Saturday, 28 December 2019

Croatian Politics 2019: A Year in Review

What follows is a review of events in Croatian politics in 2019, as reported by TCN. If you would like to refresh your memory about the events which has led us here, read the reviews for the three previous years (2016, 2017, 2018).

The year started with a high-profile failure by the government. Months after it was announced that Croatia would buy used Israeli F-16 fighter planes, the US government vetoed the sale and the whole project fell through. Despite earlier warnings from experts that the deal was in question, ministers continued to claim that everything was alight. However, after a meeting between high-ranking officials from the United States and Israel, the truth was revealed. Ministers lost their nerves and the government launched an immediate investigation, which expectedly ended without any real results, and also announced that it would re-start the process. To show its level of seriousness, it even established a commission! Twelve months later, the process of deciding which aircraft to buy still hasn't move any further on and is not expected to end for at least another year.

The migrant crisis continued to be in the news this year. The inflow of migrants over the borders with Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia increased somewhat, together with media coverage about alleged brutality of Croatian police and illegal pushbacks of migrants to Bosnia. The authorities were quick to deny everything, but the sheer number of documented cases makes it apparent that at least some of the allegations are founded.

Efforts to limit media freedoms continued this year and some reporters were even briefly arrested. Journalists, NGOs and international organisations stood up to these attempts, but the final score is still unknown.

Repression continued in other ways as well, with courts ruling that peaceful protesters should go to prison, Croatia's human rights situation being criticised from abroad, ethnically-motivated assaults (several of them) taking place, ombudswomen’s warnings not being heard, journalists receiving instructions from the president on what to do, and diplomats spreading hate...

Historical revisionism was in full force once again this year. As a result, representatives of Jews, Serbs and anti-fascist organisations once again boycotted the government’s annual commemoration at the site of the Jasenovac concentration camp.

European elections were held in May (with even Pamela Anderson giving recommendations to Croatian voters). While the ruling HDZ party had high hopes earlier in the year (and was supported by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who attended one of its rather controversial rallies in Zagreb), the actual results were much tighter and were interpreted by everyone as a success for the opposition (particularly SDP) and a disappointment for the government.

June brought us a few days of excitement when it seemed possible that prime minister Plenković might just succeed in his life-long dream of getting a top EU job. Despite denying he ever wanted such a thing, he was rumoured to be trying to become president of the European Commission (or president of the European Council, or perhaps something else). In the end, he had to return to Croatia empty handed, again denying his alleged attempts.

Unlike Plenković, foreign minister Marija Pejčinović-Burić was more successful in the area of career development. In June, she was elected secretary-general of the Council of Europe. She promptly resigned her post in Croatia and has not been heard about since. Another happy politician is Dubravka Šuica, who has been appointed Croatia’s commissioner in the European Commission.

Mostly good economic news continued. Public debt is at its lowest level in decades, the European Commission concluded that Croatia no longer suffered from excessive economic imbalances, and GDP growth is holding up.

One of the companies which was in the public focus this year was Croatia Airlines, Croatia’s national flag carrier. Its business results were dismal and the search for possible strategic partners was on, but without any real results. The government eventually decided to cover some of the debts, but as the year comes to and end, there is no long-term solution in sight. In the meantime, Zagreb Airport continues to lose airlines using its services.

The construction of an LNG terminal on the island of Krk has apparently started out with strong support from the US government, after many years of delays and announcements. The project is funded from the state budget, since there was no interest among anyone to actually use the terminal. The government claims that there will be interest once the terminal is built, but it would not be the first major government-funded project in Croatia’s history to fail to deliver on its promises.

The construction of Pelješac bridge continues to go at an even faster pace than expected (despite occasional Bosnian protests), mostly thanks to the efforts by the Chinese construction company which won the tender, which also brought about a marked improvement in the relations between Croatia and China. Unfortunately, the construction of the access roads leading up to the bridge has not progressed nearly as fast, with tenders being decided just several months ago. It is quite possible that, when the bridge is built, it will be unusable for a while because there will be no roads leading to it.

