Croatia: First Define Serb Civilian In War Then Talk About Compensation!

In any war civilian victims are defined as casualties of war killed or injured by non-civilians. Civilians who are helping a war effort are people working to supply the troops or paramilitary forces and to provide them with weapons, shelter, cheer them on or help in other ways are not combatants in the sense of bearing arms, but they are an essential part of the war machine and constitute a threat to the other side and, therefore,

may well (must) be considered as combatants and not civilians.

Even thirty years after Serb (Croatian rebel Serbs and Serbs from Serbia) and Yugoslav Army aggression against Croatia began, Croatia has not managed to sort this out. And it was the first thing it should have done after the Homeland War had completely ended with the re-integration of its last occupied territory of Eastern Slavonia in 1998. For all the public knows Croatia has no list of Serb “civilians” in Croatia who must be listed as non-civilians and yet Croatian government has the terrible and mean audacity to try and pass its new legislation regarding the rights of civilian victims during its Homeland War including among them Croatian Serb rebels and their families and friends who were actively involved, in one way or another, in the aggression against Croatia.

Clearly distinguishing between civilians and non-civilians (civilian combatants) has never been more important for Croatia than now. This importance arises from the fact that if this is not clearly defined it will serve as yet another notch in the repulsive denial of human rights of the real victims that equating the victim with the aggressor has been doing so far in Croatia.  

During this past week the matter of proposed new legislation for civilian victims of Croatian Homeland War has been before the Croatian Parliament and the floor clearly demonstrated that even though Croatia won that bloody war of aggression against it, the war is by a long shot not over. Croatian Serbs who belonged to the rebel squads during the war, who simply cannot be considered as civilians, still have their sights on taking over Croatia for Serbia and they are in parliament as representatives who got into the parliament with a couple of hundred votes – because Croatia’s law regarding minority rights permits that. They do not represent those Croatian Serbs who are in the same minority but fought on the Croatian side in war, to defend Croatia from Serb aggression. They are in parliament with the task of equating Croatian victim with Serb aggressor.

Croatian authorities appear to have purposefully forgotten or are sweeping under the carpet the fact that Serb aggression against Croatia started with the Croatian Serb rebels, many of whom come under the definition of civilian combatants who actually drove the aggression and who caused untold damage and loss to Croatians even though they belonged at the time to no official army. Their family members and friends helped them to cause untold damage to Croatia and continued to do so. They were all an army of “civilians”, intent on ethnically cleansing Croats from their own homes so that their homes become a part of Greater Serbia. This is simple language but nevertheless most relevant. The so-called Log Revolution (Blavanska revolucija) was an insurrection by Croatian citizens of Serb extraction who in August of 1990 barricaded sections of Croatian territory near Knin in efforts to stop Croatia in its path of secession from communist Yugoslavia. These rebel Serbs were armed and dangerous and their families stood tight with them against Croats and Croatia. This tension once rebel Serbs were joined by the Yugoslav Army and Serbia’s forces escalated soon into a war, Croatian Homeland War, during which the aggressor perpetrated ethnic cleansing of Croats, genocide, murder, rapes, destruction.  

Serb aggression against Croatia serves as a clear example where civilians are not exclusively civilians but actually largely an active and essential part of that aggression. Serb “civilians” were largely involved in hostilities against independence of Croatia and against the Croatian population in Croatia. Generally, the participation of civilians in hostilities is an issue that represents a critical challenge to the protection of civilians in current conflicts, particularly when hostilities are conducted in the midst of civilian populations and assets, and when non-state armed groups and individuals are engaged as central actors. This issue is also of particular relevance when the hostilities occur under occupation. While international law recognises a basic right of self-determination for populations under occupation, it provides immunity against violence only to those not participating in hostilities. This apparent contradiction is at the core of the debate on the protection of civilians and raises a number of questions about the roles and rights of civilians in armed conflict, as well as the concept of participation in the war effort and the nature of hostilities. Is a member of a militant group necessarily a “combatant”? Of course he/she is! Was a Serb civilian individual who tortured or sent from Vukovar to a camp in Serbia his Croatian neighbour a “combatant”? Of course he was!

