News 18 May 17

Croatia Quizzes Slovenia Over Thompson Concert Ban

Croatia's Prime Minister and Foreign Ministry are demanding an explanation from Slovenia about why a concert by the Croat nationalist singer Marko Perkovic ‘Thompson’ has been banned.

Sven Milekic
BIRN
Zagreb
Marko Perkovic 'Thompson'. Photo: Beta

Croatian authorities have sought an explanation from Slovenia about why authorities in the city of Maribor banned a planned concert by the Croatian nationalist singer Marko Perkovic "Thompson".

Maribor authorities acted on the proposal of the Slovenian police who on Monday claimed information “which indicates an increased security risk due to the danger that the concert will be used to carry out criminal offences”.

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said on Wednesday that the ban on Saturday’s concert looked “in no way good” to him.

“This morning ... we urged our ambassador Vesna Terzic in Ljubljana to inquire what this is about, and to inform us of the reasons for the ban on the concert. I don’t know what the reasons might be,” he said.

Croatia's Foreign Ministry on Wednesday said that, along with the embassy in Ljubljana, it was in contact with the Slovenian authorities “to ensure equal treatment of Croatian citizens in their business activities in the Republic of Slovenia, and, therefore, in this particular case.

“Bearing in mind that the decision to hold a concert is within the responsibility of the competent authorities of the Republic of Slovenia, the [Foreign] Ministry ... will continue to communicate with the Slovenian side in order to avoid similar situations in future,” the ministry concluded.

Luka Djuric, spokesperson of Croatian President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic, said on Wednesday that the President had spoken to her Slovenian counterpart, Borut Pahor, on the same issue.

She had “conveyed her opinion that music is there to bring people together and that bans are counterproductive,” he added.

In a TV interview on Wednesday, Thompson said the organisers had obtained all the necessary permits months ago and that the sudden ban was “unfair at least, not to say hypocritical”.

He felt disappointed to be accused of promoting fascism, he added.

“It also isn’t fair to Slovenians who would have come to the concert,” he said, adding that “a great deal of damage” had now been inflicted on him and on the band.

“This is too much. You know as well that I have had a lot of problems when it comes to my performances. The pressures were different then, this went beyond measure,” Thompson said.

“I would like Croatian politicians to explain whether they accept the thesis that we are Nazis, fascists and spread hatred. Let them address the Croatian public and explain whether this is true,” he concluded.

In previous years, concerts by Thompson have been banned in Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Sarajevo and the Croatian town of Pula.

Concerns that the singer was promoting fascist ideas have circulated in Slovenia for over a month.

Maribor Mayor Andrej Fistravec cited Thompson’s use of the Croatian WWII Fascist chant “Za dom spremni” [“Ready for the Homeland”] in his 1991 wartime song “Cavoglave”, as well as other songs explicitly praising the Fascist Ustasa movement.

In 2009, his performance of a song called “Jasenovac and Gradiska Stara” – the names of Ustasa-run concentration camps – caused outrage in Croatia and the region.

Some 80,000 people watched Thompson celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Croatian military operation in 1995 that terminated a Serb revolt in the country, many chanting, “Kill a Serb” and “Za dom spremni”.

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