June 6, 2017 / 6:37 PM / 4 months ago

Pressure grows to cancel Bosnia concert by Croat nationalist

SARAJEVO (Reuters) - Major powers called on Tuesday for the cancellation of a planned concert in Bosnia by a Croatian nationalist singer whose songs are offensive to Serbs and Muslim Bosniaks, saying it could derail reconciliation in the ethnically divided country.

Marko Perkovic Thompson, whose shows have been canceled in several European countries because of his unruly fans, has been invited by the Bosnian Croat leadership to take part in a concert on Thursday in honor of Croatian detainees at the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague.

The concert in the southern Bosnian town of Mostar has been billed as supporting “all unjustly accused and convicted Croat defenders”. It is widely viewed as a risky event in a town still split between Catholic Croats and Muslim Bosniaks who fought each other during the violent 1992-95 breakup of Yugoslavia.

“No action should be undertaken by anyone in Mostar or anywhere else that, as a consequence, deepens divisions or raises tensions,” representatives of major powers overseeing the implementation of Bosnia’s peace process said in a statement.

They called on institutions and organizations to “refrain from divisive events, actions and rhetoric, including glorification of convicted war criminals, historic revisionism and the provocative use of symbols”.

Thompson’s songs glorify the Bosnian Croat wartime para-state Herzeg-Bosna and call for the killing of “Chetniks”, an offensive name used for Serbs during the war.

Several Bosniak political parties have also called for the concert to be canceled. Some Bosniak organizations said they would hold a counter-rally in the center of Mostar, though the city’s mayor, Ljubo Beslic, a member of the Croat ruling HDZ party, said he would not allow this.

The representatives of the major powers, meeting in Sarajevo, told the Bosnian Croat leaders sponsoring the concert that they were undermining European values and their stated desire to join the European Union through their stance.

The powers overseeing the Bosnian peace accord include the United States, Russia, Germany, France, Britain and others.

Reporting by Daria Sito-Sucic; Editing by Gareth Jones

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