“Foreign Policy” Magazine Criticises Croatia’s New Government

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The highly-influential American magazine has some harsh words for Culture Minister Hasanbegović in particular.

The influential American “Foreign Policy” magazine published an article in which it analysed the new Croatian government. In this article, current Culture Minister Zlatko Hasanbegović is called an unabashed fascist, reports Index.hr on May 7, 2016.

“The European Union’s newest member, Croatia, has an unabashed and strong-willed fascist in its new cabinet — one who makes the right-wingers in power in Hungary and Poland look like wimps. The contested figure is Zlatko Hasanbegović, a 42-year-old historian who became culture minister in late January after the country’s latest election produced a new right-wing ruling coalition. Hasanbegović had been a prominent figure in a small ultra-rightist party that openly extols the fascist World War II-era Ustasha movement (He left the party and is now unaffiliated, though he has never renounced it). As a historian, his work focuses on downplaying the crimes of the Ustasha and cautiously rehabilitating its ideas. Unlike the right-wingers in Poland and Hungary who are eviscerating their states’ democratic structures, the Croatian nationalists are waging their war within the realm of political culture — for now. Their goal is to lay the groundwork for an eventual assault on the country’s liberal democracy”, writes Foreign Policy.

“Hasanbegović’s appointment in the new government — a gesture to the country’s powerful far-right forces — provoked protests and sharp criticism, not least from the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a prominent Jewish human-rights organization. But since taking office, Hasanbegović has done nothing to blunt his radicalism, cutting funds for progressive groups and independent media and endorsing a revisionist documentary film that denies the scale of the crimes committed by Croatia during its alliance with Nazi Germany in the 1940s”, continues Foreign Policy.

“After a period of moderation in the early 2000s, the HDZ swerved sharply to the right again, bringing many of the extremist national splinter parties under its wing, including Hasanbegović’s former party. The ranks of the far right in Croatia are so well stocked that it can bring 5,000 supporters onto the streets of the capital city of Zagreb, as it did in January, some of them chanting the slogan “For the Homeland Ready,” the Ustasha version of the Nazis’ Sieg Heil”, writes Foreign Policy.

“The Croatian right may not have the clout, for now, to follow in the footsteps of Hungary and Poland as it might like to. That’s why the culture war of Hasanbegović and the far right is all the more foreboding. They’re preparing the ground for the future”, concludes the article.

The whole article, written by Paul Hockenos, can be read here.


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