Friday, 8 November 2019

Veterans Committee Withdraws Amendment on Antifascist Struggle Day

ZAGREB, November 8, 2019 - The parliamentary group of the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) decided on Friday that the Committee on War Veterans would withdraw an amendment proposing that Antifascist Struggle Day should no longer be observed as a national holiday but as a memorial day, the group's chairman Branko Bačić said after their meeting.

The amendment will be withdrawn after the government rejects it, Bačić said.

He said that the chairman of the Committee on War Veterans, Josip Đakić, explained at the meeting how the amendment had been proposed and that they agreed to fully support the government bill amending the Holidays, Memorial Days and Non-Working Days Act.

"Đakić was explicit in saying that he would support the bill. There is still time until November 14, and the group's position is that it will support the bill and the decision of the party, which has taken a clear stance on this bill," Bačić said.

Asked to comment on the announcement by an HDZ member of the Committee, Stevo Culej, that he would not back the government bill, Bačić said that it was his business, adding that there was still time before the bill was put to a vote on November 14.

Speaking of the amendment put forward by the Committee on War Veterans, Bačić said that the proposal was obviously made by some of the Committee members, "I think external ones."

"We in the HDZ have made clear our position on June 22 as Antifascist Struggle Day and we stand by it. This bill is harmonised with the Constitution, in which President Tuđman clearly wrote that Croatia's sovereignty is founded on the resolutions by the ZAVNOH (State Antifascist Council for the National Liberation of Croatia) in contrast to the NDH (Nazi-allied Independent State of Croatia) and on the Homeland War," Bačić said.

"Those who do not understand this obviously do not understand the Constitution or the HDZ's programme. In the afternoon, the Presidency and National Council of the HDZ will once again reinforce the policy of the party's present leadership which strongly follows the doctrine of Dr Franjo Tuđman," he said, adding that he expected every HDZ member to implement the party's doctrine and programme.

The Committee on War Veterans later said it had withdrawn all five amendments to the holidays bill, including one proposing that Antifascist Struggle Day become a memorial day and a workday.

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

Thursday, 7 November 2019

Government Against Abolition of Antifascist Struggle Day as Holiday

ZAGREB, November 7, 2019 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Thursday he would not allow the de-Tuđmanisation of his HDZ party because Franjo Tudjman, the first president of the HDZ and Croatia, included June 22, Antifascist Struggle Day, among public holidays.

He was responding to the proposal by Josip Đakić, chairman of the parliamentary committee on war veterans, that Antifascist Struggle Day no longer be a national holiday.

"I don't know if that's his idea... It's necessary to put an end to the policy of de-Tuđmanisation also within the HDZ. This means that I, as HDZ president and prime minister, say that June 22 is a holiday which was included in the law on public holidays by the first Croatian president Franjo Tuđman and so it will be," Plenković told reporters.

He said everything that was said at Wednesday's session of the veterans committee was not the policy of the either the HDZ National Council or Presidency or the government, and that party bodies had clearly supported and formulated amendments to the law on public holidays, memorial days and non-working days which the government sent to parliament and "which will be adopted as such."

"I'm telling (Đakić) and everyone else who wants to de-Tuđmanise the HDZ: I won't allow it."

Asked if there would be sanctions, Plenković said the HDZ National Council or Presidency would meet on Friday and that it was necessary to clearly say, "enough with the policy which tears apart the foundations of what Tuđman created and what the HDZ should be."

"Who doesn't understand that, doesn't understand either Croatia's past or present, and sees Croatia's proper future even less. They should clear their heads," he said, adding that the possibility of sanctions would be discussed.

War Veterans' Minister Tomo Medved told the press, while coming to a government meeting on Thursday, that the government-sponsored bill on public holidays was a well-prepared legislative solution, and that the cabinet would give its opinion to a suggestion that Antifascist Struggle Day, observed as a national holiday, should be a memorial day.

"In my opinion, the government has forwarded to the parliament a very good legislative proposal. During the preparation of the draft act, we have analysed all circumstances and I believe that the solution tabled to the national parliament provides best answers," said Medved of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ)

On Wednesday morning, the parliamentary War Veterans Committee, chaired by HDZ MP and HVIDRA disabled war veterans association head Đakić, put forward an amendment to the government-sponsored bill on holidays proposing that October 8, Independence Day, should remain a national holiday while Antifascist Struggle Day, June 22, currently a national and non-working day, should become a memorial and working day. The government's proposal of the new calendar of holidays will be discussed by the parliament on Friday.

