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Croatia - Flag Legislation

Last modified: 2023-07-03 by dov gutterman
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Law on Arms, Flag, Anthem and Presidential Flag and Sash

The only laws that might be of interest from Croatia are the Law on Coat of Arms, Flag, Anthem and Presidential Flag and Sash, and several (3, if I recall correctly) consecutive laws on civil sea navigation considering civil ensigns and some official ensigns on police vessels. There is also a number of other laws that mention flags, but mostly only in connection with when some official building should hoist the flag or when it is included on some official forms.

All these laws are available on line at <>. Put zastava as the search word. Unfortunately, the on-line version doesn't have images.
Zeljko Heimer, 3 January 1998

Here there is an English version of the Law on the Coat-of-Arms, the Flag, and the National Anthem of the Republic of Croatia, and on the Flag and Sash of the President of the Republic of Croatia. I think the Web site is an official one for the Government of Croatia.
Jan Oskar Engene, 6 January 1998

I forgot about that one. There should be also the English version of the Constitution of Croatia there, which have certain provision on the flag (but I haven't checked it lately). The site is really the site of the Government of Croatia, and I guess that the translation is made by someone who knows what he is doing (or should I?, look what we got with translations of "purple" in Chuvashia).
However, I took to the comparison of the two texts. While I am no lawyer and couldn't guarantee some tricks of that trade, here are some comments of the English text there compared to Croatian original:

Zeljko Heimer, 8 January 1998

The Contitution describes the flag quite "lapidarly":
"Article 11
The coat-of-arms of the Republic of Croatia is the historic Croatian coat-of-arms whose base consists of 25 alternating red and white (argent) fields. The flag of the Republic of Croatia consists of three colors: red, white and blue, with the historic Croatian coat-of-arms in the center. The anthem of the Republic of Croatia is ``Our Beautiful Homeland" (Lijepa naaa domovino). The description of the historic Croatian coat-of-arms and flag, the text of the anthem, and the use of these and other state symbols shall be regulated by law."
The text of the Law on the flag (etc.) only determines the complicated design of the coat of arms (which is hardly the "historical coat of arms" from the Constitution in the exact sence - but obviously the legislator mean what he meant when writing Constitution and knew what he meant latter in the Law).
For full text of the Constitution in English see: <> and for the Law on the flag see: <>,
Zeljko Heimer, 16 November 2002

Regulations on Boats

As you already know, I am passionately searching trough the laws and regulations of Croatia to find some flags, but I am not getting any, at least considering the flags that would be most interesting. However, I have found regulations from 1991 that describe a temporarily used signals on boats of the harbour police since the old Yugoslav were obsolete and new weren't defined yet.

In any case, the Regulations on Boats (Pravilnik o camcima, NN, 1097, 1991 of 11 August 1991) describe the use of two administrative signals. Article 63:

"A boat for public purposes owned by the harbour police must hoist on the bow the administrative signal, that is blue, proportions 1:1. In the middle of the signal there are two crossed white anchors inscribed in an imaginary rectangle of length of 3/8 of the length of the signal and height 1/3 of signal height.

A boat for administrative purposes owned by the harbour police must hoist on the bow the administrative signal that is white a pennant of triangular shape in proportions 2:1. In the middle of the pennant there should be the sign from line 2 art. 58 of these regulations."

The Art. 58 defines registration numbers, so the sign consists of the registration number, a digraph for the harbour and the number 3 (that was the identification number for Croatia in former Yugoslavia).

The best part for the end: Art. 62 says:

"A boat for public purposes must hoist on the stern or some other convinient place during the daylight (from sunrise till sundown) the flag of the Republic of Croatia. Other boats also can hoist the flag of the Republic of Croatia.

The size of the flag is 0.46(sic!)x0.80 meters and must be in good condition."

That would mean that between 1991 and 1992 the ensign of Croatia was 23:40 in proportions! In 1992, of course, the new regulations define ensigns to be 2:3. The same regulations define the new administrative signals.
Zeljko Heimer, 28 April 1997

Outlaw the Ustashi Symbols?

According to a paper by Drago Held, publised by the Institute for War and Peace Research (IWPR) on 28 November 2002, translated in French by Pierre Derens and put online by Courrier des Balkans on 4 December 2002, the Croatian center-left government led by Ivica Racan planned to outlaw the Ustashi symbols.  
Here is a summary of the paper:   The project was an attempt to limit the public use and spread of the symbols of the Independent State of Croatia, led by Ante Palevic, who "ruled" Croatia under German protection in 1941-1945. Recently (then), monuments and statues were built to honour Ustachi military leaders, while images of Palevic giving the Nazi salute were published. Ustashi songs are more and more commonly heard in stadiums ans concert halls, whereas T-shirts, badges, lighters etc. decorated with the Ustashi emblem are more and more frequently sold.  
The future law, nicknamed "de-ustashization", should forbid the sale of artefacts glorifying former fascist states and organizations. Everyone exhibiting "flags, badges, clothes, mottos, salutes and other insignia of former fascist states" should be fined, and, in the worst cases, sentenced to up to three years in jail.  
Before the law was discussed in the Parliament, it was strongly rejected by lawyers and extreme-right parties. Lawyers said that implementation of the law would be impossible in stadiums and concert halls due to the huge numbers of guilts, and could trigger more sympathy for the Ustashis. Radical extreme-rightists have required that the law also bans partisan and Communist symbols  as well as anti-fascist songs. However, nobody seems to wear Communist symbols in Croatia, whereas Ustashi symbols are more and more popular.  
The government said that the law proposal was based on the preliminary article of the Croatian Constitution, which blames the Independent State of Croatia, and is a mirror of the German penal code against pro-Nazi demonstrations. It seems that the government was influenced by several independent groups and forums, who rejected the "re-ustashization" that  took place under Franjo Tudjman's Presidency. Tudjman's personal position on the Ustashi question was ambiguous: he fought the Independent State of Croatia during his youth but sometimes defended its legitimity when elected President, claiming that the State was "not only a fanciful creation but  the expression of the centuries-old wish of Croats to have their own state." According to Mirjana Kasapovic, Professor of Political Sciences in the University of Zagreb, the Communists attempted the "de-ustashization" of Croatia after the Second World War but failed, most probably because they replaced a dictatorial system by yet another dictatorial system.
Source: <>.
Ivan Sache, 20 December 2004

As far as I am aware, the law was never even discussed. All this has relatively little to do with flag, though the flags are, of course, among the items used by these groups. There are minomal steps forward, i.e. recently when a group of local officials appeared in Ustasha uniforms on a (Ustashi-unrelated) celebration in Zadar, they were being now prosecuted. The selling of the Ustasha emblems in various souvenirs, including flags being better or worse replicas or even entirely new design of the Ustasha symbols has become more or less kind of a "national folklore" in less developed parts of the country, especially doing some manifestation. The new government lead by Sanader (HDZ) actually reluctantly made some moves towards removing of the offending monuments (cases in Slunj and Sv. Rok, devoted to high Ustasha officials). However, there is a general feeling that these moves are more directed towards "celaning" of the Croatian name in the views of Europe then towards real gaols to get things as they should be.
Zeljko Heimer, 20 December 2004

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