Croatia: Franjo Tudjman’s Prudent Legacy

Franjo Tudjman visits Vukovar 8 June 1997 during the process of peaceful reintegration of the Serb-occupied Croatian Danube region into the Croatian constitutional and legal system

Franjo Tudjman visits Vukovar
8 June 1997 during the process
of peaceful reintegration of
the Serb-occupied Croatian
Danube region into the
Croatian constitutional and legal system

Fifteen years ago today – Franjo Tudjman, Croatia’s first president and the acclaimed father of the modern, sovereign and democratic Croatia – died from a terminal illness on 10 December 1999.

His political drive in the creating of independent Croatia, tearing it away from communist Yugoslavia, rested on his idea of reconciling contradictory elements of Croatia’s WWII and post-WWII past. Like all political leaders of note he understood the power that the past has and the power collective memory has on life as we know it and on the collective memory we pass on to future generations; he also had the impressive courage to face and deal with the unpleasant truths that shaped those contradictory elements from Croatia’s history – the pro-fascist Ustashe WWII regime and the anti-fascist communist regime that followed but albeit unseated was equally strong in WWII.

As a stepping-stone in the reconciliation of the past that would solidify democracy and freedom in Croatia he voiced the idea of turning Croatia’s largest WW II concentration camp in Jasenovac into a memorial for all victims of fascism, communism and the 1990’s Homeland war. This idea had in 1997 come under sharp criticism from elements of both Croatia’s and international community. Suffice to say this move had intensified a worldwide push that maliciously branded him as an ultra-nationalist inclined towards WWII fascist ideals and gave the domestic self-proclaimed anti-fascists, such as Stjepan Mesic, a platform to speed-up anti-Tudjman, anti-Croatian independence sentiments in Croatia and wider. It was an era that was utterly cruel to the man (Tudjman) who wanted freedom and democracy for Croatia. Without doubt, the cruelty dressed in lies and deceit, came from the place from which the so-called anti-fascists aimed to protect the perceived positive reputation of the communist regime and it’s role in stamping out fascism, regardless of the fact that such a role was riddled with equally heinous crimes, if not greater, than those committed by the so-called fascist or pro-fascist regime. Humanity was not a factor in their reasoning.

It’s essential to remember that Tudjman’s efforts in reconciling Croatia’s past by way of acknowledging all victims of the past totalitarian regimes as equals occurred against the backdrop of the movement of the “Europeanisation of the Holocaust” – which did not recognise victims of communist regimes as victims of equal weight and equally deserving of human dignity. Post-WWII Europe is often compared to a collective that has a common destiny with developed shared structures in order to avoid a recurrence of the catastrophe of the Holocaust. The Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance, and Research (ITF) – founded in Sweden as a network of politicians and experts in 1998 – aroused much interest from most European countries and some outside it. In 2000, in Stockholm at the International Holocaust conference Holocaust Memorial Day for 27 January was proclaimed and today observed worldwide.

So, a re-narration of history in former-communist European countries from 1989 onwards and in particular the concept of a “golden era” before Communist rule had run parallel to the “Europeanisation of the Holocaust” and Tudjman’s ideas of reconciling the past had been a part of this process, although, those opposing Croatian independence chose not to see it as this. Although he did not succeed in raising the victims of the Yugoslav communist regime and of 1990’s Croatia’s Homeland War to the same deserving level as victims of the Holocaust, today, fifteen years after his death, Tudjman would direct a wide smile at the world. Despite the cruel antifascists’ attempts to prevent the truth from surfacing, the  promoted “heroic” anti-fascist struggle has been gradually delegitimised along with the communist regimes and the trauma of communist crimes placed at the core of memory – not only Croatian but also European memory and memory of the wider world.

Representatives of post-communist countries in the EU demanded that communist crimes be convicted “to the same extent” as those of the Holocaust. In reaction to the conflicting memories between “East” and “West”, the European Parliament recommended in 2009 that another memorial day be introduced on 23 August, the date of the Hitler-Stalin pact in 1939, in which the victims of Nazism and Stalinism are commemorated together (the European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism/ Victims of Totalitarian Regimes).

