Croatia 2030: No Success Without Ruthless Decommunisation Reforms

Pretending to reinvent “sliced bread” all over again would be among the characteristics of a political environment where working on national goals is set aside throughout decades for personal gains of politicians while the country descends into economic chaos, political swamp and living standards depletion for the masses.

Current minority government in Croatia has during the past weeks been boasting of its Croatia 2030 National Development Strategy (NDS) as being the first in history of modern Croatia that for its success uses or depends on participatory and bottom-up approach to finally get Croatia where it should be: prosperous and democratic. The implementation of such plan is heavily dependent on EU funds and given that the widespread corruption at all levels (local and national), particularly public administration and judiciary, in Croatia has not been systematically dealt with one does fret for the success of such a plan that involves participation of the heavily corrupt network.

One thing is certain: without significant and “cut-throat” reforms in Croatia, without decommunising Croatia, no amount of EU or other international funds injected into Croatia will help towards the achievement of this NDS. While this NDS could be seen as an opportunity for a new start the foundations upon which the Plan is hitting the ground running are rotten. Too much corruption and nepotism everywhere.

What a shame the government keeps ignoring the fact that, although in skeleton form, Croatia’s national development strategic plan was actually devised during the Homeland War, announced in Dr Franjo Tudjman’s speech at the inauguration of the Croatian Parliament on 30 May 1990, when he said: “…At the end of this inaugural address, allow me to endeavour and put forward, in the briefest of points, some of the most urgent and immediate tasks that stand before the new democratic government of Croatia…” (pdf link)

Released late January 2021 by the government for parliamentary discussions, under the banner “Croatia 2030”, the 2030 National Development Strategy should steer the development of Croatia until 2030. While broad vision documents were produced by past governments in Croatia, this is the first time that the Government has decided to employ a comprehensive and evidence-based process using a participatory and bottom-up approach. Not unlike the crumbled Communist Yugoslavia used to do in its Five or Ten-Year Plans by the way. Glossy plans through which the communist elites of Yugoslavia got richer and ordinary people poorer and hungrier. Because no changes were made to stamp out corruption and political persecution of those not towing the communist line. Similar environment exists in Croatia today, hence mass exodus of young people during the past decade and thriving corruption is “king”.

The principal role of the World Bank in the process of the preparation of the 2030 NDS has been to provide analytical support. World Bank policy notes aimed to help the authorities recognise the most binding development gaps, define the reform and investment priorities for the country based on the vision and strategic objectives that were set by the Ministry of Regional Development and EU Funds, and identify actions needed to bring the country closer to its 2030 targets.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said in Croatian Parliament on January 27: “We welcome all Members of Parliament to participate in the debate and hope to reach a consensus on this document today,” reiterating that ten years from now he saw Croatia as a competitive, innovative and safe country of recognisable identity and culture, with preserved resources, good living standards and equal opportunities for all.

The Prime Minister listed the goals to be achieved by 2030. Among them are raising GDP per capita to 75 percent of the EU average, and the share of exports of goods and services from 52 to 70 percent of GDP, significant acceleration of the work of the judiciary, reaching the OECD average, raising the coverage of children in kindergartens above 97 percent and employment to 75 percent, reducing the share of people at risk of poverty, extending the expected number of years of healthy living by six to eight years.

There certainly was no consensus reached in parliament on that day as the MPs in government showered the plan with accolades like ambitious but real and the opposition MPs described it as unambitious, insufficiently clear, coming too late and offering no vision.

Opposition MP Hrvoje Zekanovic (Hrvatski Suverenisti/Croatian Sovereignists), said for the Plan document that it is at the level of High School graduation work and maintains all the woes and misery of Croatian politics, hoping that it will not in the future.

Opposition MP Miroslav Skoro (Domovinski Pokret/Homeland Movement) said that the economy is not in focus in this Plan, because the country is run by people from diplomacy who have never worked in the real sector and do not really know how the economy works. We must create conditions for growth and development, said Skoro, adding that the strategy must give hope for a better future, a vision and help in its realisation.

