Croatian Culture Minister Zlatko Hasanbegovic has said in an interview with the Al Jazeera Balkans broadcaster that accusations about the current government's attempts to trivialise crimes committed by the WW2 Nazi-style Ustasha regime are groundless, underlining that one of the critics, Efraim Zuroff, has no moral right to be an arbiter of the Croatian government policies because he has explicitly denied genocide in Srebrenica.
In 2015, Zuroff told Serbian media that what happened in Srebrenica in 1995 did not fit the definition of genocide.
In the interview, broadcast on Wednesday, Minister Hasanbegovic said that taxpayers' money could no longer be allocated by the Culture Ministry in the way it had been before.
As for the accusations that the ministry under his chairmanship was conducting a clampdown on newspapers of ethnic minorities, Hasanbegovic said that the Culture Ministry had not closed any such newspaper and that those media were financed by the Ethnic Minorities' Council.
As for the grant to the Edit publishing company whose publications include the Italian-language daily "La voce del popolo", the minister explained that the Edit company had been added to the list of beneficiaries of the funds allocated by the Culture Ministry as part of political deals made by previous governments.
"This was a sort of political racketeering which all Croatian governments paid for political loyalty from (ethnic Italian) parliamentary deputy Furio Radin. I put an end to this practice," Hasanbegovic said.
He said he was adamant not to pay "racket money" either to the so-called left-wing or right-wing media.
The minister explained that his decision to stop subsidising certain cultural projects and non-profit media was in line with the decision to put an end to non-transparent distribution of tax-payers' money to clientelist lobbies.
The minister once again dismissed accusations from the Croatian Journalists' Association (HND) that the new government was stifling media freedoms.
Those accusations are completely unfounded, he underscored.
Hasanbegovic added that this could be corroborated by the fact that some media activists were free to boo Croatian President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic during her speech at an event at the HND headquarters on Tuesday.
Saturday, October 1, 2016 - 18:55