Some associations on Thursday criticised the nominations of Zlatan Hasanbegovic and Mijo Crnoja as ministers of culture and veterans' affairs over their statements about anti-fascism and a traitors' register, while other supported them.

Croatian PEN Centre president Nadezda Cacinovic called on citizens to sign a petition against Hasanbegovic's appointment.

The Croatian Alliance of Anti-fascist Fighters and Anti-fascists said the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) proposed to Prime Minister-Designate Tihomir Oreskovic two right wing extremists who no dictatorship would be ashamed of.

Platform 112, which brings together 20 NGOs, said in an open letter to Oreskovic that Hasanbegovic would be absolutely inappropriate for the office of culture minister. The Croatian Journalists Association is also against Hasanbegovic's appointment, saying it is appalled that such a person could be even nominated for minister.

On the other hand, the Croatian Journalists and Publicists (HNIP) association supported Hasanbegovic, saying he was a young but eminent scientist who had demonstrated nonconformism and courage to oppose the prevalent cultural and ideological patterns, which it said were forcibly imposed by "shadow centres of power" which ran all vital processes in the state at the expense of the majority of citizens.

Hasanbegovic is showing genuine civic courage in speaking the truth and sensibly recognises the problems which have led the best young people to emigrate, HNIP said.

The Matica Hrvatska (MH) association said the Croatian Constitution stated that Croatia's identity and statehood had been expressed in 13 historic processes and events from the seventh century to the 1990s, including the decisions adopted by the State Anti-fascist Council for the National Liberation of Croatia (ZAVNOH).

However, Croatia's Constitution and statehood are not based on the whole Croatian anti-fascist movement, only the part which adopted the decision in 1944 as part of ZAVNOH to establish the Federal State of Croatia, MH said.

That is an important decision and is therefore in the Constitution, but it does not mean that everything called anti-fascism in Croatia was entirely positive, MH  said, adding that before the end of World War II Croatian communist anti-fascists committed numerous war crimes and some of the biggest crimes in Croatian history after that.

Anti-fascism had two different forms from the start - democratic anti-fascism, whose goal, alongside defeating fascism, was to develop democracy in the world; and totalitarian and communist anti-fascism, whose goal, aside from defeating fascism, was to occupy as many states as possible, MH said.

Anti-fascism produced a positive effect and development in Belgium, Norway and other Western democracies, while its impact in Hungary, Yugoslavia and other Eastern communist countries was negative and deadly, lasting until the fall of communism, MH said.

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