Appearance of Nazi symbols in Croatia "perhaps unsurprising"
An AP report has looked at why Croatia is to this day facing Nazism and why right-wing ideas are being spread in this former Yugoslav country.Source: AP
In a piece ran under the headline, "Far-right surges in Croatia as EU disappointment spreads," the agency recalled a recent football venue incident, that happened during "one of the biggest nights in Croatia's sporting calendar: a European Championship soccer (football) qualifying match with Italy."
"Seconds after kick-off in a game beamed around the world, a gigantic swastika materialized on the pitch under the shocked gaze of European soccer officials," the article said of the game played in Croatia's coastal town of Split on June 12.
"The swastika, sprayed by an unknown vandal with a chemical that became visible only when floodlights went on to start the game, has become the most potent symbol of a rise in ultra-nationalist sentiment that appears to be bleeding into the mainstream population in the European Union's newest member state," the agency noted, adding that it was "not the only one":
"In the mixed ethnic towns of eastern Croatia, road signs in the Serbian Cyrillic alphabet have been destroyed and Serbian Orthodox churches have been vandalized with a 'U'' symbol representing the Nazi-linked World War II Ustasha regime. On weekends, Ustasha chants echo at sports venues and rock concerts."
The article goes on to state that the appearance of such symbols "is perhaps unsurprising" for a country that during the Second World War sent "tens of thousands" of Serbs, Jews and Roma to death camps.
It then notes that " the Balkan state's current leaders have called for change after the global outcry prompted by the swastika on the field," and quotes Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic as saying:
"This act has inflicted immeasurable damage on the reputation of Croatian citizens and their homeland all over the world. Therefore, we must finally put a stop to such things."