Croatia: Covert Communist Diplomacy Against Diaspora Patriotic Community

MT4YYW flags of Croatia and Yugoslavia

Messages are circulating, becoming louder, that for true independence from communist Yugoslavia to flow among the people the Croatian patriotic diaspora community must wage a strong political war against the political parties that have held government and presidential candidates in office since year 2000. This, under the understanding that politics is the foundation of all good and all bad things that happen to people and that everyone, whether they acknowledge it or not, is a political being.

7 June marked Croatian Diplomacy Day! Official events were held in Croatia for it. This Day traditionally marks a historic event from 879 when Pope John VIII sent a letter to the Croatian prince Branimir informing him that he had blessed him and the entire Croatian people in Rome and acknowledging his “earthly authority over the whole of Croatia”. At that time, it was the highest international recognition, which, in today’s sense, recognised Croatia as a sovereign state. This is a traditional event in June when the achievements of diplomats are discussed, and guidelines are set for the next one-year.

The Croatian patriotic communities in the diaspora would have quite a lot to say about the achievements, the failures, the backward or forward milestones that the Croatian diplomatic relationship with its own diaspora has been put through since 1992 when Croatia was internationally recognised and confirmed as an independent country – an enormous gratitude for that goes to the Croatians living and being active abroad at those times. As far as the Croatian public is aware no one from the Croatian corridors of power has asked a representative sample of the Croatian patriotic diaspora community to provide the government with feedback regarding its performance on the diplomatic sphere.  So, I think this is an opportunity to look at what is happening in 2022 with regards to diplomatic currents official Croatia sends and maintains in the diaspora.  

Out of its own choice Croatian patriotic diaspora communities that rejected communism and Yugoslavia since the end of World War II have always, while former Yugoslavia lasted, lived without a relationship with the Yugoslav diplomatic and consular missions. Only those who lived in the diaspora and supported Yugoslavia had a relationship with Yugoslav consular and diplomatic missions and simply never interested in nor cared about an independent Croatia and frequently worked against such an idea. A mutually respectful, cordial, and beneficial relationship between the Croatian patriotic diaspora communities and official Croatia cemented roots in the early 1990’s, 1992 to be exact. This lasted until late 1999 when the first president of independent Croatia Dr Franjo Tudjman passed away. In many cases, Croatian patriotic communities throughout the world donated funds and worked hard at helping Croatia establish its diplomatic missions abroad, including purpose purchasing of land, purpose building embassy and consular buildings or purchasing premises and equipping them with the charitable fundraising monetary results. One would be correct in saying that in many places across the world when the Croatian Embassy or Consulate organise an event within their official building, a celebration, a soirée, they are drinking and feasting under our roof – the roof that the Croats in the diaspora erected, purchased, and paid for!   

In his speech at the official celebration of the Day of Croatian Diplomacy in Zagreb, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic referred to the beginnings of Croatian statehood and the role that diplomacy played there and spoke about the present when Croatia has a completely different position and role. The worst thing is to have a state whose position is unknown, said also Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, emphasising that Croatia must be a “reliable country” at the international level.

Well, the only Croatian government reliability that the Croatian patriotic diaspora community has seen since year 2000 is that both SDP/Social Democratic Party and HDZ/ Croatian Democratic Union governments have been engaging in is their reliable pursuits, both overt and covert, in the diminishment and the degrading of the value of the Croatian patriots living in the diaspora who contributed the most to the creation of the independent state of Croatia during 1990’s! That, in simple words, is a continuance of operations, covert or overt that communist Yugoslavia engaged in across the world where Croatian patriots lived.

The Croatian diaspora has during the past five years or so, been seeing the emergence of new, quite small, so-called Croatian community organisations sponsored and highly supported by the Croatian diplomatic corps, filled with people or members that have never been a part of the Croatian patriotic community that fought for today’s Croatia away from the communist regime of Yugoslavia. Large majority of them also did not contribute any funds whatsoever to the war efforts to defend Croatia against the Serb/Yugoslav aggressor; in the homes of many a portrait of the mega murderer Josip Broz Tito hung in prominent places. The Croatian diplomatic corps across the world has been declaring such people as Croatian community leaders even though they have never been that nor will they ever be simply because they do not appear to have in them what it takes to love and promote a Croatia for its secession from communist Yugoslavia. The extent to which such phenomena of setting up or inserting new associations among emigrants, where career diplomatic and consular personnel are key in creating them, may be considered by some as kind of suspicious attempt to disrupt the character of the Croatian patriotic community in emigration by the Croatian government for its own political party gain.

