Whether the fact that communist party predecessors of the current leftist Croatian government had rejected in 1991 the will of the majority of Croatian people to secede from communist Yugoslavia, (walked out of parliament when declaration of independence was being voted on June 25 1991) had anything to do with the bizarre taste left by the official celebration in Knin last Sunday 5 August is anyone’s guess. But, one cannot help leaning that way and shake one’s head in troubling disbelief.
How did Croatia get here? How did Croatia’s biggest day of celebrations become so controlled and contrived with a plot to dampen joys of victory, of freedom?
Last year the government was criticised far and wide (domestic leftists and selected leftist foreign media) for sending greetings from the Fort of Knin to the ICTY’s prison cells, to Croatian Generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac – who symbolise the courage for Croatian freedom.
This year, no greetings to the Generals from the official celebration at the Fort of Knin – a lot about Serb victims though, and how they too must be recognised.
Well, last time I checked all victims of the war have been recognised and recorded in Croatia a long time ago. If that were not so then the numerous criminal court proceedings that have been going on in Croatia would not have been going on.
So, who’s pulling whose leg, and why?
The current Croatian leftist government decided that the official celebration at Fort of Knin on 5 August would be humble in numbers but not so humble in references to Serb victims. The unforgivable element of this is that they (government) did not specify which Serb victims need to be recognised: the innocent civilians of Serb ethnicity, the Croatian rebel Serbs (extracted from civilian population) who reaped horror against Croatians and non-Serbs, or the Serbs from Serbia who came to Croatia to help Croatian rebel Serbs murder and ethnically cleanse as many Croatians and non-Serbs as possible.
Just as well the unjustifiably tortured and vilified as ultra-nationalistic Croatian musician Marko Perkovic Thompson attracted more than 100,000 revelers at the celebrations in Cavoglave of Croatia’s “Victory Day and Homeland Gratitude” and “Day of Croatian Defenders”.
Despite the government’s and the President’s moves to shrink the size of the “official” celebration for free and independent Croatia, besides their inviting to the celebration the, oh so deeply compromised, rebel Serb leader Veljko Dzakula, the people celebrated big time in Cavoglave – away from the government; away from the president.
The Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), largest political party in opposition, led by its president Tomislav Karamarko, also celebrated (in Knin) away from the government, away from the president. They were not invited to the official celebration. Karamarko was also the only politician to question the credibility and suitability of Dzakula as an appropriate Serb guest at the official celebrations. Go Karamarko!
Karamarko seems to know well that reconciliation does not depend on the ad hoc whims of politicians but must be built up from the grassroots, from the people who fought and who suffered.
One would think that both the government and the opposition have an absolute right to be present at official state celebrations that celebrate the people of the nation, the victory of the nation. But no, not for the leftist government of Croatia!
The bizarre taste of the “official” celebration of Croatia’s “Victory Day and Homeland Gratitude” and “Croatian Defenders Day” (at the Fort of Knin – the town that rebel Serbs had cleansed of Croatian and non-Serb people and declared it the capital of Republic of Serbian Krajina) associated with the final liberation of Croatian territory from Serb aggression and occupation through Operation Storm has to do with the mix the following unsavoury occurrences:
- The president of the country (Ivo Josipovic) invites the rebel Serb leader (who took active part in planning the Serb aggression, murder and ethnic cleansing in 1991) Veljko Dzakula to the official celebration, who says Serb victims need to be recognised;
- The Greater Serbia politics mouthpiece in Croatia, Milorad Pupovac didn’t come to Knin but his attitudes are nowhere near looking into the eye and confronting the brutal Serb aggression, murder and ethnic cleansing (1991 – 1995) which catapulted the Croatian people into the self-preservation, defence mode. Pupovac instead published a statement on the Serbian National Council website enumerating the wrongs, according to him, done to Croatian Serbs – the Serb victims that fell during Croatia’s Homeland War, the flight of more 250,000 Serbs from Croatia, according to him… He did not specify how many of these victims and fleeing Serbs were actually Serbs from Serbia that flooded Croatia in order to help Croatian rebel Serbs murder and ethnically cleanse the Krajina region. He did not mention with a single syllable, let alone with one word, that the whole tragedy would have been avoided had the Serb minority accepted the will of the majority. He did not mention with a single syllable, let alone with one word, that Serbs did not want peace, that Serbs did not want to live in Croatia, that Croatian Serbs wanted the Croatian territory they occupied and ethnically cleansed to be a Serbian state. He did not mention with a single syllable, let alone with a single word, that Croatia had a right to defend its own life from aggression and murder. He did, though, state that Serbs were native people of Croatia. Please, someone, help this man understand that Serbs are not native people in Croatia, Croatian Kingdom existed many centuries before Serbs started settling there to form an ethnic minority.
It is so crystal clear, judging from Pupovac and Dzakula, as Croatian Serb leaders of note, that many Croatian Serbs have not accepted Croatia as the country they belong to simply as citizens like any other. It’s a given that rights under citizenship, including ethnic minority rights, are to be respected and available to all. I hanker for the day when Croatian Serbs will demand compensation for war losses from Serbia – why should Croatia pay for everything, including resettlement costs of those that fled Croatia under instructions from Serbia!
- Croatia’s defence minister Predrag Matic Fred, otherwise known as Stuffed Bird, made swift changes to the official celebration protocol, removing invitations for parliamentary opposition leader/s, other dignitaries reportedly for lack of space at the celebration site – the Fort of Knin;
- Croatia’s President Ivo Josipović said at the celebration of the 17th anniversary of the Operation Storm in Knin that Serb victims needed to be recognised. He did not specify which Serb victims needed to be recognised: the Croatian Serbs or the Serbian Serbs that pounced upon Croatia 1991 with guns and knives like wild, hungry animals. As far as I’m concerned these are not victims – they are casualties of war (war that they started and persevered with). As for civilian Serb victims then yes they must be recognised and they have been recognised both in written records and in spoken language but Josipovic seems like he has just landed into Croatia from Mars – or from some Belgrade based dungeon that still guards the Yugoslav flag.
- Croatia’s prime minister, Zoran Milanovic, wasn’t any better than Josipovic when he said: “To win in peace means to extend a hand to our co-citizens of Serbian nationality and recognise their victims and bow to them. The war in Croatia perpetrated big evil, and Croatia was at the brink of destruction…”
Will someone please tell Croatia’s leftist government and president that the Serb victims have been recognised a long time ago and that’s why there are numerous court cases and investigations going on under their very own government departments. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)