Monday, 14 January 2019

Prehistory Adventure Virtual Tour Presented in Zagreb

ZAGREB, January 14, 2019 - An EU-funded project on experiential tour of prehistoric heritage in Croatian and Slovenian border areas was presented in Zagreb's Archaeological Museum on Monday. The total amount set aside for the "Prehistory Adventure" project within the Croatia-Slovenia cross-border cooperation programme Interreg V-A 2014-2020 is 720,290 euro.

The project will be conducted by the Croatian municipality of Donja Voća and the neighbouring Slovenian municipalities of Zreče and Radenci, as well as by several museums in Croatia and Slovenia.

The two-year project was launched in November 2018. It focuses on five different sectors, and will be conducted with the assistance of applications and smart boards and through a series of events, including workshops and exhibition.

Prehistoric heritage will be given tourist-friendly and comprehensive promotion.

The project will seek to present the everyday life of prehistoric people in an interesting way.

More news on Croatia’s history can be found in the Politics section.

Thursday, 10 January 2019

President Marks 27 Years of Croatia’s International Recognition

ZAGREB, January 10, 2019 - President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović held an official reception in the northwestern town of Čakovec on Thursday for the heads of diplomatic missions and international organisations and military attaches in Croatia on the occasion of Croatia’s international recognition 27 years ago and of the 100th anniversary of Međimurje's secession from Hungary and its reintegration into Croatia, which was then part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes.

In her address, President Grabar-Kitarović said that the reception was organised in recognition of all those who had contributed to the adoption of the resolution on Međimurje's secession from Hungary one hundred years ago. "That was a historic day for Croatia and the Croatian people and that is why on 9 January 2005 the Croatian parliament proclaimed this as a day commemorating that resolution," she underscored and added that today Međimurje is one of the most developed areas in Croatia.

Referring to Croatia's international recognition on 15 January 1992, Grabar-Kitarović said that the Croatian people were given an opportunity to be included in all positive European processes. "Our aspirations for membership of the great family of European Union countries, which we achieved a few years ago, expresses our deep confidence and feeling that Europe has a shared future," she said.

Speaking of many European initiatives that Croatia has been incorporated in, she underscored the Three Seas Initiative which has received support from the European Commission, the US and a new partner country, Germany. She expressed confidence that this will "have a beneficial impact on European and international relations," hoping that Croatia will soon be able to have the same impact as a member of the OECD.

Among priorities in state policy, she underlined advancing bilateral relations with neighbouring countries and resolving outstanding issues, adding that Croatia will remain dedicated to the mutual protection of national minority rights. She said that as a signatory to the Washington and Dayton peace accords, Croatia is firmly determined to offer further support to Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina in their endeavours to achieve full ethnic equality and constitutionality.

"Croatia will also actively support and encourage all processes that will ensure stability in southeast Europe and for all its peoples and countries that so wish to join the European Union and NATO," Grabar-Kitarović said.

In the year marking the 10th anniversary of Croatia's accession to NATO, she stressed that our relations with other countries, particularly strategic partnership with the United States of America, constructive cooperation with the Russian Federation and China, further strengthening ties with Israel and expanding economic cooperation with other countries in the Mediterranean basin, are a continuation of our presence in international relations.

"We will certainly have an exceptional role in the China plus 16 summit which Croatia is hosting in April 2019 and which should deepen relations and ties between the East and West that started long ago with Marco Polo," she said.

More news on the Croatia’s president can be found in our Politics section.

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Croatian Government Condemns MP’s Son’s Hate Speech

ZAGREB, January 8, 2019 - The Croatian government condemned in the strongest terms a Facebook post by MP Josip Đakić's son Ivan, which it said spreads hate speech which incites intolerance, according to a press release issued by the government's public relations office on Tuesday.

Relevant institutions have already launched action against such behaviour, the press release said.

The 22-year-old Ivan Đakić posted a photograph on his Facebook page on Monday showing an Ustasha with the severed head of a Chetnik, under which he wrote: "Merry Christmas to all my Serb 'friends'." The Ustashas and Chetniks were respective Croatian and Serbian allies of Nazi Germany in World War II.

The post prompted widespread condemnation over hate speech.

