ZAGREB, Croatia (Oct. 29)
Croatia’s president was expected to address Israel’s Knesset and apologize for his nation’s Holocaust-era crimes against the Jews during his visit to Israel this week.
Stipe Mesic arrived in Israel on Sunday on a three-day visit. The first visit by a president of independent Croatia was expected to focus on the wartime crimes of the Croatian Nazi regime, which ruled from 1941 to 1945, and the murder of about 30,000 Jews who lived in territory controlled by Croatia’s Nazi puppet government.
Mesic has promised to keep up his fight against the right wing and nationalist factions in Croatia who still deny the Holocaust.
His predecessor, Franjo Tudjman, the former Croatian president, tried to diminish the Ustashe crimes and to minimize both the scale of the Holocaust and Croatia’s part in it.
In contrast, Mesic has taken a clear stand against the Croatian Nazis and the nature of their regime. Earlier this year, he offered his help to promote Holocaust education in Croatian schools.
Mesic was expected to meet Israeli President Moshe Katsav and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. He also was hoping to promote Israeli investment in Croatia.