Croatia: Discord Between High Places Continues to Undermine Transitioning From Communist To Democratic Mindset

If one concluded from the political events that lead to developments of a cautious, unhappy and angry significantly sized pool of people in Croatia one could easily observe that the thrust of the government’s and the president’s policies include imposition of anarchy and the public’s rolling in discord as well as the continuation of corruption and injustice. Constructive suggestions to various matters are met with antagonism and disapproval as if people and government opposition are incapable o sound decisions and constructive proposals.  

What a terrible, “knee-jerking” week it has been in Croatia again. Confusion, disappointments, anger, sarcasm…disgust! It is difficult to know who is at fault, for what seems to be a perpetual conflict between the Office of the Prime Minister and the Office of the President lasting several years. Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic was in constant conflict with the former President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic (and she stemmed from the same political party as he/ HDZ) and is continuing the same with President Zoran Milanovic, who stems originally from SDP/ former League of Communists.

Given that both Plenkovic and Milanovic personally stem from the communist family stock that ruined the country, suffocating it by late 1980’s in astronomical rates and runaway inflation with “Hiroshima”-type of economic devastation largely due to corruption and theft, perhaps this is their way of ensuring that the Croatian people do not enjoy their deserved peace and order and prosperity? These days anything is possible in politics, and neither is clearly steering the country to the common goal of Homeland War values for which rivers of blood were spilled.  

President Zoran Milanovic and Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic continued with their vile squabbles, public rows, disagreements, and insults against each other on any theme that ruled the days of recent weeks. On the need for Covid-19 vaccination passes (the President is against them), on matters of defence and its Minister and the government’s purchase of used French Rafale fighter planes, on measures taken to control the spread of Covid-19 and its variants, or the measures or lack of them in the fight against corruption …

The HRT TV main news bulletin of Friday 3 December 2021 actually stated that “the system of the Croatian Public Attorney office is falling apart, which is evident when President Milanovic had said that HDZ will not punish the State Attorney Mrs Zlata Hrvoj-Sipek for her activities in trying to save the HDZ’s former Minister Gabrijela Zalac amidst serious allegations of fraud and misappropriation of EU funds (given to her ministry for purchase of computer software) and alleged bank thefts…”   Suffice to say that the Croatian Parliament experienced this week an angry and loud lot in government opposition vying for the sacking of State Attorney Zlata Hrvoj-Sipek. The ruling party, HDZ, though, will not budge it seems and one of the Party’s Vice-Presidents Branko Bacic, a die-hard perpetual politician with morals and honesty reminiscent of morals of a lizard, whose expiry date has long passed for Croatian politics and progress from communism into democracy, appears as the worst offender in protecting that State Attorney in what seems to be a coverup of deep corruption of gigantic proportions when compared to the general public standard of living.   

To clarify the issue here, the European Public Prosecutor’s Office EPPO has recently set up an office in Zagreb, Croatia – a body that will serve as watchdog over how EU funds granted to Croatia are spent. As I mentioned before in several my articles, in a former communist country where the “art” of thieving and corruption has been perfected such a body is essential and it may not be enough in tracking down and acting upon acts of corruption and fraud in Croatia.  Almost on its first day running on Croatian soil EPPO caused on 11 November 2021 the arrest of Croatia’s former Minister for Regional Development and EU Funds, Gabrijela Zalac, pending investigations into founded suspicions of corruption in the form that includes syphoning off via fraudulently blowing up the cost of computer software needed to more than a million euros, which, it is claimed, went into private pockets. This saga continues and how it will end is anyone’s guess.