The committee's proposal was criticised as unacceptable by Social Democratic Party (SDP) parliamentarian Arsen Bauk on Wednesday afternoon.

On Thursday mornings, several ministers in the HDZ-led government, including Transport Minister Oleg Butković, Environment Protection and Energy Minister Tomislav Ćorić, said that they did not think that the Anti-Fascist Struggle Day should be relegated to a memorial day.

Butković said that the HDZ leadership had not at all considered a possibility that this national holiday should become a memorial day. Foreign and European Affairs Minister Gordan Grlić Radman also said that such proposal had not at all be considered by the government.

In the meantime, the Croatian People's Party (HNS) a junior partner in the ruling coalition also stated that it found it unacceptable that the Anti-Fascist Struggle Day be relegated to a memorial day.

More info about events related to the Second World War can be found in the Politics section.

Thursday, 7 November 2019

Parliamentary Committee: Antifascist Struggle Day Should No Longer Be National Holiday

ZAGREB, November 7, 2019 - Social Democratic Party (SDP) whip Arsen Bauk said on Wednesday that the proposal by the Parliament's Committee on War Veterans that Antifascist Struggle Day, June 22, no longer be observed as a national holiday and non-working day but as a memorial day, was unacceptable and cowardly.

"The proposed amendment is absolutely unacceptable and cowardly... They should have proposed that it be completely removed from the calendar (of holidays) because that is probably how they feel about it, rather than reducing it to a memorial day," said Bauk.

He described the amendment as absolutely unacceptable but added that parties of the ruling coalition and the government as the sponsor of amendments to the law on holidays, memorial days and non-working days should state their position on the proposal.

"I believe that this is about the (HDZ) party's right wing provoking a little and striking back at (PM and HDZ leader) Andrej Plenković, but that's his problem, even though it could become a state problem," Bauk told reporters in the parliament.

The War Veterans Committee, chaired by HDZ MP and HVIDRA disabled war veterans association head Josip Đakić, put forward at its session earlier in the day an amendment to the government-sponsored bill on holidays proposing that October 8, Independence Day, should remain a national holiday while Antifascist Struggle Day, June 22, currently a national and non-working day, should become a memorial and working day.

The government's proposal of the new calendar of holidays will be discussed by the parliament on Friday.

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

Friday, 13 September 2019

Local Authorities Observe Anniversary of Decision to Join Istria to Croatia

ZAGREB, September 13, 2019 - Delegations o the Town of Pazin and local anti-Fascist associations on Friday laid a wreath outside the building in Pazin in which on 13 September 1943, the Istria committee of the People's Liberation Movement decided on reintegration of Istria in Croatia.

Addressing the ceremony, a representative of the anti-Fascist associations, Tomislav Ravnić, said that events and people who fought for joining Istria to Croatia should never be forgotten.

In that struggle, 17,000 Istrians died, which is far more than "in the Homeland War, which was imposed on us", Ravnić said underscoring that he did not want to diminish the suffering caused during the 1991-1995 war.

Ravnić said that he condemned in the harshest terms the unveiling of the monument to Gabriele D'Anunnzio in Trieste and public activities of neo-Fascists in Rijeka.

There is no excuse for such events as they glorify the irredentism and Fascism, he added.

In September 1919 D'Annunzio proclaimed Rijeka as an independent state called the Italian Regency of Carnaro.

More info about the Second World War can be found in the Politics section.

Sunday, 1 September 2019

Grabar-Kitarović Attends 80th WWII Anniversary Commemoration

ZAGREB, September 1, 2019 - Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović attended in Warsaw on Sunday a commemoration marking the 80th anniversary of the start of World War II, her office said in a press release.

"We are here to honour all war victims, both in Poland, which was the first to start fighting Nazism, and in all other states which stood up in the defence of freedom and peace in Europe and the world. The Croatian people, proportionate to its population, contributed the most to the antifascist struggle in Europe in which more than half a million Croatian citizens actively took part," the president said.

"We are marking 80 years since the start of World War II, which is a highly important anniversary for Croatia, Poland and the whole world. This anniversary reminds us that it's necessary to make, constantly and with the biggest responsibility, the biggest efforts to build and keep world peace, security and stability, so that we never again have to face the threat of a world or any other war," she added.