There is a visible trend of a dirty political game of this scenario where the Croatian diplomatic and to some extent consular corps have started to call these people, who in their organisations may have a hundred or less or slightly more members, “Croatian community leaders” while at the same time ignoring the real Croatian patriotic community leaders who always stood by and sacrificed for a Croatia free from communist Yugoslavia. Hence, trying to create a new (false or partially true) profile of the Croatian community in the diaspora of “yes” people to the ruling political party, or those who for personal gain do not criticise the government for the betterment of Croatia for all! This was the modus operandi that communist Yugoslavia employed against patriotic Croats in the diaspora, and it is the covert politics that the communist-mindset-laden Croatian governments since year 2000 have been utilising and putting into practice. Run down the true Croatian patriots and at the same time uplift those who never lifted a finger for independent Croatia! Do not misunderstand me or the Croats who are very unhappy about this trend – we all love new people of Croatian descent to join the true and sincere patriotic community but when this is attempted through running down or degrading the existing patriotic community, those who always stood and fought fiercely for an independent Croatia, and pushing up front those who did not, then Croatia has a huge problem in the foundations of its sovereignty. Croatian governments must learn to accept and respect all its citizens and the roles they played in creating the state, even those who criticise them – otherwise democracy becomes a mere face mask; progress towards a good livelihood for all becomes a one-way street with a dead end. Ina Vukic   

Croatia: Price Rise Despair On The Final Stretch To Eurozone

Food market Dolac, Zagreb Croatia. Photo: visitzagreb.hr

Croatian residents and companies and organisations have faced a rude shock when recently their new gas/energy bills arrived with sharp and unexpected spikes compared to the previous ones, many expressing absolute inability to pay the new energy costs with the government finding itself in the position of having to subsidise some organisations so they could survive their energy bills. It has all been put down to some generalised energy crisis in EU and the world that is sure to cause price increases in all goods and services. Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic noted during the past month that vulnerable energy consumers, about 91,000 of them, are currently receiving vouchers of EUR 27 each to pay electricity bills. The program will be expanded to 5,700 beneficiaries of the national compensation for the elderly. Also, a voucher for gas will be introduced, and the amount doubled to EUR 54. A special one-time fee is envisaged for 721,000 pensioners with pensions lower than EUR 531, which will require a total payment of EUR 62 million. Not much help when one hears that energy bills have risen by double or triple amount from previous ones!

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic has also during the past month presented a plan for households, businesses, and farmers that would mitigate the rise in prices and pointed out that without the package the electricity bills would rise by 23 percent from April 1, compared to 79 percent for gas. The measures will become operational on April 1 and will be valid until March 31, 2023.  Plenkovic pointed to the wave of rising prices in Europe caused by the global energy crisis as the main reason for the adoption of the package. Still, the rise of energy costs in Croatia appears much higher than in other countries, especially the West. He did not refer to any possible correlation between prices increases and Croatia’s transitioning into the Eurozone, that is, swapping its kuna currency with the euro in 2023!

According to the government’s plan the increase of electricity costs will be limited to lower the expected price increase. Goods and Services TAX (PDV) on natural gas will be reduced from 23 percent to 5 percent and a subsidy of 1.3-euro cents per kWh will be introduced. The Ministry of Economy will reimburse power suppliers from April 1 until March 31, 2023. There will be PDV tax reduction on many food items or products. Micro, small, and medium entrepreneurs with an average annual consumption of up to 10 GWh are eligible for subsidies. The amount of aid is 2-euro cents. It will be paid through vouchers.

General price rises have been known to occur in countries of the European Union as they approached admission into the Eurozone and the introduction of euro as their official currency. Croatia is set to introduce the euro in 2023 and while the current astronomic rises in energy prices are said to be associated with world energy crisis the increases in all prices may indeed be at least partially due to possible fallout from exchange rate fluctuations between the kuna and the euro; to achieve a softer fall of purchase power so to speak once entering the euro monetary climate.

For Croatia to meet its goal to be admitted into Eurozone in January 2023, it needs a positive assessment by the European Commission in spring 2022 and a subsequent decision by the EU Council in summer 2022.