Emigration continues amid Croatia's demographic crisis, although somewhat slower than in previous years, probably as a result of the fact that most of those who could have left have already done so. The authorities talk about demographic revival, but nothing much has happened so far.

Political scandals were as numerous as ever. The regional development minister had an accident while driving without a driving license, the agriculture minister forgot to list all his assets on an official statement, the administration minister had his own scandals which were too numerous even to count, and the state assets minister had problems of his own. The Prime minister strongly supported his ministers before some of them resigned, and then he changed his mind and dismissed the rest of them.

The ruling coalition remained stable this year, despite occasional rumours of impending collapse. Ultimatums were rejected, resignations demanded, talks announced, decisions to stay in coalition made, threats given... Just the usual stuff.

As expected, the border dispute between Croatia and Slovenia has not been resolved this year. Slovenia was disappointed with the EU’s decision not to get involved in a dispute between its two members. The chances that this issue will feature in our review for 2020 are quite high.

In October, the European Commission announced that Croatia has fulfilled all the technical conditions to join the Schengen area. However, the final decision will require the unanimous support of all EU member states, and Slovenia does not seem ready to give its approval until the border dispute with Croatia is resolved. 

Another major project is the introduction of euro in Croatia. After a lot of talk, the government has finally sent an official request. The process will certainly take years and opinion is divided as to whether it is a good idea or not.

One of the highlights were the trade union's activities. Earlier in the year, the unions managed to collect enough signatures for a referendum against the government’s pension reform and an increase in the retirement age. The government capitulated and revoked already approved laws (although it previously warned that such a decision would be a disaster).

The other major trade union success was the primary and secondary school strike later in the year. After almost two months, the government capitulated and gave the unions more or less everything they had asked for.

One of the highlights of the next six months will be Croatia’s EU presidency. The government is promoting it as a great success, although all EU member states sooner or later get their chance to hold the rotating presidency. While Croatia's plans are ambitious, their delivery will probably be more modest.

The major event at the end of the year was the first round of Croatia's presidential elections.

While the post is largely ceremonial, elections are held every five years and still manage to occupy public attention for months. Three major candidates launched their bids: incumbent president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović (officially an independent candidate who in reality is HDZ), former SDP prime minister Zoran Milanović, and singer Miroslav Škoro, who presented himself as a candidate of change, despite having been an MP, a diplomat and a former HDZ member.

The first round was held on December 22. Zoran Milanović won with 29.6% of the vote, followed by Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović with 26.7%. Škoro was third with 24.5%. Milanović and Grabar-Kitarović will take part in the run-off on January 5.

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Serbian Film About Jasenovac Causing Tensions

ZAGREB, November 12, 2019 - The letter sent by a US official to Minister Nina Obuljen Koržinek, which was published by the Serbian Kurir newspaper and concerned the shooting of a film about Jasenovac, was not an official request forwarded to the Croatian government but the diplomat's private e-mail correspondence, the Croatian Culture Ministry said on Monday.

Minister Obuljen Koržinek has already explained that the ministry is not the address to which the film director should forward his requests about the film shooting, the ministry said.

The pro-government tabloid Kurir recently ran a copy of an email which the State Department envoy for Holocaust issues, Thomas K. Yazdgerdi, had sent to Minister Obuljen Koržinek in March this year, asking her to support the film project "Dara from Jasenovac", the filming of which has already begun with the support of the Serbian government.

"The letter a copy of which was run by the Serbian media is not an official request by the U.S. Administration to the Croatian government. It is private e-correspondence of the U.S. diplomat who paid several visits to Croatia in connection with the culture of remembrance and the Holocaust," the Croatian ministry said in its response to Hina's query.

Minister Obuljen Koržinek said she explained to Mr. Yazdgerdi that her ministry was not the address to send requests regarding the shooting of the film. The filmmaker should probably contact the Croatian Audiovisual Centre (HAVC) for such requests, if the crew needs permissions to film scenes at locations in Croatia, the minister said.

