Cruel Irony Afflicts Unveiling Of Monument To Croatian Freedom Fighter

Defending “For Home Ready” greeting
Zagreb, Croatia, 11 November 2017
Photo: Screenshot

It is a cruel insult and cruel irony that on Armistice Day, 11th November, when World War I allies mark with respect and piety those who gave their lives for freedom and their emblems, police authorities in Zagreb, Croatia, go about disrupting remembrance gathering organised for the unveiling of the monument to the legendary Zarko Manjkas – Crvenkapa, who lost his life defending Vukovar and freedom for Croatia in November 1991, and attempt to seize the HOS (Croatian Defence Forces) flag under which Crvenkapa fought and died. The monument itself does not have the HOS emblem under which Crvenkapa lost his life fighting, which is a sad and utterly unjust consequence of current push in Croatia to declare the “Za Dom Spremni” (For Home Ready) illegal. The HOS emblem itself and the flag carrying it are protected under the Croatian law. On it, the salute “Za Dom Spremni” (For Home Ready) is written and the process to render this salute illegal is already in train as the left-leaning lot carrying political and power clout wrongfully place its origins in WWII fight for Croatian independence.

Just imagine a Britain, or any Allied country, today where the salute and greeting “For Home and Country”, or similar WWI or WWII salutes across the Allied world, were threatened with bastardisation and extinction! The protests would be as fierce as defending freedom from aggression were.

It was such an uplifting feeling to watch Croatia’s brave young, many of whom are children or grandchildren of those who gave their lives for Croatia’s independence, fiercely and determinately hold their stead, refusing to budge to the police pressure to remove the HOS with “Za Dom Spremni” salute from sight at the unveiling of monument to Crvenkapa.

The words exchanged between a young lady holding the HOS flag, other young people there, and police as recorded on the video taken in Zagreb on Saturday 11 November at the unveiling of monument to the fallen HOS fighter for freedom are as follows:

Young man: “It’s a mistake for the man who got killed for Croatia as member of HOS … everyone here is bothered by the fact that the monument is missing the HOS emblem, because he died for that, in that unit.”

Young lady holding HOS flag: “Why we are here? To give honour to our killed Crvenkapa, keeping in mind that we are very saddened by the fact that there is no HOS emblem on the monument nor ‘For Home Ready’ sign that he proudly carried and under which insignia he was killed … What impression will the future generations have looking at this monument…that Croats respect their patriots, their defenders who gave their lives for Croatia …for the freedom of Croatia.”

Policeman: “Close the flag … you have breached the law”

Police try to remove legal Croatian army banner
Photo: Screenshot

Young lady holding HOS flag: “We have breached no law, this is a legal Croatian army flag…Manjkas died under this emblem on his cap and you did not put it on the monument … who is bothered by the emblem I don’t know…you cannot move a flag at the opening of a park dedicated to a HOS fighter …”

Jounalist to the young lady holding the HOS flag: “What do you say about being chased out from here?”

Young lady holding HOS flag: “What’s there to say! Do we live in a free a free Croatia, or is this still Yugoslavia? Do Chetniks (Serbs) rule over Croatia or, perhaps, Croats …let’s take authority into our own hands and free ourselves from the pests …” – “No, not a chance, no…this flag is legal Croatian army flag that created our State,” she replies as another policeman’s insistence that she takes the HOS flag down.

Second policeman: “Please, everything is alright, the flag is O.K., move the banner…”

Young lady holding HOS flag: “Why, why should the banner be taken down. We are trying to show a big mistake, a big injustice …”

Second young man: “This is persecution of Croatian defenders … this is not right… my father was in the 204th Vukovar brigade, he fought together with HOS, HOS carried its own insignia ‘Za Dom Spremni’ and HSP (Croatian Party of Rights) was written there …”

Policeman: “Move the banner! …” ( The banner had writing on it: “Who is bothered by the ‘For Home Ready’ greeting on Crvenkapa’s monument?”

Third policeman: “Young lady, let’s have a talk, come with me…come here…” Young lady holding HOS flag: “But why!? … OK…”

Journalist: “Why are you forbidding them…” he asks the policeman

Third policeman: “We are not forbidding anything …” he says as he lead the young lady holding the HOS flag to the side.

