A parliamentary debate on reports on the implementation of the Constitutional Act on the Rights of National Minorities divided MPs on Wednesday, with left-wing opposition and minority MPs warning of hate speech, while the ruling HDZ and right-wing opposition said Croatia could be a model for respect for minority rights.
Hate speech, extremist messages, historical revisionism, and Ustasha symbols and salutes are still present in some parts of the media and in readers’ comments, said Ivana Kekin of the Green-Left Bloc, adding that the discrimination against the Serb and Roma minorities was not mentioned in the reports.
She said that the Roma and Serb minorities were exposed to hate speech on the internet most often, and that stereotypical reporting on Roma further strengthened the perception that they were problematic parts of the society.
Dragana Jeckov of the Serb minority SDSS party said that members of the Serb community were denied the right to bilingualism in 23 local government units.
A satisfactory degree of tolerance between members of the Croatian people and the Serb minority has not been achieved in Vukovar, and that minority does not exercise a number of rights, said Jeckov.
Veljko Kajtazi (Fokus and Independent MPs group) called for better integration of the Roma minority.
Furio Radin (ethnic minorities parliamentary group) welcomed the progress made, but he also said there had been no changes in education, so schools having classes in Serbian language had still not been registered, nor had the problem of school-leaving exams in Italian been resolved.
Krunoslav Katicic (HDZ) praised the reports, saying they were based on the government’s basic operational programmes for the protection of human rights of national minorities.
National minorities in Croatia have access to children education in their national language and cultural autonomy, and the political participation of national minorities was good at all levels, he said.