Almost 25 years since its declaration of independence from communist Yugoslavia, Croatia (as other states of former Yugoslavia) has not in its entirety come to terms with the tyranny of communism and is infested with demons of communism at all levels of the society and state-governance. Many former communists and/or their descendants evidently ignore the dictatorial system imposed on the country they say, “they liberated” from WWII German occupation/its collaborators.
Apart from a decisive lustration as well as political and moral distancing from the communist past – apart from exorcising the remnants of communism, Croatia has little chance in realizing the freedom and democracy it fought for in 1990’s – in rivers of blood of its own people.
And so, as seemingly organised barriers are placed on the path to full freedom and democracy, exorcism of all remnants of communism becomes a battle that needs to be as organised as the leftist or communist-flavoured machinery that constantly undermines progress of an independent and democratic state, which is desirous of shedding the last vestiges of communism. The government alone, especially not a government that is deeply riddled with remnants of communism, cannot do the shedding – alone. Exorcism of communism needs to find soldiers within the natural milieu of Croatian society, and, citizens should and must organize themselves into various action groups towards this end.
The greater than life-size bust of Yugoslavia’s leader Josip Broz Tito in the Office of the President of Croatia, marking the spot where misguided fantasies about the communist totalitarian regime served as a kind of nationwide reverence towards Tito and his communist regime was recently removed from that office by Croatia’s president Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic. The removal of the bust was engulfed in bitter debate over Tito’s place in European history, demonstrating that many Croatians are far from ready to acknowledge the fact that Tito’s dictatorial system was the force that in many ways drove 94% of Croatian voters to seek independence in the early 1990’s.
A battle of symbols and memories continues to be waged — over statues, street names, the Red star, the places for remembrance of communist crimes such as Bleiburg massacres… Now entrenched in the West through NATO and European Union membership, Croatia is showing new eagerness to erase the more visible vestiges of communism almost every day or week. I do fervently hope that Tito’s name will soon be removed from the opera house square in Zagreb as yet another milestone in exorcism of the remnants of communist past that stifle progress in Croatia towards fully achieving the goal of freedom and democracy.
The Committee For the Defence Of Croatian Vukovar has Friday 17 April 2015 stated: “ Remnants of the totalitarian regimes are attempting to crush the Croatian statehood,” said Tomislav Josic, the Committee’s president. “Croatia must rise loudly at this time when the well organised remnants of totalitarian structures and attempting to crush our statehood, pride, dignity and survival. We invite all individuals, organisations and institutions to collaborate with us if they consider that the realisation of our stated goals will lead to a better and more just Croatia”. The ten strategic goals the Committee has announced include the protection of Croatian statehood, human rights, lustration and directing Croatian foreign policy towards the EU and NATO countries… This is a shining example of how citizens’ organisations can positively contribute to the shedding of communist past and to the progress Croatia needs to make as a free and democratic state.
Another recent example of organised citizens in the battle of shedding the remnants of communism from Croatia is the work done by several prominent people under the umbrella of the Croatian National Ethics Tribunal. The Tribunal has Saturday 18 April 2015 delivered a yet another judgment and condemnation against persons for whom the evidence they claim shows have worked against Croatian national interests. These persons are Vesna Pusic (current foreign minister of Croatia), Stjepan Mesic (former president of Croatia) and Milorad Pupovac (member of parliament representing a section of Serb minority in Croatia).
”It’s difficult to predict the effect of this judgment, but one thing is certain: people like these should not carry out the duties they’re carrying out today. Even as a young person Vesna Pusic began working against Croatian national interests, and as far as Stjepan Mesic is concerned, he, together with Vesna Pusic, stood on the side of Serbia and started equating the victims with the aggressors. These persons do not behave in ethically acceptable ways, Mesic went secretly to the Hague to give testimony against Croatia, Franjo Tudjman and, finally, against Croatian Generals,” said dr Zvonimir Separovic, president of the Ethics Tribunal and added that the next in line will be Josip Broz Tito and the fact that the communist regime was a criminal regime.
One thing that seems clear is that since independence from communist Yugoslavia, Croatia has struggled to change its identity into the one it endured great human and material losses as the result of Serb aggression for – into a unified Croatia of freed and democratic people in which the past would be reconciled and a better future defined. But the former communists and their followers continue causing new and maintaining the old ideological tensions, refusing to acknowledge that it was communism the Croatian people were freed from! That’s why actions like the above-mentioned ones are crucial to the exorcism of communism and psychological recuperation from the harsh dictatorship of Yugoslavia. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)