 

In the face of this reality one may indeed ask: why did Franjo Tudjman suffer such terrible vilification when in fact, all that he wanted is now actually solidified in the European Union’s canon! The whole Europe is like a monument to all victims of violence and inhumanity, just like he wanted Jasenovac to be! The only thing missing is a fuller criminal prosecution of communist crimes.

Rest in peace Franjo Tudjman – rest proud!
Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

 

Franjo Tudjman in memoriam

Comments

  1. Yes, the Jasenovac idea would have been a great conciliatory gesture if the subversive yugo-forces hadn’t have accepted the olive branch from Tudjman with their fingers crossed. As it is, the victims, be they Serbs, Croatians, gypsies or otherwise, have been humiliated by the unwillingness of Croatian institutions to continue looking for the truth with regards to how the camp was run, who was interned there, and when. One can easily figure out that there needs to be a closer look at Jasenovac when, in a matter of a few years, the ‘documented’ number of victims drops from almost two million to somewhere between 60 and 70 thousand. Or when during exhumation investigators turn up Domobran remains, making it very likely that the camp was not just a WWII camp but also a post-WWII camp as well. But instead on insisting on a principled approach to documenting the exact facts about this dark passage of our history, the yugo-subversives have been going on a myth-spreading rampage, for example that a large number of chetniks were part of Tito’s death marches, One of the most impressive elements of Tudjman’s time as president was that instead of replacing yugo-myths with new myths, he sought the truth. So that the record could get straight, and so that the innocent victims of all totalitarian aggression can finally be honoured with due dignity.

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    • Good point re Jasenovac, Brankec. The fact that victims of communist crimes fell there too as the camp remained opened after WWII for at least a couple of years but communists added those numbers to victims of the Holocaust… is reason all the more why Jasenovac should become what Tudjman had proposed.

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  2. Croatia is heading towards an abyss, fanatical leftism (glorification of socialism/communism) is returning to Europe, socialist greed is corrupting the world and sowing the seeds of the entitlement mentality – all of this only leads us further from freedom. It seems we’ve learned nothing from the past and that’s a bitter pill to swallow, especially on this day.

    People like Tudjman, they are real leaders, statesmen. It terrifies me to think of where we are heading without such leadership.

    Rest in Peace, dr. Franjo Tuđman.

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  3. When i read this, Ina, i still see some of the terrible images from the war. We must never forget, never.
    Thank You for this sharing.
    My best to You
    john

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  4. Predsjednik Republike Hrvatske dr. Franjo Tudjman…: http://youtu.be/j5KZ2CpeN8Y

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  5. A beautifully written, spine chilling homage to a hero. It’s a sober reminder of too many powers that be. The photo is a powerful metaphor of freedom with hindsight. Heartbreaking what happened to him as an individual. And, all the others who suffered as well.

    Your exquisite writing is well worth the time to stop by and read.

    Happy Holidays to you, my friend.

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  6. Zoran Nosic says:

    Ina, you have such a wonderful feel for the right words, at the right time, in the right context. I really appreciate that. I had the honour of meeting Dr. Tuđman on several occasions here in Toronto, Canada during his very first visit in 1986-87 and during in the infant stages of the development of the HDZ.

    My father and I acted as his bodyguards during the very first speech he gave at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto. I remember the tension that was present and my father warning me of the many possible eventualities. At the time, young and foolish, I wasn’t impressed. It wasn’t until much later that I realized the extent of my father’s words, who was present and why they were at this gathering. But that very night, my father said to me, “Sine, ovaj čovjek će biti prvi predsjednik slobodne Hrvatske.”

    I had some opportunity to speak to Tuđman and he gave some very interesting answers to my questions I had about WWII and other topics which I treasure to this day. In fact, I will email a picture for you (once I find it LOL) depicted in Belgrade and other Yugoslav newspapers of the time, bemoaning this very issue of Croatian reconciliation and the resurgence of Croatian nationalism.

