The United States condemned a march in support of Donald Trump organised by a marginal Croatian far-right party, at which a German neo-Nazi party’s flag was flown.
The United States embassy in Zagreb on Monday strongly condemned the march staged by the far-right Autochthonous Croatian Party of Right, A-HSP, in the centre of Zagreb on Sunday.
At the march, which was intended to show support to US President Donald Trump, party members waved the US flag, along with the Croatian flag with an unofficial coat of arms resembling the one of Croatian WWII fascist Ustasa movement.
The procession of some 30 people also flew their A-HSP party flag with the Ustasa slogan ‘Za dom spremni’ (‘Ready for the Home(land)’) on it, as well as the flag of the neo-Nazi National Democratic Party of Germany, NPD.
“The embassy of the United States most strongly rejects the neo-Nazi and pro-Ustasa views expressed during a demonstration of a few people in Zagreb on Sunday,” the embassy said in its statement.
“We condemn any attempt to link the United States with this odious ideology. Such a suggestion is an insult to the memory of the 186,000 US soldiers killed in Europe in the fight against Nazi Germany and several million innocent victims killed during World War II,” it added.
The Croatian government also condemned the event on Sunday.
“[We] strongly condemn today’s lining-up of members of the A-HSP party in Zagreb, which promotes the Ustasa ideology and Nazism, thus attacking the fundamental values of the Croatian constitutional system,” the government said in a statement.
It added that such actions were intended to “incite fear and intolerance in society”.
Although the march was legally announced to the police, which ensured the security of the participants, A-HSP president Drazen Keleminec was arrested for shouting ‘Za dom spremni’, which is a misdemeanour under Croatian law.
Keleminec said on Sunday that a representative of the German far-right NPD party, Alexander Neidlein, was also present on the march to assist the A-HSP’s cause.
“Alexander Neidlein is here among us, a friend who came to us today to give support for the independent and sovereign state of Croatia in the battle against the Satan which rules the Croatian state,” he said.
He then shouted “Za dom spremni”, insisting that nobody could ban him from voicing the Ustasa slogan in public.
He explained that his party supports Trump because of his politics, especially his anti-immigration and anti-EU stances.
Keleminec however rejected comparisons with the nationalist Serbian Radical Party, which also publically supported Trump.
Some questioned how the police allowed such an event to take place, because in 2015, then Interior Minister Ranko Ostojic, of the former centre-left government, rejected an attempt by the A-HSP to rally its members on Zagreb’s central square.
Boris Miletic, the president of the centre-left Istrian Democratic Assembly, argued that it should have been stopped.
“This is a pure Nazi parade. It is hard to imagine a higher form of primitivism in 2017 than this shameful and dangerous parade. I’m disgusted by the fact that such a thing can be organised in Croatia, and that law enforcement doesn’t prevent it starting,” Miletic said on Sunday.
Miletic urged the government and the Croatian president to condemn “every act of reviving Croatia’s dark history, every piece of hate speech and any representation of intolerance towards minorities”.
The A-HSP is known for its protests at which it expresses support for the Ustasa legacy and confronts anti-fascist groups.
Between 1941 and 1945, the Ustasa movement ran a Nazi-aligned puppet state called the Independent State of Croatia and committed crimes against Serbs, Jews, Roma and anti-fascists.