Deadline Approaching for Government’s Historical Commission

Total Croatia News

The commission, which should issue recommendations regarding views on the Second World War and communist period, has just four more days to adopt conclusions. It has not met since November.

The government’s specially-convened historical commission should by next Thursday submit to the government recommendations on what the government calls “facing the consequences of the rule of undemocratic regimes.” However, the commission has not met since last November. Although they have just four more days, the commission’s president Zvonko Kusić, who is also the president of the Croatian Academy of Arts and Sciences, said yesterday that he did not know when the commission would hold its final meeting to try to agree on the recommendations that should be sent to the government, reports Jutarnji List on February 23, 2018.

“We are working… I hope we will not extend the deadline,” said Kusić yesterday. At a meeting held on 2 March 2017, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković appointed Kusić as the president of the commission composed of 17 members – historians, lawyers, political scientists and other experts. When asked when the commission’s final session would be held, Kusić replied, “We have not yet scheduled a plenary session.”

Given that the commission should adopt conclusions unanimously, a logical question is why the commission has not met for three months. “Plenary sessions are not very efficient. The body has 17 members, and many of them like to talk, and that takes a long time. We work in smaller groups as efficiently as possible,” he replied.

Kusić said that he hoped a consensus on the recommendations could be reached. “We will strive for it,” he said. “The government has given us the task of delivering the conclusions, and we will submit a document. I do not know what the government will do with the document if we all do not agree with it but issue separate opinions. This has not been regulated by the decision to establish the commission,” Kusić added.

Asked whether the commission’s working group, composed of lawyers and coordinated by the former Constitutional Court President Jasna Omejec, has proposed amendments to existing laws regulating the use of fascist and communist symbols, Kusić replied, “I cannot say that yet because it has not been solved yet.”

Many experts and citizens consider the commission to be redundant and a sign of lack of courage and determination by Prime Minister Plenković to send a clear message regarding the glorification of the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) era and historical revisionism in relation to the Second World War and the NDH’s Ustasha regime.

According to unofficial sources, the final document will consist of two parts: the first would define the general positions towards the two regimes, the fascist NDH and communist Yugoslavia, while the other would contain specific recommendations.

The first part of the document, written by a working group led by former SDP’s Culture Minister Antun Vujić, was completed in November. According to sources, the commission will state that it is not possible to equalise the NDH regime from 1941 to 1945 and the Yugoslavian communist system from 1945 to 1990. This general section is based on the introductory part of the current Constitution, which states that Croatia is based on ZAVNOH’s 1943 decisions, as opposed to the Independent State of Croatia. ZAVNOH (State Anti-Fascist Council for the National Liberation of Croatia) was the highest governing institution of the anti-fascist movement in Croatia during the World War II. The commission has reportedly agreed on this first part, although not without problems.

However, there are issues with the second part, containing specific recommendations prepared by the Omejec working group. The draft recommendations include an explicit ban on the use of fascist symbols, referring to the last October’s decision of the Constitutional Court which ruled that it was unconstitutional to name streets after 10 April, the day when the Independent State of Croatia was officially established in 1941.

“It is possible,” according to one commission member, “that in order to reach the consensus, all controversial parts will be excluded from the final recommendations, but that would make it a very general and unusable document.”

Translated from Jutarnji List (reported by Slavica Lukić).


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