    I treasure the opportunity I had to take part in some small way in getting President Franjo Tuđman safely on his historical and personal journey. Fond memories of his fortitude, sadness about the vilification and anti-Croatian propaganda he had to endure remain. Fortunately, the wheel comes back around and he will be proved right, in time, as he ultimately was.

    Another oft maligned Croat, Vjekoslav Luburic, always said there will come a day when the sons of Ustase and Partizani will put aside their differences and stand together for a united Croatia. I think the Ustase sons have been ready since the independence of Croatian but the Partizani sons are still hanging on to the hatred and can’t get past it.

    Živio u vjekove!

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    • Thank you, Zoran – so good to read your comment. And, oh yes – the Partisans and their sons are still not ready to reconcile the past because they resist the truth about their crimes but whether they want it or not slowly it is happening around them – they are “forced”to face their demons of the past gradually.

      Like

  7. Zoran Nosic says:

    Ina, you have such a wonderful feel for the right words, at the right time, in the right context. I really appreciate that. I had the honour of meeting Dr. Tuđman on several occasions here in Toronto, Canada during his very first visit in 1986-87 and during in the infant stages of the development of the HDZ.

    My father and I acted as his bodyguards during the very first speech he gave at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto. I remember the tension that was present and my father warning me of the many possible eventualities. At the time, young and foolish, I wasn’t impressed. It wasn’t until much later that I realized the extent of my father’s words, who was present and why they were at this gathering. But that very night, my father said to me, “Sine, ovaj čovjek će biti prvi predsjednik slobodne Hrvatske.”

    I had some opportunity to speak to Tuđman and he gave some very interesting answers to my questions I had about WWII and other topics which I treasure to this day. In fact, I will email a picture for you (once I find it LOL) depicted in Belgrade and other Yugoslav newspapers of the time, bemoaning this very issue of Croatian reconciliation and the resurgence of Croatian nationalism.

    I treasure the opportunity I had to take part in some small way in getting President Franjo Tuđman safely on his historical and personal journey. Fond memories of his fortitude, sadness about the vilification and anti-Croatian propaganda he had to endure remain. Fortunately, the wheel comes back around and he will be proved right, in time, as he ultimately was.

    Another oft maligned Croat, Vjekoslav Luburic, always said there will come a day when the sons of Ustase and Partizani will put aside their differences and stand together for a united Croatia. I think the Ustase sons have been ready since the independence of Croatia but the Partizani sons are still hanging on to the hatred and can’t get past it.

    Živio u vjekove!

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  8. Ustane Francek! Hrvatska te zove zove!

    One of the best articles I read about Tudjman after he passed is here, written by Christine Stone, “The sad tale of Croatian independence:”
    http://www.antiwar.com/stone/?articleid=1878

    Ina thanks again for your blog and for allowing us to post on it.

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  9. Franjo Tudjman, a man with heroic vision who somehow united a people with no wealth, with no army, with nothing, with nothing except the will to be, and the will to be free. The sooner we can restore that vision, the sooner we can build upon that vision, the sooner we can shine brightly in the constellation of the nations of the world. Rest in peace dear President. Not all of us have forgotten.

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  10. Rex Croatorum says:

    Unfortunately, as Zoran said the sons of Ustase extended the olive branch of reconciliation to the other side for the greater good, namely Croatian independence, but the embrace from the other side was not genuine as they never were for Croatian independence. It was embraced out of necessity at the time for their own survival as there was fear of retribution against the exyu cadre, as well it ensured their retention of power in all institutions which they still hold to this day. Tudjmans reconciliatory ideology (which he adopted from Luburic) and intentions were genuine but they backfired as he was played out by these forces, as evident after Tudjmans death they shamelessly rose their head and confidently started the so-called detudjamnization and neo-yugoslavism hidden under the masked name of anti-fascism which continues to this day.

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    • Rex, I do not think Tudjman adopted his re conciliatory ideology from anyone, it was his own – unless you have a source where Tudjman says he did, I don’t have that. Of course others before and after him have similar ideologies but that does not mean they adopt them from each other etc. Thanks

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      • Zoran Nosic says:

        You are correct Ina, that Tuđman was his own man and didn’t need to use others to express his thoughts. He was a man with an authentic vision of what a democratic Croatian state needed. Rex does have a point though. I believe he is also pointing out the clear link between sworn ideological enemies during the war but both endured the destruction of their nation personally.

