What’s Your Cro Factor!

Cro Factor Competition Sydney 2022 Competitors and organisers Photo: Domovina Weekly

The community is one of the most important components of the wider society. As human beings progress and new civilisations emerge, the definition of community has also evolved. Traditionally, a community has been defined as a socially cohesive group of people who interact with each other or organise themselves around common values, goals, or a geographic area, or involve themselves in various organisations and associations. For example, a football or social club, a church, a sports club, a school, actively participating in their activities and helping whenever possible contributes significantly to the feeling of belonging. However, in the modern world, the definition of community has grown beyond physical boundaries and now, thanks to advances in technology and the Internet, encompasses relationships across a city, a country, and people around the world.

So, in general, the concept of community implies the sharing of something, ties, culture, interest, or identity. In this sense, it is a broad term that characterises the feeling of cohesion or uniqueness among certain groups of people and guided by the idea of social capital, social capital is defined as a resource created through the interaction of people who have developed mutual relationships based on shared values and which is used to achieving individual and collective benefits. In addition, social capital ensures that shared values and norms are nurtured, created, and maintained in order to ensure social order.

And our Croatian community in Australia, in the diaspora in general, has also taken on broader frameworks than those we have known for a long time – clubs, churches, schools, etc., so there is a considerable number of children or persons of the second, third or fourth or fifth generation who have Croatian origins and who are often identified in the wider Australian society as persons of Croatian roots and origins. This is the case with all immigrant Croatian communities around the world. Before technological advances, before electronics and the Internet, it was relatively easy to maintain Croatian culture and customs together in life because we gathered in Croatian clubs or churches or playgrounds. Today, such gatherings are becoming rarer and more difficult, either because of the distance or because of other priorities for life. But the need for connection within Croatian content and the Croatian community has not decreased, it has only become more difficult in many ways.

And so, the Cro Factor competition plan for preschool and school children was created in Sydney, the goal of which is to connect children with Croatian content and open opportunities for them to compete with each other with their knowledge and skills related to Croatia; Croatian culture, history and the rich reality of their ancestors.

The first Cro Factor competition, in which children with permanent residence in Australia competed in several categories with mandatory Croatian content, was held from September to mid-November 2022. The competition categories for which children could register were Poetry, Dance (Individually or Group), Written composition (up to 800 words), Video (up to 5 minutes, own choice of Croatian content), Artwork, Singing/Music (recorded on video). Children’s registrations for the competition arrived, much to the joy and pride of the organisers headed by the Australian-Croatian Domovina Weekly Newspaper. Of the 16 children who competed, relatively the most entries came from the category of singing and music (playing Croatian songs on instruments such as accordion, tambourine, guitar). To be honest, given that the organisers and the public did not have much time for details or preparation for this first Cro Factor annual competition, we believe that this first competition was extremely successful.

It was very difficult for the judges to choose the winners from a wide range of singing, playing an instrument, artwork, written compositions, and poetry. The organising committee, delighted with the quality of the entries, decided not only to award prizes to the first three, but also to award a Certificate of Appreciation along with a cash prize to all competitors. For this opportunity, we are grateful to the sponsors who were generous to the children who participated with great enthusiasm and ability in this competition, which expands and enriches the Croatian identity in emigration to the youngest generations born in the diaspora. After thorough consideration, the judges gradually narrowed down their choices before selecting the three winners of the Cro Factor 2022 competition.

The First prize and the first place won in the competition went to the brothers Kiko and Niko Palavra, who sang the Croatian song “Geni kameni” (Stone Genes) by Marko Perkovic Thompson in a duet accompanied by the piano. Their attention to the pronunciation of Croatian words was at a high level. Excellent timing of the piano accompaniment. A serious, very well accomplished performance. Excellent duet synchronisation. We congratulate the Palavra brothers on winning the First Prize, which was $300, and we look forward to their performance at Cro Factor 2023.

Cro Factor 2022 First Prize Winners Kiko and Niko Palavra, front centre i red and white checkers shirts. Photo: Domovina Weekly

The Second prize and second place in the competition, with a prize of $200, went to young Marko Rimac. His manual and finger synchronisation on the accordion was excellent, the beat of the notes very good, a serious approach to the performance of the popular Croatian folk song “Pjevaj mi pjevaj sokole” (Sing, sing to me, falcon). And even more perfect playing of our dear instrument, the accordion, we wish from Marko at the Cro Factor 2023 competition as well.