The Croatian National Bank has been optimistic that Croatia, whose economy relies largely on tourism and services, will meet the EU’s criteria to join. The country relies more than any other EU state on tourists, who generate a fifth of gross domestic product and find holidaying much easier when they needn’t grapple with exchange rates. Meanwhile, most private and corporate bank deposits are held in euros, along with more than two-thirds of debt totalling about 520 billion kuna (US$78 billion). Eurozone membership would lower interest rates, improve credit ratings and make Croatia more attractive to investors, according to central bank Governor Boris Vujcic last month.

Adopting the euro would reportedly formalise a large piece of economic activity that’s already carried out using the common currency — from apartment and car sales to short-term rentals for vacationers. It would trim foreign-exchange costs outside tourism to the tune of about 1.2 billion kuna a year, according to the central bank. Croatia would gain access to European Central Bank liquidity and potential bailout financing from the European Stability Mechanism during periods of crisis.

Inflation is the biggest uncertainty. Europe’s spike in energy costs alongside the Croatian economy’s rebound in 2021 have sent consumer prices surging. Inflation is set to come in at 3.5% in 2022, but what counts is how Croatia stacks up against a one-year average of the three euro-area states with the lowest rates. That calculation will be made once data for April are in.

Due to the recent surge in inflation, Croatia might breach the price stability criterion. However, as the price rises are also observable in the eurozone, the Croatian National Bank argued that Croatia should be considered as fulfilling the criterion, nevertheless.

Croatia’s Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) released last Thursday Croatian inflation data for the month of January 2022, which went unnoticed due to the horrendous Russian attack on Ukraine, although prices did continue to rise significantly. In January 2022, prices were 5.7 percent higher than in the same month back in 2021.

There are solid indicators that the key cause of rising prices across Croatia is now not only the global energy prices but also transport prices (growth in January +10.8 percent), food and non-alcoholic beverages (+9.4 percent), alcoholic beverages and tobacco (+6.2 percent), furniture, household equipment and household maintenance costs (+5.0 percent) and at restaurants and hotels (+ 4.7 percent).

Whether global energy crisis or not, most Croatians believe the introduction of the euro will have positive consequences for the country, according to a 2021 Eurobarometer poll. However, 70% believe it could and will lead to price increases. Perhaps this is where much of price increases come from during this year that leads to Eurozone for Croatia.  And, by the way, the past year has seen about 13,000 newly poor in Croatia as standard of living continues to drop for many and indications are that multitudes in Croatia will step into the Eurozone with their feet far below the poverty line. Prices growth usually do affect the poorest and Croatia is one of the poorest countries in the EU. Bumping up economic activity, apart from tourism, has been and remains the biggest stumbling block for Croatia, euro, or no euro. Work and employment culture and practices are still heavily founded on corrupt nepotism and largely irresponsible work habits inherited from communist Yugoslavia, where accountability had been the weak point undermining economic and living standard progress. Regretfully. Ina Vukic

Croatia, Corruption, and Serb Ethnic Minority Terror

Prime Minister of Croatia Andrej Plenkovic (Front); Back row from Left to Right: Deputy Prime Minister Boris MIlosevic, Minister for Pension System, Family and Social Policy Josip Alardovic, (former) Minister for Construction and Public Property Darko Horvat (arrested), former minister for Agriculture Tomislav Tolusic

Identifying and processing corruption in Croatia that defined Croatia under communist Yugoslavia as well as all these past thirty years since the secession from communism still yields the impression of governments playing peekaboo or hide and seek game. Whether it be the HDZ (Croatian Democratic Union) or SDP (Social Democratic Party) led government, fighting corruption had not been consistent nor determined. Undoubtedly, the reason for this lies in the fact that many former communists and their family members had indulged in corruption and theft of public goods or the practice of either hiding the crimes of corruption and theft or being heavily involved in it continued. And so, every once in a while, the Croatian government had seemingly gladly permitted the processing by public prosecutor, government attorney, or anti-corruption authority of crimes perpetrated by some current or ex-high-government functionary so as to leave the (false) impression how the government is serious about fighting corruption. However, the office of public prosecutor has evidently never in the past thirty years been independent of government in its activities of pursuing processing of crimes and suspected crimes just as this was the case under the communist party regime in former Yugoslavia.

Everyone will agree that to successfully transition from communism into democracy (or any totalitarian regime for that matter) it is essential to shed habits and behaviours practiced especially by authorities and their collaborators at all levels – local, regional, and national – that were shaped and condoned under the communist regime. Croatia has failed miserably at this, and the failure appears purposeful. Too many people in important or powerful positions or their family members have had, and still have, their fingers stuck in the proverbial cookie jar. Corruption exists in all countries, however, in the developed democracies it does not define a nation and its governments like it does Croatia – still.

