In a speech before the Israel Council on Foreign Relations (ICFR) in Jerusalem, Croatia's Foreign Minister Miro Kovač proposed the establishment of a joint Croatian, US, and Israeli foundation that would contain a fund to deal with restitution issues.
When asked about controversial recent statements made by Croatian Culture Minister Zlatko Hasanbegovic regarding his country’s wartime past, Kovač said: “As minister of culture, he has never said anything which is not compatible with the Croatian constitution or European values. I strongly reject the notion that Croatia is a country which is seeing rising fascism. But we must speak out loudly against any statement of extremism.”
In light of the meeting of foreign ministers in France to discuss the Mideast peace process, the minister was asked whether he thought the multilateral or bilateral approach was preferable. He answered that the EU was trying its best to provide a good framework but that a solution could not be imposed on the parties.
On the question of whether Croatia would implement the EU directive of labeling Israeli products, Kovač stated: “Croatia strongly opposes boycotts against Israel. Labeling is […] an application of standing EU law, but we oppose any isolation of the State of Israel.”
The foreign minister also expressed his interest in deepening ties with Israel. “My personal aim is that we use the predominantly positive feelings in Croatia for Israel and in Israel for Croatia to bring more substance to our relations, specifically in the areas of water management and agriculture. My party is the one that wishes to establish a special relationship with Israel. We are friends - friends who look to the future and who don't forget the past.”
The Jerusalem-based Israel Council on Foreign Relations is devoted to the study and debate of foreign policy, with special emphasis on Israeli and Jewish concerns. The ICFR functions under the auspices of the World Jewish Congress.