Monday, 25 October 2021

Supreme Court Head: Parl. Parties Shouldn't Have Problem With Ustasha Insignia Ban

ZAGREB, 25 Oct 2021 - Supreme Court president Radovan Dobronić told the Homeland Movement on Monday that no parliamentary party should have a problem with condemning symbols associated with the Nazi-allied Independent State of Croatia (NDH).

"All parties, on the left and on the right, which participate in parliamentary life, must not have any problem with condemning symbols associated with the system that was in place during the NDH. That had nothing to do with Croatia," Dobronić told the press.

Ustasha salute

He was asked to comment on the opposition Homeland Movement's response to his stand that the "For the homeland ready" salute is unacceptable, which the party condemned and asked him who was he to judge "the insignia of fallen HOS knights."

Dobronić said he was the president of the Supreme Court and reiterated that the question of banning the Ustasha salute and insignia was a civilizational and value question, while whether someone could accept that or not was another.

He said the ban on the salute and insignia should not be additionally regulated by law because "everything is clear" and that there was no dilemma as to what the constitution and the decisions of the Constitutional Court stipulate.

Enforcement

As for an upcoming Supreme Court General Convention meeting on enforcement, Dobronić said he would propose that Enforcement Act provisions on the issuance of enforcement decisions based on verified documents should not apply to consumer agreements.

"The Supreme Court can deliver at the General Convention two, three positions proposing another procedure instead of that one and the matter will be solved," he said, reiterating that the current practice is in contravention of EU rights.

Dobronić said his proposal would be that when big systems such as telecoms or utility companies decide to sue citizens for failure to pay their debts, a judge would have to see the original bill and agreement so that they can check the terms of the agreement in the context of consumer law.

Public verdicts

Dobronić went on to say that he would see that all court verdicts be made public.

"So far about 60 to% of verdicts have been available and the explanation why 100% have not been available is that they've had problems with anonymization, which takes time," he said, adding that this is only a technical problem.

As for restoring people's trust in the judiciary, Dobronić said there was no quick fix and that it would occur gradually and be achieved when the public had the justified impression that the same criteria applied to all.

The availability of verdicts and a uniform court practice will certainly contribute to that, he added.

For more on politics, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Tuesday, 14 September 2021

HRT National Broadcaster to Air Series About NDH

ZAGREB, 14 Sept, 2021 - "NDH", a series of the Croatian Radio Television (HRT) about the Ustasha-ruled Independent State of Croatia, will start on Monday, 20 September and its author, historian Hrvoje Klasić, says it should have been aired much sooner, while the HRT rejects claims about deliberately not broadcasting the series.

"I only know that this series should have been finished much sooner. But it hasn't been. And that was not because of us as the crew, and it should have aired sooner. Again, not because of us, but because of the HRT," Klasić told Hina.

On the other hand, the public broadcaster's acting Director-General, Renato Kunić, said that no show had been deliberately not aired during his term as the director of programming and during his colleagues' terms.

He added that the NDH series was put on hold for several reasons. More specifically, an adequate schedule had to be found for the 12 episodes because that is three months of airing, and the programme budget has its rules, Kunić said.

He also said that the series cost about HRK 1.5 million and that the difference between the six episodes initially proposed by Klasić and the 12 realised episodes was about half a million kuna, and he stressed that this was a matter of assessment when to air the programme and not a ban, adding that the series was finished in June 2020.

Both Klasić and the HRT agreed that this was a long-awaited project in which about 30 members of the academic community and historians would talk about the NDH, and it would be illustrated by over two hours of film material on the NDH, purchased from the Yugoslav Film Archive.

Klasić underlined the valuable contribution of HRT's director and co-writer Miljenko Bukovčan and editor Iva Blašković.

Klasić: Series is neither ideological nor tendentious

"I would like to warn the viewers -- there are 12 episodes and this was not done in an ideological or tendentious way," Klasić said, adding that the series was not chronological but organised thematically.

"Everything that is said is enough to understand that moment -- the temporal, socio-political context, to understand what that state was and what kind of life its citizens had," he said.

The goal was not, he pointed out, to create a lexicon in which everything would be listed, but to give a description and an analysis of a time, and top experts from the entire region and Europe helped with that.

Klasić also explained his statement in Jutarnji List daily that "there are no conflicting opinions, but only because right-wing historians did not want to participate".

"When we talk about the NDH, there are no conflicting opinions among historians and scientists who care about their scientific reputation. Not among scientists in Zagreb, Belgrade, Sweden or in Washington," Klasić said.

Some have merely focused more on a particular period. Of course, there may be different opinions on how to approach the number of victims in Jasenovac or after Bleiburg, he added.