Furthermore, the right address to obtain information and facts about the past of Jasenovac is the public institute that runs the Jasenovac Memorial Site (JUSP Jasenovac). Jasenovac was the WW2 concentration camp run by the Ustasha regime from 1941 to 1945.

"According to information available to us, neither the director nor the producer have ever contacted HAVC or JUSP Jasenovac, and the film will be shot only in Serbia," the ministry said.

Considering frequent attempts in the Serbian public to manipulate the topic of Jasenovac and the number of the victims as well as attempts to deny crimes committed against Croats during the (1991-1995) Homeland War and continuous attempts to link the democratic Croatia and the 1941-1945 Independent State of Croatia (NDH), Minister Obuljen Koržinek conveyed her doubts to the U.S. special envoy for Holocaust issues regarding the film project.

"Following recent media comments in Serbia and also a part of the Croatian media scene, it is evident that this is one more attempt to abuse the topic of Jasenovac, which should always be condemned," reads the statement issued by the ministry.

The film crew said on November 2 that the project was expected to be finished by the end of the year and that the premiere was planned for May 2020 to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Jasenovac concentration camp.

The film was financially supported by the Serbian government and the Serbian Film Centre with 2.3 million euro.

More news about Jasenovac can be found in the Politics section.

Friday, 2 August 2019

Roma Holocaust Remembrance Day Commemorated at Jasenovac

ZAGREB, August 2, 2019 - A memorial ceremony was held on Friday at the Roma cemetery in Uštica, about 100 kilometres southeast of Zagreb, for more than 16,000 Roma killed in the Jasenovac concentration camp during the Second World War.

The commemoration, organised by the Roma organisation Kali Sara and the Council of the Roma Minority in Croatia, was held on International Roma Holocaust Remembrance Day, or the Porajmos, which is marked in Croatia on August 2.

Attending the commemoration were Deputy Prime Minister Davor Božinović on behalf of the government, Sisak-Moslavina County Prefect Ivan Žinić as President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović's envoy, Deputy Parliament Speaker Sinisa Hajdaš Dončić, Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić as well as members of the diplomatic corps.

After prayers, Božinovic and MP Marija Mačković laid wreaths and paid tribute to the Roma victims.

Addressing those gathered, the representative of the Roma community in the Croatian parliament, MP Veljko Kajtazi, said that he was pleased that after seventy years, people started talking about the Roma victims of the Ustasha-run Jasenovac concentration camp.

He added that he could not be completely satisfied with the status of the Roma community in Croatia but that he hoped that the operating programme for the Roma would be implemented in cooperation with the government before the end of its term.

"We hope that with the assistance of the City of Zagreb and the Croatian government next year we will open a Roma Memorial Centre here," Kajtazi said and added that Roma in Croatia can significantly contribute to Croatia's economic development along with other citizens.

More news about the Jasenovac concentration camp can be found in the Politics section.

Thursday, 2 May 2019

Bet Israel, Religious Communities Mark Holocaust Remembrance Day in Jasenovac

ZAGREB, May 2, 2019 - The Jewish community of Bet Israel and other religious organisations in Croatia paid tribute to the Holocaust victims at Jasenovac, the site of a World War II concentration camp, on Thursday marking Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The ceremony commemorated "six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust as victims of Nazi Germany and its helpers" and "Jews who took part in armed resistance across war-torn Europe," Bet Israel's president Aleksandar Srećković said.

He said that Jasenovac was the site of the worst atrocities committed against the Jewish people in the region during WWII.

"Racial, ethnic and other biological differences are irrelevant, but society creates them and often uses them to justify hatred, oppression and killing of others, using racism as an argument in promoting stereotypes and prejudices along the lines of 'us and them'," Srećković said.

"It is our duty to keep reminding ourselves of that time. It is our duty never to forget what one person is capable of doing to another in the name of higher causes and in the name of an ideology that forgot the ethical values which we all invoke," he added.

The Serb Orthodox Metropolitan of Zagreb and Ljubljana, Porfirije Perić, said that people, regardless of their differences, belong to the same, human species.

