ZAGREB, March 1, 2018 – Social Democratic Party (SDP) president Davor Bernardić said on Wednesday the council for dealing with the past had adopted a shameful conclusion on the Ustasha salute “For the Homeland Ready” by “making it acceptable in exceptional situations.”
“This means the salute will be visible only a few kilometres from Jasenovac,” he said in a press release, referring to the site of a WWII concentration camp. “We condemn in the strongest terms this decision whereby Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and the government are allowing the interpolation of the official salute of the Nazi and fascist NDH (Independent State of Croatia) in memorial plaques of HOS in a public area. Once again, the defeated and pernicious Ustasha ideology is being allowed to destroy Croatian society in the most perfidious way,” the SDP said in the press release.
The SDP believes that those in power “can’t resolve serious problems” and that “the prime minister’s indecisiveness and incompetence is being fully revealed.”
The conclusions outlined on Wednesday by the council for dealing with the consequences of undemocratic regimes on how to treat insignia of totalitarian regimes have elicited criticism from other politicians and from parliamentary and non-parliamentary parties.
Milorad Pupovac of the Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS), which is a crucial member of the ruling coalition, said on Wednesday evening that the solution proposed for ‘For the Homeland Ready’ salute did not solve the situation but made it more complicated. “It would be better if they (the council) had done nothing. These non-binding recommendations would stir up confusion among the law enforcement authorities,” Pupovac said. The Croatian Serb leader said that he looked at the conclusions with concern and anxiety.
The Istrian Democratic Party (IDS) said that the conclusions were as expected. This parliamentary regional party said that it would insist on the adoption of the draft law it proposed on the matter, banning the Ustasha salute.
The non-parliamentary Croatian Party of Rights (HSP) criticised the conclusions adding that members of the HOS units, former Croatian Defence Forces, that were the armed wing of the HSP during the Homeland War, could not accept the recommendations. They insist that not only HOS members but also other soldiers defending Croatia in the Homeland Defence War used the salute. The HSP found the conclusions to be “too dangerous for the national unity” and that they were in line with “Yugoslav Communist policies”.
The Council’s recommendations are that Croatia punishes all forms of glorification of fascist regimes but allows the use of the “For the Homeland Ready” salute strictly to commemorate a soldier killed in the 1991-95 Homeland War.
After the Council session on Wednesday afternoon, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said the “For the Homeland Ready” salute, registered as part of statutory provisions of certain associations related to the activities of HOS during the Homeland War, was contrary to the Croatian constitution.
The council, composed of 17 experts in different scientific fields and of different political inclinations, concluded their work by adopting recommendations in the form of two documents, one dealing with historical issues and the other focusing on legal solutions to those issues.