Breaking Bread With The Diaspora

President of Croatia
Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic

It has come to my attention that the Office of the President of Croatia is on 21 July organising “Open Doors Day for Croatian Diaspora and Croatian Minority Communities Abroad”.

One does, however, from the perspective of Croatia itself, wonder why “Croatian ethnic minorities abroad” are separated in this event’s title from the concept of the diaspora. At any rate and assuming there may be “logical” reasons for this differentiation in the title, the issues-driven profile of intended attendees confuses many.

Nevertheless, this is a nice and needed gesture but bound to be “more of the same” empty political rhetoric theatre stage unless it’s actually followed by government-level affirmative actions that will lift the Croatian diaspora as an integral part of Croatia and enroot diaspora plights, which coincide with the plights of some political figures and activists in Croatia itself, for the betterment of Croatian nation and its life. To be precise: decommunisation.

The fact is that (unlike ethnic minorities within Croatia) the diaspora has a clear focus on collective memory of Croatia as a nation and a collective thrust for democratisation, away from former communist mindset, and for the betterment of life in Croatia. That is the reason why the Croatian diaspora had in 1990’s, at and around the time when Croatians voted overwhelmingly to secede from Yugoslavia, played a vital role in Croatia’s fight for independence from communist Yugoslavia.

But, as fact would have it, ever since about year 2000 a systematic mindset led by former communists, who paint themselves with antifascist colours even though they retain communist stature, has eroded drastically Croatia’s ties with the Croatian diaspora.

There is no doubt whatsoever that the strength and persistence of diaspora depends upon the strength and weakness of the homeland. Strong homelands facilitate the maintenance of diasporas; weak homelands are less able to do this. Croatia was a strong homeland for the diaspora during 1990’s, in fact it was one with the homeland and that is where the roots of its successful actions for the independence of Croatia lie. Since 2000, Croatia has been a weak homeland for its diaspora and the fact that Croatian parliamentary seats representing the diaspora were drastically reduced in the years after demonstrates this clearly.

Although Croatian governments and presidents since the year 2000 (including current president Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic) have fostered the myth of return among its diaspora in order to preserve at least some linkage to it, Croats from the diaspora have not necessarily been welcomed back. It has often been said and thought that this is because they might undermine the homeland’s social fabric and political value system, and threaten the existing elite’s hold on power. Only few politicians and public persons of note (including the most diligent one so far on the issues of the diaspora, the independent member of Croatian parliament for the diaspora, General Zeljko Glasnovic) have actually been realistic enough and continue pushing for changes and reforms in Croatia that would actually create conducive conditions for Croats from the diaspora to return. But their plights, regretfully, so far appear to remain political banter to the ears and eyes of the political elite who hold the power to change things.

General Zeljko Glasnovic (R)
at May 2017 public rally for
the removal of “Josip Broz Tito” name to the Zagreb city square

For a variety of reasons, most members of diaspora do not “return” to their homeland, among them the fact that economic and/or political conditions there are not very attractive, and that real life in Croatia does not conform to the image of the homeland they significantly helped in seceding from communism.

Contrary to certain mainstream sentiments in Croatia, the diaspora is not a conglomerate of careless and caring nationalists that has often been attributed to it from the left angle of the political sphere especially, and can aid Croatia in its pursuit of full democracy. Diaspora can transfer funds to civil society organisations, political actions, lobby effectively using professional and uncompromising skills attained through living the western democracies, and become critical factors in running democratic change political campaigns inside the homeland. Diaspora can challenge the home political and practical attempts to suppress democratic change, assist with the homeland’s international legitimacy, expose human rights violations that may occur in various facets of life including those associated with constitutional rights, combat the plunging trend of Croatia’s economic well-being through investments and targeted programs for financial boosts. The diaspora can return in many instances especially when the conditions for that flourish and, for those for whom the return is simply a life’s impossibility, the diaspora can assist life in Croatia significantly.

Diaspora is identified as a social collectivity that exists across state borders and that has succeeded, despite obstructions from Croatia leveled at weakening the diaspora-homeland ties, to sustain a collective national, cultural and religious identity through a sense of internal cohesion and persistence to sustain ties with the homeland.