Former communists have a knack for dragging their feet when it comes to criminal processing of one of their own or of those that follow them. The government is refusing to even discuss the possibility that the State Attorney breached her duties if she protected the former government minister Zalac amidst solid allegations of fraud and corruption. It is becoming evident that the State Attorney, protected by the government operatives, will attempt any which way to tear down EPPO’s case for criminal proceedings against the former government minister Zalac. It is a pity that the parliamentary opposition has not got a sufficiently loud voice in this matter and a successful fight against corruption in Croatia still appears to be in people’s currently helpless hands rather than governments’. As corruption cases emerge more and more one wonders whether there will be a need in Croatia for “Storming of the Bastille” type of a scenario. Poverty is increasing, unemployment shocking (Covid pandemic not factoring into this equation) and intolerance towards the government grows sharper and louder. Confidence for investments from foreign countries spreads ever so bleak and miserably.      

All this is happening while the United Nations expert publicly calls upon Croatia to clean its act and embark on a harder push for justice and better justice system. With former communists occupying both the Prime Ministership and the Presidentship it is, however, truly doubtful that either will make genuinely corrective steps to shape up Croatia’s justice system into a modern democracy where corruption is dealt with swiftly and mercilessly. The general perception is that all persons in powerful positions in Croatia are in each other’s pockets just as they were during the life of communist Yugoslavia. It would be a huge step in the transition from communism to democracy in Croatia if I were to be proven wrong in this.

“It is important that the Government gives an unequivocal sign to society and the international community, of its commitment towards a comprehensive and holistic transitional justice process aimed at addressing past abuses, preventing their recurrence and establishing the foundations of a peaceful and respectful society for all”, said Fabián Salvioli, a human rights expert, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence, said in a 2 December 2021 statement at the end of a six-day official visit to Croatia.

While praising the “progress made after the conflict, and particularly during Croatia’s accession process to the European Union”, in prosecuting war criminals, searching for missing persons, and institutional reforms aimed at ensuring the rule of law, democracy and the promotion and protection of human rights, the UN expert observed however, that “progress appears to have stalled in the last seven years”.

The Special Rapporteur flagged rising concerns over “the prospects of effective social reconciliation, particularly as a result of mounting instances of hate speech, glorification of war crimes, and the relativisation of the decisions of the ICTY and national tribunals”.

While noting legislative measures adopted by the Government to curb the extremely worrying trend, Mr. Salvioli also pointed out that implementation was insufficient.

“I urge the relevant police, judicial, legislative and executive authorities to adopt all necessary measures to adequately respond to the raise in radicalisation and hatred expressed in certain sectors of society, to ensure that the steps taken so far towards reconciliation are not irremediably reverted”, he said.

Well, it would certainly seem that Mr Salvioli has a mind to belittle the actual truth as he criticises those who criticise the judgments delivered by the ICTY. He appears to tell us that whatever that International Criminal Tribunal in the Hague had said is the truth and nothing but the truth. That may be in some cases, but it is not so in all. And there is plenty of literature and writeups on that very issue to be had if one bothered to look.

Justice is certainly not seen as having been done in all cases processed by the ICTY and real justice depends on that “seeing”.  

Mr Salvioli talks of radicalisation and hatred expressed in certain sectors of society! What else would a level-headed person expect from a country that had defended itself from a brutal Serb aggression to be brought to the place where it is today where the pro-aggression Serb minority form a part of the government and voice deplorable threats towards Croats, trying to cover up the crimes and aggression committed in Croatia. He recalled that “for a process of transition and reconciliation to be effective” it is vital to acknowledge the suffering and dignity of all victims.

Mr Salvioli and his peers should know that the Croatian people, victims of Serb aggression requiring defending own life and self-preservation, have not had a day of deserved peaceful existence to enjoy their victory over Serb aggression since the war ended completely in 1998. They have had to live their days poisoned by the politics designed to equate the victim with the aggressor. Mr Salvioli and his peers throughout the world need to assess that process and then come out in their efforts to teach nations lessons. If Mr Salvioli of the UN has not done that, and it seems he has not, then he can go and jump in the lake for all his words are worth. Ina Vukic

Croatia: To Euro Or Not To Euro

Croatian Sovereignists (L), Andrej Plenkovic, Croatian Prime Minister (R)

Since Croatia set on the path of independence from communist Yugoslavia in 1990 its citizens have held only three referendums: independence referendum in May 1991, referendum to join (or not) the European Union as member state in 2012 and the referendum for the definition of marriage (between a man and a woman) in 2013.

