Croatia: With Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic “Berlin Wall” To Finally Tumble Down

Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic Candidate for President of Croatia

Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic
Candidate for President of Croatia

In one week, on January 11, Croatian presidential candidates Ivo Josipovic and Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic face their final battle for the Office of the President. One of the more significant platforms pursued by Grabar-Kitarovic in her election campaign is “the return to where Franjo Tudjman stopped”.
He (Tudjman) is a man who gathered us all around the idea of freedom and independent Croatia and, led by him, the Croatian people and all the citizens who fought for Croatia, our state was created and it’s now our duty to complete the work he started and take Croatia into prosperity,” she said in December 2014 at the 15th anniversary of Tudjman’s death.
When Croatia seceded from Yugoslavia in 1991 the communist Yugoslav Secret Police (KOS, UDBA) controlled a great deal and Croatia was faced with a brutal war of Serb/Yugoslav People’s Army aggression. This was the time just after the “Berlin Wall” came down, promising freedom and democracy to Eastern European countries that had been suffocated by Soviet-led or Soviet associated communist regime for decades, since WWII.
Franjo Tudjman, announcing paths to freedom from the Yugoslav communist regime and democracy for Croatia started the tearing down of the “Berlin Wall” that had existed within former Yugoslavia since WWII. In the early 1990s Croatians, led by Tudjman, along with Slovenians and eventually Bosnia and Herzegovina and Macedonia, turned towards West (while Serbia and Montenegro, along with those organised individuals in the other aforementioned Yugoslav states wanted communism to flourish, dug their vicious pro-communist heels in) and broke their ties with Yugoslavia, which was dominated by the Serbs. Most, but not all, from the Serbian minority in Croatia tried, with the help of the Yugoslav Army, to stop Croatia’s secession from Yugoslavia. After several years of bloody armed struggle, Croatians managed to militarily defeat the Yugoslav Army and the Serbian rebel forces.
But this success of Croatian Homeland War veterans and their leadership was not to see uninterrupted the next phase that would entail putting into place all the necessary political, ideological, administrative and legislative actions within Croatia that would see Tudjman’s path for a truly democratic and prosperous Croatia in action. The viciously ardent communists, led by Stjepan Mesic, staged and aided an all-out war of vilification against Tudjman and Croatian Homeland War Generals, setting their sights on criminalising the war and equating the victim with the aggressor. As the new Croatian state was formed during the Homeland War, the former Yugoslav communist Secret Police was not dissolved, allegedly because the new Croatian leadership could not risk an ‘internal war’ with the remains of the totalitarian regime. At the time Tudjman was to support lustration – removing from higher office those who were operatives of the Yugoslav Secret Police – the chase to vilify him as an ultra-nationalist who participated in joint criminal enterprise against Serbs in Croatia picked up and constantly threw dust into the eyes of those who wanted to work on further and more profound democratic changes in Croatia. (It took 18 years for the International Criminal Tribunal of Former Yugoslavia to peel off this vilifying coat when in 2012 Croatian Generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac were acquitted of crimes they were charge with as Generals of Tudjman’s army…)
By the year 2000 “reformed“ communists came to power in Croatia, both in Government led by Ivica Racan and in Presidency of Stjepan Mesic. Ivica Racan’s former Communist Party changed its name to “Social Democratic Party,” yet everything else remained the same. They kept their close relationships with the Serbian minority in Croatia and the Serbs in former Yugoslavia – with the same old communists in their respective positions of leadership. Stjepan Mesic, having been ousted as parliamentary speaker in 1994 by Tudjman on account of his vicious and vilifying attempts to oust Tudjman from power, had meandered through creating new political parties to acting as independent to stay in power and continue his work on burying the democracy Tudjman had set as Croatia’s goal.
