Croatia – Persistent Grief For Victims Is A Call For Justice

Photos: Screenshots news

Croatia’s Homeland War consequences are still unsettling – a lot. The frequent commemorations at graves of victims or massacre sites of Serb aggression against Croatia convey a clear message of permanent expressions of profound, prolonged and intense grief of a nation, still after 26 years, crying for justice. The country’s pivotal operations, including the diplomatic core, are riddled with communist mindset unwilling to surrender to Croatia’s 1990’s original national creed of independence and full democracy away from communist Yugoslavia. The Serb aggressor has not in meaningful and lasting terms answered for the responsibility of aggression and hatred waged against a nation that chose to secede from communist Yugoslavia.

This week of 18th November 2017 marks 26 years from the fall of Vukovar and massacres and ethnic cleansing of Croats and other non-Serbs from their homes; it marks also the massacres of Croats in Skabrnje; it marks also the amazing love for freedom and the multitudes of Croatian victims who perished in the early 1990’s defending its resolve to secede from communist Yugoslavia, resist a Greater Serbia expansion, and build a nation of freedom and democracy.

Not a week passes in Croatia, it seems, that we don’t come across a marking of anniversaries of terror waged against the Croatian freedom fighters, whether that be the scaffolds, the mass graves from the 1990’s Homeland War or those of communist Yugoslavia crimes. Intense grieving for the victims never seems to subside; intense anger at the lack of justice for the victims is ever-present, intense need to justify (because others/pro-communists have wrongfully embarked upon criminalising it) defending Croatia from aggression in the 1990’s Homeland War that was – unquestionably – just. A nation arrested in grief unable to truly and fully move forward, channelling one into thinking and worrying as how all this will manifest in future generations.

As things stand now the foreseeable future in Croatia is unlikely to bring any significant reprieve from the state of prolonged grief and confusion when it comes to lack of justice for the victims of the Homeland War. Year in and year out the status remains the same, some courageous political leaders and citizens speak the same: we need justice for the victims. Instead of pointing the finger in Serbia’s direction, for guilt and war damages compensation to Croatia, president of Croatia Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic decided in Vukovar or Saturday 18 November upon a populist statement that may appease emotions of the grieving Croats but shows absolutely nothing in the way of a future where intense grief would be requited by acts (instead of hope) of justice for the victims and country, giving way to building a better future where assertive emancipation of the nation’s original goals of democracy (severed fully from communism and communist mindset influencing the governance of the country) and prosperity.

We hear every year, year after year, how Serbia needs to come clean regarding the missing in Croatia from its war of aggression against Croatia.

A lot of water will flow in the Dunav river before Croatia and Serbia become friendly states, but that doesn’t mean we cannot talk to them, our responsibility is to talk and solve the open questions such about those that are still missing that is a humanitarian question, which we have to solve as soon as possible, ” Grabar Kitarovic said.

Tracking her and her dimplomacy’s relations with Serbia one couldn’t possibly see any genuine intention on her part as far as the connotations of this statement are concerned. We’ve heard it all before – for at least 20 years in fact.

One would expect that to truly insist on justice, to truly insist upon solving the issue of the still missing, after 26 years, Croatia’s leaders would cease employing the diplomatic staff that have obviously not been doing a good job at moving beyond the impasse with Serbia on the issue of the missing.

Instead of intent to continue talks with Serbia on this and similar issues president Grabar-Kitarovic would have convinced us better of the genuineness in her efforts to resolve the question of the missing with Serbia were she announcing in Vukovar the blatantly clear picture that Croatia’s diplomatic core needs a severe shake up. A shake-up which would sift out the pro-communist Yugoslavia, the former communist operatives and bring in fresh untainted by communism staff who might do a better job than their predecessors when it comes to diplomacy with a country that was also a member state of communist Yugoslavia but which did not want a break-up of Yugoslavia.

Friendship per se has nothing to do with diplomacy when it comes to resolving critical issues that are important to the soothing of grief for victims of war of aggression prevalent in ones nation (Croatia). Business is business and, at that, friendships and any emotional or politically sensitive ties due to previous coexistence under the Yugoslav flag should be closely scrutinized, for it is these that interfere with objective justice. Croatia’s diplomatic core is riddled with former communist Yugoslavia operatives and it’s a fool’s paradise to think things can change regarding the missing while they go about playing the diplomatic game with Serbia for the interests of Croatia and Croatian people.

