Debate erupts over use of Ustasha salute in Croatia

Debate erupts over use of Ustasha salute in Croatia
Ustasha propaganda.
By bne IntelliNews March 2, 2018

The salute used by Croatia’s pro-Nazi WW2 Ustasha regime could be allowed “in exceptional situations” in future, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said on March 1.

The debate over the use of the Ustasha salute has been reopened after an expert council delivered its recommendations to the government. They include a proposal that the Ustasha salute "For the Homeland Ready” could be used for commemorative purposes subject to prior permission.

The Ustasha committed war crimes including the murders of hundreds of thousands of Roma, Serbs and Jews. However, some Croatians still celebrate the regime, and see it as crucial for the later struggle against communism in Yugoslavia and the fight for independence. 

The Croatian government will decide — at the time it deems appropriate — on the recommendations made by the council for dealing with the consequences of undemocratic regimes on how to treat insignia of totalitarian regimes, Plenkovic said. 

The prime minister said it was “essential” to clearly condemn totalitarian regimes including the Ustasha, which ruled Croatia from 1941 to 1945, as well as Nazism, Fascism and the Chetnik movement. 

He also underlined that the recommendations also note that the "For the Homeland Ready" salute had an anti-constitutional character.

“The salute could be only in exceptional situations and very restrictively be allowed in the future,” he said in connection with the council's suggestion that the salute could be used to commemorate slain members of the Croatian Defence Forces (HOS) and the armed wing of the Croatian Party of Rights (HSP) during the Homeland War, as the 1991-1995 war of independence is known. 

“As for suggestions for the observing anti-Fascism from WW2, the recommendations also spoke about the compromising of anti-Fascist values after 1945 and human rights' violations,” he added.

Plenkovic said that the government will consider this particularly for activities in connection with the education of young generations about those regimes and their repercussions for the society and divisions in the Croatian society.

The council, composed of 17 experts in different scientific fields and of different political inclinations, produced a document in two sections. The first part describes the experiences of Croatian society in the 20th century when the country was faced with totalitarian regimes. The second part of the document refers to possibilities for improving the country’s legal framework. Plenkovic announced on March 1 that the justice ministry and the public administration ministry will consider those recommendations.