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2003 EN Official Journal of the European Union C 137 E/1




(2003/C 137 E/001) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0371/02

by Mario Borghezio (NI) to the Commission

(14 February 2002)

Subject: Croatia: serious act of intolerance against the memory of Italians killed and thrown in ditches

A few days ago, on the eve of the anniversary Josip Pino Maras, the mayor of Porec (formerly Parenzo, but
now in Croatia), ordered the demolition of a memorial erected only a few months ago to commemorate
94 Italians killed by Tito’s partisans and thrown into ditches between 1943 and 1945. It should be noted
that several of them were Italian anti-Communist partisans, killed for reasons of ideological hatred.

Does the Commission not intend to take steps to remind the Croatian authorities that respect for the
victims of war-crimes is a principle shared by all civilised countries and that failure to observe it is bound
to be taken into account in the context of enlargement?

Answer given by Mr Patten on behalf of the Commission

(19 July 2002)

The Commission is well aware of the difficult history of this region of the world and fully understands the
weight which this difficult heritage continues to have and the particular sensitivities that this has left.

The Commission is absolutely convinced of the importance of full respect for human rights, including
specific minority rights. It thinks that it is crucial for all the countries, and even more for countries with
which the Union has developed far reaching co-operation, as it is the case for Croatia, to share common
democratic values and principles. These issues are systematically addressed in our bilateral contacts with
the Croatians politicians and administration. Developments in these areas are regularly monitored, since
they constitute major elements for the overall assessment which the Commission gives on the country, as
it is the case recently in the Commission’s report within the framework of the Stabilisation and Association
Process. Respect for human rights and full democratisation also figure as essential elements of the
Stabilisation and Association Agreement we signed with Croatia. The main goal of the whole policy which
the Commission elaborated for the countries of the region is to support the creation of fully fledged
democracies in these countries.

As far as the specific event mentioned by the Honourable Member, the Commission has been informed
that the memorial has not been demolished. It understands that the mayor of Porec ordered to remove the
plaque of the memorial in order to make some changes and put the plaque, as modified, back in place.