General Zeljko Glasnovic Delibetations And Which Wolf Is Being Fed In Croatia?

Hrvoje Zekanovic (L) Zeljko Glasnovic (R) Photo: Screenshot

In today’s political world where the leftist ideas akin to largely disastrous communism and socialism for human freedom and dignity appear to thrive on life-support it is, I think, important to remember and act upon an old story which has shaped morality (or immorality) for centuries.  And this is how that story goes: An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”

He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

It has been 31 years (and a few months) since I was a part of a thrilling movement in Croatia and in the Croatian diaspora that set itself the goal of freeing Croatia from the communist Yugoslavia oppressive hold. The positive emotions, the elation for the prospect of freedom were overwhelmingly thrilling. I remember my late father describing similar emotions he felt as a young man when he became a part of the Croatian Home Guard forces, which rose after the Royal Army of Yugoslav (Serb) Kingdom was no more in 1941 and whose role was to protect and defend the borders and territory of Croatia from the onslaught of Yugoslavia communists.

It’s 2020 now, I search for those thrilling emotions that inspired hope and belief in the real possibility of freedom and which were the foundation of masses for the victory in Croatia’s 1990’s Homeland War. I find them here and there, their spark is still there, however it is terribly dimmed as we see that somehow since year 2000, in Croatia, the wrong wolf has been fed! A resurgence of ugly communism, an utter denial of horrific communist crimes during and post WWII – a keeping on life-support of communist mindset that sees corruption, theft, law and public administration still working against the betterment of all the people just like it was done in former Yugoslavia.  

That a new plateful of food has just been served to the wrong wolf in Croatia is plainly seen in the representatives in the new Croatian Parliament assembly since July 2020 of the Independent Democratic Serb Party/SDSS. During the past week one of its representatives, Dragana Jeckov, has on several occasions attacked Croatian people and their fight for freedom. She particularly twisted the history and said that there are many streets in Croatia carrying the names of WWII Ustashas and that they must be removed! Of course, the street names she alludes to have nothing to do with the WWII Ustasha movement except of course with the fight for freedom against Serb oppression and Yugoslavia. She failed short of saying: Croatians do not deserve to have a free state! What an odious member of parliament to have to put up with.

And so I came across a video talk between Retired General Zeljko Glasnovic (1990’s Croatian Army and Croatian Defence Council General) and Hrvoje Zekanovic, Croatian Sovereignists Party Member of Croatian Parliament who ran with the Patriotic Movement (Domovinski Pokret Miroslava Skore) at July 2020 elections.  This chat is not your ordinary leisurely chat with little national significance one might find around the place; it captures the core of the problems stifling the progress to full democracy and freedom in Croatia. So, I have translated the dialogue from this “chat” for you:       

    

Hrvoje Zekanovic: “General, today colleague Jeckov, SDSS representative, in the parliament today delivered a very interesting speech, you did not see it but I will briefly tell it to you. She mentioned NDH (WWII Independent State of Croatia) ten times today, the Ustasha, the Ustasha crimes – in the Croatian Parliament 2020.”

General Zeljko Glasnovic: “Here we are Mr Zekanovic, back in parliament, I’m here after a longer time, a pause, and what I see there is sad, it appears to me like the sitting of the 3rd Comintern (Communist International organisation) at the times of Stalin and the Chetnik movement, a mixture of that. But the problem is that our politicians are not interested in the history, the truth doesn’t interest them, most of them are vaccinated against the truth, all respect goes to the individual patriots though. It’s like this: the genesis of conflict in these parts of the world is completely hidden by mainstream media, and in that fog that falls over the universities, that are not Croatian universities, such as the Faculty of Philosophy. From 1912 to 1990, either under the five-pointed star or the cockade about one million people have been murdered in these areas and today the Chetnik movement has de facto been rehabilitated.

