The need for lustration in Croatia is at a critical stage. The inadequate and ineffective jurisprudential addressing of this absolute and unquestionable need, that serves the purpose of cleansing Croatia of communist mindset and practices, is creating destructive social pressures on an already ideologically divided nation, often stirred into contagions of despair due to aggressive resistance in dealing with and condemning communist crimes in Croatia. Croatia’s MOST/BRIDGE of independent lists leader Bozo Petrov is the current Speaker in the Croatian Parliament and he happens to also be an educationally qualified Psychiatrist, who has 4 February 2017 announced his parliamentary group’s upcoming proposition to parliament for changes to State Archives Act, which proposed changes announce a confrontation with the past by recommending that state archives pertaining to matters (especially the Communist Party) prior to 22 December 1990 be opened to the public. Reportedly the majority coalition partner in government, HDZ/Croatian Democratic Union, has signalled its support for the proposal.
When asked by Vecernji List journalist Tea Romic if he was aware that the consequences of that move could include a certain form of lustration, which has been a constant open topic in Croatia for years, he replied:
“The opening of the archives is only the first precondition for the confrontation with (or facing) the past. It’s exclusively through the correct and complete determination and evaluation of historical facts that their relativisation and the skewing can be prevented. Once everything is arranged in black and white there will be no possibility for some political party manipulating the public through the use of incorrect information, and our children will learn history the way it was and not as the one according to some options.
Our aim is to use transparency to arrive at a better society. Of course there will be individuals for whom the opening of the archives will be disagreeable, however, our citizens have the right to find out the facts about happenings and people who had influenced Croatian history.
The opening of the archives is at the same time the closure of the chapters that serve no other purpose except creating needless antagonisms. I will be the happiest when news are new and not from the last century. At least we’ll be able to move from the 1945 theme to the 1990 one. Given the discussions up to date that will be a quantum leap for the politicians.”
The alarming problem with MOST’s and Petrov’s announced proposal for changes in the State Archives Act includes according to Roman Leljak, a leading Slovenian researcher into communist crimes, the fact that these proposed changes also include proposed sealing off of certain personal information related to criminal records of crimes post-1945 committed in the name of the people. As these records were/are available to the public it’s clear that Petrov’s plan to open up State Archives hides some sinister intent to protect criminals against the nation and these were – communists. This in effect means Petrov is promoting the burial of the identity of people who committed crimes against Croatians as part of communist purges. Simply – will not do!
Furthermore, a major and alarming problem with this proposal is that Petrov evidently believes that facing or confronting the information or records of the evil of communism via opening State Archives will on its own heal the Croatian nation of distress caused by the non-processing of communist crimes and the often paralyzing division it causes in the society!
Petrov is either a political and medico-professional fruit loop or a twisted product of the communist echelons needing lustration – quick smart! HDZ is not looking better, either, if it supports this dangerous, half-baked, flippant psychiatric prescription for the healing of the nation of its terrible communist past.
“Our society,” the Psychiatrist come Speaker of the Parliament Petrov said, “is burdened by the divisions that largely rest upon twisted facts and purposeful divisions for political point scoring. I had hoped that, with time, reconciliation would come without the full opening of that wound. I subscribed to the opinion that forgiveness and reconciliation can happen without such a step although I know through my profession that trauma cannot disappear without it being dealt with…That’s why I finally want to finish with that topic and place everything on the table. I believe that this will bring forth the essential confrontation with the truth that is needed, because reconciliation in the still divided society is a precondition for the building of the future that’s unburdened with unproductive discussions…”
So, now, all of a sudden Croatia’s Psychiatrist Speaker of the Parliament has decided that confrontation with the ugly, vicious and painful truth pertaining to Communist Yugoslavia/Croatia is the way to heal the nation. And that – without making sure that the essential elements of that healing process are actually there – such as, some kind of a law that prescribes and regulates lustration. One simply cannot confront someone with their source of trauma and deny them the avenues to properly deal with the source and sanction it, if required.
Healing through confrontation and/or exposure is a most serious matter in the health discipline and not a matter to address flippantly as Petrov seemingly thinks that just because he holds qualifications as Psychiatrist he can prescribe a path to national divisions healing through confrontation with the truth, without the need to be professional and fair about it. What a disaster. If planned and controlled carefully confrontation/exposure can be quite a potent path to healing in all sorts of mental health, addiction etc. issues but also in healing divisiveness of an ideologically crumbling or restless nation. It is, however, simply professionally and humanly irresponsible to implement confrontation without ensuring the absolutely necessary processes needed to deal properly with discoveries or arising issues during confrontation.
Had MOST and Petrov at least mentioned the need to address lustration legislation as part and parcel of their proposal for opening up State Archives from the communist era then one could only say “thumbs up”. This way, Petrov falls into the category of politicians who fall into the group I wrote about in one of my previous posts: “ Engineers, doctors, lawyers, teachers … without functional education and jumping cognitively constrictive barriers usually imposed by long-term pursuits in a particular profession have no adequate capacity to manage a State properly…”
Let’s keep in mind, Petrov proposes opening the communist era State Archives for the reason of quelling the distress within the society due to matters relating to unprocessed communist crimes and damaging aspects of that totalitarian regime but offers absolutely no proposals for lustration, which would become a natural and expected consequence of pertinent information found in such archives. Without adequate means to deal with the wounds either opened anew or exacerbated by the examination of those State Archives Petrov now seeks to open, the society will not, cannot, move forward as a reconciled society. Reconciliation process always requires, as an essential part of its lasting success, avenues to deal adequately with residual pain and having access to these communist archives has the potential to create much more pain and resentment if lustration laws and related formal processes are not in place. That is simply the historically and psychologically (if you like) corroborated fact on all levels – individual and national. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)