LEST WE FORGET VUKOVAR AND SKABRNJA – CROATIA

Photo: Croatian Club “Braća Radić” in Sydney Australia members, children and teachers during 2018 commemoration of Vukovar and Skabrnja

On 18th November commemoration to honour the victims of brutal, genocidal, Serb and Yugoslav Army aggression will be held across Croatia and particular focus will be on Vukovar and Skabrnja who on that day in 1991 and days that followed suffered horrific destinies at the hand of the aggressor while the “world” via the UN pressed on with arms embargo against Croatia! I was particularly touched recently of the announcement from the Sydney, Australia, based Croatian Club “Braća Radić” (Radic Brothers) that they will hold a special commemoration on Friday 18th November in the evening for Vukovar and Skabrnja massacres victims, focusing on including school-age children to participate in this event – so that future Australian-Croatian generations know about these tragedies and never forget the victims. The children, parents and friends will confirm their knowledge and remembrance of significant milestones of these tragedies and places in Croatia. It will include the following lines of truths that will be useful for your children and grandchildren to know:

1.The town of Vukovar is situated in the north-east part of continental or mainland Croatia and sits on at the confluence of the Vuka River and the Danube. Its history begins in the 6th century AD when Slavic people settled in the area. Vukovar as a town was first mentioned in history books as Vukovo in the early 13th century AD and in 14th century it acquires the name of Vukovar. Vukovar occupies parts of historical provinces of Croatia. What are those provinces called?

Reply: Eastern Slavonia and Western Syrmia.

Map of Croatia and position of Vukovar

Map of Croatia with position of Vukovar

2. What is the name of the historical symbol of the city of Vukovar?

Reply: Vucedol dove.

Vukovar Vucedol Dove

Vukovar’s Vucedol Dove

3. What is the name of the modern symbol of Vukovar’s  suffering that was restored, with the help of Croatians living in the diaspora including Sydney, to its former glory of pre-Homeland War of the early 1990’s after it was significantly destroyed by the former Yugoslavia and Serbian aggressor armies’ bombing and shelling?

Reply: Vukovar Water Tower

Vukovar Water Tower

Vukovar Water Tower

4. Most Croatian people wanted independence from communist Yugoslavia so in May 1990 they held the first democratic elections and on 30 May 1990 Croatian Parliament was inaugurated. This was the beginning of the end the 45-year rule of communist Yugoslavia over Croatia. At the instigation of the first Croatian President, dr Franjo Tuđman, who led the political movement for an independent Croatia, on 19th May 1991 Croatians held a referendum and almost 94% of Croatian voters voted for independence from the oppressive communist Yugoslavia totalitarian regime. There was a Serb minority living in Croatia who opposed Croatian independence and loyal to Serbia they wanted Croatia to remain as part of Yugoslavia. These Serb minorities became to be known as Rebel Serbs in Croatia and in August of 1990 they blocked the roads around the town of Knin with logs and with the help of Serbia they proclaimed the Serbian Autonomous Region of Krajina and commenced banishing Croats living in that area, killing many. On 25 June 1991 the Croatian Parliament proclaimed Croatia as an independent state and commenced the path to separate itself from communist Yugoslavia. As a result, the Yugoslav Army opposed Croatian independence and sided with the Croatian Serb rebels and together from August 1991 they staged a cruel and brutal attack upon Vukovar and Borovo Selo at its outskirts. Then Began the heroic Battle for Vukovar on Croatian side amidst the siege of the town by the Yugoslav army and rebel Serbs in Croatia who lived there. On 18 November 1991, the battle of Vukovar ended after the city ran out of ammunition but the Serb rebels living in the area nevertheless committed more mass killings and genocide in the days that followed. The massacre of Vukovar Hospital medical staff and civilian patients and war prisoners at the nearby Ovčara farm occurred on 20 November. During the siege of Vukovar from 25 August to 18 November 1991 by Serbs and Yugoslav Army 1800 of civilians and Croatian soldiers were killed, thousands wounded, and over 2,000 missing, presumed killed by Serbs, thousands of Croatians held captive and tortured in Serbian concentration camps and others that made up all Croatians living in the area were banished and became refugees, Vukovar suffered catastrophic damage in the battle with 90 percent of houses either destroyed or damaged. It is worth noting that while majority were rebels and aggressors there were some Serbs in Croatia who joined the Croatian fighters to free Vukovar. In 1998, the largest mass grave in Europe since World War II was discovered at the New Cemetery in Vukovar, from which the remains of 938 victims were exhumed. Croatian soldiers and civilians were buried there by the Yugoslav Army after the occupation of the town. Vukovar remained occupied by Serbian forces until late 1998 when it was returned to Croatia during the so-called peaceful reintegration of occupied Croatian Danube area. In Croatia, after the heavy suffering in the Homeland War that included the Battle for Vukovar, what is Vukovar called?

