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)

“Israel’s Wild Beasts” And Political Persecution Of Croatia’s Minister Zlatko Hasanbegovic

Zlatko Hasanbegovic: “I have never in any way whatsoever been an apologist for any criminal regime, whether Ustashe or Communist regime. Indeed, in all my public appearances and works I have always clearly emphasised that the Ustashe crimes (WWII) have not only burdened with a mortgage of defeat but represent the biggest moral stumbling in the history of Croatian people..." Photo: Patrick Macek/Pixsell

Zlatko Hasanbegovic: “I have never in any way whatsoever
been an apologist for any criminal regime,
whether Ustashe or Communist regime.
Indeed, in all my public appearances
and works I have always clearly emphasised
that the Ustashe crimes (WWII)
have not only burdened with a mortgage of defeat
but represent the biggest moral stumbling
in the history of Croatian people…”
Photo: Patrick Macek/Pixsell


How much the Jewish and communist lobby coming in the form of increased false accusations against Croatia’s culture minister Zlatko Hasanbegovic as Holocaust denier or anti-Semitic during the past three/four days, calling for his sacking, has to do with the fact that Istrael’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s words calling people of the neighbouring states “wild beasts” (and therefore needs lobby to raise the Holocaust tragedy up a notch or two in order to soften the blow of his atrocious words) is anyone’s guess. Whatever one’s conclusion here may be, one thing is for sure: Israel’s media (Jerusalem Times, Arutz Sheva…) and often pro-WWII and pro-post-WWII communist media outlet US Huffington Post and others have with terrible bias and discrimination against the truth jumped onto the bandwagon of Croatia’s pro-communists and anti-lustration communist crimes deniers to crucify an innocent man: Zlatko Hasanbegovic.



US Huffington Post and Israel’s national news portal Arutz Sheva have passed onto the world’s public most biased and politically suspect writings by The Adriatic Institute in Croatia, led by married couple Natasha Srdoc and her husband Joel Anand Samy against Hasanbegovic. What terrifies is not that these people along with Efraim Zuroff of Simon Wiesenthal Centre promote untruths and outright lies – that is to be expected in political battles and political scuffles for power – but the fact that these foreign media outlets such as Huffington Post and Jerusalem Post and Arutz Sheva have done nothing to seek balance and present the full picture of truth. The evidently politically conniving Arutz Sheva have even decided to pin a “far right” tag onto conservative centre-right HDZ/Croatian Democratic Union party in government when there is absolutely no evidence for that, and it’s very far from the truth. It calls Adriatic Institute “a leading Croatian think tank” when in fact it’s very far from that also. A small group of people with seemingly the “right” links around the world working to bring down conservative side of political orientation in Croatia, or perhaps, paying media outlets for the articles it writes (?) much in pursuit of amassing wealth perhaps.

I find it utterly insulting when I come across a completely vitriolic, filled with untruths and politically evil words designed to vilify the whole of the Croatian nation, reported statement by Adriatic Institute’s Joel Anand Samy that “the rise of anti-Semitism in Croatia and efforts of those connected to the HDZ political party to apply a revision of history with attempts to remove the facts on the Holocaust which killed six million Jews should be denounced by strong rule of law nations and Western diplomats based in Zagreb. The world cannot remain silent or look the other way”. Of course, Samy goes on to accuse Croatia’s government leaders of encouraging anti-Semitism!

Even the fact that Croatia’s minister Zlatko Hasanbegovic has stated that the WWII Ustashi movement was the biggest moral stumbling of Croatians in history, thus in no uncertain terms condemning anti-Semitism or pro-Nazi movements during that time and any that may be lurking around, is not good enough for communist crimes deniers and obstructers of justice for their victims such as Samy and Srdoc seem to be. It’s not good enough for mentioned Israel’s media outlets, either!

