AFVN

NON-PAPER (Embassy of the Republic of Serbia in the Netherlands)

- A number of steps taken by the official authorities of the Republic of Croatia, mirroring the revisionist policy aiming at rehabilitating the fascist entity called the "Independent State of Croatia" (NDH) and crimes committed against the Serbian population during the conflict of the 1990s, give rise to grave concern in the Republic of Serbia. The policy pursued by modern-day Croatia has also led to an increased number of ethnically motivated incidents targeting members of the Serbian people, and aiming to create an atmosphere that it is permissible to commit crimes against the Serbs and go unpunished.

- The Independent State of Croatia was a Quisling state entity, which came into being in a part of the occupied Kingdom of Yugoslavia's territory and which existed, with the help of Hitler's Germany, under the leadership of the Ustasha regime, between 1941 and 1945. It is remembered in history for the atrocities perpetrated against the Serbs, Jews, Roma and the politically non-likeminded people opposing the implementation of the ideology aimed at creating an ethnically cleansed Croatian state. The NDH manifesto, drawn up by Mile Budak, the selfsame person after whom many streets across today's Croatia have been named, called to cleanse Croatia of Serbs, by killing one third, expelling the other third, and converting and assimilating the remaining third. Concentration camps were set up in the NDH territory, the most notorious among them being Jasenovac, whose monstrosities were even witnessed by Hitler's envoy to Zagreb, who described Ustasha-run concentration camps as the "gist of horror". The Yugoslav State Committee estimated in 1946 that the Jasenovac death figures varied from 500,000 to 600,000 people mostly Serbs.

- There are many instances of improper acts done by Croatian authorities, acts unprecedented in the history of modern Europe that have inspired distress among both the citizens of the Republic of Serbia and the members of the Serbian people who are citizens of the Republic of Croatia:

* The verdict of guilty, passed on Archbishop Aloysius Stepinac, was abolished of 22nd July 2016. Stepinac was sentenced, by the Supreme Court of Croatia, to sixteen years in prison in 1946, on charges of collaboration with the Utasha pro-fascist regime and forced religious conversion of the Serbian population. This decision, deemed "morally outrageous and an insult to Ustasha victims" by the Director of the Jerusalem-based "Simon Wiesenthal Centre" Efraim Zuroff, as well as the public appearances and statements by the Government of the Republic of Croatia and Croatian state authorities, are evidently not in favour of reconciliation and do not help the stabilization of regional situation, and they contravene the fundamental achievements of our civilization, on which the UN and the EU are founded;
* The ruling pronounced by the Supreme Court of Croatia on July 2016, abolishing the first-instance decision whereby Branimir Glavas and others had been found guilty of the war crime against the civilian population, specifically against the Serbian civilians in Osijek, including the case's referral back to the first-instance court for a retrial, are inexplicable from both the legal and the moral point of view. Incidentally, that was one of the few verdicts of guilty passed by the Croatian judiciary on an individual among the Croatian public officials, finding them guilty of war crimes against the Serbs;
* At a time when humanity is uniting efforts in combating terrorism, the major scourge of the modern-day world, its glorification is epitomized by the unveiling of a monument to Miro Barisic (Drage, 30 July 2016), a terrorist who had been finally convicted of a perfidious murder of the Yugoslav Ambassador to Sweden Vladimir Rolovic, in 1971. The monument was unveiled in the presence of two Ministers of the Croatian Government which failed to distance itself from this undignified gesture unworthy of the 21st century Europe and thus make clear that it does not support terrorism whoever its instigators or victims may be;
* Numerous cases of the Croatian authorities failing to act on or the Croatian officials' lack of response to and public condemnation of ethnically motivated incidents occurring throughout the territory of the Republic of Croatia have considerably contributed to the escalation of hate speech and anti-Serb sentiment as well as to an increased frequency of incidents against Serbs as the most numerous national minority in the Republic of Croatia. The atmosphere of impunity for crimes against Serbs and violation of their rights can only be overcome through Croatian authorities' prompt reactions. This also implies an adequate prosecution of the perpetrators behind the incidents. Particular concern is raised over the tolerance of persons continuously promoting in public the Ustasha salute "For homeland ready" ("Za dom spremni"), as a result of which graffiti and writings featuring swastikas and Ustasha symbols are being drawn, including even on Serbian Orthodox temples and monuments dedicated to antifascists killed in the Second World War. Furthermore, another source of concern are incidents on the occasion of marking the "Operation Storm" of August 1995 glorifying the ethnic cleansing of over 200,000 Serbs, accompanied by Ustasha slogans and songs of Croatian singer Marko Perkovic Tompson, which glorify Ustashism and issue threats to Serbs. Sadly, there are many similar examples of chauvinist outbursts that the governing structures in Croatia fail to prevent or condemn, but actively contribute to instead. These include the lining up of persons in black uniforms saluting Nazi-style, thus glorifying the NDH, at the central square in Zagreb, on 28 February 2016, as well as allowing the rampage of NDH supporters on 27 July, during the event marking the 75th anniversary of the anti-fascist uprising in the town of Srb, in a manner reminiscent to the one seen on every 21st June over the past three years during the Jadovno Remembrance Days commemorations - the site where tens of thousands Serbs and Jews were thrown into pits in early 1941.

- The Republic of Serbia remains truly committed to a common future in Europe, the promotion of regional cooperation and to good-neighbourly relations with Croatia, based on the respect for the anti-fascist heritage built into the foundations underlying both the EU project and the modern-day civilization. The Republic of Serbia expects the international community to strongly condemn the activities and phenomena leading to the glorification and rehabilitation of Nazism and Fascism in any part of the world, with no exception to the current occurrences in the Republic of Croatia. Furthermore, we expect the condemnation of the escalation of ethnically motivated incidents against persons belonging to the Serbian Community as well as of acts endangering the security and rights of Serbs being committed with impunity, calling on the Croatian authorities to take steps aiming to put an end to these worrying trends, fully adhering to the principles of the rule of law and of legal state, in line with values and standards of the EU, of which Croatia is a Member State. Incompatibility of the values and principles, underlying the international order established after the Second World War, with the occurrences and practices celebrating terrorists, war criminals and fascists as national heroes is more than obvious, which the international community must not remain silent to.

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