Milanovic: Zagreb Banner Is Hate Speech

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, June 13, 2020 – President Zoran Milanovic said on Saturday that a banner displayed in Zagreb which insulted and incited to ethnic violence against Serb women and children constituted hate speech and not a misdemeanour against public order and that such things should be criminalised.

“As for the model of punishment, such things should be regulated much better legally. This thing yesterday wasn’t a misdemeanour against public order and peace, that was hate speech. And as long as the police treat that as a misdemeanour, such things will happen,” Milanovic told reporters.

He added that neither the police nor the courts were to blame as they had no other legislation.

“The law is what it is. In my opinion, such things should be criminalised. This is no misdemeanour. Which doesn’t mean that every criminal offense should result in imprisonment, but it’s a criminal offense because its level of danger, violence and the damage it can cause is such that it deserves bigger and more precise attention by the legislator.”

The president said the law should more clearly define fascist and Nazi salutes and clearly describe such hate speech as well as punish it because that would make the job of the police and the courts easier.

He said it was good that the state responded in this case because it was best if the state-protected all citizens by a clear, transparent, and recognisable protection system, including law enforcement.

As for what the banner displayed by some football fans said, the president said they would probably realise very soon that not even one percent of Croats supported what they wrote.

Election debates are good

Speaking of debates ahead of elections, Milanovic said those between representatives of the strongest political parties were a good thing. “It’s good that they are held, that one can hear and see who are the people competing for the most responsible and most difficult job in the state, that of prime minister.”

He said electoral rolls would show if he voted in the July 5 parliamentary election, adding that they should be public since making them so would not undermine the secrecy of the vote.

He once again called on as many citizens as possible to vote. “That’s your right, it’s not an obligation. It’s not a duty and not voting is not punishable, and I won’t tell you that you should vote so that later you don’t complain about who is governing you… Just vote. I think that’s better for the state.”

Speaking of the ongoing campaign, the president said it brought nothing new but that he did not like it when “you’re lying” was being said too much. “In this campaign, I may have heard it more than before,” he said, adding that it was deplorable.

Milanovic said he was not for reducing the number of ministries as that changed nothing “if the positions and the people who go with those positions in terms of duties and scope of activity stay the same.”

INA privatisation study unnecessary

Commenting on an investigation into former health minister Sinisa Varga (SDP) for allegedly commissioning unnecessary studies worth HRK 200,000, Milanovic said it was “a commendable effort.” 

He went on to say that a study on the privatisation of the INA oil company “is unnecessary. Will anybody be criminally accountable for that? And for talks and negotiations during an election campaign when the government can’t make any moves which have financial repercussions?”

He said that after parliament was dissolved and an election was called, nothing should be done that could have financial consequences. “Nothing, aside from paying people’s wages and incentives if they are envisaged.”


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