ZAGREB, January 29, 2018 – Following Croatia’s protest note expressing dissatisfaction with Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dačić’s statement at the opening of an exhibition on the Jasenovac WWII concentration camp at the UN on January 25, Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vučić said on Sunday that historical truths were “absolutely clear”, whereas Dačić himself said that he was outraged by “hypocrisy and impertinence” of Croatia.
Earlier on Sunday, Croatian Foreign Ministry said that Dačić’s statements at the ceremony of the opening of the exhibition in which he indirectly accused Croatia of rehabilitating the Ustasha ideology were untrue and insulting, begging the question if Serbia is indeed interested in building good neighbourly relations,
“Minister Dačić’s statements at the UN showed that Serbia is continuing to abuse and manipulate the Jasenovac victims for current political purposes,” the Croatian Foreign Ministry said in a press release. “Such untrue and insulting statements referring to Croatia and its officials bring into doubt the sincerity of Serbia’s declarative statements about its wish for reconciliation and for building good neighbourly relations,” the Ministry said.
The protest note prompted Vučić to tell the commercial Pink TV brodacaster that historical truths about that concentration camp were “absolitely clear”, and added that the protest note from Zagreb to Belgrade was as if Germany could send a protest to the Jews for commemorating the Holocaust Remembrance Day.
The exhibition on the World War II concentration camp Jasenovac, staged by Serbia at the U.N. headquarters in New York had already sparked controversies with Croatian officials saying 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 Jasenovac exhibition at the U.N. was organised by the GH7 group of historians from seven countries, headed by Israeli professor Gideon Greif, an expert on the concentration camps Auschwitz, Majdanek, Jasenovac and the Sonderkommand.
The UN, however, 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.
Asked if Croatian institutions could have known about the exhibition and if they could have prevented it, Croatian Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković said on Friday that the institutions did react and that the Foreign Ministry made its position clear on Thursday, as well as that the U.N. itself had distanced itself from the exhibition’s content.
Foreign Minsiter Marija Pejčinović Burić said that the Holocaust was the most shameless and ugliest episode in human history and that in that context one should remember the most important principles of conduct regarding the commemoration of the Holocaust and its victims.
“The Holocaust and all its victims deserve deepest respect, dignity and truthfulness,” she said. She questioned the purpose of the exhibition in terms of how it was organised, without the involvement of the only public institutions that was the most competent on the matter, the Jasenovac Memorial Centre.
“That is not the way to stage such exhibitions and commemorate the Jasenovac Holocaust victims. I believe that it is not good for such events to be organised at the U.N. where exhibits about something that happened in the territory of one member-country are usually not organised without the consent and participation of the country concerned,” said Pejčinović Burić.
She noted that the fact that some elements of the exhibition had to be removed at Croatia’s urging proved the grossest falsifications in it and that a part of the exhibition indeed was not in the service of commemorating the Holocaust and its victims.