Antifascist Struggle Day Equals Communist Mass Murders and Purges In Croatia

Top right: portrayal of Josip Broz Tito of Yugoslavia by renowned Australia-based artist Charles Billich (Top Centre Andrej Plenkovic PM, Centre middle Zoran Milanovic, President of Croatia, Left communist monument in Brezovica, bottom left and right two out of 1700 mass graves of Croatian victims of communist crimes in so far discovered/ Huda Pit and Butina Pit)

On 22 June Croatian government and those that call themselves antifascists spent that unfortunate public holiday celebrating-come-commemorating the so-called Antifascist Struggle Day at Brezovica forest (near the city of Sisak) where former communists now antifascists say the First Partisan resistance movement unit was formed 80 years ago. That’s the resistance movement against Croatian fight for independence even though they will try to convince you that their fight and resistance were against German and Italian occupation of Croatia during World War Two. This detail is crucial in the ongoing political crisis in Croatia because the former communists/Partisans keep telling everyone that they liberated Croatia in May 1945 but what really occurred is that they fought for, stood for, and managed to keep Croatia within Yugoslavia, which, of course, a great majority of Croatian people did not want!

So, we can safely say that this Brezovica related event in history marks the start of communist seizure of power through resistance to independence of Croatia from Yugoslavia, which led to the establishment of the oppressive communist regime in Yugoslavia in 1945.   

The Brezovica event on 22 June 2021, sponsored and attended by the cream of Croatia’s government led by Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic as well as Croatia’s President Zoran Milanovic, is an occasion when Croatian people, in essence, should remember the tsunami of oppression, tyranny, political persecution, mass murder and purges that the communist regime unleashed after World War Two ended. The majority of Croatian people remember those painful and dark misfortunes on that day, but they do not attend Brezovica on 22 June.  Those that do attend it shamelessly glorify the communist ideology, which murdered hundreds of thousands of innocent people and after which mass murders its followers, in order to gloss over their mass crimes, started calling their communist ideology – an antifascist one!

The enormous scale of communist crimes and atrocities in Croatia (in former Yugoslavia) has been documented by historians and others especially after 1991, when Croatia set itself on a path of independence from communist Yugoslavia. Over 1,700 mass graves of victims of communist crimes have been unearthed, 1000 of those in Croatia alone. New mass graves keep showing-up all the time, evidencing the horrendous depravity and brutality with which those “antifascists” murdered innocent people as well as those who fought for an independent Croatia, for a liberated from Yugoslavia Croatia.  

One would think that after its victories in the 1990’s Homeland War, after defending itself from the brutal Serb and Yugoslav aggression, after thousands of lost lives for independence, after immeasurable destruction, losses and ethnic cleansing of Croats from their homes, the lesson from the horrendous history of communist crimes against Croats in former Yugoslavia would be learned. This horrendous history was, after all, a part of the reason why on 25 June 1991, after the May referendum at which 94% of Croatian citizens voted to secede from communist Yugoslavia, the Croatian Parliament voted to commence proceedings of secession from Yugoslavia and its other republics. The injustices of communism were not limited to mass murder alone as those patriots who wanted an independent Croatia who were fortunate enough to survive were subjected to severe oppression, including violations of freedom by political imprisonment, loss of freedom of speech, freedom of religion, loss of property rights, and loss of right to work…

A cruel irony seems to be playing out in Croatia: It defended itself from the communist onslaught in 1990’s, it was victorious – only to be hunted down by the same enemy of the people and democracy, the communist mindset, incessantly with increasing force on Croatia’s own terrain!

Last year (2020) in Brezovica on 22 June, Croatia’s Prime Minister said that “the victory over fascism was a prerequisite for building a democratic Europe.” Which is undisputable. But Plenkovic omitted to say that communists were not part of that democratic Europe. Indeed, communist Yugoslavia between 1945 and 1991 was far from democracy and freedom.

