Croatia: Covert Communist Diplomacy Against Diaspora Patriotic Community

MT4YYW flags of Croatia and Yugoslavia

Messages are circulating, becoming louder, that for true independence from communist Yugoslavia to flow among the people the Croatian patriotic diaspora community must wage a strong political war against the political parties that have held government and presidential candidates in office since year 2000. This, under the understanding that politics is the foundation of all good and all bad things that happen to people and that everyone, whether they acknowledge it or not, is a political being.

7 June marked Croatian Diplomacy Day! Official events were held in Croatia for it. This Day traditionally marks a historic event from 879 when Pope John VIII sent a letter to the Croatian prince Branimir informing him that he had blessed him and the entire Croatian people in Rome and acknowledging his “earthly authority over the whole of Croatia”. At that time, it was the highest international recognition, which, in today’s sense, recognised Croatia as a sovereign state. This is a traditional event in June when the achievements of diplomats are discussed, and guidelines are set for the next one-year.

The Croatian patriotic communities in the diaspora would have quite a lot to say about the achievements, the failures, the backward or forward milestones that the Croatian diplomatic relationship with its own diaspora has been put through since 1992 when Croatia was internationally recognised and confirmed as an independent country – an enormous gratitude for that goes to the Croatians living and being active abroad at those times. As far as the Croatian public is aware no one from the Croatian corridors of power has asked a representative sample of the Croatian patriotic diaspora community to provide the government with feedback regarding its performance on the diplomatic sphere.  So, I think this is an opportunity to look at what is happening in 2022 with regards to diplomatic currents official Croatia sends and maintains in the diaspora.  

Out of its own choice Croatian patriotic diaspora communities that rejected communism and Yugoslavia since the end of World War II have always, while former Yugoslavia lasted, lived without a relationship with the Yugoslav diplomatic and consular missions. Only those who lived in the diaspora and supported Yugoslavia had a relationship with Yugoslav consular and diplomatic missions and simply never interested in nor cared about an independent Croatia and frequently worked against such an idea. A mutually respectful, cordial, and beneficial relationship between the Croatian patriotic diaspora communities and official Croatia cemented roots in the early 1990’s, 1992 to be exact. This lasted until late 1999 when the first president of independent Croatia Dr Franjo Tudjman passed away. In many cases, Croatian patriotic communities throughout the world donated funds and worked hard at helping Croatia establish its diplomatic missions abroad, including purpose purchasing of land, purpose building embassy and consular buildings or purchasing premises and equipping them with the charitable fundraising monetary results. One would be correct in saying that in many places across the world when the Croatian Embassy or Consulate organise an event within their official building, a celebration, a soirée, they are drinking and feasting under our roof – the roof that the Croats in the diaspora erected, purchased, and paid for!   

In his speech at the official celebration of the Day of Croatian Diplomacy in Zagreb, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic referred to the beginnings of Croatian statehood and the role that diplomacy played there and spoke about the present when Croatia has a completely different position and role. The worst thing is to have a state whose position is unknown, said also Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, emphasising that Croatia must be a “reliable country” at the international level.

Well, the only Croatian government reliability that the Croatian patriotic diaspora community has seen since year 2000 is that both SDP/Social Democratic Party and HDZ/ Croatian Democratic Union governments have been engaging in is their reliable pursuits, both overt and covert, in the diminishment and the degrading of the value of the Croatian patriots living in the diaspora who contributed the most to the creation of the independent state of Croatia during 1990’s! That, in simple words, is a continuance of operations, covert or overt that communist Yugoslavia engaged in across the world where Croatian patriots lived.

The Croatian diaspora has during the past five years or so, been seeing the emergence of new, quite small, so-called Croatian community organisations sponsored and highly supported by the Croatian diplomatic corps, filled with people or members that have never been a part of the Croatian patriotic community that fought for today’s Croatia away from the communist regime of Yugoslavia. Large majority of them also did not contribute any funds whatsoever to the war efforts to defend Croatia against the Serb/Yugoslav aggressor; in the homes of many a portrait of the mega murderer Josip Broz Tito hung in prominent places. The Croatian diplomatic corps across the world has been declaring such people as Croatian community leaders even though they have never been that nor will they ever be simply because they do not appear to have in them what it takes to love and promote a Croatia for its secession from communist Yugoslavia. The extent to which such phenomena of setting up or inserting new associations among emigrants, where career diplomatic and consular personnel are key in creating them, may be considered by some as kind of suspicious attempt to disrupt the character of the Croatian patriotic community in emigration by the Croatian government for its own political party gain.

