“It happens even that high-level officials at the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs called ambassadors not to attend our commemoration,” Kraus told reporters after the commemoration for the victims of the Ustasha-run concentration camp.

He confirmed that he stood by these grave accusations because “he was informed of that,” however, he would not say who they referred to because he “could be sued.”

Despite the alleged phone calls not to attend the commemoration, representatives of foreign embassies did attend. The ambassadors of Israel, the Netherlands, Spain, Great Britain, Serbia, Slovenia, Germany, France and Australia and the Council of Europe’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović, attended the commemoration.

“I think that the number of people who came to Jasenovac today should make us ask ourselves if we are pursuing the policy that needs to be pursued,” Kraus said.

Serb National Council president Milorad Pupovac confirmed that he had heard of the alleged calls to ambassadors not to attend the unofficial commemoration.

“I heard that that had occurred and if that did indeed occur and was done by representatives of state authorities, it does them no credit and shows how deeply they misunderstand the meaning of this gathering and what their job is,” Pupovac said.

“We didn’t gather here to cause harm to our country and to celebrate this disgrace. We gathered here so we can free our country of those who spread that disgrace and cause harm to Croatia,” Pupovac said.

Kraus warned Croatian authorities that historical revisionism in Croatia is continuing and that, because of the inaction of state institutions, the extreme right is becoming increasingly aggressive, calling on the authorities to stop that and respect Croatian laws.

Kraus said the associations of the descendants of the victims of the criminal NDH (1941-45 Independent State of Croatia) were alone at the commemoration for the fourth year and that they would not attend official commemorations “until the salute ‘For the homeland ready’ is outlawed.”

Addressing the surviving inmates as well as families, guests, ambassadors and Council of Europe human rights commissioner Dunja Mijatović, Kraus said the situation had deteriorated over the past year.

“Two days ago, an Ustasha party was held in Split on the occasion of April 10, the anniversary of the HOS unit Rafael Vitez Boban and the NDH, with all the honours and the presence of the HDZ-led town government as well as police protection. On the same occasion, an MP published a letter which ended with the familiar salute ‘For the homeland ready.’ There’s been no response,” Kraus said.

“Until when, police minister? Mr prime minister? Are we here to file complaints at the prosecutor’s office based on Croatian laws?”

He told the authorities they “probably would have been in Jasenovac together” this Sunday for the official commemoration had they made the same effort with the associations commemorating the victims today as they had concerning the commemoration for the Bleiburg victims.

Kraus said the organisers of today’s commemoration had never equated the Croatian people with the NDH, Ustashism and genocide, but that they would never accept the equation of the victims of Jasenovac, Bleiburg, Tezno and Macelj.

“The Ustasha army, which did not surrender on May 9, when the Third Reich capitulated, was killed there. Other Quisling armies of the then Kingdom of Yugoslavia were killed at those places too, the Chetniks, White Guards and other such units. Nobody talks about that and nobody commemorates those victims,” Kraus said, adding that “only Croatian victims are talked about.”

“Only one thing should be done, respect and enforce Croatia’s constitution and laws, which you don’t abide by, but you will respect and abide by Austrian laws,” he told Croatian authorities, referring to the Bleiburg victims commemoration to be held in Austria next month. He told politicians, MPs, government members and the president that their actions should speak louder than words.

“It’s time to look each other in the eye and if we agree, as you yourselves say, that the NDH was a shameful and criminal entity, the display of its symbols should be banned and any attempt at its revision prevented. Let it be clear that it was a state with racial laws which had on its territory concentration camps where people were killed under those laws because they were of different faith, ethnicity or political affiliation, that both the Holocaust and the Samudaripen happened here, in Croatia, not somewhere else. And that those who negate that must suffer the consequences. Let’s look up to Germany, at how it resolved this and how it applies adopted laws,” said Kraus.

He recalled that according to data established by March 2014, 83,145 people were killed at Jasenovac, and said he expected Croatia to be a country where the constitution and laws were respected and enforced.

“We expect our homeland to be a modern European country and not to be ashamed of the country we live in,” Kraus said on behalf of the associations which organised the commemoration which drew thousands of people: the SABA alliance of antifascist fighters and antifascists of Croatia, the Coordinating Committee of Jewish Communities in Croatia, the Serb National Council and the Kali Sara Croatian Roma Alliance.

More news about historical revisionism in Croatia can be found in the Politics section.


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