This year (2021) in Bezovica on 22 June, Croatia’s Prime Minister talked about the terrible communist crimes after World War Two against Croats (who fought for and wanted freedom and independence of Croatia) but still, straight-faced, celebrates that post-war communist regime (he and those like him call antifascism for some decades now) and Partisans and their symbols and insignia! He too has the gall to claim that communists/antifascists fought in WWII for Croatia’s independence.

They did not!

This year Plenkovic paid a lip service to communist (antifascist) crimes committed post WWII against Croats who fought for true independence of Croatia during WWII.

“Also, regardless of the mentioned merits of Croatian partisans for the establishment of the Federal State of Croatia – which prevented the unitarian organization of Yugoslavia in which Croatia would not have its own borders – it is time to look at these turbulent times in all their complexity.

I am thinking primarily of the post-war crimes of the Yugoslav Army after the extradition near Bleiburg, i.e. the mass executions of disarmed soldiers and civilians along the Way of the Cross, especially in Slovenia and Croatia, which is still traumatic for many families.” said Plenkovic on 22 June 2021 in Brezovica.

Just as the crimes of the Ustashas and Jasenovac cannot be justified by anything, nothing can justify the mass execution of defeated forces and often innocent people, which not only cast a shadow over the anti-fascist movement but also deepened the pernicious divisions in post-war Croatia. Post-war purges of political dissidents such as the persecution of Blessed Cardinal Stepinac, although he was one of the bravest pastors of the Catholic Church in Europe, who in his sermons publicly opposed the persecution of Serbs and Jews and saved many from death. Here, in the end, I am thinking of the establishment of the totalitarian regime of Yugoslavia that betrayed the ideals of many Croatian anti-fascists, which unfortunately happened again after the breaking of the Croatian Spring (1971),” Plenkovic continued.  

And so we must ask: Why does the Prime Minister of Croatia and his government continue celebrating the communist regime whose ideology was the turning wheel of more crimes and murders than WWII Ustashi regime ever saw!? Why does he say that the communist regime with its crimes betrayed the ideals of many anti-fascists and fails to do the same for those who fought for Croatian independence during WWII? Why does he stand behind those who want the greeting “Za dom Spremni” (For Home Ready) banned in Croatia and does not stand behind those who want the Red Five-pointed Star and Partisan/Communist Yugoslavia greetings banned!?

The answer to the above questions is obvious through his actions and the actions of his government as well as the actions of the country’s president and they, at every corner, defend the communist (their antifascist) ideology instead of coming to terms with its darkness just like the 94% of voters did way back in 1991. This is not likely to happen though, they are not likely to accept the darkness of the ideology they and their families have stood by and participated in and benefitted from for decades, and living standards and democratic processes in Croatia will, hence, keep deteriorating.

 Hence, they should be thrown out at the next elections! For that to occur, to throw the bastards out at next elections, the silent majority that abstains from voting at elections (because, with the experience of the former communist Yugoslavia power machine, they think they cannot change anything) must turn up at polling stations. The alternative, i.e. street unrests while they can eventually reap results in essence – would just not be pretty.

Unfortunately, with the mainstream media being so biased against the government’s opposition (patriotic parties, right-wing parties) effective opposition parties are unable to pursue what they need and must do: to be able to put out their message and mobilise voters. Croatia continues to experience the same issues that it did under former communist come socialist Yugoslavia – opposition to government cannot function as it should because it is not allowed to spread its message on state-owned media or in the corrupt mainstream media. Suppression of the voice of reason, truth and justice continues in Croatia. It is no accident that virtually every communist regime suppressed opposition parties soon after coming to power and that is exactly what has been happening in Croatia. It is fortunate, though, that we live in the so-called digital era and communications, including media, are not limited to what governments own or bribe. But we do live in an era where new ways of outsmarting and outperforming the mainstream media owned or controlled by the government is possible. Great resources for that are needed, of course.

