Croats Abroad Seeking Correction of the Croatian Constitution

Croatian Constitutional Court Building in Zagreb

It’s General Elections time for the Croatian Parliament once again! General Elections will be held on 4th and 5th of July 2020. As in previous election campaigns the Croatian and the public in general will hear many promises people want to hear from the previously alternating HDZ (Croatian Democratic Union) and SDP (Social Democratic Party) governments. Be aware and be wary! Bitter and disappointing lessons from their promises have hopefully been learned and Croatian voters, by voting them out, will have the power to reel in real positive changes for the Croatian people.

Real positive changes are needed in processes to stamp out the suffocating corruption in Croatia, which has seen the economy tumbling and hundreds of thousands of young and middle-aged people leaving Croatia in search for a fairer and better life; they have in the past decade gone to Ireland, to Germany, to the UK, to the USA, Canada, Australia… The show of false willpower to deal head-on with corruption around the times of general elections has become as predictable as clockwork when it comes to HDZ and SDP! The latest is the theatrical arrest on 30 May of some 12 people (some leading HDZ figures such as Josipa Rimac, theatrically expelled from the party a couple of days ago) associated with long-standing bribery, lucrative contract recipients favouritism and influencing, illegal dealings, etc., within Croatian Forests (Hrvatske Šume)the government funded and propped company).

Another example of HDZ and SDP former government, since 2010, malfeasance is related to official Croatia’s diaspora and its rights as citizen of the country. Not only has the number of parliamentary seats representing Croats of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Croatian diaspora been cut from 12 to only 3, but the reasonable ease of access to polling booths at times of elections has been drastically bastardised. Polling places limited to largely inaccessible diplomatic-consular missions and those within community settings such as clubs – banned! Then comes the accessibility issue related to electronic and postal voting.

“Nothing doing!” Nothing is happening!

One of SDP’s leading politicians Arsen Bauk stated recently (April 2020) that SDP is against electronic/postal voting, that it will not support electronic and postal voting for Croatian citizens abroad “because that would increase the influence of Croatians living outside Croatia on election results…”!

HDZ’s Croatia’s Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, on the other hand, said a couple of weeks ago that there isn’t enough time now to introduce electronic/postal voting. And yet, he and HDZ party, as part of their election promise for 2016 elections promised to introduce electronic/postal voting!

Do not believe in promises given at elections by HDZ and SDP because the proven fact remains that they do not keep their promises to voters!

Both HDZ and SDP during their past government mandates could have instigated a crucially relevant examination of the relevant parts of the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia affecting Croatians living abroad and their voting rights. They did not! Nor will they because the less Croats living abroad vote, the more powerful are their cronies within Croatia. Regardless of difficult accessibility to polling booths abroad I do trust Croatian citizens living abroad will vote in large numbers at the coming elections.

For about a year now, a group of Croatians, mainly living abroad, has been working on a project designed to bring about changes to the Constitution by the Constitutional court’s examining of the legislation (Act) relating to the election of Parliamentary Representatives for Croatians living outside Croatia. The leading organisers and instigators of this project are the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts in Diaspora and Homeland (HAZUDD) with dr Josip Stjepandic as its president and Croatian World Congress (CWC) with Vinko Sabljo, president. Represented by attorney Mato Knezovic from Zagreb the signatories to the case filed in the Constitutional Court in Croatia include members of HAZUDD Board (Josip Stjepandic [president], Ina Vukic [Vice-president], Emilija Herceg [Secretary]), members of CWC Board (Vinko Sabljo [president], Igor Lackovic [Main Secretary] and Diana Vukusic [Treasurer])  and 24 other Croatians living abroad and in Croatia.

We aim to show the grotesque injustice in Article 45 of the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia:

Article 45: “All Croatian citizens who have reached the age of eighteen years (voters) shall be entitled to universal and equal suffrage in elections for the Croatian Parliament, the President of the Republic of Croatia and the European Parliament and in decision-making procedures by national referendum, in compliance with law.