There is a visible trend of a dirty political game of this scenario where the Croatian diplomatic and to some extent consular corps have started to call these people, who in their organisations may have a hundred or less or slightly more members, “Croatian community leaders” while at the same time ignoring the real Croatian patriotic community leaders who always stood by and sacrificed for a Croatia free from communist Yugoslavia. Hence, trying to create a new (false or partially true) profile of the Croatian community in the diaspora of “yes” people to the ruling political party, or those who for personal gain do not criticise the government for the betterment of Croatia for all! This was the modus operandi that communist Yugoslavia employed against patriotic Croats in the diaspora, and it is the covert politics that the communist-mindset-laden Croatian governments since year 2000 have been utilising and putting into practice. Run down the true Croatian patriots and at the same time uplift those who never lifted a finger for independent Croatia! Do not misunderstand me or the Croats who are very unhappy about this trend – we all love new people of Croatian descent to join the true and sincere patriotic community but when this is attempted through running down or degrading the existing patriotic community, those who always stood and fought fiercely for an independent Croatia, and pushing up front those who did not, then Croatia has a huge problem in the foundations of its sovereignty. Croatian governments must learn to accept and respect all its citizens and the roles they played in creating the state, even those who criticise them – otherwise democracy becomes a mere face mask; progress towards a good livelihood for all becomes a one-way street with a dead end. Ina Vukic   

Croatian Identity Endangered

You do not need to grab hold of a magnifying glass to try and find in the world a destructive political dichotomy, intolerable quarrels between leaders, in a country touting itself to be a peaceful democracy because Croatia sticks out like a sore thumb. And it’s all because the former communists and/or their offspring are in power since 2000 as they crept into the major political parties’ folds almost unnoticed at the beginning. Their personal and political intent was never to aid an independent Croatia and its deservedly good name; their intent as evidenced by their activities and alliances was and is to keep afloat some kind of an acceptable notion of former communist Yugoslavia even though Croatia pulled itself out of it by shedding rivers of its own blood in the face of Serb and communist Yugoslavia army brutal aggression in early 1990’s.

Past week should have seen a unanimous, a national, peoples’ celebration of Croatian Statehood Day, of Croatian National Day but instead the ugly political dichotomy Croatia’s political leadership has displayed deepened and became more vicious than ever. 30th May was the date of enormous significance in 1990. It was the date in 1990 that, within the increasing Croatian peoples’ will to take Croatia out of communist Yugoslavia, establish independence and democracy, saw the constitution of the first democratically elected multi-party parliament in Croatia.

On the occasion of the first anniversary of the Statehood Day, President Franjo Tudjman pointed out the Day as a day of national unity, national reconciliation in the Croatian people. It was a hint, not only of the change of the political system and the arrival of a new political set, but also marked the beginning of the stage for the creation of a sovereign and independent Croatian state. After that came the Christmas Constitution, independence referendum and independence and the decision to sever ties with Yugoslavia. Then the brutal and genocidal war of Serb aggression ensued, ending militarily with Croatian victory via Operation Storm in August 1995 and in January 1998 with the last of Serb-occupied Croatian territory liberated through peaceful reintegration for Eastern Slavonia region and its surrounds.

Then Franjo Tudjman died in December 1999 and in 2000 former communists and those who did not fight to defend Croatia and its people from Serb aggression crept into government and into the Office of the President. In 2002 the League of Croatian Communists’ representative Ivica Racan, who was elected Prime Minister early 2000, changed the date of Croatian Statehood Day from 30th May to 25th June, saying that on 25th June 1991 the Croatian Parliament proclaimed its independence from Yugoslavia. This change of dates was not received well by many Croats. In November 2019 the Croatian Parliament returned the date of 30th May as the date to mark and celebrate Croatian Statehood Day.

Zooming in to last week after Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and his Government Cabinet managed to keep quarrelling with President Zoran Milanovic, and vice versa,  Milanovic aimed his side of the quarrel at the international scene and with his reckless statements managed to do political damage to Croatia on several occasions. Milanovic relativised Russia’s brutal aggression against Ukraine and war crimes committed in Bucha, sought excuses for Putin’s unprovoked bloody campaign in the neighbouring country, and his announcement of a veto on the decision to admit Finland and Sweden to NATO caused outrage around the world.

And then, when he probably surprised himself with his international “feats”, Milanovic decided to return to the Croatian scene. The President of the Republic reiterated on Tuesday 30th May 2022 that he does not recognise May 30 as Statehood Day because it has nothing to do with the real Statehood Day, assessing it as “violence of the parliamentary majority” and “abolition of customs due to the whims of one person”.