Social Democrats and Mesic had pushed on with “drowning” Tudjman and Croatia’s Homeland War and resurrecting communist Yugoslavia’s Josip Broz Tito along with suffocating the efforts to bring communist crimes perpetrated during the times of communist Yugoslavia to justice. Croatia’s current president Ivo Josipovic had picked up where his predecessor Mesic stopped and Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic where Racan’s government had stopped. Croatia had become a battleground where values of communist Yugoslavia were elevated above those of Tudjman, Homeland War and democracy and, hence, widespread corruption that has its roots in communist Yugoslavia continued to flourish no matter which political party was in government after year 2000.
Instead of reforming the economy and cutting the government costs, Croatia continues to borrow and sell off national treasures, while increasing taxes. As of today Croatia is the EU member with the GST/VAT at 25%, and with the highest unemployment rate, especially among young professionals who increasingly seek relief from poverty and existential hopelessness abroad.
The Croatian media scene is dominated by the same people who used to glorify former dictator Tito. The current head of the national television, the “HRT,” is Goran Radman, himself the last president of Tito’s communist youth organization. This well-rehearsed team sends to jail or fires someone every week because of “corruption,” in order to distract people’s attention from the real problems. The vast majority of cases involve political opposition leaders.
The media is served a steady stream of “secret” witness depositions, demonstrating how the country is being robbed. At the same time the attention is drawn away from the real problems, concealing the fact that the fleecing of the country is carried out by the government itself.
Increased taxes, no investments, no encouragement for private investment projects, halting the funds earmarked by the EU – all this seems to be the hallmark of the Josipovic’ regime” writes Dan Rados of The Daily Caller in his thought-provoking article titled “Is Serbia controlling Croatia by blackmailing its president”.
All that and much more seems the hallmark of the politics of those who do not want a democratic and prosperous Croatia and they are those who remain loyal to the values of communist former-Yugoslavia. One wonders how much of this pro-communist Yugoslavia outlook has stopped Ivo Josipovic visiting again the protest-camp site outside Veterans’ Affairs ministry building in Zagreb where 100% war-invalids have been rallying for changes and rights since October 2014! I.e., aloof faced, Josipovic has visited the protesting veterans on 24 October and has done not a thing then or since then in attempting to truly listen to the suffering veterans, to create or help create a constructive dialogue and seems unperturbed by and deaf at the veterans’ plights. His excuse for failing to speak to the protesting veterans since late October is that he has invited them to visit him in his office! And this is the man who tries to tell the people that he too holds that independent Croatia of today is based on the values of Croatia’s Homeland War (as well as antifascist)! The communists of today, such as Josipovic, seem brazenly and spitefully determined not to let Croatian Homeland War veterans achieve fully an upper hand they deserve.
Throughout the campaigning for the presidency of Croatia it has been so refreshing to come across a candidate like Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic who, unlike Josipovic, emanates with democratic justice, providing for citizens’ and human rights for everyone based on the law of the country, due process and fairness. She is adamant in unifying the Croatian nation into working towards the goals set by Tudjman and, unlike Josipovic and the Social Democrat led government, appears to place Homeland War veterans above any former communist or antifascist crusader. With her victory on Sunday 11 January Croatia is surely to start breathing fairness and justice once again and the “Berlin Wall” will finally tumble down for Croatia just as it has many years ago for the other European countries adversely affected in the past by it. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Croatian Presidential Elections Set Dead-Heat Conditions For January Run-off

