It was on June 28 this year when The Croatian Parliament led by Social Democrats rushed to pass the law dubbed as “Lex Perkovic” in accordance with which an EU arrest/extradition warrant will not be applicable to crimes committed before 7 August 2002.
The rush to pass such a law was evidently exacerbated in Croatia by the fact that Germany could at 1 July, when Croatia became an EU member state, without delay serve its warrant for extradition of Josip Perkovic wanted for participation in Communist Crimes (political murder of Croatian nationals/ 1980’s) committed on German soil.
European Commission has acted swiftly in this matter and it’s safe to conclude that its swiftness has surprised Croatian government. Croatia must by 23 August submit to the European Union the exact deadline by which it will adjust its national legislature on the European Arrest Warrant to that of the European Union, Mina Andreeva – the spokeswoman for the European commissioner responsible for justice, fundamental rights and citizenship Viviane Reding – told Croatian news agency Hina on Tuesday August 6.
Sources report that a member of German Bundestag sent Viviane Reding a memo alerting her to the fact that Croatia was avoiding to act in accordance with the European arrest warrant and subsequently Reding’s cabinet forward a warning letter to Croatia’s justice minister Orsat Miljenic.
Croatian government has kept silent on the matter, apart from confirming that Reding’s letter has arrived, reports Croatian TV news HRT.
Commissioner Reding sent a letter to Croatian Justice Minister Orsat Miljenic in late July saying that what Croatia had done on 28 June by adopting amendments to the law on the European Arrest Warrant was not in line with the European legislation and that it must be corrected, Andreeva told Hina Tuesday August 6.
Commissioner Reding told Miljenic in the letter that Croatia must determine the exact deadlines by which it would implement changes to the law so as to adjust to the European Union acquis communautaire, Andreeva said. We expect an answer by 23 August, she added.
Sadly, twenty years after the fall of Yugoslav communist regime Croatia, to my knowledge, remains the only post-communist country that has not processed or convicted a single communist criminal; and there are plenty of such suspects walking the streets. While it can be understood that while the first steps in the transition from communism into democracy, while the war of aggression raged against Croatia, even a handful of suspected communist criminals and agents of former Yugoslav secret police slipped into high positions in both government and government advisory bodies, it is unacceptable that there have been no serious prosecutions of communist crimes suspects during the past ten years. The obvious explanation for this evasion in processing suspected communist criminals in Croatia lies in the fact that pro-Communists and the so-called antifascists have managed to obstruct justice. Multitudes of Croats are well aware of this, frustrated and appalled – also seeking lustration.
In post-communist countries of Eastern Europe lustration became the term used to signify governments’ policies and practices in checking and scrutinising (vetting) individuals who had served as agents of Communist secret police and services and excluding them from important positions in newly democratically developed governments and public services. While several former communist countries of Europe have adopted the practices of lustration, lustration as government policy/law still evades Croatia. During the years of Franjo Tudjman’s era (1990’s) lustration stood on the back burner as the war raged in the country and as Tudjman pursued his goal of pan-Croatian reconciliation. Tudjman stood his ground: he wanted the WWII enemies Ustashe and Partisans and their descendants to reconcile, to bury their differences and create a unified Croatia, without the divisive burdens of past political differences and intolerance. The way things were going up till about 1993 Tudjman’s plan of reconciliation worked wonders – it was a brilliant success story in action; almost a miracle given the historical political divide. Then, the die-hard communists headed by Stjepan Mesic started a new trail of destruction and division, labelling Tudjman as Croatian nationalist, sowing seeds of vilification wherever they could it seems – including labelling the whole of Croatian diaspora as nationalistic and fascist despite the fact that the majority of Croatian diaspora had never belonged to nor subscribed to any fascist ideology past or present – they simply did not want to live under communist totalitarian regime and sought a free life abroad.
Some in Croatia have associated lustration with the case of Josip Perkovic and argue that lustration should not start with him, that he also served as one of Franjo Tudjman’s advisors in early 1990’s. They’re merely trying to confuse the issue, to divert public attention and opinion away from the fact that Josip Perkovic is a criminal suspect under German criminal law. It’s not far fetched to say that the die-hard communists of Croatia do not want Josip Perkovic to face a German court for communist crimes perpetrated under the banner of Yugoslav secret police because if he does this also means that the door to processing communist crimes will finally be opened as far as Croatia is concerned. They do not want that. They still pretend that communists were righteous in everything they did including murder of innocent people.
Croatian government has 16 days to respond to the European Commission demand for action in the case of Josip Perkovic arrest warrant sought by Germany. I, for one, will be watching the developments very closely – I, for one, want justice for the innocent victims of communist crimes because they, more than any other victims of Croatian history, have been almost forgotten, trodden upon and almost dehumanised through the vitriol of antifascist/communist propaganda. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)