“It is not Statehood Day, it is the violence of a small parliamentary majority, bullying over good customs in Croatia, abolishing from the personal whim of one person, a custom that was 20 years old and which was in the law to mark Statehood Day on June 25.” said Milanovic to Croatian media! But of course, we mustn’t forget that Milanovic is not about to abandon the ideals of his communist past and his former League of Communists in Croatia!

 He then reminded that the first, democratically elected multi-party Parliament was constituted on May 30, 1990, but at that time we were still part of the former state (Yugoslavia), so the new Statehood Day has nothing to do with this holiday. One would think that today’s Croatia’s President would sing praises to the Croatians who had in 1990 the amazing and passionate courage to organise the first in history democratic elections, to inaugurate the first multi-party Parliament while still within the borders of the totalitarian communist regime of Yugoslavia.

President Milanovic did not attend the official celebration of the Croatian Statehood Day organised by the government in the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb. He refused to attend, insisting that 25 June was the right date for it!

Milanovic’s statements symbolically show that the President of Croatia does not respect the decisions of the parliamentary majority and does not act as a person who respects the principle of the rule of law and legality. It does not surprise me that he has a distance towards that date of a key national holiday.

For a long time now, the Croatian Prime Minister and his key Cabinet members have been playing into the President Zoran Milanovic’s provocations and outrageous scandalous statements, kept them circulating with counter-attacks and rhetoric instead of pointing to the president as not having been fulfilling his constitutional obligations, endangering the stability of the constitutional order, sending messages that are extremely harmful and communicating in a way that is completely inappropriate for his position. In other words, Andre Plenkovic has failed miserably at trying to set the motion in place for the removal of Zoran Milanovic from the Office of President. Perhaps that is so because Andrej Plenkovic is no better than Milanovic when it comes to preserving and maintaining the sanctity of the Croatian Homeland War and defence from brutal Serb aggression. Instead of doing his job as Prime Minister of independent Croatia he keeps adding members of the 1990’s rebel Serb minority and aggressors to his government Cabinet. Insulting in that way every pore in Croatian war veterans’ body! Embellishing the notion that victim is the same as the aggressor!

Some would say that the outcome of ousting Zoran Milanovic from the role of Croatia’s President is not possible at the moment at all. Namely, for this to be implemented, the ruling Croatian Democratic Union/HDZ and its partners in Parliament must have a two-thirds majority, i.e., 101 Members of Parliament need to raise their hand for Milanovic’s recall. Given that the ruling majority in Parliament has only 77 members, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic would find himself facing the impossible mission of finding 24 more hands. Especially as Social Democrats/SDP, the largest Opposition Party in Parliament, think Milanovic is still their strong ally, weakening the position of the parliamentary majority and harming the largest party in the ruling coalition. Therefore, they believe that he that he should be preserved in the political arena in every way.

The situation regarding preserving the status quo of perpetual quarrels and scandals between the Office of the President and the Office of the Prime Minister of Croatia is also evident in some of the right-wing smaller political parties think that the President of the Republic advocates exactly what their political values are and strongly support him! Even though his said advocacy for Croatian defence from Serb aggression is neither consisted nor reliable; the feeling that Milanovic may change his mind on important issues niggles always.  

Furthermore, it is completely unclear what the liberal democrats think, who simply cannot have anything in common with the evidently anti-Democrat Milanovic but find very innovative explanations to defend his policies. It happened for the first time that Vesna Pusic (former Foreign Minister of Croatia and Deputy Prime Minister under Zoran Milanovic’s Prime Ministership) spoke as a very serious liberal democrat about Milanovic’s unheard of rhetoric, but only when the issue of Milanovic’s conflict with other members of NATO and the European Union over Swedish and Finnish accession to NATO arose. She spoke here as a serious liberal democrat, and it could be seen that there is a very deep distance in relation to all Milanovic’s policies, but that has not yet turned into a change in that dominant attitude. In such circumstances, it is very difficult to count on the gathering of a two-thirds majority to initiate the recall procedure for Zoran Milanovic as Croatia’s President. Even if they did manage it they would encounter terrible hurdles at the deciding Constitutional Court where three former SDP and other pro-communist Yugoslavia judges sit, whose role includes deciding upon the role the President should have!