"The line that divides good and evil does not run between nations, states or races. The line that divides good from evil is in the heart of every one of us. It is there that the battle is fought and where a decision is made on whether we are human or not," Perić said.

The Roman Catholic Bishop of Požega, Antun Škvorčević, said that several million Jews had been killed during WWII as part of an inhumane system of violence and persecution, and that a certain number of them had met their end in Jasenovac.

"Feeling the full gravity of misused human freedom and impotence in the face of the destructive irrationality of crime, we stop at the challenge of innocent victims. It is precisely because of them that any word of revenge, any expression of hatred or manipulation with their number is inappropriate for commemorations in Jasenovac. It would be a testimony of being captured by evil, yet another humiliation of the victims," Škvorčević said.

Writer and scientist Jasminka Domas, who conducted the commemoration, said that respects should be paid out of humility. "Forgiveness is individual, just as is responsibility for the world we live in. Without hiding behind politics and ideologies, we should turn to the good and dignity of every person while we still can," she said.

The prayer service began with pupils from a Jewish primary school from Zagreb and a Catholic primary school from Požega lighting six candles for six million Jews killed in the Holocaust and remembering the names of people killed in the genocide in WWII Croatia.

More news about Jasenovac can be found in the Politics section.

Sunday, 14 April 2019

State Commemoration Held at Jasenovac

ZAGREB, April 14, 2019 - The official state commemoration for the victims of the WWII Ustasha-run Jasenovac concentration camp was held at the Jasenovac Memorial Site on Sunday under the auspices of the Croatian parliament, with the families of the victims and top state officials attending.

Wreaths and flowers were laid at the Stone Flower monument by victims' families and representatives of the state authorities, numerous embassies, counties, towns and municipalities as well as institutions and associations.

The commemoration was attended by Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, a number of ministers, Zagreb mayor Milan Bandić, and Roma MP Veljko Kajtazi, who also attended a commemoration on Friday, organised by associations of ethnic minorities and antifascists in memory of the breakout of Jasenovac inmates.

There were no speeches by officials and politicians at this year's official commemoration. Instead, actors interpreted testimonies of inmates Helena Pachl Mandić and Erwin Miller.

Speaking to the press, the prime minister said, "We came to pay our respects to the victims of the Ustasha-run camp Jasenovac, to all the inmates, to those who, 74 years ago in April, broke out, when, unfortunately, many were killed."

"We are here once again to condemn the crime and the regime under which such camps existed, and to say that today we must work on inclusion in society, on reducing divisions, on tolerance and dialogue, on nurturing the culture of remembrance and on the education of young people about important moments in Croatian history, notably from World War Two," Plenković said.

Therefore, I'm glad that we have created a new history curriculum which has been received well by everyone, experts as well as politicians, he added.

He regretted that today's commemoration was not a joint one and recalled that its date was set mainly by the Jasenovac Memorial Site Council, which includes members of ethnic minorities.

"I'm not glad there are two commemorations, but we are talking and I believe these talks will bear fruit next year," Plenković said, reiterating that it would be healthy and good for society and the emancipation of these topics in present-day Croatia.

"I don't see this as a topic with two sides," he said when asked about the commemoration held on Friday. "I think the circumstances are markedly different since the moment representatives of Jews, Serbs, Roma and antifascist associations decided to hold a separate commemoration."

Regarding the government's policy, he said "our common wish is to commemorate these events appropriately, with much respect for the victims and with the wish to work, only through dialogue, talks and the culture of remembrance, on preventing something like this from happening again."

Science and Education Minister Blaženka Divjak said in Jasenovac on Sunday it was important to have a national consensus on jointly commemorating the victims of all totalitarian regimes, and called for finding a joint platform on how to commemorate them so that "it becomes a place of unity, not a place of division."

Speaking to the press at the official commemoration for the victims of the WWII Jasenovac concentration camp, Divjak said the focus should be "on victims, and we should realise together that this is not just part of history, we must pay special attention so that history doesn't repeat itself."

Divjak said she disagreed with the assessment by Ognjen Kraus, president of the Coordinating Committee of Jewish Communities in Croatia, that the government was more concerned about this year's commemoration for the Bleiburg victims than the one in Jasenovac.