You have, for example, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace commission, an American commission had in 1912 recorded what was happening in Kosovo in the Second Balkan War where tens of thousands of Kosovars, Albanians, and Christians in Kosovo were killed and where does Greater Serbian imperialism end? I will repeat, whether under five pointed star or the cockade about one million people were murdered in this region in almost one hundred years, it ends in August of 1999, NATO Operation Allied Force , how can we not see that. Only in the old Yugoslavia from 1918 to 1941, to the entry of Axis Forces into Yugoslavia, the Serbian gendarmerie had murdered in peace time about one hundred thousand people in this region. Where did it murder these people? In Sandjak, in Albania, where they burned to the ground the Drin Valley, turned it into ashes and dust, murdered tens of thousands of Albanians. In Croatia they murdered hundreds of peasants, thousands of beatings across soles of feet was punishment for insulting the King and Fatherland. You have Senj victims, Stipe Javor who died in Sremska Mitrovica (Serbia’s prison), they are all victims of Greater Serbia imperialism that has remained to today the greatest threat in this region and we, Croats, are we deaf; autistic?

A propaganda war is again being waged against us by Serbs. We are paying for and the Serb HAVC (Croatian Audio-visual Centre) has paid for the Diana Budisavljevic film that is a complete falsification, we still do not have an official World War Two history, but Serb imperialists, who committed those crimes, are writing it for us. Currently in Serbia a film “Dora from Jasenovac” is being made. How is that going to look!?

To conclude, we must pull out of this lethargy because that battle is still being fought in the media space, and I would say that if we don’t write our own history somebody else will and that which is happening today is a total embarrassment of all of our cultural institutions, educational institutions.

Why are there no monuments to victims of Chetniks in Bosnia and Herzegovina? There are none because most Chetniks had gone over to the Partisans. And today people protect that criminal regime and I will finish with that today. Today you have people sitting in the Croatian Parliament who protect the largest criminal organisation in this region and that is the former communist regime.”

Hrvoje Zekanovic: “So, while we are keeping silent Mrs Jeckov speaks about Ustashas in the Croatian Parliament, and all that you said, General, and it’s very important for us to know, we do not have in the mainstream media but have Dragana Jeckov and soon we will have Dora from Jasenovac, a film being made in order to discredit Croatia.”

General Zeljko Glasnovic: “Yes. If war crimes don’t have a statute of limitations why is the chief of Zagreb OZNA (Department of People’s Protection of communist Yugoslavia), Josip Manolic, walking around in Zagreb. In Lug forest you have 50 mass graves, where hundreds of people were murdered. That means we have two standards in the justice system. Regretfully, this is a deep state, we got our flag and anthem, but this is not despairing, we must fight for the truth.”

Hrvoje Zekanovic: “And the representation…”

General Zeljko Glasnovic “ Yes and representation. Look, the Chetnik movement, I will only give one example, it has been rehabilitated in Serbia, the Chetnik movement is rehabilitated. You have from ten years ago the funeral of Nikola Bojevic, mass murderer, who in Sandjak in 1942 murdered hundreds of women, children, elderly, burned them in their houses, at his funeral a Serbian priest, Orthodox priest, that is a sect and not Orthodoxy, that is de facto Saint Sava following, a sect, he holds a speech and says that Nikola Bojevic (their war criminal) was loyal to his Fatherland and mother’s milk. We do not react at all.

What is more frightening is what is our diplomacy doing? That is frightening.”

Hrvoje Zekanovic: “I will deviate from the topic, I will ask for your opinion on a topic America Trump Biden, give me a comment, how do you look upon the situation?”

General Zeljko Glasnovic: “I would say it is a huge fight for the Western civilisation. Today as we always have in the world, that battle from living memory, we have the political battle, the cultural-media one and above all the spiritual, metaphysical battle because a huge battle is being fought for the souls of today’s world. And look what’s happening today, they always repeat the communist mantra forget the past we must worry about the future. Is it like that!? Look at today’s tensions between Greece and Turkey, look at today’s tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan. It means that if we do not know the genesis, if we do not possess fundamental knowledge, we cannot defend ourselves. We need facts, we need people like Mr Zekanovic and other patriots we have who have entered into the parliament and as Christ had not abandoned his way of the cross at the fourth station, we must follow his example. We all must fight because these hicks sitting in the parliament, those lunge-out/stand astraddle alphabet soup of NGOs, these neo-communists like Peovic (Katarina), Bencic Sandra) and those redesigned communists will introduce, we will see in two years in Croatia that children will until the age of 12 be deciding by themselves which gender they will be. If we lose that spiritual battle, and we will not lose it, then we have betrayed all young Croatians, 23 years old in average, who had given their lives in the Homeland War.