Every Croatian should feel that Croatia is his/her home but that certain alienation of the diaspora through various political and practical thrusts, which have spread since the year 2000, certainly leaves this feeling lacking in many from the diaspora. It had often been said that a person returning to Croatia from the diaspora is faced with hard work of asserting the rights that a home provides. Returning home should be a smooth, effortless affair. The numerous promises of helping people return to Croatia we have seen throughout almost two decades remain empty promises. Let’s hope that the event on 21 July in Zagreb when the president, according to the event’s announcement, is breaking bread with the diaspora will stop the playing of the same old broken record and start the needed trend of determined removal of obstacles that keep the myth of return alive. Move away from myth into real progress in reality that does away with empty promises of helping people return from the diaspora, usher in effective national strategy in helping the returnees and assist effectively those that remain in diaspora strengthen their influence on bettering life in Croatia. Ina Vukic

State Of The Croatian Nation – Observations


Taking into consideration the seemingly prevalent mood, the problems that revolved around me during the last three weeks while I was visiting Croatia in March point to an alarming and concerning situation from which one can conclude that Croatia is revolving in a destructive circle whose orbit needs to be thwarted as soon as possible and Croatia returned to the principles and directions that it set for itself 27 years ago when it headed on its path to independence.


Today, people in Croatia are tired of big democracy that isn’t really there, as it is in the West, and the roots of such desperation lie in bad privatisation that was marked by uneducated and money-hungry political elites – from Pantovcak (Office of the President) across Mark’s Square (Government offices) to the Parliament as well as to the local government levels. Great possibilities exist in Croatia but, in the face of the still existing well-networked communist mentality, which evidently still expects that others solve their problems from personal life to jobs as it did during the Socialist era, most people are afraid for their personal existence.


The citizens appear to be suffering more and more from apathy or depression thinking that nothing can be changed, and this is exactly what is dangerous for a young democracy. There are individuals who have the will and who are trying to change things but are quickly disabled or trampled upon by the networked family, political party and particular personal interests machinery.


And when a certain hope for progress appears, or as it did two years ago with the change of President or recently with the change of Government, one quickly sees that the destructive structures soon thwart them, stop them in the realisation of goals they promised during election campaigns. The political-economic climate is filled with big words borrowed from Western democracies but without matching results and so we continue spinning in a circle, and palpable results are nowhere to be seen.


Not even the long-awaited entry into the EU has moved Croatia forward because it had been presented to the nation as an almost instant saviour and we have demonstrated that we are not up to the task of acting as equal partners in that organisation. After all, we couldn’t be any other way when the old communist mentality and habits wreak havoc at almost every level and crevice of public administration and processes.


What’s to be done: like others I too have been saying repeatedly that investments or capital are not enough to lift Croatia into the prosperity it once planned for, demographic revival, with which without doubt comes a spiritual revival, that is – fresh ideas and more people who have learned how to lead a country and how to make the people more satisfied, is also needed but even after 27 years the Croatian emigrés have no role in Croatia as similar population structures have in, for example, Israel, Ireland and the newest diaspora efforts occurring in India, etc. Emigration is not only a demographic revival of Croatia but the ideas and the knowhow it brings are more important than capital itself, and I dare say that the most important thing about émigrés is that they have no fear – that is, they are independent and have no fear of those in Croatia who try stopping various processes in order to save or keep their own positions there.


Besides the need for lustration, which is running terribly late in Croatia, a climate for the cessation of auto-censure needs to be created because people are afraid to express their ideas and wishes, and such people are vulnerable to manipulation and are not active members in the creation of a better Croatia, which we wanted when we headed towards the battle for independence.


Through conversations with many people of different intellectual, business and political groups I realised that the situation in Croatia is much more serious than seen by Brussels or other centres of power and they will not help with anything unless Croatia itself starts the changes that are needed.

Ivan Pernar,
Member of Parliament, Live Wall


I noticed neglect in the work with the young, whose idols are becoming populist tribunes such as Ivan Pernar (whacky and often bizarre member of parliament), and that is of short breath or incongruous with the expectations we have of youth in general in the developed democracies. Because of their self-interests the political elites do not permit change of generations nor are they preparing the young or other people to take up positions in society and, hence, we have the same city mayors for 20 years, the same members of parliament for 20 years, the same public company directors for 20 years … which, of course, works against stimulating further progress and as a result our educated and our young are leaving the country. I hold more dangerous the fact that the young do not feel needed and that they cannot change anything than the fact that they are unemployed.