Ivan Đakić was taken in by the police in Virovitica, 150 kilometres northeast of Zagreb, for questioning.

The ruling HDZ party strongly condemned the post as hate speech and incitement to social intolerance, announcing that it would take disciplinary action against Ivan Đakić.

Ivan Đakić resigned from party membership on Tuesday. "I see his resignation from the party today as an act of confession of this grave mistake and a realisation of the gravity of this regrettable act," said his father, Josip Đakić, who serves as chairman of the HDZ's Virovitica-Podravina County committee.

"I shared the photograph from a friend of mine and erased it within a minute. It doesn't reflect my opinion. I apologise to anyone I may have offended and wish them a merry Christmas," Đakić told the Index news website.

However, the screenshot clearly shows that Djakic did not remove the photograph within a minute and that he himself posted it.

More news on the dark part of the Croatian history can be found in the Politics section.

Monday, 7 January 2019

Anniversary of Deaths of Five European Peace Monitors Commemorated

ZAGREB, January 7, 2019 - A commemoration was held in Podrute near the northwestern Croatian town of Novi Marof on Monday for five European Community peace monitors – four Italians and a Frenchman – whose unarmed helicopter was shot down there by a Yugoslav Air Force MiG-21 on 7 January 1992.

On board the helicopter were Italians Colonel Enzo Venturini, Lieutenants Marco Matta, Silvano Natale and Fiorenzo Ramacci, and French Lieutenant Jean Loup Eychenne.

Attending today's commemoration, presidential envoy Mate Granić, a former foreign minister, said the sacrifice of European peace monitors was incorporated in the foundations of the present-day Croatian state.

Croatian Foreign Ministry's State Secretary Zdravka Bušić said that the shooting down of the unarmed helicopter was an act of shooting at innocent civilians who were seeking a peaceful resolution.

Novi Marof Mayor Siniša Jenkač said that the attack against the helicopter of the European Community observer mission clearly pointed to the fact who the victim was and who the aggressor was in the Homeland War, and this is why that tragic event is so important.

Military envoy of the Italian Embassy in Zagreb, Angelo Malizia, said that remembering the event that occurred 27 years ago was sorrowful, yet "a feeling of pride exists, because the sacrifice of four Italian soldiers and a Frenchman was not in vain."

Fabrice Duda of the military envoy of the French Embassy also attended today's commemoration.

More news on the Homeland War can be found in our Politics section.

Sunday, 6 January 2019

Croatia Declassifies Documents in Connection with Seuso Treasure

ZAGREB, January 6, 2019 - The Croatian government decided to declassify the archive documentation of a commission tasked with coordinating activities in connection with artifacts from the "Seuso Treasure" that consists of 14 large decorated silver vessels and a copper cauldron which contained them.

It is supposed that patrician Seuso (Sevso) owned this Roman-era silver collection. Sevso was a high-ranking Roman official who lived in the region that is today west Hungary. The hoard was named after a Latin inscription on one of the large plates: "Let these, O Sevso, yours for many ages be, small vessels fit to serve your offspring worthily."

The first pieces appeared on the market in London in 1980, and the treasure was acquired by a consortium headed by Spencer Compton, 7th Marquess of Northampton. Documentation was provided in which it was stated that it had been found in the Tyre and Sidon regions of Lebanon. It was put up for sale in New York City in 1990 by Sotheby's, but the sale was halted when the documentation was found to be false, and the governments of Hungary, Croatia and Lebanon made claims of ownership.

The treasure seems to have been discovered in the 1970s in circumstances that remain murky.

Croatia's authorities have claimed that this hoard of silver objects had been excavated in the Istrian town of Barbariga.

On the other hand, the Hungarians insist that the treasure was originally from the area of its Balaton Lake.

In March 2014, Hungarian media outlets reported that a half of the 14 silver objects were repatriated to Hungary, and Prime Minister Viktor Orban said that 15 million euros had been spent for the restitution of the treasure. The objects were put on display in Budapest.

More news on the Croatian history can be found in our Lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Monument to Franjo Tuđman Unveiled in Zagreb

ZAGREB, December 11, 2018 - A four-metre-high monument to Franjo Tuđman, Croatia's first president, was unveiled in the centre of Zagreb on Monday, on the occasion of the 19th anniversary of Tuđman's death.

