September 1976 Hijacking of TWA Plane – A Detailed Reconstruction of the Evening in Which the Whole World Learned About Croatia’s Suffering Under Communist Yugoslavia

From left to right: Zvonko Busic, Marko Vlasic, Petar Matanic, Frane Pesut and Julienne Busic after arrest at Paris Airport. There are detectives behind them. Photo: The New York Times, September 13, 1976. | Photo: New York Times/archive

Zvonko Busic believed that good things should be shared with everyone. What he lived, worked for and believed in, what he sacrificed for, is presented in his book “All Visible Things”, which is available on Amazon. From now on, we are happy to inform you, you will be able to have access to this part of Croatian history every other Wednesday and print it out free of charge, in Croatian and English, on the portal. Chapter by chapter, drop of blood by drop of blood, and life day by day in 33 parts – with only one goal! He will live on…

“The Hijacking

After the decision was made, I immediately began preparations. I started studying necessary materials, locating appropriate collaborators, and planned a meeting with Bruno to discuss the Declaration I intended to have printed in newspapers and thrown from the plane. The main handbook for making the bomb was the then popular ‘Anarchist’s Cookbook’. Julie was later accused of having torn pages out of this book in the library, which really upset and angered her, since she comes from a family of book lovers who would consider that an unforgivable sacrilege. She firmly insisted that all she did was photocopy the pages, not tear them out, although it was a totally insignificant point in the trial.

I studied airplanes as well. The plane, I believed, had to be appropriate for what I intended. The choice fell on the Boeing 727. The traditional characteristics one looks for in a plane – speed, size, type, and power of the motor – were not the most critical. What was important was that the plane had double doors, so that the first door could be opened from the inside of the plane, then closed, and then the second door opened, so that the well-known suction phenomenon could not occur, drawing everything and everyone out of the plane. This double-door element was used by the famous American robber and blackmailer, D. B. Cooper. After he got the money and released the passengers, he ordered the crew to take off and wait for further instructions. He also said nobody was allowed to leave the cabin without his permission, and he would kill the first one who dared. After they waited quite a while for instructions about where to fly, one of the stewardesses took a risk and entered the passenger seating area. But it was totally empty, although the doors and windows were firmly closed. It turns out Cooper had used the advantage of the double doors. He went into the middle door space, then closed the first door, opened the second and parachuted out. With the money! He was never caught.

I was not interested in money, but the double doors seemed ideal to me for throwing leaflets. That is why I chose the Boeing 727. I was fortunate enough to meet a stewardess who had been on that flight with D. B. Cooper. She told me in great detail how the entire action unfolded, never suspecting the source of my interest for Cooper and the Boeing 727. The first blow to my plan took place when I learned from the pilot, after I had taken control of our plane, that after the Cooper events, the doors were altered on that type of plane. Leaflets could no longer be thrown from the plane. What’s more, because of the possible danger that the leaflets could be sucked into the motor, they could not be thrown in any other way, either. So, we had to put a second plane in the air in Montreal. From there we then headed for Europe.

I did need a certain amount of money for the action I had planned. This was fairly simple; a close friend gave me 10,000 dollars without my having to explain any details about the action. He had complete trust in me, and I felt information should be given out sparingly even to the participants in the action. It was enough for them to know the basic plan; the details were known only to me. Julie knew the most, but even she did not know there was a real bomb in the locker of the train station. Frane Pesut, one of the participants, said he was ready to help Croatia in any way without knowing the details. Slobodan Vlasic also knew about the action in greater detail, but did not know the explosive was fake. He was the most knowledgeable in assembling explosives, so I gave him the task of assembling all the different parts of the alleged ‘bomb’ in the plane’s bathroom, which he did, thinking it was real. Frane’s finger even turned blue from holding the switch for thirty-two hours!

Why did I not tell them everything? First, I knew we were all going to prison, since we planned to surrender after the media printed the leaflets and threw them over certain cities. This surrender was supposed to be one of the key elements of the action. After our surrender and after the passengers had spoken, we hoped, given the humaneness of our behavior toward them, that the whole world would know of the dictatorship in Croatia and nobody would be able to say that we, fighters for Croatian freedom, acted like cold-blooded terrorists, although the hijacking itself was a drastic action. I thought my co-defendants would have an easier defense after the surrender and receive a lesser sentence the less they knew of my intentions. Second, I wanted to have the whole action under control. I was afraid that if there had been real explosives in the plane, some unforeseen circumstance could lead to an accident and harm innocent victims. This was out of the question! On the other hand, if it was known the explosives were not real, something could also go wrong. One of us could expose this through our behavior, get panicky or something. Third, why hide it? At that time, I was quite paranoid, like most political emigrants. The Yugoslav Secret Service harassed us, spied on us, killed us, infiltrated into our ranks. Therefore, a secret you haven’t shared with anyone remains yours alone and you are its master; otherwise, it controls you.