So I choose to heed the words of a man taking part in Vukovar’s remembrance procession on Saturday who said:

I think we should be restoring people’s lives more than some monuments, that people have a job, have a good time and that they don’t leave this town,” he said.


For that to occur it is essential to recognise that, in aid of maintaining the destructive notion that communism and Yugoslavia were well-functioning platforms for people to live under, things of national importance for Croatia have become warped and distorted. The relationship that normally exists between national creed/orthodoxy and revisionism in historical writing as well as living itself has been reversed in Croatia. Specifically, in the case of Croatia, the national creed of righteousness of the fight for freedom only lived a relatively short time without disruptions before the former communists began with revisionist injections, claiming that the fight for freedom is to be criminalized while permitting constant claims how communist Yugoslavia was a great place to live in. It’s usually the case that the national creed precedes revisionism in historical writings: the first historians to write about great events generally accept official explanations for them – not in Croatia, not with so many former communists who didn’t want an independent Croatia in the first place. The overwhelming majority of citizens (94% of voters) voted to secede from communist Yugoslavia and defend that decision and belief with bare life defined Croatia’s national creed regarding the 1990’s Homeland War. The righteousness of that national creed moved the nation in 1990 with its diaspora to the robes of David against the Goliath (communist Yugoslavia led by Serbia and its determination for a Greater Serbia to be created via brutal aggression against Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina in particular). This was not at all an easy task, particularly given the fact that a great many of Croatian powerful communists acted against the very idea, let alone emancipation, of an independent Croatia, away from communism.

Restoring people’s lives after a major war requires a national consensus on moral judgment for the war. It requires an affirmation on the national level of the righteousness of its national creed that catapulted it to today. Croatia, today, suffers a disturbing and disquieting dichotomy when it comes to the assertion of righteousness of moral judgment of its defence efforts against Serb and Yugoslav Army aggression in the 1990’s. Croatia must reverse the relationship between national creed and revisionism.

With the passage of time and the coming into power of former communists in Croatia (emboldened by foreign biased powers) and the lack of lustration with view to enabling Croatia to move forward into a functioning democracy do we end up with palpable skepticism in the Croatian society regarding the Homeland War. Croatian defenders, victims and Croatia’s status as victim-nation become lost – fretful for due recognition and justice. Its goals of freedom and democracy become bastardised as the Homeland War is shown by former communist leaders and notables as a criminalised venture, the push to equate the victim with the aggressor creating confusion, anger and helplessness for a nation largely arrested in prolonged grief due to lack of justice for victims of the war of aggression. The fight against communism in Croatia constantly being devalued and made to appear irrelevant and yet it was crucial for the nation voting to secede from communist Yugoslavia.

Lustration would indeed put a significant stop to the communist revisionists of Croatia’s Homeland War – the equating of victim with the aggressor would experience the deserved quashing blow. Croatia’s communists never wanted an independent Croatia and all the revisionism regarding its war of defence, all half-baked attempts to influence the delivery of justice to the victims, have a great deal to do with that fact.

The task for Croatia’s leaders must become one of insisting in unison that the Homeland War was necessary for precisely the reasons that the Croatian people and leaders at the time said it was: to preserve the credibility of people’s wishes to secede from Yugoslavia, because of which they had no choice but to fight the war in order to defend the nation and its people. To achieve that unison, lustration is absolutely necessary.

Croatia achieved a military victory over Serb and communist Yugoslavia Army aggressor. The persisting efforts to equate the victim (Croatia) with the aggressor (Serbia) pretty much have the effect of minimising or even belittling the significance of that military victory, giving way to controversies that should not be. Giving way to unrelenting and intense grief for the victims-without-justice across the nation.

If, as a nation, Croatia reflected seriously on the journey from independence through the lack of full emancipation of the goals set for that independence, we would have to acknowledge that the threat to freedom and democracy through continuing enslavement of the nation by communist mindset is something that is arresting progress and keeping the nation in a prolonged, constant state of grief. As long as there are present systems and structures which deny citizens of Croatian the opportunities and the judicial system commensurate with a full democracy (away from communist come socialist bureaucracy), social justice free from corruption, rights, and respect, emancipation of its 1990/1991 original goals remains an ideal and communism or its off-cuts will continue retarding the glory due for Croatia’s independence.