"However, when we talk about the character of the Ustasha-ruled state, the NDH, about the character of the Jasenovac camp or about what happened in May 1945, there is in principle no disagreement," Klasić said.

The series was shot on numerous locations, from the Vatican and Sachsenhausen, to Bleiburg and Jasenovac, Janka Puszta (Jankovac), but also Florence, where there is still the villa which Ustasha leader Ante Pavelić, Klasić said, got for his services in the future annexation of parts of the Croatian Adriatic as Mussolini's "man for special assignments".

Special episodes are dedicated to the economy and culture during the NDH, as well as the relationship between the Ustasha regime and the church.

"A large part of the series focuses on the relationship between the Roman Catholic Church and the Ustasha movement. Many say that the Church used the Ustasha, but I believe that it was vice versa and many historians agree on that. Alojzije Stepinac was not a war criminal but he definitely was not an example of antifascist resistance," said Klasić.

As for possible negative reactions to the series, Klasić said he expected them from those who "have been reviving the NDH for the past 30 years."

"It is to be expected because we live in a country where abnormal things have become normal, including the Ustasha salute, where about 20 streets have been named after members of the Ustasha regime and where there are associations that deny Jasenovac," Klasić said.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

 

Saturday, 3 July 2021

Serb National Council Unveils Memorial to Victims of Ustasha WWII Crime

ZAGREB, 3 July 2021 - The Serb National Council (SNV) unveiled in Donja Suvaja on Saturday a monument to the victims of a crime committed by the Ustasha on 1 July 1941, with SNV president Milorad Pupovac saying "the crime in Donja Suvaja, Osredci and Bubanj was one big evil."

"On 1 July 1941, the Ustasha, led by Maks Luburić, savagely tortured and killed women, children and older inhabitants in Donja Suvaja. We are erecting this monument on the 80th anniversary, in memory of their lives and horrific moment od death, but with faith in the idea of man's victory over hate," it says on the monument alongside the names of 290 victims.

According to an SNV statement, the crime in Donja Suvaja was one of the first mass crimes against women and children committed by the Ustasha, followed by a campaign of cleansing the Lika region, which resulted in an uprising of the people of Lika.

Pupovac said most of the 290 victims were women and children, while the rest were infirm and old. He said the crime took "only two hours" and that Luburić "decided to go a step further" by killing the victims "in the worst possible way, by slaughter and massacre."

"From 29 June 1941 until the beginning of July, all the worst methods were applied here, all the worst procedures seen in war, persecutions and forced resettlement," he added.

Pupovac said Lika also had been the site of the first Ustasha death camp, Jadovno, "which claimed dozens of thousands of lives in less than two months of operation."

"This was not a death factory as with some other peoples in World War II. Donja Suvaja was a horrible hate crime, a crime of extermination."

Pupovac reiterated that the Ustasha salute "For the homeland ready" was the "most shameful salute in Croatian history and the most shameful expression of the Croatian people's striving for its freedom," adding that it "was not, nor could in be, nor is anything else but a symbol of hate and crime." 

He commended the state leadership's decision to "dedicate more attention to antifascism (this year), as never before, which we could see at Brezovica, where the first Partizan detachment came together."

"Everyone must realise that the blood and meat of that movement, said to have been the largest in Europe, was right here. The souls of these women, children and older people, and of those who since that moment never gave up, from 27 July, until the area of freedom had spread across the whole country at that time, including Croatia, are our anti-fascism," said Pupovac.

He called out "the high-ranking Croatian officials who, at recent commemorations, have been pardoning the crimes and criminals in this last war, just because they are our boys." He called on them not to downplay crimes because "that insults all of us who remember as citizens of this country."

The memorial in Donja Suvaja was erected as part of the SNV's culture of remembrance programme with funds from the government's office of human and national minority rights.

For more on politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated politics page.

Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Milorad Pupovac: Ban on Ustasha Insignia is Civilisational Issue For All Political Actors

ZAGREB, 22 June, 2021 - Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS) president Milorad Pupovac said on Tuesday that adopting amendments to the Criminal Code to ban Ustasha insignia and the salute "For the homeland ready" was a civilisational issue for all political actors in Croatia.

Adopting amendments to the Criminal Code is a civilisational issue for all political actors in Croatia do that it can get rid of the legacy of World War II, especially the consequences of the Ustasha rule from 1941 to 1945," Pupovac said ahead of Antifascist Struggle Day commemoration in Brezovica.

Asked whether adopting the amendments to the Criminal Code would be a condition for the SDSS to support the government, Pupovac said that no one should set any conditions about that.