In 2013/2014, 650,000 signatures were collected in Croatia for the initiative introduced by the Headquarters for the Defence of Vukovar Association to hold a referendum regarding the Cyrillic (Serbian) script in Vukovar. That is, a referendum seeking the exclusion of the Cyrillic script as a second official script/language on public buildings and institutions etc in Vukovar. The referendum was abandoned due to Constitutional Court’s ruling that such a referendum question could not asked as it would severely compromise the rights of minorities under the Croatian Constitution living in Croatia.

In 2018 a referendum was planned, and signatures collected in Croatia on three questions related to changes in electoral legislation and the cancellation of the Istanbul Convention, but this pre-referendum signature collection ended in agony and scandal with claims from the government agency engaged in counting the votes, APIS, that over 40,000 signatures were invalid, including double signatures. The referendum initiating and organising group “People Decide” complained and demanded an independent recount of votes, however this process did not eventuate as claims of ballot papers’ being destroyed arose besides apparent resistance from authorities to permit a recount.  

Come 2021 and the socio-economic surrounds for another referendum of key significance for Croatia emerge, with politics hotting up just as they did in 2011 and 2012 ahead of the European Union membership referendum. This new referendum would seek to clarify whether Croatia should abandon its beloved monetary currency unit Kuna and adopt the Euro.

Since 2004 Croatia had a bumpy ride to its 2013 achieved status as EU member state. This bumpy ride particularly saw parts the international community collaborating with some ex-communist Yugoslavia Croatian operatives fabricate evidence to attempt a criminalisation of Croatia’s Homeland War in defence from brutal Serb aggression. This bumpy ride included the equating of victim with the aggressor. This bumpy ride included an increased stacking of Croatia’s public service posts and positions of power with former communists and/or their descendants. Hence, an anti-EU membership mood that became visibly prevalent in by 2010 and the government, obviously fearing that the EU Membership referendum would fail if the Constitution was not changed went on to change the Constitutional law governing referendums.

That is, the section dealing with Referendums in 1990 stated that the referendum is decided upon by the majority of votes but under the condition that a majority of the total voter numbers vote in the referendum and this was changed in 2010 whereby majority of total voters were no longer required to turn up at voting but the question asked in the referendum is decided on the basis of majority vote out of the total number of people who turned up to vote. And so, we had the situation that in 2012 the majority vote out of the dismal 28% of total voters turnout decided that Croatia should become an EU member.  

Having been through the process of public consultations/submissions since the beginning of this year the government of Croatia is currently bringing before the parliament its proposal for changes to the Constitutional law governing referendums. The government claims that its proposed changes will being an improvement in the vague legislative framework of the referendum institute. That the new legislation will be harmonised with the Constitution and ensure transparency and openness of its implementation. Citizens should have a more effective influence in the political decision-making process, the government claims.

The changes proposed include that Local self-government units are obliged to provide places for collecting signatures for referendum initiatives, depending on the number of inhabitants in that local self-government unit. Parliament also undertakes to call a referendum within 30 days (instead of the current 15) after the Electoral Commission determines that enough signatures have been collected.

Whether, if passed into law, limiting referendum polling places to government offices only (not city squares, schools, or parks also) is the most voter-friendly part of the referendum process is a moot point and its clarification is bound to appear if a referendum is held after the parliament passes the proposed changes to the legislation. Certainly, experience would suggest that limiting polling places to government-controlled venues will always deter many voters from turning up at the polls in fear of government control and corruption.   