…For Croatia, all for Christ and against Communists.”  

And so I conclude this article by saying that the wisdom of the Cherokee story comes alive in Croatia. Now perhaps more than in 1990’s, when such grave losses were sustained from the Serb aggression against us Croatian because we wanted out of communism, by exercising the freedom of choice our blood-soaked victory brought us, we can make life-changing decision as of which wolf is going to be fed in Croatia. Do not feed the communist Yugoslavia one any more, feed the Homeland War one. Ina Vukic

Croatia: Corruption and COVID-19 Coronavirus Crisis

Hrvoje Zekanovic, MP (L) Zeljko Glasnovic, MP (R)
Croatian Parliament 3 April 2020
Photo: Screenshots

While issues and matters relating to COVID-19 (coronavirus) is and has for some weeks now been overshadowing everything else there’s no doubt that times of upheaval (and COVID-19 coronavirus has created one) are always times of radical change, times of control; in this case control of people behaviour and choices in living. There are those who believe the pandemic is a once-in-a-generation chance to remake society, restructure processes that have not worked and build a better future. Others fear it may only make existing injustices worse. If there is one injustice defining life of ordinary citizens in the Croatian society it is corruption. Corruption at all levels of power or at all processes people’s lives depend upon – whether it is nepotism, whether it is bribery, whether it is embezzlement and theft – the pandemic and focus on measures to stop or slow-down the spread of COVID-19 currently seems a fertile ground for “business as usual” when it comes to dealing with corruption. This is regretful, for this crisis could also be a time when restructures are made in order to eradicate the crippling corruption in Croatia.

Rewind your mind back a few weeks and imagine someone telling you that within a month, schools will be closed. Almost all public gatherings will be cancelled. Hundreds of millions of people around the world will be out of work due to compulsory closures of shops and non-essential services. Governments will be throwing together some of the largest economic stimulus packages in history. In certain places, landlords will not be collecting rent, or banks collecting mortgage payments, and the homeless will be allowed to stay in hotels or empty apartments free of charge. Governments will delve into direct provision of basic wage or income. Large number of countries in the world will be collaborating – with various degrees of coercion and nudging – on a shared project of keeping at least two metres between each other whenever possible. European Union free travel and movement between member states will cease to exist and police and armies of each member state will make sure its borders are impregnable. More than likely than not, you would have labelled the person who told you all that, and more, as a lunatic, at least.

The size and speed of what is happening is dizzying, but also is the fact that we appear to be getting accustomed to hearing that democracies are incapable of making big moves like this quickly; that firm government control is what’s essential in order to save our lives and livelihoods! In many cases, and so too in Croatia, minority governments are on the road of using control of coronavirus threat to citizens in order prove that they are legitimate, and powerful. Any glance at history reveals that crises and disasters have continually set the stage for change, often for the better = but not always! The global flu epidemic of 1918 helped create national health services in many European countries. The twinned crises of the Great Depression and the second world war set the stage for the modern welfare state. Will the coronavirus crisis in Croatia set the stage for eradication of corruption, I wonder and wish it would.

Unless focused upon, corruption is likely to increase during these pandemic times in Croatia and measures, such as introduction of Code of Conduct or standards or strict checks and balances, independent audits of practices, standing down of the incompetent politically suitable employees from public administration, etc. must be introduced, otherwise, the fear for a decent livelihood will not only be fuelled by COVID-19.

On Friday 3 April 2020 in the Croatian Parliament, Members of Parliament Hrvoje Zekanovic (President of Croatian Sovereignists) and retired General Zeljko Glasnovic (Independent Member for Croats living outside of Croatia) addressed the Parliament with speeches that reflected on the possible dangers of government appointed body that has absolute powers at this time of crisis, political machinations and manipulations benefitting only the political party in power, the corruption embedded in the government system riddled with former communists and how the crisis may and should be used for major restructures which no government of Croatia has achieved so far.

