Thursday, 13 June 2019

Plenković Condemns Assault on Serb Workers on Brač

ZAGREB, June 13, 2019 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said at the start of his cabinet's meeting in Zagreb on Thursday that he strongly condemned a recent assault on seasonal workers of the Serb background in the town of Supetar on the island of Brač, calling on relevant authorities to be agile and resolute when addressing such unacceptable and barbarian incidents.

Calling for the application of tight sanctions against such occurrences which he labelled as unacceptable, Plenković said that he believed that "we have to do more both by preventive and repressive measures against such incidents".

He called for working on changing the climate in society which is obviously reaching a point of polarisation and intolerance, which is absolutely unacceptable, Plenković said.

Split police said on Tuesday evening they arrested two men aged 22 and 19 who were involved in the physical assault on seasonal workers in Supetar, while they are still looking for the other perpetrators. The hate crime took place around 4 a.m. on June 9. The two men are suspected of attacking five persons aged 21 to 26 on ethnic grounds together with other as yet unidentified persons. A Supetar fireman was injured while defending the victims, three young men from the Slavonia region and a girl from the town of Varaždin, who sustained light injuries. Before the arrest, the 22-year-old perpetrator was given a restraining order not to come within 150 m of the fireman, while the 19-year-old was reported for breaking the law on public order and the law on the prevention of discrimination.

Plenković underscored today that "there is no place for such incidents in this present-day modern Croatia that has fulfilled all national strategic tasks and that wants to be an inclusive society that is tolerant and honours its traditional values".

Plenković also called on stakeholders in the society and political parties to contribute to efforts to create an attentive climate.

On Monday, the government issued a press release in which the premier said that his cabinet unequivocally opposes all forms of violence and intolerance toward members of ethnic minorities and condemns in the strongest terms the recent hooligan violence in Supetar on the island of Brač, wishing the victims of that hooliganism a speedy and full recovery.

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

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Officials Issues Statements Condemning Ethnically-Motivated Attacks

ZAGREB, June 11, 2019 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Monday sent his condolences to the family of Radoje Petković, the vice president of the Serb minority in Kastav, who succumbed to injuries he sustained in a brutal attack near Rijeka in April and the premier also condemned Sunday's incident involving attacks by hooligans in Supetar on the island of Brač.

After being brutally attacked in April outside a cafe bar in Viškovo, Petković has been in a coma over the past few weeks in Rijeka hospital.

"I harshly condemn this act of violence and intolerance directed toward members of national minorities, something we will continue to fight against with all available mechanisms that state institutions have at their disposal so that violence can be prevented, the perpetrators are punished and the public is made aware of zero tolerance for violence," Plenković said.

Unequivocally opposing all forms of violence and intolerance toward members of ethnic minorities the Croatian government condemns in the strongest terms the recent hooligan violence in Supetar on the island of Brač and wishes the victims of that hooliganism a speedy and full recovery, the premier said.

During a football tournament in Supetar on Sunday, several perpetrators attacked a few seasonal workers - three young men from Slavonia and a girl from Varaždin. The motive for the attack was national intolerance because someone from the group of attackers yelled, "Where are the Serbs?"

President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović on Monday condemned the violent incident that occurred on Sunday in Supetar on the island of Brač, saying that Croatia is a safe country with good people who shy away from individuals who harm the image of their country with their unacceptable behaviour.

"I condemn any type of violence including this case in Supetar on the island of Brač. That conduct is unacceptable. Croatia is a safe country of good people who shy away from individuals who with their behaviour harm the image of their country," the president tweeted on her account.

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

Saturday, 11 May 2019

SDSS Leader Says Party's Goal to Expand Freedoms

ZAGREB, May 11, 2019 - Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS) leader Milorad Pupovac on Saturday attended an event at a memorial park in Vukovar commemorating people killed there from 1941 to 1943 during World War II.

Answering reporters' questions after the commemoration, Pupovac said that other political parties' campaigns for European Parliament elections were almost invisible compared to the SDSS's.

"We will try and work to make it stay that way, because our goal is not only to win a seat in the EP but expand the space of freedom and free people from fear as well as help Serbs in Croatia gain acceptance in the public sphere and in areas where they live," said Pupovac.

"We believe that by doing so we are strengthening Croatia as a democratic country."

He added that Serbs fostered the tradition of antifascism. "We support all who understand the meaning of antifascism and who recognise it in the foundations of 20th-century Europe, as well as in the foundations of 21st-century Europe and Croatia. We will work on that with everyone, whether they be Serbs, Croats or of some other ethnic background or political affiliation," he said.

Asked to comment on President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović's visit to Macelj, Bleiburg and Huda Jama to commemorate people killed there in the aftermath of World War II on May 8, the Day of the Liberation of Zagreb, Pupovac said: "The victory over the fascist coalition must be in the first place for everyone, including the president of the republic, and one should also find a way to commemorate people killed in the aftermath of WWII, but with the clear knowledge of what happened and why," he said.

