Croatia: Reconciliation Cannot Be Achieved With Denial Of Truth And Lacking Love For Nation Of People

Ina Vukic, August 2020


Many people are asking me these days what is the reaction of the Croatian diaspora to the celebration of the 25th Anniversary of victory in Knin on August 5.

The celebration of the 25th anniversary of Operation Storm, was neither visually nor morally nor truthfully a celebration of the great and deeply sacrificial victory over the brutal and obscene Serbian or Yugoslav aggressor! What that celebration was is a false picture of the truth and reality of that time and now!

During the Homeland War, Croats and anti-Croatian Serbs did not sit together in any rows, let alone in the front row of the battlefield, but on opposite sides. On one side, aggressive brutally murderous Serbs, and on the other side, Croats whose lives were endangered in the middle of that Serbian aggression.

Then in Knin on August 5, we saw and heard General Ante Gotovina who, without a shred, without a shred of shame or embarrassment, dishes out some lesson that discipline is needed in war and in peace! Of course, this mention of discipline certainly referred to the HOS (volunteer Croatian Defence Forces), whose defenders of the Homeland War and Operation Storm  were standing at that time on the streets of Knin during the celebration of Operation Storm with police threats directed at them. Because, you see, their slogan For Homeland Ready (Za Dom Spremni), which infused courage and determination for an independent Croatia, bothers the current government of the Republic of Croatia. This slogan was decisive in the defence of the Republic of Croatia, i.e. in the establishment of independence.

Then, General Gotovina, straight-faced, gave himself the right to speak about discipline, which in this case should surely keep HOS defenders, under police pressure and threats behind the lines, the police lines, while others, undeserving others, celebrated part if not the whole victory to which they contributed, to which HOS contributed and deserve to be a part of its celebrations.

So, I have never seen such perversion anywhere in the world. That something like this should happen, that the celebration of victory should be denied to those who contributed to that victory, in national defense or in national victory.

Perversion itself!

It is not just about discriminating against HOS defenders in this case, it is about perversion against the Homeland War, perversion against victory.

HOS Veterans denied access to celebrations
of Victory/ Operation Storm
in Knin, Croatia, 5 August 2020
Photo: Screenshot

And then so that this discrimination and perversion could become even stronger or better – worse! – at almost the same time not far from Knin in Grubori, the Croatian government, that is, Serbian politics in Croatia, organised a commemoration for victims of a crime against six Serb civilians that took place some three weeks after Operation Storm. The crime was committed by individuals who, in fact, with that act of crime violated the policy of the Croatian defence, the policy of Franjo Tuđman, the policy of Gojko Šušak, also now deceased. So, this commemoration in addition to the victory celebration in Knin was simply planned in order to diminish the value and the validity of the victory of Operation Storm. That’s why they sent Tomo Medved (Deputy Prime Minister) there. The appearance of Tomo Medved in Grubori at the commemoration for the victims of a crime committed by disobedient individuals who violated the policies and orders of the Croatian defence. This appearance by Tomo Medved there undoubtedly symbolises also that the top of Croatia wants to attribute this crime committed by individuals to the overall Croatian defence in the Homeland War. And that is nothing else but an another step in equalising the victim and aggressor in the Homeland War.

So, a perversion, perversion which I and I believe many others have not experienced before.

What courage against the Croatian people!

But, all this said, Croatian diaspora was before the Homeland War, during the Homeland War and after the Homeland War “For Homeland Ready” and for God and Croatia,  democratic Croatia, ready!

Some will say that by organising the celebration of 25th Anniversary of the magnificent victory over the brutal Serb aggressor in Knin at almost the same time they organised the commemoration for the victims of crime against six Serb civilians that occurred in the nearby village of Grubore, three weeks after the victorious Operation Storm, is good for reconciliation! Well, my professional opinion derived from my substantial training and experience as a Psychologist, tell me that nothing can be further from the truth. Firstly, the killing of the six Serb civilians occurred on 25 August 1995, twenty days after this Serb-occupied Croatian territory was liberated by Operation Storm, and the commemoration should have been planned for that date! Secondly, the ICTY Appeals Tribunal (International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia) in the Hague had, in its Judgment in the Gotovina & Markac case, in November 2012, stated that “the state and military leadership had no role in their planning and creation” of this crime. So, why join the commemoration for these victims with the glorious victory of Operation Storm!? Utter perversion and political manipulation in the lame efforts to achieve reconciliation between the Serb aggressor and Croatians whom they attacked, perhaps? But here is the reality: one cannot achieve reconciliation through the denial of truth nor through lacking love for one’s people! And the current government with its Serb minority elected coalition clearly possess both of these characteristics that are not reconciliation-friendly: denial of truth and lacking love for the Croatian nation. Ina Vukic

Below is the video in the Croatian language with English subtitles that I have made with the above record of distressing happenings in Croatia around the celebrations of the 25th Anniversary of Operation Storm. Please visit!