The better we learn the painful and horrendous lessons of the history of post-World War Two communism (in Croatia and in terms of former communism in Yugoslavia now dubbed antifascism), the more likely it is that we can avoid any repetition of its horrors in Croatia.  Ina Vukic    

Croatia 2030: No Success Without Ruthless Decommunisation Reforms

Pretending to reinvent “sliced bread” all over again would be among the characteristics of a political environment where working on national goals is set aside throughout decades for personal gains of politicians while the country descends into economic chaos, political swamp and living standards depletion for the masses.

Current minority government in Croatia has during the past weeks been boasting of its Croatia 2030 National Development Strategy (NDS) as being the first in history of modern Croatia that for its success uses or depends on participatory and bottom-up approach to finally get Croatia where it should be: prosperous and democratic. The implementation of such plan is heavily dependent on EU funds and given that the widespread corruption at all levels (local and national), particularly public administration and judiciary, in Croatia has not been systematically dealt with one does fret for the success of such a plan that involves participation of the heavily corrupt network.

One thing is certain: without significant and “cut-throat” reforms in Croatia, without decommunising Croatia, no amount of EU or other international funds injected into Croatia will help towards the achievement of this NDS. While this NDS could be seen as an opportunity for a new start the foundations upon which the Plan is hitting the ground running are rotten. Too much corruption and nepotism everywhere.

What a shame the government keeps ignoring the fact that, although in skeleton form, Croatia’s national development strategic plan was actually devised during the Homeland War, announced in Dr Franjo Tudjman’s speech at the inauguration of the Croatian Parliament on 30 May 1990, when he said: “…At the end of this inaugural address, allow me to endeavour and put forward, in the briefest of points, some of the most urgent and immediate tasks that stand before the new democratic government of Croatia…” (pdf link)

Released late January 2021 by the government for parliamentary discussions, under the banner “Croatia 2030”, the 2030 National Development Strategy should steer the development of Croatia until 2030. While broad vision documents were produced by past governments in Croatia, this is the first time that the Government has decided to employ a comprehensive and evidence-based process using a participatory and bottom-up approach. Not unlike the crumbled Communist Yugoslavia used to do in its Five or Ten-Year Plans by the way. Glossy plans through which the communist elites of Yugoslavia got richer and ordinary people poorer and hungrier. Because no changes were made to stamp out corruption and political persecution of those not towing the communist line. Similar environment exists in Croatia today, hence mass exodus of young people during the past decade and thriving corruption is “king”.

The principal role of the World Bank in the process of the preparation of the 2030 NDS has been to provide analytical support. World Bank policy notes aimed to help the authorities recognise the most binding development gaps, define the reform and investment priorities for the country based on the vision and strategic objectives that were set by the Ministry of Regional Development and EU Funds, and identify actions needed to bring the country closer to its 2030 targets.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said in Croatian Parliament on January 27: “We welcome all Members of Parliament to participate in the debate and hope to reach a consensus on this document today,” reiterating that ten years from now he saw Croatia as a competitive, innovative and safe country of recognisable identity and culture, with preserved resources, good living standards and equal opportunities for all.

The Prime Minister listed the goals to be achieved by 2030. Among them are raising GDP per capita to 75 percent of the EU average, and the share of exports of goods and services from 52 to 70 percent of GDP, significant acceleration of the work of the judiciary, reaching the OECD average, raising the coverage of children in kindergartens above 97 percent and employment to 75 percent, reducing the share of people at risk of poverty, extending the expected number of years of healthy living by six to eight years.

There certainly was no consensus reached in parliament on that day as the MPs in government showered the plan with accolades like ambitious but real and the opposition MPs described it as unambitious, insufficiently clear, coming too late and offering no vision.

Opposition MP Hrvoje Zekanovic (Hrvatski Suverenisti/Croatian Sovereignists), said for the Plan document that it is at the level of High School graduation work and maintains all the woes and misery of Croatian politics, hoping that it will not in the future.

Opposition MP Miroslav Skoro (Domovinski Pokret/Homeland Movement) said that the economy is not in focus in this Plan, because the country is run by people from diplomacy who have never worked in the real sector and do not really know how the economy works. We must create conditions for growth and development, said Skoro, adding that the strategy must give hope for a better future, a vision and help in its realisation.