To think that the whole country (Croatia) is trembling because of one private company like Agrokor, which employs some 60,000 people, is blackmailing the government with those jobs, while it brought ruin upon itself by itself in the process of receiving government subsidies and other perks, never seeking help with company governance but doing it all on its own, and when forced against the wall pulls the whole country by the nose – is something that’s unthinkable in Western democracies.


General Zeljko Glasnovic
Independent Member of Croatian Parliament for the diaspora

Alarming indications of a dying nation are not taken seriously, and there is no adequate immigration policy or long-term vision but, instead, every new government goes its own way, pushing the country deeper into crises and hopelessness.


The bright spot in my visit to Croatia was the widespread realisation of what needs to be done and, hence, I believe and hold that the diaspora, as it did during the 1990’s, can serve as a flywheel of changes if we got together as we did before and with such strength found an opening into Croatia whose doors appear mainly closed for us. The fact that confirms this is found in that there are only three seats in parliament designated to the representation of the diaspora (and only one of those representatives, independent member General Zeljko Glasnovic, maintains a determined representation of the need for changes in the status and the role of the Croatian diaspora) and three seats is not even close to being enough. I believe that those representing the diaspora in the parliament should be independent, not members of political parties, so as to avoid the threat of political party or interest groups’ influences. Ina Vukic

Croatia: Riding Through Another Red Storm

Memorial plaque to 11 HOS defenders killed in Jasenovac in 1991

Memorial plaque to 11 HOS
defenders killed in Jasenovac in 1991


It’s normal for Croatian public news agency HINA to report on news from Serbia and from everywhere, but as far as I’m concerned it’s not normal for the same agency to report or purport to report as news to the Croatian public the opinion emanating with hatred and lies and other depravities against Croatia coming out of anyone’s mouth let alone Serbian foreign minister Ivica Dacic’s. Serbian mainstream media does plenty of that on its own and its infuriating seeing Croatian public news agency pick up on the lies, repeat them – give them a kind of a credibility simply because they come in the form of news from a news agency. I don’t think any self-respecting Croat would want to have his/her face shoved into malicious garbage blowing from Serbia on New Year’s Eve, or at any time for that matter, and yet that is what’s happened. So, why do HINA and, from it, the mainstream media in Croatia repeat, without any disclaimer or qualification whatsoever, something defamatory or vilifying about Croatian people/nation if they did not actually want to inflict pain upon Croats themselves? Why do they not provide at the same time, as a matter of regular practice, some kind of analysis or fact-based opinion regarding what Dacic had said in order to set facts right and pull Dacic down low, lower to invisibility?

Now, as it describes itself on its website as “the Croatian news agency HINA is public media outlet and the only national news agency in Croatia. Its subscribers are leading electronic and print media in Croatia, including the national broadcaster HRT and leading news portals, daily and weekly newspapers. Apart from Croatian media, HINA’s news articles are also used by many news agencies with which HINA cooperates, as well as by many news portals in the region.”

It’s telling and worrying that this HINA agency (which the Croatian diaspora helped significantly get on its feet both financially as well as providing lines of news distribution around the world during the Croatian Homeland War of early 1990’s when it competed for news reporting with the already established media rival was “TANJUG” [Yugoslav News Agency] belonging to/controlled by the Serb aggressor) has not learned not to pass on as news opinions and vilification uttered by leaders of other countries, in this case Serbia. It has not learned that if biased mainstream or other media want dirt and lies to try and pass on as truths they can go find them themselves, away from HINA.


High time for HINA lustration.


It’s New Year’s Day; I hadn’t even slept properly from the buzz of ushering in 2017 (but that can wait) and, perusing news from Croatia on the Internet I was instantly in a face-off of sorts with Croatian mainstream media and HINA. I don’t want to know what Serbia’s foreign minister had to say about Croatia – he is an insufferable notorious liar when it comes to Croatia, a supporter and participant within the political machine that drove the bloody Serb aggression against Croatia in the 1990’s.


Croatian mainstream media picked up on HINA’s passing on of what Dacic said during his end of year press conference in Serbia: “It’s a lie to say that Croatia is not rehabilitating fascism, they have rehabilitated Alojzije Stepinac and are setting free criminals from 1990,” HINA quoted Dacic, who reportedly also said that the WWII Independent State of Croatia (NDH) was the forerunner of today’s Croatia and the idea of an independent state and also commented greeting “For Home Ready” (Za Dom Spremni). Saying that the “For Home Ready” greeting was “devised for no other reason except for the needs of the Ustashe fascist Nazi regime that was Hitler’s marionette.”