Cro Factor Second Prize Winner Marko Rimac (Centre). Photo: Domovina Weekly

The Third prize and the first place in the competition, with a cash prize of $150, went to the young Ante Sincek. Ante Sincek appeared as a small talented musician, tambourine and keyboard and guitar player. Excellently executed with great confidence and diverse ability in development.

Cro Factor 2022 Third Prize Winner Ante Sincek (Centre) Photo: Domovina Weekly

Certificates of Appreciation for participation in the competition with a cash prize of $50 were awarded to: Matilda Herceg, Ivana Herceg, Jasmine Mrvica, Jacob Mrvica, Katia Vukasovic, Lana Vukasovic, Monika Mandic, Mihaela Lesic, Ante Thomas Broz, Mate Rimac, Renato Rimac and Tomas Reljanovic.

The vivid enthusiasm of all the children who competed in their submitted works was the highlight of this competition as was the joyous belief that the idea of the Cro Factor competition will bring children together, connect them around Croatian heritage and culture; to enrich their lives and ours in the future. Thanks to everyone who participated and contributed to this new way of connecting within the community.

Fundamental to Cro Factor is a view of children’s lives characterised by belonging and existence both within the large, diverse and broad community in Australia and the need for a sense of specialness that every child and adult strives for. Our specialty lies in the Croatian content of culture, customs and language. From before birth, children are connected to family, community, culture and place. Their earliest development and learning takes place through these relationships, especially within the family, which are the first and most influential educators of children. As children participate in everyday life, they develop interests and build their own identities and understandings of the world. And the daily life of the Croatian community contains at least some of the Croatian heritage, if not significantly. The experience of belonging – knowing where and with whom you belong – is an integral part of human existence. Children first of all belong to the family, cultural group, neighbourhood and wider community. Belonging recognises the interdependence of children with others and the foundation of relationships in defining identity. In early childhood and throughout life, relationships are key to a sense of belonging. Belonging is central to existence and becoming because it shapes who children are and who they can become. Childhood is a time of living, searching, and making sense of the world we live in, and we in Australia live in a multicultural, rich, broad community where Croatian has and has had a significant role in upbringing and growth. Being recognises the significance of what is here and now in children’s lives. It is about the present and their getting to know themselves, building and maintaining relationships with others, facing life’s joys and complexities and facing challenges in everyday life. Early childhood is not only preparation for the future, but also for the present. Living in a country where it’s easy to assimilate with different cultures, we think it’s crucial to be aware of your own ethnic origins. And that’s how the idea for the Cro Factor competition came about; support for pride in what it means to be a Croat or a woman of Croatian origin.

Cro Factor nurtures Croatian ethnic pride and lets it be seen through the annual competition, which we hope will grow and become one of the important links that connect the Croatian generation born in emigration into a strong, proud community. Therefore, with Cro Factor we choose to highlight certain Croatian traditions, speak the Croatian language, educate others about our history, and give back to the community as much as we can and often because this enables us to strengthen the connection with our culture and strengthen the truth and togetherness in the country outside of Croatia or Bosnia and Herzegovina in which Croats live.

Cro Factor Australia Logo

The act of nurturing the pride you have for your Croatian ethnicity and culture should be based on the actions you take to keep it alive. And Cro Factor wants to make a significant contribution to that! Thank you to everyone who participated in the Cro Factor competition this year! Everything was wonderful, and we expect your contributions next year as well! With such new Croatian forces, let’s go together into the future! Ina Vukic

Croatians Under Islamic Terrorism Attack

It was in July of 2014 when US Congresswoman Janice Hahn submitted to the House of Representatives a resolution demanding that President Barack Obama appoint a special representative for the Balkans and Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) of the country’s delays in its Euro-Atlantic path and drew attention to the consistent reduction and erosion of rights of Croats in BiH because of which there’s blockades and a political deadlock. I wrote an article about that.

In the Resolution Congresswoman Hahn had noted that the number of Croats in Bosnia has halved from 820,000 to about 460,000. “It is unacceptable that this negative demographic trend is reflected in the reduction of constitutional rights of Croats in BiH, as that reduction directly causes political and administrative dysfunctionality of the country,” Hahn stated in the resolution.

Hahn recognised the poor functionality of the Federation of BiH entity in which Bosniaks (Muslims) are seen as oppressors of Croats and their constitutional rights and that this dysfunctionality only fuels the separatist tendency of Serbs within the Serbian Republic entity, which of course threatens, as she said, the very integrity of the country (BiH) as a whole.