The purpose of history is to unearth and engage with those truths that have something to teach us. This requires a willingness to interpret and render moral judgments; the moral judgments that will emancipate the grounds upon which a terrible war was fought for a better future. A moral judgment based on the national creed for Croatia’s independence has the power to unleash the decisive will and power in mobilising lustration in Croatia. Ina Vukic

Pot Calls Kettle Black – Agrokor Corruption And Political Wile In Croatia

Agrokor’s owner Ivica Todoric,
leaves Westminster Magistrates Court in London,
Britain November 7, 2017.
Photo: REUTERS/Simon Dawson

High corruption risks and practices, political patronage and nepotism, and inefficient bureaucracy rolled over from former communist days are among the challenges that Croatia has not truly dealt with yet. To deal with that lustration would be an absolute essential.  Corruption and bribery are especially prevalent in the judiciary, public procurement, and the building and construction sector. While the primary legal framework regulating corruption and bribery is contained in the Criminal Code and the Corporate Criminal Liability Act, which make individuals and companies criminally liable for corrupt practices including active and passive bribery, money laundering and abuse of functions. Facilitation payments are prohibited, and gifts may be considered illegal depending on their value or intent. The mechanisms and practice of policing and monitoring compliance with the relevant legislation is practically non-existent. Hence, the road to what is there today with the Agrokor concern – too late to save the company or the livelihood of tens of thousand employees.

Media is running flaming hot in Croatia and abroad regarding the Tuesday 7 November corruption and fraud charges arrest at London Met Police of Ivica Todoric, majority owner of Agrokor business concern whose plummeting towards bankruptcy has also been threatening to bankrupt the country as a whole. One wonders, though, how much of this concentrated hype against Todoric has been designed to hide away from the media spotlight and responsibility of those not related to Todoric family or Agrokor staff. How many in the current and past governments, how many currently sitting in the Croatian Parliament have had their fingers in the Agrokor pie since its foundation during the time of former communist Yugoslavia.

How much of this concentrated media and government effort against the Todoric clan (however justified under law and justice) is in effect a ploy to save the government from falling! Friday 10 November is bound to be a day of upheaval and patience generally running very thin as the yet another vote (in about 18 months’ time span)  of no confidence in the government jumps onto the agenda for the day’s proceedings. Reportedly the opposition Social Democrats are seeking a vote of no confidence against the HDZ- led government.

As both Social Democrats/SDP and Croatian Democratic Union/HDZ have held government power in Croatia since independence from communist Yugoslavia and, many of their leading individual powerful members had held positions of power in the former communist regime, which institutionalised corruption and theft in that country, one truly cannot trust that Social Democrats’ motives are noble in this. How many thieves and corrupt individuals are they trying to hide, one wonders.

Croatia’s richest businessman Ivica Todoric, the founder and owner biggest private food and retail company, the drowning Agrokor that’s been shaking Croatia’s economy for months, threatening to bankrupt the country, was arrested after reportedly handing himself in to the Met Police Tuesday 7 November 2017 in London amid allegations of corruption, fraud. It is alleged that he has embezzled millions from his large retail company, leading it into a massive bankruptcy that is now an issue of national concern in Croatia and the countries around it. Todoric appeared in Westminster Magistrates’ Court and District Judge Richard Blake granted him freedom on 100,000 British pounds ($132,000) bail.

A European Arrest Warrant was issued after the firm collapsed, having amassed debts of over 5 billion euro. Criminal prosecutions have begun in Croatia against 14 senior figures at Agrokor, including Todoric, on suspicions of corruption and forgery. Todoric denies any wrongdoing, is accused of falsifying accounts to hide unsustainable debts estimated at £4.8bn (€5.4bn).

Asked by District Judge Richard Blake whether he consented or objected to the extradition request from Zagreb, Todoric said he would oppose being sent back to his home country, Reuters reports.

Prosecutor Benjamin Seifert, appearing on behalf of the Croatian authorities, told the court Todoric faced three charges back home — false accounting, fraud by false representation and abuse of position — amounting to a total alleged fraud worth about 110 million Euros.

The court heard that there was a worldwide freeze on Todoric’s assets.

This is extremely serious offending,” Seifert said.

The context in which I grant you bail is the knowledge that both within this country and throughout the world, your assets are frozen and your ability to obtain money is limited,” Judge Blake said from the bench. “The security is a very small sum in the context of what sums I have heard being spoken of.”

The judge also set conditions requiring that Todoric wear an electronic tag between midnight and 3 a.m., sign in at a London police station three times a week and give up his travel documents.

