The Power Of The Croatian Diaspora

The Croatian diaspora sends more money to Croatia than what it earns from its summer tourism industry (which is considered the strongest arm of Croatia’s economy), wrote Bozo Skoko in Večernji list newspaper on Saturday 2 July 2022, after a survey on how expats perceive Croatia was completed.

According to the survey Croatian expatriates believe that the greatest advantages of the homeland are the sea and natural landscapes, tradition, cultural heritage, hospitality, gastronomy, rich history, while the greatest disadvantages are the weak economy, inefficient political power, the legacy of communism, low level of democracy and political culture, lack of community and care for the environment.

Although, according to the latest population census, Croatia has less than four million inhabitants, in reality it can boast of 8 million people of Croatian roots and interests if all the Croatian diasporas from all over the world are included. If we exclude Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatian minorities in neighbouring countries, the facts show that more than 4 million Croatian emigrants and their descendants live at and around various world meridians and parallels. Among the largest number of Croatians and those of Croatian origins living in the diasporas are those in the US, Canada, Australia, Chile, Argentina and Germany.

The Croatians living in the diaspora have always and still do represent a strong potential of political, social, and economic power.  Certainly, the 1990’s breakaway from communist Yugoslavia into independence proved that such a goal would not have been achieved without the support and involvement of the Croatian diaspora and this, in itself, is a testament to the diaspora’s power on all fronts. However, the questions that would arise are to what extent they “feel” Croatia, what Croatian identity means to them, what could attract them to visit the homeland of their ancestors more and to invest, promote it and lobby for its political interests. Many Croatian emigrants, especially those who fled the communist Yugoslavia after World War Two and their children and grandchildren are largely integrated into the mainstream societies they live in and are very sensitive to ideological issues in Croatia, the homeland from whence they originate. The survey has shown that it is these latter Croatian emigrants that often bring and maintain enthusiasm to the social activities of their communities in the diaspora. This, of course, is nothing new, it is a continuation of what the Croatian post WWII political emigration had been doing all along – maintaining Croatian identity throughout the world, language, culture, traditions and political aspirations of democracy and freedom. Utilising the freedoms gained and offered by the democracies of the West to maintain and nurture their identities while assimilating into multicultural societies they live in.

Croatian diaspora is made up of top scientists, humanists, philanthropists, experts and business people, who were not satisfied with the situation in the former Yugoslavia and in search of freedom and democracy and better living and working conditions built their careers in the West, and today they make up the elites of the societies there. They were joined by those who left Croatia in the last thirty years — from professionals, who, thanks to their talents, knowledge, and creativity, quickly integrated into new societies, to those who, in search of better-paid jobs and fairer societies, became attractive and still cheap labour to rapidly growing Western economies.

We must not forget the so-called “guest workers”, who since the 1960s have been going to Germany, Austria, Switzerland and other Western countries to make ends meet. While they always have one foot in their homeland, their children are educated and well-to-do citizens of the world, who like to spend their summers in Croatia, listen to Croatian music and rather support Croatia than the national teams of the country in which they were born.

In the first two quarters of last year, for instance, remittances from Croatian workers abroad totalled one billion and 745 million euros, while at the same time, the state’s income from foreign tourist arrivals was one billion and 494 million euros. This means that through various channels, Croatian workers from abroad sent 351 million euros to their homeland, or 23.5 percent, more than foreign tourists spent on accommodation, food or entertainment.

Although there was a fear that the monetary value of remittances would decrease due to the Covid pandemic, this did not happen in the Croatian case and remittances increased by as much as 206 million euros, i.e. by 13.5 percent more than the previous year. In the first quarter of last year alone, Croatians sent 890.7 million euros in remittances, and 854.3 million euros to the workforce from the beginning of April to the end of June 2021. So, in each quarter, Croatians abroad sent more money to their families than the state received in the first tranche from the European Union mechanisms for recovery and resilience.

