Croatia: Major Corruption Scandal Silenced, Judiciary Paralysed

The just passed three-day slot, 21, 22 and 23 July 2023, was a historic moment for the Croatian Parliament in that for the first time in more than 30 years of its existence the President of the country (Zoran Milanovic) has called for, convened an extraordinary session of Parliament, making this a precedent of modern Croatian parliamentarianism.

Insults, “hits below the belt”, recriminations, and even grubby personal offences hurled across the chamber of the Croatian Parliament. While hopes for clear resolutions were widespread among the people it was clear from the start that this was not going to solve anything for the better for the people or the country, especially given that President Zoran Milanovic and Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic have done nothing jointly for the nation except cause distress and alarm due to their inability and/or unwillingness to work with each other as a matter of constitutional protocol and people’s expectations. For the first two days of the extraordinary session insults against the government flew at the empty seats usually occupied by the ruling HDZ party and their coalition parliamentary representatives. Then on Sunday 23 July 2023, in the morning part of the sitting these seats were occupied, almost every one of them and insults hurled both ways – it was when voting on the opposition motion, behind which President Zoran Milanovic stood, was to occur. The vote was for the furthering of clarification of culprits in the massive corruption affair of state-owned HEP selling gas reserves ridiculously cheaply: “that the Government undertake to determine within 15 days who is responsible in the ‘gas for a cent’ affair”, and, “that the government ensures the orderly functioning of the judiciary”. Of course, the vote did not go in favour of the motions or conclusions of the proponents – majority of HDZ and coalition partners came to vote and then go back to sunbaking on some beach or swimming pool.  

With majority 77 votes, President Milanovic’s motion/conclusion (presented to parliament via government opposition parties) was rejected by which the Government would undertake to immediately, and within 15 days at the latest, take all necessary measures to ensure the orderly functioning of the judiciary in Croatia. The motion of the President of the Republic, which would oblige the Government to determine within 15 days which institutions and persons are responsible for the financial damage caused to HEP, the state-owned power utility, in the implementation of the Regulation on eliminating disturbances in the domestic energy market, was also rejected.  

The conclusions of the ruling majority were, of course (!), accepted, stating adamantly that the convening of an extraordinary session by the President of the Republic of Croatia was unnecessary because the Government is taking all necessary measures to ensure the orderly functioning of the judicial authority, as well as all necessary measures to determine the circumstances in the implementation of the Decree on eliminating disturbances on the domestic energy market. Parliament also rejected the conclusions proposed by the entire opposition, that the Government should be tasked with making a decision by which civil servants and employees will be paid for all days spent on strike, and that within three working days, the members of the HEP board, the members of the HERA board (Croatian Energy Regulatory Agency), the HROTE board (Croatian Energy Market Operator), and the State Secretary for Energy in the Ministry of Economy, Ivo Milatic, would be dismissed. The opposition proposal to pay the strikers wages for the days on strike received 67 votes, and 74 voted against. Unlike the voting on other points, three representatives of the SDSS (Independent Democratic Serb Party) did not participate in the voting for this proposal at all.  

As I wrote in my last article, a huge corruption story implicating the involvement, either by omission or active role, of government officials or ministers in the abominably damaging low-price sale of surplus gas reserves by government-owned HEP mainly to private company PPD, seemingly enjoying government favouritism and, hence, destroying any changes of a truly free trade in Croatia, is shaking Croatia. To add to this crisis is the standstill or paralysis of the judiciary amidst unresolved claims for higher wages is also shaking Croatia, the rattling of a massive political crisis seeking the demise of those from the government responsible for this situation. The judiciary is already swamped with hundreds of thousands of unprocessed cases, causing the notoriously frustrating and unreasonable delay of ten to fifteen years in the processing of claims and this standstill due to industrial action of protests will surely list Croatian judiciary as the worst bastion of inefficiency and corruption in a democratic country’s judiciary operations. For months now the protest of the judiciary has lingered on with untold damage to the people and economy. Only matters of life and death are being heard by the courts and everything else is at a standstill for months, even thousands of applications for new business registrations!  

During the marathon debate that ensued in the parliament at the weekend, the opposition stated that the Government satisfied judges’ and doctors’ claims for higher wages, while ignoring judicial officers’ and administrative staff ‘ claims without whom the judiciary cannot function. It was pointed out that they work for miserable wages on which they cannot survive, and that Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic “trains strictness on the weakest, tramples women on strike, that he doesn’t care”. The opposition claims that the judiciary is paralysed, the rule of law does not work, that Croatia now has a constitutional crisis, and that the situation is extraordinary.  