Hrvoje Zekanovic, MP, among other things said: “… we have a strange scenario, surreal, unrealistic, and I wonder if maybe this crisis has been welcomed by some structures… banks for example… banks have struggled to place their money for years. Lots of money, cheap money, they even gave it out without charging interest. Suddenly all the countries of the world and our Croatia are rushing to the banks, to international markets, anywhere, seeking money to save their national economies. It is an interesting coincidence, that is, to know that someone is benefiting from this crisis because all countries in the world are very economically indebted at the moment, to whom, to banks. And the other fact is that the banks had a major problem with the placement of their funds, that they had piles of money, billions and billions of dollars or euros that they could not place. And now, Croatia has suddenly sobered up, the HDZ elections are over, the old HDZ president is the new HDZ president, Andrej Plenkovic, has swept up the competition and is free to deal with the corona crisis. All of a sudden, as politically imagined as it is, a new body, some new faces … and then suddenly it rushes to grips with the corona crisis. And suddenly we have a new body that has absolute powers. This body, the Croatian Parliament, gave it the ability to do whatever it wants. And in all the media, we have one real agitprop – yesterday, in the Open program, we have three ruling party politicians, zero from the opposition. Check out any news on Croatian television … or any other national television … and you will not be able to see, except in some sideline frames, the opposition or some other people who are critical of the government’s response to this crisis, and the mouths of national television will be full of praise for the measures of the Croatian government …”

Zeljko Glasnovic, MP, among other things said: “…we need to respect neutral sources, no one knows how long this will last… of course we cannot separate politics from the economy and today the economy from the coronavirus … I think the first step of any economic measure is that if we talk about solidarity, that we take care of the most vulnerable group of people. They are the disabled, the old people, etc. This is the real right-wing, not the red-right that first secured money for its  three generations in advance… we do not yet have the origin of property or the names of people who have bank accounts abroad, and we know that maybe everyone of them was in the Party (Communist) … Now is the time not only for economic security, but the time is now, because crisis is the best stimulus, crisis and fear, for best structural reforms that no government has ever made. We have tightened the belts, the grey economy is double what it was in the European Union, and we know how many, well, how some Croats are creative accountants, they are masters of it… how is it possible for one person, as one small example, to be spending public money and spending 170,000 kunas on representation (entertainment) without having to answer to anyone! That’s right, the grey economy and now the professionalisation of the administration and now it’s time for all these institutions to work in sync to see that the money is going where it should go … you enjoyed the Party, you are doing well today, you have created a second generation of emigrants, and I would send all of you an auditor-general, this inspector … I don’t know what his financial status is … you are all linked together, I don’t trust you, I believe in God and mathematics, I would solve everything in three months and would first come to your door …”

The Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) has published on 24 March 2020 its fifth round evaluation report (for full pdf report click here) on Croatia dealing with preventing corruption in government (top executive functions) and the police and it will be most interesting following up on what is being done to curtail corruption; to bring it down to insignificant levels.

The Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) is a Council of Europe body that aims to improve the capacity of its members to fight corruption by monitoring their compliance with anti-corruption standards. It helps states to identify deficiencies in national anti-corruption policies, prompting the necessary legislative, institutional and practical reforms. Currently it comprises the 47 Council of Europe member states, Belarus, Kazakhstan and the United States of America

Croatia joined GRECO group in 2000 and this year’s report was focused on evaluating the effectiveness of the measures adopted by the authorities of Croatia to prevent corruption and promote integrity in central governments (top executive functions) and law enforcement agencies. The report contains a critical analysis of the situation, reflecting on the efforts made by the actors concerned and the results achieved. It identifies shortcomings and makes recommendations for improvement. GRECO’s plan is for Croatia to report back on the action and measures taken, on compliance, in response to GRECO’s recommendations within 18 months of the adoption of this report; that would be around mid-2021.

In this report GRECO considers that developments in recent years have shown a need to ensure that integrity standards also apply to people working in an advisory capacity for the government. More specifically regarding members of the government, state secretaries and assistant ministers, the report calls for the adoption of a code of conduct, to be supplemented with practical guidance, briefings on the integrity rules in place and confidential counselling.

When it comes to the police, the report notes a relatively low level of trust in the police and considers that more needs to be done to prevent corruption risks within the police itself.

GRECO further recommends that the current rules on the taking up of employment – when a person entrusted with top executive functions leaves an official position – need to be broadened and considers that the lack of rules on reporting and disclosing contacts with lobbyists/third parties that seek to influence the public decision-making process constitutes a gap. This gap must be filled in order to further improve transparency.

Efforts to prevent corruption risks within the police itself, GRECO report says, should start with comprehensive risk assessment of corruption-prone activities within the police, as a basis to adopt an integrity and anti-corruption strategy for the entire police force. The report furthermore acknowledges the existing code of ethics for police officers but considers that it would need to better cover all integrity matters and be supplemented with an explanatory manual to become a truly practical tool and a reference point for the to-be-revised police trainings. Furthermore, more attention needs to be paid to the current appointment and promotion processes of police officers and their employment after they leave the police. Finally, GRECO recommends that a requirement be established for police staff to report integrity-related misconduct they come across in the police service.

The institutions or bodies in Croatia that deal with fighting against corruption are several. They include the Commission for Monitoring the Implementation of Anti-Corruption Measures, the Ministry of Justice’s Anti-Corruption Sector, the Police National Office for the Suppression of Corruption and Organised Crime (PNUSKOK), the USKOK – Office for the Suppression of Corruption and Organised Crime and the National Council for Monitoring the Implementation of the Anti-Corruption Strategy. Indeed, the Croatian people have been listening to its governments saying that corruption must be eradicated for decades and yet nothing much changes. Corruption and clientelism thrive unabated, bar for a handful of legally pursued cases of high-profile personalities. The fact that corruption keeps on thriving in Croatia comes as no surprise – those in power and high positions would have to remove themselves from those positions in order for eradication to work. Many, many are those who held powerful positions during communist Yugoslavia, or they are the descendants of them.  Hence, nothing short of thorough weeding and lustration will eradicate corruption. The judiciary if filled with former communists or descendants of communists who had amassed personal wealth through corruption; the same goes for many members of parliament, for members of major political parties, for officers in government and public administration, for heads of government owned companies, for heads of many politically active NGO’s…The abuse of public institutions for personal gain is blinding in Croatia and the current government control of almost everything citizens do in this COVID-19 pandemic could easily lead to pushing Croatia even further down the world corruption-free index ladder. Clientelism is rife and the pandemic will surely feed it more in the environment of having a government-created body with absolute powers in what a citizen may or may not do; who gets the lucrative contracts and who does not! Ina Vukic

Fragmented Body Politic – Symptom Of Lost Control Over Croatia’s Socio-Political Destiny

Photo: Alamy.com/ licensed/copyright (c)

Fragmentation of the so-called patriotic (domoljubne), usually dubbed as right-wing, body politic in Croatia has never been more vigorous than at the present time. All parties and political movements (and there are many) involved proclaim either in words or implications a vigorous critical loyalty to Croatia and, ultimately, to the values of the 1990’s Homeland War. However, regretfully, although all proclaim same or very similar political-social goals, burrows that separate them from each other appear insurmountable.

Fragmented body, say many an academics in the world, symbolises castration anxiety as well as loss of control; in this case over national direction. The emergence and seemingly flourishing on life-support from sections of the electorate of more than 150 political parties in Croatia vying for power, espousing a desperate need for change, may be construed as evidence that control has actually been lost in Croatia especially over the process of full democratisation as espoused in the values of the Homeland War.

In recent years, it has become obvious to all but the willfully blind that much is not well with the Croatian self-determination and ordered liberty to be had in a functional democracy where red tape and corruption are minimised (where detrimental practices inherited from the communist Yugoslavia era are thoroughly weeded out from society and public administration).

