Croatian Foreign Minister In Israel Proposes Restitution Foundation

Jeruzalem, 30.5.2016. Croatian Foreign Minister Miro Kovac at the Israel Council on Foreign Relations Photo HINA/ MVEP/ ua

Jerusalem, 30.5.2016.
Croatian Foreign Minister
Miro Kovac at the
Israel Council on Foreign Relations
Photo HINA/ MVEP/ ua


During his visit to Israel this week Croatia’s foreign minister Miro Kovac delivered a speech on Monday 30 May 2016 before the Israel Council on Foreign Relations (ICFR) in Jerusalem where he proposed the establishment of a joint Croatian, US, and Israeli foundation that would contain a fund to deal with restitution issues. The Jerusalem-based Israel Council on Foreign Relations is devoted to the study and debate of foreign policy, with special emphasis on Israeli and Jewish concerns. The ICFR functions under the auspices of the World Jewish Congress.


Matters of restitution to victims of the Holocaust in Europe go back many years and beside several matters also deal with the return of Jewish property confiscated by the Nazi or pro-Nazi regimes in Europe or compensating the Jewish community for the losses.


Croatia’s property restitution laws of the early 1990’s, covering property nationalised during the communist era, were amended in July 2002 to allow non-Croatian citizens to file claims in certain cases. Earlier U.S. – Yugoslav agreements compensated claims pertaining to property expropriated between1939-1948. The process ended in the 1960’s.


Given that Yugoslav communists not only did not return to the Jews the property taken during WWII by the Ustashi regime but as they came to power in 1945 they took even more, it is quite unfair and unnerving that the Jewish community still like to mainly refer to the restitution as restitution of property taken during the Holocaust years when if fact the property was taken away all over again by the communists after May 1945 whose head office was in Belgrade, Serbia. Such practices were greedily echoed in other post-WWII European communist countries. Communists, especially high-ranking ones distributed the best and most valuable property to themselves and their families – with eternal right to tenancy for no or for absurdly low rents. Many Serbs were recipients of these properties in Croatia after WWII as they worked for the Party, for the Yugoslav Army everywhere including Croatia and one cannot but wonder whether the persistent blaming of Croatia’s WWII Ustashi regime for for the confiscation of Jewish property has anything to do with continued cover-up of Serbia’s role in the Holocaust that occurred in WWII Serbia.



To demonstrate my point, when it was announced in late 2014 that Croatia will give a government-owned 6-storey downtown Zagreb building and surrounding land as restitution for a building once owned by local Jewish burial society which was expropriated during World War II and nationalised by the Communist government after WWII Daniel Mariaschin from the World Jewish Restitution Organisation (and B’nai B’rith International) stated: “This is a long-awaited, but important first step in addressing the legacy of the Holocaust in Croatia and in ensuring that the Jewish community can continue to revitalise itself in a democratic Croatia.” Actually if Mariaschin were at the time intent on fairness and facts he would also have mentioned the fat that while the communists boasted of freeing Croatia from fascism they did absolutely nothing in freeing the confiscated property for its rightful owners but instead stole it from them, for a second time.



Restitution to all victims is an important matter for humanity and it needs to be kept in check but also it is most important to keep to the historical facts. In the case of former communist countries of Europe where property was confiscated during WWII and then the confiscation adopted by the communist regime post-WWII through nationalisation, the communist regime has an equal, or perhaps greater, responsibility to answer for such wrongs done to the Jewish community or any other community of the time.


And this point is where Minister Kovac shone so well in my eyes – all Croatian presidents (previous and current) who visited Israel did not do much towards justice in this matter as did Kovac. At the Israel Council on Foreign Relations (ICFR), Kovac was asked by the well-known Israeli politician and diplomat, Colette Avital, who chairs the Center of Organizations of Holocaust Survivors, about compensation for private and community property seized from Jews. Kovac said the property had been confiscated first by the Ustashe and then by the Communists and then suggested the creation of a foundation – to be jointly administered by Croatia, the United States and Israel – to work in consultation with Croatia’s Ministry of Public Administration and Ministry of Justice to resolve the issue of property restitution.

