Far-right, even racist views go mainstream in Central Europe

VANESSA GERA and DUSAN STOJANOVIC – April 3, 2018

ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) — The Croatian president thanks Argentina for taking in notorious pro-Nazi war criminals after World War II. In Bulgaria, a top politician calls the country’s Roma minority “ferocious humanoids.” And Hungary’s prime minister declares the “color” of Europeans should not mix with that of Africans or Arabs.

Ever since WWII, such views were taboo in Europe, confined to the far-right fringes. Today they are openly expressed by mainstream political leaders in parts of Central and Eastern Europe, part of a populist surge in the face of globalization and mass migration.

“There is something broader going on in the region which has produced a patriotic, nativist, conservative discourse through which far-right ideas managed to become mainstream,” said Tom Junes, a historian with the Human and Social Studies Foundation in Sofia, Bulgaria.

In many places, the shift to the right has included the rehabilitation of Nazi collaborators, often fighters or groups celebrated as anti-communists or defenders of national liberation.

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