Despite Hahn’s submission former Democrat US President Obama appears to have done the opposite by distancing the US further from issues affecting BiH, thus enabling in my view further fermentation of Islamic threat to Croats in BiH as well as Europe.

Helsinki Commission Chairman, US Senator Roger Wicker (Republican) on September 12, 2018 urged the United States for greater engagement in Bosnia and Herzegovina.  

In 2021 the situation with obstructing and oppressing Croats’ rights within the Federation of BiH by Muslims (Bosniaks) is by all accounts no better than in 2014 or 2018. In fact, it is becoming worse by the day as pressure to control and rule grows, thus further eroding one of BiH’s constitutional people – Croats. The earned rights through the 1990’s bloody war where defending life was paramount, the given equality rights to all three constitutional people through the 1995 Dayton Agreement have all just about collapsed for Croats under the smothering, evidently nastily power-hungry Muslim or Bosniak counterpart in the Federation.

While the so-called Croat – Muslim conflict that erupted in 1990’s in Bosnia and Herzegovina has (unfairly and devoid of the truth) largely been depicted in the international media (as well as the ICTY) as an attack on Bosnian Muslims one must sit back today and re-look the truth and reality in the eye. That is, it was in no way an attack against Muslims by Croats but it hid the Muslim agenda to take over the country, especially the part that is post-Dayton agreement in 1995, known as Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Bosniaks and Croats). It is clear that is why the Muslims/Bosniaks sought to employ in the war, on their side, Mujaheddins from North Africa, Middle East, Pakistan, Afghanistan.   

The foreign Islamic fighters invited by Bosnian Muslims to their battlegrounds as killers, firstly against Serbs then against Croats during the course of the 1992-1995 war, have clearly been reaping their payment for their efforts to help Bosnian Muslims in war all these years since the war ended with the Dayton Agreement. One would be within the realm of absolute truth if one says that such payment was agreed upon in advance, at the start of Mujaheddins’ engagement. Their payment evidently comes in the form of strengthening the Islamic position in Europe while at the same time helping Bosnian Muslims in their abominable building up of superiority over Croats. An example of this is that Muslims rather than Croats elect Croat representatives in the Bosnia and Herzegovina presidency, parliament and people’s assemblies and other places of power. Muslims do not permit Croats to elect their own representatives and only Muslims can elect Muslim or Bosniak representatives (as well as Croat!). All this is happening at the same time as everyone, including Muslims, is saying that all three constitutional peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina, viz. Croats, Muslims and Serbs, are equal and have equal rights! Yet, Croats are denied the basic and constitutionally guaranteed right to elect their own representatives! The Serbs have made sure they have their own entity in BiH, Republika Srpska (Serbian Republic) and the path to that meant genocide and terrible widespread destruction of both Croats and Muslims in BiH. In asserting their rights in accordance with the Dayton Agreement they do not depend nor are they impeded by the Muslims there as far as “the eye” can see.

On March 10, 2021 the Croatian World Congress has released its letter to members of US Congress through which it raises awareness of Nino Raspudic’s (Independent Member of Croatian Parliament; born in Bosnia and Herzegovina) recent speech in the Croatian Parliament with a detailed description of the development of Islamic terrorism in Bosnia and Herzegovina, its connections to the ruling Bosniak-Muslim establishment, and the threats it presents to Croatia and Croatian Christians in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Please access Mr Raspudic’s 12 February 2021 speech with link provided above.

Please distribute both the Croatian World Congress letter and Mr Raspudic’s speech as much as you can.

Please act, write you own or share the Croatian World Congress letter and Mr Nino Raspudic’s speech in Croatian Parliament, 12 February 2021 on the threat of Islamic terrorism against Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Sharing of those can simply be done by sharing this article or downloading the letter and the speech and sharing them independently. It is hoped that many others around the world will write the same or a similar letter as the Croatian World Congress has to their members of Congress and Parliaments. It is our duty to protect the rights of all people and it is, in this case, to be active and make sure the world is aware of the dire position Croats of Bosnia and Herzegovina have been placed in and continue to painful endure under the aggressive Muslim or Bosniak control in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Ina Vukic

A Matter For Self-Preservation: Croatians In Bosnia and Herzegovina

Croats in BiH rally against
2018 election of Zeljko Komsic for their representative in the presidency
Photo: Jabuka TV