In Jerisalem 30 May 2016 Croatia's foreign minister with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Photo: HINA/ MVEP/ ua

In Jerusalem 30 May 2016
Croatia’s foreign minister
with Israel’s Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu
Photo: HINA/ MVEP/ ua

When Croatia’s Minister Kovac was asked in Israel about controversial recent statements made by Croatian Culture Minister Zlatko Hasanbegovic regarding his country’s wartime past, Kovac said: “As minister of culture, he has never said anything which is not compatible with the Croatian constitution or European values. I strongly reject the notion that Croatia is a country, which is seeing rising fascism. But we must speak out loudly against any statement of extremism.”

Upon his meeting with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem Croatian Foreign Minister Miro Kovac discussed economic projects, notably in irrigation, and cooperation against cyber terrorism. Minister Kovac said that Croatia has a sensibility for Israel as a country, which had to liberate itself and win its independence and stability and understands Israel’s care for security very well. There is sympathy between the two peoples and “it’s up to us to give this relationship more substance,” Kovac said.
Croatia is a success story,” Kovac said, giving a brief account of Croatia’s transition from communism to Western democracy, the military aggression on it during the breakup of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s, and the country’s accession to the European Union in mid-2013.
We simply cannot accept the idea in the foreign press of growing extremism in Eastern Europe,” Kovac said, “but we must be cautious and responsible.” He stressed that fascism, Nazism and communism were clearly rejected in the preamble to the Croatian constitution.


Bravo Minister Kovac on several fronts here. The problem is that he might have said this to quite a few purposefully deaf individuals in the audience there in Jerusalem, intent on defending or justifying unspeakable communist crimes no matter what! Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)


  1. La mulţi ani tuturor copiilor si de asemenea tuturor parintilor! Sa va bucurati de copiii vostri sănătoşi!
    Copilaria-i un zambet, un vis, e veselie,
    E pasarea ce-aluneca-n zare,
    Si-un gand pribeag de-o vesnicie.
    Copilaria-i o suava floare.
    De-i senin sau nor afara,
    De e zi sau de e seara,
    Nu uita sa-ti amintesti,
    De frumoasele povesti,
    Eu va spun ca nu e greu,
    Si copil ramai mereu!

  2. Reblogged this on Eyes of the Mind and commented:
    “…Kovac was asked by the well-known Israeli politician and diplomat, Colette Avital, who chairs the Center of Organizations of Holocaust Survivors, about compensation for private and community property seized from Jews. Kovac said the property had been confiscated first by the Ustashe and then by the Communists and then suggested the creation of a foundation – to be jointly administered by Croatia, the United States and Israel.”

    Bravo, Minister Kovac!

  3. not sure if you are aware of “Interview s dr. Esther Gitman” done by Laudato TV, and available on You Tube under above title. Very interesting and a must see for anyone interested. The truth as told by Dr Esther Gitman is way different to what we have been thought to believe, and maybe Ina you could link the video, and it is in English.
    A must watch.

    • Thank you JMat. Yes I am aware of Dr Gitman’s work and research into the rescue and saving of the Jews in WWII Croatia particularly by Archbishop Stepinac who was falsely accused and sentenced by the Communists as a collaborator and the resistance her work is receiving from today’s communists when it comes to supporting the truth. Expect nothing less from communists and frankly some Jewish personalities who side with communists regardless of the truth. But truth and justice come slowly and when they do then they are set forever. I have patience for them as the alternative would be to give up and that is not good in my eyes.

  4. Vlado Lušić says:

    I fully agree with the view that Croatia’s Foreign Minister is doing a marvelous job – something that couldn’t be said for his predecessor Vesna Pusic. However, it is of utmost importance to keep in mind that Croatia’s foreign policy is not a one-man show. It is co-created by the President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic and the Prime Minister Tim Oreskovic. Foreign Minister Miro Kovac also participates but his main job is to execute the policy. All in all, the three of them are doing a very good job.

