Croatia’s sovereignty and self-determination threatened as President Ivo Josipovic questions the law adopted by former HDZ government that renders certain laws of Former Yugoslavia and its army null and void

A freak event occurred in September 2011.

Indictments by a Belgrade court for war crimes landed in Croatia against some 40 individuals, copied indictments issued by Serbia’s military prosecutor’s office in 1992. Among the accused were 2011 Croatian Deputy Parliament Speaker Vladimir Seks and war veterans from Vukovar.

The Croatian HDZ government proceeded immediately to draw up a bill that would make Null and Void on the territory of the Republic of Croatia all legal acts of Former Yugoslavian People’s Army, its judicial bodies, judicial bodies of the Former Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia and the judicial bodies of the Republic of Serbia that relate to the Homeland Defence War(1991-1995), on basis of which, allegations and charges against citizens of the Republic of Croatia are laid contrary to the values protected by the international law contained in Chapter XIII of Criminal Law.

The Croatian parliament had difficulties achieving a quorum for the initial sessions when the proposed bill was to be voted on. The opposition (Kukuriku/ cock-a-doodle-doo alliance/in government since December 2011) boycotted the sessions as did some minor party representatives. Quorum attendance was finally achieved 21 October 2011 (without Kukuriku) and the bill adopted.

The law invalidates the above indictments from Serbia.

The legislation says that Croatia will not act upon requests from Serbia for legal aid when it concludes that requests are in contravention of Croatia’s legal order and harm its sovereignty and security. It is the justice minister who will make the pertaining decisions.

Croatia’s chief prosecutor, Mladen Bajic, had opposed the bill, warning that adoption of such a law would undermine cooperation between Croatia and Serbia in prosecuting war crimes committed in former Yugoslavia.

Concerns about the bill and its possible effects on cooperation between Croatia and Serbia also came from the Croatian President Ivo Josipovic, Serbia’s special prosecutor for war crimes, Vladimir Vukcevic. The European Union said it would analyse the law.

Croatia’s President Josipovic said at the time that “the interests of Croatia, primarily of our war veterans, should be ensured through a mutual agreement with Serbia”.

His memory seems to have faded or he is struck by wishful thinking!

The Serbs never wanted to live in Croatia, did not want to negotiate before and they are not likely to negotiate now as their goal seems to be equating the aggressor with the victim; issuing as many indictments as they can against Croatians even if they are not based on true evidence (e.g. 2011 indictment of Tihomir Purda that was later withdrawn), using laws of extinct Yugoslavia.

Croatia’s war veterans must not be at the mercy of Serbia.

Croatia must protect them and insist on its own laws when it comes to processing alleged war criminals.

Historical facts point to 8 October 1991, when negotiations (with regards to preparation of Croatian legislation to offer home rule to the rebel Serbs and remnants of Former Yugoslavia (Serbia) broke down. Croatia’s President dr Franjo Tudjman then severed relations with Yugoslavia and declared the Yugoslav army an invading force. He then declared Yugoslav laws null and void on Croatian territory.

This was a natural progression in the process of Croatian independence and sovereignty, for which 94% of Croatian citizens voted some months earlier.

Slovenia declared Yugoslav laws void in February 1991.

On 27 December 2011 Croatia’s President Ivo Josipovic announced that he has asked the Constitutional court for an assessment as to whether the bill adopted in October complies with the Croatian Constitution. Josipovic suggested that the law was not passed in accordance with the Constitutional rules for quorums in the parliament.

Article 82 of the Constitution: “Unless otherwise specified by the Constitution, the House of Representatives and the House of Counties shall make decisions by a majority vote, provided that a majority of representatives are present at the session. Representatives shall vote personally.

When the law passed in Croatian parliament in October it was passed when there was a quorum. Quorum usually means majority. In legal terms a quorum translates into: enough members present to conduct business legally.

Perhaps Josipovic meant that the opposition was not present in parliament when the bill was voted on? The Constitution refers to “members” of parliament (quorum of members) and does not seem to distinguish between their actual and individual political affiliations.

Perhaps he is going to argue that out of 77 members present at the voting session of parliament 72 voted “For” and 5 “abstained” from voting. If the quorum allows the parliament to conduct business legally then on that day the business was legal. Majority attending voted “Yes”.

