For the survival and well being of a nation it is essential that all and each generation understand the meaning of the nation’s Constitution. As Aristotle wrote long ago: “It is useless to have the most beneficial laws, fully agreed upon by all who are members of the constitution, if they are not going to be trained and have their habits formed in the spirit of that constitution.” (Aristotle, The Politics (New York: Penguin, 1986), 331; 1310a12).
Troubles persist, though, when facets of a nation’s Constitution collide against each other and are, due to their inherent nature, irreconcilable on the fundamental grounds of the Constitution’s own existence. This creates a multi-faceted quagmire within which the abandoned old values (in this case communist values) interfere with the establishment of new ones (freedom and democracy). Old communist values in the case of Croatia seriously interfere with the democratic ones, which should be tagged as the only and the essential values for the survival of the modern independent Croatia.
This brings to mind a most pertinent issue, which has been brought to the public’s attention by the currently most active politician on the issue with a seat in Parliament, the independent Member, General Zeljko Glasnovic, and an impressive set of leading scholars, politicians, political analysts, constitutional experts, and people of all walks of life in Croatia (e.g. Zdravko Tomac, Admiral Davor Domazet Loso, Milan Kujundzic, Tomislav Karamarko, Branimir Luksic, to name but a handful) at one time or another in recent couple of years or so.
The issue is that a ghost of communism, in effect, resides within the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia, suffocating progress to full democracy by keeping alive destructive communist mentality, habits and practices brought over from communist Yugoslavia. The latter – evidently and in general terms condoned as permissible simply because an element of the former Yugoslav communist regime is embedded in the Constitution as a valid historical pursuit to Croatian independence when in fact that Yugoslav communist regime never pursued the establishment of a completely independent state of Croatia.
At the time of the creation of its constitution Croatia was still charged and overloaded with communism and the passage of transition out of that oppressive scourge was doomed to contamination with it – the ghost of communism was inserted into the Croatian Constitution adopted in December 1990, months before, in an almost ambush-like manner, came the Serb/Yugoslav-led bloody, brutal and genocidal aggression that sought to obliterate even the very idea of independence and freedom from Croatian life.
That ghost of communism within the Constitution sits under the Constitution’s “Historical foundations” (for independence). “The millennial national identity of the Croatian nation and the continuity of its statehood, confirmed by the course of its entire historical experience in various political forms and by the perpetuation and growth of state-building ideas based on the historical right to full sovereignty of the Croatian nation, manifested itself:…“- in laying the foundations of state sovereignty during World War Two, through decisions of the Anti-Fascist Council of the National Liberation of Croatia (1943), to oppose the proclamation of the Independent State of Croatia (1941), and subsequently in the Constitution of the People’s Republic of Croatia (1947), and several subsequent constitutions of the Socialist Republic of Croatia (1963-1990), on the threshold of the historical changes, marked by the collapse of the communist system and changes in the European international order, the Croatian nation by its freely expressed will at the first democratic elections (1990) reaffirmed its millennial statehood.”
The absolute fact remains that Croatian independence and all its voices and propagators were quashed, many assassinated, multitudes murdered, exiled, imprisoned, tortured…by the Yugoslav communist regime after WWII. No independence of Croatia as a state there. Operatives of the communist regime evidently got to contribute to the writing of the current Croatian Constitution, dressing-up the controlled and oppressed Socialist State of Croatia within the Yugoslav federation as independence. One could say that this blasphemy about independence could have survived, had the war of aggression against Croatia, because of its pursuits towards independence, not ensued from 1991. But the war did ensue and Croatia earned its independence at terrible costs to human lives because of it.
The War of Independence/Homeland War is the true foundation of independent Croatia and as such it must be reflected and embedded in the Constitution without being constantly undermined by the ghost of communism residing in there. While in recent years the War of Independence/Homeland War did finally make it into the Constitution as one of its historical foundations, its importance is significantly diminished within the constellation of historic foundations that include the false allocation of independence of Croatian state under the communist Yugoslavia federation.
“The new Constitution of the Republic of Croatia (1990) and the victory of the Croatian nation and Croatia’s defenders in the just, legitimate and defensive war of liberation, the Homeland War (1991-1995), wherein the Croatian nation demonstrated its resolve and readiness to establish and preserve the Republic of Croatia as an independent and autonomous, sovereign and democratic state,” is the wording in the Constitution subsequently added to include the value of the Homeland War to independence.
The battle to decommunise Croatia continues and a significant battleground rests within the Constitution itself. It is imperative for the achievement of what Croatian independence intended to achieve in the first place – get away from communism/totalitarian regime as far as possible – to up the ante on getting the Constitution right.
And this is where the newly established organisation “Project Velebit”, with its centre in Zagreb, could successfully contribute. Certainly, its acumen expressed through its wide and current and relevant range of principles does point to clarity and determination in advocating for the complete ban on everything pertaining to Yugoslavianism, including seeking revision of the Constitution along the lines written about above, and the implementation of lustration.
Project Velebit is a civil organisation recently founded by a number of Croatian patriots “who consider themselves members of the Croatian national being, regardless of where they at this point in time may be living, regardless of their current social, political, religious, age or gender status, who as interested in the promotion of sincere humanistic, national and civilised attainments and needs of the Croatian people and all Croatian citizens, with the aim of promoting the national, the cultural, the ideological and the economic safety and freedom.”
Project Velebit as civil organisation could well compliment the work of politicians and members of parliament whose agenda has been and still follows pursuits to decommunise Croatia. Plucking communism and all its relevant aspects out of daily lives is absolutely essential if true independence as intended in 1990 is to be had.
On 9 November 2016, Marko Juric, a journalist, publicist and active member of the Project Velebit group, presented Project Velebit in Zagreb at the “Media aggression and political culture in Croatia” forum:
“Many ask us what is ‘Project Velebit’. It is a consequence of this situation that’s occurring, the paralysis of the system in answering to a series of absurd situations,” Juric said. “About maybe a year ago a group of people got together here in Croatia. They concluded that all that paralysis, all the enormous frustrations arising in people, an endless string of different stories of injustice and hardships happening in Croatia, have in reality exceeded all the limits to the end. There is no sense in talking any more… A group of people from outside Croatia (one being Mr Marko Franovic from Australia) linked itself to us and we decided to join forces and change some things. I would describe Project Velebit with one word and that is – action… To move from words to actions, within the framework of the possible and, believe me, there are a great number of things possible, we just need to start…If we make the first move we can do a great deal…” According to Juric Project Velebit wants to start a revolution, an intellectual one for now. In the circumstance where much is not functioning in the country, where communists or former communists still hold key decision-making and power, if threats to Croatian independence are not dealt with in reasonable time and adequate manner then, Juric said: “we retain the natural right of all people including the Croatian people to organise ourselves…and we have already organised ourselves into this group.”
While civil groups and organisations are not a new concept as they often arise in reaction to things gone wrong from governments as perceived in society or things needed and not being attended to by the governments, Project Velebit, however, is quite unique in Croatia as its main concern is to see former Yugoslav communism finally driven out of Croatia rather than to mollycoddle communist structures still existing as many civil organisations have been doing in Croatia. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)