Croatian observers fill European Parliament’s new seats

European Union Parliament


On Tuesday 10 April, the European Parliament grew by additional 12 members when observers from Croatian parliament joined the ranks of their European colleagues. Their official welcome is on the Agenda for the session in Strasbourg from 17-19 April, but regardless of this Croatian observers have already entered the Parliament.

In accordance with EU parliament protocol each received the key for their office.

The delegation, designated by the national parliament on 16 March, comprises seven members of the governing coalition and five members of the opposition. As observers, they will be allowed to debate and discuss, but not to vote.

Croatian observers will be Ingrid Antičević-Marinović, Biljana Borzan, Romana Jerković, Tonino Picula and Tanja Vrbat from the ruling SDP party, who will join the Socialists and Democrats group, Jozo Radoš from a junior partner in government – HNS – who will sit with Liberals and Democrats, opposition deputies Andrej Plenković, Davor Božinović and Frane Matušić from HDZ who will align with the group of the European People’s Party, as well as Nikola Vuljanić from the Labour party, Boro Grubišić from a regional far-right HDSSB party and representative of Serbian minority in Croatia Milorad Pupovac.

Croatian representatives should become full members of the European Parliament following the country’s accession to the EU in July 2013.

The process of EU member countries’ ratification of Croatia’s EU accession Treaty is still in progress. All 27 member countries must ratify Croatia’s EU Accession Treaty within their own parliaments.

So far Croatia’s treaty has been ratified by: Italy, Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Latvia, Malta, Slovakia, Austria plans to ratify by summer, Lithuania – ratification already before parliament, Denmark has announced they’ll commence ratification in December.

The Netherland’s foreign minister Uri Rosenthal has recently said that their parliament is continuing in the wait and see mode, i.e. that they’ll continue to be strict and fair towards Croatia. The results of the EU monitoring of Croatia – which was placed as a condition for Croatia to become a member of EU – will be the guiding factor for Netherland’s parliament on the ratification of the Treaty. It’s expected that a number of EU countries will do the same, however, should Croatia continue in its positive path of compliance with EU standards there are no foreseeable difficulties with the ratifications being confirmed across the EU in time for 1 July 2013. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

It was the Communists (a.k.a. Antifascists) who ultimately benefitted from the Holocaust crimes

Where in Europe Communism flourished and still overtly or covertly flourishes

The World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO) has, January 30, conducted a briefing for members of the European Parliament in Brussels on the issue of looted Holocaust-era assets. The event was organized by B’nai B’rith and hosted by the Romanian parliamentarian Ioan Enciu. The speakers addressed various aspects of the restitution issue, stressing the importance of the European Union in treating the matter as a region-wide problem.

Croatia’s President Ivo Josipovic and foreign minister Vesna Pusic have mid-February 2012 announced amendments in laws to incorporate World War II era with regards to the return of confiscated Jewish property. As I said in my previous article this announcement had a political agenda of trying to distance and exonerate the Communists from their role in the looting Jewish property.

“In 1996, under the leadership of dr Franjo Tudjman, Croatia passed the Law on Restitution/Compensation of Property Appropriated During Yugoslav Communist Rule (amended in 2002) to address the restitution of communal and private real property. The restitution claims processes established under the law have operated exceedingly slowly and, with regard to private property, makes it impossible for many former Jewish property owners to obtain restitution or related compensation”.

As former Communists, antifascists, have held a great deal of power in Croatia, and still do – unfortunately, one must deduce that the hardships experienced by many Jewish families since 1996 in attempting to obtain compensation or have their confiscated family properties (nationalised by the Communists after 1945) returned, are wrapped in the fact that Communists moved their families into those properties, took life-long rights over them, if not ownership, and do not want to let go, nor pay their dues.

During 1990’s the return of confiscated/nationalized property to Croatian citizens was regulated by the law and not the Constitution. The Croatian constitutional court had in 1999 removed the discriminatory condition; i.e. that citizens of countries which have signed an agreement with Croatia on that matter have a right to claim the return of their confiscated property. Given that hardly any country had signed that agreement the freshly proposed amendments to law and the Constitution would seek to equate foreign citizens with Croatian ones.

At the end of the day, given the history of Communist/antifascist warped way of life, only the political will shall prevail. The prospects of swift restitution or compensation do not look good to me – former Communists have a great deal to lose.

World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO) says: “Throughout Europe, the dominant principle which emerged after World War II – enacted in decrees and legislation of the Allies and of European countries – is that a State, even if not the perpetrator of a crime, should not benefit from it”.

It just may happen that the WJRO will chase the former Communist European countries into a corner where they’ll have to cease pretending how great they were and own up and pay up for their share in crimes against Jews.

Certainly, Germany (former West Germany), Austria, Belgium have walked the paths of paying compensation to the victims of the Holocaust, but not the post-WWII Communist countries. The WJRO has delved into a work plan of negotiations with countries and governments in order to reach agreements and ensure legislation concerning the restitution of property to the Jewish people. These countries include Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Ukraine.

A related project HEART promotes and assists the process of restitution of Jewish  confiscated property. It states that in October1940, in Yugoslavia (Belgrade, Serbia) two anti-Jewish laws were passed. The first law fixed a quota for Jews entering secondary schools and universities; the second banned Jews from buying and selling certain food items. Of course, the loud Serbs will say they were against this? They certainly cannot blame Croatia for these terrible acts against Jews.

The Serbs will also say that they were against the confiscation of Jewish property – and yet it happened! In Serbia, according to WSJO property confiscations started in 1945 and include “agricultural lands, woods and woodland, construction sites, residential and business buildings, apartments and business premises and movables of cultural, historical or artistic significance – 609 pre-war properties that were formerly owned by the Jewish community have been identified so far in Serbia, including synagogues, schools/yeshivots, mikvehs, orphanages, old age homes, and 120 cemeteries.

Not only did the Communist benefit from crimes against Jews (as in enjoying and usurping Jewish properties after WWII) but they also committed heinous, horrible crimes against multitudes of innocent non-Jewish people who did not agree with the Communists. Croatia’s Bleiburg massacres in May 1945 are only a relatively small example when related to the Communist rule map of Europe.

Since the Communists or antifascists have denied or justified mass murders they committed during and after WWII perhaps the success and the pursuit of restitution of the confiscated Jewish property will not only benefit in justice the victims of the Holocaust but also the victims of Communist Crimes of mass murders. I.e., it will at least highlight the fact that Croatians who seek justice for the victims of Communist crimes engage in pursuits of truth, condemnation and punishment of all crimes no matter who perpetrated them. The mask of “righteousness” that Antifascists and Communists wear to this day, creating bitterness and anger within nations, could well be torn down by a significant notch. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

European Union’s Doris Pack climbs from under a rock and serves hogwash to Croatians

Doris Pack (AFP Photo/STR)

The European Parliament has never in its history had such a majority support for a country’s EU membership as it has in the case of Croatia,” she said.

What rock did Doris Pack climb from under, this week?

A week before the EU membership referendum Pack sent a message to the Croatian people that I interpret as follows: Oh sorry, we cancelled the Phare program on you, which excluded you from EU assistance to prepare for membership in 1995, but really it was because of Tudjman not because you were not wanted in EU.

What hogwash!

January 15, Doris Pack, a member of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) bloc at the EU parliament (also part of the parliament’s delegation for relations with Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo) decided to stir the pot of the current confused climate in Croatia when it comes to EU membership. Pack worked within the EU in 1991 on the Croatian membership question, following closely the political situation and Croatian independence.

It would seem she didn’t do much for Croatia except contributed to making the life of decent Croatians who wanted EU membership then a total misery!

EU abandoned Croatia for many years. If we had kept with the Phare program, we would have been there and we could have prevented many things from happening… It was only with the departure of Tudjman that Croatians began getting closer to Europe, although the path was very difficult and with much stricter criteria than for Romania, but I myself agree with this because there won’t be the problems we’re having with new members…” Pack said in Brussels and continued, “The European Parliament has never in its history had such a majority support for a country’s EU membership as it has in the case of Croatia. I believe that if people knew that they would vote yes at the EU referendum.”

I sincerely hope that people in Croatia saw through these words as insincere and damaging to the whole of Croatia and not just throwing mean-spirited innuendo against the late President dr. Franjo Tudjman.

Although Croatia’s acceptance among the international community by mid 1992, it still wasn’t allowed to commence accession to EU membership.

Brussels’ argument was simple: One does not negotiate with states that are partly occupied.

When in 1995 Croatia liberated the occupied areas from Serb occupation the EU pulled the Phare program from under Croatia’s feet.

Looking back at 1995, the EU cancelled its Phare program for Croatia with the excuse of drummed-up allegations that there was excessive shelling in Operation Storm when Croatia was liberating Krajina from Serb occupation.  Brussels was unimpressed with the liberation of Croatia’s occupied territory, criminal accusations and allegations, based on lies and hunches, against Croatian Generals and Dr Tudjman began shooting from EU against “Croatia” like wildfire.

EU put Croatia’s membership on ice and began calling for Croatian generals to face war crimes charges at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

Croatians had no chance, really, at competing for EU membership while Tudjman was alive not because Tudjman or the Croatian people didn’t want that, but because the EU had erected a “no-go zone” for Croatia. The EU hunt was on to equate the victim with the aggressor. And Pack was there – doing what? Loving Croatia? Please!

The charm of membership in the European Union certainly fades in the face of those like Pack and those who have forgotten how great on her own Croatia stands.

 As European Union Beckons, Allure Fades for Wary CroatiaNew York Times.

In preparation for this Sunday’s referendum on Croatia’s EU membership, most polls show that between 55 and 58% of Croatians will vote in favour of membership, compared with 28-30% against. So far only one poll, presented by a coalition of organisations against membership, showed a slight majority (52%) of citizens planning to vote against it. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb), B.A.,M.A.Ps.(Syd)

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