Address of the President of the Republic of Croatia at the wreath laying ceremony in Jasenovac 22 April 2005

            Today, exactly sixty years after the breakout of the inmates from the Jasenovac concentration camp, I have paid homage not only to those who were killed on the occasion but also to all the victims of this cruel site of torture and execution, established on this spot during the so-called Independent State of Croatia.

            The Croatian Armed Forces have also joined me, as President of the Republic and Commander-in-Chief, in paying homage. Let me draw particular attention to this fact because of its deep and symbolic significance.

            Jasenovac was the site of the unequalled and unrepeateable crime of Holocaust. That is a fact. But it is also a fact that the crime at Jasenovac was not only the crime of Holocaust. Tens of thousands of people were killed here. Jews, Serbs and Romanies were killed exclusively because of their race, ethnic background and religion, and Croatian antifascists because of their world view.

            None of them was an enemy of the Croatian state. But they were enemies of fascism and Nazism, that is, of their Croatian variant personified by the Ustasha regime.

            It is regrettable that these facts have to be recalled ever anew. Just as it is regrettable that there are still people who use the victims and the tribulations of the Jasenovac detainees for their personal, daily political calculations, focused on keeping the area of the former Yugoslavia locked in the embrace of the past instead of opening the door to the future.

            Having said that, I have in mind those who magnify the number of victims as well as those who are trying to minimize or relativize the crime. You can proceed to the future only with your eyes open to the past.

            We do not need either an embellished or a falsified past. The crime committed here was horrible, and that should be said openly. The responsibility for that crime does not rest with the Croatian people, but with individuals and groups who abused the Croatian name and the idea of a Croatian state in order to achieve their criminal goals.

            This place must be visited in order to pay homage to the innocent victims of an ideology rooted in crime and of practices which realized that crime.

            This place must be visited in order to learn, in order to keep the memory alive – lest the evil should happen again. This is why the Jasenovac Memorial Site must offer the visitors a complete insight into the real truth about what happened here – however terrible and just because it was so terrible.

            Young generations must understand the evil of fascism and of all its phenomena. They must learn to appreciate and respect the victims and the antifascist struggle, which underlies the foundations of the present-day Croatian State.

            The victims of Jasenovac, and all the victims of fascism and Nazism, deserve to rest in peace. Today, exactly sixty years after the desperate and heroic breakout of the camp inmates, I pay homage to them as President of the modern, democratic Croatian State, and deeply deplore the murder of even a single human being, ever or anywhere, by those who disguised their bloody dealings by patriotic commitment to Croatia.

            This message, I believe, is clear enough. I hope that the media will also make it loud enough. We need it because everybody, both in Croatia and in the world, still concerned about the dilemma of what Croatia is like and what it should be like, could resolve that dilemma once for ever.