prosvjed zagreb, trg maršala tita.jpg
Photograph: HINA/ Tomislav PAVLEK/ ua

A protest was held in Zagreb's Marshal Tito Square on Saturday against the renaming of this and all other squares and streets in the country bearing Tito's name.

The protest was held on the occasion of Youth Day, which was celebrated in the former Yugoslavia on May 25 as Tito's birthday. The rally was organised by the Josip Broz Tito Federation of Croatia and the Zagreb city and county branches of the Federation of Anti-Fascist Fighters and Anti-Fascists.

The rally drew about 200 members of anti-fascist federations from Trogir, Zadar, Rijeka, Zagreb and other towns. They carried Josip Broz Tito Federation flags as well as T-shirts with Tito's image and banners saluting him.

The rally was prompted by years-long announcements and initiatives to rename Zagreb's Josip Broz Tito Square and was organised to say to Zagreb's City Assembly and residents not to rename the square named after a man who played a significant role in Croatia's history, said Jovan Vejnovic, president of the Josip Broz Tito Federation of Croatia.

"For over 50 years this square has borne the name of the man with whom we, as people and a state, entered by the front door the geographical and political map of Europe and the rest of the world," he said.

He said that for a long time "certain people, certain political parties" had been trying to remove Tito's name from the square. "We have come here to oppose that, relying on facts, on Josip Broz Tito's historical and social role, on everything he did in his lifetime for the well-being of Yugoslavia and Croatia."

Vejnovic said the Federation and its members would use all democratic means to oppose the renaming of the square and called for calling a referendum "to see who in this country and this city will vote against this square bearing the name of Josip Broz Tito.

Actor Vilim Matula commented on Culture Minister Zlatko Hasanbegovic's claim that the only true victory was the one won in the 1991-95 Homeland War. He said it was the antifascists who won "not only a true but a magnificent victory, first and foremost because it was the joint victory of the Croatian, Serbian, Bosnian, Slovenian, Jewish peoples."

Historian Daniel Ivin said "many squares and streets in Croatia and around the world carry" Tito's name.

MP Nansi Tireli of the Labour Party said "some are trying to make a big revision of history... But the facts are irrefutable and there is only one truth - without anti-fascism, I wouldn't be here today."

Earlier today, Youth Day was also marked in Kumrovec, northern Croatia outside the house in which Tito was born. The celebration, as every year, drew about 10,000 people from all over Croatia, including former Croatian President Stjepan Mesic, as well as guests from the former Yugoslav republics, including Slovenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Participants in the celebration later joined the protest rally in Zagreb.

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