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Fascism and anti-#Serb sentiments in #Croatia

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On 1 May 2020, Croatia’s president Zoran Milanovic left a state ceremony celebrating the 25th anniversary of the reconquest of territories held by rebel Serbs for four years in protest of a Nazi-era salute – writes Willy Fautré, director of Human Rights Without Frontiers

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The president’s reaction was prompted by a war veteran who was wearing the emblem ‘For the homeland ready’ (Za Dom Spremni) used by the Ustashi fascists during WWII. Between 1941 and 1945, the Nazi-aligned Ustasha murdered tens of thousands of Serbs, Jews and Roma. They were known for their particularly brutal and sadistic methods of execution. Despite the connotation of the event, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković decided to stay, which demonstrated the challenges for politicians and society alike when confronted with the fascist past of the country.

The EU is currently developing a policy to support the gradual integration of the Western Balkans, including the accession of Serbia, but at the same time anti-Serb sentiments continue to increase in Croatia.

Dalmatia, a well-known touristic region along the Adriatic Sea, is one area where many Serbs do not feel at home.

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An investigation with local Serbs that was carried out by Human Rights Without Frontiers (HRWF) about the situation in Zadar, the main city of Dalmatia after Split, is particularly enlightening. Since 1990, the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), a ruling party in Croatia and a member of the European People’s Party (EPP) at the European Parliament, has continuously held the post of mayor of Zadar.

In 2008, Mayor Živko Kolega refused to lay a wreath at a monument for anti-fascists who died during WWII. Anti-fascists in Zadar objected, insisting that local and national authorities were not doing enough to combat the neo-Ustasha ideology. Anti-Serb hostility is a by-product of this fascist political agenda.

One example of how a political ideology has translated into hardship for individuals is the discrimination that Dalibor Močević faced. Močević is a Croatian citizen of Serbian descent who spoke to HRWF about the challenges he faced in receiving fair treatment by various administrations and the judiciary of Zadar.

From his birth in 1972 until 1994, Močević lived in an apartment in Zadar that belonged to his father. In 1992, his father died as a victim of the war in Bosnia after being placed in a sanatorium.

In 1993, Močević, who was employed by a merchant shipping company, returned from a one-year trip on foreign seas. He discovered that his house, which jointly belonged to him and his elderly mother, had been confiscated by the authorities and given to Croatian refugees who had been displaced by the war. After 15 years of judicial proceedings and conflicting decisions from the Zadar Municipal Court and Zadar County Court, Močević was deprived of his property rights. In 2010, he appealed this decision at the Supreme Court and then at the Constitutional Court, but to no avail.

In 2009, his mother died under suspicious circumstances. Močević requested access to a number of medical reports from the General Hospital in Zadar, which he is entitled by law, but his request was denied. He filed a complaint against the Ministry of Health but received no reply. Močević sent another complaint to the County Prosecutors Office in Zadar requesting an investigation based on his suspicions, but no criminal investigation was ever initiated.

Additionally, the second husband of his late mother, A. Radetić, who was friendly with some politicians that had dubious pasts, illegally took Močević’s inheritance. In 2017, the Constitutional Court rejected Močević’s complaint. Močević felt discriminated against because of the general anti-Serbian hostility that has persisted since the collapse of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. On 2 May 1991, during one of the many clashes between Croats and Serbs, Radetić’s uncle was part of a Croatian mob that ransacked over a hundred shops of Serbian companies and businesses and destroyed hundreds of Serb houses in Zadar. The police passively watched these violent incidents without interfering.

In another case concerning his divorce, Močević was denied custody of his young son despite the fact that he had been taken from his ex-wife by the local Center for Social Welfare because of her persistent alcoholism and psychiatric problems.

Močević asserts that he was repeatedly denied justice in these instances because of his Serb origin. His lawyer shares the view that Serbs in Croatia are discriminated against due to various personal or institutional collusions between a number of judges, political figures and extreme nationalists.

The President of Croatia did well to withdraw from a ceremony that had some fascist connotations, but there is still a long way to go before anti-Serb sentiments are eradicated entirely. The wars between 1991 to 2001 which led to the breakup of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the current frontiers between newly established states left wounds at individual, societal and institutional levels. These urgently need to be healed for the wellbeing of all Croatian citizens and so as to allow successful integration of the seven Western Balkan states into the EU.

Willy Fautré is director of Human Rights Without Frontiers

 

Croatia

Secretary Mayorkas announces designation of Croatia as a new participant in the Visa Waiver Program

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US Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas (pictured), in co-ordination with Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, designated Croatia as a new participant in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).  Starting no later than 1 December 2021, the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) will be updated to allow citizens and nationals of Croatia to apply to travel to the United States for tourism or business for up to 90 days without obtaining a U.S. visa.  Croatia’s designation as a participant in the VWP is an important step toward further strengthening  long-standing economic and security cooperation between the United States and Croatia.   

“Today’s designation of Croatia as a new participant in the Visa Waiver Program is an important recognition of our countries’ shared economic and security interests,” said Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas.  “I congratulate Croatia for becoming the 40th member of the VWP after having met strict requirements, and I look forward to our continued close cooperation on key priorities.”  

