ZAGREB, November 27, 2018 – Parliamentary deputies Giovanni Sponza and Tulio Demetlika of the Istrian Democratic Assembly (IDS) called on Monday on Croatian authorities to state a clear position on Nazism and Fascism based on the model of developed and law-based countries, noting that the authorities’ response to the historical revisionism in Croatia “must be resolute and uncompromising because otherwise room is being created for a revision of the nature of the NDH (WWII Independent State of Croatia).”
“Last week Croatia was given a few stern lessons – two by the international community and one by its own human rights ombudswoman who in a courageous and comprehensive report underlined the responsibility of state institutions that are ignoring the glorification of Ustasha ideology in Croatia and failing to respond appropriately,” Sponza told a news conference in the parliament.
“Representatives of state authorities did not utter a word about that report. That can be interpreted as currying favour with extremist groups,” said Sponza.
In recent years, books have published, panel discussions organised, documentaries made and TV shows broadcast in which the NDH’s criminal nature is negated or downplayed. “Except for the human rights ombudswoman, not a single state institution has responded to that. Those who do not condemn such phenomena are tacitly approving them,” said Sponza.
He said the Austrian government had given another lesson to Croatia by amending a law to expand the list of banned symbols to include symbols of the Ustasha regime.
Sponza said the historical revisionism in Croatia was a serious social problem that required a decisive response by the state, including criminal sanctions. “The situation is getting out of hand by the day, and tolerance of Ustasha ideology is rising by the day at the expense of historical facts,” Sponza said. He added that it was worrying that the latest surveys on political literacy in the final high school years showed that half of respondents were not sure if the NDH had been a fascist regime.
IDS member Tulio Demetlika said the government’s response should be decisive and uncompromising because otherwise an atmosphere was being created that enabled the downplaying of horrible Ustasha crimes and creating room for a revision of the NDH’s nature.
He said that Australia, too, had shown Croatia its position on the tolerance of Ustasha ideology by cancelling a visa to a man wearing Ustasha insignia. “In October 2017, the IDS forwarded to the parliament a bill proposing, on the model of developed European countries, a ban and proper sanctions against the promotion of the Nazi and Fascist regimes and consequently the Ustasha regime and all related symbols and slogans,” Demetlika said, criticising Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) for not putting the bill on the parliament’s agenda.
He said that he was confident this was so because the HDZ was trying to avoid a debate on that topic. “We want the bill to be put on the agenda immediately and we want Croatia to be like countries that have zero tolerance for Fascism,” said Demetlika.
He said that if Jandroković did not put the IDS bill on the agenda soon, the IDS would seek support among MPs to collect more than 30 signatures to ensure that the item was put on the parliament’s agenda within seven days.
Asked about disputes in the ruling coalition over the foster care bill, the IDS MPs said they welcomed the new bill that was designed to improve the quality of foster care and increase foster care allowance, but noted that they respected the principle of equality. “We believe that all people, regardless of their sexual orientation, should enjoy the same status and possibility to exercise their rights,” Sponza said.
Reporters also asked the IDS MPs to comment on Health Minister Milan Kujundžić’s refusal to reveal the composition of the task force working on the abortion bill. “As regards legislative initiatives, including this one, there is a lack of professional discussion. Also, when professionals do make comments in a public discussion, which happens rarely, the government and the relevant ministries often ignore those comments, which is not good,” said Sponza.
For more on the issue of historical revisionism in Croatia, click here.