Perhaps he has in mind to align the vote of this law with Article 83:

The Croatian Parliament shall adopt laws (organic laws) regulating the rights of national minorities by a two-thirds majority vote of all deputies.
The Croatian Parliament shall adopt laws (organic laws) elaborating constitutionally established human rights and fundamental freedoms, the electoral system, the organisation, remit and operation of governmental agencies and the civil service, and the organisation and purview of local and regional self-government by a majority vote of all deputies.
The Croatian Parliament shall adopt the decision specified in Article 8 of the Constitution by a two-thirds majority vote of all deputies.

But why would he push to Article 83 when Croatia already declared laws of Former Yugoslavia null and void in 1991?

President Josipovic entered politics as a member of the League of Communists of Croatia which became Social Democratic Party (SDP). Although now an Independent, he won presidential elections in 2009/2010 as SDP’s candidate.

SDP within Kukuriku alliance holds power in Croatian Parliament now.

It’s clear to me that the mainstream centre-left and left, the Serbian minority and others in Croatia who opposed the bill at the time of its proposition, and boycotted the sitting, seem to have been more concerned about the relations with Serbia than about Croatian sovereignty. And, of course, development of cooperation between Croatia and Serbia has been on the pressure-agenda of European Union for quite some time.

Vladimir Seks said, “this law (of Null and Void) is also a way of exerting pressure on the EU because Serbia’s current practice of issuing indictments against Croatian veterans is outside all European legal standards,“,

If Croatia will enter a European Union where its sovereignty is to be diced and chopped into pieces (as in the case of this law) on political rather than sovereignty grounds then who needs the EU!

Who needs Serbia trying to act as some sort of the world court policeman for the Former Yugoslavia that has been null and void for 20 years.

Cooperation with an another state cannot and should not take precedence over Croatia’s sovereignty and its right to pass laws that declare null and void the laws of Former Yugoslavia, making further and essential tracks in its sovereignty and self-determination. Ina Vukic, Prof.(Zgb), B.A.,M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Zoran Milanovic – not Flash Gordon or Zorro but Speedy Gonzales, perhaps?

The new centre-left Croatian government, led by Zoran Milanovic, was sworn in on Friday 23 December 2011, shortly after the new Parliament voted on the date for EU accession referendum.

New Government of the Republic of Croatia, December 2011

The people of Croatia were given 18 working days to fully inform themselves about EU and come out voting either Yes or No on 22 January 2012.

Now, that’s fast!

When Zoran Milanovic, Croatia’s new Prime Minister, talked earlier this month about Croatia having 50 to 60 days to save the credit rating, Milanovic said ‘’it’s not like in the Flash Gordon movie to have 14 seconds for saving the world.’’ Later on he also said that he was not Zorro the avenger.–im-not-flesh-gordon-or-zorro-the-avenger/400313

He may not be Flash Gordon or Zorro but he certainly reminds me of Speedy Gonzales when it comes to the referendum dates.

Speedy Gonzales wears a red kerchief too.

A survey result reportedly shows that up to 80% of voters feel inadequately informed about what’s waiting for them in the EU and what’s not. (article in Croatian)

Nevertheless, it needs to be recognised that the Ex HDZ government has distributed brochures, booklets, held discussion panels, published some details of EU negotiations etc. Also, there have been a large number of individual “FOR” and “AGAINST” internet/web campaigns. Example of booklet published:

If one takes note of the above mentioned Survey then something went wrong. Either the people at large did not pay enough attention to the information provided or the information itself lacked appeal?

Surely the new government is aware of this? But still, only 18 working days to make up one’s mind about a very important issue for the future of Croatia!

The new government is truly young and fresh; there’s lots of positive or vibes of hope among the population that come in handy with new governments everywhere and Croatia is no different, but – 18 working days!

Hoodwink comes to mind!

President Ivo Josipovic has also said that there is enough time until 22 January for people to receive adequate information about EU.

The citizens are sceptical. Perhaps the root of scepticism lies in the fact that Croatians had to deal with a relatively large number of other issues of paramount public importance in the past 6-8 months: the ICTY convictions of Generals Gotovina and Markac, their Appeal, first arrest in history for alleged WWII Communist Crimes, a new law to render the laws of Former Yugoslavia as futile, the publishing of EU Accession Treaty to be signed, general elections, new government … and so it could follow that there was an information overload and many people simply did not have time to take everything in, properly.