As for the small number of high school students visiting the Jasenovac Memorial Site, Divjak said education about the 20th century must be much clearer and more extensive. The new history curriculum is much more advanced concerning WWII, she added.

"Totalitarian regimes, including the totalitarian regimes on Croatian territory, are particularly highlighted. On the other hand, concentration camps and death camps are clearly put in the curriculum, and Jasenovac is something that should have its place in the regular programme," said Divjak.

Additional funds will be set aside for eighth graders as of the next school year so that they can visit the Jasenovac Memorial Site if they wish to do so, she added.

"That doesn't mean it's obligatory, but it is encouraged given that funds are set aside and the ministry makes a special recommendation. Even more importantly, the history curriculum is implemented under a national standard and equally for all students in Croatia," said the minister.

More news about Jasenovac can be found in the Politics section.

Sunday, 14 April 2019

President Lays Flowers for WWII Victims at Jasenovac

ZAGREB, April 14, 2019 - President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović visited the Jasenovac Memorial Site on Saturday and laid white roses at the Stone Flower monument to the victims of the WWII concentration camp, continuing her custom of doing so a day before the official commemoration.

"In our homeland, World War Two still brings out painful memories of the numerous victims. By laying a wreath in memory of the victims of the Jasenovac camp and standing in silence by this stone flower, I pay my deepest respect for all the victims who were killed in the camp," the president wrote in the memorial book.

"Let this always be only a place of respect, but also a place which will warn us how important it is to raise young generations for peace, unity and solidarity among people and nations. We can't change the past, but we can build the future in a better way for a more beautiful and more humane life of all the people in Croatia and around the world."

Instead of the president, her chief of staff Anamarija Kirinić will attend Sunday's commemoration with representatives of the government and parliament.

A commemoration was also held on Friday, in memory of the breakout of the Jasenovac inmates, organised by ethnic minority associations and antifascists who, for the fourth year in a row, honoured the victims of the Ustasha regime separately from state officials.

More Jasenovac news can be found in the Politics section.

Saturday, 13 April 2019

Plenković Sorry There Isn’t Joint Commemoration in Jasenovac

ZAGREB, April 13, 2019 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Saturday it would be healthy for Croatian society to have a joint commemoration in Jasenovac, adding that his government had invested a lot of effort to have that happen, but that the other side also must make some effort.

Plenković dismissed accusation which the head of the Coordinating Body of Jewish Municipalities in Croatia, Ognjen Kraus, made at a separate commemoration, that historical revisionism in Croatia was continuing and that, because of the inaction of state institutions, the extreme right was becoming increasingly aggressive.

Plenković said he was making a lot of effort so that the victims were commemorated in the right way and that the Ustasha regime was unambiguously condemned.

He said it would be healthy for Croatian society to have a joint commemoration, stressing that it takes two side for that to happen.

He also rejected criticism from his coalition partner, the Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS) that the government had not done enough to reduce the negating of the Holocaust and prevent revisionism.

More news about Ustasha revisionism in Croatia can be found in the Politics section.

Saturday, 13 April 2019

Ministry Rejects Claims about Dissuading Ambassadors from Going to Jasenovac

ZAGREB, April 13, 2019 - The Foreign Ministry on Friday dismissed accusations by the leader of Croatian Jews that it had called foreign ambassadors to talk them out of attending a commemoration for the victims of the WWII Jasenovac concentration camp held today by representatives of ethnic minorities and antifascists.

Earlier today, the head of the Coordinating Committee of Jewish Communities in Croatia, Ognjen Kraus, accused "high level people" in the ministry of calling foreign ambassadors in Croatia to talk them out of attending the commemoration.

The state will commemorate the victims on Sunday. Separate commemorations have been held for the past four years as representatives of ethnic minorities and antifascists blame the government for tolerating the far right and the glorification of the Nazi-style Ustasha regime in WWII Croatia.

