BELGRADE – Serbia has sent a letter to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy Johannes Hahn and other senior EU officials, including foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, over what it terms as Croatia’s Nazi-glorifying policy.
Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said that those developments are a serious threat to regional stability.
“We listed what we have faced over the past period, showing factographically what Serbia has had to endure, from monuments being erected in a EU country to prominent convicted terrorists, rehabilitation and overturning of convictions of criminals from WWII and recent wars, to people who have been convicted in Serbia and then sent to Croatia to serve their prison sentences now splashing about in the sea due to alleged illness, rather than being in prison,” Vucic explained.
There are countless things indicating the manner in which a sheer anti-Serb policy is being pursued, in Croatia in particular, Vucic said.
Serbia has not provoked anyone or made a single wrong move, except that it voiced its disapproval and reacted by sending protest notes over those events, he said.
We want the EU officials to say if and what Serbia has done wrong in this context, Vucic said.
The statement comes amid heightened tensions between Serbia and Croatia. On Tuesday, Balkan media outlets reported that the Croatian Foreign Ministry had sent a note of protest to Serbia after critical statements from Belgrade regarding the rehabilitation of Catholic Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac, who had been supported by the Croatian pro-Nazi Ustashas regime during WWII while in the post of the Archbishop of Zagreb.
“In this letter, we only ask to tell where Serbia have made a mistake, what we have done wrong, I am really looking forward to this response. But we will not get a response. And on the other side, there will be fresh statements that we are continuing Milosevic’s policy, and that we are the heirs of the Serbian aggressor,” Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic told reporters.
According to Vucic, Croatia’s policy was glorifying Nazi collaborators, terrorists and the 1990s war criminals.
Earlier in the day, the Croatian Embassy in Belgrade refused to accept two notes of protest issued by the Serbian Foreign Ministry in regard to two separate cases — one of them concerned the decision of the Croatian Supreme Court to revoke former right-wing politician Branimir Glavas’ conviction for committing a war crime against civilians, in particular against Serbians, in the 1990s.
Belgrade also expressed protest over the unveiling of a monument dedicated to Miro Baresic, Croatian ultranationalist independence fighter who assassinated the Yugoslav ambassador to Sweden in 1971.
The Serbian Foreign Ministry demanded on August 1 the removal of the monument to Miro Baresic that was unveiled in the seaside Croatian village of Drage on July 31. Croatian cabinet members and prominent public figures attended the unveiling.
Baresic was a supporter of the Ustasha — the Nazi puppet regime — who campaigned and fought for Croatian independence from Yugoslavia.
He shot Ambassador Vladimir Rolovic in the Yugoslav Embassy in Stockholm and was sentenced in Sweden to life in prison.
But a group of Croatian far rightists hijacked a Scandinavian Airlines plane in 1972 and forced officials to release Baresic. He fled to Paraguay but was eventually recaptured and extradited to Sweden in 1980. In 1991, Baresic was released from prison and returned to Croatia where he was killed while fighting against Serbian-led forces.
Baresic is considered a terrorist in Serbia but a hero among many Croats due to his devotion to Croatian independence.