Croatian Identity Endangered

You do not need to grab hold of a magnifying glass to try and find in the world a destructive political dichotomy, intolerable quarrels between leaders, in a country touting itself to be a peaceful democracy because Croatia sticks out like a sore thumb. And it’s all because the former communists and/or their offspring are in power since 2000 as they crept into the major political parties’ folds almost unnoticed at the beginning. Their personal and political intent was never to aid an independent Croatia and its deservedly good name; their intent as evidenced by their activities and alliances was and is to keep afloat some kind of an acceptable notion of former communist Yugoslavia even though Croatia pulled itself out of it by shedding rivers of its own blood in the face of Serb and communist Yugoslavia army brutal aggression in early 1990’s.

Past week should have seen a unanimous, a national, peoples’ celebration of Croatian Statehood Day, of Croatian National Day but instead the ugly political dichotomy Croatia’s political leadership has displayed deepened and became more vicious than ever. 30th May was the date of enormous significance in 1990. It was the date in 1990 that, within the increasing Croatian peoples’ will to take Croatia out of communist Yugoslavia, establish independence and democracy, saw the constitution of the first democratically elected multi-party parliament in Croatia.

On the occasion of the first anniversary of the Statehood Day, President Franjo Tudjman pointed out the Day as a day of national unity, national reconciliation in the Croatian people. It was a hint, not only of the change of the political system and the arrival of a new political set, but also marked the beginning of the stage for the creation of a sovereign and independent Croatian state. After that came the Christmas Constitution, independence referendum and independence and the decision to sever ties with Yugoslavia. Then the brutal and genocidal war of Serb aggression ensued, ending militarily with Croatian victory via Operation Storm in August 1995 and in January 1998 with the last of Serb-occupied Croatian territory liberated through peaceful reintegration for Eastern Slavonia region and its surrounds.

Then Franjo Tudjman died in December 1999 and in 2000 former communists and those who did not fight to defend Croatia and its people from Serb aggression crept into government and into the Office of the President. In 2002 the League of Croatian Communists’ representative Ivica Racan, who was elected Prime Minister early 2000, changed the date of Croatian Statehood Day from 30th May to 25th June, saying that on 25th June 1991 the Croatian Parliament proclaimed its independence from Yugoslavia. This change of dates was not received well by many Croats. In November 2019 the Croatian Parliament returned the date of 30th May as the date to mark and celebrate Croatian Statehood Day.

Zooming in to last week after Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and his Government Cabinet managed to keep quarrelling with President Zoran Milanovic, and vice versa,  Milanovic aimed his side of the quarrel at the international scene and with his reckless statements managed to do political damage to Croatia on several occasions. Milanovic relativised Russia’s brutal aggression against Ukraine and war crimes committed in Bucha, sought excuses for Putin’s unprovoked bloody campaign in the neighbouring country, and his announcement of a veto on the decision to admit Finland and Sweden to NATO caused outrage around the world.

And then, when he probably surprised himself with his international “feats”, Milanovic decided to return to the Croatian scene. The President of the Republic reiterated on Tuesday 30th May 2022 that he does not recognise May 30 as Statehood Day because it has nothing to do with the real Statehood Day, assessing it as “violence of the parliamentary majority” and “abolition of customs due to the whims of one person”.

“It is not Statehood Day, it is the violence of a small parliamentary majority, bullying over good customs in Croatia, abolishing from the personal whim of one person, a custom that was 20 years old and which was in the law to mark Statehood Day on June 25.” said Milanovic to Croatian media! But of course, we mustn’t forget that Milanovic is not about to abandon the ideals of his communist past and his former League of Communists in Croatia!

 He then reminded that the first, democratically elected multi-party Parliament was constituted on May 30, 1990, but at that time we were still part of the former state (Yugoslavia), so the new Statehood Day has nothing to do with this holiday. One would think that today’s Croatia’s President would sing praises to the Croatians who had in 1990 the amazing and passionate courage to organise the first in history democratic elections, to inaugurate the first multi-party Parliament while still within the borders of the totalitarian communist regime of Yugoslavia.

President Milanovic did not attend the official celebration of the Croatian Statehood Day organised by the government in the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb. He refused to attend, insisting that 25 June was the right date for it!

