Croatia: 25 Years On – Communism Not Dead Enough!

President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic at commemoration of WWII Antifascist battles 22 June 2015 Photo: Office of the President, Croatia

President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic
at commemoration of WWII
Antifascist battles
22 June 2015
Photo: Office of the President, Croatia

For 25 June – Happy Statehood Day! Happy National Day – Croatia!
May 2015 marks 25 years since Croatia, through first democratic elections, said a most resolute “No” to communist Yugoslavia and “Yes” to democracy and multi-party political system as opposed to one-party, totalitarian communist regime. On May 30, 1990, the first post-Communist multi-party Parliament was constituted in Croatia. May 30 used to be celebrated as Croatian Statehood day since then, however this was changed to 25 June, which date relates to 25 June 1991, when Croatia declared its independence from Yugoslavia.

It’s almost impossible to find a time in Croatian history that had not been riddled with challenges – either political or economic while cultural identity was fiercely guarded amidst political upheavals and forceful foreign controls. I won’t be talking in this post about the history prior to 1990 – given that a quarter of a century has passed since, I take a brief pause and wonder: have the last 25 years yielded the results that 94% of voters visualised way back then and is there more work ahead?

Sydney Croats in Australia Support Croatia's moves for independence and democracy 27 January 1991 Photo: Ina Vukic

Sydney Croats in Australia
Support Croatia’s moves
for independence and democracy
27 January 1991
Photo: Ina Vukic

Economically, at the beginning of the nineties of the last century, Croatia had to switch from a socialist-style economy to a proper market-oriented economy during extremely demanding war times of brutal Serb-led aggression, under corruption unleashed during and fortified by the times of communist Yugoslavia, with mostly unproductive state-owned industry. The past 25 years, and particularly those after the armed conflict of the war ended in 1995, have seen some positive battles against corruption, however, little if anything noticeable has been done in eradicating grass-root corruption at local government levels or front-line government or government funded services. And so, getting something done still largely depends on “who you know” and whether you can slip a bribe into the “right” hands – it can happen in a health related procedure or obtaining a licence of some sort. At least, the impression that bribery is how one gets things done is much less palpable than 25 years ago. So that’s good! But red tape around important things such as setting up business, investment, and developing/zoning…a nightmare – still! Hasn’t shifted enough in 25 years for Croatia to be in a position that boasts of good and practical business sense.

Becoming a member of the EU two years ago, Croatia faced new economic challenges – at the time the old challenges faced due to transition from communist totalitarian regime to democracy had visibly burdened economic progress. But these new challenges are positive ones as they offer Croatia opportunities for new, robust and economically active ties within the advantages offered by the common European market and connections with new businesses and ventures across Europe despite the fact that this is occurring at times of economic downturns across all countries. The best thing that’s emerging from this is a new positive energy and healthy entrepreneurial curiosity in the face of opened new market horizons, which should – under a more capable government than the current one – see the next 10 years evolve into a much stronger, much more diverse economy and better employment figures.

Corruption and alarming erosion of both capital and productivity within the formerly state owned businesses and industry enveloped the widespread privatisation that ensued with the advent of democracy and freedom from totalitarian communist regime of Yugoslavia, after 1990. Companies bought and sold for a small fraction of the worth they once were. That was the last 25 years – the next 10 should be spent in investigations into these corrupt practices and due punishment or corrective measures put in place. A healthy, enduring democracy has never emerged on stolen wealth and Croatia’s won’t either.

On a brighter note, Croatia ranked rather well on the United Nations’ Human Development Index (HDI) – a summary measure for assessing long-term progress in three basic dimensions of human development: a long and healthy life, access to knowledge and a decent standard of living. The 2014 HDI report figures showed that Croatia’s HDI value had grown between 1990 and 2013 from 0.689 to 0.812, placing Croatia in a very high human development category by positioning it on the 47the place out of 187 countries assessed.

It’s been 25 years after communism was officially pronounced dead, undesirable – to be left behind in the “leper” colonies of the days gone. And yet, it continues to consume and haunt the daily lives of Croatians and Croatia’s political skies, holding democracy back, causing angst and distress at every corner. As the 2006 Council of Europe’s parliamentary assembly voted to condemn the “crimes of totalitarian communist regimes”, linking them with Nazism and complaining that communist parties are still “legal and active in some countries”, Croatia’s former communists grew new fangs and new claws and, as tool for their survival, resurrected the WWII fascism, planting it in today’s Croatia as if it never died. These communists hide their shame and the crimes of their predecessor communist thugs and scum, led by Josip Broz Tito, under the guise of antifascism! Attacks on Croatian conservative politics from the Left have become extreme and distressing because they have been attempting to unravel the ugly truth of communist crimes and apportion condemnation where condemnation is due. Communists or these antifascist thugs operating in Croatia have no morals when it comes to victims of all crimes and bring up the regretful part of WWII Croatia as if still alive and in need of eradication! When if fact, the only thing they’re on about is preserving communism and false memory of communism.

President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic said on Monday 22 June 2015, at the commemoration of WWII antifascist resistance in Brezovica forest near the town of Sisak:
“…Croatian society wants to preserve antifascism as an historic value, but not communism nor any other form of totalitarianism… Without minimising the victims of antifascism and the crimes of NDH (WWII Independent State of Croatia), we can condemn all crimes that occurred also after the war, without justification…”

Croats of Sydney, Australia March for democracy in Croatia 1991 Photo: Ina Vukic

Croats of Sydney, Australia
March for democracy in Croatia
Photo: Ina Vukic

It’s such a shame that 25 years after getting out of communist Yugoslavia, Croatia is still fighting communism as intensively as it did within Yugoslavia! It’s such a shame that the head of the state, the president, has a need to say out loud that Croatia will not preserve communism – it should have been out the door as soon as the war finished and more time was at hand to deal with such issues. This way, the desperation and fight of communist sympathisers is becoming more extreme and more aggressive – often placing the reputation of Croatia on the line, often spreading hatred or causing it! Often feeding a misplaced nostalgia for the days of communist Yugoslavia, speaking of equality, brotherhood and social justice – seducing quite a few with such mind-frames that really never were real. Communism from Yugoslavia in Croatia is behaving these days like a raging wounded beast. It is not dead and it is not dead enough. If all else fails, driving a stake through its heart – with lustration as its spearhead – and arranging for a funeral in the darkness of the night might just do the trick. Eradicating communism is one of the most important tasks for Croatia’s immediate future. Much to be done – still!  Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

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