Reply: Hero City.

Devastated Vukovar from Serb and Yugoslav Army aggression - November 1991

Devastated Vukovar November 1991

5. There was a woman from Vukovar who is known as a Croatian hero and nicknamed “The Vukovar Mother of Courage”. She lost four sons and a son-in-law in the Battle for Vukovar. She searched for her sons’ remains for 12 years. The last body, the oldest Niko, was found in 2003 in an unmarked grave at the cemetery in Srijemska Mitrovica in Serbia. Niko was her eldest son and was 49 years old when he was captured in the fighting before the fall of Vukovar. He was taken to the Srijemska Mitrovica concentration camp in Serbia. There he was brutally tortured and killed by a blow to the head in December 1991. He is survived by three sons. The second son Mijo, three years younger than Niko, managed to hide his family in Zadar, and he returned to Srijemski Čakovci, Croatia, to see what happened to his house. His Serb neighbours captured him and then killed him in a cornfield on the day of the fall of Vukovar on November 18, 1991. Kata’s third son Ivan, the commander at Mitnica near Vukovar for defence of Vukovar, better known as “Big Joe”, was 43 years old when he died. He started to break through from Vukovar, was ambushed by the Chetniks and tried to get out of the ambush. He jumped into the Danube and drowned in the cold and swollen river. He left behind three minor children. The fourth son Mato was killed at the beginning of the war during the attempt to seize the Yugoslav Army barracks in Vukovar on September 19, 1991.  She died in July 2008 at the age of 85. A Park in Zagreb was named after her to honour her courage in the Capital city. What is her name?

Reply: Kata Soljic.

Kata Soljic

Kata Soljic

6. There were many men and women who lived in other countries outside Croatia, some were of Croatian origins some were foreigners, who came to Croatia and volunteered as fighters to help Croatia defend itself against the aggressors in the Homeland War. There was a French man who fought across the Vukovar fields as member of Croatian military forces. He was wounded in battle in early November 1991 and was treated for his injuries in the Vukovar Hospital. On 20 November 1991 he was forcefully taken from the hospital and placed in a Serb a “Hangar” at Ovcara farm by members of the Yugoslav Army and Serb paramilitary after he gave an interview to a French TV journalist in which he stated that “Vukovar was a slaughterhouse”. He was dragged from the hangar by Serbs, viciously beaten and murdered. His remains have not been found and he was still in late 2021 among hundreds of Croatian men and women listed as missing although there are more recent claims that he was buried in a mass grave behind the hangars on Ovcara farm and these claims need verification. His mother and brother have moved to Croatia where they and continue searching for justice for him and his burial place. In 2015 Croatians in Vukovar build a statue of him, which now forms one of the important landmarks of Vukovar’s suffering during Croatia’s Homeland War. What was the name of this French volunteer, hero, who bravely fought to save Vukovar and was brutally tortured and murdered?   