Agrokor, which began as a flower-growing operation in the former Yugoslavia in the 1970s, underwent a rapid expansion over the past decades that saw it run up debts of about 6 billion euros ($7 billion). The company employs about 60,000 people throughout the Croatia and neighbouring countries and is so large it now accounts for about 15 percent of Croatia’s gross domestic product. Its debt is too large for the government to rescue it without endangering the state’s financial stability including superannuation or pension funds that have invested in the company.

Although Todoric still formally owns 95 percent of Agrokor, the Croatian government, having rushed in a special law known as “Lex Agrokor” a few months ago has taken over management of the company. It is now trying to keep it alive through restructuring and negotiations with major creditors, which include Russia’s Sberbank and VTB bank, to which it owes 1.4 billion euros and who want their money back.

After he appeared on Europol’s fugitive arrest list, Todoric wrote on his blog that he was not hiding and that his conscience was clear.

As a man whose human rights are deeply violated I have the right to oppose political persecution,” Todoric wrote. “Today, I too am fighting against a corrupt system in Croatia,” he wrote on 6 November 2017, the day before he handed himself in to London Met Police.

Todoric has always claimed that the government illegally took over his company and indicated that he will fight his extradition on the grounds that he is the victim of political pursuit.

Political pursuit, Mr Todoric, has been there always, only before you used it to benefit yourself, to wrongfully create and amass wealth and now you use it to crucify those that helped you in that. Out with the lot of you and your communist heritage – in with lustration! Ina Vukic




Croatia: Only People Of Integrity Must Vie For Public Office

Croatian National Revival Painting by Vlaho Bukovac 1895

Croatian National Revival
Painting by Vlaho Bukovac 1895

Almost 27 years into its existence and the Croatian Parliament often seems to struggle tolerating or even acknowledging those members who sit in it and who persist in naming policies of priority to be developed and implemented, which the government of the day has failed to address. Initiatives crucially important to the advancement of Croatia’s original goal of a functioning modern democratic state removed from its communist past articulated in the parliament’s chamber are never reciprocated with an intend-to-action or follow-up nod from the parliament’s chair. Regardless of the procedural constraints a parliament or any organisation of that matter may have, which on appearance may justify inaction on important initiatives from the parliament’s chamber, it is a fact, nevertheless, that a parliament exists to manage the State so that it ultimately delivers on its nation’s (people’s) yearnings and striving. And in Croatia, regretfully, one often gets the feeling that those in government think they know best as to how to govern the State and would rather see the whole country ruined than admitting needing assistance from those who actually do know a thing or two about governing particular strands of nation’s priorities. This, of course, is the fodder that feeds senseless and detrimental to the nation power trips of individuals. Somehow, among Croatian government leaders the notion of camaraderie and teamwork with the people is lost and yet it is precisely that element of governance that makes a democracy thrive.

From this, springs to mind the realisation that Croatia has not yet churned out enough true politicians that will deliver on what Croatia started out with delivering in 1990 – a functioning democracy, fair to its past, fair to its today and fair to its future in all aspects.

A well-developed civil society as a functioning arm of a well-developed and well-functioning nation includes the organisations that act in the public’s interest but are not motivated by profit or government. Croatia may from a bird’s point of view appear as a civil society because within it operate various organisations of NGO character as well as churches or workers’ unions (which all form a part of civil society) but in fact, serious issues stare one in the face – seeing that even the meaning of civil society, or rather its components, appear misconstrued or misunderstood in Croatia. For instance, we have often seen and heard the so-called politicians, the so-called highly regarded professionals as well as highly regarded political analysts, as well as journalists, complain about a view or a sermon delivered to the nation by a church and insisting that the State must be secular! Well of course the State is secular, but the church is also an important part of every civil society. Denying the church such a status in Croatia is yet another point in evidence how miserably communist trends still pervade important networks crucial for advancement of a nation there. Yet another example why civil society does not operate as it should in Croatia lies in the many NGO’s apparent close ties to the governing or to the oppositional “persuasion” because such loyalties may hold guarantees of continued financing for the NGO year in and year out; these NGO’s fail miserably at doing their job they are supposed to do – operate outside the government or government’s opposition or their influences, and should, upon review and inspection be disabled through government funding withdrawals or a complete overhaul (even lustration where necessary) of their head honchos.