These facts about the Croatian diaspora’s enormous ongoing contribution to Croatia’s economy, in addition to the relatively vast population of Croatians living abroad bring to the fore even more the tragedy of Croatian political and government leadership who continue ignoring and suppressing the significance of its diaspora. The government has few years ago created the so-called Centra State Office for Croats Abroad which was reportedly devised to actively engage the diaspora in advising the government what changes are needed in Croatia to further the development of democracy, increase expat return, increase investment is Croatia from its diaspora etc. However, this body is failing to deliver real changes and in its discriminatory process of nominations for advisers it has largely alienated Croats from the diaspora leaving as its backbone only those who are “yes” people to the government and its political party and who, evidently, do not dare raise their voice against the government and its policies. Were this advisory body a true representation of the Croatian diaspora communities then we could be looking at positive prospects of diaspora’s input into Croatia’s development. One would have thought that the years of this body’s existence, 55 advisors from all over the world, would have at least insisted in the adjusting of parliamentary representation for the diaspora from the current 3 seats back to 12 seats, which used to be from 1995 until 2010 when former communists in power (e.g., communist Yugoslavia nostalgic Jadranka Kosor as Prime Minister) took 9 seats in parliament away from the Croatian diaspora. The communist mindset and resistance to real input from the diaspora within the Croatian government is palpable at every corner and signpost on the path that was supposed to get rid of all communist Yugoslavia practices by now. The good thing is that Croatians appear to be waking up to this tragedy with actions. Thankfully, there are a number of organisations and private businesses in Croatia set up in the last decade especially, by returned expats who want to contribute to the betterment of Croatian living and economy despite the government’s aloofness towards the treasure trove of knowledge and skills that exists among the diaspora Croats. Looking forward to the 2024 general elections in Croatia and hoping for real change in government away from being bombarded by former communist operatives or their offspring.  Without that widespread corruption and nepotism will continue thriving and driving away into the diaspora, in pursuit of a better life, hundreds of thousands more people. Ina Vukic   

Croatia: International Recognition 30 Years On – The Grim Road Nobody Saw

Croatian Postage Stamp Honouring 30th Anniversary of International Recognition

After the newly inaugurated Parliament of the Republic of Croatia passed the Constitutional Decision on the Sovereignty and Independence of the Republic of Croatia on June 25, 1991, and the Decision on the Termination of State-Legal Relations with communist Yugoslavia on October 8, 1991, Croatia became an international recognised state on January 15, 1992. As at that date some 30 countries had officially recognised its independence. On January 16th, 1992, Australia had recognised Croatia’s independence thus becoming one of the first non-European countries to do this and by May 1992 some 77 countries had followed suit.  International recognition came in wartime conditions after Croatian military and police forces successfully defended much of the state’s territory from Greater Serbia aggression and suffered ethnic cleansing of Croats from one third of Croatia’s territory, mass murder, genocide, rapes, horrific tortures of Croats, with many villages and towns suffering devastation and destruction.

For 30 years, Croatia has established itself internationally, becoming a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and the European Union and numerous international organisations, and has made a significant contribution to building world peace by participating in peacekeeping operations. 

On 15 January 2022, we also mark the 24th anniversary of the successful completion of the process of peaceful reintegration of the Croatian Danube region into the constitutional order of the Republic of Croatia.

It must also be noted that for 30 years Croatia has failed miserably at completing its transition from communism into democracy. The central values of the Homeland War that brought its independence have not been upheld to any noticeable degree. It must be noted that Croatian authorities have consistently been pushing Croatian independence activists out of the picture starting with forced retirement of some 18 Army Generals in 2000 and ignoring, or rather, purposefully omitting to give due respect and recognition to all who have contributed in the creation of the independent Republic of Croatia and its diplomatic relations and missions across the world. Croatia’s diplomatic and consular missions have consistently ignored to invite to their stately celebrations and functions in the diaspora the majority of the individuals who sacrificed so very much for Croatia, even the many holding Croatia’s Medals of Honour for taking significant part in the creation of the independence are consistently shunned and ignored and “new” faces brought to functions and celebrations who were never seen at crucial activities for independence but kept a safe distance from it all. This is not to say that “new” faces are not welcome, but it becomes deeply disturbing to a Croatian patriot when the people who sacrificed much even in the establishment of Diplomatic-Consular Missions are not respected as a group and given the respect they deserve. The “fashion” it seems for the last 22 years is that one or two such persons are chosen symbolically and invited to stately functions and rest ignored because they may have criticised the government for inefficiency in the transition from communism! I recently asked a very prominent person in the creation of Croatia’s independence and help for the war effort to defend Croatia if he were invited to a recent function the Croatian Embassy had organised and his response was: “No Ina, I have not towed the Party line, their line, for quite some time so I am not welcome there …”.     

