Croatian Identity Endangered

You do not need to grab hold of a magnifying glass to try and find in the world a destructive political dichotomy, intolerable quarrels between leaders, in a country touting itself to be a peaceful democracy because Croatia sticks out like a sore thumb. And it’s all because the former communists and/or their offspring are in power since 2000 as they crept into the major political parties’ folds almost unnoticed at the beginning. Their personal and political intent was never to aid an independent Croatia and its deservedly good name; their intent as evidenced by their activities and alliances was and is to keep afloat some kind of an acceptable notion of former communist Yugoslavia even though Croatia pulled itself out of it by shedding rivers of its own blood in the face of Serb and communist Yugoslavia army brutal aggression in early 1990’s.

Past week should have seen a unanimous, a national, peoples’ celebration of Croatian Statehood Day, of Croatian National Day but instead the ugly political dichotomy Croatia’s political leadership has displayed deepened and became more vicious than ever. 30th May was the date of enormous significance in 1990. It was the date in 1990 that, within the increasing Croatian peoples’ will to take Croatia out of communist Yugoslavia, establish independence and democracy, saw the constitution of the first democratically elected multi-party parliament in Croatia.

On the occasion of the first anniversary of the Statehood Day, President Franjo Tudjman pointed out the Day as a day of national unity, national reconciliation in the Croatian people. It was a hint, not only of the change of the political system and the arrival of a new political set, but also marked the beginning of the stage for the creation of a sovereign and independent Croatian state. After that came the Christmas Constitution, independence referendum and independence and the decision to sever ties with Yugoslavia. Then the brutal and genocidal war of Serb aggression ensued, ending militarily with Croatian victory via Operation Storm in August 1995 and in January 1998 with the last of Serb-occupied Croatian territory liberated through peaceful reintegration for Eastern Slavonia region and its surrounds.

Then Franjo Tudjman died in December 1999 and in 2000 former communists and those who did not fight to defend Croatia and its people from Serb aggression crept into government and into the Office of the President. In 2002 the League of Croatian Communists’ representative Ivica Racan, who was elected Prime Minister early 2000, changed the date of Croatian Statehood Day from 30th May to 25th June, saying that on 25th June 1991 the Croatian Parliament proclaimed its independence from Yugoslavia. This change of dates was not received well by many Croats. In November 2019 the Croatian Parliament returned the date of 30th May as the date to mark and celebrate Croatian Statehood Day.

Zooming in to last week after Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and his Government Cabinet managed to keep quarrelling with President Zoran Milanovic, and vice versa,  Milanovic aimed his side of the quarrel at the international scene and with his reckless statements managed to do political damage to Croatia on several occasions. Milanovic relativised Russia’s brutal aggression against Ukraine and war crimes committed in Bucha, sought excuses for Putin’s unprovoked bloody campaign in the neighbouring country, and his announcement of a veto on the decision to admit Finland and Sweden to NATO caused outrage around the world.

And then, when he probably surprised himself with his international “feats”, Milanovic decided to return to the Croatian scene. The President of the Republic reiterated on Tuesday 30th May 2022 that he does not recognise May 30 as Statehood Day because it has nothing to do with the real Statehood Day, assessing it as “violence of the parliamentary majority” and “abolition of customs due to the whims of one person”.

“It is not Statehood Day, it is the violence of a small parliamentary majority, bullying over good customs in Croatia, abolishing from the personal whim of one person, a custom that was 20 years old and which was in the law to mark Statehood Day on June 25.” said Milanovic to Croatian media! But of course, we mustn’t forget that Milanovic is not about to abandon the ideals of his communist past and his former League of Communists in Croatia!

 He then reminded that the first, democratically elected multi-party Parliament was constituted on May 30, 1990, but at that time we were still part of the former state (Yugoslavia), so the new Statehood Day has nothing to do with this holiday. One would think that today’s Croatia’s President would sing praises to the Croatians who had in 1990 the amazing and passionate courage to organise the first in history democratic elections, to inaugurate the first multi-party Parliament while still within the borders of the totalitarian communist regime of Yugoslavia.