Photo: Screenshot from Croatian Electoral Commission website accessed 29 Dec 2014

Photo: Screenshot from Croatian
Electoral Commission website
accessed 29 Dec 2014


The Social Democrat and left wing coalition backed incumbent, Ivo Josipovic, and the conservative rival backed by the Croatian Democratic Union/HDZ and its coalition, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, are heading for a showdown in a run-off presidential election on January 11 in Croatia. The latest unofficial results published (1.00 a.m. on 29 December Croatia time) by the Croatian Electoral Commission, with 99.89% votes counted, place Ivo Josipovic at 38.48%, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic at 37.18%, Ivan Sincic at 16.43% and Milan Kujundzic at 6.30% of votes counted. With such close results it seems impossible to predict the winner among the top two candidates at the second round elections on January 11, which must be held given that no candidate passed the 50% mark in first round held on 28 December.

The voter turnout at around 47% or 1,786,670 can be considered as large, however notably lower than in elections held during the era of  Franjo Tudjman in 1990’s and somewhat lower than in last elections of 2009/10. One polling place was closed due to weather conditions and serious snow-blizzards. Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic led in 13 districts with Croatia and in the diaspora while Ivo Josipovic led in 7 districts and the city of Zagreb. Croatian media reports that the biggest surprise in this first round of elections is the higher than expected voter confidence given to Ivan Sincic, a Eurosceptic, but also, lower than expected given to Milan Kujundzic, right-wing politician.

Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic at post-election gathering in Zagreb Photo:

Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic
at post-election gathering in Zagreb


Grabar-Kitarovic, assistant secretary general for the NATO on leave without pay, and a former foreign minister of Croatia, has throughout her campaign called for closer cooperation with the government on economic issues and often reiterated the role of the President to hold the government to account, the role at which Josipovic has failed miserably during his current mandate as President of Croatia.

Croatian news agency HINA reported that soon after the announcement of the above unofficial results Grabar-Kitarovic congratulated all the candidates, especially Milan Kujundzic and Ivan Sincic and turned to “Josipovic voters” telling them that they too are a part of her program “For a Better Croatia”:
You and the whole of Croatia deserve a better and a more prosperous Croatia that believes in its own resources and in its own people,” she said and pointed out that the voters who gave their votes to Kujundzic and Sincic have shown that they want a better and a more just Croatia that cares about every single person. She said that there will be no more divisions into “ours and theirs” after 11 January and the togetherness championed by Croatia’s first president Franjo Tudjman in 1990’s will be revived.

Ivo Josipovic at post-election gathering in Zagreb 28 Dec 2014 Photo: Screenshot

Ivo Josipovic at post-election
gathering in Zagreb 28 Dec 2014
Photo: Screenshot

Soon after the unofficial election results were published Ivo Josipovic also addressed the Croatian citizens saying that he won in the first round and will win in the second.

“…We have won because my program offers a different Croatia to the one we have today, it offers one with more democracy, with more human rights, the one that opens new perspectives and the one that builds the economy which will not have so many unemployed, and the one in which the traditions and the values of Croatian society will be respected,” he said.

He emphasised that the motto of his politics is justice! And yet, he has the gall to brand all members of his opposition as those who have thieved Croatia even though only a handful of individual past HDZ government leaders/government functionaries have been indicted or brought to justice for corruption and – even though a handful of Social Democrat aligned politicians are currently entangled in court proceedings for corruption or investigations for corruption!

The man and the politician – Josipovic – is a joke! He tries to reassure the public of justice and yet in this important case he blatantly practices – none!

He is a lawyer by trade and yet paints everyone in an organisation guilty of acts secretly committed only by one or few!

And one must ask: what in the world has Josipovic been doing the past five years as President if only now he promises justice and greater human rights and more employment…? He did, after all, base his 2010 campaign on the same slogan “Justice for Croatia”!

The coming two weeks are bound to shape the results of showdown run-off second round voting 11 January. The results between the two leading candidates are too close and the scales could tip over either way. Depending on how strong the need for change is etched on voters’ minds and hearts. Josipovic’s 38.48% first round result certainly suggests that the need for change is strong as it is actually this need for change in Croatian leadership that is the first round winner – not Josipovic, as he would like to think. While Stjepan Mesic (ex-president) has said during Josipovic’s post-vote gathering that Sincic “can freely ask his voters to support Josipovic in the second round” one wonders as to how much a single candidate or two (Sincic/Kujundzic) can actually influence the decisive vote on 11 January. By all indications these Croatian voters are voters for change, non-aligned with the two top candidates (Josipovic and Grabar-Kitarovic) in the first round of voting and it will be up to the candidates to convince these “runaway” voters to vote to their advantage. Indeed, a strong impetus must be maintained in order to encourage these voters to vote at all.