"We can only discuss how to do it," he said.

He said that the president of the Zagreb Jewish Community Ognjen Kraus convened a new meeting for Friday to discuss further steps towards resolving the issue of the Ustasha salute "For the homeland ready", adding that the final version of the bill of amendments to the Criminal Code was being prepared.

Pupovac welcomed the fact that the government was the organiser of this year's central Antifascist Struggle Day commemoration in Brezovica, stressing that this was very significant.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 23 April 2021

Israeli Ambassador Ilan Mor: "For the Homeland Ready" Can't Be Both Symbol of Heroism and Evil

ZAGREB, 23 April, 2021 - Israeli Ambassador Ilan Mor has said in an interview with Hina that the Ustasha salute 'For the homeland ready' cannot simultaneously be a symbol of heroism and a symbol of evil, and pointed out the good example set by Germany and Austria where the glorification of Nazism is punishable by law.

The issue of the said salute used by Ustasha, allies of the German Nazis in the Second World War, is raised every April, when Croatia observes anniversaries of the breakout of inmates from the Ustasha-run concentration camp in Jasenovac in late April in 1945. The 1941-1945 Jasenovac camp was a site of torture and mass executions of ethnic Serbs, Jews, Roma and of Croats who opposed Nazism and Fascism.

Since the 1991-1995 Homeland War, the controversial salute, whose abbreviation in Croatian is ZDS, has been permissible at commemorations of fallen defenders who used to be members of the HOS unit and who had that salute on their uniforms during that war of independence. On the other hand, for years, Jewish associations have continued requesting that the use of the salute should be outlawed, just as in the case of "Heil Hitler" salute, as its use carries a prison sentence in Germany and Austria.

"In Vukovar, the 'Za Dom Spremni' salute is considered to be part of heroism of the place, fighting against occupier and in Jasenovac  'Za Dom Spremni' is symbol of evil. So, you have to decide, it can't be the same symbol for totally different points in your history," says the ambassador after he yesterday participated in the commemorations on the occasion of the 76th anniversary of the breakout of inmates from the Jasenovac death camp.

Jewish rep expects legislative changes penalising Ustasha salute to be passed by summer

The head of the Coordinating Committee of the Jewish Communities of Croatia, Ognjen Kraus, said on Thursday there was a realistic possibility for the parliament to vote in amendments to the Penal Code to penalise the use of the Ustasha salute "For the homeland ready" before its summer recess.

"I believe that there will be no problems in voting the changes in if the Prime Minister and the HDZ mean what they say," Kraus said when asked about the possibility of outlawing the Ustasha salute, an initiative he launched earlier this year.

Commenting on this statement, Ambassador Mor says: "You have to do something about it. I am not a lawyer, i am not Croat and can't give you 'yes' or 'no' (on imposing a prison sentence for that salute). In this case, Germany and Austria are very good role model."

Ambassador warns of attempts to downplay the Holocaust

Commenting on some global trends of downplaying the tragedy of the Holocaust, Mor said that a portion of the Croatian society used every opportunity to glorify the Ustasha troops and Ustasha leader Ante Pavelić.

 As if nothing had happened, as if Jasenovac had not been an extermination camp but a labour camp. This is in contradiction with historical facts and the testimonies by those who survived that period, the ambassador said.

Mor went on to say that historians in Croatia and Serbia disagreed about the numbers of Serb victims in Jasenovac, and he said that it was unacceptable to reduce such a tragedy to the issue of numbers.

"If you want to live in peace, you have to do more then producing movies, you have to have real dialogue," he said alluding also to the recent Serbian film ("Dara iz Jasenovca") about this topic which has been perceived in Croatia as well as internationally as part of the nationalistic propaganda of Serbia's authorities.

Mor urged both Croatia and Serbia to let their archives be available to experts and so that they can arrive at a point acceptable to both sides.

The same should be applied when it comes to Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac, he said and called for resorting to dialogue to overcome different views on the events in the past.

In this context he mentioned the normalisation of the relations between his country and several Arab countries. Following the 1979 peace agreement with Egypt and the 1994 peace agreement with Jordan, Israel has renewed relations with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco in the past few months.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 22 April 2021

Parl. Speaker Gordan Jandroković For Sanctioning Ustasha Insignia and Regulating Communist Symbols

ZAGREB, 22 April, 2021 - Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković on Thursday condemned the crimes committed by the 1941-1945 Ustasha regime and called for legally sanctioning the use of the Ustasha insignia and also for regulating the treatment of Communist symbols, including the five-pointed Red Star.

