On the occasion of the Europe-Wide Day of Remembrance for the victims of all totalitarian and authoritarian regimes, Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic on Tuesday posthumously decorated Partisan fighter Ljubomir Drndic for his contribution to the struggle for the national and social rights and development of the Croatian people.
The 20th century was for humankind a time of fast progress and development in many areas of life, but also a period in which the world, notably Europe, was faced with the destructive activity of totalitarian political ideologies and regimes, the president said in Pazin, adding that the Europe-Wide Day of Remembrance was "a strong invitation to our consciences to truthfully deal with the numerous difficult consequences that fascism, Nazism and communism brought to our continent."
"Croatia and the Croatian people, unfortunately, were exposed to their destructive activity, with many tragic consequences which we still feel. This day is therefore an exceptional opportunity when we can acknowledge the people who notably distinguished themselves in the resistance to totalitarian ideologies and regimes, also making a special contribution to the exercise of the national and social rights of the Croatian people and all our citizens," the president said.
Crediting those people is an invitation to and an example of how one must never give up defending and promoting democracy and human rights, she added.
Istria and other parts of the Croatian coast were the first to feel the consequences of totalitarianism because after the First World War, paying the price of European powers' policy of compromise, they were faced with Italian aggression and occupation which soon became fascist dictatorship, the president said.
Istrian Croats as well as many Italians and members of other minorities in various ways resisted that terror and, at the start of the Second World War, that resistance turned into an armed national struggle, she added.
"All patriots took part in that struggle, regardless of political affiliation or ethnicity. That national patriotic character of Istria's resistance to fascism is notably expressed in the Pazin Decisions of September 1943. Partisan fighter Ljubo Drndic had an important role in their adoption. His 'People of Istria' proclamation was the Magna Carta of Istrian man's authentic patriotism and the certificate of his Croatian citizenship and, as such, it is of outstanding and lasting historic importance for Istria, the Croatian people and Croatia as a whole," the president said.
She said that by decorating Drndic she was expressing gratitude to the many Istrian patriots and fighters against fascism.
Drndic was an Istrian anti-fascist, Partisan fighter, one of the initiators of the resistance to Italy's occupation of Istria and author of the "People of Istria" proclamation in 1943, when Istria was liberated. He died in Zagreb in 2013 aged 93.