An almost incalculable number of crimes against humanity are the legacy left by Josip Broz Tito, the leader of former totalitarian regime of communist Yugoslavia and yet the sculpture of him in the form of a bust has managed to remain in the main foyer of the Office of the President of Croatia all this time since Croatia succeeded to break away from Yugoslavia, becoming an independent and democratic country, now a member of the EU.
If we take the transitive verb “bust” as meaning “unusable” then, indeed, the bust sculpture of Tito in the top office of this democratic country simply can no longer be tolerated, nor is it appropriate since Tito’s track-record in planning and encouraging the perpetration of incalculable crimes against innocent people had actually rendered the presence of his bust unusable and inoperable in a system of freedom and democracy and self-determination.
The communists and former communists of Yugoslavia/Croatia have insisted on having Tito’s bust displayed in that prominent place, as is the office of Croatia’s President – arguing that Tito and his WWII endeavours represent the very notion of antifascism upon which independent Croatia was created and built. However, the very truth of the matter is that modern Croatia was created by an overwhelming number of people who rejected communist Yugoslavia as created and maintained by Josip Broz Tito and his followers.
Praiseworthy – one of the first moves made by the new president of Croatia, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, as she stepped into her role of president was to announce the removal of the bust of Tito from the Office of the President. In this move, Grabar-Kitarovic emphasised that she continues to hold antifascism as an important foundation of Croatian independence and democracy but that Tito was a dictator and, therefore, a sculpture of his image has no place being there. The first president of Croatia, Franjo Tudjman, considered Tito as one the great statesmen in post WWII Europe, however, he also emphasised that Tito was responsible for the widespread communist crimes committed against innocent people under his leadership.
Certainly, the true antifascism many Croats say they subscribe to cannot be associated with Tito’s communism even though this is exactly what they’ve been trying to do and trying to protect ever since Croatia broke away from the former communist Yugoslavia in the early 1990’s. Indeed, by insisting on communism as being equal to antifascism – the last two presidents of Croatia (Stjepan Mesic and Ivo Josipovic) have managed to make Croatia a painfully backward and divisively active country when it comes to facing the ugly truth of Tito’s (Yugoslav) communist totalitarianism. They continue misusing and abusing the term “antifascism” by pinning it to Tito’s communists.
EU’s condemnation of totalitarian regimes and their crimes simply does not go with having Tito’s bust displayed in the Office of the President of one of its member countries. Furthermore, one must conclude that breaking away from communist Yugoslavia also means placing into history, and not keeping alive in the Office of the President, the symbols of communist Yugoslavia, which is a bust of Tito.
Former president Stjepan Mesic, seeking that Tito’s bust be placed in his “former president’s office”, has expressed his protest against the removal of Tito’s bust from the Office of the President, saying that such a move heralds “not only an accommodation to the rigid right-wing and profascist and neofascist circles in Croatia, but also demonstrates an alarming indication of cramped efforts to erase a part of Croatian history and to remove the memory about the antifascist battle, which is one of the brightest pages in that history…”
But of course, not a word from Stjepan Mesic about the communist crimes perpetrated during his “brightest pages” of Croatian history! This obnoxious political scourge Croatia has been burdened with surely must end. One cannot tolerate accusations of profascism and neofascism, where there are none, even if they are, as in the case of Stjepan Mesic – desperate and last ditch efforts to save Tito and communism from the gallows they deserve. If these are not justified grounds to do away with the office of former president Stjepan Mesic by the same standards as for Ivo Josipovic – i.e. five years after the presidential mandate end, then I do not know what are. Croatia simply cannot tolerate the incessant vilification of its people who were not communists during the life of former Yugoslavia!
The only way unity, to which president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic fervently aspires, can be achieved is through the truth. It will take the strength of Croatia’s new president – Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic – to separate true antifascism from Tito’s/communist Yugoslavia antifascism. True antifascism cannot and must not be associated with communist crimes of WWII and post-WWII.
So, thumbs up to you and your courage – president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic!
Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zbg); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)