Numerous heads of state and government were in Poland today on the occasion of the anniversary, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US Vice President Mike Pence.

More info about Croatian history 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.

Monday, 29 July 2019

Holocaust Must Not Be Forgotten, Croatian President Says

ZAGREB, July 29, 2019 - Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust Remembrance Centre in Jerusalem on Monday, expressing deep sorrow for the victims in Croatia, Europe and the world and saying that the Shoah, the tragedy of the Jewish people, would and must never be forgotten.

She also expressed sympathy with the victims' families and their descendants.

In the Hall of Remembrance, she lit the Eternal Flame in memory of the six million Jews killed in Nazi pogroms and camps during WWII, and laid a wreath at the slab beneath which are victims' ashes.

This was not the president's first visit to Yad Vashem. She said that every time she visited it, she was shaken by the tragedy of the Jewish people and the blackest hour of humankind.

As president of Croatia, a country founded on antifascism and the Homeland War, I'm especially proud of all the Croatian righteous among the nations and the many other Croats who, in the darkness of war and unspeakable crimes, were a symbol of light and courage, she said.

There are 115 Croatian righteous among the nations.

The tragedy of the Jewish people and the pain of the survivors are a lasting reminder that the values of humankind, peace and democracy must never be taken for granted, the president said.

May it not be forgotten so that it never happens again. Tikkun olam - let's be better, Grabar-Kitarović said.

She gave Yad Vashem director Dorit Novak a book by Esther Gitman, an American Jew from Sarajevo, about the Blessed Alojzije Stepinac, "Pillar of Human Rights".

Novak thanked Grabar-Kitarović for her commitment in recent years and advocacy of preserving the memory of, as she said, the six million cruelly killed souls.

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

Sunday, 28 July 2019

Anniversary of Partisan Uprising in Srb Marked

ZAGREB, July 28, 2019 - A political rally and a counter-rally were held in Donji Srb on Saturday, the former by the Serb National Council (SNV), the SABA antifascist alliance and Gračac Municipality to mark the Partisan uprising by the people of the Lika region, and the latter, held behind police barricades, by the non-parliamentary Autochthonous Croatian Party of Rights (A-HSP).

Zadar police reported no major incidents and no arrests.

SNV president Boris Milošević said to those downplaying the significance of the rally and disrupting it that it "only celebrates the uprising of the people of Croatia", which he said had been the joint uprising of Croats and Serbs. He added that those calling it a criminal and a Chetnik rally aimed at overthrowing the Croatian state were ill-meaning.

Antifascism is written into the Croatian constitution based on that 1941 uprising, in which there were also innocent victims but they cannot dispute its righteousness and legitimacy, Milosevic said.

SABA president Franjo Habulin advocated putting an end to historical revisionism, saying the future could be built only in unity that was based on better living conditions for everyone, in freedom and equality.

Zoran Pusić of the Antifascist League said the most significant contribution of antifascism were freedom, equality and unity. He condemned historical revisionism and the "defence" of the Ustasha ideology which he said had been a "copy of Nazism."

MP Milorad Pupovac of the Independent Democratic Serb Party said the horrors of the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) committed between April and July 1941 and the mass murder of Serbs, Jews, Roma and persons of different views had resulted in the Communist Party-led Partisan uprising in Srb.

Until the Partisan movement became institutionalised, the insurgents also committed crimes, he said, calling for a minute's silence for all victims, innocent Serbs and Croats.

Both Croats and Serbs took part in the uprising, making the antifascist struggle one for equality, freedom and justice, Pupovac said, adding that it was therefore necessary for the spirit of antifascism to take over Croatia. It will show that the Croatian people cannot be fully free until Serbs in Croatia have the same feeling of freedom, he said.

The victory of the antifascist coalition made peace, stability and progress in Europe possible, Pupovac said. "The heirs of this uprising and freedom-loving tradition have the full responsibility to say in Srb that further negation of antifascism could lead Croatia and Europe and any other country into catastrophe."

German MP Martine Renner, who attended the commemoration, spoke of the "historic achievements of the resistance and victory over a brutal fascist occupation." She said the military successes of the Partisans had made possible the umbrella Partisan organisation AVNOJ (Anti-Fascist Council for the National Liberation of Yugoslavia) and for the Allies to recognise it as a rightful representative of the occupied Yugoslavia.

"Aside from defeating fascism, they set the foundations for a socialist experiment, whose successes and defeats are still important as a contribution to the collective experience of leftist policies," said Renner.