President Milanovic did not attend the official celebration of the Croatian Statehood Day organised by the government in the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb. He refused to attend, insisting that 25 June was the right date for it!

Milanovic’s statements symbolically show that the President of Croatia does not respect the decisions of the parliamentary majority and does not act as a person who respects the principle of the rule of law and legality. It does not surprise me that he has a distance towards that date of a key national holiday.

For a long time now, the Croatian Prime Minister and his key Cabinet members have been playing into the President Zoran Milanovic’s provocations and outrageous scandalous statements, kept them circulating with counter-attacks and rhetoric instead of pointing to the president as not having been fulfilling his constitutional obligations, endangering the stability of the constitutional order, sending messages that are extremely harmful and communicating in a way that is completely inappropriate for his position. In other words, Andre Plenkovic has failed miserably at trying to set the motion in place for the removal of Zoran Milanovic from the Office of President. Perhaps that is so because Andrej Plenkovic is no better than Milanovic when it comes to preserving and maintaining the sanctity of the Croatian Homeland War and defence from brutal Serb aggression. Instead of doing his job as Prime Minister of independent Croatia he keeps adding members of the 1990’s rebel Serb minority and aggressors to his government Cabinet. Insulting in that way every pore in Croatian war veterans’ body! Embellishing the notion that victim is the same as the aggressor!

Some would say that the outcome of ousting Zoran Milanovic from the role of Croatia’s President is not possible at the moment at all. Namely, for this to be implemented, the ruling Croatian Democratic Union/HDZ and its partners in Parliament must have a two-thirds majority, i.e., 101 Members of Parliament need to raise their hand for Milanovic’s recall. Given that the ruling majority in Parliament has only 77 members, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic would find himself facing the impossible mission of finding 24 more hands. Especially as Social Democrats/SDP, the largest Opposition Party in Parliament, think Milanovic is still their strong ally, weakening the position of the parliamentary majority and harming the largest party in the ruling coalition. Therefore, they believe that he that he should be preserved in the political arena in every way.

The situation regarding preserving the status quo of perpetual quarrels and scandals between the Office of the President and the Office of the Prime Minister of Croatia is also evident in some of the right-wing smaller political parties think that the President of the Republic advocates exactly what their political values are and strongly support him! Even though his said advocacy for Croatian defence from Serb aggression is neither consisted nor reliable; the feeling that Milanovic may change his mind on important issues niggles always.  

Furthermore, it is completely unclear what the liberal democrats think, who simply cannot have anything in common with the evidently anti-Democrat Milanovic but find very innovative explanations to defend his policies. It happened for the first time that Vesna Pusic (former Foreign Minister of Croatia and Deputy Prime Minister under Zoran Milanovic’s Prime Ministership) spoke as a very serious liberal democrat about Milanovic’s unheard of rhetoric, but only when the issue of Milanovic’s conflict with other members of NATO and the European Union over Swedish and Finnish accession to NATO arose. She spoke here as a serious liberal democrat, and it could be seen that there is a very deep distance in relation to all Milanovic’s policies, but that has not yet turned into a change in that dominant attitude. In such circumstances, it is very difficult to count on the gathering of a two-thirds majority to initiate the recall procedure for Zoran Milanovic as Croatia’s President. Even if they did manage it they would encounter terrible hurdles at the deciding Constitutional Court where three former SDP and other pro-communist Yugoslavia judges sit, whose role includes deciding upon the role the President should have!