Addressing the unveiling ceremony, incumbent President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović praised the first head of state for understanding the signs of the times and for leading the nation when it created its state.

Noting that the anniversary of Tuđman's death coincides with Human Rights' Day, 10 December, Grabar-Kitarović underscored that Tuđman was aware that the ideal of fundamental human rights could not be fully exercised if a nation was not free.

Guided by that ideal, Tuđman joined the anti-Fascist movement during the Second World War, but soon after the end of WWII, he realised that the new state (Socialist Yugoslavia) failed to ensure the exercise of human, social and national ideals of the Croatian people, she added.

Many Croats could not accept that but only the few had a clear vision of the promotion of the Croatian cause, and Tuđman was a leader who could shape and implement that plan, said Grabar-Kitarović.

The key to his success was his belief that nations that are small, such as the Croat people, are also entitled to great ideas and the ability to implement them, she said.

Tuđman was also aware that the crucial historical opportunity should not be missed as it would lead to the "extinction of the Croat people," she added.

She went on to say that that the first Croatian president was sure that a people that waged a just defensive war could not lose. After Operation Storm which completed efforts to bring freedom and independence to Croatia, Tuđman came to Vukovar with an extended hand of reconciliation and peace, said Grabar-Kitarović.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković recalled that under Tuđman's leadership, the Croatians' centuries-long dream of a free, democratic, independent and internationally recognised country became true.

The achievements of the Croatian state with Tudjman at its helm have enabled a free expression of the Croatian national and state identity, Plenković said.

It is therefore important to preserve those values, and Tuđman's positive political legacy is a pillar of the present-day Croatia which we have to promote and develop in significantly different social and political circumstances, he added.

Today we have the responsibility to recognise new strategic priorities and implement them through dialogue, seek joint solutions, reinforce Croatian institutions and build the country's international image, the prime minister said, recalling that during Tudjman's presidency Croatia defined its commitment to integrating with European and trans-Atlantic organisations and the family of the most developed European countries.

The monument to Franjo Tuđman, erected at the intersection of Vukovarska and Hrvatske Bratske Zajednice streets, was formally unveiled by Grabar-Kitarović, sculptor Kuzma Kovačić, who is the monument's author, members of the Tuđman family, and Zagreb Deputy Mayor Jelena Pavičić Vukičević.

More info about Croatian history can be found in our Politics section.

Thursday, 6 December 2018

150 Years of Croatian-Hungarian Settlement Marked in Budapest

ZAGREB, December 6, 2018 - The Croatian-Hungarian Settlement was the beginning of the long creation of modern Croatian civil society, Croatian Institute of History head Jasna Turkalj said in Budapest on Wednesday at a conference on the 150th anniversary of the document. The document regulated the status of Croats in the last 50 years of Austria-Hungary, the beginning of the development of modern, though not independent Croatia.

Turkalj and seven Croatian and Hungarian historians spoke at the conference in the Hungarian parliament, held under the auspices of its Speaker Laszlo Kover and his Croatian counterpart Gordan Jandroković.

Jandroković said the Croatian-Hungarian state union had been one of the longest state unions in history. "We were together since 1102 as active political stakeholders in Europe, notably central Europe."

"It's also important to underline that we belong to the same European cultural and civilisation circle and we were, and still are, naturally inclined to cooperate closely," he said.

The Croatian-Hungarian Settlement was the foundation on which Ban Ivan Mažuranić implemented numerous reforms and although it did not give Croatia the fundamental features of a state, it ensured the features of special statehood such as territory, borders, legislation, management, tuition, worship, judiciary and internal affairs. "With that, Croatia acquired a status that no other Slavic nation had."

Both Jandroković and Kover underlined the importance of intensifying Croatian-Hungarian cooperation in the context of, said Jandroković, "an increasingly complex world full of challenges and a never more fragile European Union."

Opening the conference, Kover said that "we in central Europe want to defend ourselves from big powers passing through this region, which is why we should take care of ourselves together." "We should move away from the past and not look for protectors in big powers. There's no third way."