I have never in any way whatsoever been an apologist for any criminal regime, whether Ustashe or Communist regime. Indeed, in all my public appearances and works I have always clearly emphasised that the Ustashe crimes (WWII) have not only burdened with a mortgage of defeat but represent the biggest moral stumbling in the history of Croatian people, whose evil shadow hovers over the Croatian people to today. I am against all totalitarianism, fascist and communist, I belong to the government and political party that firmly stand behind plantings of democratic antifascism, anti-communism and anti-totalitarianism and which is dedicated to the values of democracy and parliamentary government. This is my view as a human being, as citizen, as politician and my moral and if you like my scientific view,” stated minister Hasanbegovic in one of his responses to false accusations and persecution against him.


One does not need to look too far to see why in the same article that quoted Samy from Adriatic Institute the Israel national news portal or Huffington Post evidently made no effort in seeking responses from Croatia to Samy’s allegations! It would seem in their interest especially now when Israel’s Prime Minister is engaging in “Hitler talk” against Arabs to keep regurgitating stuff about the Holocaust or anti-Semitism even if that stuff has no basis in truth of today.

It’s blatantly clear that Minister Hasanbegovic’s persecutors’ are not interested in the truth as things are panning out at the moment. If they were interested in the truth they would have nothing to say against the man on the score of Holocaust or anti-Semitism. But they must say something because they are fighting to retain the portrayal of the criminal Yugoslav communists as some kind of morally righteous movement that committed no crimes! And any killings they may have done, they would say – were justified and necessary! How utterly deranged!


Benjamin Netanyahu Prime Minister of Israel: “In the environment we live in, we need to protect ourselves from wild beasts.”

Benjamin Netanyahu
Prime Minister of Israel:
“In the environment we live in,
we need to protect ourselves from
wild beasts.”

It is, of course, also to Netanyahu’s advantage at this time that at least some of the world’s attention is taken by issues of alleged today’s pro-Nazi fascists in any government, let alone Croatia, part of which had played its terrible part in the Holocaust – his terrible words against the Arabs or people of countries around Israel, calling them “wild beasts”, might then get buried without too much condemnation.

In the environment we live in, we need to protect ourselves from wild beasts,” he said.


During the late 1930s, Adolf Hitler had referred to the Jews of Austria and Germany as “blood sucking beasts”. He then set about committing one of the most heinous crimes against them and elsewhere in Europe where his troops occupied territory, referred to as the ‘Holocaust’. Loosely defined, it is the systematic and willful slaughter or destruction of a people on a mass scale, to the point of extermination. But, at the same time and after World War II another holocaust had transpired on a much greater scale: mass murders, slaughters and extermination of innocent people opponents of communist regime. Every time I write about this I feel like a broken record, repeating ever more painfully this awful truth that communists have not paid for their crimes nor even condemned strongly enough where such strength brings about rejection of that totalitarian regime as being antifascist and positive even minutely. Perhaps once the communist crimes are brought on par with the Holocaust, which they in all the tragic reality were, the world won’t tolerate so easily anyone calling another human being a “wild beast” (?).
Netanyahu’s “wild beasts” comments  serve “well” those who argue that there has been a Holocaust going on against Palestinians in past decades and do not appear much different from what Hitler had said so many decades back about Jews. Have Netanyahu’s awful words sparked conclusions that Nazism and Zionism have thus merged into one? One could not but answer – having some aspects in mind it seems so, yes. But, there are no analyses or criticism of these words uttered by Netanyahu in Istrael’s media outlets that I could find. Yet, so much on the terror of the Holocaust, so much on victimisation and vilifying Croatia’s culture minister and centre-right government for anti-Semitism that does not exist – unless, of course, one went so far and evilly connected the minister Hasanbegovic’s and government’s intent to achieve justice for hundreds of thousands innocent victims of communist crimes to anti-Semitism?

Truly awful days for the Croatian government that needs to ride out the storm of communist wrath, however that wrath may be inhuman, and move ahead into the future where justice means the same for all. Wishing minister Zlatko Hasanbegovic a most fruitful career as minister in Croatia’s government that must show leadership in resisting and shrugging off false allegations for what they truly are: garbage. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)


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