On Friday 5th February, the Croatian Parliament finally voted on the National Development Strategy of Croatia until 2030. 77 deputies voted for the Croatian National Strategy, 59 were against, 2 abstained. Not a landscape that inspires faith and optimism that this NDS will actually achieve its goals. One must wonder whether that is because the Strategy itself does not enter into the essential pre-requisites for any strategy to succeed? For Croatia that would be decommunisation of public administration aiming at fierce and intense stamping out of corruption and nepotism.

National Development Strategies worldwide exist to set a clear long-term vision for the country providing a strategic guidance to all development policies and lower-ranking strategic planning documents. Additionally, the analytical underpinning prepared for the NDS and the extensive consultation process to prepare the NDS for Croatia chiefly by a team of consultants under the World Bank umbrella has cost Croatian taxpayers 32 million kunas or 4.2 million euro!

In its introductory part of its National Development Strategy 2030 Croatian government mentions absolutely nothing of the strategy or plan laid out at the start of secession from communist Yugoslavia and during the Homeland War that actually made possible today’s Croatia. This may well mean that the government aims to further degrade the foundation upon which today’s democracy was won in rivers of blood, amidst Serb aggression, devastation and despair for freedom from communism. Here is what the introduction to the NDS says (PDF):

In an increasingly globalised world, marked by challenges like the fourth industrial revolution and green transitions, but also numerous threats, such as climate changes, pandemics, geopolitical disturbances or migrations, planning for the future today is perhaps more important than ever before. In this regard, timely recognition of trends, their own strengths and weaknesses are key to turning challenges and new opportunities into development opportunities, but also to strengthen society’s resilience and its greater readiness to deal with the unpredictable circumstances.

To adapt to all these challenges and to exploit all its potentials, to be able to coordinate the efforts of all public policies, Croatia should already today have a clear vision of its future development and define the goals it wants to achieve by 2030. In addition, as a member of the European Union, Croatia has generous European funds at its disposal, which will be an important lever in achieving those goals. This requires a clear framework and quality multi-year planning, so that the benefits of EU membership can be better exploited…

Croatia suffers from a number of constraints for its development as set out in the NDS framework and these are:

  • Corruption in many different sectors of economy. Corruption comes in many forms, including the theft of public funds by politicians and government employees, and the theft and misuse of overseas aid, nepotism within the employment sector. Bribery is also a persistent threat and tends to involve the issuing of government contracts. In former communist Yugoslavia, bribery was the norm, and Croatia had inherited this, had not even seriously attempted to stamp it out and this seriously weakens the operation of strategies towards betterment of the nation.
  • Population is a considerable constraint on economic growth and Croatia’s declining population either due to mass exodus/emigration, relatively low birth rate and inefficiently stimulating climate for the return of Croats living in the diaspora means Croatia is in serious trouble achieving its planned goals or strategies unless significant reforms are undertaken in this field.  
  • Absence of a developed, independent and corruption-fee legal and judiciary system in Croatia has been an eyesore for many over the decades, yet nothing much changes and justice for ordinary citizens depends on the political agenda of courts and judges, even many practicing lawyers.

Given the past and the existing practices in Croatia which at high levels of authority still celebrate the failed communist Yugoslavia laws and public administration immorality there is a real danger that funds coughed up by the EU for this NDS will significantly dissipate into corrupt practices (pockets) and the NDS will, therefore, not be worth the paper it’s written on. I may be proven wrong; however, my assessment and sentiment are shared by many, including parliamentary votes regarding the NDS. To ensure success of such an NDS a political force is needed that would preserve the values of Croatian national identity away from communist past. Positive identity generates pride and pride generates positive energy capable of achieving just about anything put in front of it. Ina Vukic

Nest Of Hate Speech in Croatia – “Croslavia”

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“If there was a university degree for greed, you cunts would all get first class honours,” said in the Australian Parliament in 1985 The Hon. Paul Keating, Treasurer (who became Australian Prime Minister in late 1991), after backbenchers had complained about having to substantiate, for tax purposes, their electoral allowances. Translating that greed into greed for power and control Keating’s quote could well be placed with today’s Croatian government.

