About Removing Liberty For Serbia On Croatian Soil

Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic in Washington DC Photo: Screenshot hrt.hr

Croatian President
Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic
in Washington DC
Photo: Screenshot hrt.hr

As Americans grow increasingly weary of involvement in messy overseas conflicts and espionage-flavoured intrigues, foreign dignitaries’ travel to US has in this transition time between two administrations grown increasingly more complicated —and potentially perilous to their political aggregate — as they try to show their foreign policy bona fides to America. For the foreign policy bona fides on show to America or any foreign country, to be seen as genuine it must, usually, be first seen as having been cemented in practice and demonstrated in one’s own country. Otherwise, all kinds of politically unsavoury fallout can and will drop like a hot potato there where it hurts.


Croatia’s President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic’s unannounced and largely unexplained to the public visit to Washington DC this past week appears to have been a visit where she sought to display her foreign policy bona fides to those associated with the new Donald Trump administration currently being put together. Croatia’s President simply disappeared from the country for a few days and all that the public knew about this was in the note on the Office of the President website, which said: “the Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic will Sunday (1 January 2017) be going on a visit to the USA where she will remain until 5th January.


In the spirit of the mainstream media’s view that the public has a right to know details of the purpose of the President’s overseas visits, regardless of how biased this mainstream media leans away from the conservative side of the political spectrum from whence the President came, it does strike one rather disquieting and odd that more details as to the purpose of the President’s visit to Washington weren’t forthcoming for days. It can justifiably be assumed that this secrecy regarding the purpose of the visit was responsible for the restless spate of terrible, vicious, insulting media attacks and ridicule against the President within Croatia during the past week.


For optimal success, there’s that crucial and vital thing called risk assessment and risk management we must attend to carefully in what we undertake in various aspects of daily life, in work or politics. It would appear none of that was a part of the considerations flagged at the President’s Office regarding the information the public will have about the Washington visit. Yet another blaring example of hopeless gaping holes in the President’s political and media analytical team. However, if  by some chance there were such a prudent thing, as assessing the risk of not saying anything, then most likely the President would not have copped so many vicious, insulting attacks. The risk would have been managed and or mitigated. But then, denying the public even the basic information about the visit to Washington could actually have been a carefully planned trigger for a public outcry that would paint Croatia politically unstable in the first place (?).


But, as these things usually go, President Grabar-Kitarovic seems to have caved into the pressure and 4th January was filmed for Croatian TV news from Washington telling the nation that “…there’s absolutely nothing secretive about my visit…this was an official visit designed to make use of this time of transition between the two administrations for the purpose of positioning Croatia as a factor that will actively participate in the creation of American foreign politics. I’m especially bothered by the fact that in the Croatian foreign politics we always follow someone, instead of being leaders…we cannot as a country wait around for someone to include us in their agenda, we must impose, we must be here…”

Impose, assert, be proactive…I could not agree more. Generally, an important distinction is made between assertiveness and aggressiveness. To be assertive is to be forthright and firm, but to be aggressive is to be rude and pushy and that often earns enemies more than it does successes. It’s the former the President meant, so thumbs up on that. Asserting ones stand is the stuff of what most would see as good politics.


It’s a shame though that this assertion in foreign politics President Grabar-Kitarovic speaks of has not been noticed when it comes to Croatia’s foreign politics on neighbouring Serbia and its constant abuses and lies against Croatia. If assertion of Croatian rights and interests had been established as the way of carrying out foreign politics, then Serbia’s Prime Minster Aleksanadar Vucic’s representative, or anyone from Serbia, would not dare stand on Croatia’s soil and threaten Croatia or maliciously imply wrongdoing against Serb minority living in Croatia!

Serb Orthodox Christmas reception in Zagreb Croatia 5 January 2017 Vladimir Bozovic (R) representing Serbia's PM Andrej Plenkovic (C) Croatian Prime Minister Milorad Pupovac (L) head of Serb National Council in Croatia and MP

Serb Orthodox Christmas reception
in Zagreb Croatia 5 January 2017
Vladimir Bozovic (R) representing Serbia’s PM
Andrej Plenkovic (C) Croatian Prime Minister
Milorad Pupovac (L) head of
Serb National Council in Croatia and MP


A shattering, terrible, intolerable thing happened in this line of foreign politics smack in the middle of Croatia’s capital Zagreb on Thursday 5th January while the President was still out of the country in Washington. And, the President has not yet reacted to it with even a whiff of that assertion in foreign politics she mentioned in front of TV cameras in Washington. Disappointing to the core!


Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, foreign minister Davor Ivo Stier and most of Croatia’s political leaders attended the Orthodox Christmas reception organised by the Serbian National Council and its head Milorad Pupovac on 5th January. In his speech at the event the guest Vladimir Bozovic from Serbia, representing Serbia’s Prime Minister Vucic, went on to say in a threatening manner and tone: “…to all Serbs and all their institutions in Croatia we send the message of togetherness, unity and increased activity on the realisation of our mission and role with the promise from the homeland state of Serbia that Serbia will defend them with all her available means in all their problems and tribulations, whenever they’re endangered…”


Shock, horror – all that the Croatian leadership could muster by way of reaction was a rather mild criticism and statement of inappropriateness of Bozovic’s message to Croatian citizens of Serb ethnic background, as well as reminding people that Croatia was a victim of Greater Serbia aggression (in the 1990’s)/and not the other way around. No walking out of the room by the Croatian leadership in disgust and protest, or better still – no showing the guest from Serbia where the exit door was. Neither the President, or the Prime Minister or the Foreign Minister of Croatia have shown any assertiveness in protecting the Croatian people and nation and state from the persisting abuse that has been coming out of Serbia. It does infuriate and inflict true pain when Serbia’s representatives, acting in promoting Serbia’s quest of denial of their own war crimes, display an ease at going about abusing Croatia and her people on her own soil.