Former communists or their offspring have persistently held power since year 2000. ensuring lustration does not proceed, hence, ensuring corruption and nepotism rooted in communist Yugoslavia thrive – still to this day!

Zeljko Glasnovic

To demonstrate the above persistence in keeping the communist mindset thriving in Croatia I found the best evidence in retired General Zeljko Glasnovic’s Fabebook posting the day before the 30th anniversary of the international recognition of Croatian independence in which he quoted the stark and awful reminder by Don Vinko Puljic about the terrifying facts of the Croatian communist-laced powers in control of the country. The quote goes like this:

Tomorrow, the Croatian state will celebrate the 30th birthday of its international recognition.

Many will remember many great moments and achievements on this occasion, so I decided to make a modest contribution to saving from oblivion at least some of the works (of corruption and grand theft) that have marked and defined modern Croatian society over these three decades:

Prime Minister: Prison. ✔

Deputy Prime Minister: Prison. ✔

Head of the Prime Minister’s Office: Prison. ✔

Minister of Economy: Prison. ✔

Minister of Agriculture: Community work sentence. ✔

Minister of the Interior: Prison. ✔

Minister of Defence: Prison. ✔

Minister of EU Funds: Prison. ✔

Minister of Culture: Prison. ✔

Minister of Construction: Prison. ✔

Minister of Administration: Awaiting criminal trial. ✔

Secretary of State: Prison. ✔

SOA (Security and Intelligence Agency) Director: Prison. ✔

VSOA (Military Security and Intelligence Agency) Director: Prison. ✔

VSOA Deputy Director: Prison. ✔

Permanent Representative to the UN: Prison. ✔

Mayor of the capital city: Prison. ✔

Mayor, miscellaneous: Prison. ✔

Mayor, miscellaneous: Prison. ✔

Prefect, miscellaneous: Prison. ✔

Deputy Mayor, miscellaneous: Prison. ✔

Member of Parliament, various: Prison. ✔

Party president, miscellaneous: Prison. ✔

Executive President of Dinamo: On the run from prison. ✔

President of Hajduk: Prison. ✔

President of Rijeka: Prison. ✔

President of Osijek: Prison. ✔

President of the largest company in the country: Prison. ✔

Dean of the Faculty of Law: Prison. ✔

Director of City Cemeteries: Prison. ✔

President of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce: Prison. ✔

Director of Croatian Roads: Prison. ✔

Director of Croatian Motorways: Prison. ✔

President of the Board of the Croatian Railways: Prison. ✔

President of the Board of Croatian Forests: Awaiting criminal trial. ✔

Director of Hrvatske vode (Croatian Water): Community labour sentence. ✔

Croatian TV HRT director: Prison. ✔

Director of JANAF (Adriatic Oil Pipeline): Prison. ✔

Director of the Croatian Lottery: Prison. ✔

Director of HEP (Croatian Electricity): Prison. ✔

Director of INA (Croatian Naphtha Industry) : Prison. ✔

Member of the Supervisory Board, various: Prison. ✔

Congratulations to all the others who are not mentioned, and who have also in these 30 years in a similarly selfless and generous way built and shaped the land we have dreamed of for centuries and will leave to our children.”

To compound the problems Croatia has created for itself via its inept governments through these past three decades, heavily laced with communist mindset and corruption, the Late 2021 Census now reveals that Croatia has lost just under 10% of its population within 10 years which loss is mainly reflected in the mass exodus of young or working-aged people to other countries in search of employment and better living standards. True, there have been quite a number of Croats returning to live in Croatia from the diaspora but still about 400,000 have vanished and Croatia’s population now officially stands at 3.88 million.

One may hope that the coming decade will see a move in the right direction designed to eradicate corruption and theft to attract more people back into Croatia. For a multitude of Croatian patriots including those who actively participated in the creation of its independence the past 30 years could easily be described as horrible and gut-wrenching. Perhaps that is the price of abandoning communism and paying in blood for that? In any case this anniversary is the best thing that happens in the lives of Croatians who helped deliver independence! Congratulations and thank you to all involved! Ina Vukic  

Nest Of Hate Speech in Croatia – “Croslavia”

CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE

“If there was a university degree for greed, you cunts would all get first class honours,” said in the Australian Parliament in 1985 The Hon. Paul Keating, Treasurer (who became Australian Prime Minister in late 1991), after backbenchers had complained about having to substantiate, for tax purposes, their electoral allowances. Translating that greed into greed for power and control Keating’s quote could well be placed with today’s Croatian government.