Reply: Jean-Michel Nicolier

Jean-Michel Nicolier

Jean-Michel Nicolier

7. During the negotiations with the Serbs for the peaceful reintegration into Croatia of the area in which Vukovar is located, which was successfully concluded for the Republic of Croatia in January 1998, a special train of 21 wagons left Zagreb on June 8, 1997 for Vukovar. In that train were President Dr. Franjo Tuđman and top officials in the Republic of Croatia and church dignitaries. That train symbolically marked the return of the occupied city of Vukovar to the territorial integrity of Croatia. “The arrival in Vukovar, a symbol of Croatian suffering, resistance, aspiration for freedom and a return to the eastern borders, to the Croatian Danube, is a sign of our determination to want peace, reconciliation, to create a truce and to never let what happened to us happen again. happened to us in Vukovar. This panorama of Hiroshima in the middle of Europe, the city of Vukovar, will be easier to rebuild in a material sense, but difficult in our memory. This train to Vukovar is truly a symbol of peace, the return of exiles, victims of this war who spent more than six years outside of their hearths, but who are ready to return and to also lend a hand to those who did not bleed their hands like war criminals,” said Dr. Franjo Tuđman at the time. What was the name of that train?

Reply: Peace Train.

President of Croatia Dr. Franjo Tudjman at arrival in Vukovar of 1997 Peace Train

President of Croatia Dr Franjo Tudjman arrives in Vukovar on Peace Train 1997

8. On the same day as the fall of Vukovar, Škabrnja massacre was perpetrated as the most brutal massacre killing of 63 Croats, 15 defenders and 48 civilians by the self-proclaimed Serbian Autonomous Region Krajina (SAO Krajina) Territorial Defence troops and the Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) in the villages of Škabrnja and Nadin (near the Dalmatian city of Zadar) on 18–19 November 1991. Every family in Škabrnja was “wrapped up in black” after that attack. By the end of the Homeland War, the number of people killed in Škabrnja had grown to 80; another 6 died after the war from land mines placed around the village by Serbs This terrible crime was planned and timed, at the same time when the Serb Chetnik hordes were rampaging in occupied Vukovar, as well as in other areas of Croatia where the Chetniks were killing all Croats (Kostrići, Saborsko, Slunj, Nadin, Vrhovine and elsewhere). After the massacre of Croatian civilians, the Serbian aggressor wrote on a wall of a large building in Škabrnja in large black letters “Welcome to the dead village”, which, in itself, says how very brutal and savage the Serbs who fought against Croatia were against the Croats. What is the name of the province in Croatia where the villages of Škabrnja o Nadin are located?

      Reply: Ravni Kotari.

Map of Croatia and position of Skarnja and Nadin

Map of Croatia with position of Skabrnja and Nadin

9. Even before the 18 November 1991 massacre, Serbs from neighbouring villages and the Yugoslav Army attacked Škabrnja, wanting to kill and expel all the inhabitants of that Croatian village. The attacks were fierce on September 17, 1991 and October 5, 1991. In September, the residents were evacuated to Island of Ugljan, but they returned after a signed armistice. In the period from October 4 to 10, more than 2,000 grenade bombs fell on Škabrnje. Škabrnja was rocketed from an airplane; large bombs were thrown on the village, the so-called “Sow” bomb. The massacres in Vukovar and Škabrnja and throughout Croatia were part of Serbia’s plan and strategy for the destruction of Croats and the final breakdown of the defenders in order to create the genocidal creation of Greater Serbia, to which Serb s wanted to join Croatian lands and populate them with Serbs. Who was President of Serbia at that time who headed the terrible aggression against Croatia and Croats?

      Reply: Slobodan Milosevic.