Conspicuously missing from the proposed changes to law governing referendums is the fact that the proposal does not include any possibility of scrutinising or observing the counting of votes in the referendum voting processes despite the bitter experiences of the 2018 referendum attempts that were often described as corruption and manipulation of public votes.

Croatia’s Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic has announced that his government will introduce Euro as Croatia’s official monetary currency during 2023. He has also reminded the public this month that the process of joining the EU in Croatia enjoyed the support of all participants in the political scene and made it clear that there would be no referendum on the Euro.

“It was seen in the process of EU accession negotiations and in the referendum,” said the Prime Minister, adding that 150 MPs voted in favour of joining the Union at the time and that he believed that the issue was resolved by referendum and vote in Parliament. “Croatia then legally and politically undertook to join the eurozone,” he said. Plenkovic also stated that those against introducing the Euro to Croatia had done nothing for the process of Croatia achieving membership in the EU.

Let’s keep it real, Prime Minister!

Plenkovic’s statement that those against the Euro had done nothing for Croatia’s membership in the EU appears scandalous and certainly not true because Croatia became a member of the EU as an independent state created and fought for in a bloody war by multitudes of those who do not want to give up the Kuna and embrace the Euro. The people who fought for and sacrificed their own lives and for an independent Croatia have an absolute right to fight to retain a potent symbol of their suffering for freedom from communism – the Kuna!

Hence, the Prime Minister Plenkovic is wrong in insisting that there would be no referendum regarding the Euro. Not all EU member countries are also members of the Eurozone and therefore, this evidences the option that membership in the EU does not oblige its members to also become members of the Eurozone.

As the date of the apparently imminent introduction of the new currency approaches, such a possibility is gaining more and more public attention, which, as with EU membership for example, is divided. Some are in favour of the introduction of the Euro because they believe that it will stabilise Croatia and help its further development and investments. At the same time, others strongly oppose the announcement because they fear an increase in the prices of everyday necessities and an additional drop in citizens’ standards.

Croatian Sovereighnists party, headed by Hrvoje Zekanovic MP, which is part of conservative opposition parties in the Croatian Parliament, has launched the organising of a referendum on the adoption of the Euro in Croatia and they are against the Euro and against Croatia being a part of the Eurozone. They state that their main reason for wanting to protect the Kuna, to keep it is in the fact that national currency and the management of its exchange rate is one of the key parameters of influencing the economic development of the country, so this parameter should remain in the hands of the Republic of Croatia and its citizens, for whom Croatian interests are a priority.

No date is in sight as to when the referendum process will commence but one may safely say it will be during 2022. Furthermore, it is anticipated that it will take several months for the new legislation regarding referendum changes to come out the other end as passed. Hence, the initiative for a referendum and the government’s insistence that there will be none, is surely to bring in a great deal more of political unrest and disagreements in Croatia, including bitter clashes between citizens who tend to see the adoption of the Euro as the hated last straw that will break the back of the pride rightly held for the glorious victory over the Serb and communist aggressor during the 1990’s.

Prime Minister Plenkovic keeps telling the Croatian public that the adoption of the Euro will increase the standard of living at a greater rate than any increases in prices. The opponents of the Euro in Croatia state that this is not the time to adopt the Euro in Croatia as that currency is good only for the wealthy countries, those in the EU with a much higher standard of living, that the rounding off of prices is bound to occur with the introduction of the Euro and thus be detrimental for Croatian citizens. Also, on the side against the Euro many say that the Eurozone is an unsafe conglomerate and if it falls apart the poor Croatia will be placed in the situation of having to contribute to the repair and bailing other countries, such as Greece and Italy, out of a debt crisis, as their losses in this event could surface after the Coronavirus pandemic as being astronomical. The greatest complaint against the Euro appears to be the widespread belief that by losing its national currency Kuna, Croatia will lose a great deal of its hard-earned sovereignty, paying for it with rivers of blood and devastation.

