Deputy Prime Minister and Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) leader Tomislav Karamarko has said that Culture Minister Zlatko Hasanbegovic is a true anti-Fascist and anti-Communist refuting the latest criticism against the new culture minister whom a weekly newspaper accused of having worn a cap resembling an Ustasha cap.

"I know that Hasanbegovic is a true anti-Fascist and anti-Communist," Karamarko said during a ceremony marking the 26th anniversary of the HDZ branch in the town of Bjelovar.

He said that Hasanbegovic would enjoy the support of parliamentary deputies of the Bridge party, that together with the HDZ-led Patriotic Coalition makes up the incumbent government.

Karamarko said that he had seen the disputed photo but that he had not noticed any Ustasha insignia.

As for the Social Democratic Party (SDP) leader Zoran Milanovic's comment that people like Minister Hasanbegovic would not be acceptable anywhere in Europe, the HDZ chief countered with the question of where Milanovic had been welcomed in Europe during his premiership, whereas he had increased Croatia's debt by 100 billion kuna.

Karamarko recalled that earlier on Thursday, Hasanbegovic had clearly stated his position on the Ustasha crimes and on the position that he and the HDZ were anti-Fascists and anti-Communists.

"We are proven anti-Fascists, since our party was founded by a general and a man who had fought against Fascism during the Second World War," Karamarko said referring to the fact that the HDZ was established by Franjo Tudjman, who in his youth fought as a member of the Yugoslav partisans.

"We are also anti-Communists, having in mind that after 1945 Croatia entered the Bolshevik dictatorship. Give me any reason why I should not be an anti-Communist. We are anti-totalitarians," Karamarko said.

Earlier on Thursday, Minister Hasanbegovic said that he was against any form of totalitarianism, stressing that crimes committed by the Nazi-style Ustasha regime in Croatia during the Second World War were "the biggest moral lapse" of the Croatian people in their history.

"I have never been an apologist for any criminal regimes. In my public statements and works I have always made it clear that Ustasha crimes not only carry the burden of defeat but also represent the biggest moral lapse in the history of the Croatian people, whose shadow and evil spirit still stand over the Croatian people. I am against any form of totalitarianism," Hasanbegovic told a press conference after a Cabinet meeting.

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