        Tuđman became disillusioned very quickly in the new Yugoslavia despite his prominence. Ultimately, he was witness to the deliberate destruction of Croatia under the guise of socialist bliss and brotherhood. Luburić, for his part, often wrote of the waste of such talent, hope and dreams of that generation. Without certainty though, I suggest they came to the same conclusion by different means; agreeing with Rex. One in the corridors of power, the other a fugitive and murder victim of the same power.

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  11. Great man, Good leader. Sadly he left us to soon. I am sure if we had him longer we would have a Croatia First Policy and our country would be much better off then it is today

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  12. Why did Franjo Tudman suffer such a vilification??? The only reason its not worse is because people praising him wont open their eyes! You even credited Tudman with Luburic’s “pomirenje” as if he invented it! That is maybe the definition of lack of background knowledge

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    • Many have ideas of reconciliation but only few the courage to see it through, Junak

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    • Junak, you are completely wrong – you seem to suggest that only one person can be the owner of the idea of reconciliation and that is totally wrong, many people can have the same idea and all are the owners of it – there is no law in the world that says otherwise. The only protection one person has for an idea is the way he/she expresses that idea and Tudjman had his own expression and details of it that are his. He did not copy anyone although he may have liked what others before him had said about the idea. You cannot patent an idea but you can porotect as your own the way you express it. There is a world of difference between the two.

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      • The Croatian Peoples Resistence Movement or Hrvatski Narodni Otpor for decades was the torchbearer of the pomirenje movement which was coined by its leader General Maks Luburic. It spawned off in many directions and gave Tudman an “in” with the political emigration like many other partizani that fought against the Croatian people and its state. Without them Tudman wouldnt have had an idea, a following or any financing. Tudman was the only dissident given a “pasos” which later was repayed by employing people like Budimir Loncar and Josip Perkovic! Implying Tudman invented this vision is ludacris! Its like acrediting anyone but Marx for the Communist Manifesto. Tudman didnt invent Hrvatsko Pomirenje, he joined it, just like he didnt invent HDZ, he joined it.

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      • Junak, I must reply to this even if you are replying to Wilkinson. YOU ARE COMPLETELY WRONG WHEN IT COMES TO DIASPORA – POLITICAL EMIGRATION WAS NOT THE MOST NUMEROUS THAT GAVE TUDJMAN an “in” as you put it – NOT IN THE PART OF DIASPORA I LIVE IN. Sorry to have to tell you that. Luburic NEVER WANTED TO TURN JASENOVAC INTO MONUMENT TO ALL VICTIMS and indeed if he had his way he would have probably flattened it to the ground just as communists hid their mass graves – it is time to face the truth, the full truth. As to ideas many people can have the same idea and own it.

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  13. Rex Croatorum says:

    Tudjmans + HDZs political doctrine at the end of the 80s namely ‘Hrvatsko pomirenje’, ‘opcehrvatsko jedinstvo’, ‘vezu domovine i izbjeglištva’, ‘nadideologijsku nacionalnu borbu’ are not his own creation but Luburic’s and his HNO in the 60s.

    It is quite common knowledge that Tudjman was introduced and later adopted these ideas while he was the director of the institute for the History of the Workers Movement in Zagreb, where he would study emigre material, namely in this regard the writings of Max Luburic and Miljenko Dabo Peranic in HNO’s journal Drina .

    This ideology of Luburic’s national reconciliation which at first was met with tough resistance was later adopted and pushed by Croatian franciscans in the US starting in 1968 with fra Dominik Mandic and later proved very influential on Tudjman when he started developing his links with the franciscans in Canada (Norval) in the 80s.

    For reconciliation to work though those on the left had to accept the process of the formation of the Croatian state, instead they pushed for yugoslavia to the end and regretfully complied to the winds of change when it could no longer be stopped, as it can be argued many still to this day have not come to terms with this reality and still suffer from their yugoslav amnesia ie. Josipovic and co.

