Hungarian President Janos Ader on Wednesday apologised in Serbia’s national parliament for crimes Hungarians committed against innocent Serbs in Vojvodina during WW2.
“Free and democratic Hungary condemns those who … committed crimes against innocent Serbs. Let me, as the president of the Hungarian Republic, apologise for the crimes Hungarians committed against innocent Serbs during the second world war,” Ader said before lawmakers of the Serbian parliament.
Ader said that lawmakers of Serbia’s parliament had taken “an important and historic step” by adopting a declaration last Friday, condemning the massacre in Vojvodina in 1944-45 and resolutions made under the principle of collective guilt during the war.
“Here let me express thanks and appreciation to you all, as well as to the citizens of Serbia on behalf of all those who not only believe in mutual respect and appreciation, but are ready to act for these two convictions.”
Ader said Friday’s declaration made it clear that the Serbian parliament was ready to provide compensation to innocent Hungarian victims of ethnic-based massacres in Vojvodina during WW2.
“Although nobody can undo those crimes, we still believe that forgiveness following a mutual apology can point beyond reconciliation,” Ader said told a special session of parliament broadcast live by Serbian public TV RTS-2.
“Because we, Hungarians of today, and Serbs of today, stand united as one on the side of the innocent victims. The legacy we want to pass on to our children is that of life, justice and cooperation, and not that of death, untruth and hatred,” Ader said.
He noted that his address was first time the president of a free Hungarian state had spoken in the parliament of a free Serbia. He expressed thanks and recognition to the members of Serbia’s parliament and the people of Serbia on behalf of Hungary and all Hungarian people.
The Serbian statement “not only concludes after seven decades a chapter in our shared past full of shadows and pain, but opens new perspectives in the ties between our countries and peoples,” Ader said. He added that the statement also demonstrated Serbia’s commitment to European values, an example to be followed by other countries. He said that “the gestures of understanding and accepting each other, cooperation, speaking the truth, and respect for each other and for universal human values could constitute the basis for the reunification of Europe.”
Serbia can count on Hungary as a friend and a partner in its endeavours of a successful integration with the European Union, Ader said.
Before delivering his address, Ader held talks with Nebojsa Stefanovic, the speaker of parliament. In the afternoon, he will travel on to the village of Curug (Csurog) in the northernmost province of Vojvodina to pay his respects, together with Serbian counterpart Tomislav Nikolic, in honour of the innocent Serb and Hungarian victims murdered in WWII. This will be the first occasion that the two countries’ heads of state pay such a tribute.