As expected, HDZ party members, on the other hand, emphasised that the situation is neither extraordinary nor true that the judiciary is not functioning. Their frequent criticism was that President Milanovic did not appear at the session, even though he is the proposer, calling him a coward and that he aligned himself with the opposition. They defended the government that in recent years it has continuously increased wages and that it is not true that the government is doing nothing or that it has no will to pursue resolution of the judiciary strike situation. They are convinced that the Government will resolve the situation as it has until now and ultimately increase the salaries of civil servants by adopting the new Law on Salaries in Public Administration and regulations.  

Government defending its actions was to be expected but the significant unity achieved at this extraordinary session of parliament was not in the votes against President Milanovic’s motions delivered by the ruling HDZ party and its coalition but rather in the almost perfect government opposition unity on display.  Rarely has almost the entire Croatian government opposition been united in the past thirty years on issues that are important to citizens and the country as a whole: anti-corruption and the functioning of the judiciary. While the fact remains that Croatia is, ahead of the 2024 mega elections year, well into the pre-elections campaigning, the accentuation of intolerable markers of corruption at high levels in the country as well as the disfunction of the judiciary that must be addressed remain pressing topics for Croatia that is still and visibly struggling to transition fully from communist Yugoslavia.  

In Croatia, which was created independent by 94% people vote at May 1991 referendum and the consequent bloody Homeland War that defended such a strong people vote from Serb and Yugoslav Army aggression, nothing significant has changed in relation to the government-owned companies’ management model that what was had in the one-party communist system of former Yugoslavia. The corruption scandals that keep plaguing the public space in Croatia all these years since the secession from communist Yugoslavia have uncovered repeated chaos and robbery in public goods, repeated attempts to bury corruption scandals before they are unravelled and culprits punished – all in all, chaos, and robbery in public administration appear at all levels. If such an odious track record is to continue then the summer break, until parliament sitting restarts in September, will do nothing to address and answer the question people, not just government opposition, are asking: who is responsible for the shocking loss to the public purse due to the perversely cheap sale of government surplus gas to private companies and what are the consequences for the culprits? Whose hands, if anyone’s, have exchanged cash under the table?  Ina Vukic  

Croatia: President’s Chief Adviser Axed Amidst Attempt To Rock Foundations Of Independence From Communist Yugoslavia

Dr Franjo Tudjman Ushers Croatia Out Of Communism - 1991 Photo:

Dr Franjo Tudjman
Ushers Croatia Out Of Communism – 1991


It is pre-election campaign for Croatian President time and the current incumbent Ivo Josipovic, who wants another mandate, has axed one of his chief advisers, Dejan Jovic, for stating the country’s 1991 independence referendum as non-liberal and undemocratic. There is, however, little, if any, public trust in the sincerity of this move by Josipovic.

The appointment of Dejan Jovic as presidential adviser had been a thorn in Croatian as well as Croat/Bosniak eyes of Bosnia and Herzegovina for years. Open letters have over the years been sent to Josipovic to remove Jovic from the advisory capacity; many newspaper articles have called for the same – to no avail.

Jovic, a Croatian Serb national, graduated with degrees in Political Science from Zagreb/Croatia (1990) and Ljubljana/Slovenia (MSc in 1994). In 1994 he moved to the United Kingdom where he obtained a MSc degree in Political Theory (at the University of Manchester, 1995) and a PhD at London School of Economics (1999). Dr Jovic has served as a consultant for the Economist Intelligence Unit (UK). Jovic has defended Serbia’s Slobodan Milosevic, defended or tried to justify in favour of Serb aggression against Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina in early 1990’s when these states voted to secede from communist Yugoslavia, has supported Srebrenica genocide deniers, has been strongly associated with organising and promoting the international malicious hike of equating Croatian defenders/veterans of 1990’s Croatian Homeland War with WWII Nazis, equating aggressor with the victims, driving the notion that love of the Serbs (the aggressor) should be built and that Serbs’ sins of genocidal aggression and ethnic cleansing in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina should be forgiven and guilt attributed to all sides!