The Killing of “For Home And Country”

HOS Croatian defence forces formation insignia with “For Home Ready” slogan

The pursuits of “forget the past, turn to the future” within Croatia’s halls of power have for at least two decades echoed ad nauseam. This past particularly being that of WWII past and post-WWII past – the conflicting coexistence of independent Croatia fighters (Ustase) and those who fought to keep Croatia as part of Yugoslavia (Communists). One would have thought that the 2017 creation of the Council for Dealing with Consequences of the Rule of Non-Democratic Regimes,  sparked into being by the politically leftist or pro-communist driven controversy of the slogan “Za Dom Spremni” (For Homeland Ready) behind which slogan stood all fighters for Croatian independence, old and new, would actually deviate potential political earthquakes from political to historical level.

No such fortune in Croatia – regretfully.

The Council was created to work out a response to the question of how to deal with the enduring legacy of Croatia’s 20th Century non-democratic regimes: the WWII Ustasa movement with its legacy, albeit unrealised on a lasting level, of Independent State of Croatia, NDH, and socialist Yugoslavia, led by the League of Communists.

The starting point is a clean break from all totalitarianism,” said Andrej Plenkovic, the prime minister in Croatia’s centre-right government said then in March 2017.

Those that want Croatia to become a truly functional democratic state that has well and truly rid itself of persistent and utterly damaging communist mindset rightly expected that the year zero of Croatian modern state, will be and remain the beginning of the Homeland war (1990).

But, such deserved expectations have proven to be painfully in vain. The Council has last week made recommendations for legal amendments that the salute “For Home Ready” (Za Dom Spremni) be made illegal but to allow the exceptional use of the ‘Za dom spremni’ when for instance marking anniversaries of 1990’s military units who used that slogan as part of their insignia during the Homeland War.

The Council failed to make recommendations that the communist Red Star be banned!

The current war for memory is a war for a dominant reading of the past – the tip of a very large iceberg, that has been standing in the way of Croatian “national reconciliation”. Franjo Tudjman, Croatia’s first president, juggled between the Red and the Black past of the WWII Croatia mobilising popular support for the independence from Yugoslavia. Today, Tudjman’s HDZ (Croatian Democratic Union Party) and its political leadership are pretending to seek heritagisation of his legacy, and emulate his methods in using the present to pacify the tensions from the past. So far, that unifying force that prevented further excursions into the past was a societal consensus on the Homeland war (1991-1995). Next to that, the EU future of the country – backed by all major political parties – was meant to bring Croatia closer to the West, and farther from the Balkans. Yet, after EU accession the country struggles in finding its own place in the family of European peoples, but also in leaving the past behind.

It fought a bloody defence from Serb/communist Yugoslavia aggression in early 19990’s, in Homeland War to leave the past behind and yet the powers that be keep churning up new ways to keep the past alive.

The Council’s failure to address the Red Star, communist totalitarian regime’s insignia in the same way as it treated the WWII salute used by the NDH devotees spells unrest and strangles any chance of true progress with Croatian national state reconciliation. It failed miserably at setting Croatia’s modern history right. It failed to direct the torchlight of a democratic future Croats fought for in 1990’s against communists and communist Yugoslavia aggression.

It failed to recognise and acknowledge the plight of the massive Croatian diaspora for true freedom from communist totalitarianism, which drove them away from Croatia post-WWII!

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic first mentioned setting up the Council for Dealing with Consequences of the Rule of Non-Democratic Regimes (totalitarian regimes) in December 2016 during a row over a plaque with ‘Za dom spremni’ installed in Jasenovac as a mark of the area where where a number of Croatian fighters were brutally murdered by the Serb aggressor in early 1990’s, situated near the site of the WWII concentration camp, where Jews, Serbs, Roma and Croatian anti-fascists were killed between 1941 and 1945.

