How far will Croatia shift to the right?
Three months after taking office several initiatives by the new Croatian government have made it clear that it wants to put the country on a national-conservative course. Some commentators are worried that the country is shifting to the right. For others that's just what the left wants the public to believe.
Croatia marching towards fascism
The national-conservative government has started to turn Croatia into a fascist state, the left-leaning daily of the Serbian minority Novosti warns:
“This is a major and well-planned project that is turning the most basic truths about the Second World War on their head. This undertaking is unparalleled in today's Europe, even bearing in mind that historical revisionism has spread to many parts of Europe. But nowhere has it united the entire right - from the secular and clerical authorities to the pro-Christian NGOs, cultural and legal institutions right through to the media - as systematically and effectively as in Croatia. ... The goal isn't to revise the image of Jasenovac concentration camp: that's old hat. Now the plan is to turn Croatia into a copy of the Independent State of Croatia [the fascist puppet state founded after the Axis powers' invasion of Yugoslavia in 1941] that comes as close to the original as possible.”
Fascists' rise a delusion of the left
Croatia's Jewish communities and Serbian, Roma and anti-fascist organisations plan to boycott the Croatian state's commemorative ceremonies for the victims of Jasenovac concentration camp. They accuse the government of not doing enough to counter the rise of Ustasha fascism in the country. The supposed shift to the right in Croatia is pure propaganda, the conservative daily Večernji list rails:
“Five years ago it was already clear that Croatia would be in for such a trashing before long. Back then the systematic, planned hysteria about the 'fascisation of Croatia' began. At the same time supporters of [former PM] Zoran Milanović and [ex foreign minister] Vesna Pusić began forming anti-fascist groups to counter the purported rise of fascism. Now this programmed ideological insanity has escalated to the point that the Serbian-Jewish community has called for a boycott of the commemoration ceremony for the victims of Jasenovac.”
The unimaginable is routine in Croatia
The head of the Coordinating Committee of the Jewish Communities in Croatia has refused to take part in the ceremony commemorating the victims of the Jasenovac concentration camp, accusing the state of not doing enough to counter fascism's growing popularity. An alarming development writes, the liberal web portal tportal.hr:
“Imagine if the German Jewish community refused to take part in the commemoration ceremonies at the former Dachau concentration camp because people were taking a new interest in Nazism. And imagine Merkel answering that the Jews were exaggerating, the president of the Bundestag cynically comparing the victims with the perpetrators, a minister refusing to speak with survivor groups, and the minister of culture publicly denying Germany's liberation from fascism. Yes, that is unimaginable. But everything that is unimaginable in the most progressive country in Europe is routine politics in Croatia, one of the most backward states in Europe.”
Government doesn't want engaged citizens
The liberal website forum.tm voices concern about the government's plans to transfer 70 percent of the country's National Fund budget for supporting civil society to the ministeries. By giving the latter control of funding the government is hoping to silence the NGOs, forum.tm warns:
“If the fund is weakened it would be a direct attack on all the organisations that work to encourage critical thinking and social engagement among the people. In 2014 the fund supported 486 projects run by hundreds of NGOs, which in turn employ 829 people and have integrated more than 7,000 voluntary helpers. Clearly that goes too far for this government. … The National Fund is independent of politics. Here in Croatia, on the other hand, funding through the ministries is always contingent on political games and ideological submission and never planned for the long term. … The new government simply doesn't want critical, well informed, active citizens. It wants them silenced.”