The ministry said it had invited several ambassadors to Sunday's commemoration but fully rejected claims that it had tried to dissuade them from attending the one held today. "We believe that, in any case, the victims of that as well as any other regime should be honoured," it told Hina.

Today's commemoration was attended by embassy representatives of Israel, the Netherlands, Spain, the UK, Serbia, Slovenia, Germany, France and Australia as well as by Council of Europe human rights commissioner Dunja Mijatović.

The commemoration was organised by the SABA alliance of antifascist fighters and antifascists of Croatia, the Coordinating Committee of Jewish Communities in Croatia, the Serb National Council and the Kali Sara Croatian Roma Alliance.

Sunday's commemoration will be attended by top state officials.

More news about the Jasenovac commemorations can be found in the Politics section.

Friday, 12 April 2019

Jewish Leader Accuses Foreign Ministry of Dissuading Ambassadors from Going to Jasenovac

ZAGREB, April 12, 2019 - The head of the Coordinating Committee of Jewish Communities in Croatia, Ognjen Kraus, on Friday accused "high-level officials at the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs" of having phoned ambassadors to Croatia to talk them out of going to the commemoration held today at the site of the Jasenovac World War II concentration camp by ethnic minority groups and antifascist organisations which boycotted the official state commemoration for the fourth consecutive year.

"It happens even that high-level officials at the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs called ambassadors not to attend our commemoration," Kraus told reporters after the commemoration for the victims of the Ustasha-run concentration camp.

He confirmed that he stood by these grave accusations because "he was informed of that," however, he would not say who they referred to because he "could be sued."

Despite the alleged phone calls not to attend the commemoration, representatives of foreign embassies did attend. The ambassadors of Israel, the Netherlands, Spain, Great Britain, Serbia, Slovenia, Germany, France and Australia and the Council of Europe's High Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović, attended the commemoration.

"I think that the number of people who came to Jasenovac today should make us ask ourselves if we are pursuing the policy that needs to be pursued," Kraus said.

Serb National Council president Milorad Pupovac confirmed that he had heard of the alleged calls to ambassadors not to attend the unofficial commemoration.

"I heard that that had occurred and if that did indeed occur and was done by representatives of state authorities, it does them no credit and shows how deeply they misunderstand the meaning of this gathering and what their job is," Pupovac said.

"We didn't gather here to cause harm to our country and to celebrate this disgrace. We gathered here so we can free our country of those who spread that disgrace and cause harm to Croatia," Pupovac said.

Kraus warned Croatian authorities that historical revisionism in Croatia is continuing and that, because of the inaction of state institutions, the extreme right is becoming increasingly aggressive, calling on the authorities to stop that and respect Croatian laws.

Kraus said the associations of the descendants of the victims of the criminal NDH (1941-45 Independent State of Croatia) were alone at the commemoration for the fourth year and that they would not attend official commemorations "until the salute 'For the homeland ready' is outlawed."

Addressing the surviving inmates as well as families, guests, ambassadors and Council of Europe human rights commissioner Dunja Mijatović, Kraus said the situation had deteriorated over the past year.

"Two days ago, an Ustasha party was held in Split on the occasion of April 10, the anniversary of the HOS unit Rafael Vitez Boban and the NDH, with all the honours and the presence of the HDZ-led town government as well as police protection. On the same occasion, an MP published a letter which ended with the familiar salute 'For the homeland ready.' There's been no response," Kraus said.

"Until when, police minister? Mr prime minister? Are we here to file complaints at the prosecutor's office based on Croatian laws?"

He told the authorities they "probably would have been in Jasenovac together" this Sunday for the official commemoration had they made the same effort with the associations commemorating the victims today as they had concerning the commemoration for the Bleiburg victims.

Kraus said the organisers of today's commemoration had never equated the Croatian people with the NDH, Ustashism and genocide, but that they would never accept the equation of the victims of Jasenovac, Bleiburg, Tezno and Macelj.

"The Ustasha army, which did not surrender on May 9, when the Third Reich capitulated, was killed there. Other Quisling armies of the then Kingdom of Yugoslavia were killed at those places too, the Chetniks, White Guards and other such units. Nobody talks about that and nobody commemorates those victims," Kraus said, adding that "only Croatian victims are talked about."