In such a macabre atmosphere former communists and their supporters have created in Croatia, it is not surprising that the most important date in the year, Statehood Day, is poisoned at home and abroad. But this atmosphere is unacceptable and calls for stronger retaliation by the people otherwise the fight for freedom will come to symbolise nothing much for Croatia! The proud, just and strong Croatian identity is endangered indeed. Ina Vukic

Croatia – Leadership Antagonism Feeding Non-Assertion of Hard-Won Independence From Yugoslavia

Zoran Milanovic, President of Croatia (L), Andrej Plekovic, Prime Minister of Croatia (R)

It is an incredible and angering preposterousness that Serbia is still acting towards Croatia as if Croatia had never become an independent state, as if it never seceded from Yugoslavia, as if the Homeland War of Serbian aggression against Croatia had never occurred (and if it did both sides were equally aggressors and equally victims!). What is equally absurd and preposterous is that Croatia is allowing this with no sanctions except cheap words and rhetoric! In persecuting Croats Serbia is using its own laws and sometimes the laws of former Yugoslavia to keep a perpetual train of indictments for alleged war crimes against Croats, allegedly committed on Croatian soil, while the brutal Serb aggression and onslaught ensued on Croatian soil, for perhaps no other reason than to press on with the obscene idea of equating the aggressor with the victim and Serbia denying its own aggression.  In 2020, the Zagreb County State’s Attorney’s Office filed an indictment against six former members of the former Serb-controlled Yugoslav People’s Army JNA Air Force for rocketing the Banski Dvori (Croatia’s Government Building at the time its President Franjo Tudjman was inside) in October 1991 and so Serbia is now filing indictments against Croats for the same period of war of aggression event.

Croatia is not responding in a manner other independent states, whose independence arose from successful defence from brutal aggression, would respond. Countries that cherish their hard-won independence would at least make strong steps in diplomatic relations terms. It is utterly unacceptable that, in the least, Serbia’s Ambassador to Croatia has not been sent packing back to Serbia as Croatia’s first-hand response to the Serbian War Crimes Prosecutor Office having on 19 May 2022 indicted four retired Croatian Air Force officers: Vladimir Mikac from Ptuj, Zdenko Radulj from Osijek, Zeljko Jelenic from Pula and Danijel Borovic from Varazdin on suspicion of committing war crimes against civilians. prosecutors, ordered the rocketing of a column of refugees on Petrovacka cesta near Bosanski Petrovac and in Svodna near Novi Grad on August 7 and 8, 1995. The indictment was filed on March 31 but was returned to prosecutors on May 6 for further processing. In the mentioned event, 13 people were killed, six of them children, and 24 people were injured. According to the indictment, the prosecution proposes that the accused be tried in absentia.

According to Croatian media sources, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic stated on 20 May 2022 that at a short meeting with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic in Davos, he expressed dissatisfaction with the Serbian indictment against Croatian pilots.

“We pointed out that the law, by which Serbia has been expanding its jurisdiction to the territories of other countries for years, is unacceptable to us and that such a move for Croatia is certainly a signal of a step back in our relations, not a step forward,” Plenkovic told reporters in Davos. Well, Plenkovic does rather good lip service but when it comes down to what is convincing and what Croatian people deserve, he fails miserably. He as Prime Minister must demonstrate that Serbia’s actions regarding these indictments are not acceptable by imposing strict diplomatic measures, at least. Most commonly used in free and democratic countries are official protests with Ambassadors or sending Ambassadors back to their countries until matters resolved. 

“These indictments have occurred despite our years-long attempts to convince them not to play with fire and that it will cost them. I cannot be more polite; I hope they are listening to me. Leave that alone. Otherwise, they should not be surprised by reactions by right-wing lawmakers in the Parliament. The problem is that the majority of people in Croatia think like that,” President Zoran Milanovic told reporters on Tuesday 24 May 2022. President Zoran Milanovic repeated on Wednesday 26 May 2022 that Serbia should watch its actions and that he was only asking for “a fair relationship” between the two countries, adding that Croatia could have indicted Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic but made a political decision not to do it.

Fierce lip-service from both the Prime Minister and President of Croatia! No decisive actions on diplomatic levels, at least, to demonstrate they mean what they say!

