Croatian Diaspora Celebrates Philanthropy of Marko Franovic

Tony Abbott (L) Ina Vukic (C) Marko Franovic (R)

It was yesterday, on 8th of May 2021, that the family of Marko, Božo, Marija and Milena Franovic delighted many guests at the Croatian Club Punchbowl in Sydney Australia in celebration of Marko’s 80th birthday. It was an event like no other in my memory. This was not a mere birthday celebration, this was also an opportunity when the Australian community and the Croatian community spread across the world recognised and celebrated the outstanding human being that Marko has been especially through his philanthropy spanning across continents in efforts to better democracy and life for all, awarding him the Blessed Alojzije Stepinac Lifetime Achievement Award. And it so happens that Marko Franovic shares the 8th of May birth date with Blessed Stepinac.

Marko Franovic recipient of Blessed Alojzije Stepinac Lifetime Achievement Award for Philanthropy

Croatia’s Blessed Alojzije Stepinac once said: “Nothing will force me to stop loving justice, nothing will force me to stop hating injustice, and in my love for my people I will not be eclipsed by anyone.”

And today, Marko Franovic shows us how these words when translated into actions can mean so very much to so many people.

Sydney based Marko Franovic had, due to oppression and harsh life fled communist Yugoslavia in 1961 and via refugee camps in Italy he reached the shores of Australia – determined to make life better not just for his family but for his Croatian community and the Australian community. His life is a shining testament of success in all he touched with his hard work and dedication. This quiet, humble man delivered enormous positive impact on the creation of the independent State of Croatia and its 1990’s Homeland War and his philanthropy reached every corner in both Australia and Croatia that needed help. Many distinguished guests celebrated yesterday in Sydney and many sent video greetings from Croatia.

To me this was a proud moment not just to celebrate Marko but also to see Australia’s former Prime Minister Anthony (Tony) Abbott among us, thus reminding us that Australia had indeed been an exemplary host country, a new homeland, to so many refugees and migrants from Croatia who were able to nurture a long-standing desire for Croatia to free itself of communist Yugoslavia. Australia was one of the first countries outside Europe to recognise Croatia’s independence and plight for democracy in January of 1992 and it showed a passion of camaraderie with our plights and efforts to achieve that independence and democracy.

Charles Billich (L) Marko Franovic (second from L) Ina Vukic (second from R) Anita Paulic (R)

I was honoured to have been asked to deliver a speech during the celebration of Marko Franovic’s birthday, when he was named Croat of the Year 2021 and received his Lifetime Achievement Award. And here is my speech, which I hope will bring this amazing human being closer to you:     

“Our families of Croatian origins share a common passion and that is freedom from oppression and love for democracy and national identity. We of Croatian origins living in Australia for many, many decades feel especially lucky because this country had offered us the dignity of nurturing our love and dream for a free Croatia, propping up its plight and fight for independence from the Yugoslav communist regime when it was most needed, while growing and nurturing our love for Australia itself. And Marko is a shining example of how wonderful the synergy of love for two countries can be. It is ultimately a win-win situation for all.

As to how very fortunate we, whose immediate families fled to foreign lands, were at choosing Australia to flee to from communist Yugoslavia, like Marko did, I always like to refer to the speech that Sir Robert Menzies’, the longest serving Prime Minister of Australia in history, delivered in Parliament on 27th August 1964 in which, among other things, he said:

“…It is difficult for people coming to Australia easily to forget their historical backgrounds. Since the war a number of organisations opposed to the present Government of Yugoslavia have developed throughout the world amongst refugees and migrants from that country. It is understandable that some Yugoslav migrants of Croatian origin should continue to hope for the establishment of an independent Croatia and within a democracy like Australia they have right to advocate their views so long as they do so by legitimate means. I wish to make it perfectly clear that the vast majority of the migrants from all parts of Yugoslavia who have settled in Australia have proved to be law abiding, hardworking citizens and a real asset to this country…”

Sir Robert Menzies put wind under the wings of our love for our first homeland, Croatia.