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

Monday, 6 May 2019

Teams of Croat and Serb Minorities to Play a Football Match

ZAGREB, May 6, 2019ina) - The football teams of the Serb minority in Croatia and the Croat minority in Serbia will play a match in Tavankut, near Subotica, in Serbia's northern province of Vojvodina on June 15, organisers announced.

The match has been organised by the Croat National Council of Serbia, the Joint Council of Municipalities and the Serb National Council of Croatia with the support of the national football federations of Croatia and Serbia.

"The football match will be an opportunity for the political representatives of Croats from Serbia and Serbs from Croatia to meet and use their cooperation in sports to improve relations between the two countries. In that way they believe they will show that both ethnic minorities want to be a true bridge of cooperation and make their contribution to the further advancement of relations between Serbia and Croatia," leaders of the Croat minority in Serbia said in a statement.

Milorad Pupovac, a member of the Croatian parliament and leader of the Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS), is expected to attend the event.

The match takes place three years after the two sides played for the first time in Vukovar, when the team representing the Croats from Vojvodina triumphed 4:0.

More news about relations between Croatia and Slovenia can be found in the Politics section.

Friday, 3 May 2019

SDSS Says Party Billboards Promote Freedom, Against Hate

ZAGREB, May 3, 2019 - Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS) leader Milorad Pupovac on Friday commented on recent incidents in which SDSS billboards were vandalised, including with Ustasha symbols, saying that the billboards and their message were meant to free people and society from fear and promote freedom as well as that he would not report the incidents to the police because he no longer wanted to remind them of what their job was.

"Our billboards and messages are against fear and for freedom. They are against hate and are meant to help free this society from hate. The Cyrillic script on the SDSS billboards that some are bothered by is a script that wants to be not only a means of communication but a means of liberation of our society from the prejudices and hate that have been spreading for years and to which nobody is reacting," Pupovac told a news conference.

The SDSS party, which is running for the first time in elections for the European Parliament, has put up billboards with the slogan "Do you know what it is like to be a Serb in Croatia?", with the word 'Serb' written in the Cyrillic script.

One of those billboards, put up in Split, was recently vandalised, with the words 'Serb' and 'SDSS' having been blotted out and with messages added such as 'NDH', "For the homeland, ready" and "Start your tractors", an allusion to Serb refugees fleeing Croatia during 1995's Operation Storm.

Pupovac warned that the Cyrillic script, one of the first Slavic scripts, could not gain acceptance in Croatia. "To us that script is a script of freedom and we will use it as such to help free this society from those who wish to... restrict the freedoms of others and of the entire society when it comes to differences and possibility of choice," he said.

He noted that the SDSS had decided to run in EP elections to expand the space of freedom for voters who lived in regions where they did not dare declare their ethnic background or vote in line with their beliefs.

Commenting on HRAST MP Hrvoje Zekanović's statement that he regretted Pupovac did not flee to Belgrade on a tractor in 1995, Pupovac said that he was not afraid. "Neither should you be afraid because those people are cowards. Instead of carrying flags of freedom, they carry a flag of hate and symbols of crime."

The SDSS leader said that he would not contact the police over the destruction of SDSS billboards because he was "fed up with reminding the police of what they should do."

He also said that some things would not be happening if top state officials would say loud and clear what was acceptable in the country and what was not.

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

Saturday, 27 April 2019

Officials Extend Best Wishes for Orthodox Easter

ZAGREB, April 27, 2019 - Senior Croatian state officials on Friday extended their best wishes to the Christian faithful who celebrate Easter according to the old, Julian calendar. The Orthodox Easter is celebrated this Sunday.

"I extend my best wishes to all Christian Orthodox believers for Easter, the greatest Christian holiday, with the hope that by strengthening the faith, unity and mercy we continue to build a society of understanding and solidarity in our beloved Homeland,” President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović said in her message to the Metropolitan of Zagreb and Ljubljana, Porfirije Perić, and to all Serb Orthodox Church bishops, priests and believers in Croatia.

In his message, Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković wrote: "May the celebration of Christ's resurrection further strengthen your faith, love, hope and joy of life, and may you spend this greatest of Christian holidays in the spirit of unity, devotion and sharing with your fellow men."

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković wrote: "Strengthened by the joy of Easter, we find the common strength and inspiration for living in justice, peace and mutual respect, with the hope of prosperity for all citizens of Croatia."

More Easter news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Friday, 26 April 2019

Croatia’s European Nature Depends on Status of Serbs

ZAGREB, April 26, 2019 - Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS) leader Milorad Pupovac, the party's prime candidate for the forthcoming European Parliament elections, said on Friday that the status of Serbs was an issue that impacts the European nature of Croatia.