So, thirty years after the war of Serb aggression (from inside Croatia and outside it) in Croatia started, a law that aims to set out the rights of civilian victims of the conflict, parents of children who were killed, children of parents who were killed and families of missing persons has been drafted, and the Croatian government (part of which are family members of rebel Serb aggressors!) is pushing for it to be passed by parliament by the end of the year.

The proposed law aims to provide financial compensation for people who became disabled as a result of the war or people who lost family members, as well as funding specific items like prosthetics.

The problem is in the definition of civilians during that war – it has not surfaced yet in the way that reflects reality of the time nor is it accompanied with efforts to delineate between true civilians and civilian combatants, i.e. those who were a perilous enemy without guns! This is the point upon which strong disputes and recriminations are occurring on the parliament’s floor.

The opposition or right-wing politicians are fighting for distinctions to be made so that someone who was a civilian combatant among the Serb aggressor doesn’t “sneak in” and receives compensation that should go to true civilian victims only.

Furthermore, Stipo Mlinaric Cipe, Member of Croatian Parliament for the Patriotic Movement Party has rightly criticised the proposed legislation because it also actually excludes Croatian victims of war who were taken to Serbia during the war, kept in prison camps, tortured and often killed there.

How can we one day explain to the generations that come after us that they have to set money aside from their salary to pay compensation for the aggressors who destroyed their homeland? How to explain that the people who killed their grandparents have all the benefits of the state budget? Is it worth pushing the aggressors at the expense of the budget for 76 hands? It is unfortunate that we are losing the battle we won in 1995 in peace,” Mlinaric said in Croatian Parliament on Wednesday 17 March 2021.

…Tomorrow some Chetnik (Serb) who received amnesty (for war crimes) or someone who fell out of a tractor while fleeing Croatia during the Operation Storm (1995) will get money from the Croatian state … there are some good provisions in this law and really some people or some group who could not exercise that right before will now, on our Croatian side, I am not interested in those from the other side… this may sound rude, non-Christian, but I don’t care what happened to those who applauded the tanks and those who bombed our cities, I don’t care. I wouldn’t give them a penny from the Croatian budget, to any of them … “ said in Croatian Parliament Hrvoje Zekanovic MP for Croatian Sovereignists when talking about the draft legislation on compensation for civilian victims.

The coalition government partly made up of those who belonged to the rebel Serb side during the war, on the other hand, are fighting for all who were not members of any armed forces or groups to be considered as civilians. And they know only too well that a great majority of Serbs in Croatia bore no arms but participated in the hostilities against Croats! Their aim is to justify Serb aggression and equate victims with the aggressors. These are attempts by the depraved people Croatians encounter every day on the streets and parliament! They talk of reconciliation when they have no intention whatsoever to admit to their own guilt! On the contrary, they fabricate new lies about the Homeland War every day. They condone acts of murderous aggression and want their victim to pay them for it. Truly repulsive and utterly immoral.

Until yesterday, they (Serbs) were killing us, raped us, beat us, massacred us, set us on fire, imprisoned us, denounced us, and today we are paying them for those same crimes. Are we a normal state? The whole play about this law that you made yesterday is just ordinary folklore with which, for who knows how many times, you equate the victim and the aggressor. Be ashamed of the the land you walk on, the bloody soil that covers the buried bones of our killed and missing,” Zeljko Glasnovic, retired Croatian Army and Croatian Defence Council General and former Member of Croatian Parliament, wrote 19 March 2021 on his Facebook profile about this proposed new legislation.

The point is that the most important criticism against this proposed legislation for compensating for civilian victims of Croatian Homeland War is the real danger that those “civilians” who participated in the hostilities against Croatia and Croats may end up receiving compensation and, I dare say, the danger is real because the proposed law does not employ real criteria in defining who was civilian and who was not, even though they may not have been members of armed forces or paramilitary forces! The government opposition and people in Croatia need to press on with this and “force” the lawmakers to distinguish among the so-called civilians and exclude from compensation those who participated in hostilities against Croatia and Croats without guns. Ina Vukic

Croatia 2030: No Success Without Ruthless Decommunisation Reforms

Pretending to reinvent “sliced bread” all over again would be among the characteristics of a political environment where working on national goals is set aside throughout decades for personal gains of politicians while the country descends into economic chaos, political swamp and living standards depletion for the masses.

Current minority government in Croatia has during the past weeks been boasting of its Croatia 2030 National Development Strategy (NDS) as being the first in history of modern Croatia that for its success uses or depends on participatory and bottom-up approach to finally get Croatia where it should be: prosperous and democratic. The implementation of such plan is heavily dependent on EU funds and given that the widespread corruption at all levels (local and national), particularly public administration and judiciary, in Croatia has not been systematically dealt with one does fret for the success of such a plan that involves participation of the heavily corrupt network.

One thing is certain: without significant and “cut-throat” reforms in Croatia, without decommunising Croatia, no amount of EU or other international funds injected into Croatia will help towards the achievement of this NDS. While this NDS could be seen as an opportunity for a new start the foundations upon which the Plan is hitting the ground running are rotten. Too much corruption and nepotism everywhere.

What a shame the government keeps ignoring the fact that, although in skeleton form, Croatia’s national development strategic plan was actually devised during the Homeland War, announced in Dr Franjo Tudjman’s speech at the inauguration of the Croatian Parliament on 30 May 1990, when he said: “…At the end of this inaugural address, allow me to endeavour and put forward, in the briefest of points, some of the most urgent and immediate tasks that stand before the new democratic government of Croatia…” (pdf link)

Released late January 2021 by the government for parliamentary discussions, under the banner “Croatia 2030”, the 2030 National Development Strategy should steer the development of Croatia until 2030. While broad vision documents were produced by past governments in Croatia, this is the first time that the Government has decided to employ a comprehensive and evidence-based process using a participatory and bottom-up approach. Not unlike the crumbled Communist Yugoslavia used to do in its Five or Ten-Year Plans by the way. Glossy plans through which the communist elites of Yugoslavia got richer and ordinary people poorer and hungrier. Because no changes were made to stamp out corruption and political persecution of those not towing the communist line. Similar environment exists in Croatia today, hence mass exodus of young people during the past decade and thriving corruption is “king”.

The principal role of the World Bank in the process of the preparation of the 2030 NDS has been to provide analytical support. World Bank policy notes aimed to help the authorities recognise the most binding development gaps, define the reform and investment priorities for the country based on the vision and strategic objectives that were set by the Ministry of Regional Development and EU Funds, and identify actions needed to bring the country closer to its 2030 targets.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said in Croatian Parliament on January 27: “We welcome all Members of Parliament to participate in the debate and hope to reach a consensus on this document today,” reiterating that ten years from now he saw Croatia as a competitive, innovative and safe country of recognisable identity and culture, with preserved resources, good living standards and equal opportunities for all.

The Prime Minister listed the goals to be achieved by 2030. Among them are raising GDP per capita to 75 percent of the EU average, and the share of exports of goods and services from 52 to 70 percent of GDP, significant acceleration of the work of the judiciary, reaching the OECD average, raising the coverage of children in kindergartens above 97 percent and employment to 75 percent, reducing the share of people at risk of poverty, extending the expected number of years of healthy living by six to eight years.

There certainly was no consensus reached in parliament on that day as the MPs in government showered the plan with accolades like ambitious but real and the opposition MPs described it as unambitious, insufficiently clear, coming too late and offering no vision.

Opposition MP Hrvoje Zekanovic (Hrvatski Suverenisti/Croatian Sovereignists), said for the Plan document that it is at the level of High School graduation work and maintains all the woes and misery of Croatian politics, hoping that it will not in the future.