And at the end of the day a referendum regarding the Euro should be held in Croatia if because of nothing else then because only 28% of total Croatian voted at the EU referendum in 2012 and barely 67% of those voted Yes to Croatia’s EU membership. A referendum on the Euro could indeed be a great test for the Croatian citizens regarding their experiences and trust as members of the EU as opposed to national sovereignty and retention of values from the Homeland War. Ina Vukic

Croatian Communists Of Today: Hypocrites, Vultures and Yo-Yos

Military Police Operation Flash – Croatia 1995

Yesterday, 1st May 2021 marked the 26th Anniversary of Military-Police Operation Flash! Croatia marked the 26th anniversary of Operation Flash in the town of Okucani today, honouring the Croatian police and army that liberated about 500 square kilometres of territory occupied by Serb aggressors in Western Slavonia. The operation was launched on May 1 and ended on May 3, 1995. In that short time the Croatian troops and police regained control of 500 square kilometres of land, including the main west-east motorway and the railway line leading to Eastern Slavonia. 42 Croatians were killed and 162 wounded.

During the war, Okucani was the centre of the Serb rebellion and a staging area for their terrorist attacks in Western Slavonia. As their defeat progressed, the Serb aggressors organised and ordered the missiles attacks on Zagreb, Karlovac and Jastrebarsko. During the attacks against Zagreb on 2 May 1995, seven civilians were killed and 218 wounded. Serb rebel leader Milan Martic was sentenced by the UN tribunal ICTY to 35 years for war crimes committed during those missile attacks.

All the while, during the entire Croatian Homeland War today’s President Zoran Milanovic and Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic hid, away from battle zones, from Croatian lines of defence and liberation, hid outside Croatia, wishing that Croatia never succeeds in its independence plight, in its defence from brutal aggression.

“We do this (passing unique law on veterans’ rights) because we are convinced that the Homeland War is the foundation of the Croatian state, that the freedom given to Croats by Croatian defenders is the most important value that we must nurture and protect and respect their sacrifice. Therefore, in the future we will do everything for the dignity of the Homeland War, for the respect of Croatian veterans and their families,” said Prime Minister Plenkovic in Okucani yesterday.  

“On this day, now many years ago, Croatian heroes liberated this part of Croatia with determination, knowledge, patience and courage, and after the ‘Maslenica’ ’93 action they enabled a few months later in August ’95 that Croatia be finally merged into a whole and liberated. Those were a few good and a few brave people. It was about hundreds, maybe thousands of people. The rest of us were in Zrinjevac, Geneva, personnel services, and here, and on other battlefields in Croatia, a small number of people fought and to them eternally thank and glory to Croatian heroes,”  President Milanovic said in Okucani yesterday.

What a bunch of hypocrites! They could not care less about these Croatian heroes of the 1990’s who sacrificed their lives and many of whom lost their life or limb for democracy, for freedom from communist Yugoslavia. The legislation regarding war-veterans’ rights Plenkovic boasts about is a sham and is still leaving thousands of Croatia’s defenders without a veteran status and access to health and pension services.

The hypocrisy of both the Prime Minister and the President of Croatia lies in many purposeful “omissions” and the most important one is that they have done absolutely nothing in removing from the Historical Foundations (of independent Croatia) of the Constitution of the Republic Croatia this paragraph:

“- the establishment of the foundations of state sovereignty during the course of the Second World War, as expressed in the decision of the Territorial Antifascist Council of the National Liberation of Croatia (1943) in opposition to the proclamation of the Independent State of Croatia (1941), and then in the Constitution of the People’s Republic of Croatia (1947) and in all subsequent constitutions of the Socialist Republic of Croatia (1963-1990) …”

In essence the above paragraph that keeps or validates the communist regime and its mindset that prevents responsive legislation. Yugoslav communist regime did not, as they purport, liberate Croatia from Yugoslavia but kept it enslaved and oppressed within it. It murdered hundreds of thousands innocent Croats who actually fought for independence during WWII. It filled over a thousand of mass graves with Croatian patriot bodies. It falsified Croatia’s WWII history in order to promulgate hatred against freedom-loving Croats. Both Plenkovic and Milanovic promulgate the same lies about WWII independence fight in Croatia; they fail to even offer small amounts of funding for new research that is shedding light on the colossal lies their communist predecessors have heaped up against patriot Croats. They do, however, find funds to fund various NGO’s that continue justifying communist crimes and communist Yugoslavia!

