Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic visited Germany on Tuesday 17 March on a mission that adds warmth to recently cooled ties between the two countries.
Welcoming the Croatian leader to Berlin, President Joachim Gauck emphasised that Germany was home to least 240,000 Croats who had enriched German society.
Gauck affirmed that Croatia is an example and link for all South-Eastern European countries in their path to the EU. He stated that Croatia needs to deal with its past, just as Germany has done.
Noting that Croatia has to undertake important reforms, he added that Germany could help Croatia deal with them – and deal with unsolved issues from the past. Grabar=Kitarovic, for her part, stated that Croatia had undergone a double transition: from the conflicts of the 1990s as well as the transition from a state-run to a market-run economy.
Good partner relations, political and economic, especially in areas of tourism, science and culture are have also been affirmed during this visit, which should send the message of strong partnership, said Grabar-Kitarovic.
After her talks with President Gauck, President Grabar-Kitarovic met with Chancellor Angela Merkel and held a lecture at the European Academy in Berlin on Croatia and the European Union. She said that Germany’s support for Croatia in her battles for independence as well as entry into the EU had been very worthwhile.
Germany played a major role in the independence of Croatia, advocating successfully for the other EU countries to recognise its independence from former Yugoslavia. It also played a mentoring role in the country’s EU accession process.
However, a dispute over the indictment of a former Communist-era Yugoslav intelligence chief, Josip Perkovic for “communist Crimes”, i.e. alleged participation in 1983 in the murder in Germany of Croatian emigrant Stjepan Djurekovic by agents of Yugoslav Secret Police UDBA, had caused a diplomatic upset. Perkovic was indicted in 2005 for the assassination in Germany in 1983 of a Croatian emigrant. He continued to live freely in Croatia, however, and just as Croatia joined the EU in July 2013, the Croatian parliament, led by former communists? Social Democrats hastily amended the country’s extradition law to ensure that Croatian compliance with European arrest warrants would only apply to alleged crimes committed after 2002. The decision caused annoyance in Germany and, after the European Commission threatened Croatia with sanctions the government in Zagreb was forced to back down. Perkovic was duly extradited to face trial in Germany in January 2014. Former Croatian president Ivo Josipovic also sided with Social Democrats in efforts to avoid the extradition of indicted Perkovic to Germany. After Perkovic, Zdravko Mustac was also extradited to Germany on associated charges and both are currently on trial in Germany.
“I was disappointed when after joining the Union [EU] there were different viewpoints in the case of the European arrest warrant and the Perkovic case,” the Croatian President said, before leaving for Berlin.
“It was unnecessary. Croatia has to prove its credibility by keeping to what it has signed,” she added.
Dealing with the past to which Germany’s President Gauck referred in his speech would inevitably involve WWII, post-WWII communist Yugoslavia era as well as the 1990’s Homeland War whose veterans are still having to fight for their rights under the Social Democratic government especially.
Grabar-Kitarovic’s mandate is going to be a hard one especially given that not much effort has been invested in dealing with communist crimes and corruption that has its roots in political elitism that thrived under communist Yugoslavia and continued noticeably strongly since Croatia’s independence. Many former highly positioned communists, who held strong powers on account of communist party lines and many of whom were either agents of or collaborated with the communist totalitarian regime and its purges, found high positions of power within independent Croatia. Widespread lustration – removing from high positions the former communists associated with communist totalitarian regimes intelligence and secret service – has not been carried out. If Croatia is to move forward as a truly democratic nation lustration is a condition and not a choice.
Undoubtedly a noticeable allegiance to former communist Yugoslavia still exists in various sectors of the Croatian social, political and economic life. Those that hold this allegiance are included among those who find it difficult to accept that their fathers, mothers, grandfathers, uncles, aunties…had not during the times of communist Yugoslavia acted towards their countrymen with respect of human rights or human life. Many crimes were committed against innocent people who stood against communism or simply did not accept it as the only political orientation a country should have. Hence, one the ways of dealing with such a past is to deny its nature and keep on expressing nostalgia for Yugoslavia.
And so I come to the event that occurred in Zagreb, Croatia, last weekend about which I do not know whether to laugh or to cry!
A group of people, evidently stuck in the past, met in Zagreb on Sunday March 15, as the Coordinating Committee of Communist and Workers’ Parties of the Former Yugoslavia at which they reportedly delivered the foundations of their program that strives towards a classless society!
The meeting debated the current position of the parties, their experiences and programs with the aim of finding common positive experiences, which need to be joined and implemented into practice, reported the Socialist Workers’ Party of Croatia (SRP)! The Coordinating committee was formed in 2009 and its members, besides the Croatian SRP, are Yugoslav Communist Party of Montenegro, Cultural Political Society the Communist from Slovenia, Communist Alliance from Bosnia and Herzegovina, The Party of Communists Serbia and the Communist Party of Macedonia.
Currently the group is not large but it has decided to work more widely and noticeably! Their aim is to push for a classless society based on Socialism-Marxism.
“We are fighting for immediate and long-term interests of all workers who live off their work. Idealistically we are committed to Socialism as a transitional social system from a class to a classless society,” said Vladimir Kapularin, president of the Croatian arm of this alliance, to HINA Croatian news agency. “ Theoretical foundations of implementing measures towards achieving this aim are also in the progressive science of humanities about society and man liberated from exploitation, humiliation and all forms of enslavement/lack of freedom.”
Oh dear! These people are stuck in the Socialist Yugoslavia and are wearing rosy glasses to avoid seeing the class society, the tycoons and the struggling poor workers that Yugoslavia was made into through human greed and corruption.
What can anyone who participated in making Socialism a scourge and a mockery of the intended classless society in former Yugoslavia do in that avenue today! Nothing! Nothing except keep misguided and politically destabilising nostalgia for Yugoslavia breathing, at least a little – just enough to get up people’s noses and maintain divisions in society. What are the civilised achievements this group of former Yugoslavia communists come socialists is basing its program on? Those from former Yugoslavia under Josip Broz Tito, those of the USSR under Joseph Stalin, those in China under Mao Tse Tung or those in Cambodia under Pol Pot – or perhaps all?
If I was at the helm of Croatia I would ban the activities of any such group or any such activities – and the reasons are very clear! Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)