Jadranka (Adriana Rukavina (L) Marko Franovic (C) Ina Vukic (R)

This win-win situation that has its foundations in love and loyalty to the first and second homelands is something to celebrate and tonight we celebrate its personification in the shape of Marko Franovic. It needed to be written into a book and I am honoured to present to you the hot-off-the-press ‘Never Forget Your Past: Marko Franovic Story’. It is a book that, after Mr Petar Mamic from Domovina newspaper contacted me with the idea, I myself undertook to write, to collate, to put together with the input of many people as well as collaborating authors Branko Miletic and Vanda Babic Galic. It is a birthday gift to Marko from all of us. Some of you here tonight who have gladly sent me your statements about Marko for the book, know, that you have brilliantly contributed to this gift for Marko but also a gift for both Australian and Croatian communities. Thank you so very much and I apologise if, at times, my requests for contributions came at a time when you had more pressing things to do. But you delivered for Marko and for that I am deeply grateful. Just like many delivered from Croatia. Thank you all, once again.

Never Forget Your Past: Marko Franovic – book covers

Proudly and with deep admiration we can say that the past four decades, at least, of Marko Franovic’s life have been marked by extraordinary gestures of generosity towards the Australian and Croatian communities. Marko is a philanthropist who, with his generous works, personifies the definition of this very word: a person who feels a deep love for humanity, who shows himself with practical kindness and helpfulness towards humanity. Marko is not only respected through his philanthropy. He has integrated with obvious and extraordinary ease his business, philanthropic and civic commitments and has followed a standard for individual and corporate citizenship that reflects a great measure of what we look for in society and rely upon to maintain the preservation of generosity and kindness to others.

Although he prefers to walk selflessly, quietly, under the radar of a bright stage and spotlights – Marko is a man of immense importance. He does not care about fame or recognition because he is a man who loves to support and give the most he can, rather than receive. His firm strides through the social landscape of his Homeland of Croatia and Australia, his many public roles, his contribution to social, political, and cultural care and the achievements that have often been talked about and analysed throughout the many years, are colossal and thus difficult to list in one place like this.

Marko has lived and lives a life what others like to call a life of a good man.

Never Forget Your Past: Marko Franovic Story’ is a book that wanted to show rather than tell and put on display what an exceptional human being Marko is and has been. On that note, the book shows not only the harsh life’s path Marko had to endure in order to become what he is today, but it also gives examples of his prolific philanthropy and how other people and community leaders see him.

I trust you will all enjoy the book and keep it a testament to how love for the first homeland joined with the love for a second can create miracles.  The miracles that are quiet, often unnoticed, but to many have the significance of well-being that inspires creativity and progress.  

Video birthday greetings for Marko Franovic from Croatia with English subtitles

Thank you, Marko, for all you do! I salute you! Happy 80th Birthday!” Ina Vukic

Minister – Get Lost In Your Communist Filth

Nina Obuljen Korzinek (L) Ina Vukic (R)
Click picture to enlarge

“HISTORY HAS SAID EVERYTHING THERE IS ON JASENOVAC AND WHOEVER QUESTIONS THAT SHOULD REMAIN ON THE MARGINS (OF SOCIETY!”/ Nina Obuljen Korzinek/ Minister of Culture and the Media in Croatia 2020.

“Whose politics is this woman pursuing!?” Read http://www.glas-koncila.hr, weekly series on factual events that took place in WWII Jasenovac.“

YOU ARE ACTIVELY  DENYING THE TRUTH TO PEOPLE WHOSE TAXES PAY YOUR WAGES, MINISTER! GET LOST IN YOUR COMMUNIST FILTH!”/www.inavukic.com

 

„POVIJEST JE REKLA SVE O JASENOVCU I TKO TO DOVODI U PITANJE TREBAO BI OSTATI NA MARGINI (DRUŠTVA).”/ Nina Obuljen Korzinek / ministrica kulture i medija u Hrvatskoj 2020. „Čiju politiku ova žena provodi!?“ Čitajte www. glas-koncila.hr, tjedne nastavice o činjeničnim događajima koji su se dogodili tijekom Drugom svjetskog rata u Jasenovcu.

USKRAĆUJETE ISTINU LJUDIMA ČIJI POREZ PLAĆA VAŠU PLAĆU MINISTRICE! IZGUBITE SE U VLASTITOM KOMUNISTIČKOM SMEĆU!”/ http://www.inavukic.com

Croatia: Reconciliation Cannot Be Achieved With Denial Of Truth And Lacking Love For Nation Of People

Ina Vukic, August 2020

 

Many people are asking me these days what is the reaction of the Croatian diaspora to the celebration of the 25th Anniversary of victory in Knin on August 5.

The celebration of the 25th anniversary of Operation Storm, was neither visually nor morally nor truthfully a celebration of the great and deeply sacrificial victory over the brutal and obscene Serbian or Yugoslav aggressor! What that celebration was is a false picture of the truth and reality of that time and now!