"We must make a clear distinction between the insignia of the Ustasha regime and the heritage of the (1991-1995) Homeland War and regulate the treatment of symbols of the Communist regime," said Jandroković after he laid a wreath in Jasenovac on the occasion of the 76th anniversary of the breakout of inmates from the Ustasha-run concentration camp. 

Jandroković called for consistency in regulating the treatment of the five-pointed Red Star which was displayed by people who committed horrendous atrocities in Bleiburg in the wake of the Second World War, on the Croatian island of Goli Otok during the Yugoslav Communist rule as well as in the Croatian towns of Vukovar and Škabrnja in 1991.

Jandroković said that he would like to see all those who participate in discussions about such insignia to be objective and to have understanding for the victims on all the sides.

"Croatia's history has been fraught with conflicts. Therefore, in all these years, no appropriate legislative solutions were found," he underscored, adding that Croatia's society is now mature enough to find, through democratic discussions, solutions that will protect each victim and deplore every criminal and totalitarian regime.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

 

 

Thursday, 22 April 2021

PM Andrej Plenković: NDH is One of Most Tragic Periods in Croatian History

ZAGREB, 22 April, 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Thursday that the WW2 Nazi-style Independent State of Croatia (NDH) was one of the most tragic periods in Croatian history and added that the government was clearly against the use of Ustasha symbols.

The prime minister made this statement on the occasion of the 76th anniversary anniversary of the breakout of inmates of from the Ustasha-run World War II concentration camp Jasenovac.

Plenković laid a wreath, and on this occasion he was accompanied by the three deputy prime ministers Tomo Medved, Davor Božinović and Boris Milošević and several ministers.

He underscored that they came to pay tribute to all victims of the NDH regime and the horrific crimes committed in the Jasenovac concentration camp and other camps against Jews, Serbs, Roma, Croat antifascists and democrats.

"That is certainly one of the most tragic periods in Croatian history and it is important that young new generations of today are aware of these facts, (...) that this is a part of our education system and that all generations never forget the terrible crimes that were committed here and across Europe in similar camps during World War II, and that there is general and unequivocal condemnation of those crimes," the prime minister said.

He added that he would continue to come to Jasenovac with piety and awareness that we must not allow such crimes ever happen again.

As for amending the Criminal Code to ban Ustasha insignia, Plenković said that they were already banned and that it was a question of aligning action with court practice.

"This topic has been with us for a long time. Everyone who knows something about our history, about the Jasenovac camp, who understand what those symbols mean for members of the Jewish people, members of Serbs, Roma, antifascists, understands that these are not symbols to be used," Plenković said.

Regarding the initiative of the president of the Coordination of Jewish Communities in Croatia, Ognjen Kraus, to ban the Ustasha salute "For the homeland ready", he said that they had talked about it and would continue to discuss it. Also, he said that the position of the government was clear and firm when it came to condemning crimes and such symbols.

He denied claims by the Jewish representative that not enough had been done on the issue.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Tuesday, 20 April 2021

No Joint Ceremony to Pay Tribute to Jasenovac Victims

ZAGREB, 20 April, 2021 - There will be no joint commemoration for victims of the World War II concentration camp Jasenovac on Thursday, representatives of the victims will lay wreaths separately from the state leadership while President Zoran Milanović will do so separately from the prime minister and parliament speaker.

President Milanović's spokesman Nikola Jelić confirmed to Hina that Milanović and his delegation will lay wreaths at the Stone Flower monument at Jasenovac at 11 a.m. on Thursday.

Office of the President did not receive reply from gov't, parliament

"President Zoran Milanović and his delegation will pay tribute to the Jasenovac victims on 22 April, at 11 a.m., as agreed with the organiser, the Public Institution Jasenovac Memorial Area," Jelić said.

He added that the Office of the President had not received a reply from the government or the parliament to its invitation to pay tribute to the Jasenovac victims together.

"As early as last Friday the President of the Republic proposed to the Prime Minister and the Parliament Speaker that they all pay tribute to the Jasenovac victims together, but we have not received any reply," Jelić said.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said today that a government delegation would lay a wreath at Jasenovac at 9 a.m., again dismissing the possibility of paying tribute together with Milanović, noting that "there is no reason for us to put on an act."

"As regards any joint laying of wreaths or flowers, I said yesterday.... there will be no putting on an act," he told reporters during a visit to Rijeka.

Plenković: We were not the ones to start with insults

"The President of the Republic or his staff are now launching an initiative for the Parliament Speaker and myself to lay a wreath with him in Jasenovac. We were not the ones to start with the 'animal farm', we were not the ones to start with insults or a number of other things that are most inappropriate, so there is no reason to put on an act, let that be clear to everyone," said Plenković.

