The Croatian People's Party (HNS), a junior partner in the ruling coalition, on Friday condemned the statement by the HVIDRA association of disabled war veterans about Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS) leader Milorad Pupovac as an "absolutely unacceptable verbal attack on ethnic minorities."
"The HNS, being a liberal party, wants to make it clear that we regard HVIDRA's statement today as yet another unacceptable attack on ethnic minorities in Croatia, a deliberate attempt at raising tensions in society and rhetoric that does not befit the 21st century, and we condemn it in the strongest terms," the chairman of the party's parliamentary group, Milorad Batinic, said in a statement.
He said that the HNS would continue fighting for "a decent, open and tolerant Croatia" and would always be on the side of all minorities, religious, ethnic, sexual or any other.
"We believe that every democracy is as strong as the rights of minorities in that particular society," the statement said.
HVIDRA's main committee earlier on Friday condemned statements by Milorad Pupovac and called on Justice Minister Drazen Bosnjakovic to state publicly if those statements constituted a criminal offence and if by making them Pupovac had violated Croatian laws, noting that the SDSS was not desirable in Croatia and was not a relevant representative of the Serbs in the country.
The HNS said that they saw the statements by HVIDRA officials as "highly unlikely, yet potential progress" of this organisation.
"It seems that they are seriously starting to condemn Ustashism, the NDH and any allusions to that undemocratic regime. This gives us the right to believe that in future they will just as strongly condemn statements by people like Marko Skejo and Drazen Keleminec, 'For the homeland ready' chants and displays of the letter U, and will seek their criminal prosecution," the HNS said.
The chairman of the HVIDRA main committee, Josip Perisa, told a press conference earlier that he was depressed every time he saw the letter U, referring to the pro-Nazi Ustasha regime that ruled Croatia during the Second World War, written on building facades.