Controversial Plaque in Jasenovac to Be Removed in September?

By 28 August 2017

Prime Minister wants Administration Minister Kuščević to help him solve the problem.

A collateral victim of a controversial memorial plaque with the “For Homeland, Ready” inscription (Za Dom Spremni), which was used during the times of the Independent State of Croatia, will be Administration Minister Lovro Kuščević. Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and HDZ’s coalition partners HNS and SDSS expect that during September (supposedly by 15 September) he will draft a solution for the latest crisis between HDZ and its coalition partners, reports Večernji List on August 28, 2017.

The Prime Minister has promised to his partners to solve the problem of the memorial plaque during September, at least according to SDSS and HNS. The latest events started after Justice Minister Dražen Bošnjaković over the weekend caused a mini crisis in the government when he gave an interview in which he said that the plaque would remain in Jasenovac until a new law was passed next year. After the crisis erupted, Bošnjaković changed his opinion and stated that there was a possibility that the issue could be resolved earlier and that the Administration Ministry was working on a solution.

The solution is actually a response by the Administration Ministry to SDP's parliamentary interpellation on the plaque, filed in April this year, which the Government was supposed to answer four months ago. Minister Kuščević had already prepared a response to the government at the end of June, but it was never officially adopted because it did not contain what Prime Minister Plenković, under pressure from his new coalition partners from HNS and the national minorities, expected it would say.

According to media reports at the time, the Administration Ministry had taken the view that there was no legal basis for the plaque to be removed from Jasenovac and that it could remain there until a law is passed that will ban the use of symbols of totalitarian regimes. The Prime Minister said afterwards that this was not the government’s position (that the plaque could remain in Jasenovac), but the government did nothing since then to remove the plaque or send a response to SDP's interpellation.

It seemed that the Prime Minister wanted to solve the problem by having the Administration Ministry issue a position that the plaque must be removed. Also, it appeared that Administration Minister Kuščević, a conservative right-wing HDZ member, did not want to do his part.

However, the ball has been returned to Kuščević's corner after Bošnjaković's latest interview. While Kuščević and HDZ did not want to comment on the issue, HDZ's coalition partners HNS and SDSS are willing to talk to journalists. “What kind of a prime minister he is when he cannot make a decision and solve the problem of the plaque? There is an opinion of the Constitutional Court on the slogan. You come and remove the plaque, and leave the police to protect the location, and the plaque is not more,” said an HNS source. Although HNS seems very upset about the issue, it is hard to believe they would bring down the government after the party split in order to get into a coalition with HDZ several months ago.

SDSS also says it has a promise from the Prime Minister that the plaque will be removed in September, but they emphasise that it was supposed to be removed already. SDSS is also not expected to leave the government because it does not want new elections, but they say that the issue should no longer be delayed.

Translated from Večernji List.