The VWP is a comprehensive security partnership between the United States and designated countries that facilitates international travel to the United States for business or tourism without a visa for up to 90 days, while protecting national security.  To participate in the VWP, a country must meet requirements related to counterterrorism, law enforcement, immigration enforcement, document security, and border management on an ongoing basis.  These requirements include having a rate of nonimmigrant visa refusals below three percent, issuing secure travel documents, and working closely with U.S. law enforcement and counterterrorism authorities.  

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ESTA authorizations are generally valid for two years.  Travelers with valid B1/B2 visas should continue to use their visa for travel to the United States.  For more information on ESTA applications, please visit the CBP ESTA website.

For more information on the VWP, please visit the DHS VWP website.

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Croatia

Euro changeover: Agreement with Croatia on practical steps for the start of euro coin production

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The European Commission and eurozone member states have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Croatia outlining the practical steps that will allow the country to begin producing euro coins when it receives the go ahead to join the eurozone. This represents an important milestone in Croatia's efforts to join the eurozone.

The MoU was signed by Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis, Commissioner Gentiloni, Eurogroup President Paschal Donohoe and Croatian National Bank Governor Boris Vujčić in a ceremony which followed the meeting of the Eurogroup which took place earlier today in Brdo, Slovenia.

The MoU allows Croatia, with the assistance of the Commission and eurozone member states, to carry out all the necessary preparations ahead of and up to the actual minting of euro coins. These include, among others: the selection by Croatia of its euro coin national side designs according to national procedures; the acquisition and production of minting tools and coin test runs; and arrangements for the distribution of euro coins and the withdrawal of the Croatian kuna during the changeover.

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Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis said: “I am pleased to sign this Memorandum that will enable Croatia to begin preparations for minting euro test coins, marking another milestone on the journey to euro accession. The Commission continues to support Croatia in its efforts to join the euro area, from which it stands to benefit greatly. However, before it can adopt Europe's single currency, Croatia must first meet all Maastricht criteria and continue to make progress on technical preparations.”

Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni said: “The signature of this memorandum is an important symbolic but also practical step on Croatia's road to joining the euro. I welcome Croatia's strong determination to accede to the euro area, which is where the country belongs. The Commission will continue to support Croatia in its preparations and its efforts to meet the convergence criteria.”

Background

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Croatia is not yet a member of the eurozone. The kuna is, however, part of the exchange rate mechanism (ERM II) since 10 July 2020.

The signing of this MoU is one of the normal preparatory steps when a non-euro area member state intends to join the eurozone. Due to the complexity of the tasks linked to euro coin production, member states intending to join need to start preparing well in advance of the Council's decision to lift the derogation from their participation in the euro. This will not prejudge the Council's decision on the lifting of the derogation according to Article 140(2) TFEU.

The signing of the MoU allows Croatia to receive the necessary technical documentation to mint euro test coins, which are used to verify the technical fitness of future euro coins for vending and coin processing machines. The Commission and eurozone national mints will also transfer to Croatia the required copyrights and minting tools. In the past, equivalent MoUs have also been signed with Slovenia, Cyprus, Malta, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

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coronavirus

MEPs raise objections to 'corona facism'

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From the 704 elected representatives in the European Parliament, who come from 27 member states, only two dared to raise their voices against COVID measures and the deprivation of the fundamental human freedoms. Interestingly, the two of the 704 MPs come from the same country, where the second dose of the vaccination is at the lowest level in Europe. From Croatia, writes Ivan Vilibor SINČIĆ, MEP.

Croatia is a country with only 35% vaccinated with the second dose, and independent members of the European Parliament Ivan Vilibor Sinčić and Mislav Kolakušić are the only MEPs in Europe who dared to raise their voice against, we can freely call it – corona fascism.

It is unfortunate that there are no more elected representatives of the citizens across Europe to represent freedom and health rights. Not only are there no independent studies of the vaccine efficacy and health impact, but measures such as banning gatherings, restricting work to restaurants and bars, wearing masks, and unnecessary and unreliable testing have completely failed.

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These fascist measures are by no means the measures of experts who care about human health, but the measures of politicians who want to deprive us of our freedom, turn us into mindless robots working against common sense, dehumanize us and make healthy people sick, and of course earn money from it all.

What gives hope is the fact that the citizens of the Republic of Croatia have decided to turn their backs on the pharmaceutical propaganda and the fascist politicians and have decided to listen with an open mind to what their members of the European Parliament Ivan Vilibor Sinčić and Mislav Kolakušić have to say. Some highly vaccinated countries that vaccinated their residents with the third dose have major problems with new positive cases, while Croatia, which has low vaccination rate, is currently one of the safest countries.

The only way to end this story about Covid is to completely abolish fascist measures, gain natural immunity and continue to live normally. Not the new normal, but the normal. Experimental drugs, such as the current vaccines, are not the solution and should not be imposed on citizens in any way. Freedom is a fundamental right on which we should base all policies, including the choice of treatment.

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We call on the other 702 MEPs to stand up for their voters and reject using the force against citizens, as well as the destruction of people's psychological health and the devastation of the economy.

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