On Friday 5th February, the Croatian Parliament finally voted on the National Development Strategy of Croatia until 2030. 77 deputies voted for the Croatian National Strategy, 59 were against, 2 abstained. Not a landscape that inspires faith and optimism that this NDS will actually achieve its goals. One must wonder whether that is because the Strategy itself does not enter into the essential pre-requisites for any strategy to succeed? For Croatia that would be decommunisation of public administration aiming at fierce and intense stamping out of corruption and nepotism.

National Development Strategies worldwide exist to set a clear long-term vision for the country providing a strategic guidance to all development policies and lower-ranking strategic planning documents. Additionally, the analytical underpinning prepared for the NDS and the extensive consultation process to prepare the NDS for Croatia chiefly by a team of consultants under the World Bank umbrella has cost Croatian taxpayers 32 million kunas or 4.2 million euro!

In its introductory part of its National Development Strategy 2030 Croatian government mentions absolutely nothing of the strategy or plan laid out at the start of secession from communist Yugoslavia and during the Homeland War that actually made possible today’s Croatia. This may well mean that the government aims to further degrade the foundation upon which today’s democracy was won in rivers of blood, amidst Serb aggression, devastation and despair for freedom from communism. Here is what the introduction to the NDS says (PDF):

In an increasingly globalised world, marked by challenges like the fourth industrial revolution and green transitions, but also numerous threats, such as climate changes, pandemics, geopolitical disturbances or migrations, planning for the future today is perhaps more important than ever before. In this regard, timely recognition of trends, their own strengths and weaknesses are key to turning challenges and new opportunities into development opportunities, but also to strengthen society’s resilience and its greater readiness to deal with the unpredictable circumstances.

To adapt to all these challenges and to exploit all its potentials, to be able to coordinate the efforts of all public policies, Croatia should already today have a clear vision of its future development and define the goals it wants to achieve by 2030. In addition, as a member of the European Union, Croatia has generous European funds at its disposal, which will be an important lever in achieving those goals. This requires a clear framework and quality multi-year planning, so that the benefits of EU membership can be better exploited…

Croatia suffers from a number of constraints for its development as set out in the NDS framework and these are:

  • Corruption in many different sectors of economy. Corruption comes in many forms, including the theft of public funds by politicians and government employees, and the theft and misuse of overseas aid, nepotism within the employment sector. Bribery is also a persistent threat and tends to involve the issuing of government contracts. In former communist Yugoslavia, bribery was the norm, and Croatia had inherited this, had not even seriously attempted to stamp it out and this seriously weakens the operation of strategies towards betterment of the nation.
  • Population is a considerable constraint on economic growth and Croatia’s declining population either due to mass exodus/emigration, relatively low birth rate and inefficiently stimulating climate for the return of Croats living in the diaspora means Croatia is in serious trouble achieving its planned goals or strategies unless significant reforms are undertaken in this field.  
  • Absence of a developed, independent and corruption-fee legal and judiciary system in Croatia has been an eyesore for many over the decades, yet nothing much changes and justice for ordinary citizens depends on the political agenda of courts and judges, even many practicing lawyers.

Given the past and the existing practices in Croatia which at high levels of authority still celebrate the failed communist Yugoslavia laws and public administration immorality there is a real danger that funds coughed up by the EU for this NDS will significantly dissipate into corrupt practices (pockets) and the NDS will, therefore, not be worth the paper it’s written on. I may be proven wrong; however, my assessment and sentiment are shared by many, including parliamentary votes regarding the NDS. To ensure success of such an NDS a political force is needed that would preserve the values of Croatian national identity away from communist past. Positive identity generates pride and pride generates positive energy capable of achieving just about anything put in front of it. Ina Vukic

Croatia: The Hypocrisy Of Mockery

In the rather prolonged wake of a rancorous presidential election in Croatia, late 2019, a few months of mute, largely ambivalent, anticipation as to what kind of president Zoran Milanovic will be have given rise to an ugly, tumultuous political swamp where the national interests are drowned in fear for the future as personal and political insults between the President and the Prime Minister (Andrej Plenkovic) fly like nothing I’ve seen before. It appears the two are in some kind of mud-slinging, mocking and insult competition that is difficult and sad to watch but one would not be wrong in saying: they fool no one!