10. The United Nations Security Council, based in New York, United States of America, formed in 1993 the United Nations court of law base in The Hague, Netherlands, that dealt with war crimes that took place during the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia including Croatia in the 1990s. During its mandate, which lasted from 1993 – 2017 after that the role of war crimes justice was passed onto a new body called the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals [IRMCT]), it irreversibly changed the landscape of international humanitarian law, provided victims an opportunity to voice the horrors they witnessed and experienced, and proved that those suspected of bearing the greatest responsibility for atrocities committed during armed conflicts can be called to account. While many war criminals who perpetrated crimes against Croatians in Vukovar and Skabrnja have still not faced court judgment and their victims have still not received justice it is noteworthy to know that Serb leaders of the time Vojislav Šešelja, Jovica Stanišić i Frank Simatović, Slobodana Milosevic, Goran Hadzic, Slavka Dokmanovic, Mile Mrksic, Veselin Sljivancanin i Miroslav Radic were indicted, and most were convicted. The notorious Goran Hadzic and Slobodan Milosevic both died in the Hague prison while the criminal court proceedings were continuing. What is the name of the International Criminal Court in the Hague that prosecuted war criminals in relation to war crimes perpetrated in Vukovar, Skabrnja and the entire Croatia during Croatia’s Homeland War or War of Independence during 1990’s? 

     Reply: International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY)

Prepared by Ina Vukic

CROATIAN LANGUAGE VERSION: DA SE NE ZABORAVE VUKOVAR I ŠKABRNJA (PDF):

Travelling to Croatia/EU After November 2023 And Benefits Of Dual Citizenship

There are two significant changes that will occur in and for Croatia in 2023.

On January 1, 2023, Croatia will bid farewell to its beloved currency, the Kuna, the symbol of its hard-won independence from communist Yugoslavia in the 1990’s, to become the 20th member of the Eurozone. This is occurring in the worrisome environment of mounting inflation and precarious geopolitical headwinds rattling Europe but, regardless, official Croatia hopes that its upcoming switch to the Euro will bring some semblance of protection in an uncertain world. That, of course, is debatable in a mad world where chaos can quickly turn heads and overtake as people’s pockets become hit hard and bare survival at a decent standard is threatened.  In the build-up to the changeover, authorities in Croatia have been constantly hammering home the advantages of adopting the Euro for the country’s 3.9 million people. Parliamentary opposition in Croatia, however, the centre-right and right or the so-called patriotic milieu, have expressed their opposition to the introduction of the Euro on both rising living costs base and the patriotic one that holds fast to the concept and factors that define Croatia’s sovereignty.

Then, the EU will be meeting on December 9, 2022, and, given that Slovenia now supports the move, it is planned and expected that this meeting should decide a swift accession of Croatia to the Schengen border-free zone. The matter of Croatia’s accession into the Schengen area should be decided by the EU’s Justice and Home Affairs Council when it meets in December this year. Do not be surprised if this swiftness means January 2023. That is, that Croatia becomes Schengen Zone member state in the same month of 2023 in which it says farewell to its Kuna currency and adopts the Euro. 

An EU member since 2013, official Croatia has long been aiming to join the Schengen Zone, a common area of travel without border protocol enjoyed by 22 of the 27 EU countries, plus EFTA states (European Free Trade Association) including Switzerland.

A heavy load on minds and in hearts of multitudes of Croatians is that once Croatia enters the Schengen Zone foreigners will be able to purchase agricultural land in Croatia without any restrictions, that sense of and moral and cultural richness in being Croatian in a Croatian nation will be eroded rather swiftly and Croatia become a drop in a bucket of different nations that have little in common bar the need to implement laws and expectations of the EU more now than before Schengen. How much strength and winds of change are hidden behind the parliamentary opposition parties who in their majority walked out of the parliament a couple of weeks ago, refusing to listen to the Prime Minister’s annual report, will surely be revealed more and more, especially as 2024 general elections are coming closer and closer each day. However, the Euro and Schengen are to stay for Croatia if it is a member state within the EU.    

Travelling within the Schengen Zone means that visitors arriving from a fellow Schengen country do not have to show their passports and can walk through airports and over border crossings as if they were still in their own country. This facility will obviously benefit a nation reliant on tourism, such as Croatia.