Croatia has been in a political quagmire for quite a while and to make decisive steps against Serbia in this case, to protect the dignity and righteousness of Croatia’s victory against Serb aggressor, for freedom and independence, both the Prime Minister and the President must be at least on professional talking terms if such terms do not come naturally. Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and President Zoran Milanovic have not seen eye to eye on anything for quite some time and have publicly displayed intolerance towards each other as well as disturbing antagonism. But, unlike Milanovic, Plenkovic appears more interested in serving Croatia’s Serb minority than national Croatian interests even though majority of that Serb minority formed a significant part of Serb aggression against Croatian secession from communist Yugoslavia in the 1990’s! This fact would appear to be a major factor in the current political impasse and crisis Croatia is suffering currently.

It is unbelievable and cruel to the victims of Serb aggression that Croatian state policy without notable and decisive protest and action evidently permits Serbia, the aggressor, and the defeated side of the Homeland War to prosecute members of the victorious side of the war in which Serbia was the aggressor. This, of course, is not the first time this has happened with the announced indictments against four Croatian pilots who are allegedly responsible for the attack on Serb civilians after the “Storm” military operation that liberated significant parts of Croatian territory from Serb occupation in August 1995. Many would rightly so say that official Croatia permits such odious aberrations because its official heads and politicians in power since year 2000 have remained mental communists, are nostalgic of communist Yugoslavia. They are not wrong as Croatia has yet to put its official foot down at Serbia’s depraved attempts to deny its responsibilities for aggression, ethnic cleansing on non-Serbs, mass murders, genocide, destruction across Croatia.   

Not only Serbia’s laws that have extended their legal jurisdiction beyond the borders of the Serbian state are of grave concern, but also the treacherousness for Croatia of the behaviour of leading Croatian politicians, which was especially evident during the persecution of Croatian generals directed by The Hague tribunal. The former President Stjepan Mesic, who testified against his country (Croatia) at The Hague tribunal, led the evil pack that attempted to criminalise Croatia’s defence against Serb aggression and yet suffered no consequences for it in Croatia! All the Prime Ministers of Croatia including the current Andrej Plenkovic have made no positive moves to turn this tragedy around and putting Croatia’s victory over Serbia’s aggression first.

The excuse of allowing the process of reconciliation with the aggressor (Serbs) has given way the emergence of many insufferable injustices against Croatians and Croatian war veterans.

Perhaps giving amnesty against indictments for war crimes to many Serbs who committed war crimes in Croatia during the Homeland War as part of negotiations for peaceful reintegration of occupied areas of Croatia’s Danube region in 1998 has given Serbs the courage to act upon their pathological idea that they had a right to commit crimes in Croatia? 

On 15th January 1998 Croatia achieved, without a single shot fired, the liberation from Serb occupation of its Danube region which two-year process is known as the Peaceful Reintegration of Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Srijem.

It was the Erdut Agreement, which was signed on 12 November 1995, that enabled the peaceful restoration of Croatian sovereignty over the Croatian Danube region which was under the control of Serb paramilitaries and rebels since the launch of the Great Serbian aggression against that part of Croatia in 1991.

The Erdut Agreement on Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Srijem was signed on 12 November 1995 in Erdut and Zagreb by the then-presidential chief-of-staff, Hrvoje Sarinic, the head of the Serb negotiating team, Milan Milanovic, and by the then US Ambassador to Croatia, Peter Galbraith, and UN mediator Thorvald Stoltenberg as witnesses. The treaty marked the beginning of the UN’s two-year transitional administration in the area during which Croatia restored its sovereignty over the temporarily occupied parts of Osijek-Baranja and Vukovar-Srijem counties, which enabled reconstruction in the area ravaged in the Great Serbian aggression on Croatia and the return of refugees.

