Mr. Parliamentary Speaker, do not relativize criminal character of the Ustasha greeting ‘For Home(land) – Ready!’

Parliamentary Speaker,

Commenting statements of Croatian President Zoran Milanović in Jasenovac on June 22 2020, you said the following to the media yesterday: “That plaque contains the names of people who were killed defending Croatia and therefore if the President wanted to express his attitude about Croatian Defence Council’s (HOS) greeting ‘For Home(land) – Ready’, he could have done it differently and not by speaking ill of those who died defending Croatia.”

The fact that greeting ‘For Home(land) – Ready’ is contained on the symbols of HOS’ units and associations that follow HOS’ legacy and goals today is a clear proof that these units were founded in order to fight for reincarnation of the Independent State of Croatia and not for the Republic of Croatia within borders provided by its Constitution and with its fundamental values.

For years, the Youth Initiative for Human Rights has been clearly pointing out to unlawful use of the greeting ‘For Home(land) – Ready’ for any purpose, aware of undisputable historical fact that this is Ustasha greeting under which people were killed, persecuted and tortured only for being of other ethnic origin, religion or political affiliation. The use of this greeting was unconstitutional even during the wars of the 1990s, which clearly arises from constitutional provisions and principles.

With this statements, failing to clearly distance yourself from the greeting ‘For Home(land) – Ready’, you encourage historical revisionism, contribute to the atmosphere of relativisation of Ustasha crimes, and question the anti-fascist foundations of the Republic of Croatia.

We urge you and other members of parliament, as well as the Government of Croatia, to invest necessary effort into the creation of as good as possible legislation for prosecuting the use of Ustasha, Nazi and fascist insignia and greetings, and all forms of glorifying these regimes, if competent authorities are not prone to directly applying constitutional provisions and existing criminal and misdemeanour legislation.

Also, we invite all above-mentioned actors to finally clearly oppose the use of explicit Ustasha or Nazi symbols or symbols associating to the Ustasha movement in public and overall space.

Finally, we remind you that Croatia still presides the EU Council. It can use this duty to demonstrate good practices to Members States in many areas of realization of fundamental values of the Union, such as the rule of law. Do not forget that the European Parliament, not so long ago, in 2018, passed a resolution on the rise of neo-fascist violence in Europe, by which it warned and called on EU Member States to condemn and counteract all forms of Holocaust denial, including the trivialisation and minimisation of the crimes of Nazis and their collaborators, as well as to take measures to prevent, convict and suppress hate speech and hate crimes.

Since Croatia is one of the states for which a concern has been expressed due to the rise of right-wing extremism and neo-fascism, we expect from you to refrain, in accordance with responsibilities you have as the Parliamentary Speaker, from excesses like yesterday’s and get more actively involved in taking the above-mentioned measures. 

Zagreb, 24 June 2020