Serb National Council in Croatia Celebrates Christmas

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ZAGREB, January 6, 2019 – The Serb National Council (SNV) gave a reception on Sunday on the occasion of Orthodox Christmas at which SNV president Milorad Pupovac said it was necessary to pull out of the quagmire of Serbian-Croatian historical topics and that they gathered today with one goal – the good of the Serb community in Croatia, the good of Croatia and for the best possible relations between Croatia and its neighbours.

“For the good of the Orthodox, Catholic and all faithful with whom we live in our country. Peace from God, Christ is born!”

Pupovac said 2018 was “a year of noise in the communication channels with our neighbouring countries” and that it was necessary to do more this year, not just in the exercise of Serbs’ rights in Croatia, but also in the advancement of inter-ethnic relations and tolerance.

“We must also do everything in our power to take the relations between Croatia and Serbia, but also Bosnia and Herzegovina and our other neighbours, out of the period of bad decisions because they, it’s clear to see, don’t benefit anyone, while harming everyone. This year we will dedicate ourselves to that. Both we deputies and Serb institutions in Croatia. We believe that in our government and the governments of the neighbouring countries, we will encounter not just open interlocutors, but serious and committed partners,” said Pupovac.

“We will also be dedicated to pulling ourselves out of the quagmire of our Serbian-Croatian, and on this day, I will say Catholic-Orthodox, historical topics. We must not underestimate any one of them, nothing of that, nor look on them with contempt or run away from them, not those related to the experience of the joint state, not those related to World War II and NDH (Independent State of Croatia), not the issue of the tragic break-up of the joint state in war.”

Pupovac said the danger to the future of “each of us, each of our peoples” should be underestimated even less “if we continue to interpret moving in the quicksand of our past as progress.”

“Yes to re-examining the past, but no to renewing historical evil or celebrating it,” he added.

The support which members of the Serb ethnic minority give the parliamentary majority and the government is no small thing considering Croatian-Serbian relations in the 20th century, and through this support they are genuine political and social stakeholders who take part in the regulation of all issues pertaining to minority rights, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Sunday at a Serb National Council reception for Orthodox Christmas.

Christmas “is an opportunity to strengthen faith in peace, solidarity and tolerance as well as unity in the resolution of issues that are important to all our fellow citizens,” he said. “Faith in a better tomorrow unites our citizens regardless of ethnicity or religion, and Christmastime is another opportunity for strengthening cooperation and respect.”

Understanding and tolerance are the foundations of Croatian society and the government’s activity, Plenković said, adding that he was especially pleased that for the third year in a row the government had the support and confidence of all ethnic minority MPs, including Serbs, who “are directly participating in the adoption of public policies.”

“That’s no small thing because we all know well that the history of Croatian-Serbian relations in the 20st century was fraught and not simple,” Plenković said, adding that those relations are directly affected by the quality of Zagreb-Belgrade relations. “Just as the lasting reconciliation between France and Germany didn’t happen overnight, it will take more time for the still fresh wounds in the relations between Croatia and Serbia to heal.”

He said the issue of persons gone missing in the 1990s war was especially painful and a burden to those relations. “Failure to resolve this issue is markedly slowing down the reconciliation process because it keeps us in the past and prevents us from turning to building a future.”

Plenković said returns were another issue which should be completed in all directions. “There’s also the question of truth, because without truth there’s no dealing with the past, without truth there’s no reconciliation, there’s no building a common future,” he said, adding that “Croatian society needs reconciliation, tolerance, mutual respect.”

He said minorities should support the parliamentary majority and be a part of it because it was the only way they could help the government and the parliamentary majority regulate even better the legal, material, financial and institutional issues related to minority rights.

That’s the path we will continue on and it’s the path which can give Serbs in Croatia a good status, the exercise of their rights and their place in our society, which we should build together as a society and a state in which trust is built together, civil rights are respected and minorities’ particularities and identity which make society richer are acknowledged, Plenković said.

Christmas should be the foundation of understanding and mutual respect of all Christian believers in Croatia, he added. “Because faith and hope in a better and more just tomorrow for our families and all of Croatian society are common to us all. So let this Christmas be an incentive to all Christian believers for dialogue, cooperation and the building of a society based on tolerance and trust.”

More news on the Serbs in Croatia can be found in our Politics section.


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