In such a macabre atmosphere former communists and their supporters have created in Croatia, it is not surprising that the most important date in the year, Statehood Day, is poisoned at home and abroad. But this atmosphere is unacceptable and calls for stronger retaliation by the people otherwise the fight for freedom will come to symbolise nothing much for Croatia! The proud, just and strong Croatian identity is endangered indeed. Ina Vukic

Croatia – Leadership Antagonism Feeding Non-Assertion of Hard-Won Independence From Yugoslavia

Zoran Milanovic, President of Croatia (L), Andrej Plekovic, Prime Minister of Croatia (R)

It is an incredible and angering preposterousness that Serbia is still acting towards Croatia as if Croatia had never become an independent state, as if it never seceded from Yugoslavia, as if the Homeland War of Serbian aggression against Croatia had never occurred (and if it did both sides were equally aggressors and equally victims!). What is equally absurd and preposterous is that Croatia is allowing this with no sanctions except cheap words and rhetoric! In persecuting Croats Serbia is using its own laws and sometimes the laws of former Yugoslavia to keep a perpetual train of indictments for alleged war crimes against Croats, allegedly committed on Croatian soil, while the brutal Serb aggression and onslaught ensued on Croatian soil, for perhaps no other reason than to press on with the obscene idea of equating the aggressor with the victim and Serbia denying its own aggression.  In 2020, the Zagreb County State’s Attorney’s Office filed an indictment against six former members of the former Serb-controlled Yugoslav People’s Army JNA Air Force for rocketing the Banski Dvori (Croatia’s Government Building at the time its President Franjo Tudjman was inside) in October 1991 and so Serbia is now filing indictments against Croats for the same period of war of aggression event.

Croatia is not responding in a manner other independent states, whose independence arose from successful defence from brutal aggression, would respond. Countries that cherish their hard-won independence would at least make strong steps in diplomatic relations terms. It is utterly unacceptable that, in the least, Serbia’s Ambassador to Croatia has not been sent packing back to Serbia as Croatia’s first-hand response to the Serbian War Crimes Prosecutor Office having on 19 May 2022 indicted four retired Croatian Air Force officers: Vladimir Mikac from Ptuj, Zdenko Radulj from Osijek, Zeljko Jelenic from Pula and Danijel Borovic from Varazdin on suspicion of committing war crimes against civilians. prosecutors, ordered the rocketing of a column of refugees on Petrovacka cesta near Bosanski Petrovac and in Svodna near Novi Grad on August 7 and 8, 1995. The indictment was filed on March 31 but was returned to prosecutors on May 6 for further processing. In the mentioned event, 13 people were killed, six of them children, and 24 people were injured. According to the indictment, the prosecution proposes that the accused be tried in absentia.

According to Croatian media sources, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic stated on 20 May 2022 that at a short meeting with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic in Davos, he expressed dissatisfaction with the Serbian indictment against Croatian pilots.

“We pointed out that the law, by which Serbia has been expanding its jurisdiction to the territories of other countries for years, is unacceptable to us and that such a move for Croatia is certainly a signal of a step back in our relations, not a step forward,” Plenkovic told reporters in Davos. Well, Plenkovic does rather good lip service but when it comes down to what is convincing and what Croatian people deserve, he fails miserably. He as Prime Minister must demonstrate that Serbia’s actions regarding these indictments are not acceptable by imposing strict diplomatic measures, at least. Most commonly used in free and democratic countries are official protests with Ambassadors or sending Ambassadors back to their countries until matters resolved. 

“These indictments have occurred despite our years-long attempts to convince them not to play with fire and that it will cost them. I cannot be more polite; I hope they are listening to me. Leave that alone. Otherwise, they should not be surprised by reactions by right-wing lawmakers in the Parliament. The problem is that the majority of people in Croatia think like that,” President Zoran Milanovic told reporters on Tuesday 24 May 2022. President Zoran Milanovic repeated on Wednesday 26 May 2022 that Serbia should watch its actions and that he was only asking for “a fair relationship” between the two countries, adding that Croatia could have indicted Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic but made a political decision not to do it.

Fierce lip-service from both the Prime Minister and President of Croatia! No decisive actions on diplomatic levels, at least, to demonstrate they mean what they say!

Croatia has been in a political quagmire for quite a while and to make decisive steps against Serbia in this case, to protect the dignity and righteousness of Croatia’s victory against Serb aggressor, for freedom and independence, both the Prime Minister and the President must be at least on professional talking terms if such terms do not come naturally. Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and President Zoran Milanovic have not seen eye to eye on anything for quite some time and have publicly displayed intolerance towards each other as well as disturbing antagonism. But, unlike Milanovic, Plenkovic appears more interested in serving Croatia’s Serb minority than national Croatian interests even though majority of that Serb minority formed a significant part of Serb aggression against Croatian secession from communist Yugoslavia in the 1990’s! This fact would appear to be a major factor in the current political impasse and crisis Croatia is suffering currently.