    They had no problem waging a quiet war with the right over who would control the main and vital functions in the new state. Returnees were for the most part given duties in the field and sent to the front lines while the technomanagers with their old udba links assurred success and took administrative duties all the while settling old scores (ie. the still unresolved deaths of Croatian hero’s Baresic and Pavlovic).

    The sad reality is the ‘right’ was played and tricked. This stranglehold of the ‘left’/partizanska djeca on media, politics and institutions was cemented after Tudjmans death with Mesic’s rule and remains so to this day. This is further ceremonially illlustrated with the fact the Croatian Sabor broke sponsorship of the Bleiburg commemoration (the biggest massacre of Croats in history) while Josipovic returned to srb (a greater serb uprising against Croats, hoodwinked as a false day of antifascist uprising), praising the ‘lijepe partizanske kape’.

    For all of Tudjmans successess, his biggest mistake (among signing away HR-Herceg Bosna) is he didnt do away with the garbage after the war, as this mistake continues to haunt us today as society is still polarized with old fights over tito, the call for lustration and the necessity of processing yugo communist war crimes. Only then can we truly speak of successful reconciliation.

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    • The battle lives on, Rex Croatorum … Tudjman is and will be remembered and respected as the man who gave everything he had for an independent Croatia in circumstances many wold run away from and he took them head on

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  14. Tudjman was the real president, he knew how the Croatian people breathe for home and freedom. Yesss

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  15. Thank you for visiting ! 🙂

    Regards,
    Aliosa.

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  16. Rex Croatorum says:

    As far as the idea of mish-mash mixing bones of victims of both the Ustase and the partizani at Jasenovac (the site of megalomaniac Serbian lies and propaganda), is an absurd idea. For Croat victims already lie there as jasenovac operated in the post war period as a camp for anti state elements. Forensic excavations in the 60s unearthed NDH insignia among the victims at jasenovac and digging was quickly stopped.

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    • Yes Rex Croatorum, it has been established that Jasenovac was open for communist crimes I think they (communists in gov) stopped digging in fear of finding more remains of victims of communist crimes there than of “fascist” – it was not the idea to mix bones as you put it but to make a statement that victims of communist crimes are as deserving of respect and recognition as those of the Holocaust.

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  17. You are a superb writer. Thank you Ina!

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  18. ..the BIGGEST mistake that Dr.Tudjman made in 1991 was to warn Stipe Mesic that Mesic’s life was in danger and he should flee to Zagreb! Stipe has been making trouble for the Croats ever since! DELETED as inappropriate

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  19. therealamericro says:

    As one of the information warfare bards of Forum.hr’s Political thread put it in his SN signature:

    “Pored rijeke, zora svice, cekamo te, Predsjednice.”

    In terms of signing away HRHB – he signed what was presented to him under the threat of full sanctions in addition to no peaceful return of Vukovar and Podunavlje, and sanctions and potential sorties if military action was taken.

    He signed Dayton, and HRHB was a reality until AFTER his death. If Dayton was actually followed to the letter, de facto HRHB, which we had until January 2000, would still be a fact on the ground.

    The first attack against HRHB first came by the international community when they blew hole in the Hercegovacka Banka building, destroying everything from money to personal records, items etc., as opposed to asking for the key.

    Tudman of course denounced it, and fought the HB sham tooth and nail and as we have seen, after years under the drunk Toby Robinson, the only solvent, domestically-owned bank in not just B&H, but the entire former sugoslavija at that time, was run into the ground and now shareholders as well as clients have to sign over up to 40 percent of what they had in savings and or assets to access the rest of THEIR own savings, assets etc.

    The National Endowment for Democracy, USAID, International Republican Institute, Soros Foundation, Chatham House (Dejan Jovic’s former employer, a known MI6 mouthpiece and front, which was conveniently wiped from the web in YUsipovic’s first campaign for President) and other foreign NGO propaganda jihad unfortunately was too well financed and too carefully crafted and Croatian people, not known for being temperate, calm, or examining the big picture, voted in that seditious, compulsive-lying, false witness bearing, treasonous war profiteer Stipe Mesic. As a show of how irrational and illogical Croats’ can be, that walking, talking cancerous tumor on democracy was elected a second time (while the first election was blatant electoral fraud, he was actually voted in by a majority in the second election – a monument to Croatians naivite).