"Big tests are coming, dark clouds have gathered over Europe and migration is just one of the attacks on European culture and customs," Kover said, adding that central Europe could become Europe's centre, rather than be its periphery. "In these bad times you can't have a bad relationship with the neighbours. We must look for an answer to our disagreements and the legacy of the Croatian-Hungarian Settlement can help in that," he said.

Jandroković said this was his third meeting with Kover as parliament speaker and that he chose Hungary for his first official trip abroad to say that Croatia was interested in stronger relations.

"Today we see that Croatia and Hungary have good and friendly relations. There's this outstanding issue that we will resolve in the future, but it mustn't cast a shadow on the overall relations, which are important politically, economically and geostrategically," Jandroković said, referring to the issue of Croatia's INA oil company.

For more on the Croatian-Hungarian relations, click here.

Thursday, 29 November 2018

Prague Spring Anniversary Marked by Czech Groups in Croatia

ZAGREB, November 29, 2018 - The Croatian-Czech Society and the Češka Beseda association on Wednesday held a round table discussion dedicated to the Prague Spring, a period of political liberalisation in Czechoslovakia as a Communist state after World War II. The year 1968 stirs up strong emotions among Czechs and Slovaks because it was a year of great hopes, enthusiasm and optimism, as well as a year of great disappointments, it was said at the event marking the Prague Spring anniversary.

The Prague Spring and its end, as well as the subsequent protest suicide of student Jan Palach, is probably the best known event in the history of the Czech and Slovak peoples in the world, said the president of the Croatian-Czech Society, Marijan Lipovac.

Around 50,000 Czechs and Slovaks were vacationing in Croatia at the time and could not return to their country as the borders were closed for about ten days.

The residents of Zagreb offered them to stay with them in their homes, said Češka Beseda vice-president Marina Kolaček Novosel, speaking of reports in Croatian newspapers at the time of the Prague Spring.

The Prague Spring was a reform movement led by Czechoslovak Communist leader Alexander Dubček and aimed at democratising and liberalising the country's social and political system, said Lipovac.

The hopes of reforms were destroyed in the occupation by five Warsaw Pact states – the Soviet Union, the German Democratic Republic, Poland, Hungary and Bulgaria, in August 1968.

The Prague Spring was supported by Yugoslavia and Romania since Josip Broz Tito saw in it the success of his concept of socialism, while Nicolae Causescu, with his rigid regime, defended the principle that each state has the right to develop its own kind of socialism.

After the occupation, Dubček and the Czechoslovak leadership were forced to capitulate and give up their reforms, even though they were allowed to stay in their positions for some time.

The only of the planned reforms that was implemented was the federalisation of Czechoslovakia, which on 1 January 1969 became a federal state consisting of the Czech Socialist Republic and the Slovak Socialist Republic. A period of so-called normalisation ensued and lasted until the Velvet Revolution in 1989.

During the occupation, 137 Czechoslovaks who tried to put up resistance were killed. Political opponents were fired or arrested and around 250,000 people emigrated, including many researchers and cultural workers.

During that period, Croatian citizens and institutions provided their Czechoslovak guests with accommodation and the necessary assistance, once again confirming the solidarity between the Croats, Czechs and Slovaks in difficult times of their history, said Lipovac.

For more on relations between Croatia and the Czech Republic, click here.

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Parliament to Debate Historical Revisionism in Croatia on Thursday

ZAGREB, November 28, 2018 - Parliament will debate the SDP-sponsored interpellation on the work of the government on Thursday, in which the opposition Social Democratic Party (SDP) accuses the government of not confronting historical revisionism in Croatia.

SDP requests a parliamentary debate on that topic and asks the government to undertake actions that will prevent the use of symbols and salutes that are banned in Croatia by the Constitutions, laws and obvious court practice.

SDP proposes that parliament should adopt a conclusion defining the said salute as the official salute used by the Ustasha and WWII Independent State of Croatia (NDH) totalitarian regime.

The opposition party asks the government to remove the plaque for HOS volunteer fighters, which has the salute "For the Homeland Ready," incorporated in it. The plaque has been put up in Jasenovac, the site of a WWII death camp, among other things.

