Croatia: violent clashes involving Europe’s ultra-nationalists imminent

Ban Jelacic Square, Zagreb, Croatia

As I sensed in my previous post, Croatia’s minister of interior affairs, Ranko Ostojic, has Thursday 12 April banned International nationalists’ conference and rally that were organised by Croatian Pure Party of Rights.

Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic confirmed the ban and stressed that the reasons for the ban had to do with one’s view of the world and political positions.

Those who in their platforms call for destruction of Croatia’s constitutional order and lay claims to parts of Croatia’s territory – and such people have been announced as participants (in the gatherings) – they can visit Croatia as tourists, but they cannot come here as political opponents,” Milanovic said.

Milanovic said that the government had a responsibility towards its citizens to oppose such ideologies.

Such things won’t be tolerated, not now and not ever,” he said.

Milanovic referred to the Hungarian ultra-right Jobbik party which has announced its arrival in Zagreb for the gathering and has publicly stated it wants to annex parts of Croatian territory to Hungary.

Such attitude could be believed if the situation was clear-cut. But it’s not.

To pour oil onto the already burning issue the Croatian Civilisation movement (Hrvatski uljudbeni pokret), right-wing political orientation, is attempting to playing a dangerous game it seems. It wants to hold a rally in Zagreb’s central Ban Jelacic Square around the same time when the banned rally was supposed to be held. It has received permission from the police to do so!

They’ve published Zagreb’s police permission, dated 11 April, to hold a gathering on Friday 13 April for “distribution of political material and expression of political views”.

While the international conference and rally organised by the Croatian Pure Party of Rights is banned, the rally being organised by the Croatian Civilisation movement is allowed!

Zagreb’s police reasons for denying the holding of the International nationalists conference and rally was that persons that engage in inciting violence were to attend (most likely meaning ultra-right parties and movements from other European countries), and Croatian law forbids such gatherings.

That’s understandable, but given that representatives from those European ultra-right wingers are going to be in Zagreb as planned, now merely as “tourists” as their events have been banned, there is every likelihood that they will be present at the rally organised by Croatian Civilisation Movement on Friday 13 April. Given that Citizens’ actions groups are geared up to hold their “Fascism – not in my city” rally the world can expect a rapid combustion of ugly proportions.

One frets that the world will not see these events in Croatia as free expressions of political views but rather as evidence, albeit warped, that fascism is still alive and kicking in Croatia.

Croatian government it seems has not thought this whole saga through, or perhaps they have? Perhaps the former communists want the ugly nationalistic scenes to occur in Croatia, to feed their rhetoric of antifascist righteousness?

And if the rally gets ugly and the Croatian generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac, currently in the Appeals Chamber at the ICTY, are mentioned there, one can bet one’s last dollar that at least some of the world news headlines will not be kind to them even if they played no role in the rally nor have any control over it.

If Croatia’s Prime Minister Milanovic is truly serious about his statement that ultra-right gatherings will never be tolerated in Croatia then he has the responsibility to ban all gatherings where there is even a minute chance of violence occurring, ultra-right nationalists joining even as by-standers.

If he does not do that then he has failed to protect Croatia’s reputation as a country that upholds its laws that ban violence. There are oodles of signs that clashes are imminent between the ultra-right and leftists on Ban Jelacic Square in Zagreb on the evening Friday 13 April, and it’s not as if Milanovic could say “I didn’t know”. If he does nothing to stop any of the announced rallies his actions can justifiably be described as reprehensible – through and through. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

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