The Croatian parliament will again sponsor commemorations of the Bleiburg tragedy, the parliamentary presidency decided on Thursday with four votes in favour and two against.

The parliamentary presidency consists of Parliament Speaker Zeljko Reiner and five deputy speakers, three from the parliamentary majority (the HDZ, Bridge and HSP AS parties) and two from the Opposition (the SDP and the HNS).

Deputy Parliament Speaker Milanka Opacic of the SDP was against restoring the parliamentary sponsorship of the Bleiburg commemoration. "The SDP lays wreaths at Bleiburg and pays tribute to innocent victims every year, but we are not in favour of the parliamentary sponsorship of the event because each time it turns into the glorification of Ustasha ideology," Opacic told reporters.

Deputy Parliament Speaker Ivan Tepes of the HSP AS party said that he regretted the parliament's not having unanimously restored its sponsorship of the commemoration. "Every victim deserves respect and the Bleiburg commemoration is the right place and time to pay tribute to all innocent victims killed after May 1945 at Bleiburg, Huda Jama, Tezno and during death marches," said Tepes.

Tepes said that tens of thousands of people had been killed at the time. "Unfortunately there has not been any trial for that, let alone any conviction for those crimes. We will be at Bleiburg in May and we will appropriately commemorate innocent victims killed in the aftermath of World War II," he said, adding that victims should not be separated along any lines.

Commenting on SDP leader Zoran Milanovic's statement that the Bleiburg commemoration was not about paying tribute to the victims but about commemorating the fall of the Independent State of Croatia (NDH), Tepes said that Milanovic was trying to downplay and cover up communist crimes against innocent victims committed after 1945.

The parliament's long-lasting sponsorship of the Bleiburg commemoration was suspended during the term of the previous parliament, when the parliamentary majority was made up of the parties of the SDP-led coalition.

The parliament restored its sponsorship of the Bleiburg commemoration at the request of the Bleiburg Guard of Honour.

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