When it comes to voters living abroad, the diaspora, there is no doubt that both Stjepan Mesic and Ivo Josipovic have managed to solidify the atrocious situation in which the right to vote has been alarmingly diminished by the reduction of the number of polling places where émigrés can vote. The polling places have been limited to diplomatic-consular missions’ addresses and this has resulted in the sad and enraging effects where diplomatic-consular staff are/were unwilling to ensure fair access to polling places by organising more than one in a country or state (depending on the number of missions). As there is no postal or electronic voting, the majority of those with a right to vote have been kept out of voting – it was only during the times of Franjo Tudjman, 1990’s, that polling places for all elections for Croatia (parliamentary and presidential) were organised in optimally adequate places accessible to a greater majority of voters, e.g. Clubs or other organisations where émigrés largely gravitated to. After that time, the Croatian diplomatic-consular missions across the world had ensured that the number of polling places was reduced to an absolute minimum and thus, not at all reasonably or fairly accessible to most. One of the President’s key roles is associated with decisions regarding the operational matters of diplomatic-consular missions abroad – and here too Josipovic has failed those Croatians citizens abroad! He talks of justice and rights but so easily takes, obstructs or minimises both! What is even worse is that polling places in the diaspora are construed as matters of state authorities rather than a matter of the Electoral Commission, which in legal terms is an independent (of government or presidency) body.  Croatian democracy, if it’s to survive and evolve further, is so desperately ready for change in leadership! Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Croatian Presidential Elections 2014: For Whom The Bell Tolls


Croatian Presidential Elections 2014 Candidates Clockwise: Ivo Josipovic, Milan Kujundzic, Kolinda Grabar-KItarovic and Ivan Vilibor Sincic

Croatian Presidential Elections 2014 Candidates
Clockwise: Ivo Josipovic, Milan Kujundzic,
Kolinda Grabar-KItarovic and Ivan Vilibor Sincic


Ever since Stjepan Mesic embarked on his attack (initially covertly then overtly) against Croatia’s first president Franjo Tudjman from about mid-1993, intending to bring down the significance of Tudjman’s cries for democracy and to criminalise Croatian Homeland War the politics in Croatia have often seemed disjointed and often irrational in recent years. After Tudjman’s death in 1999 the people (or at least the majority of voters) had often voted against the interests of democratic reform announced as essential by Franjo Tudjman in 1990. In the past fifteen years Croats have managed to thoroughly corrupt the democratic system through the intricate network of a permanent political class composed of anti-fascist lobbyists underpinned by the perpetuation of the illusion that Communist Yugoslavia was a success story of multi-ethnic unity and through the controlled media. The mainstream media in Croatia has gradually crumbled into snippets of inflammatory or sensational “fly-by-night- news” bearing without a shred of guiding commentary that would assist in the building of democracy and truth.

Indeed, there was a time – and that time was Tudjman’s time – when idealism for freedom and democracy triumphed over power and many Croatian men and women of good will from all over the world, voluntarily, without expecting any kudos or material reward, entered public activism, lobbyism out of a purer motive of doing something for their country – Croatia. For them Croatia symbolised pure love for freedom and democracy. Freedom (from oppressive communist Yugoslavia) was achieved and democracy although engraved into Croatia’s Constitution suffered frustrating setbacks.

Despite Tudjman’s attempts from 1993 to embark upon ridding the power-wielding institutions of the former highly-positioned communist Yugoslavia operatives, they came out of the woodwork (largely due to Stjepan Mesic’s and his political camp’s resistance to lustration) creating a new mesh of power that would see the corruption that thrived at all levels of government for decades in communist Yugoslavia, which excluded oppressively any other ideology but communist – consolidate its suffocating effects on democratic progress.

There’s little doubt that the greatest danger to the survival of free and democratic Croatia (or any republic for that matter) is corruption, corruption being favouring special or narrow interests over the common good. Croatia is there now and the current presidential election campaigns are increasing the speed with which Croatia may become a totally special interest political system, separated from the common good; the good of the people.