    Tudman made, at the strategic, geopolitical, and military campaign level, every single right decision at the right time. In terms of politics and military campaigns, also at the tactical level.

    Unfortunately, KOS operatives made up most of Izetbegovic’s cabinet and military commanders, and they planned and carried out genocidal aggression against Croats in Central Bosna and N and W Hercegovina – and they got Srebrenica in return for carrying out Mladic’s and Milosevic’s wishes.

    His economic decisions, however, are shakey but again, he was not an economist, he trusted his advisors, and the bottom line is when talk of lustration of state-owned industries, the West was up in arms over “ethnic discrimination” despite just over half of the pre-war appointed directed of the painted rust industries were Croats – Yugoslav Communists but Croats by blood.

    However many bad decisions Tudman made, we need to look at the big picture.

    That is the following:

    a) The war – financing troops salaries, purchasing arms at 3X the market value thanks to Mesic’s seeming life partner Budmir Loncar’s initiative to push an arms embargo, training, treating wounded, housing, feeding and clothing refugees, intelligence and counter-intelligence operations, etc. – cost 80 billion Euros.
    b) The damage of the war was in 1999 estimated at 27.5 Billion Dollars (remember then USD was the currency of choice).
    c) Telecommunications, national bank, military industry, and all other key state industries that define sovereignty for any nation were only partially privatized and in a majority Croatian shareholdership.
    d) HRHB was not a de jure, but was a de facto reality on the ground that the Anglo-American Deep State / Operation Mockingbird sockpuppet media were whining and moaning about constantly, along with OHR and UN.
    e) Croatia, the day of Tudman’s death, was despite all of the above factors, a combined internal and external debt of 9 billion USD, with the money for the highway – that the UN and Anglo-Americans were pushing to go through Bihac (something YUtarnji Prist absurdly claimed and still claims was Tudman’s idea, despite his / Croatia’s fighting it diplomatically at all levels and in the media) – sitting in the national bank waiting for disbursement.

    Croatia’s problems today all are tied to the lack of lustration. It was prevented by the West in the 1990s because that would have meant their prostitutes, their paid agents of foreign influence on the ground, would be thrown out of the media, universities, state owned industries, and politics.

    It must be noted that the only two states that EVER talked about Lustration being a necessary step for Croatia to modernize and move forward were Austria and Germany. The big democracies who always have negative annual reports crying about the “unfair” and “disproportionate” legal indictments and trials against VRSK, MUP RSK, JNA and TO members – who even the NYTimes admitted committed well over 90 percent of the atrocities in Croatia and B&H – were always either openly against any lustration, as was the case in the 1990s, or silent on it, as was the case by all of the loud mouthed embassies in ZG regarding Josip Perkovic.

    A leader like Tudman comes once a milennia. May the Good Lord watch over his patriotic soul.

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  20. Rex Croatorum says:

    Yes Germany and Austrian judiciary, in contrast to the Croatian judiciary, are the biggest pushers and have to some degree already de udba-ised and de-communised the state apparatus, public, cultural and media life in Croatia with at least bringing these topics to public discourse, which has been ignored far too long.

    As far as udbasi, not only the bosnjaks war time cabinet but also Tudjmans cabinet was a whose who of udbasi and kosovci…. Perkovic, Manolic,Mesic, Boljkovac

    Like

  21. L J Sopjes says:

    Franjo Tudjman was lucky that he did not have to rule in a Western democracy. His authoritarian demeanor and dismissal of a free press would have made him a laughing stock in any Western democratic state.

    Like

    • I think you’d better check your facts LJ Sopjes – during Tudjman’s time the press war obscenely free, no democratic country in the world would permit the garbage published in Croatia in yellow press etc against him. But then you seem to stick to your sources so have fun, you will nt have as much fun as I arriving at Franjo Tudjman airport.

      Like

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