Numerous people, living outside the Schengen area, including those with dual citizenship that includes the Croatian one, have been wondering if they will need a Schengen Visa if they plan on travelling there and staying for up to 90 days for holidays or business. The current situation with Schengen Visa is that the Schengen visa is the most common visa for Europe. It enables its holder to enter, freely travel within, and leave the Schengen zone from any of the Schengen member countries. There are no border controls within the Schengen Zone.

Each member country of the Schengen zone can issue Schengen visas. However, citizens of third countries (e.g. USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand …) do not need a Schengen Visa in order to enter and move around the Schengen countries because the Schengen countries have reached a visa-liberalisation agreement with the Schengen member states. However, there are third countries that have not yet reached a visa-liberalisation agreement and their citizens must apply for a Schengen Visa before entry; these countries are listed on the Schengen Visa website.

But, if you are planning to study, work, or live in one of the Schengen countries for more than 90 days, then you must apply for a national visa of that European country and not a Schengen Visa.

Although the laws regarding dual citizenship are very different in some parts of the world the concept is well established and recognised throughout the European Union. For this reason, a person holding valid passports from two EU member countries, e.g. French and German passports, may use either when travelling and no questions will be asked. This is a simple example, but the same principle applies if one of the passports has been issued by a non-EU member state (e.g., Australia, USA, Canada). The traveller can simply use the valid EU passport (issued by an EU member country, e.g., Croatia, Germany…) and travel through Europe as per his or her rights as a citizen of the European Union.

Matters regarding Visas or clearance to travel for people traveling into EU and Schengen Zone from third countries, non-EU or non-Schengen countries are set to change once the launch of the new travel clearance systems ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorisation System) and EES (Entry and Exit System) is complete. Having been delayed It is estimated the launch of EES will now be around May 2023 and the ETIAS in November 2023.

The new system called the EES (entry and exit system) will change the current process in two main ways:

  • In addition to the information in passports, the system will take biometric data (fingerprints and facial images) and store them for future reference—in much the same way as the U.S. currently does.
  • Instead of passport stamps—which can be time-consuming as dates have to be checked manually—the system will automatically record exactly when someone entered the country, so it will automatically know if they have overstayed their welcome.

The European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) will oblige visitors from outside Europe to apply for a visa-waiver before arriving at a country that is in the Schengen zone. ETIAS will work much like the U.S. ESTA scheme, costing about €7 per registration and lasting for 3 years of unlimited number of entries for and applicants under the age of 18 and over 70 will receive their ETIAS free of charge. Anyone travelling from one of over 63 countries currently not needing a visa for EU or Schengen Zone will need an ETIAS, including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, the U.S., the U.K. and the UAE.

Hence, ETIAS approval will only be necessary for passports issued in countries outside the EU and Schengen Area. In order to enter Europe after 2023 it will be necessary to possess either a valid passport issued from a Schengen or EU country or an ETIAS approved passport.

Having dual citizenship can help avoid the necessity, expense, and bother of applying for ETIAS but this may not always be avoidable.

In the simplest terms:

Holding dual citizenship in two non-EU countries – ETIAS will be required.

Citizenship of an EU country and a non-EU country – NO ETIAS will be required.

If a citizen of any third country is entitled to, and can acquire, a passport from any of the EU or Schengen states then he or she is entitled to use that passport for visiting Europe as such passports do not require ETIAS approval.

Therefore things are such that having dual citizenship that includes an EU member state citizenship (e.g. Croatian) has enormous benefits and these also include: https://www.schengenvisainfo.com/eu-citizenship/dual-citizenship/

  • You can live, work, and even retire in any of these countries with no restrictions. You can do the same in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland, which aren’t part of the EU.
  • Dual citizenship allows you to both vote and run for office, just like a citizen of the country where you choose to live. Moreover, as an EU citizen, you can work in a public service position.
  • Through dual EU citizenship, you can access some of the best universities in the world, with excellent quality and no extra tuition or reduced tuition. As an EU citizen, you don’t need a student visa to earn subsidised degrees in business administration, social sciences, IT, journalism, and law.
  • If you want to buy a property in any EU country, you can do this without a permit from the moment that you obtain an EU dual citizenship. You are free to choose any EU member state and begin living there.
  • Eu dual citizenship gives you the right to have healthcare access in any EU country. If you need medical coverage when you’re living, studying, and travelling between EU states. Although EU countries have different healthcare systems and you should check your rights directly, the European health insurance card covers you in the whole area.
  • As an EU citizen, you can start your own business and access different EU funds. Starting a new company can be easy because you can apply for financial aid from investment platforms that are ready to support new businesses.