“Enough with deception and reckless trampling on human values without responsibility.” Wrote on his Facebook profile 22-year old Danijel Bezuk from Kutina near Zagreb some 20 minutes before he marched up to the Croatian Government building at St Mark’s Square on Monday 12 October 2020, holding a shotgun and firing from it towards the building, wounding a policeman guarding the government offices, walking away and then fatally shooting himself in the nearby Jabukovac/Tuskanac.

Andrej Plenkovic’s, Croatia’s Prime Minister’s first response to the shooting was that of seemingly utter surprise and saying “we must ask ourselves where does this radicalisation come from?” Suggesting, in no uncertain terms, that this young shooter, that people at large, have no reason to despair, to enter into acts of desperation by shooting at the government building. Then, within hours, Plenkovic announces that the government will do all in its power to locate “the nest of hate speech” from where influence for acts such as young Bezuk’s comes from. Of course, all the while pointing at the parliamentary right wing or Patriotic opposition and in particular the leader of the dr Miroslav Skoro Patriotic Movement (Domovinski Pokret) and its evidently much respected by the public outspoken government critic Member of Parliament Karolina Vidovic Kristo. At the same time Plenkovic lets out his fears that he himself may have been the intended target of young Bezuk’s shooting. Then veterans’ Minister Tomo Medved together with police Minister Davor Bozinovic get on the lynch bandwagon which would see to it that the government investigates, scrolls through social media etc, to look at even the slightest possibility of anything anybody said in public that could have influenced young Bezuk to commit such a crime… The government seems to be using the proverbial fine-tooth comb to run through social media, print media, portals, past public gatherings etc to find what they call “hate speech” that influences or encourages such “radicalism”!  

It is clear that what the government is really looking for is not hate speech but protests against the governments and presidents who have since year 2000 brought Croatia to a life of desperation for multitudes of citizens. But they are set to call protests hate speech regardless of the fact that just about all protests and all criticisms of the government and the presidents have been about lack of democratising Croatia, lack of decommunising Croatia, lack of actions in ridding Croatia of crippling corruption and nepotism, protection of family unit, protection against the Instanbul Convention, etc. In short, it has been the governments themselves that have stopped transition from communism into full democracy in Croatia since year 2000 or since the Independence War fully ended in 1998.

It would seem that Croatia’s Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic is staring in the face of the fate minority governments face (his government only got just under 17% of votes when the entire voter body is counted) and refuses to accept the fact that he is leading the government of a country where the majority of people are against the government or have not bothered to even vote in July of this year, which amounts to widespread disillusionment anyway.

Since year 2000, across Croatia, we have witnessed waves of protests against governments that were and are well-padded with former Yugoslav communists and rebel Serbs who attacked Croatia in 1990 when it wanted out of communist Yugoalavia. We have witnessed Presidents of Croatia, since year 2000 i.e., since Franjo Tudjman’s death, criminalising Croatia’s efforts in defending its people and nation during the brutal Serb/Yugoslav aggression in the 1990’s, even standing behind the politically trumped-up UN International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia charges of joined criminal enterprise against Croatian generals, instead of insisting on their innocence, which innocence was later proven by the ICTY Appeal Tribunal (2012). We have seen since year 2000 corruption and nepotism thrive to the point where hundreds upon hundreds of thousands of young people have left Croatia to seek a better life elsewhere. We have seen since year 2000 an increasing boldness on the streets of Croatia in celebrating the murderous and oppressive Yugoslav communism and trampling over Croatia’s Independence War veterans and their rights and dignity. We have seen since year 2000 an intolerable process of equating the Croatian victim and Serb aggressor from that war.

The list of misfortunes and tragedies that have enveloped the Croatian nation since its glorious victory over communist oppression and corruption could go on but for the purposes of this article the above should suffice, I believe.

Frequently, however, the Croatians protesting against the enduring communist mindset that rules Croatia are being misrepresented and belittled, insulted and often ignored in the news media and protesters dubbed fascists or Ustashas or Nazis. The fact that the Yugoslav communist regime has been declared just as criminal as the Nazi one by the European Parliament about a year ago means nothing to the mainstream media that carries a candle for the communist apparatchiks ruling the country.