A properly functioning Civil society may incite citizens to hate or love the people they elected into the parliament, or those they didn’t; it may persuade the people to hate the Parliament, it may persuade the people to change the configuration of representation of their parliament and the parameters of the nation’s Constitution, it may provide the essential jolt to bringing about changes within the society of crucial and progressive nature, but there is no way one can become a policy maker without becoming a politician. Engineers, doctors, lawyers, teachers … without functional education and jumping cognitively constrictive barriers usually imposed by long-term pursuits in a particular profession have no adequate capacity to manage a State properly, as managing a State means including in ones management all the grassroots that do or may emerge and that is by its nature a tricky endeavour to achieve. Once professionals in a certain field, focus on effort and functional education, through which a transformation into good politicians is achieved, the State has a great chance of being governed as it deserves or as it should be.

Indeed, politics is the highest calling open to those who have the wisdom, vision, principle, and the courage and skill in managing a State and take the nation’s heartbeat to the heights of its own yearning.

Croatian society, like all others, is made up of factions with varied interests, aspirations, and value systems. The various factions don’t normally have equal influence, power, knowledge or wisdom. It is the regulation of these various interests that forms the principal task of modern, relevant legislation, and, therefore, good governance. A good government is one that sees itself as an arbiter, mediating the varying interests of the various groups whose actions may undermine the legitimate interests of any of the groups or the common interests of all through its various institutions, including the Parliament.

The widely present perception that politics is a dirty game is simply unfortunate. Politics may be a difficult game, fraught with dangers, but it doesn’t have to be dirty. What makes politics look dirty are big interests or lobbies bent on hijacking influence to advance their goals, which for the most part are injurious to national interest. And, Croatia is fraught with such dirty games where politics of the powerful protect even the most unacceptable, the most destructive forces inherited from its communist past such as nepotism, corruption and political elitism. Where fraud, nepotism and corruption lingering from communist days continue poisoning much of the progress Croatia should by now have made in its laboured path to a fair, just, modern democratic nation.

Politics is not something that intelligent, heroic and knowledgeable citizens should avoid. If there is any time that Croatia needs functionally educated, courageous people to represent the bone marrow of its independent existence – that time is now.

Croatia is in a desperate need for good politicians who will keep on task in delivering, or attempting to deliver, on major issues plaguing Croatia’s progress into a modern and solid nation that takes care of and guarantees a decent living for its people. Croatia is in a desperate need of politicians who will join all Croats into one functioning, breathing in unison and perfect accord, nation – those that live in Croatia and those that live abroad. Every Croat, everywhere, is in a position of responsibility and, in the final analysis the kind of government, the kind of politicians Croatia gets depends on how all Croats fulfill those responsibilities. Croatia, as with all other countries, will always get the political leadership, be it good or bad, that its people demand or deserve. Settling for second best, after Franjo Tudjman’s death in 1999, seems to have been the way because the best simply did not emerge or did not exist.

Politics need not be dirty, as often portrayed for whatever reason. Croats simply cannot afford keeping away from participating in politics either as voters, opinion leaders and policy makers. This I say in observation of a rather widespread opinion in Croatia and abroad that there’s no use doing anything because the prevailing “liberal” (read pro-communist in Croatia’s case) forces have suffocated any hope or trace of hope for the originally planned freedom, prosperity and democracy in Croatia. An overwhelming air of helplessness and surrender to apathy is dangerous for every one of us and for a nation – perilous! To get rid of dirty politicians, only people of integrity must vie for public office in Croatia and that integrity is the quality defined by the people and it must include the strength of endeavours to rid everyday Croatia of its communist past, of course, political parties do their damage through various modes of pressure and fear-mongering at this level, but – still – there is tomorrow!



General Zeljko Glasnovic Member of Croatian Parliament for the Diaspora

General Zeljko Glasnovic
Member of Croatian Parliament
for the Diaspora

Because of its relevancy to the point made in this article that politics need not be a dirty game but should be pursued by all who care about their nation, at this point I extract a question directed to General Zeljko Glasnovic, Member of Croatian Parliament for the Diaspora, by Slobodna Dalmacija journalist Snjezana Setka in August 2016 and his answer:

“Question: Are Croatian threatened with disappearance if they don’t get actively involved in politics?

Answer: If you tire of politics, that does not mean the end of politics, that means the end of that nation. You need time for a mental set to change. Look, in America you have more sects in one city than in the whole of Croatia. But the deadliest sect in which people were imprisoned for 50 years since the 19th century was Marxism-Leninism. And they have not come out of it. And you cannot move forward unless you accept certain things…

Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

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