Serbian, Israeli FMs sign visa-free deal

16 September 2009 | 16:42 | Source: Beta, Tanjug

BELGRADE — Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremić and his Israeli counterpart Avigdor Lieberman have signed an agreement to abolish visas between the two countries.

The two ministers welcomed the signing, stating that it was an important step in the development of bilateral relations.

“This removes the obstacle to Serbian businesspeople and tourists that want to come to Israel,” Lieberman said.

Jeremić and Lieberman said that only new negotiations between Belgrade and Priština could yield a permanent solution to the Kosovo status question.

The Serbian minister said that he thanked Lieberman for Israel’s firm position regarding Kosovo.

“I am very thankful to Israel for its position on Kosovo, and especially to Mr. Lieberman personally for his part in making such a decision. Israel does not recognize the unilateral declaration of Kosovo independence and that is something that we appreciate greatly, especially given the pressure that Israel has been under,” Jeremić told a joint press conference.

Lieberman said that through direct talks between the two sides, a peaceful solution could be found to the Kosovo problem.

Asked whether Israel was under pressure to recognize Kosovo, Lieberman said that Israel “has been under pressure on many issues since 1948 and can handle it.”

The two ministers agreed that relations between the two countries on all issues were good, and that relations would further improve with the visa agreement.

He said that economic cooperation was also good and that Israeli investment in Serbia was on the rise, despite the financial crisis. […]

And a second item here: Israel, while rejecting Kosovo independence, hopes for compromise

And on his trip, Lieberman stopped in Croatia, described inaccurately in this AP/Haaretz article as a “former” pro-Nazi state:

Lieberman now Israel’s first FM to visit once pro-Nazi Croatia

By AP | Sept. 15, 2009

Israel’s top diplomat Avigdor Lieberman arrived on Tuesday in Croatia as part of his Balkan tour, becoming the first Israeli foreign minister to visit the former pro-Nazi state.

The foreign minister characterized his trip as proving new directions in Israel’s foreign policy, according to the Foreign Ministry.

Lieberman’s four-day visit to the Balkans came as part of his effort to engage countries that Israel has failed to give adequate attention to in the past. He also visited South America earlier this year, the first foreign minister to do so in over 20 years.

“My visit to the region is intended to strengthen the bilateral relations between the countries and to reinforce and develop the economic relationship, which will also contribute to Israel’s international standing.”

After meeting his Croatian counterpart, Gordan Jandrokovic, Lieberman said their meeting was “just a first step in our mutual commitment to strengthen our relations and deepen our dialogue.”

Israel shunned Croatia until the 1999 death of its nationalist president, whose government diminished crimes committed by Croatia’s World War II pro-Nazi state.

Yet little has changed in Croatia since President Tudjman. How’s this for strengthening Croatia-Israel relations and deepending dialogue, from in January:

Antisemitism is Alive and Well in Croatia

In Croatia, the International Holocaust Remembrance Day has been marred by a series of incidents, which culminated with the threat of bomb being planted at the Jewish community center, forcing the evacuation of Jewish representatives and Beth Israel association from the Zagreb building, where they gathered to commemorate the Holocaust.

“From one certain telephone number, which seems to be a phone booth in Split [coastal town in Croatia], came a threat that a bomb was planted here, and that everything will blow into the air in one hour, with swearing on the account of Jews,” prominent Jewish publicist Slavko Goldstein said, adding that this is only one in a series of incidents and provocations aimed at Croatia Jews in the last few days.

Goldstein said Jewish community and organizations in Croatia are receiving numerous threatening letters almost daily, and mentioned other similar incidents, such as the one his friend witnessed few days ago, as he found himself in the company of Croats who decided “Hitler should have finished his job”.

“For the past ten years, I have been giving statements to the point that antisemitism is dying in this country,” Goldstein said.

“I’m now retracting those statements,” he said.

Manifestation of a Widespread Disease in the Croatian Society

At the same time, Croat national television aired a special in which popular Croat writer Vedrana Rudan compared Israel’s actions in Gaza to the Holocaust, concluding that “Jews should stop being Jews and finally become people”.

“Unfortunately, Mrs Rudan is the manifestation of a widespread disease that manifests itself in the Croatian society, and that is antisemitism,” Ivo Goldstein, President of the Jewish association Beth Israel commented, adding that his organization is considering filing a lawsuit against Rudan.

Despite the fact that Jewish community in Croatia clearly has reasons to be offended and to feel threatened, Croat media and their readers apparently believe it is the Jews who should be ashamed.

“However, the small Palestinian boy that died in an Israeli attack, that Rudan keeps on mentioning in her column, is a victim of Israeli politics, before which they [the Jews] cannot close their eyes”, says internet edition of Croat daily Javno, publishing, at the same time, a comment by a reader who poured the entire slew of antisemitic slurs, while congratulating Mrs. Rudan and praising her as “very smart”.

In the followup piece, titled “Antisemitism or Reality: Down On Your Knees Before Jewish Organizations”, the same magazine reveals Vedrana Rudan is a direct Ustasha descendent, whose “grandfather killed in Jasenovac”, an infamous complex of Croat WWII concentration camps, where 750,000 Serbs, 60,000 Jews and 30,000 Gypsies were brutally tortured, hacked to pieces and exterminated in most horrific ways.

But the daily insists Ms. Rudan should be allowed to preach to the state of Israel to her heart’s content, instead of worrying about the repeated genocides her state, with the help and participation of members of her own family, has committed.

