The Glory Of Croatian Patriotism

Patriotism is about loyalty to the principles upon which a nation was founded and today’s Croatia is founded on the Homeland War of 1990’s. We cannot allow the idea of patriotism to render us disillusioned because disillusion sows the seeds for authoritarianism to run riot and ravage the fabrics strung together to form the nation in all its intended glory. That is what is happening to our Croatia where the governments of the past two decades have maintained the hated authoritarianism that made former communist Yugoslavia a hell on earth for the ordinary (non-Communist Party affiliated) Croat. Authoritarianism has been the culprit for inaction in stamping out corruption that plagues the lives of Croatians during and since Yugoslavia. Authoritarianism has been the culprit in attempts (and successes) to silence and quash the great power in the betterment of life for all that the Croatian diaspora possess.

The Croatian diaspora has and shows the threads that make up patriotism in remarkable ways!

Patriotism is love of country, and we should delight in celebrating democracy achieved through the victorious Homeland War, individual freedoms, captivating culture, stunning landscapes and, as the national anthem says, sun-kissed fields.

But patriotism is more than a shoutout for Our Beautiful Homeland (Lijepa naša domovino) or a standing ovation for those who serve and served Croatia in ways that most putting their hands together without having acted for Croatia will never do. Patriotism is also respect for democratic institutions, a desire to make Croatia better and a passion to defend against national threats.

Like democracy, patriotism itself needs regular check-ups, especially now with an ever-widening social chasm that will surely become more pronounced through this election year as Croatia’s economy sinks deeper and deeper into the pit of no return unless both HDZ and SDP incompetent governments are voted out. More and more, it’s evident, less and less attention is paid to citizens’ obligations in a democracy and for that we can only blame the HDZ and SDP governments and their controlled mainstream media; more and more the diaspora-based citizens’ obligations in democracy are undermined and threatened to irrelevance and for that we can blame the same governments.

Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” This is one of John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s most well remembered quotes, worldwide, because of its gravitas and its universality. As Croatians, legal citizens of Croatia living outside Croatia, we should view patriotism as an avenue for identifying systemic problems related to our rights and plights within our Croatian homeland society and proposing solutions, rather than blindly upholding or passively permitting the existence of oppressive systems and essentially oppressive people in authority, we have been served with in Croatia’s governments since year 2000.  General elections for the Croatian Parliament are imminent – they will be held on 4th and 5th July 2020.

While the bitter fact remains that both HDZ and SDP governments in Croatia have, on the side of apparent malice towards the diaspora, severely cut the number and accessibility to polling booths in the diaspora and denied the diaspora the ease of electronic and postal voting, the other side of the coin shines with the diaspora’s will to participate in the betterment of Croatian society; for ourselves, for our children and grandchildren. That is, in fact, the side of the coin that moved the Croatian diaspora in its exceptional efforts during early 1990’s in helping create the free and independent state of Croatia. Our job is not yet done, though, we must participate in the ongoing battles to rid Croatia of remnants of the communist Yugoslavia oppressive and unfriendly public administration and red tape that frustrate normal living all Croatians deserve.

Each and every one of us in the Croatian diaspora, who holds the citizenship, needs to come out and vote at the coming elections. I am aware that for many that is a logistical difficulty because of the distances to the nearest Croatian Embassy or Consulate. But, remember please: we endured the same, if not worse difficulties when we acted in high spirits and physical hardships during the times of the Homeland War to ensure Croatia achieves independence!

Voting from the diaspora in the elections for the Croatian Parliament is one of the leading qualities of one’s patriotism for the Homeland. In the country with the freedom achieved through the Homeland War and with the mighty resources we have in the diaspora, we must not permit our metaphorical house plants of peers (those who live in Croatia and love Croatia as much as we in the diaspora do) just wilt, and blame the oppressive and unfriendly governments for the decline in standards of living in Croatia. After all, Croats from the diaspora fought “tooth and nail” during the Homeland War so that Croats in Croatia could have a good life and a prosperous life like most in the diaspora do, so that many of us could return to the Homeland and feel at home. Certainly most of us did not feel at home before emigrating or fleeing from communist Yugoslavia.

The Croatian diaspora can’t keep neglecting our Croatian people in Croatia that are struggling as we do by not voting in general elections, hence giving room to those who do not love democracy and Croatia as much as we do to get into government.

