Croatian Artists Protest Against New Culture Minister

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Artists protest against new culture minister. 

The informal initiative Kulturnjaci2016 organized a protest against the new Croatian Culture Minister Zlatko Hasanbegović. The protest was held in front of the Government building. They send a petition to Prime Minister Tihomir Orešković demanding the dismissal of the Minister, reports Novilist on February 4, 2016.

Artists Urša Raukar, Dunja Vejzović, Ivica Buljan, Zoran Ferić, Ivana Sajko and Doris Šarić Kukuljica spoke at a press conference held at St. Mark’s Square. Director Ivica Buljan said that it was sad that such things were happening now, when Croatia has the opportunity for one of its cities to be selected as the European Capital of Culture in 2020.

“Everything which the artists and cultural sector representatives have accomplished in the past years has been destroyed in just a week. Even the will of voters – who did not support extreme tendencies – has been annulled at such a sensitive part of government”, said Buljan. “Even in those European countries where right-wing parties have won elections, they were careful to put in the Culture Ministry someone who is able to articulate different interests, someone who is moderate, and not a person of extreme attitudes”, said Buljan.

When asked what bothered him more – the fact that Hasanbegović was a historian and not an expert for culture or his political and ideological views, Buljan replied: “First of all, he is not an expert. This is a complex Ministry and so far has always been led by a competent person – Vesna Girardi-Jurkić, Božo Biškupić, Andrea Zlatar… I will not assess their results, but the public has never questioned their competence, the fact that they were persons with broad cultural views who knew the culture industry. Furthermore, the first move of the Minister was to abolish the expert commission for non-profit media, and we have already seen that he flirts with fascism with his new interpretation of antifascism, which is obviously just a prelude to future revenge. It is also a reason to ask ourselves what he intends to do with culture, which is a component of our identity”, said Buljan.

In just a short time they collected 1,100 signatures, and the initiative hopes that it will gather even more signatures, not just from people in the culture industry, but also from the general public.

As for the impact of Hasanbegović on the theatre, Buljan said that he expected “a silent censorship and revenge”. He said that the government acted as if history began in 1990. They have annulled everything which has been painstakingly created in Croatian culture. Buljan said that they were now waiting for the reaction of the Government. “We artists are rather tough, we are used to working in impossible conditions”, he said.

“You saw that in Vinkovci there is a graffiti ‘Death to Oliver Frljić’, and that is serious. In normal circumstances, the Minister should have said something”, said the director. Journalists asked him whether they requested a meeting with the Minister. “He had ten days to distance himself from the statements that we have seen in the media. Regardless of everything, he did not take that opportunity. He has not even presented his program of activities”, said Buljan.


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