The preparations went according to plan. In the spring, Julie and I traveled to Europe to meet with Bruno. He accepted the task of writing The Call for Dignity and Freedom. Julie hoped that Bruno, who was older and more mature, would maybe talk me out of the action. Of course, that did not happen. We spent most of our time at the Boden Lake. Julie had even gone to Herzegovina. It presented a certain risk, but she as an American could afford it. That June in 1976 was the last time I saw Bruno. They murdered him two years later when I was already in prison serving a life sentence.

Julie typed the leaflet text on a friend’s typewriter, Marijan Gabelica. I knew the police would investigate this so I did not attempt to hide this fact. It is true that Gabelica was the best defense. Before launching the action, we stopped at his place and returned the typewriter. When the police questioned me, I told them whose typewriter it had been. Gabelica really had no idea why I needed the typewriter. And since he didn’t know, they were unable to charge him with anything.

We bought the pots in a market and wrapped them up as gifts before going to the airport. We said we were going to a friend’s wedding. The metal detectors could not detect the clay, and even if they had found it in a baggage search, they would not have suspected anything. It might have seemed bizarre that I was carrying clay with me, but they would not have considered it a dangerous substance. Regardless of all my security measures, I still was unsure whether I was being followed or under suspicion, so I spent the day and night before the action bar hopping so I’d be seen ‘drinking’, and finally went to bed at dawn. Just in case I was being followed, I was sure nobody in his right mind would think that I could have performed such an action as a hijacking after such a ‘wild’ night.

The whole action was based upon a very nuanced psychological exercise. For more than thirty hours we were in absolute control of the situation in the plane, as well as holding several governments at bay, throwing leaflets, and dictating the printing of the leaflets in leading world media while flying over two continents – all without so much as a nail file in our pockets. If the fatal case with Officer Murray had not occurred, it would have been the most successful and unblemished hijacking in history. As it was, it left within me and the others a bitter taste, a deep regret and remorse that will follow us all our days.

Well-intentioned people have often asked me why I had to leave explosives in the locker at the train station. It seemed to them a senseless and unnecessary addition to a well thought-out plan. But this is not so. The explosives in the locker were every bit as important a part of the plan as the clay in the pots. It was intended to give credibility to my negotiations with the American authorities, the agents, and the police. The pots we carried with us were identical to the pot left in the locker, except that in ours there was clay, and in the other real explosives. Without this bomb, someone might believe we were bluffing. Besides that, it was my intention in the beginning to present ourselves as dangerous terrorists not to be fooled with, because that was the only way our demands would be met. Therefore, the bomb was an important element in the overall plan.

However, it is difficult to live with the knowledge that an innocent person died as a collateral victim of an idealistic action, for which he had no idea or interest. The issue of accidental, innocent victims is one that is always considered when an action with dangerous elements is undertaken. And I gave the most thought of all in my planning to this aspect of the action. That is why, after all, the hijacking took place without using any weapons whatsoever. But a tragedy happened where it was least expected, where there was not, it seemed, even a theoretical chance that things would go wrong.

I have already written about how I am almost positive that certain agencies were involved in the death of Officer Murray. The hijacking surprised both Americans and the Yugoslav Secret Police, and it would be difficult to prove that there was some kind of agreement between the two to compromise the action. But I am convinced there was. I claim this not to free myself from guilt. Guilt is above all a moral category. I have absolved the legal, judicial aspect of guilt through my 32 year-long imprisonment that I served longer than countless murderers, rapists, and career criminals. The moral aspect of my guilt is left to my own conscience and to the Almighty, regardless of whether Murray’s death was caused by the negligence of those who detonated the bomb, or a diversion by certain intelligence agencies. I placed the explosives in the locker and I carry guilt for the death they caused, regardless of what happened after their removal to the detonation site four hours later.