The plaque erected for eleven HOS Homeland War defenders with the salute was taken down in September 2017 in Jasenovac and relocated to the Trokut memorial site in the nearby town of Novska.

In September last year, the government said that it proposes to the parliament not to endorse the conclusions put forward by SDP. The government said then that the claims by the SDP that the government was downplaying Ustasha crimes were not correct.

The government wholly rejects the arguments in the SDP interpellation and one of the fundamental starting points of its programme for the 2016-20 period is the condemnation of all undemocratic systems which in the past century caused the persecution and execution of political opponents, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said then, adding that the government had clearly said that on many occasions.

For more on historical revisionism in Croatia and the events during the Second World War which are still often debated in Croatia, click here.

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

IDS Takes a Stand against Historical Revisionism in Croatia

ZAGREB, November 27, 2018 - Parliamentary deputies Giovanni Sponza and Tulio Demetlika of the Istrian Democratic Assembly (IDS) called on Monday on Croatian authorities to state a clear position on Nazism and Fascism based on the model of developed and law-based countries, noting that the authorities' response to the historical revisionism in Croatia "must be resolute and uncompromising because otherwise room is being created for a revision of the nature of the NDH (WWII Independent State of Croatia)."

"Last week Croatia was given a few stern lessons – two by the international community and one by its own human rights ombudswoman who in a courageous and comprehensive report underlined the responsibility of state institutions that are ignoring the glorification of Ustasha ideology in Croatia and failing to respond appropriately," Sponza told a news conference in the parliament.

"Representatives of state authorities did not utter a word about that report. That can be interpreted as currying favour with extremist groups," said Sponza.

In recent years, books have published, panel discussions organised, documentaries made and TV shows broadcast in which the NDH's criminal nature is negated or downplayed. "Except for the human rights ombudswoman, not a single state institution has responded to that. Those who do not condemn such phenomena are tacitly approving them," said Sponza.

He said the Austrian government had given another lesson to Croatia by amending a law to expand the list of banned symbols to include symbols of the Ustasha regime.

Sponza said the historical revisionism in Croatia was a serious social problem that required a decisive response by the state, including criminal sanctions. "The situation is getting out of hand by the day, and tolerance of Ustasha ideology is rising by the day at the expense of historical facts," Sponza said. He added that it was worrying that the latest surveys on political literacy in the final high school years showed that half of respondents were not sure if the NDH had been a fascist regime.

IDS member Tulio Demetlika said the government's response should be decisive and uncompromising because otherwise an atmosphere was being created that enabled the downplaying of horrible Ustasha crimes and creating room for a revision of the NDH's nature.

He said that Australia, too, had shown Croatia its position on the tolerance of Ustasha ideology by cancelling a visa to a man wearing Ustasha insignia. "In October 2017, the IDS forwarded to the parliament a bill proposing, on the model of developed European countries, a ban and proper sanctions against the promotion of the Nazi and Fascist regimes and consequently the Ustasha regime and all related symbols and slogans," Demetlika said, criticising Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) for not putting the bill on the parliament's agenda.

He said that he was confident this was so because the HDZ was trying to avoid a debate on that topic. "We want the bill to be put on the agenda immediately and we want Croatia to be like countries that have zero tolerance for Fascism," said Demetlika.

He said that if Jandroković did not put the IDS bill on the agenda soon, the IDS would seek support among MPs to collect more than 30 signatures to ensure that the item was put on the parliament's agenda within seven days.

Asked about disputes in the ruling coalition over the foster care bill, the IDS MPs said they welcomed the new bill that was designed to improve the quality of foster care and increase foster care allowance, but noted that they respected the principle of equality. "We believe that all people, regardless of their sexual orientation, should enjoy the same status and possibility to exercise their rights," Sponza said.

Reporters also asked the IDS MPs to comment on Health Minister Milan Kujundžić's refusal to reveal the composition of the task force working on the abortion bill. "As regards legislative initiatives, including this one, there is a lack of professional discussion. Also, when professionals do make comments in a public discussion, which happens rarely, the government and the relevant ministries often ignore those comments, which is not good," said Sponza.

For more on the issue of historical revisionism in Croatia, click here.

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