Zarko Manjkas Crvenkapa Monument
Zagreb, Croatia
Photo: afp

The police, despite trying very hard, did not manage to intimidate these young people insisting on showing the flag and banner under which members of HOS fought and died for independent Croatia. So proud! Make no mistake here – Croatian authorities and their pervasive communist mindset are attempting to kill the love for independent Croatia that carried its defenders into the bloody battles of Serb aggression during early 1990s. No different to oppression that was in communist Yugoslavia. How else could one interpret the intimidating police surges against the holding up of a legal banner!? Ina Vukic

Tito’s Crimes Should Never Be Forgotten

Robin Harris
Photo: http://www.unicath.hr/

The leaders of Croatia’s antifascist movement repeatedly identified themselves with Tito. They offered no apologies for Tito’s methods and the Communist Party’s crimes.

Tito, in fact, behaved as Communists do, promoting revolution by the mass liquidation of potential opponents, by subverting every independent institution, and by bringing all power within the Party’s control.

By Robin Harris,

(source:  standpoint.co.uk )

Progressive opinion affects to take symbols lightly. Thus public acceptance of blasphemous plays and obscene exhibitions, the burning of a national flag, and insults to heads of state are all supposed to be evidence of intellectual liberation. Particularly in former Communist countries, where symbolism has altered in ways that disorientate the new as well as the old Left, the cry quickly goes up that any concern for symbols is an “obsession” or a “distraction”.

In Eastern and Central Europe, though, the Left’s indifference to symbols is an affectation. The modern leftist turns in a flash into a snarling neo-Communist — lacking only a Party membership card and Kalashnikov to revert to the older variety — when his own myths are challenged. Moreover, his assumed indifference to tradition quickly becomes intolerance of “extremism”, if any unwholesome, or ambiguous, symbol emerges from shadows on the Right.

On Friday September 1, Zagreb City Council voted to change the name of one of the most prominent squares from “Marshal Tito Square” to the “Square of the Republic of Croatia”. The decision was greeted by some solemn shaking of heads in the Western media, where it was depicted as an assertion of reactionary nationalism. Credibility was lent to this by the fact that the campaign to change the name was spearheaded by Dr Zlatko Hasanbegović, the former Croatian culture minister, who fell foul, when in office, of agitation from George Soros-backed NGOs, whose tax-financed budgets he was minded to cut. Hasanbegović is a nationalist historian with a taste for controversy and what, for politicians in Croatia, is an unnerving willingness to argue intellectual positions. He is not, however, a fascist, anti-Semite, or racist (he is a Muslim, and so has received his fair share of Islamophobic abuse). In any case, the majority for the change was provided by the conservative Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) and the centre-left party grouping attached to Zagreb’s mayor, Milan Bandić.

The square’s name change was historically significant. It clearly symbolised a break with the country’s past. But it became involved with another dispute about symbols, which has, despite the sound and fury, no historical significance at all. Near the Jasenovac concentration camp, where a large number of Serbs, Jews and political opponents of the quisling Independent State of Croatia (NDH) were killed by the Ustasha authorities, a private memorial was raised a year ago to members of the HOS (Croatian Defence Forces — a rightist paramilitary force) who died fighting in the war for Croatian independence in the early 1990s. On the memorial was inscribed the Ustasha salute “Za Dom Spremni” (“Ready for the Homeland”). The salute was apparently used by many HOS fighters — though who knows with what understanding of its true significance? The memorial plaque has since been moved a few miles away. What to do generally about totalitarian symbols — including the Communist five-pointed Red Star (“Petokraka”) positioned near the sites of mass graves of Communist Party victims — is now the thankless task of a government-appointed commission. Meanwhile, a well-funded, internationally-supported “antifascist” movement currently seeks to link cases of real or imagined nostalgia for the Ustasha regime — which collapsed 70 years ago — with the movement to cleanse Croatia of the remains of the Communist regime — which have a disconcerting degree of life in them still.

But what is this “antifascism”? There the historical evidence is clear. Antifascism is not a catch-all category of democrats. It is a Communist construct. It is, indeed, meaningless without reference to Communist ideology. Its exponents quickly manifest this even today by their willing defence of the record of Communism, their espousal of a recognisable (anti-Western) Communist world view, and their unshakeable conviction that the only threat to civilisation comes from the Right, not the Left.

