Jerusalem Post, October 12, 2004
Jewish leaders visit Serbia to build ties
"There are no friendly terrorists or terrorists that are freedom fighters," Serbia and Montenegro Minister of Foreign Affairs Vuk Draskovic told members of the World Jewish Congress on Monday. "There is no difference between terrorists killing children in Chechnya or in Jerusalem or in Kosovo or in New York."
Draskovic made his comments during a meeting with a WJC delegation in Serbia to strengthen ties between the Jewish community and the country.
He also appealed to the Jewish organization for support in Serbia's struggle to retain control of Kosovo.
Draskovic called the troubled province "the Serbian Jerusalem," and compared a Kosovo divorced from Serbia to Jews' historic separation from their homeland.
"All Serbians will leave Kosovo and we will take the position of European Jews starting to dream about... our spiritual home," he said. "I think the Jews are in a position to understand this."
WJC leaders declined to back the Serbian position, as Dr. Israel Singer, chairman of the governing board of the WJC, told Draskovic, "The first and most important thing is respect for human rights."
However, Singer added, "We will try to sensitize people... to the depths of feeling of your people."
Under former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic, Serbian behavior, in its attempt to retain its grip on Kosovo, was criticized as constituting war crimes in some cases.
"Anti-Semitism is also terrorism, the spiritual base for terrorism," Draskovic said, adding: "There's not been a single case of anti-Semitism among Serbia and we have been very proud of this fact."
Singer welcomed Draskovic's strong condemnation of anti-Semitism and willingness to join other countries calling for a United Nations statement against anti-Semitism.
Singer said the phenomenon of anti-Semitism here is "not widespread, as it is in most of Europe."
"There have been [only] a few incidents in Serbia and Montenegro and we're pleased about that," he said.
Alluding to a shared history of suffering under and struggling against the Nazis, Singer said, "The Serbian people have a special relationship with the Jews. I cannot say that about many other peoples in Europe."