On Sunday 7 October 2018, Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH) held general elections, including for its three-member presidency. The multi-ethnic institution, which includes one representative from each of the country’s three ethnic communities – the Croats, the Muslim Bosniaks and the Serbs – is one of the power-sharing bodies established to promote and sustain equal rights in the fractured state after the bloody war in the 1990s. The 1995 Dayton Peace Accords set the stage for ethnic equality when it comes to rights and power. Despite the late 2016 BiH Constitutional court ruling that Electoral law must be changed in order to ensure each ethnic group votes for its own representative in the presidency and other governing institutions, the law had not been changed! Hence, the Croats of BiH were left with the prospect that mainly Bosniaks vote-in and vote for the candidate Bosniak political lead supports to represent the Croats into the presidency!

That utterly unacceptable prospect has been a sad reality for Croats and is, once again – a wretched reality: Bosniaks voted Zeljko Komsic (Democratic Front party) into the presidency while the Croats’ vote for their strongest candidate Dragan Covic (HDZ/Croatian Democratic Union party) – failed. This is the third time Komsic had been voted in as the Croat representative on the presidency and the first two times (2006 and 2010 as member of the leftist, pro-communist Social Democratic party). Furthermore, given that Komsic was a highly decorated member of the BiH Army (Muslim) during the war and not a member of the Croatian Defence Council, which ended up defending BiH Croats against the Serb and later Bosniak onslaught, his very presence among Croats is treated with great disdain and rejection. In fact, post the 11 October Mostar-based protest “Not My President”, he has been declared as persona non grata in several Croat dominated municipalities.

Anti Zeljko Komsic rally
Mostar 11 October 2018
Photo: Jabuka Tv

The presidency’s new composition is fuelling more tension and distrust than what was the case in the lead up to the elections, threatening Bosnia’s future as a country led and made up of three equal ethnic groups. While elected candidates of their respective ethnic political parties represent the Serbs and Muslims – Milorad Dodik and Sefik Dzaferovic – the third seat is filled by Zeljko Komsic against the wishes of most of Bosnia’s Croats. The “fire-accelerator” adding to the fuelling certainly includes the lame, politically orchestrated and questionable 2017 ICTY verdict of “joint criminal enterprise” against Croats in BiH and Croatia, which has evidently provided the Muslims with “perfect” excuses for covering-up and denial of the their brutal and criminal attempts to annihilate Croats in BiH during the war. It’s opportune and perhaps politically significant to mention here that there are actions and initiatives currently being undertaken in Croatia with the aim to have this ICTY verdict re-examined and reviewed as it is deemed unsafe and not representing the truth or justice.

According to election rules currently in place, and protested bitterly by Croats as well as members of smaller ethnic communities, Croats and Bosniak Muslims vote together in one half of Bosnia, the Federation, while the Serb candidate is elected by the Serb Republic. Hence, Bosniaks (not majority Croats) having voted Komsic in as Croat representative is laced with inevitable and unacceptable Bosniak influence over the fate of Croats in BiH as a constitutionally equal group. Regardless of the fact that Komsic advocates unity within BiH (between the three ethnic groups), something the West seems to like or want, even “Blind Freddy” can see the deepening disadvantage and discrimination against Croats there. Unity does seem unachievable.

One cannot, therefore, neither dismiss nor criticise as unwarranted the increasingly spirited calls for the formation of a third entity in BiH, i.e. Croat entity for self-preservation in particular.

With so much energy that Croatia’s President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic and Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic had poured into supporting Dragan Covic’s election campaign for the presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) it is almost impossible to avoid the conclusion that this narrow and specific support may actually have been a purposeful tactic to favour and play into Russia’s cold war tactics for control over that part of South-East Europe where, guided by Russia’s choices, Croats of BiH are not likely to factor in importance or decision-making. It does appear Croatia’s leadership did not try hard enough to influence and grow influence (e.g by the US and/or EU) for a truly representative outcome for Croat in the BiH presidency, thus leaving room for the Serb muscle (supported by Russia) and Muslim Bosniak muscle (supported by Turkey) to grow even stronger at Croats’ peril and fear.

Indeed, a worldwide consensus of political analysts comes through with BiH seen as a battleground of a new Cold War. Russia has certainly been expanding its political muscle and influence in magnifying ethnic tensions in countries that hope to join the European Union. And Bosnia and Herzegovina is one of those. Furthermore, with Bosniaks/ Muslims turning their gaze firmly towards Ankara and Istanbul, with the EU reviving its dormant aims for enlargement through the consolidation of Europe platform, security risks to NATO members are accentuated.