In May 1991 almost 94% of Croatian voters voted to secede from communist Yugoslavia, which led to the declaration of independence. This also led to the bloodiest and most brutal escalation of Serb-led Yugoslav onslaught against Croatia. It was only a few years after the Homeland War ended that this war of defence was inserted into the Historical Foundations of independent Croatia of today. But the paragraph relating to Antifascists (communists) was not deleted! And therein lies the main reason why lustration did not occur!

Former communists in high positions, communist Yugoslavia operatives, retained positions to work against the very concept of an independent Croatia during peace time.

Prime Minister Plenkovic keeps rubbing salt on the Croatian independence fight wound, keeps insulting the very sacrifice Croatian defenders and people made for Croatian independence during 1990’s by embracing the 1990’s rebel Serb minority representatives in the Croatian Parliament as coalition partners in his government. “Thanks to Plenkovic” these Serbs, whose brothers, sisters, parents etc slaughtered Croatians during 1990’s, ethnically cleansed them from their homes, devastated and destroyed their properties, raped their women and girls…now dictated the political scene and government rudder that still tries to equate the aggressor with the victim!

President Milanovic continues to mimic a yoyo, just as he did when he was the Prime Minister some years ago. He cannot maintain stability of his political views nor his respect for the Homeland War and its true meaning. His statements confuse even the most prominent of political analysts, let alone ordinary citizens. One day he is full of praise of the communist regime and the next day he is full of praise for Croatian Homeland War heroes.

These vultures feed on the corpses of Croatian victims of Serb aggression while dining with the Serb aggressor and all the while their mind is communist red. With this political impasse and mindset, they seemingly retain some 26 to 30 % of voter body. They are the voters who most likely live in apartments and houses stolen by the Yugoslav communist regime from Croatian Jews and from Croatians who in WWII fought for Croatian independence. They are the voters whose families benefitted from the Yugoslav false economy that relied on foreign loans, rather than productivity at work. They are the voters who lift no fingers against widespread corruption and theft. They are the voters who look up to such a government and President for their continued sucking at a foreign purse – this time the EU purse – rather than develop new jobs within Croatia, to sustain independence.

It would be understatement to say that Croatia is now in a political crisis much more than ever in the past twenty years. The roots of this crisis are embedded in the fact that the meaning and values of the Croatia’s Homeland War and secession from communist Yugoslavia are simply not receiving due respect nor the deserved place in this nation of developing democracy. To illustrate this here is a translation of a poem published yesterday by Pater Ike Manduric, a leading Jesuit priest in Croatia in spiritual well-being of the community, a war veteran:

The enemy thought that Croatia was weak,

That there is no strength.

But it didn’t know that there waa love.

And love is strong.

Like death.

The enemy believed it had greater rights than others.

And that the Croatian home is not holy

That it is not important to God

That communism is God.

But it was all a lie.

Then the Flash exposed the lie

The occupier was struck by the truth:

Communism is a fraud and a lie

Croatia is as strong as life

The Croatian home is sacred.

Congratulations on the Flash!

And I want and invoke a new Flash

Which will shed light on the lies again

Because they started going crazy again

Again, some rely on lies.

And there will be a Flash, some new one, for this time, with new weapons, and by all the signs of the times it can be read yes, to the one who loves the Homeland.

I know that!

Congratulations on the FLASH!”

Ina Vukic

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