Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic.jpg
Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic
Photograph: HINA / Milan OBRADOVIĆ / BETAPHOTO / mm

Croatia has the right to choose its own path but it does not have the right to rehabilitate and justify the genocide against Serbs, Jews and Romany in the Ustasha-led Independent State of Croatia (NDH) nor will Serbia refrain from commenting on it, Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said on Monday.

Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic has said that the issue of the Ustasha salute "For the homeland, ready" should be dealt with by judicial authorities after some participants in last Friday's commemoration of the 1995 Operation Storm in Knin shouted that salute, chanted Ustasha songs and set on fire the Serbian flag.

Commenting on the incidents in Knin, Croatia's Deputy Prime Minister Bozo Petrov, Minister of the Interior Vlaho Orepic and Justice Minister Ante Sprlje said that historians and the judiciary should take a clear stand regarding the Ustasha salute.

Dacic believes that the ultimate goal is to allow the use of the salute, which, he maintains, shows that Croatia, a member of the EU, "is rehabilitating the Ustasha-run NDH."

"Even though Europe has been keeping silent about this, Serbia must not and will not keep silent," he stressed.

"Imagine such a debate or the use of Nazi symbols happening in Germany, where the use of the salute 'Sieg heil' is punished with imprisonment. Or any other country using the swastika - it would definitely be associated with Hitler even though it is also a symbol of eastern religions," he said.

He recalled a case involving British prince Harry who on one occasion wore a shirt with a hooked cross, which was met with strong criticism by the public which accused him of Nazism, "and not of Buddhism or Hinduism."

"Under the salute 'For the homeland, ready' a genocide was committed against Serbs, Jews and Romany throughout the NDH. Under that salute, the neo-Ustashas marched in Knin, on the occasion of the commemoration of Storm, the biggest ethnic cleansing campaign in Europe after World War II," said Dacic.

Earlier on Monday, Serbian Labour Minister Aleksandar Vulin said that "a fascist salute" could not be "a matter of law" nor "can it be allowed in one place and banned in another."

"The salute 'For the homeland, ready' is simply a salute that brings back the worst possible memories for Serbs," said Vulin, adding that "the European Union was not built on fascist foundations."

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