SABA honorary president and former Croatian president Stjepan Mesić said Yugoslavia had not been a totalitarian but an authoritarian state. He criticised incumbent President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović for saying that Yugoslavia had been behind the Iron Curtain.

He said the NDH had been neither independent nor Croatian but a Quisling state. He added that revisionism should be stopped by reforming education and raising children, and called on the government to ban every use of the "For the homeland ready" Ustasha salute.

About 200 metres away, representatives of the A-HSP held a counter-rally, carrying a banner which said "Bloody Srb" and saluting with "For the homeland ready".

A-HSP president Dražen Keleminec told reporters they were protesting for the tenth year in Srb so that "the lie doesn't become the truth." He called the Srb uprising a Chetnik crime and today's commemoration a Chetnik party.

More news about events connected with the World War II can be found in the Politics section.

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Plaque Unveiled at Zagreb Hospital in Tribute to Doctors Who Saved Jews in WWII

ZAGREB, July 10, 2019 - A memorial plaque was unveiled at the Sisters of Mercy Hospital in Zagreb on Wednesday to commemorate doctors and nuns who had treated and hidden Jews during World War II, saving many of them from concentration camps and death.

The inscription on the plaque bears the names of the hospital's then director Bogoljuba Javzo and doctors Vatroslav Folrschultz, Aleksandar Blašković, Vinko Panac, Milan Žepić, Kurt Huhn and Josip Glaser.

The information on the Jews treated at the Sisters of Mercy Hospital during WWII was collected by Zagreb lawyer Marko Danon while researching the history of his own family.

According to documents he received at the Jewish Historical Museum in Belgrade, by May 1943, or the deportation of Zagreb's Jewish community to Auschwitz, 250 Jews had been treated in the hospital, 70 of whom survived the war.

Danon highlighted the important role of Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac, who frequently visited the hospital.

The hospital's present director Mario Zovak said that there were many personal accounts indicating that even in the darkest of times people showed their humanity and mercy. He noted that not one doctor or nun had informed on any of their Jewish patients.

The Speaker of Parliament, Gordan Jandroković, said that these witness testimonies cast a new light on the events from WWII and the role of Cardinal Stepinac and nuns in helping Jews. "This is a story of noble people who risked their own lives to save others. This is a story of good people in difficult times, in terrifying times, and they deserve great respect," he said.

Speaking on behalf of the Order of Sisters of Mercy, mother superior Miroslava Bradica said that today's event cleared the name of Cardinal Stepinac and the nuns who had done all they could to help, even at the cost of their own lives. She said that despite that, 95 nuns were forced to leave the hospital in 1945 and seven were killed.

More news about events from the Second World War can be found in the Politics section.

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Inscription on Holocaust Monument in Zagreb Not Defined Yet

ZAGREB, July 2, 2019 - Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić said on Tuesday that the monument to be erected in Zagreb to commemorate Holocaust victims would be in line with the project design that had been selected as the best, adding that the inscription on the monument would "say what it should say."

"The monument project that has won the tender will be installed at the selected location. We will do it and we owe it to all Holocaust victims," Bandić said.

He added that the inscription on the monument would say "what it should say" and that talks on the matter were proceeding as planned.

"Croatia will decide on the matter on its own and no one will set any conditions to it," he said.

Work on installing the monument, designed by Dalibor Stošić and Krešimir Rogina, has not begun yet and the city authorities plan to erect the memorial near the Central Railway Station in Branimirova Street in tribute to the six million Jews killed in the Holocaust, with the message that the past must not repeat itself.

The Jewish Community of Zagreb (ŽOZ) recently condemned the decision by the Zagreb City Assembly to erect the monument.

The World Jewish Congress joined ŽOZ in denouncing the decision, saying that its purpose is to conceal the truth about the killings of Jews in the Ustasha-ruled Independent State of Croatia (NDH). Israeli Ambassador Ilan Mor has criticised the decision as well.

ŽOZ and the WJC believe that the decision aims to conceal the crimes of the Ustasha by giving the false impression that Nazi Germany alone was responsible for the horrors of the Holocaust.

Mor has said that although the idea to commemorate the Jews who perished in the Holocaust is always a positive sign, it is also important that every country in which Jews were murdered face its own history without trying to embellish it.

More info about Holocaust in Croatia can be found in the Politics section.

Page 3 of 9