Before Shedding Crocodile Tears Over Palestinians…

Just published Human Rights Watch Report 2009 clearly shows that Croat public and intelligentsia have plenty of human rights violations to worry about in their own midst — before shedding crocodile tears over Palestinians, Croats ought to take a closer look at the way they continue to treat Serbs.

The report points out that despite Croat government “declarations” and a lot of hot air, Serbs ethnically cleansed from Croatia during the 1990s civil war, almost two decades later, are continuously being discouraged from returning to their homes and repossessing their property, both by the Croat administrative apparatus and by the ethnically-based violence and hate crimes, for most of which the perpetrators are never identified.

Croatia: A Wall of Silence, Amnesty International

Stressing that Croat state is rigging the statistics, claiming that 125,000 Serbs (out of more than 250,000 ethnically cleansed only from the Serbian Krajina region in Croatia) have returned, while the actual number of returnees is nowhere near those claimed, the report explains:

“Most of the 231 displaced persons and 610 refugees who returned to their home areas during the first half of 2008 were ethnic Croats… Serb returnees continue to suffer violence and intimidation, particularly in north Dalmatia … Serbs continue to face difficulty repossessing occupied homes, despite court judgments in their favor. Repossession cases sometimes linger in the courts. There is still no effective remedy for those seeking the return of occupied agricultural land. At this writing, there are 7,743 pending appeals (mostly from Serbs) against rejected applications for reconstruction assistance”.

In addition, “there was no progress toward a viable solution for Serbs stripped during the war of the right to occupy socially-owned property (an impediment to Serb return to urban areas)”.

Pointing out a number of ways in which Croatia impedes the return of expelled Serbs, Human Rights Watch emphasizes that “Serbs continued to make up the majority of defendants in war crimes trials”, and are further threatened and prevented from returning to repossess their land and property by the infamous in absentia prosecutions, widely practiced by the Croat judiciary.

Probably Right to Hide he is a Serb in Croatia

Rosemary Bailey Brown, American blogger popular in Serbia who is married to a Serb from Croatia, and currently living between the two states and towns of Belgrade and Zadar, recently offered a valuable insight into an uneasy feeling Serbs invariably get in Croatia, forcing them to hide their nationality in order to feel safer.

Writing about the beauty of a coastal town in Dalmatia where her husband was born, she admits “it’s all a bit hard to enjoy” for her, since she feels “that we never can really relax and be ourselves there”.

This is mostly “because ethnically my husband is a Serb”, Bailey Brown writes.

“Is being a Serb no big deal these days or do many in Zadar hate Serbs still? Most people who ‘knew all along’ are friendly to us; only a very few have been cold if not outright rude. Some friendly people who ‘find out’ become a little more distant. And, some people, we met while flat-hunting last year, I suspect would be uncomfortable if they knew they’d had a Serb in their homes,” she wrote.

“At my husband’s counsel, we stay undercover with strangers. He is a Croatian returning home from America and that is all. We do not mention our other home in Serbia. We do not mention in what specific year my husband first left Zadar. We do not mention the fact that his sister lives in Belgrade. We are glad our last name is generic enough to be either Serb or Croatian.”

“I ask my husband, ‘Is subterfuge really neccesary?’ He honestly doesn’t know. He’d rather be safe than sorry. And, as this recent news item shows, perhaps he’s smart to be that way,” Bailey Brown concludes.

Serbs, Eternal Witnesses to Croat Bestiality

The “news item” she refers to relates to the latest series of violent hate outbursts and incidents targeting Serbs which took place in Zadar, during the Handball World Championship to which Serbia’s national team went to compete.

Right at the start of the second round of matches in Zadar, on Friday, the town Mayor Živko Kolega first ordered removal of the Serbian national flag from Zadar’s central square, after “citizens complained because they were irritated by the Serbian flag”. Later, he decided it might be wise to try to cover up the virulent Serbophobia and ordered removal of all the flags representing 24 countries participating in the championship.

On the same day, an anonymous caller informed the police a bomb was planted at a hotel where Serbian team was staying. As it turned out, the call was placed from the offices of a local newspaper.

On Saturday, Serbian basketball club manager Marko Ivanović, who traveled to Croatia to attend the championship, had his car demolished.

A while later, Macedonian fan of the team was beaten up, because Croat thugs mistook him for a Serb.
According to the media reports, the matches Serbs played were accompanied by the incessant furious heckling of Serb players and thunderous shouts: “Kill, Kill, kill the Serb.”

The same “cannibalistic mood” towards Serbs (according to one Belgrade reporter who followed Serbian national team) was also obvious in Zagreb at the time, where Croats burned the Serbian flag at the city square, after tearing it down from the pavilion where following of the Handball Championship matches was organized.

Serbian MP Aleksandra Janković, psychologist by profession, explains rabid Croat hatred of Serbs in particular is pathological and rather incurable.

“There is a mechanism in psychology by which, once you harm someone, you make an effort to ‘finish the job’, so to speak, to take it to the end, so you wouldn’t have to face the consequences. Accordingly, ever since Jasenovac, Croats have been doing their very best to eradicate the Serbs completely, in order to wipe off the stains from their history. As long as we exist, Croats can never present themselves as good and wonderful, because there is always a witness to what they have done.”

Which also helps explain why the world is so anti-Israel.