So, I am not trying to absolve myself from guilt by means of some later reconstruction, but I truly believe that there was involvement by people who wanted at all costs to compromise the entire action. There seemed to be considerable concern and uneasiness among the American agencies as well. Several New York Times articles (September 12 and 14, 1976), only days after the hijacking, wrote of the ‘painstaking evaluations’ undertaken by the head of the bomb section in the wake of the ‘first such fatality in 37 years’. The department head acknowledged that “none of these experts wore protective gear when they approached the device… as they were required to under police regulations”, including Officer Murray, who was described as ‘a gung ho cop who was one of the first to take on a dangerous task’. However, ‘the cause of the explosion eluded them,’ but not the answer to the question of why the officers were not wearing required protective gear. ‘What clearly perplexed the bomb squad… was why the device failed to respond to impulses generated by the remote control mechanism that the police normally use to detonate explosives in the demolition pit.’ One theory the police pursued, according to the NYT article, ‘was that the remote control gadget did activate the bomb several minutes after it was supposed to, just as officer Murray and the others approached the device.’ This would be the exact scenario I had discussed with Ames: the frequency of the remote control device was overridden and disabled, and at the very moment the officers were bending over the bomb, all without protective gear, another ‘player’ with a different game plan activated the device. My discussions with Ames gave me even more concrete knowledge of the probability and logic of my conclusions. Of course I deeply mourn the death of the innocent police officer, but I’ve thought seriously and often about the entire case, and it always seemed to me that there was a dark shadow of the Yugoslav Secret Police, UDBA, hanging over it.

(Editor note: Two years after this book was first published in Croatia, an American intelligence expert and former NSA analyst, John Schindler, released the first well-documented and credible expose of the long-term UDBA-FBI connections and their collaboration in the United States and elsewhere (The Observer, January 4, 2016). This confirmed the possibility, even probability, that the explosion at the Bronx detonation site in our case could well have been sabotage:

Why Hasn’t Washington Explained the 1975 LaGuardia Airport Bombing?

During the hijacking, I spent most of the time in the pilot’s cabin. Julie and Matanic communicated most with the passengers. Pesut and Vlasic represented a kind of understated threat; at least, that was how we intended the passengers view them. When I learned from the pilot that leaflets could not be thrown from the plane we were in, the situation became more complicated, but I did not despair. In fact, the entire time I had the feeling I was keeping the situation under perfect control. I knew the police had confirmed the explosives in the locker were genuine so I was not concerned that someone would get the idea we had hijacked the plane totally unarmed. Actually, in dangerous actions, this is usually the case – when the plan is made, the decision reached, and the action launched, one simply functions according to plan.

Then the shock came in Paris, when we got the news that a police officer had died. At first, I did not want to believe it; I thought the intelligence services had printed a special, false edition of the New York Times in order to destroy our morale. I sent Julie from the plane to call certain phone numbers and confirm the truth of this news. When I learned it was really true, it was clear to me that the action was over. There would be no further throwing of leaflets over Zagreb and Solin, where at that time the 1300-year anniversary of Christianity in Croatia was being celebrated. When I had been planning the hijacking, among several symbolic dates I had decided on this one. The knowledge that an innocent person had become a victim and a human life lost led to our immediate surrender. It was probably the most difficult day in my life, and I have had thousands of extremely difficult days. The intensity of feelings I experienced in just one day was immeasurable. From the belief of having a situation under perfect control, that I was doing something significant for the ideals I had fought for my entire life, and then to extreme desolation that things had taken such an utterly unexpected turn.

I did not completely despair, though, because what was begun had to be brought to an end. The surrender took place in an orderly fashion and without panic. First the passengers exited, along with my colleagues. The pilot and I remained until the end. Although the police ordered the pilot to come out before I did, he refused to do so, suspecting the Special Forces would shoot me. He insisted we leave together; he even put his arm around my shoulder so that, if that had been their intention, they would not be able to shoot me without endangering his life as well.

Then he gave the journalists gathered around the plane this widely reported statement: ‘This drama is over for the crew and travelers, but for Taik and his comrades it has only just begun.’ Many years later, I was flying from Split to Zagreb. As I passed the pilot in the aisle, he recognized me and asked with a wry smile, ‘So where are we flying today, Mr. Busic?’ The sincere humor in the voice of this man reminded me of the captain of the hijacked plane. I would say I am one of the few hijackers who has only had good experiences with pilots. Zvonko Bušić”

(Republished by Ina Vukic with permission)

