President: Football Fans' Clashes in Vukovar Indicate Situation in Town Not Normal

By 19 June 2020
President: Football Fans' Clashes in Vukovar Indicate Situation in Town Not Normal

ZAGREB, June 19, 2020 - President Zoran Milanovic said on Friday that conflicts between football fans' groups in Vukovar showed that the situation in that eastern town "is not normal" as local youth was constantly being poisoned, and he called for punishing the perpetrators.

"The perpetrators should be punished and that, I'm sure, is what will happen in this case, which is just an indicator of the situation in the town, which is not normal," Milanovic said in a comment on an incident in Vukovar's neighbourhood of Borovo Naselje, when six people were injured in clashes between supporters of the Dinamo Zagreb football club and those of Partizan Belgrade.

Milanovic does not believe such conflicts are accidental but he does not see how they are linked with the election campaign, noting that they happen all the time.

He said that he was not familiar with the details of the incident but that he did know that back in 2008 there had been an agreement between the then city authorities and representatives of the Serb minority on the official use of the minority's Cyrillic script, after which "the situation has simply regressed to the situation of years ago."

"A series of events in the political life of Vukovar and Croatia have resulted in a radical change of government at all levels, and, unfortunately, a group of people could not imagine their coming back to power without restoring the situation to how it was in 1991," he said.

He said that new generations of young people, notably men, who had been exposed to strong indoctrination on both sides, were now growing up.

"We know what happened in 1991 but 11-12 years ago, when I was just entering the world of politics, the situation in Vukovar looked much better than it is today. I think that one can identify by name the group of people who are responsible for this situation, and the majority is always at least equally responsible as the minority. The majority are we, Croats," he said.

The president would neither support nor criticise comments by politicians regarding the issue of abortion, saying that he was saving his neutrality for the duration of electioneering.

Nevertheless, he noted that his position on the matter is already known and that the right to choose is not only a technical right but also a complex matter.

"The woman is the one to decide. I also respect the more conservative views but I do not agree with them and believe that a line should be drawn somewhere."

As for his predecessor Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic showing her middle finger as a sign of protest at some positions on the right to abortion of raped women, Milanovic said that such a style was always a method of fight and should be viewed in a certain context.

"The middle finger does not mean anything to me, it can be funny, it can be vulgar. It depends on the context," he said.