On Saturday 19 February, another case of corruption probes surfaced in Croatia when the police began searching the apartment of the government minister for Construction and Public Property Darko Horvat in Donja Dubrava, Zagreb. Furthermore, and at the same time, the police broke into his house in Medjimurje County (North of Zagreb) due to suspicions of his connection with the abuse of power by his former assistant, and now the suspect in crimes of corruption – Ana Mandac. According to Croatian media Horvat is suspected of 2.6 million kuna in illegal incentives. Reportedly Horvat requested funds (non-refundable) from the program ‘Development of small and medium enterprises and crafts in areas inhabited by persons belonging to national minorities’, i.e., to benefit some companies and people who were not entitled to those funds, this time of Serb ethnicity.

Soon after the search of Minister Darko Horvat’s house he was arrested and taken away by the police for further questioning. Almost immediately, Horvat reportedly requested from the Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic that he be removed from his duties as government minister and Plenkovic did relieve Horvat of his ministerial duties late Saturday afternoon 19th February.

“If someone is arrested, he cannot be a minister, it is clear as day. Especially if he stays there,” Plenkovic said at a press conference in Banski dvori Government Offices convened over Horvat’s arrest and an investigation into several other current and former state officials. Officials, including some ministers…Someone had a motive for this timing to be right now. To me, that timing doesn’t seem neutral. Neither the State Attorney’s Office nor anyone else will overthrow the Government, but this is interesting,” Plenkovic said.

Well, it is evident that the current government in Croatia is all about timing and control of corruption revelation and processing of those crimes. Why else would Prime Minister question the timing of these arrests!? Did he, himself, in fact know of possible corrupt practices but did nothing about them because “it was not the right time”!? Or is Plenkovic so odiously arrogant that he dares to question the timing of arrests for suspected crimes or is he sinking further into a political mudslide that will see him disappear into oblivion of power-hold.

Shady and unsavoury business of politics indeed.

In addition to Horvat, the Croatian mainstream media reports that the police and USKOK (Office for the Prevention of Corruption and Organised Crime) also hold suspicions against the current Minister of Pension System, Family and Social Policy Josip Aladrovic, Deputy Prime Minister Boris Milosevic and former Minister of Agriculture Tomislav Tolusic. Aladrovic is suspected of suspicious employment in the period from 2017 to 2019, when he was the director of the Croatian Pension Insurance Institute. Milosevic and Tolusic are suspected of awarding grants to small and medium-sized enterprises in 2017 and 2018, while Ana Mandac was Horvat’s assistant, and they both allegedly lobbied for Serbian entrepreneurs who had no right of access to these funds.

Whether Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic reaction to his minister Horvat’s arrest and suspicions of corruption being aired against two of his other ministers and a former one is associated with his fear that his HDZ-led government is experiencing fatal crumbling is not clear. There are strong indications that his, HDZ’s, coalition as minority government with the SDSS (Independent Democratic Serb Party in Croatia) is experiencing continued heavy blows from the public or voter body, including within HDZ party itself. A coalition with Serb minority party would most likely never have been a problem had that Serb party in Croatia been made up of Serbs living in Croatia who fought with Croatians (not against) to defend it from Serb aggression in the 1990’s Homeland War but SDSS is closely and personally associated with the 1990’s rebel Serbs and those Serbs who committed horrendous crimes against Croatia and its people. The fact that, say, a brother or sister or niece of a rebel and murderous Serbs are part of current government coalition in Croatia is simply unthinkable and unacceptable to most people. Besides heavily damaging and thwarting the implementation of Homeland War values such a coalition increases the chances of successful equating of victim with the aggressor. This simply cannot be permitted for a nation that lost rivers of blood in defending itself from Serb and communist Yugoslavia aggression.

Having the above bitter reality in mind, minister Horvat’s arrest pending further investigation into corruption is a heavy blow to both the government and HDZ Party; it may rattle and shatter both to the core. Reported suspicions of influencing government subsidy funding to companies owned by members of Serb minority population in Croatia who had no right even to apply for such funding, the fact that Boris Milosevic. Deputy Prime Minister of Serb minority extraction in parliament, is suspected of favouring certain persons during the awarding of grants from the program “Development of small and medium enterprises and crafts in areas inhabited by members of national minorities” – corruption and nepotism favouring Serbs associated with rebel Serb politics during Serb aggression against Croatia in the 1990’s is enough to make one both ill and angry, as well as bitter. Such outpours of corrupt politics have been known in history to ignite people to (political) arms.

