ZAGREB, January 29, 2018 – Serbia’s Prime Minister Ana Brnabić on Monday said that she did not see any reason for Croatia’s protest note regarding an exhibition on the WWII Jasenovac concentration camp at UN headquarters and called for defusing the situation, underscoring that Croatia should have supported the exhibition in order to point to horrific WWII crimes.
“I’m sorry, I don’t see any reason for the protest note. I think that Croatia should have supported an exhibition such as this one to commemorate the horrific things that occurred during WWII so that they never happen again,” Brnabić told reporters. She said that it was “terrible” that the matter was being debated and at the international level at that, insisting that Serbia has the right and obligation to point out the victims of the Jasenovac camp.
Brnabic suggested that Croatia should have done so of its own accord or together with Serbia, Israel and Roma organisations.
“Croatia was not interested at all in jointly organising this exhibition. I don’t think that there are Croatian numbers or Serbian numbers, there are only internationally recognised numbers. Had just 1 or 10 people been killed by the NDH (Independent State of Croatia) regime in that camp, it would be sufficient reason to stage an exhibition and commemorate the victims,” Brnabić said.
“I don’t understand why we are debating the issue of the camp. Croatia should have been the first to organise such an exhibition,” she said and agreed with Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vučić that Croatia’s protest note could be considered in the same way as if Germany had sent a protest note to the Jews for commemorating the Holocaust.
She added that Serbian-Croatian relations “are always complex” and that she would like that it wasn’t so for the sake of regional stability, as well as that Serbia would endeavour to “have the best possible relations” with Croatia.
The exhibition on the Jasenovac concentration camp was opened on January 25 by Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dačić. The exhibition has sparked controversies, with Croatian officials saying that it “manipulates the victims for daily political and propaganda purposes” and that exhibitions of that kind should not be organised the way Serbia had done it.
The UN distanced itself from the content of the exhibition. The UN has said that the content of the exhibition is the organisers’ responsibility and that its staging on UN premises does not imply acceptance by the UN.
In its protest note, which referred to Dačić’s opening remarks indirectly accusing Croatia of rehabilitating the Ustasha ideology, the Croatian Foreign and European Affairs Ministry said Dačić’s statements were untrue and insulting. “Minister Dačić’s statements at the UN show that Serbia is continuing to abuse and manipulate the Jasenovac victims for daily political purposes,” the Croatian Ministry said in a press release.