Prime Minister Ivica Dacic has waded into the row over whether Bosniaks [Muslims] have the right to commemorate a man they see as a local hero - but whom Serbs revile as a wartime collaborator.
In a speech to parliament Dacic, said that he was against the rehabilitation of collaborators with German occupation forces and that such people cannot now be declared anti-fascists.
“It is impossible that someone who was honored by Hitler with an Iron Cross can be declared an honorable citizen of some part of Serbia,” Dacic said.
Dacic was referring to the recent controversial events in the mainly Bosniak southwestern city of Novi Pazar, where local authorities have put up a plaque to Acif Hadziahmetovic.
He was appointed head of the city in April 1941, following the German occupation of Yugoslavia.
Bosniaks revere him as “the saviour of the Muslims from the Chetniks [wartime Serb nationalists],” but Serbian history books revile him as a traitor and as an ally of Nazi Germany.
Officials in Belgrade have condemned the commemoration as “an act celebrating fascism”.
The government has ordered the removal of the plaque, saying that controversial historic episodes should not be allowed to jeopardize inter-ethnic relations.
In response, the Bosniak National Council has called on the authorities to first remove monuments dedicated to Chetniks before they embark on removing the plaque to Hadziahmetovic.
In the meantime, 17 NGOs in Serbia have called on the international community to condemn the ongoing trend towards revisionism in general in Serbia, which has seen the steady rehabilitation of the Chetnik movement, which advocated a "Greater Serbia".
“This movement was responsible for a number of crimes against civilians, especially against Muslims, but also against others whom they believed were allies of the [left-wing] Partisans," a joint letter sent to ambassadors reads.
The rehabilitation process of the Chetnik leader, Draza Mihailovic, is still ongoing before a Belgrade court, angering many human rights activist in the region who claim that Serbia is rehabilitating a war criminal.
Dacic has meanwhile said that the victims of war crimes should be rehabilitated, not the perpetrators.
Serbia had sponsored the biggest anti-fascist movement in the region, but that owing to the civil war between Partisans and Chetniks, it also ended up with the largest number of victims, he added.