News 23 Jun 14

Croatian Leaders Condemn ‘Evil’ WWII Fascist State

The country’s prime minister and president commemorated World War II anti-fascist fighters and said that Croatia’s Nazi-allied wartime state was a ‘mistake’.

Josip Ivanovic
BIRN
Zagreb

Anti-fascist commemoration at Brezovica forest.

Photo: Ivo Josipovic's Facebook page.

“The [WWII Nazi-allied] Independent State of Croatia was a mistake but the people recognised the evil and decided to confront it,” said Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic in a speech to mark Croatia’s annual Anti-Fascist Struggle Day on Sunday.

He was speaking at an event in the Brezovica forest near Sisak to commemorate the founding of the First Sisak Partisan Detachment – Croatia’s first armed resistance unit – on June 22, 1941.

President Ivo Josipovic said the annual commemoration was one of the most important dates in Croatia’s calendar because people should “thank Croatian anti-fascists for the free national state that they have”.

He said that he kept a bust of the Partisans’ leader, Josip Broz Tito, in his office.

“The first Croatian president, Franjo Tudjman, put a bust of President Tito in the president’s office. Former president [Stjepan] Mesic and I left it there and I believe that future Croatian presidents will also keep it there,” he said.

A separate commemoration was also held on Sunday for hundreds of Croatian soldiers and civilians killed by Partisan fighters, who dumped their bodies in the Jazovka pit near the Slovenian border.

Several hundred people are reported to have gathered to mourn the victims and attend a service led by Catholic bishop Nikola Kekic.

Asked to comment on the parallel event in Jazovka, Milanovic said that all such crimes should be condemned.

“I was at Bleiburg [in Austria], at Tezno [in Slovenia], where thousands of Croatians were killed without a court or justice. These are the horrific sides of war, when one act of vengeance followed another,” Milanovic said.

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