Croatian leftist government – “Monkey see, Monkey do” moral undercurrents as in communist Yugoslavia

Radimir Cacic – Photo source:

It was a sex scandal that caused Dominique Strauss-Kahn to resign from his position as managing director of International Monetary Fund (IMF) on 18 May 2011.

Racy emails purporting to show that Bret McGurk (President Barrack Obama’s nominee for US Ambassador to Iraq) had a relationship with an Iraq correspondent for The Wall Street Journal while he was the Bush White House’s top Iraq adviser, that caused Mr McGurk to withdraw from the nomination (18 June 2012).

Alleged electoral overspending against the Canadian Prime Minister’s right-hand Dean Del Mastro is the reason why Del Mastro is being asked to step down as Parliamentary Secretary (7 June 2012).

I could go on and on with examples when persons in important positions that affect the nation are asked to or required to stand down or resign amidst allegations (or judgments) of improper conduct and/or actions carrying criminal loads.

The non-custodial sentence of 1 year 10 months with 3 years probation (which will undoubtedly be appealed) delivered by a Hungarian court on Friday 29 June 2012 against Croatia’s first Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Economy Radomir Cacic (Croatian Peoples Party/HNS) for causing a car accident that resulted in two fatalities is not a reason for which the Social Democrats (SDP) led government requires Cacic’s resignation or even suspension. Furthermore, Cacic himself has not even contemplated resigning or moving aside even though some months ago he stated that should the court ruling be against him he would withdraw from politics.

Cacic is staying put and threatens anyone who says that he had caused the deaths of two people with legal proceedings!

Certainly, Cacic, Croatia’s Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic, Croatia’s Foreign Minister Vesna Pusic and the whole of the leftist government, whose protagonists still, palpably, carry a burning torch for the communist regime Croatia left twenty years ago, obviously have no concern for the moral edification Croatia so desperately needs.

While Cacic and his governmental colleagues might think that causing a fatal accident is, after all, an accident that can happen to anybody – and therefore not a compelling reason for him to step down from his high governmental office – the fact is that Cacic caused the accident by driving his car with excessive speed given that weather conditions were reportedly those of only 40 metre visibility (fog?). Cacic’s defence claims he drove at 125 km per hour in a 130 km per hour speed limit zone while some court expert reports mentioned the possibility that Cacic may have been driving at the speed between 130 and 160 km per hour. Even if Cacic drove at 125 km per hour in such less than safe for high-speed weather conditions, it can be said that he drove irresponsibly, recklessly and dangerously. The latter must be a compelling reason for him to step down, if fatalities aren’t. Inferences, at least, about Cacic’s character can safely be drawn from such a car-driving record and such characters surely cannot in the normal world be trusted to deliver a sound government.  He is no teenager towards whom such reckless driving could arguably be looked upon forgivingly.

Croatian media has relentlessly sought for Cacic to resign his post as first prime minister and minister for economy; representatives of parliamentary opposition parties have sought the same. But, the governing Kukuriku (Cock-a-doodle-doo) coalition is digging its heels firmly into the ground, supporting Cacic to stay on. What’s even more concerning is that prime minister Milanovic says “only few people have so much energy and desire to change something like Cacic has”.

Oh Lord! Let’s hope that Cacic’s energy doesn’t cause a fatality of Croatian economy!

Setting and maintaining high standards of morality in a democratic society is a job that is never done; it requires continuous efforts by individuals from all walks of life and particularly so from members of the government.

While morality is in many ways captioned by laws and regulations, individual interpretations of these can differ as night and day. Some interpretations cause unrest among citizens, and some don’t – depending on how deeply they offend the sense of human decency.

Croatia, in 1991, began its path into democracy. It carried with it the heavy, heavy load of communists’ moral high ground. In simple terms, this means that during the prior 45 + years the communists in authority molded a prevalent standard of morality within the society that most often had little if anything to do with human decency. That is, individual “officials” – whether governmental, judicial, educational, of work force and employment … often made their own subjective rules and behaved accordingly. The ordinary citizens had little to go on in the realm of clear moral standards expected of society, except the idea that being a member of the communist party, or at least be seen to agree with it, is great. It became almost existential to be a follower without questioning. And, hence, respect and heeding of laws and court decisions widely disintegrated into social wastebaskets. With a good connection to the communist party or with bribe money, one could achieve almost anything, bugger the consequences.

I psychological terms “Monkey see, monkey do” has a great deal to do with observational learning, imitation…and certainly, the moral standards within the society are to a great extent a replica of those practiced by authority figures and their mimicking within the society.

Hence, a crucial reason why in a developed democratic society where authority figures represent the people of the society, improper conduct by an authority figure is the sure ticket to dismissal, standing down, suspension, resignation…  Decency must be maintained if humanistic society is to survive. High positions in society are the ones who set and maintain the moral standards for imitation via rigorous application of those standards.

Not when it comes to Cacic today, not in former communist Yugoslavia, though.

To make matters more distressing, most of the Croatian media, most of the parliamentary opposition see that edification, uplifting of social morality through decency of government and other authority figures must take precedence, if Croatia is to reach the levels of highly functioning democracy, but the government does not see this. If it did, then it wouldn’t close ranks around defending and justifying Cacic in the maintenance of the morally untenable.

With the implicated improper driving conduct that led to fatal consequences Cacic has, to my belief, no place in the government.