Like we did during 1990’s, we must call on our legislators and influencers to bring sunshine back into the lives of many Croatians struggling to live in Croatia. We can only do that by having a greater say in the outcome of general elections for the Croatian Parliament.

We must mobilise again and vote at the coming general elections in early July.

We can’t keep dwelling in negativity that criticisms of the governments bring.

We must try our hardest to reel in, with our votes, a new government that will bring about real changes in Croatia for Croats living abroad and in Croatia.

Please vote on 4th or 5th July 2020. Croatian citizens with residence in the Croatian diaspora and Bosnia and Herzegovina can register to vote ahead of the general elections by filling in the appropriate Form for that and providing a copy of Croatian citizenship ID such as passport or Domovnica/ photo ID by 24th June. Citizens of Croatia living abroad can also register to vote at the polling booth on polling the above days in July.

For your convenience please click this link for a copy of the Registration to Vote Form, print it, fill it in, email or fax or take it to you nearest Croatian Embassy or Consulate BY 24 JUNE and contribute positively to the outcome of general elections. Without your contribution Croatia’s progress into a society that is fair for all, without corruption, simply will not happen in the foreseeable future. Ina Vukic

Croats Abroad Seeking Correction of the Croatian Constitution

Croatian Constitutional Court Building in Zagreb

It’s General Elections time for the Croatian Parliament once again! General Elections will be held on 4th and 5th of July 2020. As in previous election campaigns the Croatian and the public in general will hear many promises people want to hear from the previously alternating HDZ (Croatian Democratic Union) and SDP (Social Democratic Party) governments. Be aware and be wary! Bitter and disappointing lessons from their promises have hopefully been learned and Croatian voters, by voting them out, will have the power to reel in real positive changes for the Croatian people.

Real positive changes are needed in processes to stamp out the suffocating corruption in Croatia, which has seen the economy tumbling and hundreds of thousands of young and middle-aged people leaving Croatia in search for a fairer and better life; they have in the past decade gone to Ireland, to Germany, to the UK, to the USA, Canada, Australia… The show of false willpower to deal head-on with corruption around the times of general elections has become as predictable as clockwork when it comes to HDZ and SDP! The latest is the theatrical arrest on 30 May of some 12 people (some leading HDZ figures such as Josipa Rimac, theatrically expelled from the party a couple of days ago) associated with long-standing bribery, lucrative contract recipients favouritism and influencing, illegal dealings, etc., within Croatian Forests (Hrvatske Šume)the government funded and propped company).

Another example of HDZ and SDP former government, since 2010, malfeasance is related to official Croatia’s diaspora and its rights as citizen of the country. Not only has the number of parliamentary seats representing Croats of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Croatian diaspora been cut from 12 to only 3, but the reasonable ease of access to polling booths at times of elections has been drastically bastardised. Polling places limited to largely inaccessible diplomatic-consular missions and those within community settings such as clubs – banned! Then comes the accessibility issue related to electronic and postal voting.

“Nothing doing!” Nothing is happening!

One of SDP’s leading politicians Arsen Bauk stated recently (April 2020) that SDP is against electronic/postal voting, that it will not support electronic and postal voting for Croatian citizens abroad “because that would increase the influence of Croatians living outside Croatia on election results…”!

HDZ’s Croatia’s Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, on the other hand, said a couple of weeks ago that there isn’t enough time now to introduce electronic/postal voting. And yet, he and HDZ party, as part of their election promise for 2016 elections promised to introduce electronic/postal voting!

Do not believe in promises given at elections by HDZ and SDP because the proven fact remains that they do not keep their promises to voters!

Both HDZ and SDP during their past government mandates could have instigated a crucially relevant examination of the relevant parts of the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia affecting Croatians living abroad and their voting rights. They did not! Nor will they because the less Croats living abroad vote, the more powerful are their cronies within Croatia. Regardless of difficult accessibility to polling booths abroad I do trust Croatian citizens living abroad will vote in large numbers at the coming elections.