In elections for the Croatian Parliament, voters who do not have registered domicile in the Republic of Croatia shall be entitled to elect three representatives in compliance with law.

In elections for the Croatian Parliament, the President of the Republic of Croatia and the European Parliament and in decision-making procedures by national referendum, suffrage shall be exercised in direct elections by secret ballot, wherein voters who do not have registered domicile in the Republic of Croatia shall vote at polling stations in the premises of diplomatic-consular offices of the Republic of Croatia in the foreign countries in which they reside.

In elections for the Croatian Parliament, the President of the Republic of Croatia and the European Parliament and in decision-making procedures by national referendum, the Republic of Croatia shall secure exercise of suffrage for its citizens with registered domicile in the Republic of Croatia who are outside of its borders during elections such that they may vote in diplomatic-consular offices of the Republic of Croatia in the foreign countries in which they located or in some other manner as specified by law.”

Press release 20 May 2020 issued by the attorney Mato Knezovic on behalf of the 30 Croatians before the Constitutional Court in Croatia included the following:

“Today, 30 Croatian citizens from 6 European countries, as well as Canada, the USA and Australia, submitted to the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Croatia a Proposal for the assessment of Art. 6 and 8 of the Act on the Election of Representatives to the Croatian Parliament with the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia, international treaties and EU anti-discrimination provisions.

Among them are leading members of the Croatian World Congress and the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts in the Diaspora and the homeland.

As is a well-known fact, Croatian citizens who do not reside in the Republic of Croatia have the right to 3 members of the Croatian Parliament, and their polling stations are exclusively diplomatic and consular premises of the Republic of Croatia abroad. The Ministry of Administration has 883,042 registered voters who do not reside in the Republic of Croatia. Their percentage is 19.15%, and they elect only 3 Representatives, or 1.98% of the total number of Representatives.

At the same time, the Czech and Slovak national minorities elected a member of parliament from only 1,590 voters. The proposal, which is based on an expert analysis of three professors of constitutional and public law (Marc Gjidara, Zvonimir Lauc, Mato Palic), points to several decisions of the Constitutional Court and the European Court of Human Rights on discrimination against these Croatian citizens.

It also shows the illegality and unconstitutionality of other provisions of the said law. Since the said law and constitutional provisions, which limited the number of representatives of the said Croatian citizens to 3, have no basis in the basic constitutional principles and international legal acts, the applicants consider that they are severely discriminated against and that such a law indicates the illegitimacy of the entire electoral process, basic constitutional principles, European acquis communautaire and international treaties to which the Republic of Croatia is a signatory.

By this act, Croatian citizens who do not reside in the territory of the Republic of Croatia show that they are not willing to accept the constant harassment, insult and change of laws to their detriment, but also to the detriment of overall Croatian national interests and rights…”

We hope to succeed in this application to the Constitutional Court in Croatia since HDZ and SDP governments have not moved a finger to remove the grotesque injustices towards Croatians living abroad. Wish us luck! But in any case, we will have a reply from the Constitutional Court as to why if our application is not successful. Then, we can move onto the next platform available within the European Union and pursue justice.  It is not just a matter affecting Croatians living abroad, it is, more to the point, a matter for all Croatian people as Croatia is for years seeking to rely on Croats from abroad to return to Croatia and thus help it become a better place to live in. Ina Vukic

Croatia: Antifascists Still Protect Lies!

 

 

Jasenovac, Croatia, May 2014  Wreaths and flowers to remember WWII victims  Photo: FaH

Jasenovac, Croatia, May 2014
Wreaths and flowers to remember WWII victims
Photo: FaH

Instead of the usual Sunday after/closest to 22nd April the commemoration of WWII breakout from Jasenovac camp occurred this year on May 4! Reason? Sunday 27 April Croatia’s president just had to, it seems, attend the canonisation in Rome of Pope John Paul II and John XXIII, even though he is no church-goer or believer!