Until the recent upsurge of leftist anarchism in America, there was, significantly, no antifascism in the US or Britain. Yet these countries were the key components of the Western alliance against the Axis powers in the Second World War. The absence of any antifascist movement in the US and the UK is not just because there was no significant indigenous Anglo-Saxon fascism (Mosley quickly fizzled out); more importantly, it is because there was no significant indigenous Communism — whose creation antifascism is.

Antifascism was a propagandist device to broaden support for Communist Party aims among non-Communists. It was a tactic to gain power, at which point power would be wielded exclusively by the Party itself. The intermittent emergence of antifascism was just a sign of the Communist Party’s temporary weakness. Between the two world wars the promotion of antifascist “Popular Fronts”, most successfully in France, encompassing the democratic Left but serving the Party, was authorised by Moscow. In 1939, however, Stalin opted for the alternative strategy — alliance with Hitler — and antifascism was immediately discarded.

Yugoslavia’s leader Josip Broz Tito in 1960
(Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

The Yugoslav Party under Tito, like other European Communist parties, obediently followed the new line. The much-trumpeted “rising” of the Communist partisans was not in response to Ustasha atrocities — the NDH had been formed on April 10, 1941. It was an authorised response to Hitler’s attack on the Soviet Union — on June 22. With energetic prompting from Moscow, the Yugoslav Party now took up antifascism as a device to rally opposition to the Axis occupiers and the quisling regimes in Zagreb and Belgrade, but with a view to imposing a classic Marxist-Leninist revolution. The term “antifascist” was meanwhile used to legitimise what were presented as non-Party institutions of an alternative government — as with AVNOJ, the Antifascist Council of the People’s Liberation of Yugoslavia. Once the Communists attained power and squeezed out or liquidated non-Communist elements, under way by 1944, antifascism was relegated from its prominence in the Party’s ideological arsenal. Only in 1990, when the Communists knew that they were facing a reckoning with real democracy, did the Party revive antifascism. So, for example, while the Party changed its name from the League of Communists of Croatia (SKH) to the less threatening Party of Democratic Change, and then the Social Democratic Party, the Communist veterans’ organisation, SUBNOR (Alliance of Associations of Fighters in the People’s Liberation War), was retitled the Alliance of Antifascist Fighters. In short, antifascism never existed independently of the Communist Party, and though millions of genuine democrats have fought oppressors who may, at a pinch, be described as “fascist”, those freedom fighters had nothing in common with the ideological artefact of antifascism, except occasionally as useful dupes.

This, then, answers the question: what is antifascism? And what is its link with Communism? But the further question is: What is Tito’s role in it?

The old plaque on Tito Square, now intended for the Zagreb historical museum, makes a large claim. It reads: “Marshal Tito Square. Josip Broz Tito, politician, leader of the antifascist movement, President of the Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia, 1945-1980, 1892-1980.” (Emphasis added.) An array of campaign groups turned out — in only modest numbers, despite the media attention — to protest against dethroning their hero from his square. The television pictures told the story of their identity and their marginalisation. Everywhere big red flags bearing the hammer and sickle were waved. The only Croatian flags present were those of the old socialist “People’s Republic”. Some protesters wore items of Yugoslav army uniform — the same worn by the Serbian/Yugoslav army forces which in 1991 attacked Croatia.

The leaders of Croatia’s antifascist movement repeatedly identified themselves with Tito. They offered no apologies for Tito’s methods and the Communist Party’s crimes.

But a glance at the list of groups supporting the protest suggests that some very special apologies were in order. Were the “Women’s Network” aware, one wonders, that Tito initiated sexual relations with his first wife when she was just 14? That he later denounced her, and his second wife — and a host of other Party “comrades” — to the NKVD when he was in Moscow in the 1930s? Did the homosexual activists know — as a forthcoming book by a Croatian historian will shortly detail — that at the Goli Otok concentration camp, to which Tito despatched his political enemies, the authorities publicly humiliated and beat  homosexuals, whom they considered “bourgeois decadents”?

The Jewish community, represented at the protest, has, of course, reason to detest the behaviour towards them of the wartime Ustasha, who fully collaborated in the Holocaust decreed by the Reich. But should Croatian Jews be grateful to Tito and the Party? In 1945 well-known Jewish businessmen were killed and their businesses seized by the Communists. When the Communists arrived, Jewish properties confiscated by the Ustasha were not returned, but were again seized and enjoyed — and are often still enjoyed — by the Communist elite and their privileged, cosseted progeny — the so-called “red bourgeoisie” who provide the bulk of the ruling class of  “post-Communist” Croatia.

As for the Croatian Serbs, whose leaders were prominent in the protests — whatever privileged positions they disproportionately occupied under the Party, notably in the repressive apparatus, they would be well advised to reflect on the long-term cost of those benefits. That cynical Communist policy of divide and rule meant that in 1990, when democracy arrived in Croatia, Serbs were both distrustful and distrusted and as such automatically seen as hostile to the new state — which the Serb rebellion prompted by Belgrade (still then led by Communists) confirmed. If Tito’s Yugoslavia left hatreds so raw and wounds so deep, who can seriously conclude that Communism offered a cure or even a palliative for atavistic nationalism, as its apologists still claim?

Tito’s persona still, however, evidently holds a certain attraction. It is of more than historical interest to understand why. The answer seems to be that Tito, though an orthodox Communist — his quarrel with Stalin was caused by ambition, not doctrine — was also something else, and this “something else” turns out to be that he was a heroic “antifascist”.

Tito, in fact, behaved as Communists do, promoting revolution by the mass liquidation of potential opponents, by subverting every independent institution, and by bringing all power within the Party’s control. He authorised the killing of tens of thousands of people, many without trial, others with staged trials — soldiers, conscripted Home Guard members, unpolitical civilians, Catholic priests, monks and nuns, doctors, nurses, teachers, journalists, businessmen, women and children. The mass graves, where people were thrown in alive to be slowly suffocated by the weight of those who followed, are still gradually being excavated. For fear of annoying influential Communist cadres, who had joined anti-Communists to create the fledgling Croatian state in 1991, these horrible crimes were for many years left unmentioned. Until recently, most Party and secret police archives were similarly inaccessible. There was no lustration of Party members. Not a single trial within Croatia has been held of a Communist official: only in Munich, after Germany managed to secure their extradition, were two high-ranking Yugoslav secret police officials given life sentences for a politically authorised murder on German soil in 1983.

The new Croatia’s first president, Franjo Tudjman, apparently admired Tito; but Tudjman never dreamed of imitating Tito’s personality cult, whose effects must still be remembered when assessing the Marshal’s reputation. Leafing through the snapshots portraying Tito’s gaudy, greedy, self-indulgent, spendthrift, pointless political life, it requires an exercise of imagination to take the performance seriously. Yugoslavia solved nothing internally. It achieved nothing externally. But heroic myths, imposed by expert media control over 35 years, so brainwashed its population that they became a heaving, wailing, neurotic, human wreck when the dictator’s death was finally announced. Only a system in which all hold on reality had been lost could have solemnly announced as its watchword for the country’s future that lapidary slogan: “After Tito — Tito!”

Tito’s achievements, such as they were, have largely been forgotten, along with most of his crimes; only his antifascist credentials are still burnished. Yet antifascism, like the smile on the Cheshire Cat, reminds us, in a disembodied form, of what Communism was, what the Communists did, and what their successors would like to do, if they had the chance. It should go the way of Tito’s plaque

 

Competitive Victimhood – Injustice For Victims Of Communist Crimes

 

All good people owe it to the victims of communism to learn what happened to them and pursue justice for them. It has often been said, and I agree, that until Croatia’s left and those operationally associated with communism in former Yugoslavia acknowledge how evil communism had been we will continue to live in a morally confused world, unable to move forward into freedom and democracy.

Lord help you if you ever dare to utter the truth that Communism in Europe exterminated more people than Nazism! You should know better! You should know that you live in a politically shaped dystopian world, which beats fear into the bones at any such thought – for the Holocaust must be maintained as the largest politically motivated mass murder of all times! If you are courageous enough to use suppressed historical facts and, using these, argue differently, then you are labelled with negative connotations as being a historical revisionist. You are stigmatised without mercy, rhyme or reason.

The apparent need to compete over victimhood is perhaps one of the greatest inhibitors of reconciliation processes, and removing it can crucially contribute to an enduring peace.

In the context of genocidal pursuits, I and all fair-minded people are not interested in the question of who was worse, but I and all fair-minded people are interested in justice for all victims, whether they be those of the Holocaust or those of communist purges and crimes.

I don’t want nor intend to contribute to the growing phenomenon of competitive victimhood, which has undoubtedly developed by the elevation of one group of victims and the belittling and the dehumanising of the other, and in which various persecuted or formerly persecuted groups scramble for public pity and financial compensation while other groups are made to suffer continued injustice and erosion of their human dignity. But it seems to me that to compare and contrast the two main types of 20th century totalitarian regimes (Nazism and Communism), and to discuss them as evidence of similar evil tendencies in human nature, is not only legitimate, but banal: Hannah Arendt did it way back in the 1950s. Arendt coined the phrase “banality of evil”, which has ramifications for both totalitarianism as a project and the pathways of resistance. The very fact that it doesn’t seem banal to everyone-that to talk about Hitler and Stalin (Tito in Yugoslavia’s case) together can still raise hackles and cause offence-is indicative of precisely the phenomenon tackling competitive victimhood.

While the word “genocide” may, to some, be inappropriate to apply to all of the multitudes of communist mass murders, communism and Nazism can be said to have shared at least one essential trait: both kinds of regime legitimated themselves by using the rhetoric of dehumanisation, and by establishing categories of enemies who were persecuted and destroyed on a mass scale. Most people of the “West” may have grown up not knowing that communist regimes had committed horrible crimes on a grand scale and it is time those communist crimes are treated everywhere for the evil they were. Most people across former Yugoslavia, including Croatia, have until 1990’s grown up not knowing about the horrible crimes committed by the communists.

And hence, I turn to an article written and published (tabletmag.com) this past week by Menachem Z. Rosensaft, General Counsel of the World Jewish Congress, in which he twists the truth of the Jasenovac remembrance plaque for Croatian HOS (Croatian Defence Forces) defenders killed in the area in action of defending Croatia from 1990’s Serb aggression and includes the twist into his misguided and utterly politically coloured claim that “Croatia Is Brazenly Attempting to Rewrite its Holocaust Crimes Out of History”. It seems to me that the only purpose of this article is to add fuel to the existing concocted fire that stigmatises modern Croatia as a place that broke away from communism (at overwhelming human and material costs) not because of the unbearable communist system criminal oppression but because of some trumped-up nostalgia for WWII Ustashi system.

Memorial plaque to 11 HOS
defenders killed in Jasenovac in 1991

In late 2016,” writes Rosensaft, “far-right political figures and veterans of the 1990-era Croatian Defense Forces put up a plaque in the Croatian municipality of Jasenovac that featured the ‘Za dom spremni’ (For Home Ready) slogan. The ostensible reason for putting up the plaque was to commemorate 11 fighters of the Croatian military who died during the Balkan wars of the 1990s. Croatian journalist Vojislav Macoko placed the controversy squarely in historical and moral perspective. Setting the plaque in the town of Jasenovac was ‘unacceptable’ for a number of reasons, he said. ‘The first is that it is unacceptable to erect a monument with such a greeting because it’s the Ustasha salute. This is public glorification of domestic Nazism. The other reason is because it is, of course, Jasenovac’.”

Sorry Rosensaft, but there is nothing ostensible about raising a plaque marking the location area where the Croatian defenders died in 1991 and placing on the plaque the image of the legally valid insignia under which the killed soldiers fought to defend Croatia from the brutal Serb aggression. The patriotic salute “For Home Ready” has its roots in centuries old history of the Croatian people, not in WWII.

It is significant to note that Rosensaft chose not to quote any of the Croatian journalists whose statements regarding the plaque aligned with this truth; he chose the one that suited his political agenda that appears to undermine Croatia’s 1990’s fight against communism and the current attempts by many to reveal and prosecute communist crimes to the full. What seems disturbing is the likelihood that Rosensaft may uphold the right of the WWII Jasenovac victims to have memorial plaques in the locations they perished in but denies the same right to the victims of Serb and communist Yugoslavia onslaught against Croatia in 1990’s!

A brief detour is necessary here to address the campaign in many formerly communist Eastern and central European countries to place Nazism and Communism on the same moral plane, or even to depict Stalinism and the various post-Stalinist strains of communism as worse—more evil, if you will—than Nazism,” writes Rosensaft. “Without in any way minimizing the oppression and suffering endured by large parts of the populations under Communist regimes, it is beyond question that no post-WWII Communist regime anywhere in Europe committed or attempted to commit genocide. To be sure, there were large-scale political imprisonments, far-reaching deprivations of civil and human rights, and politically motivated killings.”

Oh calamity! To Rosensaft, in excess of 64 million communist crime body count in Europe (source R.J. Rummel) including 1.1 million in communist Yugoslavia is a mere “politically motivated killing”, not genocide. No, probably not just genocide – but definitely democide; “the murder of any person or people by their government, including genocide, politicide and mass murder” (R.J. Rummel).

However,” Rosensaft continues, “as Yehuda Bauer stated eloquently in response to a 2009 resolution of the European Parliament determining Aug. 23, the anniversary of the signing of the 1939 Nazi-Soviet nonaggression pact, as a date to commemorate the victims of both regimes, ‘to compare this with the murder of many millions of Europeans by the Nazi regime, and especially with the state-planned genocide of the Jews (Holocaust) in the context of Nazi crimes generally … is a distortion of history.’ The comparison is especially invidious, as Bauer made clear, because ‘a certain number’ of those persecuted by the Communists ‘had, in fact, been Nazi collaborators.’

This was certainly the case in Croatia, where the post-war Tito regime engaged in large-scale killing of members of the Ustasha, but this was in revenge and retaliation for the crimes—and they were crimes—committed by the Ustasha during their reign. Such politically motivated excesses, however heinous, cannot be compared, let alone equated, with the genocides that the Ustasha had unleashed on Serbs, Jews, and Roma…

Rosensaft omits to write about the innocent civilians and citizens mass murdered by the Tito’s communist regime and Serbian Chetniks during and after WWII. He omits to tell the public that Jasenovac camp remained opened for some years after WWII where, it is claimed, multitudes of politically undesirable Croats perished under communist regime and those body counts thrown into the WWII body count. Let’s trust in the possible wisdom and will of humanity that this part of the dark history will come to light as research takes the path of good will towards victims.

Rosensaft in his article appears to justify mass murder committed against Croats under political guises of communist revenge and retaliation, giving an outrageous bias to his article in terms of both humanity and justice. To him, it would seem, revenge and retaliation are acceptable but only for the communists to use! No need to think too hard why all this may be so.

Rosensaft goes on to write about the historical recordings of the Holocaust victims in Croatia by Ivo and Slavko Goldstein without telling the readers that Goldsteins were writing history as part of and under the protection and licence of the communist Yugoslavia machinery. The machinery that from the start set out to stigmatise Croats, the WWII independence from Yugoslavia politics, as the only people within the territory of former Yugoslavia to had engaged in persecution and murder of Jews, despite the fact that Serbia was one of the first European countries to declare itself “Jew-free” by having exterminated 94% of Serbian Jews by mid-1942! He omits to mention the unbearable Serb-led oppression against Croats that lasted for decades within the post-WWI concoction known as the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.

In a 2011 New York Times interview, talking about genocide, the same Rosensaft stated that “There are always political elements to these cases. There are always ambiguities.” And in 2017, in the article referred to in this article, he has the gall to justify and colour as acceptable the communist political motivations for mass murders but not those of the other side of the political spectrum of WWII Croatia!

Since WWII politics form a large part of Rosensaft’s reflection upon the tragedy that the Holocaust was for humanity his article would hold much more credibility had his analysis of current day Croatian efforts to expose and deal with communist crimes also included the WWII and post-WWII communist politics. We should feel continuing revulsion at the crimes of both communism and Nazism, but Rosensaft seems to have occupied a seat in the victimhood competition wagon where victims of the Holocaust are to be regarded as somehow more deserving of human compassion than those of communism. To me, a wrongful death resulting from walking into a gas chamber is no worse than the one resulting from being bludgeoned and pushed alive into a pit. The historical fact is that communism spread further and lasted longer than Nazism and, in that, it produced more victims. Surely, even Rosensaft needs to acknowledge that fact without painting the plights in Croatia to pay tribute and deliver justice to the victims of communist crimes as some twisted historical revisionism! Ina Vukic

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