And so, how do uncorrupted political leaders survive in a corrupt environment. We must fear that they cannot unless they possess equal cannon fodder to defend themselves from attacks that have no ingredients for common good but all the ingredients of furthering corruption and distorting the truth, which would if given a chance build on democracy.
And so I come to a freak Croatian media “frenzy” whereby numerous media outlets published a letter written to the Croatian presidential candidate Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic on a Facebook page by Danica Ramljak, a highly educated individual who has spent more than two decades living and working in the U.S.A. In that letter Ramljak evidently sets out to denigrate Grabar-Kitarovic as a deserving candidate for the President of Croatia by asking Grabar-Kitarovic to provide her answer to the 10 questions she (Ramljak) has asked in the letter.

And I shake my head in despair: what chance of democracy and truth has Croatia got when educated people like Ramljak publicly ask stupid questions that should not have passed a decent Editor’s desk into the “print-room”? What chance does democracy in Croatia have when media outlets download from Facebook pages material that is highly inflammatory and based on an evidently malicious agenda to mislead the public and vilify people without even warning the public that the contents of that material may misrepresent the truth or proper role of a public official?

Only someone who does not want progress in democracy in Croatia can ask and publish such questions. Only someone who wants political corruption to thrive in Croatia can ask and publish such questions.

Ramljak in her questions that to me appear stupid, vilifying and malicious suggests that Grabar-Kitarovic as the Croatian Ambassador to the US was responsible for bringing American investors to Croatia (and failed)! Even a child knows that an Ambassador does not create or control state laws and regulations for foreign investments – and God knows Croatian laws and red tapes have been hopeless and repelled many an investor. Furthermore, investing is the sole prerogative and choice of an investor and Ambassadors are no herders. Ramljak then suggests that Grabar-Kitarovic as Ambassador is to blame for not enough US tourists visiting Croatia because she did not promote Croatian tourism enough as Ambassador – truly, Ramljak needs a few lessons in choice and individual right to choice, in democracy – actually. Even if it were the job of an Ambassador to promote the tourist industry (as opposed to supporting it) – which it is not – one surely cannot attach blame to that Ambassador for a personal choice a tourist makes regarding their holiday destination.

Furthermore, Ramljak claims through a question that Grabar-Kitarovic secured her high position in NATO while working in Washington as Croatian Ambassador to the US and that her employer (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) did not know anything about that. It seems that the democratic right to do whatever one pleases in one’s private time (away from the job or working hours) or to pursue private matters (and seeking a new job is a private matter), does not factor in Ramljak’s idea of democracy and human rights. Certainly, Ramljak offers no evidence of any wrong doing by Grabar-Kitarovic and yet has the nasty gall of strongly implying it.

Ernest Hemingway’s 1940 novel “For Whom The Bell Tolls” graphically describes the brutality of civil war (Spanish Civil War) and the Spanish Civil War is all about politics: it’s a conflict between the leftist “Republic” and the fascist Nationalists. All of the characters the novel focuses on fight for the Republic, some of them with a zeal which borders on the religious. Yet what the Republic stands for is somewhat up for grabs: it’s a troubled coalition of Communists, anarchists, and those who simply believe in “freedom” or “the people.” The optimism or idealism felt by some characters is sharply contrasted with the reality of Republican politics – constant lying, infighting, and control by foreigners.

Ivo Josipovic and Danica Ramljak

Ivo Josipovic and
Danica Ramljak


While there are no fascists in Croatia, there are communists like Ivo Josipovic (also presidential candidate and current president) who would like the world to think that there are fascists in Croatia. I do hope that the bell will toll loud and clear at the coming presidential elections in Croatia and rid it of those who engage in such political corruption as Ramljak has shown through her atrocious letter that seems to me has embraced the mud-slinging tactics Josipovic never strays far away from. While the politically corrupt media do, I trust Grabar-Kitarovic will not dignify the questions put by Danica Ramljak in her publicised letter with answers! Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

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