The Erdut agreement was reached by Croatian President Franjo Tudjman and Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic at a peace conference in Dayton, Ohio. The 14-point document provided for a two-year transitional period under UN supervision, a transitional administration, formation of a multi-national police force, local elections, and demilitarisation 30 days after the deployment of international peacekeepers. Seven provisions of the agreement dealt with human rights, refugee return, and property restitution or compensation…

Reintegration of Croatia’s Danube region was achieved without a single bullet being fired but, more than two decades on, it is evident that not all bullets are of fire but that there are many made of political obscenities. Croatia has still to assert the values of its own War of Independence and it is unlikely to do that any time soon with the current make up of government and leadership. Without decisive actions to that effect the political climate may, hopefully, develop into a strong push to change the current oblivion among its leaders towards what Serb aggression did to Croatian people. A great deal of work is still needed to achieve the democracy in Croatia that its first President, Franjo Tudjman, announced in his speech on 30 May 1990 at the inaugural session of the Croatian Parliament. Perhaps with all his strengths and courage even he may have never imagined that ridding Croatia of communist Yugoslavia would be so very harsh and difficult despite the fact that 94% of Croatia’s voters voted to secede! Ina Vukic

Croatian Patriots Celebrate 100th Anniversary of Franjo Tudjman’s Birth And Kevin Spacey as Tudjman In New Historical Documentary Film

Franjo Tudjman the First President of Independent Croatia (L), Kevin Spacey as Tudjman in “Once Upon a Time in Croatia” historical documentary film 2022 (R)

The meaning of life for Croats today, on the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Franjo Tudjman, we look and see his idea for us, and that is the sovereignty of the Croatian state and the sovereignty of the Croatian people. The Croatian people have until 1990 lived in communities with other nations for over 800 years, not by their own choice but by the violence of foreigners, but there has always in those centuries been a desire to establish a nation state. It was Dr. Franjo Tudjman who, like no other leader before him, succeeded in making this desire a reality as the bipolar political world of communist Yugoslavia collapsed. He succeeded largely because he knew how strongly Croatian emigration breathed with the idea of Croatian freedom, that he turned to us for help in the diaspora, that he believed in our pure love for a free homeland and for a free Croatian people, that he unconditionally gained our trust in him and in his work for Croatia and the Croats! 

For the sovereignty of the Croatian state and the Croatian people, the Croatian diaspora was in crucial times (late 1980’s and 1990’s) inseparable from Franjo Tudjman.

Villains and venomous people often say that Croatia’s freedom and independence would have come by itself, because they must in some way try to justify their own non-commitment to the fight for independence. However, all important research on this topic, all the facts and the whole truth show how very much Tudjman’s political considerations have led to the Republic of Croatia today being a country with its own territorial integrity and a respected member of the international community. Everything that happened in the 1990s under the leadership of the first Croatian President Franjo Tudjman was the basis for everything that the Croatian people proudly inherited wherever they lived and for achieving Croatia’s national strategic goals, i.e., independence and partnership membership in Euro-Atlantic integration.

Today, 14 May 2022, it is very appropriate to look at Franjo Tudjman and his scientific works, his activities, his behaviour, his political development throughout his life and we see that he has always consistently and constantly dealt with key issues in the Croatian people. His solidarity with the idea of ​​a sovereign Croatian people has been present since his youth in the 1950s. In the 1990s, he turned his idea into a reality of happiness and joy and the merits for and of all of us, except the communists or operatives of the former communist Yugoslavia.

His speech on May 30, 1990, at the inaugural session of the Croatian Parliament was a recipe and instruction on what should be done to achieve an independent and sovereign Croatian state in every sense and get rid of communism and communist achievements rooted in the people and authorities under the coercion of the totalitarian regime of the former Yugoslavia. Unfortunately, as soon as Tudjman passed away in 1999, the former communists muscled themselves into the Croatian government and political leadership, again, belittling the Homeland War and the 1990’s fight against communist Yugoslavia and the aggressor Serbs. In these moves, Croatian emigrants became forcibly pushed away from their homeland just as they were during communist Yugoslavia, forcibly, and Croatian diplomacy largely ignored and belittled key Croatians in the diaspora who, together with homeland Croatia, built and created an independent Croatia.

The latter communist weaving in the leadership of Croatia continues to this day. When it comes to democratic elections and voting it seems that the muscle of former communists in Croatia is stronger than that of those who fought for it and lost blood for it! To change this in future more patriots must turn up for voting at general elections. The truth is that the make-up and mask the Croatian authorities wear is to try to show that they are cooperating with the diaspora and thus maintain a false impression of cooperation with the emigrants and the diaspora. When it comes to all the Croatian governments since year 2000 there is no relationship of real cooperation or reciprocal respect because the Croatian governments have not wanted that in the fullest meaning of the word and concept. After all the diaspora was and is overwhelmingly anti-communist and those in government are overwhelmingly descendants of communist stock – born and bred communist one might say.

Former communists and their squadrons know very well that if lustration happened many of them from the Croatian authorities would have been booted out from their powerful positions had Tudjman lived longer, so even today those who criticize them and want them out of power are suppressed and oppressed and intimidated. I know that personally and I’m sure of it. Late one night in June 1995, when Dr. Franjo Tudjman was visiting Australia, we met and talked about the transition to democracy from communism. Tudjman told me these words: “Ina, we have a lot to clean up from the ranks of the authorities once this war is over and the whole territory of Croatia is liberated, then lustration will follow …” He passed away in 1999, unfortunately, from serious illness about a year after the complete liberation of Croatia from the Serbian occupation in 1998! And after Tudjman’s death, nothing could be expected from Stjepan Mesic and Ivica Racan except the anti-Croatian equating of the victim with the aggressor, the false criminalisation of the Homeland War and slanderous propaganda against Croats wanting nothing to do with communist Yugoslavia!

Historian Josip Mihaljevic, a participant in the recent academic conference in Zagreb on May 5, 2022, in honour of the 100th anniversary of Tudjman’s birth, pointed out that the Croatian reform movement began to develop in the 1960s and culminated in 1971 with the Croatian Spring and the lobby to redefine Croatia’s and Croats’ position within Yugoslavia.

“Recently available sources of the Yugoslav security intelligence services, primarily Josip Broz Tito’s chief intelligence officer Ivan Miskovic,” Mihaljević said, “show that Franjo Tudjman and Veceslav Holjevac are the founders of the entire Croatian national movement (of 20th century).”

Croatian patriotic emigrants, the Croatian diaspora was the dominant element of victory in the Homeland War and in the creation of an independent Republic of Croatia because Franjo Tudjman wanted so, knowing that without us from the diaspora nothing would come out of the desire for an independent Croatia. And that is why we are eternally grateful to him, and the thanks comes from all of us living in someone else’s world in which we can proudly keep our heads up high because of Tudjman!

Tudjman was very interested in Croats from exile and emigration and considered Croatia’s attitude towards Croats abroad an important political issue, key to the success of Croatia’s millennial dream. The ties between Franjo Tudjman and the Croats who fled communist Yugoslavia after World War Two began in 1966 with his sabbatical visit to the United States. There, as a member of the Executive Board of the Croatian Heritage Foundation, he met with some of the most prominent Croatian emigrants, intellectuals, who lived and worked in the United States. These meetings were of an official nature related to the maintenance of Croatian culture in the diaspora and the like and had no political character, but later served the communist regime to prosecute Tudjman for allegedly plotting to overthrow communist Yugoslavia along with Croatian political emigrants (as mentioned in the book “Tudjman’s First Political Biography” James Sadkovich, 2010 on page 192). Tudjman’s further ties and contacts with Croats in exile and patriotic émigrés continued in the 1970s, when Tudjman, as a political dissident, was prevented from public activities and publishing in communist Yugoslavia.

With the help of a circle of intellectuals gathered around the Croatian emigrant newspaper Poruka slobodne Hrvatske (Free Croatia’s Message), Tudjman illegally (because his passport was confiscated immediately after the Croatian Spring of 1971) visited Sweden and Germany in 1977, where he met with Croatian politicians and activists in exile. After his passport was returned to him in 1987, Tudjman travelled to Canada the same year, where he lectured to emigrated Croats and met with representatives of emigrant organisations. Tudjman visited North America again in 1988 and held a series of lectures and meetings with Croatian emigrants in Canada and the United States. In Autumn of 1988, Tudjman visited Germany, where he also gave a series of lectures to expatriate Croats. A number of patriotic Croats living in South America and Australia in those years also joined Tudjman’s lectures and talks while in Canada and the United States, and the weekly newspapers “Hrvatski vjesnik” (Croatian Herald) from Melbourne Australia and “Spremnost” (Readiness) from Sydney stood out in those times of communist bans and censorship as media sources of information and thoughts of Franjo Tudjman and his associates who announced a new hope and a new possibility and the final liberation of Croatia from communist Yugoslavia.