During the Homeland War, Croats and anti-Croatian Serbs did not sit together in any rows, let alone in the front row of the battlefield, but on opposite sides. On one side, aggressive brutally murderous Serbs, and on the other side, Croats whose lives were endangered in the middle of that Serbian aggression.

Then in Knin on August 5, we saw and heard General Ante Gotovina who, without a shred, without a shred of shame or embarrassment, dishes out some lesson that discipline is needed in war and in peace! Of course, this mention of discipline certainly referred to the HOS (volunteer Croatian Defence Forces), whose defenders of the Homeland War and Operation Storm  were standing at that time on the streets of Knin during the celebration of Operation Storm with police threats directed at them. Because, you see, their slogan For Homeland Ready (Za Dom Spremni), which infused courage and determination for an independent Croatia, bothers the current government of the Republic of Croatia. This slogan was decisive in the defence of the Republic of Croatia, i.e. in the establishment of independence.

Then, General Gotovina, straight-faced, gave himself the right to speak about discipline, which in this case should surely keep HOS defenders, under police pressure and threats behind the lines, the police lines, while others, undeserving others, celebrated part if not the whole victory to which they contributed, to which HOS contributed and deserve to be a part of its celebrations.

So, I have never seen such perversion anywhere in the world. That something like this should happen, that the celebration of victory should be denied to those who contributed to that victory, in national defense or in national victory.

Perversion itself!

It is not just about discriminating against HOS defenders in this case, it is about perversion against the Homeland War, perversion against victory.

HOS Veterans denied access to celebrations
of Victory/ Operation Storm
in Knin, Croatia, 5 August 2020
Photo: Screenshot

And then so that this discrimination and perversion could become even stronger or better – worse! – at almost the same time not far from Knin in Grubori, the Croatian government, that is, Serbian politics in Croatia, organised a commemoration for victims of a crime against six Serb civilians that took place some three weeks after Operation Storm. The crime was committed by individuals who, in fact, with that act of crime violated the policy of the Croatian defence, the policy of Franjo Tuđman, the policy of Gojko Šušak, also now deceased. So, this commemoration in addition to the victory celebration in Knin was simply planned in order to diminish the value and the validity of the victory of Operation Storm. That’s why they sent Tomo Medved (Deputy Prime Minister) there. The appearance of Tomo Medved in Grubori at the commemoration for the victims of a crime committed by disobedient individuals who violated the policies and orders of the Croatian defence. This appearance by Tomo Medved there undoubtedly symbolises also that the top of Croatia wants to attribute this crime committed by individuals to the overall Croatian defence in the Homeland War. And that is nothing else but an another step in equalising the victim and aggressor in the Homeland War.

So, a perversion, perversion which I and I believe many others have not experienced before.

What courage against the Croatian people!

But, all this said, Croatian diaspora was before the Homeland War, during the Homeland War and after the Homeland War “For Homeland Ready” and for God and Croatia,  democratic Croatia, ready!

Some will say that by organising the celebration of 25th Anniversary of the magnificent victory over the brutal Serb aggressor in Knin at almost the same time they organised the commemoration for the victims of crime against six Serb civilians that occurred in the nearby village of Grubore, three weeks after the victorious Operation Storm, is good for reconciliation! Well, my professional opinion derived from my substantial training and experience as a Psychologist, tell me that nothing can be further from the truth. Firstly, the killing of the six Serb civilians occurred on 25 August 1995, twenty days after this Serb-occupied Croatian territory was liberated by Operation Storm, and the commemoration should have been planned for that date! Secondly, the ICTY Appeals Tribunal (International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia) in the Hague had, in its Judgment in the Gotovina & Markac case, in November 2012, stated that “the state and military leadership had no role in their planning and creation” of this crime. So, why join the commemoration for these victims with the glorious victory of Operation Storm!? Utter perversion and political manipulation in the lame efforts to achieve reconciliation between the Serb aggressor and Croatians whom they attacked, perhaps? But here is the reality: one cannot achieve reconciliation through the denial of truth nor through lacking love for one’s people! And the current government with its Serb minority elected coalition clearly possess both of these characteristics that are not reconciliation-friendly: denial of truth and lacking love for the Croatian nation. Ina Vukic

Below is the video in the Croatian language with English subtitles that I have made with the above record of distressing happenings in Croatia around the celebrations of the 25th Anniversary of Operation Storm. Please visit!

 

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