What is more worrying still, both the government and the mainstream media, by ignoring the messages written by young Bezuk, by labelling healthy and fact-based criticisms of the government’s incompetence as fascism are actually attacking freedom of speech rather than acknowledging it, exercising it, in orde to call for institutional reform so that living in Croatia the way it was envisaged in 1990 and 1991 when Croatia cut its ties with communist Yugoslavia could come to fruition for most people. Institutional reform as dictated by events occurring among the people is the political action of the very kind freedom of speech aims at protecting. Not in Croatia, though.

Its government has during the past week in particular by its reactions to the Bezuk shooting demonstrated that Croatia is in fact Croslavia, as retired general and former member of Croatian Parliament Zeljko Glasnovic has been saying and dubbing Croatia’s stubborn resistance to radical changes needed to exit from communism, for several years now. But he too, is ignored by mainstream media just like multitudes of others who desire and work for Croatia to become a functional democracy.

The notion of freedom of speech is being co-opted by the Croatian government with dominant ex-communist or current pro-communist groups, and distort it to serve their interests, and use it to silence those who are oppressed or marginalised, such as those who actually put their lives on the line during Croatian Homeland War as well as those who dare to criticise the government loudly. All too often, when people depict others as threats to freedom of speech, threats to peace and security, threats to radicalisation, what they really mean is, “Shut up!” and “If you don’t shut up, we will silence you!” Sound familiar, anyone? If not, just roll back to the times of communist Yugoslavia with more than a million Croats escaping from oppression or from not being able to feed the family; hundreds of thousands of Croats purged, mass murdered or imprisoned for political reasons; corruption and large-scale theft of public goods…

Yes, the Croatian Homeland War is not ended yet as many will tell you. The military aggression has stopped but still continues the combat to oust communism and its mind set. The same enemy of independent Croatia exists today as it did in 1990 only today the issue is tragically deeper. The war veterans who fought on war fronts to defend Croatia during the Homeland War have since year 2000 been made redundant or retired while those that spent not a single day defending Croatian people’s lives from Serb aggression, or did not want an independent Croatia at all, or were on the rebel Serb murderers side during the war, have become the internal enemy of Croatian independence and full democracy.

And still, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic has the gall to blame the parliamentary patriotic opposition, or individual politicians or academics or political activists for Bezuk’s shooting at the government building on Monday 12th October. He has the gall of labelling clear and needed protest against the government as radicalism. The shooting is indeed a crime under criminal law and must be treated as such but as far as radicalism goes that was the oath and promise Croatian War of independence gave to Croatian people.

In his speeches at the May 1990 inauguration of Croatian Parliament and in October 1991 when that parliament voted to cut legal ties and secede from communist Yugoslavia, President dr. Franjo Tudjman said: “…our most important task for our new democracy is to introduce and implement radical measures for socio-political changes…”! It is more than clear that majority of Croatian people have had enough from their governments and presidents since year 2000 and that any radicalism perceived as such by Andrej Plenkovic’s government is not radicalism but an old promise being finally delivered or being attempted for delivery to the 94% of voters who voted in 1991 in favour of secession from communist Yugoslavia.

And so, it appears to me that Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic need not look any further for a nest of hate speech that may have influenced young Bezuk to shoot at the government building – Plenkovic is sitting in that nest. It’s a nest of hate speech against Croatian independence, hate speech against Croatian national identity, hate speech against the glorious values for which a terrible war of defence was fought in 1990’s. Surely, the lot that governs, the lot that spread the government’s propaganda in mainstream media, the lot that supports them, must have done a risk assessment at some point in time and concluded that there will come a time when people will rise against the government that brings no needed changes, implements no needed changes to root out corruption and nepotism, to root out political stacking among public servants and administration, to root out political party associated power at all levels of society. Given the government acts surprised by the shooting on Monday and points the finger of blame against everybody else but itself, it does seem that the lot that governs hasn’t done any such risk assessment, or, they have always had weapons to suppress dissent up their sleeves, such as dictatorship and punishing dissent. Many signs are surfacing for 2021 to be a year of numerous and large protests against the government as the political platform it currently pursues with the degrading of the values of the Homeland War is palpably a political time bomb. Ina Vukic

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