At the beginning of 1989, a group of Croatian dissidents decided to launch an initiative to establish a democratic political party, a people’s movement that would later be called the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ). This gathering, like all meetings regarding the creation of an independent Croatia at the time, was held in secret, usually in private cottages, away from the communist police. The support and share of Croat emigrants were fiercely and crucially present in this initiative. At the end of January and the beginning of February 1989, Tudjman wrote the Preliminary Draft of the Program Basis of the Croatian Democratic Union, in which he presented his views on the attitude towards Croatian emigrants. The HDZ’s program framework states that the Croatian people have special reasons for concern, but also because their historical misfortunes have scattered about a third of their national identity on all continents of the world. The continuation of this document emphasises that further disintegration should be prevented, and the return and connection with the homeland of such many emigrants that only a few nations have should be encouraged.

In June 1989, at the Jarun, Zagreb, the founding assembly of the Croatian Democratic Party (HDZ) elected Franjo Tudjman as the party’s first president. Tudjman’s proposal for the HDZ Program Declaration was also accepted, which included the issue of attitudes towards Croatian emigrants. The founding assembly was attended by many prominent emigrants who personally witnessed this huge step towards Croatian independence and on their return to the countries in which they lived began a movement of unprecedented masses of Croats and expatriates rushing to help in every sense and need to realise Tudjman’s or Croatian dream. So, soon after the founding of the HDZ, party branches began to form among Croatian emigrants. The first organisation of the HDZ in the diaspora was founded on July 9, 1989 in Zurich, Switzerland. On the occasion of Tudjman’s arrival at the Slavic Congress in Chicago in November 1989, HDZ branches were established in 16 cities on the North American continent. In the autumn of 1989, the first branches of HDZ were established in Germany, Sweden, Norway, and at the same time a significant number of party branches were formed in Australia. By establishing branches in all countries of the world inhabited by Croatian emigrants, HDZ had formed itself as a kind of global or planetary Croatian national movement to which most of us have contributed by voluntary work, sacrifice and/or financial generosity. Here, in Australia, we have dozens of Croats who outstandingly advocated for an independent and sovereign Croatia, a sovereign Croatian people, almost superhumanly advocated for a free homeland, and we have thousands and thousands of Croats who personally helped and contributed to the creation of an independent Croatian state and firm encouragement of Franjo Tudjman to proceed.

And for that reason, thousands upon thousands of us Croatian patriots in Australia say loudly today: happy 100th birthday, Franjo Tudjman! You still live in our hearts. Thank you!

Personally, I am glad that today we are among the first people living outside Croatia to see a new film by director Jakov Sedlar “Once Upon a Time in Croatia” in which the role of Franjo Tudjman is played by world-famous and award-winning actor Kevin Spacey. The world premiere of this film took place in Zagreb on Wednesday, May 11, 2022. This film is an amazing display and portrayal of Franjo Tudjman’s thinking and aspirations, vision, and circumstances of creating an independent Croatia and was successfully made despite the boycott and lack of funding by Croatian state institutions. This latter fact is added to the list of destructive efforts and moves of former communists and / or their children and grandchildren to trample and belittle everything we all fought for together, without them, in the 1990s. They know in their grumpiness and perversion that no one before Franjo Tudjman has done more than him for the lasting and world-recognised independence of Croatia! And that is why they are boycotting this film about him. And the rest of us? We shout eternal glory to Franjo Tudjman and thank him! Ina Vukic

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