European Western Balkans

Serbia sends protest letters over EP's Stepinac exhibition

Dr Duško Lopandić

TANJUG_maliBELGRADE – The head of the Serbian mission to the EU Dusko Lopandic has been instructed to strongly protest over an exhibition and a conference titled “Croatian Saint, Cardinal Stepinac”, held in the European Parliament, the Serbian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement Wednesday.Ambassador Lopandic has sent protest letters to EP President Martin Schulz, Chairman of the EP Committee on Foreign Affairs Elmar Brok and European People’s Party (EPP) whip Manfred Weber, and will also brief EP rapporteur for Serbia David McAllister, shadow rapporteurs and other MEPs on the matter, the statement added.

The events were organised Croatian Peasant Party MEP Marijana Petir in collaboration with the Catholic University of Croatia, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Zagreb and the EPP Working Group on Intercultural Dialogue and Religious Affairs.

The Serbian Ministry of Foreign Affairs pointed to the unacceptability of staging an exhibition glorifying Cardinal Aloysius Stepinac, portrayed by it as a “true pearl of the Catholic Church and the Croatian nation”, but considered responsible by Serbs and the Serbian Orthodox Church for mass crimes against Serbs and other non-Croats in the so-called Independent State of Croatia during World War II.

In 1946, the Supreme Court of Croatia sentenced Stepinac in Zagreb to 16 years in prison and loss of civil and political rights for a period of three years for his actions, abetting crimes, treason and collaboration with the Ustasha regime and for mass conversions of tens of thousands of Orthodox Serbs, the statement notes.

The statement adds that, after meetings with Serbian state and church officials, Pope Francis has suspended the process of canonising Stepinac and that the Vatican and the Serbian Orthodox Church have set up a joint commission to investigate the case.

Dacic vehemently condemns EP’s Stepinac exhibition

TANJUG_maliBELGRADE – Serbian First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic on Wednesday vehemently condemned the opening of an exhibition and a conference titled “Croatian Saint, Cardinal Stepinac” in the European Parliament.

“It is incomprehensible that, in the centre of the European Union, exhibitions are opened to commemorate someone who took part in a pogrom against thousands of Serbs, Jews and other non-Croats and was sentenced in his own country to 16 years in prison and loss of civil and political rights for a period of three years,” Dacic noted in a written statement.

The exhibition is an attempt to clear Cardinal Aloysius Stepinac of responsibility and rehabilitate the Ustasha movement, which is not a step towards reconciliation or the truth, Dacic wrote.

“On the contrary, it is just deepening the divisions. We are witnessing today that the world is facing an attempt to revise history and relativise victories and defeats and crimes and punishments. As a victim of such attempts at international level, Serbia is obliged to fight a revision of history and a relativisation of historical facts,” Dacic added.

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