Both have not cut their umbilical cords from communist Yugoslavia and its mindset no matter how hard they might try to assassinate each other’s character and authority.

The deterioration of Croatian top-end politics and lack of positive political discourse is dangerous to the health of the Croatian nation, of the independent and democratic Republic. No good arises when people in top positions of the same country identify more with a political self than as a citizen, or a leader in a country they are a part of. 

I take issue with the politics of divisiveness which, by definition and function, fractures the Croatian society through disinformation, deception, hypocrisy, mockery, insult slinging and outright lies and at all times paying mere lip-service to the foundations of the 1990’s Homeland War that ushered in independence and democracy while still embracing in deed and mentality the oppressive symbols and mindset of the criminal communist Yugoslavia regime.

Croatia was a country that should have cut its umbilical cord from communist Yugoslavia way back in 1991 when it declared secession from it by a sweeping 94% vote. The umbilical cord tore away gradually during the 1990’s as tens of thousands of people lost their life in the war of Serb/communist Yugoslavia aggression; hundreds of thousands Croats and non-Serbs – ethnically cleansed. Then, in 2000, the year after President Franjo Tudjman’s death, former communists (who did not want independent Croatia, who did not fight for it) returned at the helm of Croatia with a vengeance. 

When he was named Prime Minister in 2011, Zoran Milanovic was the leader of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and perceived by many as a promising politician, free of the corruption plaguing the rival conservative Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) party. But Milanovic’a government failed to implement much-needed reforms, perpetuating widespread patronage of corruption and poor economic trends. His SDP lost power following 2015 elections and Milanovic stepped down as party chief after he failed again in the following year’s snap vote. In his 2019 Presidential campaign, he promised to make Croatia a “normal, decent” liberal democracy, with an equal society and independent judiciary. He defeated HDZ’s candidate, former President Kolinda Granbar Kitarovic and Patriotic Movement’s Miroslav Skoro.

Andrej Plenkovic as Prime Minister did not have good relations with Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic, in fact there was a great deal of animosity for a number of years of her mandate and the two were at each other’s proverbial throats much of the time. Grabar Kitarovic had said on several occasions that she had not been able to achieve a working relationship with Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and used that as an excuse for not influencing needed reforms in national focus. Had she not sprung from a communist family background perhaps she would have tried harder to establish or force a working relationship so that Croatia could move along with needed reforms and national strategy that would see the crippling corruption weeded out (?).

It’s happening in Croatia again – Andrej Plenkovic has clearly demonstrated that he does not want to work with the new President Zoran Milanovic, either. One must contemplate upon possible motives for that, none of which appear to have Croatia’s national interests (attending to fixing the disastrously failing economy and paralysing corruption, for example) at heart.

The very public rows, public name-calling, mocking and public insults against each other between the two came out of nowhere, or it seems like that to most. Jaws dropped and befuddlement spread contagiously. The media was and is all over it; one does not know whether to laugh or cry. But, one does and must ask: why!?

Generally, in democracies, the public draws distinctions when it comes to the types of speech and behavior they deem acceptable from elected officials. Wide majorities in developed democracies say it is acceptable for elected officials to call their opponent uninformed on the issues and to raise their voice in a debate, but there is much lower tolerance for officials personally mocking or insulting their opponents.

And so, the Prime Minister and the President have not stopped attacking each other, mocking and insulting each other for weeks now. Both of them held press conferences on 23rd October 2020 – first Milanovic, who told Plenkovic that he avoided military service using a false medical diagnosis, and then, about an hour later Plenkovic said that ” a difficult defeat complex in the 2016 elections can be seen in Milanovic.”