This kind of liberty must be impermissible on Croatia’s soil. This kind of liberty Serbia gives itself on Croatian soil must be removed and denied. No self-respecting country would permit it. Such and other abuses, malicious insinuations and expressions of hatred by Serbia against Croatia, on Croatia’s soil, must come to a stop and surely must fall within the assertion in foreign politics President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic now publicly espouses. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Croatia: Stop Violating History Of Homeland War

Ivo Josipovic (L) and Timislav Nikolic (R)

Ivo Josipovic (L) and Timislav Nikolic (R)

Last week Croatia’s president Ivo Josipovic visited Serbia and held official talks for the first time with Serbian counterpart Tomislav Nikolic after controversial statements by the extreme Serb nationalist Nikolic on the wars and massacres in the 1990s in ex Yugoslavia since he became Serbia’s president in May 2012. Nikolic, that is, stated that Vukovar in eastern Croatia was a “Serbian city” and questioned the genocide of 8,000 Muslims in Srebrenica by Serbian-Bosnians led by Ratko Mladic and RadovanKaradzic.

Vukovar was at the centre of the Croatian independence war in 1991-1995; it was ethnically cleansed of non-Serbs, it’s multitudes of Croatian women were raped and men and women tortured – kept in concentration camps; it was occupied by Serb forces from November 1991. Much the same horrid reality awaited 1/3 of Croatian territory; the 1995 Operation storm liberated Serb-occupied Krajina. Those are the facts of history that Croatia found itself in when 94% of its voters voted to secede from communist Yugoslavia and build democracy in 1991 and Serbia and much of the Croatian Serb minority did not want that.

Well Josipovic’s visit to Serbia last week appeared a mirror image of cold relations and the unpleasantness of it cut chills into the bones of Croatian people, especially war veterans and truth respecting people when Serbia’s Nikolic voiced that it bothers him that “Croatian school textbooks qualify Serbs as occupiers and Chetniks…”.

It would seem that Nikolic continues with his politically foul tricks in denying the truth of Serb brutality in the aggression against Croatia (and Bosnia and Herzegovina for that matter). It proves that Nikolic is on a mission to eradicate the history as it happened, to wipe out from history the fact that Belgrade based Yugoslav Peoples’ Army did in fact mobilise itself for aggression and occupation to strengthen the fighting power of Croatian-Serb rebel forces.

And Croatia’s Josipovic stood by while Nikolic said this instead of replying something like: well, it is the truth – Serbs did occupy Croatian territory and Serb forces did revive the WWII Chetnik movement and its units did call themselves Chetniks. Vojislav Seselj, current at the ICTY on war crimes charges, named Tomislav Nikolic a Chetnik Duke – and I haven’t seen or read anywhere that Nikolic rejected the title.

While Croatia’s president Josipovic declined to confirm or deny that the ICJ lawsuit for genocide against Serbia will be withdrawn, he did comment that matters of such nature couldn’t be discussed while there are still hundreds of Croatian civilians and soldiers missing from the Homeland War.

Nikolic said that it is not good that Croatia will not withdraw its lawsuit because “in Serbia, and probably in Croatia too, when two neighbours get into fight over the border, then they stop talking to each other.”
“You can never say that good friends are those who go to court. In these three weeks of the trial we will spit dirt at each other and show the worst possible things about each other,” said Nikolic.

Well, I find it impossible for the two neighbours to be friends by burying the horrible truth and by denying the victims the right to justice and compensation.  Croatia must not withdraw its lawsuit against Serbia and I do hold that Croatian government does not have a full mandate to play with victims’ rights to justice and make decisions on whether to withdraw the lawsuit or not – such decisions must be made with the benefit of e.g. victim impact statements and victims’ rights representation.

And now, Croatia’s education minister Zeljko Jovanovic says that he has written a letter to Nikolic and enclosed copies of Croatia’s school textbooks so that Nikolic could see for himself, “read them and convince himself that it is not true what he is saying”.

First of all I would say: why bother!? Nothing will turn Nikolic away from justifying the unjustifiable; nothing will convince Nikolic that history must be truthfully recorded.

And the more frightening issue for Croatia is: if the textbooks don’t say that Serbs were the aggressors in the war, what are they saying?  Or, is it that Jovanovic is clearing a path to organising new textbook editions, which would erase the truth about Croatia’s Homeland War and why and how it started and continued?

I would not put such manipulation of history past the former communists.

Minister Jovanovic said yesterday: “Besides, a completely new generation of textbooks is in front of us, in which everything will be in accordance with historical facts and without any politicisation.  Equally, we expect that from Serbian history textbooks”.  So, why tell Nikolic he was not saying the truth when he said Croatian textbooks charactersis Serbs as occupiers and Chetniks, if that is a historical fact? Serbs who organised and implemented the aggression and occupation of Croatia characterised themselves as such, proclaimed themselves as such – Croatians didn’t do it! And that is a fact.

I just wish the Croatian government would fight harder for the truth rather than try and placate Serbia’s ranting president who could obviously not give a hoot as to justice for victims.

Why desecrate and violate the history of the Homeland War by giving weight to the pathetic and abominable words that come out of the mouth of the one who represents the aggressor, the torturer, the rapist …?

It would be more conducive to eventual friendship and reconciliation for Croatian government representatives to firmly represent Croatia’s people/victims and truth rather than treating Serbia’s president with proverbial kid gloves, which approach, by the way, only breeds more intolerance, creates more confusion, and prolongs agony in the path to justice for victims. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps.(ZGB)

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