Andrej Plenkovic made no mention at the time of the even more horrific and numerous communist crimes during the era and and the need to deal with those. That certainly send uneasy, fretting messages to all who had hoped that the Council would deal equally with the insignia and symbols of both WWII NDH and communist Yugoslavia.

They were right to fret for last week’s decision by the Council stinks with communist power still on the loose in Croatia.

Former communists did not want an independent Croatia, did not fight for it in any decisive or significant way but usurped the victory of others over communism to hold onto the idea that communism was somehow responsible for Croatia’s freedom and democracy! A revolting state of affairs. Utterly disregarding the horrors of the communist totalitarian regime.

After the final meeting of the Council last Wednesday, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic held a press conference along with the president of the council, Zvonko Kusic, who is also the president of Croatian Academy Sciences and Arts.

Since the issue of the work of this Council was related to the concrete case of the HOS plaque, it’s clear… that this chant on that plaque is contrary to the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia, there is no dilemma there. But [Kusic] also acknowledged the fact that under strictly prescribed conditions it could be used in exceptional situations,” Plenkovic said, completely bypassing the fact that in announcing the formation of the Council in March 2017 an expectation was created to deal with symbolism of totalitarian regimes in general, not just the HOS (Croatian defence forces) memorial plaque in Jasenovac.

He rejected journalists’ suggestions that the government is not condemning the legacy of the Ustasa regime, but added that this refers to “a completely different context” – the use of the chant by the HOS in the 1990s war.

“‘Za dom spremni’ on the HOS’s coat of arms can be used only exceptionally, only in relation to those situations, sites or cemeteries, where HOS members were killed. This permission does not change the conclusion that the slogan is unconstitutional,” Kusic said.

After Plenkovic’s comment in March 2017 that the point of establishing the Council was to make “a clean break from all totalitarianism”, media have speculated about whether it would suggest a ban on both ‘Za dom spremni’ and the Communist red star, which was used by the Yugoslav anti-fascist Partisans and the Yugoslav People’s Army.

The European Court of Human Rights in 2008 ruled in favour of a Hungarian politician, Attila Vajnai, who was handcuffed and sentenced to a year’s parole in 2003 for wearing a red star, saying the ban violated his freedom of expression.

The ECHR established that the red star is still a symbol of the international workers’ movement and the fight for a more just society, as well as a legitimate symbol of the left that it used by some political parties in Europe.

Kusic also said on Wednesday that the red star and other symbols of Communism carry both positive and negative connotations, and that the link to the anti-fascist struggle is “undisputable”, but lawmakers can decide if some Communist symbols incite violence or hatred.

But Kusic conveniently disregarded the 2012 Knin, Croatia, court decision that ruled 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 burdened. 

No doubt about it – lustration at all levels is called for. Otherwise not only will love for free Croatia perish completely under the communist thumb but with it all dignity for the humanness and justice in the “For Home and Country” mindset known and cherished always by those of the West whose democracies have developed exactly because of it. Ina Vukic




Do Not Touch The HOS Flag


The trend in current, recent events in Croatia to do with HOS (Croatian Defence Forces) flag and symbols that it carried and carries, particularly the salutation “For Home Ready” (Za Dom Spremni) call for a somewhat amplified set of observations, which point in the direction of brazen attempts to insult and degrade the very spirit and the very sacrifice Croatia and its defenders in war made to win independence for Croatia in 1990’s; to win independence from communist Yugoslavia. When one of the flags under which a country was liberated from a bloody and cruel aggression is being treated with utter disrespect one knows that the time has arrived for action. And as far as Croatia is concerned this action can be nothing short of lustration and decommunisation! It is, without a doubt, from the former communist echelons, from the echelons that did not want an independent Croatia, that the attack on the HOS flag and its slogan “For Home Ready” is being waged.

While there have been numerous attacks against this flag in recent times, waged by Croatian authorities, one of those attacks of most recent dates was in the town on Knin on 5 August 2017, at the official celebration of the liberating military Operation Storm 1995 when war veterans were arrested for calling out in jubilation with “For Home Ready”. President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic, as commander in chief of defence forces, was the patron of this event. Another attack occurred on Saturday 12 August 2017 at the Boat Marathon event in the Neretva River Valley, of which event president Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic is also a patron. news portal reports that the local police “intervened” by seizing the HOS flag from one of the boats with members of the Croatian Party of Rights and friends who had intended to follow the race.

