Peres and Ivo Josipovic.
(photo credit: Associated Press)
President Shimon Peres said in Zagreb on Friday that Israel now sees Croatia as
a friend because it has decided not to repeat past errors.
was pro-Nazi during World War II, became independent in 1991 and sympathetic to
that historical era in the 1990s – prompting Israel to hold off recognizing it
Since 2000, Croatia’s governments have denounced fascism.
Peres’s predecessor, Moshe Katsav, visited in 2001.
Peres said that
Israelis “look upon Croatia as a friend, not just a country” and have the
“highest regard” for its people and its decision “not to repeat the tragedies of
the past, introducing a new way of living and hoping together.”
Sunday, Peres plans to visit Jasenovac, the site of Croatia’s notorious WWII-era
Peres, who wound up a twoday state visit to Slovenia
on Friday and then proceeded to Croatia, was due to return home on
When the president met with Slovenian journalists at the end of
last week, they asked him when Israel would start talking to Hamas.
replied that the destruction of Israel was part of the Hamas Charter, and that
Hamas constantly declares its desire to destroy Israel. Under such
circumstances, no one can expect Israel to negotiate with a terrorist
organization that calls for Israel’s destruction, he said.
ceases its terrorism, recognizes Israel and states it willingness to negotiate
with Israel, then Israel will also be ready to negotiate, said Peres, stressing
that the blockade of ships trying to deliver goods to Gaza would be lifted
instantly if Gaza abandons terrorism. Peres added that Gaza should learn from
what is happening on the West Bank.
What the Palestinians have been able
to achieve on the West Bank is amazing, he said.
“They are beginning to
build their state and we are helping them.”
Annual Palestinian economic
growth on the West Bank is around 7 percent, he said, reflecting a 180 degree
difference from what is happening in Gaza. If Gaza adopts the policy of the West
Bank, it will attain peace, he asserted. The decision, he said, “is entirely in
the hands of Hamas.”
In discussions with Slovenian President Danilo Türk,
the two presidents emphasized the need to enhance economic ties between their
countries, and at their joint media conference, Türk emphasized the high regard
that Slovenia has for Israel’s technological and scientific achievements, and
said he looked forward to cooperative ventures in these and other
In his private conversation with Türk, Peres underscored Israel’s
commitment to peace and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s serious intention to
enter into direct talks with the Palestinian Authority.
He also made it
clear that the world must understand that it cannot expect Israel to implement
final-status solutions before the peace talks begin.
Peres was confident
that once that talks are completed, both sides will make a statutory declaration
about the end of the conflict.