Attempt to Ban Maribor Concert by Croatian Nationalist Fails

By , 06 Jun 2020, 09:53 AM Politics
Marko Perković - Thompson in concert, 2019 Marko Perković - Thompson in concert, 2019 Screenshot

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STA, 5 June 2020 - After Slovenia banned a concert by Marko Perković - Thompson, a Croatian nationalist singer, three years ago, recently a second attempt was made at organising it but the Maribor Administrative Unit again blocked the initiative. However, this time the Interior Ministry annulled the decision in a move that has caused quite a stir.

The ministry told the STA the decision to grant the appeal against what is the second banning of the concert had been made in line with a ruling of the Administrative Court and valid legislation.

The Maribor Administrative Unit was the first to block the controversial concert in 2017 as well, but more than two years after the concert was scheduled to take place the Maribor Administrative Court lifted the ban last June.

Marko Perković participated in the Croatian War of Independence (1991–95), during which he started his career with the patriotic song "Bojna Čavoglave".

Although the Maribor Administrative Unit stands behind the decision it made on 4 May, the procedure to ban the concert initiated by police is now stopped. According to the paper, the singer can now either stage the concert or claim compensation from Slovenia.

The head of the Maribor Administrative Unit, Srečko Đurov, told the STA today he believed the decision to ban the concert was correct but he was obligated to respect the ministry's decision.

"Promoting the Ustaše movement at a public event is a severe violation of human dignity. This is especially so in the case of Maribor, which was subject to horrible terror during the Second World War."

He said the administrative unit had granted the police's request to ban the concert "to protect the fundamentals of our constitutional order, which is the rule of law, human dignity and pluralism".

Thompson's speeches at his concerts are a "direct attack on the fundamental values of the European Convention on Human Rights and the Slovenian Constitution", Đurov said.

The Maribor Administrative Unit did not ban the planned concert because of the views and ideology of the organiser and signer, as the organiser claims, but because promoting the Ustaše movement and inciting hatred is not allowed at a public event in Slovenia, he stressed.

The concert organiser, Milan Trol, who initially wanted to organise the concert on 20 May 2017, told Radio Maribor that the concert would be carried out. "You will be notified of all the details when the time is right," he added.

The ministry's decision triggered a wave of criticism on Twitter, mainly among opposition parties but also from the head of the coalition Modern Centre Party (SMC), Zdravko Počivalšek.

"Thompson's concert, which comes with promoting contempt of other nationalities, is not and must not be welcome in Slovenia. Any kind of incitement of national, racial, religious or any other intolerance is an insult to our values and a violation of our Constitution," he tweeted.

Marjan Šarec of the namesake LMŠ party said the government was "rehabilitating the Ustaše movement" and that the annulment of the concert ban was a "slap in the face to all those who suffered and bled including because of collaboration".

"The decision tramples on human dignity and gives recognition to the Ustaše regime. The fact that Thompson supports the Ustahsa is not a problem. The problem is that our government does," said the interim head of the Social Democrats (SD), Tanja Fajon.

Matej T. Vatovec of the Left said that while many countries were rejecting Thompson and banning his concerts, the Janez Janša government was doing everything for him to have a concert in Slovenia and "thus open the door to promotion of the Ustaše movement and Fascism".

President Borut Pahor's office also responded. "Based on the many questions the president has been receiving regarding a Thompson concert in Slovenia, we highlight that the president's view is the same as in 2017: It is not a matter of politics to allow or ban concerts but a matter of the organiser or relevant institutions to make sure the event is organised in line with the law and that public law and order is protected," the office said on Twitter.

"The president is not familiar with Marko Perković Thompson's music. However, he is familiar with his political views and he rejects them," the office added.

Parliamentary Speaker Igor Zorčič said such a concert had no place in Slovenia. He noted though that media had reported that the Administrative Court had lifted the ban on the first concert. "If that is the reason for the ministry's decision, then I will understand it, although I absolutely do not support this concert," he told reporters.

Thompson - his nickname he took from the gun he had used in Croatia's war of independence - has often been accused of extremist nationalist views due to some of the lyrics of his songs and due to the fact that youth wear Ustaše and Nazi symbols at his concerts.

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