Serbian FM pledges Holocaust compensation law

About 3,000 Jews were forced to give up their citizenship and land in order to leave the country in 1948.

serbian fm with tzipi li (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
serbian fm with tzipi li
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Draskovic's heartfelt address to the Israel Council on Foreign Relations on Monday was met by anxious questions over restitution issues owed to Serbian Jews. When asked if the Serbian government is going to give back the property to these Jews, Draskovic answered: "The new parliament will likely adopt a restitution law. The adoption of the law is inevitable." Not everyone was satisfied with the foreign minister's answers on Monday. "There are two ambassadors and a foreign minister over there who are not doing anything about the problem. If there is such a great romance between the Serbs and the Jews then why don't they give the Jews back their citizenship and their land." said Ivan Ceresjnes, a researcher at the Hebrew University and former head of Bosnia's Jewish community. About 3,000 Jews left Serbia in 1948 and were forced to give up their citizenship and land in order to leave the country. There are now 10,000 Jews from the former Yugoslavia living in Israel. Another contentious issue surrounding the Serbian- Israeli relationship involves Nazi war criminals. Dr. Efraim Zuroff, Simon Wiesenthal Center's Israel director met with Draskovic over the extradition of three Nazi war criminals and sounded very hopeful. "In Serbia, where so many suffered at the hands of the Nazis, there's a far greater understanding for the necessity and the importance of bringing these criminals to justice," Zuroff said. Dr. Sandor Kepiro, Milivoj Asner and Ivo Rojnica are all war criminals who committed crimes against Serbs and Jews on former Yugoslavian territory. "His stance reflects widespread support in Serbia for action to be taken by the government against Nazi war criminals. We're not encountering the opposition we normally encounter in so many countries in Europe," Zuroff said, regarding the foreign minister's stance on expediting the Nazi war criminals. Draskovic highlighted the "spiritual energy" between Serbs and Jews. "My emotions are running high because I am in Jerusalem for the first time," he said. The foreign minister also articulated the need for his country to coordinate actions with their Arab friends in influencing others to recognize Israel. When asked about the two countries' commonality of misperceived histories, he pointed towards the regime of Slobodan Milosevic. "In Serbia we must cut off all links with the path of the Milosevic regime. This was our anti-history." Vuk Draskovic is also a novelist. He coauthored "Knife," about student-led demonstrations against the Serbian government in the early 1990s.