N1’s Foreign Affairs editor Ivana Dragicevic spoke last week to Israeli Ambassador to Croatia, Ilan Mor, on the occasion of Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic’s state visit to Israel, which began on Monday.
Grabar-Kitarovic is the third Croatian president to go on an official state visit to Israel, after Stjepan Mesic had visited the country in 2001 and Ivo Josipovic in 2012.
“This visit is particularly special, because the main message is that the relationship between Israel and the Republic of Croatia is getting better,” Mor said, referring to the military fighter jets sale deal between the two countries which, nearly a year after it was signed, fell through in January this year.
“The deal is over, both countries have decided to look into the future and not into the past, and the president’s visit to Israel is a symbol that we are looking into the future together,” Mor said.
Areas of mutual interest for Croatia and Israel singled out by Mor are cyber security, innovation and high-tech, as well as agriculture and medicine.
“This is the direction in which we are going, cooperating as strategic partners, together, for the benefit of the Israelis and the Croatian citizens,” he said.
It has been a year since the Israeli President, Reuven Rivlin, was on a state visit to Croatia, during which he visited the site of the World War II concentration camp Jasenovac with Grabar-Kitarovic.
Both Mesic and Josipovic during their state visits to Israel gave a speech to Knesset in which they apologised for the role of the so-called Independent State of Croatia, a WWII Nazi puppet state, in the Holocaust.
“The Holocaust is one of the main components of our identity. Also in Croatia, the Holocaust plays a very important role. You cannot deny it, you cannot look the other way. You have to confront it,” Mor said, adding that apologising, taking responsibility, was a step in the right direction, as is Grabar-Kitarovic’s planned visit to the Yad Vashem.
“No one one is playing the blame game here. We are talking about taking responsibility for the future,” he said.
This is why it is also important that a memorandum of understanding will be signed, regarding sending teachers from all over Croatia to the Yad Vashem, he said, so they can learn how to teach the very complicated issue of the Holocaust to the young generations of high-school students in the country.
“(As part of) next year’s curriculum... more schools will also visit Jasenovac, and that is a step in the right direction and I congratulate them,” Mor said.
Watch the full interview below: