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Separate Commemorations for Victims of Jasenovac Concentration Camp

Croatia has also been the target of spying allegations made by Slovenia in the wake of failed border agreement in the Adriatic Sea.

15 April 2019

For the fourth year in a row in Croatia, representatives of anti-fascist groups and Serb, Roma, and Jewish minorities have boycotted official commemorations of the victims of the World War II Jasenovac concentration camp, Balkan Insight reports. The celebration marks an attempted breakout by prisoners on 22 April 1945, before the Croatian fascist Ustashe movement liquidated the camp. 

 

After Germany invaded Yugoslavia in 1941, the Nazis established a puppet Croatian state and handed power over to the ultranationalist Ustashe organization, which were in control of the country until 1945. The “Za dom spremni” (Ready for the Homeland) salute originated during that time among elite military units of the Ustasha regime. Last year, a historical commission said that the Balkan nation should punish any form of glorification of fascist regimes, but still allow the salute for commemorations of victims who died in the 1991-1995 Balkan wars.

 

“While the Ustasa salute is not removed from public use, there will be no common commemoration at the Jasenovac memorial area,” Croatian Jewish community leader Ognjen Kraus said during an event on 12 April according to Balkan Insight.

 

The official commemorations took place yesterday, with Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic laying flowers at the camp on Saturday, Total Croatia News reports, as has been her custom in recent years.

 

Monument in the Jasenovac memorial park. Image by Modzzak/Wikimedia Commons.

 

Last month, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic reached out to Croatia’s Alliance of Anti-Fascist Fighters, the Jewish community, Serbs, and Roma and invited them to commemorate the victims together with state officials.

 

However, Kraus told media at the time, as cited by Balkan Insight, that “nothing has changed in a year, nothing new has happened” in terms of the official view of World War II history that would warrant their participation at the state-backed commemoration.

 

 

  • Croatian officials have also been embroiled in a scandal involving spying allegations coming from Slovenia, according to EURACTIV. Ljubljana recalled its ambassador to Zagreb last week after allegations surfaced that Croatia’s intelligence service had wiretapped conversations between Slovenian officials and attempted to interfere with Slovenian media to cover that up, in connection with an arbitration dispute concerning the Bay of Piran.
  •  

  • The dispute over maritime rights in the Bay of Piran at the northern tip of the Adriatic looked to have been resolved when the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague two years ago granted Slovenia a corridor through Croatian waters. Zagreb refuses to abide by the decision, EurActiv writes, arguing that Slovenia meddled with the arbitration process.
  •  

  • After Slovenia’s independent POP TV broke the story about alleged spying, there was no official reaction from Croatia, or from international bodies. European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas told Slovenian reporters, as cited by Total Croatia News, that the EC did not wish to comment on the matter, which was a bilateral one.
Compiled by Ioana Caloianu
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