Presidents of Croatia, Serbia, receive medal from European Jewish leader

BRUSSELS (JTA) — The head of the European Jewish Congress presented the presidents of Serbia and Croatia with medals for their “contribution to tolerance.”

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Croatian President Ivo Jospivoc and Serbian President Boris Tadic accepted the 2012 Medal of Tolerance Award from the European Council on Tolerance, which EJC president Moshe Kantor co-chairs with Aleksander Kwasniewski, a former Polish president. 

Members of the Brussels-based nonprofit are Nobel Peace Prize laureates, former heads of states and other leaders.

The two Balkan leaders had “moved their region beyond conflict and mutual recriminations,” said Kantor, who presented the medals with Kwasniewski.

Josipovic told JTA that while he supports “processes of reconciliation,” he does not believe in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission model of post-apartheid South Africa, where perpetrators were pardoned if they confessed their crimes. 

“No, criminals need to be tried for their actions,” he said.

Commenting on commemorations held in Croatia and Austria for members of Ustase –- the fascist movement that ruled the country while allied ally to Nazi Germany during World War II — Josipovic told JTA, “Ustase is not part of our positive legacy and it’s very clear from our constitution.”

He called the 2008 burial ceremony of the pro-fascist Croat commander Dinko Sakic in his Ustase uniform “not nice and not pleasant.” Yet, he added “very few people attended” the event.

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