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Cablegate: Croatia Commemorates Tragic Events of World War Ii

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS ZAGREB 001074

SIPDIS


E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PREL PGOV HR
SUBJECT: CROATIA COMMEMORATES TRAGIC EVENTS OF WORLD WAR II


SUMMARY
-------

1. ON MAY 11, COMMEMORATION CEREMONIES WERE HELD BOTH AT THE
JASENOVAC CONCENTRATION CAMP IN CROATIA AND SEPARATELY IN
BLEIBURG, AUSTRIA. PRESIDENT STJEPAN MESIC STIRRED UP
CONTROVERSY IN JASENOVAC, WHERE TENS OF THOUSANDS -- MOSTLY
SERBS, JEWS, AND ROMA -- PERISHED AT THE HANDS OF THE USTASHE
REGIME. MESIC APOLOGIZED NOT JUST FOR THESE CRIMES, BUT FOR
"ALL" CROATIAN CRIMES, INCLUDING BY IMPLICATION THOSE
COMMITTED IN THE MORE RECENT WAR FOR INDEPENDENCE. ON THE
SAME DAY, DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER SIMONIC LEAD A CROATIAN
DELEGATION TO BLEIBURG FOR A COMMEMORATION OF THE SLAUGHTER
OF USTASHE AND NAZI TROOPS AND CIVILIANS BY PARTISAN FORCES
IN THE WANING DAYS OF WORLD WAR II. END SUMMARY.

JASENOVAC
---------

2. ON MAY 11, THE DCM LAID A WREATH AT THE ANNUAL
COMMEMORATION AT THE JASENOVAC CONCENTRATION CAMP. THIS
YEAR'S COMMEMORATION WAS HELD IN MEMORY OF AN ATTEMPTED BREAK
OUT IN 1945 WHEN 1,100 INMATES WERE KILLED.

3. STJEPAN MESIC, PRESIDENT OF CROATIA, ATTENDED THE
COMMEMORATION FOR THE FIRST TIME AND DELIVERED THE KEYNOTE
ADDRESS. MESIC POINTEDLY APOLOGIZED FOR ALL CROATIAN CRIMES.
HE EXPRESSED DEEP REGRET FOR "ALL THE INNOCENT VICTIMS WHO
DIED, FROM THOSE WHO ABUSED THE IDEA OF THE CROATIAN STATE
AND USED IT AS AN ALIBI FOR MURDERS, ROBBERIES, AND
PERSECUTIONS."

4. MODERATE MEMBERS OF THE RULING COALITION PRAISED THE
PRESIDENTS REMARKS AND APOLOGY, WHILE RIGHT-WING POLITICIANS
TOOK OFFENSE. ZELJKO GLAVAN, AN HSLS MP, SAID CRIMINALS MUST
BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE, BUT "ONE SHOULD NOT APOLOGIZE FOR
SOMEONE ELSE'S CRIMES." JADRANKA KOSOR, DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF
THE RIGHT-WING HDZ, OUTRIGHT REJECTED "MESSAGES THAT
EVERYBODY SHOULD APOLOGIZE TO EVERYBODY." NENAD CANAK,
PRESIDENT OF THE VOJVODINA ASSEMBLY (SERBIA), CALLED MESIC'S
MESSAGE "EXTREMELY WISE," AND ADDED THAT SUCH "SYMBOLIC
GESTURES...ARE EXTREMELY IMPORTANT IN ORDER TO BUILD THE
FUTURE WITHOUT BURDENS."

5. A TELEGRAM FROM PRIME MINISTER IVICA RACAN WAS ALSO READ
AT THE COMMEMORATION. RACAN URGED THAT THE VICTIMS BE
REMEMBERED AND STRESSED THE NEED "TO PREVENT THE REOCCURRENCE
OF SUCH HORRORS WHICH ONE HUMAN BEING CAN DO TO ANOTHER ONLY
IF HE OR SHE STARTS BELIEVING THAT HE OR SHE IS BETTER THAN
OTHERS."

6. AMONG THE ESTIMATED THREE THOUSAND ATTENDEES WERE MEMBERS
OF THE DIPLOMATIC COMMUNITY, A GOC AND PARLIAMENTARY
DELEGATION, EX-INMATES FROM THE CAMP, PARTISAN FIGHTERS FROM
WORLD WAR II, SERBIAN, JEWISH, AND ROMA DELEGATIONS, AND
SULEJMAN TIHIC, A MEMBER OF THE BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA COLLECTIVE
PRESIDENCY.

7. JASENOVAC, A SMALL TOWN TWO HOURS DRIVE TO THE EAST OF
ZAGREB, LIES ON THE SAVA RIVER BORDER WITH BOSNIA. DURING
WORLD WAR II THE FASCIST REGIME OF ANTE PAVELIC ESTABLISHED A
SERIES OF WORK AND TRANSIT CAMPS IN THE AREA. THOUSANDS OF
SERBS, JEWS, ROMA, AND ANTI-FASCIST CROATS LOST THEIR LIVES
IN THE CAMPS.

BLEIBURG COMMEMORATION
----------------------

8. ALSO ON MAY 11, A COMMEMORATION WAS HELD IN BLEIBURG,
AUSTRIA IN TRIBUTE TO THE SOLDIERS AND OTHER MEMBERS OF THE
WORLD WAR II USTASHE GOVERNMENT, NAZI TROOPS AND CIVILIANS,
WHO WERE KILLED EN MASS BY PARTISAN FORCES AFTER THEY FLED
CROATIA IN THE WANING DAYS OF THE WAR AND WERE TURNED BACK BY
ALLIED TROOPS IN AUSTRIA. SENIOR OFFICIALS PRESENT INCLUDED
DEPUTY SPEAKERS OF PARLIAMENT BALTAZAR JALSOVEC AND IVICA
KOSTOVIC, AND DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER ANTE SIMONIC.

9. ACCORDING TO PRESS REPORTS KOSTOVIC, A MEMBER OF THE
RIGHT-WING HDZ, STATED THAT BLEIBURG IS "A SYMBOL OF THE
SUFFERING OF THE CROATIAN PEOPLE." ADDITIONAL PRESS
REPORTING MENTIONED ISOLATED PROVOCATIONS -- SOME OF THE
ESTIMATED EIGHT THOUSAND ATTENDEES WORE FASCIST INSIGNIA AND
CARRIED ANTE PAVELIC PHOTOGRAPHS -- BUT THE COMMEMORATION WAS
REPORTED TO BE ORDERLY AND PEACEF

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