It is unbelievable and cruel to the victims of Serb aggression that Croatian state policy without notable and decisive protest and action evidently permits Serbia, the aggressor, and the defeated side of the Homeland War to prosecute members of the victorious side of the war in which Serbia was the aggressor. This, of course, is not the first time this has happened with the announced indictments against four Croatian pilots who are allegedly responsible for the attack on Serb civilians after the “Storm” military operation that liberated significant parts of Croatian territory from Serb occupation in August 1995. Many would rightly so say that official Croatia permits such odious aberrations because its official heads and politicians in power since year 2000 have remained mental communists, are nostalgic of communist Yugoslavia. They are not wrong as Croatia has yet to put its official foot down at Serbia’s depraved attempts to deny its responsibilities for aggression, ethnic cleansing on non-Serbs, mass murders, genocide, destruction across Croatia.   

Not only Serbia’s laws that have extended their legal jurisdiction beyond the borders of the Serbian state are of grave concern, but also the treacherousness for Croatia of the behaviour of leading Croatian politicians, which was especially evident during the persecution of Croatian generals directed by The Hague tribunal. The former President Stjepan Mesic, who testified against his country (Croatia) at The Hague tribunal, led the evil pack that attempted to criminalise Croatia’s defence against Serb aggression and yet suffered no consequences for it in Croatia! All the Prime Ministers of Croatia including the current Andrej Plenkovic have made no positive moves to turn this tragedy around and putting Croatia’s victory over Serbia’s aggression first.

The excuse of allowing the process of reconciliation with the aggressor (Serbs) has given way the emergence of many insufferable injustices against Croatians and Croatian war veterans.

Perhaps giving amnesty against indictments for war crimes to many Serbs who committed war crimes in Croatia during the Homeland War as part of negotiations for peaceful reintegration of occupied areas of Croatia’s Danube region in 1998 has given Serbs the courage to act upon their pathological idea that they had a right to commit crimes in Croatia? 

On 15th January 1998 Croatia achieved, without a single shot fired, the liberation from Serb occupation of its Danube region which two-year process is known as the Peaceful Reintegration of Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Srijem.

It was the Erdut Agreement, which was signed on 12 November 1995, that enabled the peaceful restoration of Croatian sovereignty over the Croatian Danube region which was under the control of Serb paramilitaries and rebels since the launch of the Great Serbian aggression against that part of Croatia in 1991.

The Erdut Agreement on Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Srijem was signed on 12 November 1995 in Erdut and Zagreb by the then-presidential chief-of-staff, Hrvoje Sarinic, the head of the Serb negotiating team, Milan Milanovic, and by the then US Ambassador to Croatia, Peter Galbraith, and UN mediator Thorvald Stoltenberg as witnesses. The treaty marked the beginning of the UN’s two-year transitional administration in the area during which Croatia restored its sovereignty over the temporarily occupied parts of Osijek-Baranja and Vukovar-Srijem counties, which enabled reconstruction in the area ravaged in the Great Serbian aggression on Croatia and the return of refugees.

The Erdut agreement was reached by Croatian President Franjo Tudjman and Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic at a peace conference in Dayton, Ohio. The 14-point document provided for a two-year transitional period under UN supervision, a transitional administration, formation of a multi-national police force, local elections, and demilitarisation 30 days after the deployment of international peacekeepers. Seven provisions of the agreement dealt with human rights, refugee return, and property restitution or compensation…

Reintegration of Croatia’s Danube region was achieved without a single bullet being fired but, more than two decades on, it is evident that not all bullets are of fire but that there are many made of political obscenities. Croatia has still to assert the values of its own War of Independence and it is unlikely to do that any time soon with the current make up of government and leadership. Without decisive actions to that effect the political climate may, hopefully, develop into a strong push to change the current oblivion among its leaders towards what Serb aggression did to Croatian people. A great deal of work is still needed to achieve the democracy in Croatia that its first President, Franjo Tudjman, announced in his speech on 30 May 1990 at the inaugural session of the Croatian Parliament. Perhaps with all his strengths and courage even he may have never imagined that ridding Croatia of communist Yugoslavia would be so very harsh and difficult despite the fact that 94% of Croatia’s voters voted to secede! Ina Vukic

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