The signs that something is seriously wrong are myriad:

  • a degree of political polarisation unprecedented since the era when Croats won the bloody war of Serb aggression in 1990’s through which independence was won – through which Croatia seceded from communist Yugoslavia
  • a bitter and debilitating culture war between and within both the left-winged (mainly former communists) and right-winged (who pursue decommunisation and Croatian national identity in accordance with Homeland War values) political spectrum that appears to define and/or steer everyday life of even ordinary people;
  • the erosion of the bonds of civic amity and emergence of a civic culture animated by mutual hatred and contempt based on political ideology and directions in which Croatia should develop and assert its place in the democratic world;
  • a pervasive cynicism and a growing crisis of legitimacy of all or any party or movement body politic;
  • the seeming loss of any notion of an overarching common good to which private interests must be subordinated and resultant understanding of politics as a zero-sum game;
  • and what might be called “gridlock” wherein the fragmentation of the national body politic into a plethora of competing interests (more often personal than not) whose conflicting and ever-escalating demands induce something akin to political paralysis. (Most Croatians are acutely and keenly aware that the system is broken, that public institutions are not functioning the way they should in a democracy but seem unsure as to how to fix this.)

Indeed, Croatia (as do some Western countries) seems to be witnessing the rise of what several political scientists call “anomic democracy” in which democratic politics becomes more an arena for the assertion of conflicting interests than the building of common purposes. A common purpose for Croatia, as the values asserted via the 1990’s Homeland War tell us, is that of democratisation and decommunisation. The latter encapsulates the absolute need to rid the country of the totalitarian-like control in all aspects of state authority and expression whether it be in user-friendly legislation that promotes economic growth, an independent judiciary or balanced mainstream media etc.

In fact, so divided does Croatia appear and so dysfunctional has its politics become that it feels like being in the midst a “cold civil war”.  The vitriol that gushes out between people of differing political allegiances is often suffocating. Perhaps herein lies the reason why true national leaders, whom a significant portion of people trust, are practically non-existent or, at least, invisible, or not afforded a chance to shine in the environment of many egocentric or “I know best” players.

Croatia’s critical public consensus regarding secession from communist Yugoslavia was at its peak during 1990’s and the Croatian Democratic Union/HDZ led this field of goal-focused national harmony. Then came year 2000 and increased subversive political activities from former communists which resurrected Pro-communist Yugoslavia nostalgia in at least 30% of the Croatian national body politic. This, undoubtedly, led to the collapse of the overwhelmingly widespread consensus as to how Croatia should develop and a disastrous and shameful treatment of war veterans from the Homeland War. The results of such a collapse in consensus is a society that begins to disintegrate into collection of warring tribes. The most striking example of this occurs when a society explodes into bitterly opposed camps that, disagreeing fundamentally on the moral and political principles that should govern public life, are ultimately unable to coexist in peace. It is not rare to come across people in Croatia who believe that nothing bar “gunpowder” will save Croatia, i.e. bring it back to the point of “Croatia above all else” that was in the 1990’s! On a lighter or less dramatic note, as the public philosophy that united Croatian people in the 1990’s gradually disappears, the society splinters into a multitude of hostile groups – a multitude of political tribes, as it were, which far from viewing each other as partners in a common enterprise and exhibiting an attitude of trust or civility toward one another, will instead view each other with hostility, fear and resentment.

At the same time, insofar as decisions on public policy involve the use of means to achieve social goals, the loss of shared purposes make decision-making increasingly difficult, if not impossible. If we can’t agree about where we are trying to go, how are we ever going to agree about – or even rationally discuss – the best means to get there? In short, the groups into which the polity has fragmented will be increasingly unable to reach agreement about public policies, increasingly reluctant to make compromises, and increasingly unwilling to sacrifice their own interests for the good of the community as a whole. Thus, unified action on the part of the community will become increasingly difficult if not impossible and political paralysis increasingly possible. The machinery of democracy continues to operate, but effective governance becomes impossible. The end result is the loss by the state of its legitimacy, its moral authority.

Today in this year of General Elections due around September election platforms are already being formulated and it is not unusual to come across the slogan or rhetoric that goes something like this: ”We will return Croatia to the Croatian People”, “We will return the government to the people”, etc. These emerge from a number of political parties or movements, particularly those who have positioned themselves on the right-wing or conservative side of the political spectrum.