"Only one thing should be done, respect and enforce Croatia's constitution and laws, which you don't abide by, but you will respect and abide by Austrian laws," he told Croatian authorities, referring to the Bleiburg victims commemoration to be held in Austria next month. He told politicians, MPs, government members and the president that their actions should speak louder than words.

"It's time to look each other in the eye and if we agree, as you yourselves say, that the NDH was a shameful and criminal entity, the display of its symbols should be banned and any attempt at its revision prevented. Let it be clear that it was a state with racial laws which had on its territory concentration camps where people were killed under those laws because they were of different faith, ethnicity or political affiliation, that both the Holocaust and the Samudaripen happened here, in Croatia, not somewhere else. And that those who negate that must suffer the consequences. Let's look up to Germany, at how it resolved this and how it applies adopted laws," said Kraus.

He recalled that according to data established by March 2014, 83,145 people were killed at Jasenovac, and said he expected Croatia to be a country where the constitution and laws were respected and enforced.

"We expect our homeland to be a modern European country and not to be ashamed of the country we live in," Kraus said on behalf of the associations which organised the commemoration which drew thousands of people: the SABA alliance of antifascist fighters and antifascists of Croatia, the Coordinating Committee of Jewish Communities in Croatia, the Serb National Council and the Kali Sara Croatian Roma Alliance.

More news about historical revisionism in Croatia can be found in the Politics section.

Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Serb Leader Accuses Parliament of Unequal Treatment of Jasenovac and Bleiburg

ZAGREB, April 9, 2019 - Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS) parliamentary deputy Milorad Pupovac on Tuesday accused the national legislature, under whose auspices the commemorative events at Jasenovac and Bleiburg are held, of treating the commemorations of victims at those two sites differently.

Pupovac said that when it comes to the Jasenovac commemorations, "the Parliament behaves as if it is not the sponsor" while at Bleiburg "it behaves like a true and dedicated sponsor."

"After the decision of the Austrian authorities that the Bleiburg commemorative event should be banned in the form it has been held to date, all the authorities in Croatia - the government and the church authorities as well as the parliament - have done their best to negotiate terms for the commemorative event to be held (this May), promising compliance with Austrian laws banning the glorification of Fascist and Ustasha ideas, symbols and messages," Pupovac said.

He went on to say that in Croatia, too, laws banning Fascist and Ustasha symbols were in force. Pupovac, however, insists that Croatia "is readier to honour the laws of another country than its own".

He also mentioned the case of the municipality of Slatinski Drenovac where there used to be a street named after the date when the Nazi-style Independent State of Croatia (NDH) was established and the 2017 ruling of the Constitutional Court declaring that name to be contrary to the Constitution.

In 2017, the Court concluded that the street name "April 10" in Slatinski Drenovac, a village in the Slavonia region, was unconstitutional, underlining that it was "a well-known historical fact" that the NDH was a Nazi and Fascist entity and that present-day Croatia was not its successor on any grounds.

Pupovac's speech was interrupted on several occasions by MP Željko Glasnović who also later claimed that in that municipality in the 1990s "some 500 skulls of Croats (killed in World War II) were unearthed from the basement of the local Orthodox Church", insisting that that was "the first Partizan-run concentration camp".

Pupovac then said that those killed at Jasenovac "were not responsible for the death of any person killed at Tezno, Kočevski Rog or Macelj, whereas many killed there were guilty of the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people slain across the NDH."

Pupovac said that instead of applying Croatian laws, "we tolerate in our country the revival of conflicts based on topics relating to the Second World War."

Deputy Parliament Speaker Milijan Brkić, who chaired the session, warned Glasnović against interrupting another deputy's speech, and called on Pupovac and other MPs not to argue over the topic of paying tribute to war victims.

"A crime is a crime regardless of who has committed it," Brkić said, calling for not making a distinction between victims.

More news about the status of Serbs in Croatia can be found in the Politics section.

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