When a country elects a president, or members of presidency as is in BiH case, it is not usually the case that the candidates include those whose stated aim is to break the country apart. But, in BiH, it happened – Serb leader Milorad Dodik has made it his career to break up BiH and join the Serbian Republic to Serbia. Russia/Putin stands behind him firmly in such a path. The situation bears distant echoes of Ukraine, where Russia originally agreed that Kiev could join the European Union — though not NATO — and then changed its mind, leading to the revolution that prompted Moscow to annex Crimea and foment secession in eastern Ukraine.

The biggest winner of the elections seems to be Dodik, who will command majorities in both the Serb Republic and the Serb delegation in the joint parliament. Dodik and his party have been the dominant political force in the Serb Republic since 2006, at threatening to secede from Bosnia.

“My first priority will be the position of the Serb people and of the [Serb Republic],” Dodik said in his victory speech. During the campaign, he argued that Bosnia is “not a state,” while calling its capital of Sarajevo a “foreign territory.”

Reinforced from Serbia and Russia, Dodik’s inflammatory words are now a clear threat and the Dayton Agreement is looking more fragile than ever before.

With Donald Trump’s putting America first path, which tends to leave the impression of a neo-isolationism, it would appear that the U.S. has, on that path, thinned its former muscle as a policeman in the South-East Europe (Balkan) region. The alarming consequences of this, particularly for Croats in BiH, are perhaps that Russia and Turkey have taken advantage of the U.S. retreat to reassert themselves in old spheres of interest. Furthermore, the virility (or relative lack of it) in Croatia’s leadership’s support for Covic’s election campaign would easily place that support into cruising along with Russia waters. Vladimir Putin has backed populists across the Balkans to counter the expansion of NATO and the European Union. Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan showed up in Bosnia recently during his presidential election campaign, embracing Bosnia as his own. The EU, meanwhile, has been pouring in money, though the carrot of membership and is coming up with a road map for expansion using consolidation as its main mechanism.

The competition with Russia is sowing and activating fresh instability in a region still emerging from the vicious war of 1992-95. Bosnia’s complicated constitutional framework, along with unresolved internal tensions, makes it susceptible to Russian efforts to wield its influence to transform Bosnia-Herzegovina. Political and intellectual elites in the Serbian Republic entity have served Moscow’s cause by promoting Russia within the entity as an alternative pathway to development. This has so far made Euro-Atlantic integration impossible for Bosnia-Herzegovina.

New particles of instability are filling the skies above the region every day and, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, threatening more than ever the preservation of Croats as equal people alongside Serbs and Bosniaks. The idea of a Croat entity within BiH is gaining more and more justified ground. It is beginning to emerge as possibly the only option for self-preservation, regardless of the fact that Croats in BiH have spent decades post-Dayton Agreement in compliant agreement to make it work and despite being increasingly discriminated against and belittled within the Federation with Bosniaks, further compounded by the likewise antagonistic Serb Republic entity. Ina Vukic

Disclaimer, Terms and Conditions:

All content on “Croatia, the War, and the Future” blog is for informational purposes only. “Croatia, the War, and the Future” blog is not responsible for and expressly disclaims all liability for the interpretations and subsequent reactions of visitors or commenters either to this site or its associate Twitter account, @IVukic or its Facebook account. Comments on this website are the sole responsibility of their writers and the writer will take full responsibility, liability, and blame for any libel or litigation that results from something written in or as a direct result of something written in a comment. The nature of information provided on this website may be transitional and, therefore, accuracy, completeness, veracity, honesty, exactitude, factuality and politeness of comments are not guaranteed. This blog may contain hypertext links to other websites or webpages. “Croatia, the War, and the Future” does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness or completeness of information on any other website or webpage. We do not endorse or accept any responsibility for any views expressed or products or services offered on outside sites, or the organisations sponsoring those sites, or the safety of linking to those sites. Comment Policy: Everyone is welcome and encouraged to voice their opinion regardless of identity, politics, ideology, religion or agreement with the subject in posts or other commentators. Personal or other criticism is acceptable as long as it is justified by facts, arguments or discussions of key issues. Comments that include profanity, offensive language and insults will be moderated.
%d bloggers like this: