President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic said on Monday she was worried about intensifying ideological divisions, notably concerning an upcoming commemoration for the victims of the Jasenovac WWII concentration camp, calling on all citizens, political parties, the government and parliament to unite on fundamental social values, specifically the commemoration.
"I must say I'm extremely worried about the renewed intensification of ideological divisions in Croatian society, especially in the past few days concerning the commemoration of the innocent victims of Jasenovac, the Ustasha execution site of the so-called (1941-45) Independent State of Croatia (NDH)," Grabar-Kitarovic said after talks with Nicholas Dean, US Department of State Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues.
"To be perfectly clear, the NDH was certainly not independent and certainly did not protect the interests of the Croatian people, and the Ustasha regime was a criminal regime," the president said.
She said anti-fascism was in the foundations of the Croatian Constitution and that the present-day Croatian state rose up on the foundations of the 1991-95 Homeland War under the leadership of Croatia's first President, Franjo Tudjman.
"I call on all Croatian citizens, all political parties and organisations, the Croatian government and the Croatian parliament to unite on fundamental social values, in this case on commemorating the innocent victims of Jasenovac together," Grabar-Kitarovic said.
The president said she had invited some of those that would participate in the commemoration to her office for talks, hopeful that they would find a solution. "My goal is to talk with everybody, to defuse tensions so that we can pay our respects to the Jasenovac victims in a dignified manner, with full acknowledgement and respect and, above all, to stop dividing on ideological issues."
The president said she and the US official also talked about the restitution of Jewish property which was confiscated in World War Two and later nationalised by the former Yugoslav communist government. She said they also talked about Holocaust education and honouring victims.