“Enough with deception and reckless trampling on human values without responsibility.” Wrote on his Facebook profile 22-year old Danijel Bezuk from Kutina near Zagreb some 20 minutes before he marched up to the Croatian Government building at St Mark’s Square on Monday 12 October 2020, holding a shotgun and firing from it towards the building, wounding a policeman guarding the government offices, walking away and then fatally shooting himself in the nearby Jabukovac/Tuskanac.

Andrej Plenkovic’s, Croatia’s Prime Minister’s first response to the shooting was that of seemingly utter surprise and saying “we must ask ourselves where does this radicalisation come from?” Suggesting, in no uncertain terms, that this young shooter, that people at large, have no reason to despair, to enter into acts of desperation by shooting at the government building. Then, within hours, Plenkovic announces that the government will do all in its power to locate “the nest of hate speech” from where influence for acts such as young Bezuk’s comes from. Of course, all the while pointing at the parliamentary right wing or Patriotic opposition and in particular the leader of the dr Miroslav Skoro Patriotic Movement (Domovinski Pokret) and its evidently much respected by the public outspoken government critic Member of Parliament Karolina Vidovic Kristo. At the same time Plenkovic lets out his fears that he himself may have been the intended target of young Bezuk’s shooting. Then veterans’ Minister Tomo Medved together with police Minister Davor Bozinovic get on the lynch bandwagon which would see to it that the government investigates, scrolls through social media etc, to look at even the slightest possibility of anything anybody said in public that could have influenced young Bezuk to commit such a crime… The government seems to be using the proverbial fine-tooth comb to run through social media, print media, portals, past public gatherings etc to find what they call “hate speech” that influences or encourages such “radicalism”!  

It is clear that what the government is really looking for is not hate speech but protests against the governments and presidents who have since year 2000 brought Croatia to a life of desperation for multitudes of citizens. But they are set to call protests hate speech regardless of the fact that just about all protests and all criticisms of the government and the presidents have been about lack of democratising Croatia, lack of decommunising Croatia, lack of actions in ridding Croatia of crippling corruption and nepotism, protection of family unit, protection against the Instanbul Convention, etc. In short, it has been the governments themselves that have stopped transition from communism into full democracy in Croatia since year 2000 or since the Independence War fully ended in 1998.

It would seem that Croatia’s Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic is staring in the face of the fate minority governments face (his government only got just under 17% of votes when the entire voter body is counted) and refuses to accept the fact that he is leading the government of a country where the majority of people are against the government or have not bothered to even vote in July of this year, which amounts to widespread disillusionment anyway.

Since year 2000, across Croatia, we have witnessed waves of protests against governments that were and are well-padded with former Yugoslav communists and rebel Serbs who attacked Croatia in 1990 when it wanted out of communist Yugoalavia. We have witnessed Presidents of Croatia, since year 2000 i.e., since Franjo Tudjman’s death, criminalising Croatia’s efforts in defending its people and nation during the brutal Serb/Yugoslav aggression in the 1990’s, even standing behind the politically trumped-up UN International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia charges of joined criminal enterprise against Croatian generals, instead of insisting on their innocence, which innocence was later proven by the ICTY Appeal Tribunal (2012). We have seen since year 2000 corruption and nepotism thrive to the point where hundreds upon hundreds of thousands of young people have left Croatia to seek a better life elsewhere. We have seen since year 2000 an increasing boldness on the streets of Croatia in celebrating the murderous and oppressive Yugoslav communism and trampling over Croatia’s Independence War veterans and their rights and dignity. We have seen since year 2000 an intolerable process of equating the Croatian victim and Serb aggressor from that war.

The list of misfortunes and tragedies that have enveloped the Croatian nation since its glorious victory over communist oppression and corruption could go on but for the purposes of this article the above should suffice, I believe.

Frequently, however, the Croatians protesting against the enduring communist mindset that rules Croatia are being misrepresented and belittled, insulted and often ignored in the news media and protesters dubbed fascists or Ustashas or Nazis. The fact that the Yugoslav communist regime has been declared just as criminal as the Nazi one by the European Parliament about a year ago means nothing to the mainstream media that carries a candle for the communist apparatchiks ruling the country.

What is more worrying still, both the government and the mainstream media, by ignoring the messages written by young Bezuk, by labelling healthy and fact-based criticisms of the government’s incompetence as fascism are actually attacking freedom of speech rather than acknowledging it, exercising it, in orde to call for institutional reform so that living in Croatia the way it was envisaged in 1990 and 1991 when Croatia cut its ties with communist Yugoslavia could come to fruition for most people. Institutional reform as dictated by events occurring among the people is the political action of the very kind freedom of speech aims at protecting. Not in Croatia, though.

Its government has during the past week in particular by its reactions to the Bezuk shooting demonstrated that Croatia is in fact Croslavia, as retired general and former member of Croatian Parliament Zeljko Glasnovic has been saying and dubbing Croatia’s stubborn resistance to radical changes needed to exit from communism, for several years now. But he too, is ignored by mainstream media just like multitudes of others who desire and work for Croatia to become a functional democracy.

The notion of freedom of speech is being co-opted by the Croatian government with dominant ex-communist or current pro-communist groups, and distort it to serve their interests, and use it to silence those who are oppressed or marginalised, such as those who actually put their lives on the line during Croatian Homeland War as well as those who dare to criticise the government loudly. All too often, when people depict others as threats to freedom of speech, threats to peace and security, threats to radicalisation, what they really mean is, “Shut up!” and “If you don’t shut up, we will silence you!” Sound familiar, anyone? If not, just roll back to the times of communist Yugoslavia with more than a million Croats escaping from oppression or from not being able to feed the family; hundreds of thousands of Croats purged, mass murdered or imprisoned for political reasons; corruption and large-scale theft of public goods…

Yes, the Croatian Homeland War is not ended yet as many will tell you. The military aggression has stopped but still continues the combat to oust communism and its mind set. The same enemy of independent Croatia exists today as it did in 1990 only today the issue is tragically deeper. The war veterans who fought on war fronts to defend Croatia during the Homeland War have since year 2000 been made redundant or retired while those that spent not a single day defending Croatian people’s lives from Serb aggression, or did not want an independent Croatia at all, or were on the rebel Serb murderers side during the war, have become the internal enemy of Croatian independence and full democracy.

And still, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic has the gall to blame the parliamentary patriotic opposition, or individual politicians or academics or political activists for Bezuk’s shooting at the government building on Monday 12th October. He has the gall of labelling clear and needed protest against the government as radicalism. The shooting is indeed a crime under criminal law and must be treated as such but as far as radicalism goes that was the oath and promise Croatian War of independence gave to Croatian people.

In his speeches at the May 1990 inauguration of Croatian Parliament and in October 1991 when that parliament voted to cut legal ties and secede from communist Yugoslavia, President dr. Franjo Tudjman said: “…our most important task for our new democracy is to introduce and implement radical measures for socio-political changes…”! It is more than clear that majority of Croatian people have had enough from their governments and presidents since year 2000 and that any radicalism perceived as such by Andrej Plenkovic’s government is not radicalism but an old promise being finally delivered or being attempted for delivery to the 94% of voters who voted in 1991 in favour of secession from communist Yugoslavia.

And so, it appears to me that Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic need not look any further for a nest of hate speech that may have influenced young Bezuk to shoot at the government building – Plenkovic is sitting in that nest. It’s a nest of hate speech against Croatian independence, hate speech against Croatian national identity, hate speech against the glorious values for which a terrible war of defence was fought in 1990’s. Surely, the lot that governs, the lot that spread the government’s propaganda in mainstream media, the lot that supports them, must have done a risk assessment at some point in time and concluded that there will come a time when people will rise against the government that brings no needed changes, implements no needed changes to root out corruption and nepotism, to root out political stacking among public servants and administration, to root out political party associated power at all levels of society. Given the government acts surprised by the shooting on Monday and points the finger of blame against everybody else but itself, it does seem that the lot that governs hasn’t done any such risk assessment, or, they have always had weapons to suppress dissent up their sleeves, such as dictatorship and punishing dissent. Many signs are surfacing for 2021 to be a year of numerous and large protests against the government as the political platform it currently pursues with the degrading of the values of the Homeland War is palpably a political time bomb. Ina Vukic

Croatia: No Justice For Victims Of Communist Totalitarian Regime

Retired General Zeljko Glasnovic
Photo: Screenshot

Never kid yourselves that the future does not rest upon the history; the history of struggles and sufferings regardless of their sources from everyday life or everyday people. Russia is fighting fascism to the last swastika; Ukraine is combating communism to the last red star (and so have other Eastern European countries that have been fighting the red star communism ever since the Berlin Wall fell in 1989). They have been racking up success after success.

Tomorrow, 23 August is the Black Ribbon Day in the European Union, marking the Day of Remembrance of Victims of Stalinism and Nazism and, it is a Day of International of Remembrance for Victims of Totalitarian Regimes. This day symbolises the rejection of extremism, intolerance and oppression. Of recent years, some of the more successful countries in the process of lustrating communist mindset in order to transition fully into democracy have been labelled as developing a new breed of authoritarian rule or undemocratic regime. Hence, one can easily find these days media writeups that, say, Hungary is becoming a hybrid regime rather than a semi-consolidated democracy because its Prime Minister Viktor Orban continues his assaults on Hungary’s democratic institutions! Poland is not far behind being a target of these attacks that mainly come from the leftist or communist-prone establishments within the EU and beyond. It is a demonstrable truth that in Hungary or Poland, just like in Croatia, these democratic institutions are a far cry from democracy – they are riddled with former communist red star apparatchiks and its today’s apologists.

These critics conveniently circumvent the fact that in order to rid a nation of its oppressive totalitarian regime such as communism one must be firm and controlling in policy and process. No pain, no gain – says the well-ingrained idiom when it comes to success stories, especially!

Sadly, and infuriatingly, the picture of Croatia’s fight against totalitarian regimes of the past is a selective one to the point of cruelty. The victims of the WWII Ustashe regime (often wrongly referred to as a fascist or pro-Nazi regime by those who seem to lack knowledge of profound truth) have been given much deserved justice through continued commemorations and monuments over past decades, while the memory of victims of Tito’s communist regime is more often than not tossed into a dark ditch where it can’t be seen properly as the communist former apparatchiks and today’s apologists occupying high positions in the so-called democratic institutions still wear the red star with sickening pride; they say they were and are Antifascists! Antifascism was never a regime of oppression and murder, and communism was.  Croatia’s communist murderers and oppressors had thrown the Antifascist cloak over their shoulders a long time ago, as directed by one of the top ten mass murderers of the 20th century world – Josip Broz Tito.

The resolution on European conscience and totalitarianism passed in the European Parliament in April of 2009 recommended declaring 23 August the day of remembrance for victims of communism and Nazism. In September 2019 the EU Parliament passed a resolution declaring both Nazism and Communism (and other totalitarian regimes of the past) criminal regimes.

On 7 December 2016, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic spoke at his government cabinet meeting about a memorial to fallen soldiers of HOS (1990’s Croatian Defence Forces) at Jasenovac. The memorial had become a focus of national and international attention, since it contained a logo which includes the inscription “Za Dom Spremni” (“For Homeland Ready”), which was used during the Second World War by the Independent State of Croatia but also HOS defence forces in defending Croatia from the brutal Serb aggression in the 1990’s Homeland War:

“The Croatian government expresses reverence for all the victims of Jasenovac (Jasenovac camp WWII), as well as for the Croatian veterans who lost their lives there during the Homeland War. We are aware of the sensitivity aroused by the symbol; however, such symbols were approved in the past, at institutional and government level”, said Plenkovic.

He pointed out different rulings issued by the courts related to the symbols of totalitarian systems and announced that the government would establish a committee to consider the issue in a calm and rational way. The goal is to adopt an acceptable legal solution, in order to determine the position of the society towards the symbols of totalitarian regimes.

Well, in 2018 Croatia’s government formed a Committee that would deal with “confronting the past”, which committee was full of former and current communist operatives! Suffice to say, nothing came out of that exercise that would, for example, outlaw the communist red star.

And here we are in August of 2020 and Andrej Plenkovic is Croatia’s Prime Minister again (despite the fact that with a low voter turnout under 17% of voters voted for his HDZ/Croatian Democratic Union party. He formed a government, again in coalition with the Serb minority representatives who achieved a parliamentary seat by special electoral mechanism which does not require of ethnic minority representatives to have sweeping numbers of votes in their court – they can get a seat even with one hundred or less votes! Plenkovic has even given the Serb minority representative the position of Deputy Prime Minister (Boris Milosevic, Milorad Pupovac’s puppet in installing Serbia’s anti-Croatia politics in Croatia!).

Disaster! As I wrote only recently, fearing such an outcome.

Andrej Plenkovic’s government has, in effect, done nothing bar spread rhetoric about the need to bring about legislation on criminalising symbols of past totalitarian regimes, including communism that defined national politics of former Yugoslavia. And it’s painfully clear that Plenkovic is not about to do anything on this front in this new four-year mandate as Prime Minister. His close political allies from Serb minority have amplified their demands for the usage of “Za Dom Spremni” (For Home Ready) slogan to be criminalised, while there is no mention of criminalising the red star!

Have no doubts about it: Plenkovic’s and Milanovic’s pockets still keep the metal communist red star badge warm!

They are not about to criminalise its use any time soon! They are not about to afford real justice to any victims of communist crimes no matter how many more new mass graves with their remains are discovered.

Some say that one of the problems for those supposedly advocating for the ban on the red star is the fact that the current Croatian Constitution determines that Croatia as it now exists was founded as part of the antifascist struggle during the Second World War, whose symbol was the red star. But they omit the fact that the current Croatian Constitution also states that today’s Croatia is founded on the 1990’s Homeland War – the terrible war of Serb aggression that took place because Croats (94% of voters) wanted out of communism or communist Yugoslavia. The absolute truth is that the WWII Croatian antifascists (communists) did not fight then for an independent Croatia but for Croatia to remain within Yugoslavia! Hence, they must be removed from the Croatian Constitution of today.

It is not a surprise, although it is very sinister against Croatia’s democracy or its full development, that Plenkovic’s HDZ did everything it could to ensure that the retired general Zeljko Glasnovic does not get into this new Croatian Parliament makeup! Reports of electoral fraud and theft of votes (11 votes) from Glasnovic have persisted in some of the Croatian media since 5th July 2020 General Elections. Indeed, Glasnovic has according to these reports, taken steps to rectify the claimed electoral fraud against him. One may ask at this point: but why would Plenkovic and HDZ party do that? Well, one answer that pops to mind is the fact that while a member of Croatian Parliament Glasnovic was the leading politician in Croatia who insisted and persisted on lustration, on banning the symbols of the communist regime, on decommunisation so that Croatia may have a fair chance of a functional democracy, etc. Without Glasnovic in the parliament we may see some sporadic speeches along those lines or individual MPs coming out from time to time with similar demands but there will most likely be no pressure imposed for the chance, no consistency and persistence in demands for change. The focus on the absolute need to condemn the communist totalitarian regime of former Yugoslavia and its symbols will thus be washed away and communists with their apologists will literally get away with murder!

Is this what most Croatian people want? I don’t think so! A time will come in the not so distant future when 94% or more voters will let us know that, just like they did in 1990.

One of the most disturbing things about Yugoslav communism is how quickly Croatia changed after WWII ended and they took power. Croatia went from pursuing independence and self-preservation to being taken hostage by Serb-led communist stronghold where political prisons arose like mushrooms after rain, where communist purges by mass murder and individual assassinations cleared the terrain from anti-communists, where hundreds of thousands fled the closed borders fearing for their lives or the taking away their human right to work etc. All this with about fifteen years from the end of WWII.

In her work “The Origins of Totalitarian Regimes” Hannah Arendt wrote: “The success of totalitarian movements among the masses meant the end of two illusions of democratically ruled countries in general and of European nation-states and their party system in particular. The first was that the people in its majority had taken an active part in government and that each individual was in sympathy with one’s own or somebody else’s party. On the contrary, the movements showed that the politically neutral and indifferent masses could easily be the majority in a democratically ruled country, that therefore a democracy could function according to rules which are actively recognised by only a minority. The second democratic illusion exploded by the totalitarian movements was that these politically indifferent masses did not matter, that they were truly neutral and constituted no more than the inarticulate backward setting for the political life of the nation. Now they made apparent what no other organ of public opinion had ever been able to show, namely, that democratic government had rested as much on the silent approbation and tolerance of the indifferent and inarticulate sections of the people as on the articulate and visible institutions and organisations of the country. Thus when the totalitarian movements invaded Parliament with their contempt for parliamentary government, they merely appeared inconsistent: actually, they succeeded in convincing the people at large that parliamentary majorities were spurious and did not necessarily correspond to the realities of the country, thereby undermining the self-respect and the confidence of governments which also believed in majority rule rather than in their constitutions.”

