Serbian Minority MP Defends Himself after Recent Attacks

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, September 20, 2018 – The leader of the Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS), MP Milorad Pupovac, responded on Thursday to last week’s demand by two war veterans’ organisations that the parliament discuss his actions, saying that he was responsible for his own words and actions and not for those of others, “as that is supposed to be so in a law-based country.”

The two organisations – the Association of Homeland War Special Police and the Federation of Associations of Croatian Homeland War Guard Corps Veterans – resent Pupovac’s having attended a commemoration in Bačka Palanka, Serbia, at which Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić likened Croatia to Nazi Germany.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković has dismissed the demand that the parliament discuss Pupovac’s actions, saying that he would not allow anyone to choose his political partners or decide who would be part of the parliamentary majority. Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković, too, has refused to put the two associations’ demand on the parliament’s agenda.

“Only a sincere and moral attitude towards victims, be they Croats, Serbs or someone else, is acceptable to me,” Pupovac said and underscored that he would rather that everyone in Croatia did that and that Croatia and Serbia find a way to return to the path to normal relations as has occurred on several occasions already.

In his 30-minute address to the press, Pupovac said that this was his sixth term as a member of parliament and that he had been on Croatia’s political scene since 1988. “I witnessed a time when citizens of Serb ethnic background had to make statements pledging their loyalty to the state. All members of the Serb community consider this to be their biggest trauma. My message to all those who wish to deepen that trauma is that I won’t allow it. I’m not an MP for the sixth time so that those who elected me would live in fear or make new loyalty statements. I have sworn on the Croatian Constitution six times and those who think that that is not enough should give it some more thought.”

Pupovac said that he had already stated his position on the Bačka Palanka event which had upset and offended people in Croatia, and that he did not intend to speak about it anymore or answer for somebody else’s statements but only for his own.

As for the commemoration of the exodus and suffering of more than 250,000 Croatian Serbs at the end of the 1991-1995 war, Pupovac said that it could not be ignored and that it was part of “our obligation to face the consequences of the war in Croatia and the entire former Yugoslavia.”

“Anyone who wishes to prevent that in fact wants to prevent the normalisation of relations and respect and recognition for the war victims, as well as to manipulate the suffering of people in the war. I have never and will never support such a manipulative approach. Only a sincere and moral attitude to victims, their suffering and losses, be they Croats, Serbs or someone else, is acceptable to me.”

“Those targeting me should rather address issues such as the negation of World War II Jasenovac concentration camp or children’s camps, which has been making its way into the mainstream media. That will be the best defence against those who liken Croatia to the Independent State of Croatia.”

“I respect all those who, guided by the idea of freedom for their own country, safety of their own families and peace in their own towns, fought for their country. But I can’t say the same for those who try to tailor Croatia’s democracy to make it suit military tents, who want to eliminate political tolerance and pluralism, and instead of fighting for constitutional patriotism and lasting peace in this country, try to impose the value of wartime patriotism, whose value only they know, denying others who also experienced the war any right to speak about it.”

Asked by reporters how much his presence at the event at which Vučić spoke contributed to the normalisation of relations, Pupovac said that he will not attend such events when he decides that he shouldn’t go. He also called on reporters to “look around and listen to what you can hear.”

“Can war crimes convicts be honoured, with all due respect for their possible contribution to the war effort? A war crime is a war crime. Shouldn’t we be speaking more resolutely about the rehabilitation of the NDH in Croatia? That’s my answer.”

He said he supported the Andrej Plenković government because he was confident that things could be changed through persistent political work.

When asked why he supported a government whose actions were contrary to what he advocated, Pupovac said that “focusing on the SDSS as a key to the survival of this government is ethno-centric and unfair towards the SDSS.”

“There are at least 77 MPs, which means 74 from other parties, whose voices also matter, and you ask me why I support the government if things like these are happening, assuming that they bother us. They do. Do we support those things? We don’t. Do we agree with them? We don’t. If we judge that the policy that we consider is worth our support is beginning to lose that value, we will withhold our support. If we judge that we can’t do anything to stop such processes from continuing, rest assured we will not support it,” said Pupovac.

“Many people don’t mind ‘For the homeland ready’ salute and many are actively promoting it. Many don’t mind the negation of Jesenovac or the children’s camps I have mentioned, either because they don’t know anything about it or are indifferent or agree with it. What worries us is that such things have made their way into the mainstream media and are being treated as something normal.”

Commenting on Vučić’s statements at the Bačka Palanka event, Pupovac said that he was not saying that he did not hear them, “which is what some of our state officials are saying.”

“I did not lack the courage to say what I should have said, but if you want to subject me to some kind of interrogation, I won’t allow it… Just remember who on the Croatian political scene said that they did not hear what the entire public heard – For the Homeland Ready chants at sports events. You don’t mind that, veteran associations don’t mind it, and I, who heard it and stated my opinion about it, should be crucified,” Pupovac said, adding that this was not the first or last time that he was attacked and that was why he regretted that there would be no parliamentary discussion on him.


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