Continuing his mandate as if nothing happened (reportedly he also failed to properly apologise to the widow of one of the people who died as a result of the car accident), suggests haughtiness that has absolutely no place in any parliament, let alone in the parliament of a country that is trying to shed such stand-over, high-ground “morality” that communists had plagued the society with.

It’s clear that the few “energetic and capable” people Prime Minister Milanovic talks about when counting Cacic among them is a product of his disastrous shortsightedness.

If he looks beyond the tip of his nose he would see that Croatia is filled with positively energised people who want changes, real and meaningful changes. But, Milanovic still remains blind to the needs of moral edification of the ruling elite (at least), he and his government still subscribe to the insulting communist run “Monkey see, monkey do” shaping of morality where people at large were not required to understand either behavior or its consequences (like Monkeys?) – the only requirement: follow the leaders, do as leaders say and you’ll be O.K.

People disquiet about the Cacic affair in Croatia sends strong messages that people want democracy to work even if the current government does not. That is potent!  Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation hacked phones, Croatian TV doctored story on fall of Vukovar

The well publicised scandal of the discovery of phone hacking practices (July 2011) within some of Rupert Murdoch owned News Corporation media outlets unleashed a string of inquiries in the United Kingdom. Similar inquiries were announced in the USA and Australia.

Murdoch swiftly killed-off the News of the World newspaper where first phone hacking practices were discovered.

The United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron promptly announced to parliament that a public government inquiry would convene to further investigate the affair. He named Lord Justice Leveson as chairman of the inquiry, with a remit to look into the specific claims about phone hacking, the initial police inquiry and allegations of illicit payments to police by the press, and a second inquiry to review the general culture and ethics of the British media.

Leaving aside some concerns about the impact of state media regulation on the free press that such public inquiries may have, one needs to observe that the governments of the above countries (and others) may in fact consider themselves the guardians of the old journalistic maxim: Get it first. But, first, get it right.

Doctoring stories or assembling video or audio tapes in order to present to the public a journalistic piece designed to deceive, spread hatred, half-truths, untruths, or political gain doesn’t in my opinion fall far from phone hacking found within the Murdoch media.

Croatian TV HRT had in its main news in November 2011, during the days of the 2oth Anniversary of the tragic and horrible fall of Vukovar and General Elections campaigns released a story on the 1991 Fall of Vukovar.

The audio part to the story was, the news anchor/editor Zoran Sprajc said, a taped telephone conversation from 1991 between the late President Dr. Franjo Tudjman and Vukovar’s Croatian commander Mile Dedakovic Jasterb.

In the televised conversation, Tudjman refuses Dedakovic’s requests to withdraw civilians and children from Vukovar, giving the Croatian public “evidence” that Tudjman sacrificed Vukovar in order to show the world how brutal the Serbs were, or to speed up international recognition of Croatian independence.

Of course, a public outcry of disenchantment and anger at Tudjman (and his HDZ party running in November 2011 elections for another term in government) followed.

The conservative politicians (HDZ) protested against the televised story and sought the suspension of Zoran Sprajc as anchor/editor of the TV news program. HRT did just that, quickly.

The Programming Council of HRT had assessed the televised conversation story as inclinatory, malicious, and assembled elsewhere. It reiterated that TV was a public media and must present the truth and do so objectively.

The destiny of suspension from duties that Sprajc experienced is nothing out of the ordinary – suspension from duties while serious complaints inquiries are carried out is a normal practice in the just world. Not in all Croatia it seems?

Some public rallies in support of Sprajc appeared on the streets. The Croatian journalists’ association criticized the suspension, and human rights watchdog Documenta expressed “deep concern with the persecution of journalists because of their broadcasting of the truth.” Former president Stjepan Mesic (left wing politics) also stepped in, criticising the measures demanded by the conservatives (HDZ etc).

Vukovar November 1991

Come January 2012, and in relation to the said TV news story, sources reveal that:

(a) Dedakovic was not in Vukovar at the time of the dramatised “desperate call to Tudjman for help” as HRT piece claimed;

(b) the HRT piece was assembled from parts of several phone conversations some of which were made by Tudjman (HRT claimed Dedakovic phoned Tudjman);

(c) HRT piece showed that Tudjman absolutely rejected to evacuate children from Vukovar but omitted to broadcast the fact that the Serbs and Serb led Yugoslav Army did not allow evacuation of civilians including children without Vukovar capitulating first!

So far, there has been no public statement from the Croatian journalists association, from the Documenta human rights watchdog, from former or current presidents of Croatia nor from the current government regarding the latest revelation that points to gross and malicious deception of the Croatian public through story doctoring and assembling of audio tapes in order to serve the public with lies that wound deeply the very soul of Croatian Homeland War.

Certainly, there hasn’t been even an inkling of a suggestion in Croatian media that the government may set up inquiries into journalistic practices. It would seem that all the protestors against Sprajc’s suspension are happy to sweep the truth under the carpet and together with the government allow the unsavory, unethical, politically corrupt journalistic practices to thrive?

No one it seems has asked: where and how else in the Croatian media is the public being deceived and why?

Had a look on the Croatia’s parliament website and there are a number of sessions to be held this month. Perhaps some member of parliament, if not the government’s president, will stand up during one of these meetings and demand an independent government funded inquiry into journalistic practices in Croatia. 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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