For about a year now, a group of Croatians, mainly living abroad, has been working on a project designed to bring about changes to the Constitution by the Constitutional court’s examining of the legislation (Act) relating to the election of Parliamentary Representatives for Croatians living outside Croatia. The leading organisers and instigators of this project are the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts in Diaspora and Homeland (HAZUDD) with dr Josip Stjepandic as its president and Croatian World Congress (CWC) with Vinko Sabljo, president. Represented by attorney Mato Knezovic from Zagreb the signatories to the case filed in the Constitutional Court in Croatia include members of HAZUDD Board (Josip Stjepandic [president], Ina Vukic [Vice-president], Emilija Herceg [Secretary]), members of CWC Board (Vinko Sabljo [president], Igor Lackovic [Main Secretary] and Diana Vukusic [Treasurer])  and 24 other Croatians living abroad and in Croatia.

We aim to show the grotesque injustice in Article 45 of the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia:

Article 45: “All Croatian citizens who have reached the age of eighteen years (voters) shall be entitled to universal and equal suffrage in elections for the Croatian Parliament, the President of the Republic of Croatia and the European Parliament and in decision-making procedures by national referendum, in compliance with law.

In elections for the Croatian Parliament, voters who do not have registered domicile in the Republic of Croatia shall be entitled to elect three representatives in compliance with law.

In elections for the Croatian Parliament, the President of the Republic of Croatia and the European Parliament and in decision-making procedures by national referendum, suffrage shall be exercised in direct elections by secret ballot, wherein voters who do not have registered domicile in the Republic of Croatia shall vote at polling stations in the premises of diplomatic-consular offices of the Republic of Croatia in the foreign countries in which they reside.

In elections for the Croatian Parliament, the President of the Republic of Croatia and the European Parliament and in decision-making procedures by national referendum, the Republic of Croatia shall secure exercise of suffrage for its citizens with registered domicile in the Republic of Croatia who are outside of its borders during elections such that they may vote in diplomatic-consular offices of the Republic of Croatia in the foreign countries in which they located or in some other manner as specified by law.”

Press release 20 May 2020 issued by the attorney Mato Knezovic on behalf of the 30 Croatians before the Constitutional Court in Croatia included the following:

“Today, 30 Croatian citizens from 6 European countries, as well as Canada, the USA and Australia, submitted to the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Croatia a Proposal for the assessment of Art. 6 and 8 of the Act on the Election of Representatives to the Croatian Parliament with the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia, international treaties and EU anti-discrimination provisions.

Among them are leading members of the Croatian World Congress and the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts in the Diaspora and the homeland.

As is a well-known fact, Croatian citizens who do not reside in the Republic of Croatia have the right to 3 members of the Croatian Parliament, and their polling stations are exclusively diplomatic and consular premises of the Republic of Croatia abroad. The Ministry of Administration has 883,042 registered voters who do not reside in the Republic of Croatia. Their percentage is 19.15%, and they elect only 3 Representatives, or 1.98% of the total number of Representatives.

At the same time, the Czech and Slovak national minorities elected a member of parliament from only 1,590 voters. The proposal, which is based on an expert analysis of three professors of constitutional and public law (Marc Gjidara, Zvonimir Lauc, Mato Palic), points to several decisions of the Constitutional Court and the European Court of Human Rights on discrimination against these Croatian citizens.

It also shows the illegality and unconstitutionality of other provisions of the said law. Since the said law and constitutional provisions, which limited the number of representatives of the said Croatian citizens to 3, have no basis in the basic constitutional principles and international legal acts, the applicants consider that they are severely discriminated against and that such a law indicates the illegitimacy of the entire electoral process, basic constitutional principles, European acquis communautaire and international treaties to which the Republic of Croatia is a signatory.

By this act, Croatian citizens who do not reside in the territory of the Republic of Croatia show that they are not willing to accept the constant harassment, insult and change of laws to their detriment, but also to the detriment of overall Croatian national interests and rights…”

We hope to succeed in this application to the Constitutional Court in Croatia since HDZ and SDP governments have not moved a finger to remove the grotesque injustices towards Croatians living abroad. Wish us luck! But in any case, we will have a reply from the Constitutional Court as to why if our application is not successful. Then, we can move onto the next platform available within the European Union and pursue justice.  It is not just a matter affecting Croatians living abroad, it is, more to the point, a matter for all Croatian people as Croatia is for years seeking to rely on Croats from abroad to return to Croatia and thus help it become a better place to live in. Ina Vukic

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