Obviously HDZ as the leading political party in government will need to reinvent its governing strategies and its coalition choices very quickly if it intends on surviving this time. Post minister Horvat’s arrest some opposition parties are calling upon Prime Minister Plenkovic to disband his government and call for new general elections. It is close to mid-term in its government mandate and HDZ constantly continues to experience and/or generate scandals that have the capacity of paralysing the nation into political crises, one after another. These scandals and crises bring about not only possible new elections, shakedown of government coalitions and loyalties but also the likelihood of causing more voter fatigue, which always brings about further reduction of voters turning up at next elections. Of course, the electoral legislation in Croatia needs changes but its current and past panorama has seen an ever-decreasing number of voters turning up to cast their vote. In such a climate some party has and will always win a relative majority, but such lack of voter number strength creates significant illegitimacy of representation within the nation and deeper insecurities for livelihood and living within it. Minorities, including the Serb one in Croatia, simply do not have strong potential of contributing to increasing decisively voter numbers in Croatia. On the other hand, other “right wing” or conservative political milieu has those potential numbers which could strengthen HDZ chances at winning minority government in the next elections. I say this because it is, to the regret of many, still not possible to even imagine the “right wing” or conservative political milieu to win the next government without HDZ being a part in that winning formula, however seemingly leftward HDZ may have drifted. Relatively narrow spans and directions of political activities engaged in by these smaller patriotic political parties on the right are the reason why perhaps they scrape into the parliament with a limited number of seats that, even if joined, could not form a government, not even a minority one. If things will shift away from the current HDZ politics in government, it is essential for HDZ party itself to shift its internal politics towards working with patriotic right-wing parties and not parties that condone Serb aggression and actively engage in any form of equating victim with the aggressor.

Obviously, the Serb minority leadership in Croatia, in coalition with HDZ government is heavily compromised with these new revelations of possible corrupt and criminal activities syphoning government funds to benefit Serbs in Croatia that have no right of access to such government funds. It is a form of sheer and intolerable corruption. One would see it logical for HDZ at this time to recalibrate its weapons of ideological political values and rid itself of the coalition with the SDSS, that is so directly associated with politics against independent Croatia in recent past.

There is no doubt in my mind that HDZ would do well to consider “changing horses midstream” at this time – extinguish its coalition with SDSS and enter a new one from the pool of patriotic political parties represented in the parliament. Otherwise, all that Croatians have to look forward to, for the remainder of this government’s mandate, is more poison being fed into the values of Croatian Homeland War and standard of living generally. The imminent entry into the Eurozone in January 2023 when Croatia plans to swap its kuna currency with the euro will dawn with distressing political crises and thousands more living below the poverty line.

Certainly, the terror over the Croatian nation caused by ethnic minorities having parliamentary representation seats, needs to stop. It is unnatural, it is damaging. Instead of allocating seats in the parliament (where a seat can be earned at elections with merely a few dozen of votes) government departments/offices ensuring ethnic minority rights and services as is the practice in fully functioning democracies should be opened to cater for minority needs. Ina Vukic

Disclaimer, Terms and Conditions:

All content on “Croatia, the War, and the Future” blog is for informational purposes only. “Croatia, the War, and the Future” blog is not responsible for and expressly disclaims all liability for the interpretations and subsequent reactions of visitors or commenters either to this site or its associate Twitter account, @IVukic or its Facebook account. Comments on this website are the sole responsibility of their writers and the writer will take full responsibility, liability, and blame for any libel or litigation that results from something written in or as a direct result of something written in a comment. The nature of information provided on this website may be transitional and, therefore, accuracy, completeness, veracity, honesty, exactitude, factuality and politeness of comments are not guaranteed. This blog may contain hypertext links to other websites or webpages. “Croatia, the War, and the Future” does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness or completeness of information on any other website or webpage. We do not endorse or accept any responsibility for any views expressed or products or services offered on outside sites, or the organisations sponsoring those sites, or the safety of linking to those sites. Comment Policy: Everyone is welcome and encouraged to voice their opinion regardless of identity, politics, ideology, religion or agreement with the subject in posts or other commentators. Personal or other criticism is acceptable as long as it is justified by facts, arguments or discussions of key issues. Comments that include profanity, offensive language and insults will be moderated.
%d bloggers like this: