The Perils Of Enemy Of The People Climbing Into Croatia’s New Government

 

While getting relatively most seats as single party, Croatian Democratic Union/HDZ did not get enough votes in recent General Elections in Croatia on 5th July 2020 to form a majority government. It will need coalition with other parties.

Touting on Croatia’s streets and media that the composition of the new government could include a former rebel Serb whose immediate family, if not he himself, participated in ethnic cleansing and murder of Croats during the Homeland War, is generating increasing bitterness and despair among people such as the one were Israel of today to appoint a high-ranking WWII Nazi official as one of its deputy Prime Ministers. Certainly, any Croatian Prime Minister’s plan for the appointment of Milorad Pupovac as one of the deputy Prime Ministers would push a large number of Croatians to the brink of despair and there is no telling which way that would evolve if Andrej Plenkovic embarks on that path in the composition of his new government. Would it set off a higher than the usual high number of people leaving Croatia, or would it trigger massive unrests? Milorad Pupovac has stated publicly a couple of days ago that candidature for a high position (such as deputy Prime Minister) in Croatia’s government would be discussed in his Serbian party room early next week; indications are that it could also be his condition for forming part of the coalition of the new HDZ minority government.

Milorad Pupovac has been re-elected into the parliament by his Serbian minority under the Croatian electoral laws that permit an ethnic minority representative win seats with barely a couple of hundred votes! There are 8 seats in the Croatian Parliament reserved for ethnic minorities! It’s no secret that Pupovac’s seat in the parliament has always been the subject of condemnation and strong opposition with the Croatian population. Essentially because he works against Croatian people and the truth.

Indeed, it is no secret that the leader of the Serb minority community in Croatia went to his village of Ceranje Donje near Benkovac during the 1990’s war of Serb aggression against Croatia and during Serb occupation of Croatian territory, which the Chetniks (Serbs) kept under control after ethnically cleansing all Croatians and other non-Serbs from that region of Croatia. Pupovac’s brother Vojislav was a member of the murderous Serbian paramilitary forces in Croatia, and his other brother Mladen wasn’t far behind. There have also been testimonies and conclusions in the Croatian media over time that Milorad joined his brothers and rebel Serbs in Croatia in the armed aggression against Croatian people.

Justifiably, serious concerns and disapproval by people regarding any possibility of appointing of Milorad Pupovac as deputy Prime Minister is a warning of sorts that increased conflicts about the values and goals set in the Homeland War are likely to erupt even more in the not so distant future.  It is almost unfathomable why a government that is supposed to serve the values cemented in the foundations od the state’s very existence would actually take the road of purposeful insult against its own people. Yes, appointing Milorad Pupovac as deputy Prime Minister

  • would be a deliberate and ultimate insult against Croatian people who fought off the Serb aggressor in the 1990’s;
  • it would be a deliberate insult against the thousands killed during the war;
  • it would be a deliberate insult against hundreds of thousands of Croats ethnically cleansed from their homes and sent on a road of torture, rape and murder;
  • it would be a deliberate insult against the enormous material damage done to Croatia by the Serbian aggressor;
  • it would be a deliberate insult against independence Croatians paid for with life and blood;
  • it would be a deliberate insult against facts of history of Croatian suffering;
  • it would be a deliberate insult against common sense and human decency and dignity;
  • it would be a deliberate insult against the human right of self-preservation;
  • it would be a deliberate insult to me personally and, I am certain, to millions of others.

And, at the end of the day if, by any chance, an excuse for such deputy-primeminstership appointment is claimed within the bounds of reconciliation then that excuse would be nothing short of a lie! One cannot achieve reconciliation by inflicting pain upon subjects of such reconciliation. Offenders against Croatia’s independence and its people and their representatives must be brought to suffer for their wrongdoing and not rewarded! How can Croatia ever even hope to achieve the sought result of Serbia and Serbs paying compensation for war damages to Croatia and its people if its government places a representative of those who perpetrated the damage almost at the helm of its government!?

Reconciliation requires that facts must be faced, nor avoided. Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic is and has been avoiding the facts of Serb aggression against Croatia in 1990’s in many instances. The fundamental truth of the stories of those in Croatia who were murdered, who were raped, who were tortured and placed into torture camps, who were ethnically cleansed and banished from their homes and their pain, cannot be denied.

Reconciliation requires accessibility to records and all state archives. This is not done in Croatia. Reconciliation requires culturally appropriate healing, and this is not being done in Croatia. Reconciliation requires placing the victim of aggression at the forefront of politics and human rights, and this is not being done in Croatia. Indeed, if Croatia’s new government appoints Milorad Pupovac as deputy Prime Minister it would make yet another abominable step in trying to water down the brutal aggression against Croatian people and deny the victims the human right to justice.

Ultimately, reconciliation is about bringing in justice and there is no justice in appointing and active anti-Croat such as Pupovac as a member of executive government of Croatia.

Among the communist left, there is a common tendency to see fascism within every manifestation of nationalism or patriotism. Indeed, the very Milorad Pupovac has constantly labelled all patriotic Croatians as fascists or Ustashe! The fact that he himself stood behind and is aligned with Serb Chetniks does not seem to bat an eyelid of the present Croatian government nor any government reeled in since Dr Franjo Tudjman’s death in late 1999. In right-wing circles, in contrast, “fascism” is a curse that is to be evaded, a kind of persistent suspicion that must be rebuffed – as exemplified by their much-portrayed image and desire for a full democracy, for lustration, and national identity that would stand by its people through thick and thin.

Croatia’s, the nation’s, values are being eroded by former communists, by universal liberal tenets and by “foreign” influences, including those within the European Union. The British fought for retention of national values by voting for Brexit; I hope that Croatians will have the strength and determination to fight off this prostitution of national values as is entertained by some with the very notion that Pupovac could have a role in the executive government.

It’s very possible that the constant sense of crisis in which the Croatian political consciousness has been immersed for two decades, hinders the creation of a feeling of a single, sharp and acute crisis that would spur or incite the masses into action for needed change. The ongoing state of emergency in economic downfall, in the continual degradation of Homeland War veterans who brought independence, the ongoing belittling of Homeland War values, the ongoing corruption and nepotism and clientelism akin to former communist Yugoslavia, the ongoing denial of basic rights such as voting to the massive diaspora … dulls the sting of urgency:

When “bombs” slam regularly into parts of the country’s existence, they too become routine, albeit a lethal routine.

In parallel, Croatia’s political and legal institutions have also undergone further erosion as former communists continue holding key positions. If bringing a rebel Serb, such as Milorad Pupovac, around the table of executive government doesn’t bring the sting of urgency to save the Croatian people from the pit of hand-to-mouth existence – nothing will! The reality is that for most Croatians in Croatia there is hardly enough food or money to live on, hence tens of thousands leave the country each year. The government is about to blame Covid-19, coronavirus, for all the country’s perils; why else would it appoint dr Vili Beros, the leading personality in the build-up of public coronavirus panic since February this year, who was relatively unknown before that, as new Health Minister!

We can argue all we want about the appropriate role of government in the economy, but the outcome will be determined in the political sphere, not the intellectual one. And the political reality in Croatia is that while some voters (at 2020 general elections only about 17.5% of voters voted HDZ in as leading party to form new government) appreciate what governments do for them, they generally feel that public policies are beholden to powerful special interests. And they are not wrong – concentrated interests are powerful and do dominate much policymaking. Those concentrated interest groups in Croatia revolve around former communists; those who help corruption and theft, clientelism, thrive! And now, if Milorad Pupovac enters as deputy Prime Minister, added to that we can, regretfully, be certain that these interest groups are not only about holding on tight to communist mindset but also about degrading and terminally running into the ground those groups who fought for, suffered for, sacrificed for the independence of Croatia from communist Yugoslavia.

To top the insult against the Croatian people, the very people Pupovac and his Serbs attacked viciously in 1990 with the aim of wiping them off their very own lands, said a couple of days for the Croatian media that “he wants to be an equal partner in the Croatian government”! The audacity and disrespect of that man is repugnant! He or any other enemy cannot be equal partner in the government that arose from bloodied ashes of Serb aggression against Croatia. Croatian people were not aggressors they were victims of Serb aggression! Ina Vukic

Remembering Vukovar And The Smut Of Erdut Agreement

Ivo Lucic
Photo: screenshot

This is the week we remember the victims in the November 1991 fall of Croatia’s Vukovar (and all the victims of Serb aggression against Croatia), brutally attacked, destroyed, slaughtered and tortured by Serb rebel paramilitary as well as Serb-led Yugoslav Army forces. This is the week that in our mind the thoughts of forgiveness and reconciliation inevitably intrude upon those of profound sadness for the victims and the search for that light of justice due for all. Forgiveness, though, is only truly earned by those that repent. This, though, is not the case for the Serb who are, these days, on an accelerated and noisy rampage of trying to justify the crimes because of which Croatia was put into the situation of having to defend the self-preservation of its own people and land from the onslaught.

While the Erdut Agreement reached on 12 November 1995 for a peaceful reintegration into Croatia of its Serb-occupied territory in the vicinity of Vukovar, the region of Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium established all transitional arrangements, including a transitional administration that would facilitate the return of refugees in the region, the protection of refugees and their property rights, and the deployment of an international force to maintain peace and security in the region, Croatian Serb leaders including member of parliament for Serb ethnic minority Milorad Pupovac, undoubtedly propped-up by Serbia’s support, are resurrecting these days the Erdut agreement as though it was a permanent fixture in the way independent Croatia should proceed to develop itself as a sovereign democratic state, and as though it gave the Serb aggressor absolution for its crimes and rights to go on with life as though no aggression, murder, ethnic cleansing of Croats from the region, torture – occurred back then! Pupovac said this week at the marking of the anniversary of the Erdut Agreement that the agreement would be satisfied in full when there is Serb representation in all municipal councils of Croatia, in all government ministries, in all institutions…!

Whether the Erdut Agreement had in fact clauses or addendums that stipulate any such representation or not, is beside the point as in fact and de jure agreements have a life span that cannot be extended or shortened without due legal processes. The Erdut Agreement had the life span of transitional nature and if anyone has issues with its implementation the world of judicial pursuits upon which any “complaints” should be adjudicated in democracy is open to all, including Serbs. But I somehow doubt Pupovac has a leg to stand on in the scheme of things that occurred with Serb aggression and their tremendously destructive consequences for the Croatian citizens and the development of the democratic state.

Erdut Agreement was largely a brainchild of Peter Galbraith, US Ambassador to Croatia, who along with Russian Ambassador Leonid Karestadjians and German diplomat Geert-Hinrich Ahrens, concocted in January 1995 the so-called Z-4 Plan for Croatia where autonomy (to Serbs) would be given on a significant part of the occupied Croatian territory! It actually planned for a legal Serb state within Croatia! There’s more than one way of succeeding in extending the borders of Greater Serbia, it seems – if Croatia’s leaders permit Pupovac and his followers the reign of drunken, hateful, disrespect for the victims of aggression and Croatia’s victory of independence as a sovereign state. There was not a single word of remorse for the genocide committed against Croatian people, across Croatia. Pupovac made the point of saying that Erdut Agreement brought peace to the region but failed to address why it was essential to bring peace and what was behind it (Serb aggression).

The fact that Pupovac rhetoric regarding infiltrating public administration and decision making with members of ethnic Serb minority brings about torrents of traumas to the Croatian public because, among other disquieting thrusts that suggest Serb victory within Croatia, it represents the notion that all crimes of aggression against Croatians and Croatia should perhaps be erased as acceptable and forgotten as if nothing happened! Pupovac move here is a clear example of attempting to solidify the equating of victim with the aggressor.

That which medical doctors did in Vukovar hospital in 1991, healing all patients, even those belonging to the enemy, is something that is rarely seen and we can be proud of that. With this book I wanted to tell that relatively unknown story because we know quite a bit about the battles for Vukovar and about defending it but the story about the heroic doctors has remained somewhat in the shadows,” said dr. Ivo Lucic in Zagreb, Croatia, on 14 November 2014 at the promotion of his book “Vukovar hospital, the lighthouse in the historic storms of Croatia’s East” (“Vukovarska bolnica svjetionik u povijesnim olujama hrvatskog istoka”).

The hospital was also a warning for those who approached, and who has destroyed Vukovar just before that. The hospital sent the message to watch how they approach the institution marked with a red cross and protected under international laws. However, they did not accept that message and ran aground the cliffs of crimes, did everything that is already known to us, in Ovcara and other places, murdered the wounded and civilians and that is something that will remain in their conscience forever,” dr. Lucic emphasised.

By the end of its three-month siege at the hands of Serb forces in November 1991, Vukovar had become utterly devastated and its Croatian and non-Serb population ethnically cleansed. The capture of the town was an important strategic objective for the Serb-dominated Yugoslav army. It was designed to consolidate Serb control over the region of Croatia known as Eastern Slavonia.

When the Serb forces took control of Vukovar on 19 November 1991, several hundred people took refuge in the town’s hospital in the hope that they would be evacuated in the presence of neutral observers. But instead of the hoped-for evacuation, about 400 individuals – including wounded patients, soldiers, hospital staff and Croatian political activists – were removed from the hospital by Yugoslav army and Serb paramilitary forces and taken to Ovcara farm near Vukovar. The detainees were beaten up. Some died of their injuries and approximately 260 of them were executed and then buried in a mass grave.

Lest we forget!

Ina Vukic

Croatian Parliament: The Detrimental Representation of Ethnic Minorities (?)

From Left/Front row: Furio Radin, Milorad Pupovac, Andrej Plenkovic Photo: V.P.P./ Hina

From Left/Front row:
Furio Radin, Milorad Pupovac, Andrej Plenkovic
Photo: V.P.P./ Hina

 

At the time of its formation in 1990 Croatian parliament and a rather large number of NGO institutions were devised and established in such a way that Croatia’s diverse population in the ethnic sense was and remains rather well represented. There are currently eight (out of 151) seats in parliament dedicated to representing ethnic minorities living in Croatia … Many have and will say that the extent to which ethnic or racial minorities are present in legislatures can be viewed as a litmus test for the effectiveness of a country’s democratic system. However, Croatia has the troublesome misfortune of having to deal with and accommodate into its democracy and parliament an ethnic minority – Serb – that attacked the Croatian majority and other non-Serbs in Croatia and committed war crimes in the early 1990’s against the Croatian people and their property in order take one third of Croatia’s sovereign land for the purposes of creating a Serb, ethnically clean republic that would eventually be attached to Serbia. As such, a number of ethnic minorities in Croatia have not been contributing towards the development of a democratic system in Croatia but have most often tugged the ropes their way with view to securing individual benefits.

 

This is certainly no enviable situation for any democracy let alone Croatia where the perpetually elected leaders of the two largest ethnic minorities – Serb (Milorad Pupovac) and the Italian (Furio Radin) – are still ideologically and practically loaded with communist Yugoslavia agenda and, to boot, the Serb minority with the help of Serbia continues its irritating, angering and utterly unjust quest of trying to equate the Homeland War aggressor with the victim. The ethnic minority part represented by Pupovac do not appear as living in and holding Croatia as their homeland, as their country, but ethnic minority that still in many ways primarily identifies with Serbia and, in many ways the same could be said for the Italian minority led by Radin. Although there are 3 parliamentary seats representing the Serb minority in Croatia the one Pupovac sits on is the loudest, the obnoxiously divisive one that, sadly, gets relatively most left-leaning media coverage.

