The authorities will stop tolerating unacceptable behaviour.
The Austrian state prosecutors and judges which will issue immediate rulings for the use of Ustasha symbols will be present on May 12 at Bleiburg, where a commemoration will take place on the occasion of the 73rd anniversary of the Bleiburg events, reports Jutarnji List on April 26, 2018.
As never before, Austrian politicians, both from rightwing and leftwing political parties, are united in a decision to vigorously prevent any attempt to use fascist symbols. All those who will not respect the rules will be expelled from Austria. Judges will issue immediate rulings for anyone carrying symbols of the Independent State of Croatia and the “For Homeland Ready” slogan, while Austrian police officers will respond to all attempts to use Ustasha symbols.
The Croatian Bishops Conference and the Bleiburg Guard of Honour will this year have to be very careful in organising the traditional gathering at Bleiburg to avoid incidents that would further stigmatise the event. “The Catholic Church has never supported Ustasha provocateurs who came to Bleiburg. For us, they were provocateurs because mostly they were young people who could not have anything to do with the Ustasha movement, and the police never identified them. As far as the Croatian Bishops Conference is concerned, the authorities have the full freedom to identify and punish all those wearing Ustasha symbols at the commemoration,” said a church source.
Deputy Speaker of the Croatian Parliament Željko Reiner confirmed that this year’s commemoration would again be held under the patronage of parliament, but added that symbols of totalitarianism do not belong to the commemoration. “This is an event that should be organised with dignity for the innocent people killed.” Reiner also claims that, in recent years, he has not seen people with Ustasha insignia at Bleiburg. “Maybe they were on the periphery, and the media focused on them and presented a picture which is different from the reality,” said Reiner, rejecting the Austrian claims that the event represented a neo-Nazi gathering.
Although some Austrian politicians have proposed a ban of the commemoration, Prime Minister Sebastian Kurz said he had no authority to ban the event. “It is organised by the Croatian Church. This means that it is not a decision for either the government or the federal prime minister. Of course, if there are violations of the Austrian laws, we will intervene,” said Kurz.
At this year’s gathering, the Austrian authorities will explicitly forbid all usage of the Ustasha slogan “For Homeland Ready,” including on flags and T-shirts with the HOS coat of arms, although the coat of arms is often tolerated in Croatia.
Austrian daily Kleine Zeitung published a commentary claiming that the event at Bleiburg, under the guise of a religious commemoration, was actually celebrating the Ustasha regime. “It is high time for Carinthia to make clear that it will not allow these people to damage the reputation of our province with their neo-Nazi activities.” Even more direct was the Austrian national television ORF, which described the event as “Ustasha gathering at Bleiburg.”
Translated from Jutarnji List (reported by Robert Bajruši, Jurica Korbler).