The ugly showdown between the two continued.

Zoran Milanovic: “Hundreds of bitterns came under my window at the time when Plenkovic was building his five-penny career. My wife and my children could not leave the apartment, but he grew on that humus and manure.”

Andrej Plenkovic: ” A difficult defeat complex from the 2016 elections is again seen in him, his tone towards me is belittling, and he told a series of lies about me and my career, as well as about our relations.”

Milanovic: “Plenković was a protégé in all regimes. Based on a false diagnosis of anemia, Plenkovic avoided military service. The children of communist leaders could not avoid it (military service), only the privileged could do so.

Plenkovic: “The claim that I am the second generation of the red bourgeoisie, and that I was exempted from military service because of that… Articles about it in the media were not accidental, someone reported it to the media, I guess it was him. It is true that I have anaemia, a lot of members of my family have anaemia. There is also my son, several relatives, all who had it were exempted from military service.”

Milanovic: “He was a protégé, a loyal servant of that regime, he mocked Tudjman with all of us, fifty people know that.”

Plenkovic: “He joined the SDP before the change of government in 2000. I did not notice that he was a brave, concerned SDP member until then. He said that 50 people knew that I was mocking Tudjman. I just called a colleague, he said that he did not remember that.”

Milanovic: “I’m trying to remember what is true of all the things that Plenkovic said, except that he can do everything, even that, is not true.”

Plenkovic: “He is certainly not the main cause of radicalism. But it is indicative that the theses he is releasing, the theses about the military doctor, Tudjman’s hater, come from him and his belly fighters. I see that in the far right. It’s mud, banana peel, the pistons he throws at my feet. He gave a fine contribution to hate speech. “

Milanovic: “There was no statement about the Covid at Plenkovic’s press conference. Who triumphantly declared victory over the Covid, did my grandmother shake hands with the infected Đokovic? He dissolved the Parliament, called elections when it suited them, they won those elections with a miserable number of votes. And it’s all according to the rules. But the rules need to be changed, as well as the rules of the Criminal Code. “

Milanovic: “He is a bully. I fought in school playground and protected other children from such people.”

Plenkovic: “I said I would answer him, because everyone else fell silent. Nervousness starts when the case of Gorica, Gradiska, a public company … As Prime Minister, I have no right to remain silent about lies.”

Milanovic also accuses Andrej Plenkovic’s Government of “skipping” him and regulating issues of national security, i.e., those from the common domain reserved for the Prime Minister and the President of the Republic of Croatia, without the President.

And the sorry saga of mudslinging, mocking and insults has no end in sight, it seems. In a country that has so many existential problems and so much to get on with if Croatia is to be a functioning democracy transitioning from the communist regime this scandalous and pathetic charade of supposedly democratic free expression is most likely not accidental. It has been staged with the former President and it is staged with the current one so that the reality and permanency of a successful independent Croatia takes the back seat and communist heritage thrives. I am quite convinced that the hypocrisy, lined with communist nostalgia for both, lies in this

In a world with fewer rules, the only truly effective one is knowing what you can get away with. The answer today in Croatia, it turns out, is quite a lot. The question is: will the people tolerate this much longer?

In their domestic policies, both Andrej Plenkovic and Zoran Milanovic appear to embrace a noxious brew of insincere nationalism and penchant for authoritarianism (the communist Yugoslavia kind); just like Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic did. So that people don’t have a stronghold. One day these leaders defend the fight for independence elevating it to national sovereignty and right to self-determination and, on another day, they act as if that bloody fight never happened nor did it need to happen (because, to their apparent view, all was fine and dandy in Yugoslavia).  One day they vow to attack the widespread endemic corruption within the public sector and on another day, they keep devilishly shtum about the enormous theft of public wealth by individuals. 

Former communists and those who did not want an independent and democratic Croatia are proving once again that there is no limit to what they will do in order to keep Croatia stagnating in the rut of corruption, economic disaster and perpetual divisiveness that paralyses progress. Ina Vukic

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