BELGRADE – Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said today that the exhibition and conference of Aloysius Stepinac in the European Parliament is an attempt to remove responsibility from the Croatian cardinal and rehabilitate the Ustasha movement.

Dacic said that the exhibition and conference “Croatian saint Cardinal Stepinac” are not “a step towards reconciliation nor to the truth, but only deepen divisions,” conveyed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Serbia.

“It is incomprehensible that the EU opens in its center exhibition about someone who participated in the pogrom of thousands of Serbs, Jews and other non-Croat population and who was sentenced in his country to 16 years in prison and deprivation of all civil rights for a period of three years,” said Dacic.

According to him, we are witnesses that the world today faces “with an attempt of revision of history and relativization of victories and defeats, crimes and punishments”.

“Serbia, as a victim of such efforts at the international level, has an obligation to fight against the revision of history and relativizaion of historical facts,” said Dacic.

Serbian Ministry of Labour will address the European Parliament and strongly protest about the exhibition dedicated to the Archbishop of Zagreb during World War II, Cardinal Aloysius Stepinac, and seek to provide the space to show the truth about the victims of the Ustasha regime, said today the relevant Minister in the Technical Government Aleksandar Vulin.

“It is shocking that an attempt is made in a European institution to rehabilitate convicted war criminal. Aloysius Stepinac was convicted by the competent court for war crimes and I can not imagine that any of the other convicted by the court for war crimes could get a space for rehabilitation in some European institution,” Vulin told reporters at the Foundation of the Monastery Hilandar in Belgrade.

He said that this is a terrible insult to all the victims of the Ustasha regime.

“If there is room for rehabilitation of the Ustasha vicar, I wonder where victims of the Ustasha army belong to. Where the victims of the Ustasha state belong to? If there is room for an attempt of rehabilitation of the vicar of the Ustasha army, then there has to be room for the truth about the victims of the Ustasha regime,” said Vulin.

The exhibition about Aloysius Stepinac was organized by Marijana Petir, an MP of the Croatian Peasant Party, in cooperation with the Croatian Catholic University, Office of Cultural Goods of the Zagreb Archdiocese and the Working Group of EPP for intercultural and religious dialogue.

Aloysius Viktor Stepinac was the Croatian Catholic Archbishop of Zagreb from 1937 until his death in 1960, including the genocidal rule of the Ustaše over the Axis puppet state the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) from 1941 to 1945 during World War II. He was tried by the communist Yugoslav government after the war and convicted of treason and collaboration with the Ustaše regime.

During World War II, on 6 April 1941, Yugoslavia was invaded by Nazi Germany, who established the Ustaše-led NDH. As archbishop of the puppet state’s capital, Stepinac had close associations with the Ustaše leaders during the Nazi occupation, issued proclamations celebrating the NDH, and welcomed the Ustaše leaders.

In 1998 he was declared a martyr and beatified by Pope John Paul II. His record during World War II and his subsequent martyrdom and beatification remain controversial.