Milanovic’s statements symbolically show that the President of Croatia does not respect the decisions of the parliamentary majority and does not act as a person who respects the principle of the rule of law and legality. It does not surprise me that he has a distance towards that date of a key national holiday.

For a long time now, the Croatian Prime Minister and his key Cabinet members have been playing into the President Zoran Milanovic’s provocations and outrageous scandalous statements, kept them circulating with counter-attacks and rhetoric instead of pointing to the president as not having been fulfilling his constitutional obligations, endangering the stability of the constitutional order, sending messages that are extremely harmful and communicating in a way that is completely inappropriate for his position. In other words, Andre Plenkovic has failed miserably at trying to set the motion in place for the removal of Zoran Milanovic from the Office of President. Perhaps that is so because Andrej Plenkovic is no better than Milanovic when it comes to preserving and maintaining the sanctity of the Croatian Homeland War and defence from brutal Serb aggression. Instead of doing his job as Prime Minister of independent Croatia he keeps adding members of the 1990’s rebel Serb minority and aggressors to his government Cabinet. Insulting in that way every pore in Croatian war veterans’ body! Embellishing the notion that victim is the same as the aggressor!

Some would say that the outcome of ousting Zoran Milanovic from the role of Croatia’s President is not possible at the moment at all. Namely, for this to be implemented, the ruling Croatian Democratic Union/HDZ and its partners in Parliament must have a two-thirds majority, i.e., 101 Members of Parliament need to raise their hand for Milanovic’s recall. Given that the ruling majority in Parliament has only 77 members, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic would find himself facing the impossible mission of finding 24 more hands. Especially as Social Democrats/SDP, the largest Opposition Party in Parliament, think Milanovic is still their strong ally, weakening the position of the parliamentary majority and harming the largest party in the ruling coalition. Therefore, they believe that he that he should be preserved in the political arena in every way.

The situation regarding preserving the status quo of perpetual quarrels and scandals between the Office of the President and the Office of the Prime Minister of Croatia is also evident in some of the right-wing smaller political parties think that the President of the Republic advocates exactly what their political values are and strongly support him! Even though his said advocacy for Croatian defence from Serb aggression is neither consisted nor reliable; the feeling that Milanovic may change his mind on important issues niggles always.  

Furthermore, it is completely unclear what the liberal democrats think, who simply cannot have anything in common with the evidently anti-Democrat Milanovic but find very innovative explanations to defend his policies. It happened for the first time that Vesna Pusic (former Foreign Minister of Croatia and Deputy Prime Minister under Zoran Milanovic’s Prime Ministership) spoke as a very serious liberal democrat about Milanovic’s unheard of rhetoric, but only when the issue of Milanovic’s conflict with other members of NATO and the European Union over Swedish and Finnish accession to NATO arose. She spoke here as a serious liberal democrat, and it could be seen that there is a very deep distance in relation to all Milanovic’s policies, but that has not yet turned into a change in that dominant attitude. In such circumstances, it is very difficult to count on the gathering of a two-thirds majority to initiate the recall procedure for Zoran Milanovic as Croatia’s President. Even if they did manage it they would encounter terrible hurdles at the deciding Constitutional Court where three former SDP and other pro-communist Yugoslavia judges sit, whose role includes deciding upon the role the President should have!

In such a macabre atmosphere former communists and their supporters have created in Croatia, it is not surprising that the most important date in the year, Statehood Day, is poisoned at home and abroad. But this atmosphere is unacceptable and calls for stronger retaliation by the people otherwise the fight for freedom will come to symbolise nothing much for Croatia! The proud, just and strong Croatian identity is endangered indeed. Ina Vukic

Comments

  1. Keep up the good fight. It sounds daunting. I am sorry to hear of the problems in your beloved country.

    • Thanks Jacqui! While every country has its problems Croatia and those in similar shoes who have fought to exit from communist regimes have it worse and, hence, the need to keep on fighting.

  2. …there was a saying in the old Serboslavia….when you have 3 Serbs, you have an army, When you have 3 Slovenes, you have a chorus. When you have 3 Croatians, you have 3 political parties! Sad…..

  3. Reading you always remember how we were brainwashed in school and college.

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