Croatia: The Real Jasenovac

The need to resist falsifications of history in historical science of former Yugoslavia should and must be recognised by the Croatian government as a national problem and priority. The Croatian governments since year 2000 have failed consistently and, evidently purposefully, to recognise publicly and in their national strategy the need for corrective measures that would address historical misinformation and falsified Croatian history from World War Two. This need for corrective measures arose and persists given that falsifications have cruelly blackened the reputation of Croatian people worldwide and people and communities suffer because of that. It is a widely accepted fact that misinformation occurs when people hold incorrect factual beliefs and do so confidently. The problem, first conceptualised by the American political scientist James H. Kuklinski and colleagues in 2000, plagues political systems and is exceedingly difficult to correct. Over time, scholars have elaborated on the psychological origins of political misinformation and although there is an extensive body of research on how to correct misinformation, this literature is less coherent in its recommendations but, overall, scholarly research on political misinformation illustrates the many challenges inherent in representative democracy. And Croatia is no exception – relatively too many members of parliament are either former communists of Yugoslavia or their children who all, one may safely assume, either participated in falsification of Croatian WWII history or supported the falsifications.

It is regrettable that the Croatian government has not supported, nor does it support those whose research has taken them and takes them to uncovering the historical truth and correcting the misinformation sowed by Yugoslav communists and their supporters for decades throughout the world, often making the life of Croatian expats living in the diaspora a nightmare fuelled by lies, defamation and degradation spilling down from the communist agenda that relied on misinformation for its survival.  Whether, therefore, Croatian powers that be hold that lying is a virtue, just as communists did, is a question that may not be difficult to answer even though the answer shocks every decent and truth-loving human being. The fact that no Croatian government since year 2000 has in any shape or form supported the research undertaken to uncover the terribly defiled truth of WWII Jasenovac camp, such as the most credible research including the ones carried out and completed by Stipo Pilic and Blanka Matkovic or Igor Vukic … speaks volumes of how very profoundly the Croatian governments have been and are saturated with communist ideology, mental set and cover-up of communist crimes including those perpetrated at Jasenovac camp post WWII by communist Yugoslavia. Perhaps a future government, different from the Croatian Democratic Union/HDZ or Social Democratic Party/SDP ones Croatia has had so far will have the courage to assist the passage of historical truth to the surface. 

When people firmly hold beliefs that happen to be wrong, as is the case due to falsified history of WWII Croatia making it about victims of the Ustashi regime, grotesquely inflating the numbers of people that perished, instead of making it about the fight for freedom from oppressive and dictatorial, harsh Serb-led Kingdom of Yugoslavia,  efforts to correct the misinformation will be and is met with resistance and this resistance is frequently labelled as “revisionism” in the negative sense even though revisionism is a positive concept as it seeks to correct the wrongs. The truth will out though, eventually, thanks to dedicated historians some of whom I have mentioned above. The myth and lies about Jasenovac will fall one day under the overwhelming weight of truth.

The latest addition to the above-mentioned research and pursuits of truth about WWII Jasenovac is a new book titled “The real Jasenovac” (Stvarni Jasenovac), written by Tomislav Vukovic, with the subtitle “documents and discussions”. The book brings more than 150 documents, photos, and facsimiles, many of them for the first time in public! The book was published by the Society for the Research of the Triple Jasenovac Camp, and it strongly adds to the increasing body of scientific and truth research works on the World War Two (WWII) concentration camp in Jasenovac, Croatia, aiming to correct the misinformation about the camp (and WWII Croatia) served to the world by Yugoslav communists and their friends.

From the back cover of the book we find that “the documents, photographs and reprints presented in this book show the real Jasenovac as opposed to the ideologised and exaggerated depiction of the camp as it prevailed in the period of communist socialist Yugoslavia. Such a distorted view has survived in some circles to this day in the independent Republic of Croatia. The author of the book is Tomislav Vukovic, a long-time journalist and the editor of the Zagreb Voice of the Council and a contributor to a number of other Croatian public media did what every historian dealing with this topic should do: he went to the Croatian State Archives and looked for documents about Jasenovac that were discussed in public. He found them, read them and photographed. On this basis, a newspaper feature in Glas Koncila was created, which was also the basis for this book. In addition to the documents, there are also a number of reviews and polemics with the advocates of the falsified and mythologised depiction of the camp in Jasenovac. The book is therefore a valuable contribution to the discussion of history the camp and the effort to present it in a realistic form…”

The book ‘Real Jasenovac’, authored by Tomislav Vukovic, is a continuation of Igor Vukic’s contribution to the elucidation of the ‘Jasenovac myth’. What particularly impresses is that the book was printed with financial assistance not from the Government or government agency but from the Canadian-based Croatian expat benefactor Dr. Ivan Hrvoic.

