Serbia’s Aleksandar Vucic blasts move on visit to World War II concentration camp, saying Serbian people will ‘live and never forget’
Croatia on Sunday barred entry for Serbia’s president, who was planning to visit the largest World War II concentration camp in the country, according to local media.
Citing sources close to the Croatian government, the Zagreb-based daily Jutarnji Iist reported that Aleksandar Vucic sought to visit the Jasenovac camp and the Pokrac area without informing Croatian authorities, but was barred from doing so by Croatian authorities.
Croatian authorities argued that Vucic’s aim, which they claimed violated diplomatic protocols, was to provoke Zagreb, said the report.
Vucic reacted to the move on Instagram, posting a photo of the concentration camp, with the message: “Only you are doing your job! The Serbian people will live and never forget!”
Serbian Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin announced that his country would change its border policy toward Croatian officials, adding that service and diplomatic passport holders would henceforth have to state the reason for their visit when entering Serbia.
“Aleksandar Vucic, the grandson of a Jasenovac victim, is not allowed to pay his respects to the memory of hundreds of thousands of slaughtered Serbs, Jews, and Roma. The president of the Republic of Serbia is not allowed to visit the largest Serbian execution ground,” said Vulin.
Belgrade will decide on the appropriate countermeasures to Croatia’s decision, said Foreign Minister Nikola Selakovic.
“What is written in the note of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Croatia, which prohibits a private visit to Jasenovac by the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic, is not only scandalous but also terrifying, unheard of, and unbelievable that it is happening after the Second World War,” said Selakovic.
He added that the government had sent a note to the Croatian Embassy in Serbia, though the charge d’affaires there refused to receive it.
Minister of Mining and Energy Zorana Mihajlovic canceled an official visit to Zagreb due to Croatia’s move on what she said would have been a private visit to Jasenovac by Vucic.
On Tuesday, Mihajlovic was supposed to meet in Zagreb with Croatia’s minister of economy and sustainable development, Davor Filipovic, with regional cooperation and gas interconnections to be the main item of the meeting’s agenda.
Croatia banned Vucic’s entry due to a circumvention of standard diplomatic protocols by the Serbian side, Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlic Radman said.
“Such a visit is not sincere, it is not a tribute to the victims, but it is motivated by internal political needs within Serbia ahead of the formation of the government,” said Grlic.