Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry

Recent Developments

Croatia becomes 28th EU Member State after moving to outlaw hate crimes
"Croatia completed its final requirements for EU accession after an EU Commission report earlier this year reported that a new Act on Misdemeanours against Public Order and Peace would be fully adopted by the middle of July 2013." 

28/6/2013- "The law, which the EU characterises as the latest fulfilment of acceding member Croatia’s obligations “to protect those who may still be subjected to threats or acts of discrimination, hostility or violence”, makes it a crime to violate “public peace and order based on racial, ethnic, religious and other grounds”. Germany became the last of all 27 current EU member states to ratify Croatia’s Accession Treaty, signed by both the EU and Croatia in December 2011, last month, following publication of the report. "Croatia's entry shows that the EU's attraction continues unbroken. Europe is not just about crisis. The European perspective is what drives reforms in our neighbourhood," Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle told the German Bundestag. Croatia will now become the 28th full member of the European Union on July 1st. 

Speaking of the final stage of Croatia’s EU accession process, which began with negotiations in 2005, EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule said: “Croatia's is a success for enlargement. It is a proof of the credibility of the enlargement policy: when candidate country delivers on the criteria and commitments, the EU delivers on the membership perspective. This is also a good example for the rest of the region as it moves closer to the EU.” The Commission report further found Croatia had made significant progress towards the “effective implementation of the Constitutional Act on the Rights of National Minorities”. The new law is designed to ensure a minimum 5% recruitment quota for the country’s national minorities in state administration and the judiciary, predominantly relating to its Roma population, but also applicable to its estimated 2,000-strong Jewish community. 

The pre-Holocaust Jewish community of Croatia numbered approximately 24,000, spread across 40 different communities, largest of which was based in its capital of Zagreb, home to an 11,000-strong community. The community had enjoyed full emancipation since 1873. However, following the entering into office of a pro-Nazi government in 1941, persecution of the community rapidly increased, culminating in an active collaboration of the Croatian government with Nazi Germany. Deportation and the extermination of thousands of Croatian Jews became established government policy, with an estimated 78% of the country’s former Jewish community dying in the Holocaust. After WWII, only 2,500 Jews remained in the capital, with an estimated 1,000 leaving for Israel on the establishment of the Jewish State in 1948. 

Last February, Croatian President Ivo Josipovic made a public apology to his country’s Holocaust victims in an address to the Knesset (Israeli Parliament), on an official visit to the Jewish State. Addressing the WWII-era government’s record of Nazi collaboration, he said: “We need to look into our hearts, and to come to terms with the darkest stain in our history. Here I am, standing before the parliament of the Jewish state, and more importantly, in front of people born in Croatia, and with no ambiguity, I apologise and I ask for forgiveness from all the Holocaust survivors and all the victims.” 

Acknowledging an apology was in itself insufficient, he expressed his desire to explore initiating a restitution law to compensate Holocaust victims and their families for property lost during WWII. Some members of my nation worked to systematically destroy parts of humanity. We must look in our hearts, at the darkest stain in our history. We must know: The snake is weak, but it is still there,” he concluded. Croatia’s Jewish community took a further hit, when both the Community Centre and Jewish cemetery of Zagreb were struck by terrorist attacks in 1991. The city did however take in a number of Jewish refugees from Bosnia during its war with YugoslaviaCroatia has enjoyed full diplomatic relations with Israel since 1997."

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