Surviving former inmates, top Croatian officials, foreign ambassadors in Croatia, and many other delegations on Sunday May 4 attended a ceremony commemorating the 69th anniversary of the breakout of inmates from the Ustasha-run Jasenovac camp on 22 April 1945, paying tribute to 83,000 victims of this WWII camp.

Of the 1,073 inmates who were in the camp on 22 April 1945, 600 attempted to escape and only about a hundred survived. The remaining 473 inmates who did not try to escape were killed and their bodies were cremated. The camp Jasenovac was the largest forced-labor and concentration camp set up by the Nazi-style Independent State of Croatia (NDH) in marshland at the confluence of the Sava and Una rivers near the village of Jasenovac in the second half of 1941 and operated until the breakout in 1945.

Addressing last Sunday’s commemoration, President Ivo Josipovic, Parliament Speaker Josip Leko and Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic as well as other speakers sent a message that crimes such as those that had been committed in Jasenovac should never again be allowed to happen.

Josipovic, in his speech, called on everyone to protect the memory of the people who had died in that camp, a place that would remain in collective memory forever.
Evil should be called by its real name, opposed and denied any opportunity to happen ever again,” he stated.

At this site, crimes, that was genocide, were perpetrated and it would always be painful and we will never forget it, Josipovic said in his speech.

 

We must sincerely regret at the commission of such horrendous crimes in the name of creating a Croatian state, the president added.

 

I just wish he would also name and talk about the victims at Jasenovac who perished at the hands of communists in the years post-WWII!
What about the horrendous crimes committed to create the Yugoslav state!?

 

Those who perpetrated such crimes also did evil to Croatia and the Croatian people, Josipovic said recalling that Jasenovac was the detention centre for those of a “wrong” ethnic background, a “wrong” religion or worldviews.

He warned that in times of social crises such as the current one, there were risks of exclusion, hatred and intolerance and that “germs of fascism and other totalitarian ideologies always remain latently present” – you bet, Mr Josipovic – and you are an ugly germ of communism!

Don’t forget that a dire economic situation can pave the way to fascism. Crimes perpetrated in Jasenovac and other camps throughout Europe remind us of the devastating potential of totalitarianism, Josipovic said adding that everything should be done to prevent recurrence of such crimes,

No need to say, Croatia’s Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic and Speaker of Parliament Josip Leko – all of whom are political pals with Ivo Josipovic when it comes to communism of former Yugoslavia, said essentially the same things albeit in different words.

Prime Minister Milanovic said also that crimes committed during the NDH regime had no justification. Indeed, I agree!

Croatia’s “red” leadership failed, once again, to use this opportunity for setting the records straight on the truth about Jasenovac. They failed miserably at pointing out to the Serbian or pro-Serbian propaganda, which promotes the lie – because such figures pulled out of the sleeves of those who offer no verifiable corroboration or evidence in particular to the number of Serbs that perished in Jasenovac – that ” more than 700,000 Serbs, 23,000 Jews and around 80,000 Roma died in Jasenovac in the period between 1941 and 1945″.

If Ivo Josipovic truly cared about the dignity of victims and justice for the truth and perpetrator then he would lead the way to oust or deny any credibility of this rotten lie about the number of victims perished instead of allowing such propaganda to flourish – unchecked and unchallenged. It is his duty and the duty of the whole Croatian leadership to actively protect Croatia from lies and vilification whether based upon historical or current events!

But telling the truth about Jasenovac and actively trying to stop the lies is something that is politically not of interest to current and former communists and antifascists! If it were not like that then this appalling set of figures in Croatian leadership (communists) would have long ago spoken of the THREE and NOT ONE Jasenovac camp. The three Jasenovac camps existed under different political regimes and they were: 1941-1945 under NDH Ustashe, 1945-1948 and 1948 – 1951 under Yugoslav Communists, which means that among the perpetrators of communist purges other “Yugoslav” nationals were involved as well as Croats.

