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Israeli Leader Praises Serbian Law On Holocaust Victims' Property

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic (right) and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic (right) and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin

Israel's president has praised Serbia for passing a law providing restitution to the Jewish community for unclaimed Jewish property seized during the Holocaust.

Reuven Rivlin said on July 26 after talks with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic that the 2016 bill should serve as a model for other countries.

Thousands of Serbian Jews perished during Nazi occupation of the Balkan country during World War II.

Rivlin arrived in Serbia from neighboring Croatia, where he met with top officials and visited the site of a World War II concentration camp run by a pro-Nazi puppet regime where tens of thousands of Jews, Serbs, and Roma were killed.

Croatia's ethnic Serb and Jewish minorities for the past three years have snubbed the official commemoration at the Jasenovac camp, known as "Croatia's Auschwitz," accusing authorities of tolerating strains of pro-Nazi ideology in society.

"There are some who prefer to repress their past and see it as a 'black hole' which requires no study or soul searching," Rivlin said in Hebrew in front of the memorial site, a towering concrete flower that looms over lush farmland.

"Croatia's ability to deal with the past and not to ignore it is a moral obligation which is a fundamental part of any just society."

While in Serbia, Rivlin met with the head of the Serbian parliament, Maja Gojkovic, and attended a ceremony in Belgrade's Zemun settlement, where a street was to be named after Theodor Herzl, a founder of the Zionist movement who was born in Serbia.

His two-state Balkan tour is mostly focused on boosting trade ties.

Based on reporting by RFE/RL's Balkan Service, AP, and AFP

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