Presenting the party's programme for the elections, Pupovac said that the SDSS was the only political party representing an ethnic minority to run in the EP elections in Croatia.

"We have embarked on the election campaign with the slogan 'Do you know what it is like to be a Serb in Croatia'. This is a question not often asked and many do not think that it deserves any attention, and it is a matter influencing the volume of liberties and normality in Croatia and the European nature of Croatia," the SDSS chief and parliamentarian said.

He went to say that the SDSS wants to contribute to efforts to fend Europe and Croatia from ultra-nationalism and ultra-clericalism in Europe and Croatia.

"We want to have an unbowed Croatia, an unbowed Europe and unbowed Serbs in Croatia," Pupovac said adding that this party would fight against attempts to reduce the rights of the Serbs and other minorities in Croatia as well as in all other EU member-states.

He hopes that during the election campaign the party would raise the funds in the amount of a half million kuna.

More news on the status of Serbs 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.

Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Serb Minority Party SDSS Remains Part of Ruling Majority

ZAGREB, March 26, 2019 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said Monday that a meeting with the president of the Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS), Milorad Pupovac, was good and that the SDSS would remain part of the ruling majority, reiterating that it would be good to hold a single commemoration ceremony at Jasenovac and adding that the government was still considering whether or not the restructuring of the Uljanik dock was sustainable and if not "other solution will be found."

"We talked about all aspects of cooperation and the functioning of the parliamentary majority. Clearly, certain things concerning the implementation of operative programmes of minority issues can me further advanced, I am open to that. We will do our best to have everything on the level of individual departments done faster and more efficient and the SDSS is still part of the ruling majority," Plenković said commenting on his meeting with Pupovac held earlier in the day, which he described as "good."

Plenković also commented on two commemorations in Jasenovac. "Because of the reverence the victims of the Jasenovac concentration camp deserve and the condemnation our government and I personally made with regards to the Ustasha regime, it would be good if all of us went to Jasenovac together, because the commemoration is whole only is representatives of the Serbs, Jews, Roma, Croats and anti-*fascists associations are there. I see that as an effort to try to take a stand towards all totalitarian regimes without any dilemmas. I will again go to Jasenovac," Plenković said.

Plenković also said he did not have time to read about what Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić said about Operation Storm, adding however that Operations Storm, Flash and the Homeland War were the foundations of modern-day Croatia which enabled the reintegration of areas that had been occupied for over four years.

Reporters also asked the PM about the situation in the Uljanik and 3. Maj docks, adding that the government was still considering whether or not the restructuring of the Uljanik dock was sustainable and if not "other solution will be found."

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

Sunday, 24 March 2019

Prime Minister Regrets There Won't Be Joint Jasenovac Commemoration

ZAGREB, March 24, 2019 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said in an interview with Croatian Television (HTV) that he had been in touch with Milorad Pupovac, leader of the Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS), which is part of the ruling majority, and that they had agreed to hold a meeting next week. He added that he regretted there will not be joint Jasenovac commemoration.

In the interview, Plenković commented on a number of current topics, including his relationship with Pupovac. Pupovac has said on several occasions that his party is considering leaving the ruling coalition and recently he said that this had to do with hate speech that was being encouraged by the ruling structures.

At a party meeting held on March 11, the SDSS decided that it would not leave the ruling coalition, authorising Pupovac and the party's parliamentary group to discuss the situation with the coalition partners.

"I think that I, this government and the HDZ have been committed to enhancing the protection of the rights of all ethnic minorities in Croatia," Plenković said in the interview, adding that it was excellent that minorities were part of the ruling majority, which, he said, had been the ambition of his government from the very start.

Plenković said he and Pupovac had developed a kind of dialogue and relationship in which they could discuss matters openly, see if they understood each other and if there were elements of which he, as prime minister, was not entirely aware, which, he added, was also possible. "If there are such elements, we will discuss them and deal with them together," said Plenković.

Responding to the interviewer's remark that this year again there would be two separate commemorations at Jasenovac, the site of a WWII concentration camp, Plenković said that he would be glad if there was one, joint commemoration. "Unfortunately, judging by the current situation, that won't happen," he said.

The SABA alliance of antifascist fighters and antifascists of Croatia, the Serb National Council (SNV), the Coordinating Committee of Jewish Communities and the Kali Sara Croatian Roma Alliance will organise a separate commemoration for the victims of the Jasenovac concentration camp on April 12.

This will be the fourth year in a row that separate commemorations are organised at Jasenovac.

Speaking of the reasons for the separate commemoration, SNV vice president Saša Milošević said recently that "the state did not take the necessary measures to stop or at least reduce the negating of the Holocaust and genocide committed during World War II and revisionism."

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

Page 6 of 10