What utter and malicious garbage!

It’s a shame the Croatian mainstream media didn’t shout that or similar response to Dacic.


All that Dacic had said in that press conference is political spin and hatred that neither knows nor sees truths nor facts, because if he did see truth and facts he would be disarmed, ending up with no case against Croatia to show. Croatia had every right rehabilitating Archbishop Alojzije Stepinac whom communists convicted, without proof or just trial, after WWII, as Nazi-collaborator. After all Stepinac is now among the Blessed in the Catholic Church, pending canonisation. As to his indecent statement that WWII Independent State of Croatia was the forerunner of today’s Croatia that too is a malicious lie. The truth is that the real forerunner of today’s independent Croatia was the oppressive communist Yugoslavia with Serbia wheeling and dealing most of the oppression. Plights and battles for independence had, indeed, persisted in Croatia at every opportunity, with absolute right to self-determination, throughout many centuries and the only one that is lasting is the current one; the one won in 1990’s through defending Croatia from Serb aggression. So no WWII state as forerunner there.


As to “For Home Ready” greeting/salutation, a court in Knin, Croatia, (2012) found that the salutation “Za Dom Spremni” (For Home – Ready) has been known throughout the whole of the Croatian history, from the times of Nikola Subic Zrinski (1556 – 1566), and as such it does not signify any so called “Ustashe attribute” with which it is most likely or most often burdened.


But, sadly, an unchallenged court ruling in Croatia doesn’t mean as much as it means in developed democracies, where one needs not agree with it but one cannot openly work against it. Croatia has seen some very nasty orgies of hatred coming out of the communist loving lot since the beginning of November 2016, when in Jasenovac (nearby the WWII memorial site for the WWII Holocaust victims) a memorial plaque with “For Home Ready” salutation written on it, was raised to honour eleven Croatian defenders who lost their lives there in 1991, defending Croatia from the orgy of Serb terror and hatred against Croats and Croatia. The eleven killed defenders belonged to a Croatian Party of Rights associated HOS defence formation that had on its insignia the “For Home Ready” salutation and insignia was and is a legal.

Some Croatian Serbs with communist past, other Croatian communists and so-called antifascists, Serbs from Serbia and some of their leadership, even that sorry excuse for a justice fighter, Efraim Zuroff, (of Jerusalem based Simon Wiesenthal Centre) – the staunch opponent of justice for victims of communist crimes who uses his “Nazi hunter” cloak as some kind of licensing ammunition in making the “hunt” for communist crimes efforts rocky and impossible and as exhausting as possible – gave a hand in trying to convince some public that the Jasenovac memorial plaque to the killed Croatian defenders was evidence of revival of fascism in Croatia. What a twisted, repulsive mind. According to the false line he tows together with Croatia’s and Serbia’s flaming communist maniacs, the “For Home Ready” salutation on the memorial plaque offended the victims honoured in the nearby Holocaust memorial.


The fact of humanity we all must adhere to is that no victims ever chose where they will perish but all victims deserve a marking and memorial at the place where they did perish.


HOS Croatian formation insignia

HOS Croatian formation insignia

These protesters against the plaque must not win, if anything their loud and abominable protest should move the Croatian government not to start some kind of a committee or commission to decide whether the plaques with “For Home Ready” should stay there or not, as it proposes via statement made by Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, but use the opportunity to form a commission that will once and for all investigate the truth about the WWII Jasenovac camp. The facts are that Yugoslav communists kept the camp open until well into 1948 and a number of credible historians submit that multitudes of Croats were murdered there after WWII as part of Tito’s communist purges. That commission should also go about retrieving the historical records about WWII and post-WWII events in Croatia still kept in Belgrade, Serbia, regardless of the fact that they are an inheritance belonging to Croatia after the split up of Yugoslavia.

Those who protest against the memorial plaque to the eleven Croatian defenders who perished amidst the Serb orgy of terror and hatred against Croatia and Croatian people in 1991 in Jasenovac cannot win. They cannot win even if they, in their apparent misguided, miserable existence, think they may have a case under the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia. Well that Constitution would not have survived nor lived until today were it not for such brave defenders and Croatian veterans who laid their lives on the line to ensure independent Croatia lives. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

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