Why does this set of Croatian leadership still place the victims of all three Jasenovac camps into one Jasenovac camp, into one crime – the one from WWII under Ustashe?

Such false and malicious manipulation with the number of victims is detrimental to the Croatian people,” said in his recent letter to the Croatian Prime Minister as well as the President Mr Stephen Asic, Secretary of the Croatian World Congress .

It is time to put a stop to these fabrications that these fabrications,” Asic continues in his letter, “The crimes that were committed cannot and should not be denied and certainly not justified, but also, at the same time, we cannot permit their belittlement through amplification of their number ad nauseum!

This kind of falsification of history is not only an attack against the perpetrators of these crimes but also against the whole of the Croatian nation. The ideological political divisions which once existed among us have no place in today’s democratic Croatia. That is why our positions in defending the Croatian name in the world need to be within a frame of unity. Only with the truth and unified positions will we change the picture the world has of us.”

It will be interesting to see what, if any, response Mr Stephen Asic from Australia (Croatian World Congress) will receive from Croatia’s Prime Minister and President! Indeed, one cannot but agree with what Mr Asic is saying regarding the number of victims being attributed to the regime of WWII Independent Croatia. The same Mr Stephen Asic is part of the advisory body to Croatia’s government on Croats living abroad – i.e. the body that was formed recently with view to increasing or improving the relationship between Croatia and its diaspora.

I am personally not holding my breath waiting for Mr Asic to receive a reply from Croatia’s top government and leadership posts. After all, and judging from their repeatedly twiste rhetoric on WWII and post-WWII the communists and former communists are not likely to own-up to their share of Jasenovac victims between 1945 and 1951any time soon. So it is up to the people, to us, to pursue setting the truth in the right places. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Praying for Croats of Herceg-Bosna Awaiting ICTY Judgment

Portal dalje.com has passed on Croatian news agency HINA reporting: “The Croatian World Congress (HSK) has called on Croats worldwide to unite in a prayer “for justice” for six former heads of the Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna for whom the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) will hand down its ruling on May 29, the media in Bosnia reported on Saturday.
‘We are confident that the thesis about a joint criminal enterprise is entirely unfounded, as it was unfounded in the case against Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac. Every crime needs to be condemned, but calling defence a joint criminal enterprise and convicting Croats on this basis portrays all other Croatian soldiers and Croatia … in a negative light. We strongly oppose that,’ the HSK said.
The ICTY is scheduled to hand down its ruling in the case Prlic & others on May 29.
The ICTY prosecution accused the former heads of the Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna – PM Jadranko Prlic, Defence Minister Bruno Stojic and the Commanders of the Croatian National Council (HVO), generals Milivoj Petkovic and Slobodan Praljak, HVO Police Commander Valentin Coric and the head of the Office for Exchange of War Prisoners, Berislav Pusic – of crimes committed in a joint criminal enterprise headed by former Croatian president Franjo Tudjman with the aim of ethnically cleansing the Herceg-Bosna region and annexing it to Croatia in an attempt to create a Greater Croatia.
The prosecution asked for 40-year sentences for Prlic, Stojic, Praljak and Petkovic, 35 for Coric and 25 for Pusic. The defence argued that they be acquitted.
The six gave themselves up on 5 April 2004. The trial began in April 2006 and is one of the longest running trials at the tribunal”.
I join in prayers for a not guilty verdict. There was no joint criminal enterprise perpetrated by Croats in Herceg-Bosna in defending their homes and lives. Had it not been for the establishment of Herceg-Bosna during the war of early 1990’s, the Bosnian Serbs and Bosnian Muslims would have made sure that the Croat voice from Bosnia and Herzegovina was never heard in the international circles that ruled the days. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

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