He added that the organiser of the commemoration was the Jasenovac Memorial Area, not the government or anyone else, and that this year's commemoration would be held in line with epidemiological restrictions.

The government's delegation will arrive at 9 a.m. and the parliament's delegation at 10 a.m., he said.

"This has nothing to do with representatives of the victim ethnic groups. We met with them last week, we hold meetings regularly, we respect the victims and went to Jasenovac in the past four years as well. We will go this year again, next year, in 2023, 2024. This has to do with the protocol, but putting on an act is out of the question," he said.

Reporters asked Plenković if he should ignore his relationship with Milanović, regardless of how bad it may be, in situations such as commemorations, to which he said: "No, there's no need for that. In this case it is not envisaged and is out of the question."

Representatives of Serbs, Jews, Roma and antifascists to form separate delegation

The Serb National Council (SNV) said earlier in the day that representatives of ethnic groups that were victims of the Ustasha terror would have a separate, four-member delegation in Jasenovac.

SNV president Milorad Pupovac, the leader of the Coordinating Committee of the Jewish Communities of Croatia, Ognjen Kraus, Roma association "Kali Sara" representative Veljko Kajtazi, and the leader of the SABA association of antifascist fighters and antifascists, Franjo Habulin, will lay a joint wreath at the Stone Flower monument at noon on Thursday.

Kraus confirmed to Hina that this decision was made yesterday, after it became evident that there would be no joint delegation comprising top state officials.

"After we realised that there would be separate delegations, we decided on a separate delegation as well. As you can see, a single delegation does not depend on us. We cannot support the use of commemorations for political one-upmanship," said Kraus.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 16 April 2021

Human Rights in Croatia 2020 Overview: Serbs, Roma People, and LGBTQ Hate Speech Targets

April 16, 2021-  The Human Rights in Croatia 2020 Overview report by Human rights house Zagreb shows hate speech and poor living conditions of Serb returnees and Roma people still being problematic. The judicial system and the lack of a legal frame for civil society development remain problematic too.

In a battle against the Coronavirus, many agree and fear that human rights were put in second place, triggering the debate of security vs. liberty and justification of limiting movement, work, etc.

But human rights and their respect in Croatia was an issue, long before Covid-19. As Jutarnji List warns, the situation is not good. 

Croatia doesn't have a defined politics of making a supportive environment for the civic society development. Citizen participation in decision making is still relatively weak and the judicial system is a special problem," says Jutarnji List referring to the new report by Human Rights House in Zagreb titled „Human Rights in Croatia: 2020 Overview“.

Regarding the judicial issue, a specific example can be found in the ever-controversial  "Za Dom Spremni!"(For the Homeland Ready) salute which is recognised as a fascist salute and punishable by law but it's tolerated as part of the song „Čavoglave“ by Marko Perković Thompson and can frequently be heard during his concerts both by the singer and the audience.

„Circumstance that the salute is part of the song doesn't change the fact that it's an ustasha (Croatian fascist) salute that symbolizes criminal Naci-fascist ideology and is the violation of article 39 of Croatian constitution that prohibits any call or encouragement on national, racial or religious hatred or any form of intolerance“, continues Jutarnji List.

Still present in public space, hate speech in Croatia is also very alive on the Internet, with the Serb LGBTQ community and Roma people being the prime targets. As Jutarnji reports, last year's research show this as well as the lack of appropriate response. 

„Children and adolescences do not learn enough about human rights, equality, and solidarity, given that civil education is conducted as one of six intercourse themes in elementary and high-schools. Such approach to civil education does not secure enough time in the curriculum for quality development of civil competence of pupils“, concluded for Jutarnji List Human Rights House in Zagreb.

Educational segregation for Roma people, isolated Serb returnees migrant treatment controversies, C+ grade for LGBTQ travelers

The article also adds that Roma people in Croatia are still facing many obstacles in achieving their rights, which include employment, access to services, and adequate living standards, and there is still segregation in the education system too.

Furthermore, many Serb returnees live in undeveloped rural areas, which are isolated and offer poor living conditions. Additionally, they still struggle to achieve their asset rights, and their possession is still tangible to devastation.

lgbtq.jpg

Pixabay

When it comes to LGBTQ rights, as TCN previously reported, Croatia „has an index of 188 points and a grade C+ from most safe to highest dangerous places (A to F), placing it among the first third of the best countries in the world in terms of LGBTQ+ safety“. There are controversies regarding the migrants' treatment on which we recently reported on too.

Learn more about Croatia's global rankings and many more fun facts about the country on our TC page.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

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