As in many modern democracies so too in Croatia, we can see evidence of indifference and pervasive feelings of helplessness. There is low voter turnout and an assumption that things will be the way they are no matter what an individual does, whether he/she votes or not.

There is significant pent-up energy in apathy. Arendt suggests that the desire to be more than indifferent is what totalitarian movements initially manipulate until the individual is totally subsumed.

“The disturbing factor in the success of totalitarianism is … the true selflessness of its adherents: it may be understandable that a Nazi or Bolshevik will not be shaken in his conviction by crimes against people who do not belong to the movement…; but the amazing fact is that neither is he likely to waver when the monster begins to devour its own children and not even if he becomes a victim of persecution himself…” Arendt wrote.

It’s important to understand that it is simple to isolate people who already feel isolated. When you feel disconnected from the system around you and the leaders it has, when you believe that neither your vote nor your opinion matters, it’s not a huge leap to feel that your very self has no importance. This feeling is what totalitarianism figured out how to manipulate by random terror that severed any form of connection with other human beings. And, indeed, the very inactions in Croatia to rid the state system and its operations of former communists and their apologists reeks of a mosaic constructed to keep alive the authoritarianism of former Yugoslavia that instilled corruption.

The fear is a requirement – fear is what keeps that anti-Croatian identity movement going. In Croatia there is already very noticeable fear of saying anything against the government; the fear of losing one’s job is among the most frequently encountered fears on the streets of Croatia. So, how does a government get this “power”?

Arendt argues that there is a “possibility that gigantic lies and monstrous falsehoods can eventually be established as unquestioned facts, that man may be free to change his own past at will, and that the difference between truth and falsehood may cease to be objective and become a mere matter of power and cleverness, of pressure and infinite repetition.”

You may find here the reasons why murderous Yugoslav communist regime still lives on the streets of Croatia. The lies about prosperity of living in Yugoslavia still fill the cracks that appear to reveal the ugly truth of communist Yugoslavia.

This battle with truth is something we see today in Croatia. Opinions are being given the same weight as facts, leading to endless debates and the assumption that nothing can be known anyway. The research being carried out into WWII facts including the facts of Jasenovac Camp are aggressively labelled as historical revisionism. The government does not support them, especially if the uncovered facts go against the grain of communist and Serb -written history. The unearthing of almost 1000 mass graves of communist crimes’ victims since 1991 is barely afforded a mention in the controlled mainstream media and new mass grave dig-sites are often stopped and a ban put on them!

It is this turning away from knowledge that opens the doors to totalitarianism. “Before mass leaders seize the power to fit reality to their lies, their propaganda is marked by its extreme contempt for facts as such, for in their opinion fact depends entirely on the power of man who can fabricate it,” wrote Arendt so many years ago. To our alarm, her words ring true to today’s Croatia, the Croatia since year 2000 when former communists swindled their way into governments promising democracy and prosperity. Their words still linger in the ears of those who still vote for them even though their children and grandchildren have either left Croatia in search of a gainful employment and decent, prosperous living!

Had Plenkovic’s HDZ government and all Croatian governments since year 2000 collaborated with the Croatian Serbs who fought alongside Croats in defending Croatia from Serb aggression Croatia would today be many steps ahead in condemning the former Yugoslavia communist regimes, in justice for its victims. But, no, he and they chose to collaborate with the likes of Milorad Pupovac who stems from and is aligned with those Croatian Serbs that formed a part of the Serbian aggression forces against Croatia in 1990’s.

No justice for victims of communist regime crimes yet! The fight for it must continue for the sake of a better future. Our future rests on our past and that past must be dealt with in all its depravity when depravity defined it, and for Croatia it is so defined through depravity of the communist mindset. Ina Vukic

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