But, how can you have “government by the people,” without having a people?

Surely, the multitudes of political parties and movements – the many personalities vying for the top, result in the scattering of votes (people) that would form that critically needed consensus for the country. Today in Croatia, pluralism has grown to the point where, we’ve reached the stage where we are ceasing to agree even in basic respects on what man is and how he should live, where morally and intellectually we can scarcely be considered one people. This is particularly visible in the shambles and political trade-offs regarding the importance for Croatia’s sovereignty of the Homeland War. The ever-growing loudness of pro-former-communist regime via left-wing parties and political movements, aggravates the critical consensus for national direction to a painful level. Hence, the common body of cultural capital on which Croatia has historically traded is disappearing noticeably, and its political institutions have become increasingly dysfunctional in that they fail to adhere to common good and insert into the “national” the “personal” interests. As for what the future holds, insofar as the prospects for re-establishing some type of substantive consensus any time in the foreseeable future seem slim, it seems likely we’re looking at dysfunction as far as the eye can see. And, that is not, to put it gently, a happy prospect.

Our politically fragmented country, as reflected in the current heated political factions, created an embankment foreclosing the opportunity for the creation of real discourse. The impetus is on us, the citizen, to act as catapults and destroy that wall, and partake in holistic discourse with one another, to push for and stand behind a leader who has not lost sight of why Croatia fought for independence and has the skill and supporting “machinery” to avert the possible disaster of the loss of Croatian identity and will. This thought, or rather wish, leads me to the beginning of this article regarding the fragmentation of the patriotic body politic.

On Sunday March 15th the Croatian Democratic Union/HDZ (current major political party holding a coalition government) is holding Party elections, characterised by the split of the party into two evidently viciously warring camps. Current President Andre Plenkovic and his team on one side and Miro Kovac and his team on the other – each asserting that they are the right people to reinvigorate this fragmented party into what it once was – a party to be looked up to by a large proportion of the nation’s population. The implications of this rest on the realisation that even the Croatia’s major political party, that ushered in Croatian independence and secession from communism, has lost the critical consensus regarding where Croatia should go or should be; one faction claiming to be “more Croatian” than the other.  Furthermore, also on the right-wing of politics, there are a number of political parties and movements and independent politicians vying for a similar outcome if elected into government at this year’s General Elections. The leading groups opposing HDZ’s control of the right-winged or patriotic electorate are the Croatian Sovereignists (led by Hrvoje Zekanovic and made up of a number of smaller political parties and individual activists) and their current coalition partners in the Parliamet (Block for Croatia/Zlatko Hasanbegovic and independent MP Zeljko Glasnovic) as well as the newly founded Domoljubni Pokret (Patriotic Movement) headed by Mirislav Skoro.

There does not seem to be much movement on either the left or the right side of the political spectrum to reel into their fold voters from the opposing ideological camps. This of course suggests that nationally, ideological divisions still prevail and, hence, attachments to individual politicians rather than party programs (for all the people regardless of their political ideology). Political ideology defined life during the communist Yugoslavia era and it seems it will take some serious work in order to free the people of this burden, and encourage them to look beyond political personalities when voting. Otherwise, fragmentation of body politic will continue to flourish even though the race to secure a cushy position for the individual politician and not for true representation of voter or constituency needs is obvious, and in essence disliked by the very constituency.

As socio-political actors, it is time when people and politicians need to realise that they are not on a crusade when it comes to Croatia as a legitimate State; rather, that they are, at this time of severe fragmentation of body politic,  on an exploratory expedition to bring Croatia to how it was imagined and fought for during the Homeland War. Croatia is independent, sovereign and as such has the capacity and validity to make its own decisions for national welfare.

While the end-goal of electoral politics is winning, it should also be more about the advancement of certain programmes and policies. In a democracy it is the latter that brings in votes. And when faced with the reality of electoral or body politic fragmentation arrived at through personal ambitions of individual politicians, unless critical consensus is reached between them, leading to programme-framed and managed coalition – victory is poor, if at all existent. An interesting six-month period for Croatia and its progress into full democratisation and national identity – coming to your door! Play your part for Croatia! Ina Vukic

 

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