Opposition MP Miroslav Skoro (Domovinski Pokret/Homeland Movement) said that the economy is not in focus in this Plan, because the country is run by people from diplomacy who have never worked in the real sector and do not really know how the economy works. We must create conditions for growth and development, said Skoro, adding that the strategy must give hope for a better future, a vision and help in its realisation.

On Friday 5th February, the Croatian Parliament finally voted on the National Development Strategy of Croatia until 2030. 77 deputies voted for the Croatian National Strategy, 59 were against, 2 abstained. Not a landscape that inspires faith and optimism that this NDS will actually achieve its goals. One must wonder whether that is because the Strategy itself does not enter into the essential pre-requisites for any strategy to succeed? For Croatia that would be decommunisation of public administration aiming at fierce and intense stamping out of corruption and nepotism.

National Development Strategies worldwide exist to set a clear long-term vision for the country providing a strategic guidance to all development policies and lower-ranking strategic planning documents. Additionally, the analytical underpinning prepared for the NDS and the extensive consultation process to prepare the NDS for Croatia chiefly by a team of consultants under the World Bank umbrella has cost Croatian taxpayers 32 million kunas or 4.2 million euro!

In its introductory part of its National Development Strategy 2030 Croatian government mentions absolutely nothing of the strategy or plan laid out at the start of secession from communist Yugoslavia and during the Homeland War that actually made possible today’s Croatia. This may well mean that the government aims to further degrade the foundation upon which today’s democracy was won in rivers of blood, amidst Serb aggression, devastation and despair for freedom from communism. Here is what the introduction to the NDS says (PDF):

In an increasingly globalised world, marked by challenges like the fourth industrial revolution and green transitions, but also numerous threats, such as climate changes, pandemics, geopolitical disturbances or migrations, planning for the future today is perhaps more important than ever before. In this regard, timely recognition of trends, their own strengths and weaknesses are key to turning challenges and new opportunities into development opportunities, but also to strengthen society’s resilience and its greater readiness to deal with the unpredictable circumstances.

To adapt to all these challenges and to exploit all its potentials, to be able to coordinate the efforts of all public policies, Croatia should already today have a clear vision of its future development and define the goals it wants to achieve by 2030. In addition, as a member of the European Union, Croatia has generous European funds at its disposal, which will be an important lever in achieving those goals. This requires a clear framework and quality multi-year planning, so that the benefits of EU membership can be better exploited…

Croatia suffers from a number of constraints for its development as set out in the NDS framework and these are:

  • Corruption in many different sectors of economy. Corruption comes in many forms, including the theft of public funds by politicians and government employees, and the theft and misuse of overseas aid, nepotism within the employment sector. Bribery is also a persistent threat and tends to involve the issuing of government contracts. In former communist Yugoslavia, bribery was the norm, and Croatia had inherited this, had not even seriously attempted to stamp it out and this seriously weakens the operation of strategies towards betterment of the nation.
  • Population is a considerable constraint on economic growth and Croatia’s declining population either due to mass exodus/emigration, relatively low birth rate and inefficiently stimulating climate for the return of Croats living in the diaspora means Croatia is in serious trouble achieving its planned goals or strategies unless significant reforms are undertaken in this field.  
  • Absence of a developed, independent and corruption-fee legal and judiciary system in Croatia has been an eyesore for many over the decades, yet nothing much changes and justice for ordinary citizens depends on the political agenda of courts and judges, even many practicing lawyers.

Given the past and the existing practices in Croatia which at high levels of authority still celebrate the failed communist Yugoslavia laws and public administration immorality there is a real danger that funds coughed up by the EU for this NDS will significantly dissipate into corrupt practices (pockets) and the NDS will, therefore, not be worth the paper it’s written on. I may be proven wrong; however, my assessment and sentiment are shared by many, including parliamentary votes regarding the NDS. To ensure success of such an NDS a political force is needed that would preserve the values of Croatian national identity away from communist past. Positive identity generates pride and pride generates positive energy capable of achieving just about anything put in front of it. Ina Vukic

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

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