President of Croatia Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic has Friday 19 February 2016 on the occasion of marking one year in office hosted within “Days of open doors” a ceremony of unveiling at the foyer of the Office of the President in Zagreb a bronze bust by sculptor Kruno Bosnjak of Croatia’s first president Franjo Tudjman.
The bust of Franjo Tudjman unveiled represents the gift given in 1996 to the Office of the President of Croatia by its author way back in 1996 and it had been gathering dust in storage there for almost 20 years. Of course it would have been in bad taste and rather vain had Franjo Tudjman placed it on display there himself while in office; he died in 1999 and since then until a year ago the communist-die-hard presidents Stjepan Mesic and Ivo Josipovic who promoted nostalgia for communist Yugoslavia were not about to bestow the deserved honour to Tudjman as one of the Greats of Croatian freedom by placing his bust among other greats. On the contrary, they went about vilifying him internationally with lies and deceit regarding Croatia’s Homeland war, assisting the international community that was on the trail of equating the victim (Croatia) with the aggressor (Serbia). President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic had in both a popular and unpopular move removed the bust of communist Yugoslavia’s dictator Josip Broz Tito from the same spot in the foyer of the Office of the President a mere few weeks into her presidency and instead of that communist criminal Tito there is now the bust of Franjo Tudjman in that hallowed place of Croatian freedom – Tudjman’s bust now sits among Croatian greats that were King Tomislav, Ivan Mazuranic, Bishop Josip Juraj Strossmayer, Ante Starcevic, Stjepan Radic and Blessed Aloysius Stepinac.
What a great day for Croatia 19 February 2016!
Grabar-Kitarovic said that she believes politicians have a duty to spend time among citizens and listen to their assessments and opinions. “Gatherings such as this one with you, which encourage and give me strength to work for the well-being of our Homeland, are most important to me,” said president Grabar/Kitarovic at the ceremony.
She said that the day was also very special because of the unveiling of Franjo Tudjman’s bust and added: “If anyone has deserved for his or her bust to be displayed here, in this house on Pantovcak, it is the first president dr. Franjo Tudjman who in this place had delivered key decisions during hardest of times for the future of our Homeland.” She added further that Tudjman’s politics were those of reconciliation without which it’s difficult to imagine the achievement of those goals we have realised, liberated and built our independent Croatia.
“It’s now up to us,” she said, “the new generation to take Croatia further into a better life for all of us in Croatia,” and added that it is actually the politics of togetherness that joins onto the politics of reconciliation. She said that the politics of togetherness she promotes “does not mean single-mindedness but rather that we all work together at goals of better living standards, better opportunities for the youth so they remain in Croatia and joint building and achievement of goals of economic and social development of our Homeland.”
Croatia’s news agency HINA reported Saturday 20 February 2016 that President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic has said in an interview with the Jutarnji List daily, marking one year in office of president of Croatia, that Croatia needs reforms, she called on the government and the Opposition to invest their energy into improving the life of Croatian citizens and announced that after the first 100 days of this government in office she would launch the initiative aimed at calling a session to discuss critical joint issues of the foreign and defence policy and national strategic and development issues.
Grabar-Kitarovic said that in the atmosphere of political divisions it was difficult to work on the necessary reforms. Commenting on ideological divisions, the president called for calming of tensions adding that Croatia’s society needed a more civilised political communication. She also called on the Opposition to aim their energy towards issues that would improve the life of Croatian citizens.
“Of course, the role of the Opposition is to criticise every bad move the government makes, but let’s be objective, the government hasn’t even been in office for 100 days which is a democratic standard for the first assessment of its work,” she stressed.
Asked about her objectives for the second year of her term in office, the president said that, in a way, she was starting over. “We have the new government to which I extend my hand of cooperation, just as I have to the previous government,” she added.
Grabar-Kitarovic said that the government led by Tihomir Oreskovic would have an opportunity to carry out a number of initiatives she launched, such as “the Adriatic-Baltic-Black Sea initiative” which had a potential and was necessary for the process of building infrastructure, transport, energy and other projects connecting the south and the north of Central Europe, as well as for the job creation.
The president said she would continue to focus on the protection of the Croat people in Bosnia and Herzegovina and care for the neighbourhood in general so as to secure permanent peace and stability.
The president announced that after the first 100 days of this government in office, she would launch an initiative to call a session which would focus on joint issues of the foreign and defence policy and Croatia’s strategic development issues.
Calling for national unity to help revive the battered economy is a universal concept especially in countries historically divided by differing ideologies and Croatia stands among those. The prominence of ideological divide between anti and pro communists, or better said anti and pro former Yugoslav communists vis-à-vis Croatian independence, its emergence through rivers of blood spilled in 1990’s war of Serb aggression and its constant battles with obstacles from former communists or their loyal descendants mean that adequate unity cannot be achieved in Croatia until the communist past, especially its criminal past is put to a deserved rest, i.e. until a fair degree of lustration is implemented.
Hence the times are here when both the government and president of Croatia, having now acknowledged the blanket damaging to progress ideological disunity represents for the future of Croatia, need to act decisively and firmly on matters of lustration. Taking out of key positions in public administration those who were active in or who keep protecting the communist Yugoslavia ways and regime. This does not of course mean that ideological divide will cease to be once lustration is done, but it does mean that public space in Croatia will no longer be burdened with protecting and justifying the former communist Yugoslavia regime together with its unspeakable crimes and that would surely pave the way for progress in all domains of life in Croatia. So, President Grabar-Kitarovic and the current government of Croatia should put their money where their mouth is and start official lustration rather than giving more speeches about unity and how Croatia needs it.
Croatia needs to look at a future where it embraces the possibility of new solutions to enduring problems where old approaches have failed. The old approaches to quelling ideological disunity from the past have basically been not doing anything substantial in condemning communist crimes. Croatia needs a future based on mutual respect, mutual resolve and mutual responsibility – that is what way back in 1990 and before Franjo Tudjman meant with his polices of reconciliation between past ideological opponents and enemies within Croatia. Croatia needs a future where all Croats, whatever their ethnic or religious origins, are truly equal partners, with equal opportunities and with an equal stake in shaping the next chapter in the history of Croatia.
There comes a time in the history of nations when their peoples must become fully reconciled to their past if they are to go forward with confidence to embrace their future.
Croatia has reached such a time.
In a true spirit of reconciliation Croatia needs to open a new chapter in its history – it needs to confront and condemn all crimes committed by the regimes of its WWII and communist Yugoslavia past and particularly those of the communist regime given that crimes of the WWII Ustashe regime have largely been dealt with through the condemnation of the Holocaust and the prosecution of any individuals found to have had a role in it. Franjo Tudjman died without concluding his Croatian healing mission (reconciliation of the past) and the installing of his bust at the highest of places in Croatia on Friday 19 February 2016 can indeed be seen as a start to completing that reconciliation with history that will lead to prosperity with democratic freedom in Croatia. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)