If you’re wondering how such a man of such obviously anti-independence for Croatia and pro-Yugoslavia political convictions could have been a chief adviser to the president of Croatia do not tire yourself: Jovic and Josipovic belong to the same political caste of former communist Yugoslavia; they belong to the same train of thought as those of League of Communists who walked out of the Croatian Parliament in 1990 and 1991 when independence, democracy and secession from communist Yugoslavia were being considered. Ditching Jovic at the hour of presidential elections campaign convinces nobody that Josipovic differs in his opinions regarding the right of Croatia to pride itself of its independence from Jovic.

A few days ago Dejan Jovic expressed his highly controversial thoughts on the referendum on independence from Yugoslavia in an academic journal, “Political Thought“.
Whether by doing so he aimed to serve two “masters” (communist Yugoslavia nostalgics within the territory of former Yugoslavia and anti-Croatia, and anti-Scotland independence lot within British political underground), all of whom would not want the notion that freedom and independence are a worthy cause to support spread across Europe and beyond, is a question that naturally arises upon reading the said article.

In his article Jovic refers to the recent referendum in Scotland, others held earlier in Quebec, and those held in former Yugoslavia, and says those in former Yugoslavia – Croatia included – were “very non-liberal. Maybe they were ‘democratic’ if by ‘democracy’ we mean only the determination of those who have more and who less [votes]. But they were certainly not liberal”. According to him, the vote was not liberal because there “was not enough freedom so that everyone, without justifiable fear of drastic consequences, could express exactly what he/she thought”.

With such a statement Jovic attempts maliciously to bring into question the veracity and legitimacy of the independence from communist Yugoslavia that 94% Croatian voters in early 1990’s ushered in and he brings into question the will of the majority of Croatian people! In this shameful display of lies Jovic attempts to say that Croatian people were forced by someone or some political force to vote for independence and that the will of those against independence could not come to expression.

Jovic chooses to ignore the fact that around the times of the Berlin Wall coming down in 1989 there was a whole lot of liberal will across Eastern and Southern Eastern Europe (bar Serbia) to ditch communist regimes and federations into the gutter where it belonged. The factual history, after all, is witness and evidence of that. Croats all over the world in 1991 voted freely, enthusiastically and with great belief in freedom and democracy that secession from communist Yugoslavia could bring. In one of the sentences of his abovementioned article in “Political Thought” Jovic claims that aggression and violence were main characteristics of “our referendums”!

The fact that Jovic chooses to ignore the fact that organised and systematic aggression and violence (Serb led/orchestrated and controlled by Serbia and Slobodan Milosevic) actually came after the referendums on independence in both Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina in the early 1990’s can only serve as yet another example of Jovic’e strongly palpable political corruptness in the minds of the reader of his article.

Jovic says “the parties that promote secession from Great Britain – e.g. Scottish national party – are not only permitted to exist, but they hold government in Scotland. Nobody makes any problems with that. Similarly, the parties in Scotland and Great Britain that are against secession act freely and one can freely advocate for radical political options…even those options (radical Islam) are permitted as long as there is no advocating to violence…”. It’s interesting to note that Jovic omitted in his article to mention the well publicised UK pressure for “No” vote in the Scottish referendum; he failed to indicate to media reports alleging vote fraud currently being addressed by many in Scotland. I guess “pressure” to Jovic might mean different things, depending on which political map you stand!

League of Communists and other pro-communist/pro-Yugoslavia political parties also freely existed in Croatia from 1990 – they arose as a result of independence movement and they tried to stop Croatian independence. Jovic failed to mention in his article this fact but rather decided to uplift a Great British freedom of political expression as if helping to convince the world “all was proper in the Scottish independence referendum as far as UK government is concerned”!

Anyway, if by Jovic’s statement, one might understand that Great British “state” would act strongly against radical political options that commit violent acts, it certainly doesn’t match with the fact that Great Britain headed the international push for the UN Arms Embargo against Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina in the early 1990’s, severely disadvantaging them in self-defence against the radical Serb nationalistic parties, whose soldiers ethnically cleansed territories of non-Serbs, committed genocide… The radical political option in Croatia in 1990’s was not the referendum and plight for independence from communist Yugoslavia! Given that Croatian people in their majority have long before 1990 subscribed to the political option of independent Croatia, the radical political option of the time was the Serb-led fight and violence designed and implemented with the view of intimidating people into staying in Yugoslavia! Don’t you forget that, Dejan Jovic, and those who might think you have something useful to say on democracy and independence of Croatia! Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

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