A newly formed “Council for Croatia”, comprising non-parliamentary parties, associations and individuals has commenced a “NO” campaign. “The Council said the lack of a public discussion and the non-transparency of the accession negotiations indicated that the elites in power were hiding from the public the real truth about the EU and the consequences of accession”.

It seems odd to accuse the Ex HDZ government of non-transparency when in less than a month from receiving the extensive EU Accession Treaty text (September 2011), the Ex government translated all relevant parts into Croatian and published both the English and the Croatian language versions on the web.

The HDSSB (Croatian Democratic Alliance of Slavonia and Baranja) and Labor parties voted against 22 January and suggested a period of three months before the actual referendum date. (article in Croatian)

Prof. dr. sc. Davor Pavuna, a world renowned scientist living in Switzerland has recently expressed opinions for Vjesnik newspaper: “I see Croatia as a part of Europe, which by all accounts it is, but I’m not for joining the EU-entity as it stands now. I’m for EU-compatibility (like Switzerland) but not for joining as EU is disintegrating…I stand for the idea of croatisation of the planet, which means that Croatia, Croatian minds and friends of Croatia, regardless of where they live, build a network and focus on sovereign, authentic euro-compatible and planetary activity”. (article in Croatian) Pavuna

On the topic as to how to remain true to one self within the EU, “…we will remain so if we change our education system within a system that builds character and which nurtures sovereign and self-confident people who will take care of Croatia, and are not minions to systems such a EU … I’m not less of a Croatian because I’ve been living outside Croatia for 33 years. I’m still a Croatian, but I’m also a European, loyal to Switzerland or America and other countries and systems where I work”, Pavuna said.

A petition to the government in Croatia to postpone the referendum on EU accession until the ICTY final verdict on the Appeals by Generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac is made and published – signatures are being collected as we speak. It is based on the assertion that when it comes to the 1995 Operation Storm, which liberated Serb-occupied Croatian territory, Croatia had every right under the Geneva Convention of 1949 to defend itself. Furthermore, the petition calls upon the wrongs done by EU against Croatia’s right to self-defence when EU abolished the Phare program and spread false information with regards to the shelling of Knin. The latter was picked up by ICTY and included in the ICTY charges against the Generals.

Appeal to the Croatian Government to postpone the EU accession referendum

Five workers’ unions have applied to GONG (non-political organisation aiming at motivating and facilitating citizens to participate in political processes) seeking that it makes representations to the government and the President for a one month postponement on the referendum for EU accession. GONG has been unsuccessful in this.[tt_news]=143860&tx_ttnews[backPid]=48&cHash=e226e1da67  (both articles in Croatian)

By the way, Neven Mimica (Croatia.s new Deputy Prime Minister) said, a couple of days after the Kukuriku (cock-a-doodle-doo) alliance electoral win on 4 December, that the referendum would most likely be held one month after the new government’s first working meeting – not before mid to late February 2012.[tt_news]=142172&cHash=6a73804c31

Before, the Croatian Constitution required that a majority of all registered voters be in favour in order for the accession to proceed. The June 2010 amendment of the Constitution requires only that majority of votes cast are in favour of accession, with no minimum figure or percentage specified.

Latest surveys suggest that up to 60% of Croatia’s voters would vote “Yes” for Croatian accession to EU.

There is little doubt, though, that a good degree of discomfort and confusion about 22 January, for joining or not joining the EU, lingers on in Croatia.

I suppose that may be the case with any referendum, anywhere. National referendums do have the capacity and the knack of stirring the population into actions they may not be ready for, into hard-thinking and debating.

People need time to digest the information they receive in order to form informed opinions. It seems they’re not getting it in Croatia. Albeit, Vesna Pusic, the new Minister of Foreign Affairs, indicated on Croatian HRT news December 27, that they’ll publish a lot of information on the internet … Well, what about the many who do not have access to the internet? What about more time?

I trust that most Croatian voters will turn up on the day and vote, otherwise the referendum could end up “Yes” or “No” without representing the majority of the voting population at large – i.e. Croatian people. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb), B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

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