Croatian Prime Minister Tihomir Orešković urged to sack far-right Culture Minister
Croatian Prime Minister Tihomir Orešković urged to sack far-right Culture MinisterReuters

Calls are mounting for Croatia to fire a government minister who authored a book denying the Holocaust, or face international sanctions.

In his book, Culture Minister Zlatko Hasanbegović, a member of the far-right Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), specifically denies the murder of some 32,000 Jews by Croatia's pro-Nazi regime, known as the Ustasha of the Independent State of Croatia. Hasanbegović has reportedly promoted the book on several neo-Nazi and White Supremacist websites.

According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 20,000 of the Ustasha's Jewish victims were murdered at the Jasenovac concentration camps, some 110 km (68.4 miles) from the capital Zagreb.

Earlier this month, the Simon Weisenthal Center expressed its "shock shock and indignation at several actions taken, and comments made, by newly-appointed Croatian Culture Minister Zlatko Hasanbegovic," and called on the Croatian government to remove him from his position.

The coalition government is currently led by the Bridge of Independent Lists (MOST), but the HDZ is a key coalition partner.

On Wednesday leading Croatian think tank the Adriatic Institute, along with the International Leaders Summit, urged European states and the US to send a strong message at a time of rising anti-Semitism in Europe, by pressuring the Croatian government into removing Hasanbegović.

They also called on European and American citizens to write to their elected representatives and urge them to act.

“The rise of anti-Semitism in Europe, Croatia and the rest of the Balkans is deplorable and must be boldy addressed by principled leaders," said Natasha Srdoc, co-founder of Adriatic Institute and International Leaders Summit.

"Adriatic Institute and International Leaders Summit call for the immediate resignation of cabinet minister Zlatko Hasanbegović appointed by the HDZ-Most coalition.

"The European Commission, The European Parliament, Europe's national parliaments and the US Congress should freeze all taxpayer aid and support to Croatia and launch a review on Croatia’s EU and NATO membership. The EU and NATO bodies have no room for those working on the revision of history and to deny that the Holocaust killed six million Jews on European soil. Europe and the world must not forget the genocide of six million Jews."

Joel Anand Samy, co-founder of the International Leaders Summit, said foreign ambassadors in Zagreb should be speaking up in protest of Hasanbegović.

"The rise of anti-Semitism in Croatia and efforts of those connected to the HDZ political party to apply a revision of history with attempts to remove the facts on the Holocaust which killed six million Jews should be denounced by strong rule of law nations and Western diplomats based in Zagreb," he stated. "The world cannot remain silent or look the other way. 

"Croatia’s President Grabar-Kitarovic who got her post through the HDZ political party, the HDZ- Most Coalition Prime Minister Tihomir Orešković and Deputy Prime-Minister Tomislav Karamarko must be held to account for not addressing this troubling issue and remaining silent on anti-Semitism in Croatia."

Samy accused Croatia's scandal-hit top officials of encouraging anti-Semitism by refusing to act.

"Anti-Semitism is growing in Croatia with the cabinet appointment of Zlatko Hasanbegović to the HDZ-Most government and Croatia’s politicians mired in corruption are loathe to admit it."