Strong internal affairs forces seized the flag, and a member of our presidency, Ivica Vladava, was questioned by the police and breaching charges mounted against him. DISGRACEFUL!,” members of the Croatian Party of Rights commented.

Now, I am only too well aware that a president of a country cannot control everyone on the ground, that even the Premier cannot, but, surely, they are the ones who as leaders must set the standards and expectations clearly for what is and what should not occur in the country that affects the public and the battle for the country’s independence. True leaders set clear standards and expectations and this is crucial to controlling an overall, nationally responsible flow of matters that occur or don’t occur in the country. Even if laws may stipulate that symbols of totalitarian regimes are forbidden (For Home Ready is, wrongfully and increasingly being painted as such) it is absolutely unacceptable that any Croatian flags under which the very independence was won, with untold suffering, would not be excepted under the provisions of any such law.

Circling back to the observation at hand, “disrespect towards the HOS flag” as a motivation is a deliberate act, and its consequences must be attended to with equal and justifiable force of determined action in protecting the flag from the treacherous political elites in authorities who deliver treacherous laws.

So, which is worse: the expression of offensive thoughts, the motivation behind such thoughts, or violent responses to non-violent but intentional attempts to injure the country’s pride or spirit (HOS flag represents both pride and spirit of Croatia’s path to freedom)? I have absolutely no intention of giving lessons on this. But, if somebody wants to mistreat the flag to show disrespect, thereby making somebody else angry, and they succeed, then it’s up to “public opinion, and … the general spirit of the people and of the government” to decide on the proper response.

When veterans counter-protest against this behaviour of disrespect towards the flag, some people suggest that veterans should not protest saying soldiers die so that others might have the freedom to do with the flag as they please – seize it, burn it, make it unlawful …Many people find a bizarre acceptance in this tragic contradiction. They understand neither freedom nor flag.
Protecting the flag is not obvious to others in these times of moral relativism and the regretful thriving of communist mindset. Such people follow the worn-out liberal dogma that confuses freedom and license. They define freedom as doing anything one wants to do as long as it does not hurt others. This is to misunderstand natural liberty. This liberal way of thinking turns “freedom” into a means of justifying the practice of vice, gratifying passions or dividing the nation. This kind of “freedom” resents order and restraint of all types although their actions of disrespecting the HOS flag are supposedly carried out under a relevant law. Inside this definition, they invent the “freedom” to desecrate one of the very flags the nation’s freedom was won with.

Liberty, the highest of natural endowments, being the portion only of intellectual or rational natures, confers on man this dignity – that he is ‘in the hand of his counsel’ and has power over his actions. But the manner in which such dignity is exercised is of the greatest moment, inasmuch as on the use that is made of liberty the highest good and the greatest evil alike depend,” Pope Leo XIII on nature of human liberty.

Thus, the true nature of freedom is the faculty of choosing the means toward an end that is perceived as good. The choosing of an evil reflects a defect of judgment not a proof of freedom’s proper functioning. This distinction of freedom is particularly true of the soldier. The soldier does not fight for the “right” to do whatever. His fight is oriented toward the defence of order. His moral universe makes a clear distinction between right and wrong because his life depends upon it. He puts force at the service of the good and directs his action against the forces of evil. The soldier does not give his life to defend disorder. Rather his fight implies a rule of law that limits the activities of people so that order might exist in society and true freedom might flourish.

It is for this and, hence, Croatia’s freedom to embark upon true democracy that the HOS flag must be protected. The flag is not just a piece of cloth. In these times of extreme individualism, many want to hijack the flag and turn it into a symbol of a person’s right to pursue some politically defined happiness without any social commitments.

The HOS flag (as are all other flags fought under in Croatia’s Homeland War) is one of the visible symbols that invite individuals to think beyond their self-interest. It represents a moral commitment to the common good of the collective entity called the Republic of Croatia. The visible flag represents the invisible bonds that link Croatians together as a people. It expresses those common ties that unite Croatia’s past, present and future.

Indeed, this flag, like all others proudly carried in the battles for Croatia’s freedom, in essence belongs to no political party, social class or special interest lobby. It belongs to everyone and rises above the intrigues and politics of the day. The flag honours a collective vision of what Croatia was, is, and might be. It is the celebration of what is called united governance, that unity of order that should make Croatia. It is one of the symbols of the commitment made in 1991 referendum by 94% of Croatians to be a member of the free and independent Croatian nation. Ina Vukic


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