While the global increase of expatriate dual citizenship acceptance over the past decades has been widely observed the same is the case for dual citizenship with Croatia within the diaspora population and its youth and newborns. This is to be encouraged as far as I am concerned as the mere existence if dual citizenship does strengthen one’s identity and awareness of family roots and culture. Ina Vukic

Crimea Platform Summit Sticks A Flimsy Band-Aid On Croatian Government Corruption Woes

Often like two ships passing in the night! Front: Croatia’s President Zoran Milanovic, Back: Croatia’s Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic. Photo: HINA

That Croatia appears to have irretrievably lost its plot as a whole country standing united without a major shift in governing political parties has shockingly been proven last week, yet again. This is not the Croatia thousands lost their lives for in the 1990’s Homeland War, fighting off the Serb aggression despite UN arms embargo being imposed against it. Croatia was so very fortunate to have had its strong diaspora standing by and participating significantly in the efforts to secede from communist Yugoslavia and develop a true, fully functional democracy. Overwhelming corruption inherited from that communist totalitarian regime still plunders and fleeces national wealth and standard of living for the people.

Four former and recent government ministers have been arrested for fraud and corruption and yet Andrej Plenkovic’s Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) government in coalition with the Serbian ethnic minority SDSS (Independent Democratic Serbian Party) still stands! The opposition insists the government should be ousted, snap elections held, and the government representatives keep on ignoring such civilised and democratic rules of engagement in leading a nation – and so does the EU authority, creating thus huge mistrust in the Union among the populous.

The four former government ministers indicted last week are: Darko Horvat, Josip Aladrovic and Tomislav Tolusic from the Croatian Democrtatic Union Party and Boris Milosevic, former deputy Prime Minister to Plenkovic from the Independent Democratic Serb Party.

Indicted Recent Croatian Government Ministers from Left: Darko Horvat, Boris Milosevic, Tomislav Tolusic and Josip Aladrovic. Photo: Cropix

Darko Horvat, as the first indicted, is accused of having, when he was Minister of Economy, allocated grants to entrepreneurs and companies out of personal interest and at the instigation of the co-suspects Boris Milosevc and Tomislav Tolusic, and that he thus illegally allocated 2 million and 600 thousand kunas state budget funds. Josip Aladrovic, on the other hand, is accused of favouring the employment of two people while he was at the head of the pension insurance institute. In addition to the former ministers, the indictment includes four other suspects.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg of corruption and nepotism that goes on in Croatia. It all begs the question: who is in whose pocket to permit such horrible governance and governing of the country with no end of this nightmare in sight.

“The indictments (against four of his recent government ministers and a deputy Prime Minister) are not a burden for the Government,” said haughtily Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic. The self-importance this man appears to nurture is staggering and repulsive.

The president of the HDZ Members of Parliament Club, Branko Bacic, said last Wednesday, after the announcement that four former members of Plenkovic’s Government were indicted, that his party does not accept the thesis of HDZ’s collective responsibility for the eventual criminal responsibility of an individual.

What a dangerous politician, what a dangerous government. The Party is not the issue here, but the government and governance are. HDZ had several mandates in government during the past three decades and just like the Social Democratic Party (SDP) governments has done nothing to root out corruption, or most of it anyway, starting with the grassroots of government, the local government all the way up to the state level. In any decent democracy the government would fall overnight.  