 

Zlatko Hasanbegovic Minister for Culture Croatia Photo: Grgo Jelavic/Pixsell

Zlatko Hasanbegovic
Minister for Culture
Croatia
Photo: Grgo Jelavic/Pixsell

Last week, Friday 23 September, both Pupovac and Radin have expressed views that they would not collaborate with the new government of Croatia if it re-appoints Zlatko Hasanbegovic as minister for culture. Their apparent sense of self-importance is so obscene that they assume their power includes making decisions about government cabinet members even if they are not in the political party that won majority seats in parliament. They, like a large slice of communist Yugoslavia fans in Croatia and outside, that keep fighting against prosecution of communist crimes and keep calling those who advocate for lustration as well as prosecution of communist crimes – nationalists and Ustashe (as in WWII Ustashe regime in Croatia) – keep promoting the new anti-Croatian trend, which says that under HDZ government Croatia has moved far-right and revisionist inclinations are gathering more and more ground. Zlatko Hasanbegovic has been the one “copping” most of of the “blame” for this vicious construct of defamation and vilification against Croatia and, yet – he remains the brightest light Croatia has had in the parliament for quite a while that keeps insisting on unraveling the truth in Croatia’s history.

 

Having in mind the cruel divisions and utterly unfair agenda behind accusing without foundation in facts Croatian minister for culture Hasanbegovic of revisionism, the two leaders of ethnic minorities (Pupovac and Radin) are perpetuating, as well as other cruel agendas, like equating aggressor with the victim or defending/justifying communist crimes, and amplified by the rhetoric of these two ethnic minorities representatives (and at times others),it is blatantly clear that the word “ethnic” – as in ethnic minorities – has outlived its usefulness in Croatia.

 

 

The word “ethnic” has become divisive and derogatory in more ways than one.

 

Croatian government, and parliament, would do well by turning their efforts away from the political and practical pursuits of engaging in business of seeing what benefit an individual ethnic minority might receive and turning towards the agenda of seeing what individual ethnic minorities will and can contribute to Croatia as a whole. Indeed, the government must be and is committed to ensuring that all Croatian citizens have an opportunity to be active and equal participants in the Croatian society, free to live their lives and maintain their cultural traditions – this is enshrined in Croatia’s laws and the constitution. It’s just that the existence of ethnic minority representatives in parliament has led to an unwanted result: instead of uniting Croatian citizens it mainly divides them as ethnic minority agendas are not often in harmony with Croatian national interests.

 

Indeed, many – including myself – believe that having an ethnic Member of Parliament has led to high expectations among members of their ethnic community about what will be achieved for them.

 

For the second time in one year Croatia has held general elections and both times a minority HDZ/Croatian Democratic Union led government formed, although forming the new one has not yet happened as HDZ continues coalition discussions with various smaller parties and independents. It is at such times of minority government that the existence of reserved (dedicated) seats contradicts the strict electoral equality of one-vote, one-value and challenge the ‘liberal, individualist notion of political equality’.

 

The fear that a representative holding a dedicated seat may control the balance of power – a scenario seen as lending too much power to a minority group. It is also a scenario capable of causing division within the community, particularly if it is possible for a member to be elected to a dedicated seat with fewer votes than are needed to be elected to a general seat. Allocating seats on the basis of ‘skin colour, ethnicity or any other trait, could by definition be seen as threatening democracy’s principles… it threatens to encourage tokenism and discrimination.

 

HDZ and its leader Andrej Plenkovic would do well in steering away from forming a government with ethnic minority representatives. The past quarter of a century has shown that this causes more damage than good for Croatian national interests. Having ethnic minorities dedicated seats for representation in the parliament for a quarter of a century in Croatia has evidently and essentially given a rise to a reality that tells us that the balance that is struck between the representation of minorities, and the maintenance and development of an overarching sense of national identity and purpose is detrimentally wrong.

 

The fact that the Croatian parliament also has 3 seats dedicated to Croatian citizens living abroad in the diaspora does not present the same problematic issues primarily because these seats are for electorates where Croatian citizens live regardless of their ethnic make-up. If anything, there should be at least 3 more dedicated seats to Croatians living in the overseas diaspora (not living in the neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina) as their population is almost as large as the one in Croatia and the agenda of Croatian government to encourage Croats living abroad to return to Croatia and/or invest in Croatian economy is omnipresent.

 

Croatian parliament appears in an urgent need of re-grouping so its every seat represents all people living in every electorate regardless of their ethnic make-up and the enactment of laws that would see the establishment of government department and non-government organisations responsible to an appropriate minister of the government (ideally a minister for ethnic affairs) for dealing with matters arising from or exclusive to ethnic origins or cultural/religious practices of citizens. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

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