    • When it comes telling it like it was – making sure communist crimes such as stealing property – are spoken of loudly for the sake of the truth then Kovac beats them all as far as I can see, Vlado. No former or current president has in the middle of Jerusalem condemned or pointed fingers at communists as Kovac has and one wonders why but I tend to think they did not want to in order to protect the image of post-war communists to which some Jewish personalities in Jerusalem included subscribe, e.g. Efraim Zuroff of Simon Wiesenthal centre has justified communist crimes on several occasions… Prime Minister and President may be doing a good job regarding investment into Croatia potential etc but the Croatian society will not make much progress I think in peace of mind and unity until communist regime is strongly rejected by law and by practice.

  5. Veronika says:

    Daniel Mariaschin from the World Jewish Restitution Organisation stated: “This is a long-awaited, but important first step in addressing the legacy of the Holocaust in Croatia and in ensuring that the Jewish community can continue to revitalise itself in a democratic Croatia.”
    I take issue with the first part of this statement.
    There was never a ‘holocaust’ of Jews in Croatia.
    Tragically, yes there were killings in all of the former Yugoslavia during WW2.
    Belgrade, Serbia was declared ‘free of Jews,’ during this time, Croatia was not.
    Furthermore, many Jews served in the government of Ante Pavelic, the Ustase military, and Domobrani army.
    Twenty-eight generals in the army were Jewish, 28.
    This flies in the face of the 50 + years of misinformation and lies perpetrated by the Communist regime.

    Indeed, if Mr. Mariaschin were interested in the truth he would have asked what had the Yugoslav authorities done to remedy any wrong doing against the Jews, AFTER 1945.
    Why was property and restitution not done then?
    Funny how people seem to whitewash the history of the region from 1945- 1990.
    Furthermore, what had the recent communist regimes in power after the year 2000 until the end of last year, done?

    • Your comment compliments my article well, Veronika. The term Holocaust is being used I feel extermination of Jews on account of race/religion in WWII and perhaps because of Pavelic’s Croatia alliance with the Axis powers gives people the frame to refer to Holocaust wherever killings occurred regardless of the number. We must never forget that Yugoslav communists have helped and supported the idea of the Holocaust in Croatia in order to cover up their own crimes against Croats. WWII Croatia was never pronounced “Judenfrei” (Free of Jews) as Serbia was in May 1942 – Serbia aimed at becoming so and proudly announced it as one of the first states in Europe to be free of Jews after exterminating Jews in Serbia with the help of occupying forces…the communist regime in Yugoslavia operated from Belgrade Serbia and much evil had come out of there which needs to be corrected

  6. Doorman says:

    “My personal aim is that we use the predominantly positive feelings in Croatia for Israel and in Israel for Croatia to bring more substance to our relations, specifically in the areas of water management and agriculture. We are friends – friends who look to the future and who don’t forget the past,” Kovač said.
    That’s it make sure the past gets what it deserves, then can move on properly

  7. baptiste says:

    CROATIAN FOREIGN Minister Miro Kovac apologized profusely for being 15 minutes late for his interview with The Jerusalem Post, and had a somewhat amusing excuse.

    He had given his suit for pressing to the laundry service at the King David Hotel, and the trousers had become separated from the jacket. It had taken a long time to find them, and Kovac had to wait because he felt disinclined to come to the interview in jacket sans pants. Reflecting on the increasingly close relations between Croatia and Israel, Kovac noted that Croatian Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic, Croatia’s first nonpartisan prime minister, who happens to be an expert in pharmaceuticals, was previously the chief financial officer for Teva Global Generics.

    Said Jerusalem Post Grapevine on 31 May 2016 – yup turning up without trousers would be bad taste even for the handsome minister Kovac is 😀 but fun aside I do like the positive spirit his visit to Israel has created

    • 😀 the image is too compelling for imagining all sorts of scenarios, baptiste – thank you for this little vignette of the minister’s visit to Israel


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