Vukovar Mayor: 'Will we keep silent about Serb students not standing up for Croatian hymn?'



Zagreb, 200918.
Ministarstvo branitelja, Trg Nevenke Topalusic.
Sastanak braniteljskih udruga sa ministrom Tomom Medvedom.
Na fotografiji: Ivan Penava.
Foto: Ranko Suvar / CROPIX
Ranko Šuvar / CROPIX

Vukovar Mayor Ivan Penava

During Tuesday's wreath-laying ceremony at the Vukovar's Memorial Cemetery on the occasion of the 21st anniversary of peaceful reintegration of the Croatian Danube region, Mayor Ivan Penava of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) raised the question if the public should ignore the fact that local students who attend the secondary education in the Serb language refused to stand for the Croatian anthem.

After the ceremony, Mayor Ivan Penava  said that 27 years ago when the Homeland War was raging, locals in Vukovar gave their lives for Croatia, Croatia's flag and anthem while today a group of secondary school students who attend classes in the Serb language keep refusing to stand for the country's anthem.

"Are we are going to keep silent about that fact?" wondered Penava.

This comment ensued after Penava on Monday held a news conference at which he insisted that there was a continuity of the Great Serbia policy in Croatia, adding that Vukovar was "the epicentre of the creeping Great Serbia aggression."

Penava's comments draw reactions from HDZ officials

Penava's harsh words prompted Prime Minister and HDZ leader Andrej Plenković to say later on Monday that it was not within Mayor Penava's remit to create the party policies of the HDZ and that he would soon talk with Penava.

In their comments to Penava's accusations, Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković said on Monday it was known that the Great Serbia regime was responsible for crimes committed in Croatia and Vukovar, and that historical truth was extremely important for improving relations with Serbia.

The HDZ caucus leader Branko Bačić said the HDZ and the government had spoken "many times" about relations in Vukovar and that the perpetrators of the war crimes committed in the eastern town's area should be held to account.

At the request of the press, Bačić was commenting on the Vukovar mayor's statement that Serb MP Milorad Pupovac's statements and moves caused additional tensions in the public sphere and that no one was reacting.

Bačić said the fact that Pupovac's SDSS party was part of the ruling majority did not mean the government or any state institution in any way obstructed investigations that might lead to war crimes perpetrators.

On Tuesday, the HDZ deputy president and deputy parliament speaker Milijan Brkić said that he had understanding for Penava's reactions and said that the state institutions had to do their utmost to bring war criminals to account.

Penava hears testimonies of victims every day, however, I think that problems must be solved through conversation, said Brkić.

PM Pleković has said that he is going to talk with Penava, he recalled on Tuesday.

Another HDZ official, Public Administration Minister Lovro Kuščević, today commented that Penava has assumed larger responsibilities than what was within the remit of a city mayor.

"We all know who attacked Vukovar and who defended it," Kuščević said.