The leader of the most significant regional party in the Croatian Parliament speaks openly about their goals and plans.
Boris Miletić, president of the Istrian Democratic Assembly (IDS), the largest and most successful regional party in Croatia, spoke in an interview about the law which his party sent to the parliamentary procedure this week and which would make the controversial “For Homeland Ready” slogan punishable by imprisonment, and about the situation in Catalonia and whether Istria was in any way similar, reports Express on October 10, 2017.
IDS has drafted a proposal to supplement the Criminal Code and introduce prison sentences for the propagation of Nazi, Fascist and Ustasha symbols, including the Ustasha slogan “For Homeland Ready”. Do you think you have a chance to gather enough votes to support it?
Anyone who respects the values of free, antifascist and democratic Europe will vote for this law. The refusal of the institutions to clearly and decisively condemn the propagation of the Ustasha regime has led to the normalisation of fascism in the public space. We talk about the slogan under which thousands of people were killed in Ustasha camps. We forget that this is not a political, but a civilizational issue. As for positioning, IDS is probably the only party in Croatia which does not need it. We are very clearly positioned – both in terms of results and in terms of values.
Have you discussed the proposal with HDZ?
We have not. On Thursday, we presented our proposal to the public. I believe that all political parties, including HDZ, are familiar with our initiative.
How would you assess the work of the current HDZ government?
I do not think they have a strategy or clear direction for development. In the state interest, I would like things to start moving, but I am afraid this is not going to happen. HDZ’s current parliamentary majority is fragile and depends on several very incident-prone MPs. I am afraid that HDZ will pay for political stability with great and very irrational concessions.
Could you be more specific?
I will outline three issues I think are very damaging. The first is the introduction of measures that further centralise the country. The second is the focus of all financial burdens on local communities and citizens, while state resources remain entirely unused. This is primarily related to cutting local budgets and introducing new fees for citizens, while at the same time having unused state-owned assets. And third, tolerating nationalism and intolerance.
Decentralization is an inevitable topic in every interview with you, but this time we can connect it to the events in Catalonia. Many have compared the situation there with Istria.
Catalonia is an affluent region with fantastic economic indicators, and the fact is that with its potential independence Spain would lose much. Although there is a link to Istria – both regions pay into the central treasury far more than they get back – I think that Istria can be much more accurately compared with autonomous Italian regions of Friuli-Venezia Giulia or Trentino-Alto Adige.
How do you see the latest events in Catalonia about the independence referendum?
I believe that the solution that most Catalans want should be achieved solely by negotiations and with peaceful endeavours and reason. Police violence, which IDS immediately condemned, has had an incredible mobilisation effect. The Spanish government has done a significant disservice to itself.
Is Catalonia an example now for Istria, given the results of the referendum?
Istria and Catalonia are not comparable; their political position is not similar. The Catalans have their own language and a different history from Istria, which is multicultural, bilingual and in which there is the coexistence of all citizens irrespective of their origin or nationality.
There are constant debates over the possible independence of Istria. Are there any real chances of such a referendum ever happening in Croatia?
This is not IDS policy. What we want is a high degree of regional autonomy of Istria, which means that the citizens of Istria should themselves make decisions on the use of the money they have earned from their work.
How do you look at relations with Slovenia after the border arbitration verdict? What is the right solution for you?
It is in no-one’s interest to have incidents, least of all to the Croatian and Slovene fishers. Citizens of Istria do not like borders; our mentality is open and friendly. We will insist on dialogue, but we will protect the interests of our citizens without exception.
Translated from Express.