The book is full of valuable documents, photographs and sources of literature that can be checked and independently verified. The author of the book is well acquainted with the subject he is writing about, so the book is worth reading.

“WWII Independent State of Croatia/NDH and Jasenovac mythology”, which the world has been faced with for decades since WWII, are based on the fictional and malicious stories of how Croatia’s Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac personally slaughtered Serbian children in Jasenovac. Or that every fourth victim of ‘Jasenovac’ was a child, or that the Ustashas competed with each other who would kill more internees during the day, and many other ‘hunting stories’ designed and concocted to hide communist crimes.

Reading Vukovic’s book (based on documents) one learns that the Ustashas were not as the ‘anti-fascist’ (communist) literature describes them, and that the camps in ‘Jasenovac’ were treated better than in camps on other continents. Packages regularly arrived at the camp, work was done, crafts were studied, cultural events and sports competitions were held, etc.

Certainly, life in the camp was not a personal choice, and everyone who survived the camp or lost someone in it is rightfully outraged. But due to historical untruths, outright lies and fabrications, it is essential to rise above the personal level and look at the picture in a wider context.

In line of this Dr Ivica Tijardovic, Croatian scientist and publicist, put forth into the public domain recently that there are several questions that need to be answered when writing about or discussing the WWII Jasenovac camp.

First question: How many lives did “Jasenovac” save? In other words, those survivors would not have been so lucky in any other place.

Second question: How many criminals and how many political prisoners were imprisoned in the camp? It is known that many lawbreakers were taken to ‘Jasenovac’ to serve out their prison sentences.

Third question: How many inmates were released after serving their sentence or after being pardoned? The figures in this context from Vukovic’s book are astonishing.

Fourth question: How many inmates went to work in Germany or in real concentration camps somewhere in the north of Europe? It is also an interesting question worth investigating.

Fifth question: How many camp inmates were killed by the Ustasha, and how many by the partisans, i.e., ‘anti-fascists’ (Yugoslav communists)? Given that the Jasenovac camp, as we know it, remained operational after the arrival of the partisans in 1945; more research on this topic is more than welcome. Namely, in the territory of the former Yugoslavia, there were about eighty concentration camps with about 200 thousand internees a few years after the end of the Second World War.

Sixth question: Why was Croatian WWII history falsified, and there is still an unsuccessful attempt to hide the truth with which a growing number of people from Croatia and the world are becoming more and more familiar?

The only unequivocal answer to that question is the following. Given that the crimes against Croats after the end of the Second World War were so monstrous, with the ‘myth of Jasenovac’, thanks to the communist dictatorship, terrible atrocity in the long history of Croats was successfully hidden. The truth will out with all thanks to the several historians who pursue research, often at personal peril and cost, with view to present the truth of WWII Croatia history to the world and the financial and moral support they receive from the Croatian diaspora. Ina Vukic

The Power Of The Croatian Diaspora

The Croatian diaspora sends more money to Croatia than what it earns from its summer tourism industry (which is considered the strongest arm of Croatia’s economy), wrote Bozo Skoko in Večernji list newspaper on Saturday 2 July 2022, after a survey on how expats perceive Croatia was completed.

According to the survey Croatian expatriates believe that the greatest advantages of the homeland are the sea and natural landscapes, tradition, cultural heritage, hospitality, gastronomy, rich history, while the greatest disadvantages are the weak economy, inefficient political power, the legacy of communism, low level of democracy and political culture, lack of community and care for the environment.

Although, according to the latest population census, Croatia has less than four million inhabitants, in reality it can boast of 8 million people of Croatian roots and interests if all the Croatian diasporas from all over the world are included. If we exclude Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatian minorities in neighbouring countries, the facts show that more than 4 million Croatian emigrants and their descendants live at and around various world meridians and parallels. Among the largest number of Croatians and those of Croatian origins living in the diasporas are those in the US, Canada, Australia, Chile, Argentina and Germany.

