ETHNIC FOIBA DISPUTABLE

FEBRUARY 11 2008 14:32h

Croatian President Surprised By Napolitano Speech

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Good and developed relations with all neighbours still remain fundamental values of Croatian foreign policy, the announcement read.

ZAGREB, CROATIA - Croatian President Stjepan Mesic`s Office was surprised to hear the statement of Italian President Giorgio Napolitano on Sunday, that “some irrational reaction to a speech (made a year ago) outside Italy did not sway his conviction that it was justified to say `ethnic cleansing was in question` in relation to Italians being killed in the foiba (mass graves), on behalf of the Republic” it is stated in the official announcement.

Napolitano`s statement not according to the idea of peaceful Europe

Confirming the terms and qualifications the Italian president used a year ago is not only not in accordance with the atmosphere which ruled at the meeting of the two presidents in Brno, but also with the idea of a “peaceful, united and dynamic Europe”, which President Napolitano refers to, it is stated in the announcement.

Croatian President Mesic`s Office believes nothing should be added to or omitted from the statement Mesic made a year ago, reacting to the words of Italian head of state.

- Good and developed relations with all neighbours, dealing with the past and all its aspects and absolute equality when it comes to international relations remain to be fundamental values of Croatian foreign policy, it is stated in the announcement – it is concluded in the announcement by the presidnet`s Office.

Napolitano: Reactions to my speech came from outside of Italy

In his address on Sunday, regarding Foiba Remembrance Day, he said that reactions to his speech made a year ago, when he stated “Foibe ethnic cleansing”, were “unjustified”.

He pointed out that reactions to his speech came from “outside of Italy”, not naming the Croatian president, who reacted to his speech at the time.

Last year in February, Napolitano called the foibe drama “barbarism of the century”, “Slavic blood-thirsty hatred” and “aspirations to annex territory”.

Mesic responded it was impossible not to see “a hint of open racism, historic revision and political revanchism” in Napolitano`s statements.

Reaction of the European Commission

The European Commission then reacted to Mesic`s speech, demanding for tensions to be eased and warning the Croatian president about his harsh terms.

The Croatian and Italian presidents said at a meeting in Brno last year in Man that they have overcome their differences in relation to the Foiba.

Croatian President Stjepan Mesic added that the chapter of World War II needs to be closed.

Mesic: Crimes cannot be discussed one-dimensionally

- Italy accepts all the treaties which we have succeeded – Treaty of Osimo, Rome and Paris – and it supports Croatia on its path towards the European Union. We could not ask for more – Mesic said in Brno.

He added that the initiative of former Italian president Carlo Azeglio Ciampi for Italian, Croatian and Slovene presidents to visit mass graves from World War II was supported once more, which would symbolically close all open issues referring to this period.

Regarding his visit to Lithuania at the beginning of 2007, when asked by foreign reporters, Mesic said crimes cannot be discussed one-dimensionally.

- If one crime is mentioned, other crimes have to be mentioned also: Italian fascist camps in Croatia, shootings, occupation, forced Italianisation. These are also a historic fact – Mesic said, explaining to a Lithuanian journalist the roots of Croatian-Italian conflict on the highest level.

However, Napolitano repeated his conviction on Sunday that Foiba meant ethnic cleansing, which was confirmed by deputy Prime Minister Francesco Rutelli.