When talking of the opposition I venture to say that all left-leaning political parties in parliament, and there are a few, are splinters off the former communist regime and all appear to have members at the help who were in Social Democratic Party government. Hence, no qualification to lead Croatia were new general elections to come before mid-2024. There are a few solid opposition parties and individuals who lean towards the centre-right that could emerge, finally, as winners and the coming twenty or so months may well weed out the hopeless ones from the promising ones. What Croatia needs most is a political party at the helm that will weed out corruption and nepotism via installing mechanisms of control and audits at all levels. That can only be done, in my view, by those who are squeaky clean of corruption and nepotism, otherwise the gut-wrenching circus will continue until more and more young people abandon Croatia.  

And then, as if this was not enough to demonstrate the political disarray and governance shambles Croatia is portraying, the First International Parliamentary Platform on Crimea Summit was held during the week in Zagreb and Croatia’s President Zoran Milanovic snubbed it, avoided it like the plague so to speak – while Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic played the host to it. The Summit provided a perfect mask and coverup for the deplorable latest cases of corruption Plenkovic’s government should be held accountable for.

First International Parliamentary Summit on the Crimea Platform held in Zagreb, Croatia, October 25, 2022 Photo: HINA

While the purpose of the Ukraine-initiated consultation and coordination Summit has its eye on taking Crimea from Russia and return it to the Ukrainian fold Croatian President Milanovic commented: “I see a lot of cynicism and dishonesty toward the Ukrainian people and the war, and I do not want to contribute to that. In the end, Americans and Russians will have to sit at the table because they are waging a proxy war over Ukraine and the Ukrainian people are paying a terrible price for it. I don’t know why no one dares to say this openly, but that’s the truth.”

Speakers and members of parliament from around 40 countries gathered in Croatia’s capital Zagreb on Tuesday 25 October to condemn Russia’s war in Ukraine. Serbia failed to respond to the invitation to the Summit and some media ascribe this to instructions received from Russia for Serbia to avoid the Summit. The speaker of the House of Representatives of the US Congress, Nancy Pelosi, attended the Summit.

Co-hosted by speakers of the Ukrainian and Croatian Parliaments, the summit was addressed via video link by Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi.

Russia has continued to refrain from any dialogue on the subject ever since its conception in August/September 2021 in Kiev, while elsewhere firmly stating that Russia’s “sovereignty” over Crimea is undeniable, and now also over the territories of Eastern Ukraine it occupied via brutal aggression and organised sham referendums recently on seceding from Ukraine in favour of Russia. Vladimir Putin constant firm stand is that Crimea will not be a matter of discussion and that the occupied parts of Eastern Ukraine are now Russian territory. There is a very little doubt that Ukraine`s president seriously counted on a different response from Moscow, but nevertheless, Zelenskyy was not put off by this lack of success and pursues the issues, hence having ended up with a Summit attended by an impressive number of nations, mainly NATO members.

While it seems very dubious that Crimea is to return to Ukraine any time soon (or ever) given Russia`s military onslaught in Ukraine and determination to strengthen its sway over Crimea and Ukrainian occupied territories, the best-case scenario is that the platform could transform into a major irritant for Russia that spells no peace and stability for a long time. This said, if this scenario indeed materialises further, and the Second Summit is planned for 2023, the Crimea Platform most likely will be used by more powerful parties/countries for their own purposes as a tool to apply pressure on Russia, if and when necessary, and to excuse and blame their own inadequacies in governing their own countries on the Russia-Ukraine War. This will leave Ukraine as a bystander, at best, and, at worst, as a loser. The Western politicians have already started covering up their incompetencies and blaming everything that is going wrong on Russia, such as energy crises, living costs increases, economic downturns … No wonder Andrej Plenkovic’s incompetent government has hopped onto this bandwagon and the abyss of ridding Croatia of corruption and nepotism seems to be plummeting deeper than before Russia started “copping” the blame for everything. Something must give in Croatia. The sheer weight of corruption, theft and nepotism scandals erupting almost weekly is becoming too heavy.  Ina Vukic

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