The Croatians living in the diaspora have always and still do represent a strong potential of political, social, and economic power.  Certainly, the 1990’s breakaway from communist Yugoslavia into independence proved that such a goal would not have been achieved without the support and involvement of the Croatian diaspora and this, in itself, is a testament to the diaspora’s power on all fronts. However, the questions that would arise are to what extent they “feel” Croatia, what Croatian identity means to them, what could attract them to visit the homeland of their ancestors more and to invest, promote it and lobby for its political interests. Many Croatian emigrants, especially those who fled the communist Yugoslavia after World War Two and their children and grandchildren are largely integrated into the mainstream societies they live in and are very sensitive to ideological issues in Croatia, the homeland from whence they originate. The survey has shown that it is these latter Croatian emigrants that often bring and maintain enthusiasm to the social activities of their communities in the diaspora. This, of course, is nothing new, it is a continuation of what the Croatian post WWII political emigration had been doing all along – maintaining Croatian identity throughout the world, language, culture, traditions and political aspirations of democracy and freedom. Utilising the freedoms gained and offered by the democracies of the West to maintain and nurture their identities while assimilating into multicultural societies they live in.

Croatian diaspora is made up of top scientists, humanists, philanthropists, experts and business people, who were not satisfied with the situation in the former Yugoslavia and in search of freedom and democracy and better living and working conditions built their careers in the West, and today they make up the elites of the societies there. They were joined by those who left Croatia in the last thirty years — from professionals, who, thanks to their talents, knowledge, and creativity, quickly integrated into new societies, to those who, in search of better-paid jobs and fairer societies, became attractive and still cheap labour to rapidly growing Western economies.

We must not forget the so-called “guest workers”, who since the 1960s have been going to Germany, Austria, Switzerland and other Western countries to make ends meet. While they always have one foot in their homeland, their children are educated and well-to-do citizens of the world, who like to spend their summers in Croatia, listen to Croatian music and rather support Croatia than the national teams of the country in which they were born.

In the first two quarters of last year, for instance, remittances from Croatian workers abroad totalled one billion and 745 million euros, while at the same time, the state’s income from foreign tourist arrivals was one billion and 494 million euros. This means that through various channels, Croatian workers from abroad sent 351 million euros to their homeland, or 23.5 percent, more than foreign tourists spent on accommodation, food or entertainment.

Although there was a fear that the monetary value of remittances would decrease due to the Covid pandemic, this did not happen in the Croatian case and remittances increased by as much as 206 million euros, i.e. by 13.5 percent more than the previous year. In the first quarter of last year alone, Croatians sent 890.7 million euros in remittances, and 854.3 million euros to the workforce from the beginning of April to the end of June 2021. So, in each quarter, Croatians abroad sent more money to their families than the state received in the first tranche from the European Union mechanisms for recovery and resilience.

These facts about the Croatian diaspora’s enormous ongoing contribution to Croatia’s economy, in addition to the relatively vast population of Croatians living abroad bring to the fore even more the tragedy of Croatian political and government leadership who continue ignoring and suppressing the significance of its diaspora. The government has few years ago created the so-called Centra State Office for Croats Abroad which was reportedly devised to actively engage the diaspora in advising the government what changes are needed in Croatia to further the development of democracy, increase expat return, increase investment is Croatia from its diaspora etc. However, this body is failing to deliver real changes and in its discriminatory process of nominations for advisers it has largely alienated Croats from the diaspora leaving as its backbone only those who are “yes” people to the government and its political party and who, evidently, do not dare raise their voice against the government and its policies. Were this advisory body a true representation of the Croatian diaspora communities then we could be looking at positive prospects of diaspora’s input into Croatia’s development. One would have thought that the years of this body’s existence, 55 advisors from all over the world, would have at least insisted in the adjusting of parliamentary representation for the diaspora from the current 3 seats back to 12 seats, which used to be from 1995 until 2010 when former communists in power (e.g., communist Yugoslavia nostalgic Jadranka Kosor as Prime Minister) took 9 seats in parliament away from the Croatian diaspora. The communist mindset and resistance to real input from the diaspora within the Croatian government is palpable at every corner and signpost on the path that was supposed to get rid of all communist Yugoslavia practices by now. The good thing is that Croatians appear to be waking up to this tragedy with actions. Thankfully, there are a number of organisations and private businesses in Croatia set up in the last decade especially, by returned expats who want to contribute to the betterment of Croatian living and economy despite the government’s aloofness towards the treasure trove of knowledge and skills that exists among the diaspora Croats. Looking forward to the 2024 general elections in Croatia and hoping for real change in government away from being bombarded by former communist operatives or their offspring.  Without that widespread corruption and nepotism will continue thriving and driving away into the diaspora, in pursuit of a better life, hundreds of thousands more people. Ina Vukic   

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