Croatia: EU accession – “it ain’t over till the fat lady sings”

Nothing is irreversible until the final act is played out – says the proverb in the title of this post.

When it comes to Croatia becoming a member of the EU then that final act, in everyone’s mind, is the ratification of Croatia’s accession Treaty by the existing member states’ parliaments. So far the playing out of that final act has been going steady as about 15 out of the 27 states have sealed their part in it. 1 July 2013 is the deadline for this final act and its successful grand finale also depends on Croatia passing in the eyes of member states the big test of monitoring EU had imposed. Bar very few exceptions, words of praise to Croatia keep reeling in.

And then this world is suddenly shattered: “the fat lady to sing” may not be the ratification of the Treaty and Croatia’s performance in monitoring but something else entirely! She could well, all along,  have been the EU’s push to equate the victims with the aggressor in Croatia’s War of Independence, which would not allow Croatia to become member of EU before Serbia!?

Certainly, a great deal of what has happened in “rushing” Serbia’s EU member candidate status (including eating the words that Serbia will need to recognise the independence of Kosovo before it can be considered as EU member candidate) points to political manipulation in which rules are made “as-you-go”.

Now, Croatia’s prime minister Zoran Milanovic, who says Croatia will definitely pass the EU monitoring test by 1 July 2013, comes out with statements that there’s rumours in diplomatic circles that Croatia’s accession to EU membership would be delayed to the end of 2013. These rumours were made public via media in Croatia as they surfaced on October 19th – 3 days after Croatia’s president Ivo Josipovic and Serbia’s former president Boris Tadic received the EU Medal of Tolerance!

The unpalatable political puzzle of the EU gains more vivid pieces.

To put more fire into these rumours Milanovic comes out with a bizarre statement that Croatia would need to have a new referendum regarding membership in the EU. Reasons he’s feeding the public are that there’s a “new” EU on the drawing board – an EU which was not the subject of Croatia’s January 2012 EU referendum! Therefore, Milanovic says that people had not really voted in the referendum for the “new EU”!

Milanovic’s bizarre statement about some new referendum shocked the Croatian public, even if it is widely felt that he is battling for survival of his government.

President Ivo Josipovic is confused by it (?).

He rushed in and stated that “he did not understand Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic’s statement about a possible referendum on Croatia’s European Union membership, that Croatia had voted in favour of it”.

He added that “if an issue comes up, either domestic or foreign, it’s always possible for citizens to decide on it at a referendum in line with the constitution and law.”

The “new EU” Milanovic refers to relates to current plans for creating new banking and financial unions within the EU which have implications of member states’ sovereignty being compromised.  Centralised control of, or interference with sovereignty from Brussels is certainly a fate most likely.

When Croatians voted in EU referendum in January many did not vote at all because of this fear, but Milanovic wouldn’t even acknowledge this fear. He was adamant that there’s nothing to be feared as far as Croatian sovereignty was concerned. His newly elected government (dubbed by the public as “the chicken coop” on basis of its given name KUKURIKU/Cock-a-doodle-doo and lots of noise with little results) went so far as to change the Constitution regarding majority votes at Referendums in order to secure a “Yes to EU” outcome. Indeed Milanovic’s government is under heavy criticsm by German parliamentarians for this very issue.

In the end, I do not want to be proven right with regards to the fear that EU will not let Croatia in before Serbia. Croatian people, Croatian War of Independence have not and do not deserve such undeserved harsh treatment and indignity. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Croatian government: suffering from Alice in Wonderland syndrome

A portrait, Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic (left); First bDeputy Prime Minister Radomir Cacic (Right) and Mihael Zmajlovic, new Croatian minister for environment (Middle)

The plot around the resignation of Croatian minister for environment and nature resources Mirela Holy  has gathered diversity and steam that lead one to believe Croatia’s government is suffering from the Alice in Wonderland Syndrome (AWS). When one suffers from AWS one’s perceptual reality is distorted; one doesn’t know what’s real and what’s not.

Croatia’s centre-left government is still (almost seven months after being elected) looking for its identity, hiding its failures and inabilities to deal with real problems in economy, behind some weird and bizarre shrubs or parading as “Mad Hatters” – stuck on stalling with real issues.

A couple of “Mad Hatters” are ex-minister Holy and first deputy prime minister Radomir Cacic.

Reading the Croatian press about the Holy affair – now dubbed Holygate – must be what Alice in Wonderland experienced when she first crawled through the rabbit hole. She entered a world of crazy where up is down and down is up and not much made sense unless you were flying high on magic mushrooms or crystal meth. Nothing wrong with a little crazy now and then until you reach the point where crazy becomes the norm.

  • Holy’s morally corrupt email goes public;
  • Holy resigns as minister and prime minister Zoran Milanovic accepts the resignation saying such behavior cannot be tolerated;
  • Milanovic publicizes his statement regarding Holy’s resignation from Emil Tedeschi (one of the leading Croatian tycoons) holiday luxury villa, far from the capital, thus diverting public attention away from critical current issues being addressed in the capital (negotiations with labour syndicates on workers rights that are being diminished at this time of 19.1% unemployment);
  • Minister of internal affairs Ranko Ostojic advises Holy to mount criminal charges against whoever leaked the email;
  • Holy says she was threatened by “garbage mafia”: “We will recycle you, throw you in a furnace and incinerate you”;
  • The letter with these threats has reportedly been handed to the police but the faces within this “garbage mafia” are faceless – perfectly fitting into Alice’s Wonderland;
  • Holy files charges with state prosecutor for breach of privacy against unknown person/s;
  • Holy suspects Cacic’s PR adviser Ankica Mamic is involved in email leaking (Mamic had coffee with Croatian television station HTV editor the day before he ran the email scandal as an exclusive);
  • Cacic, in the company of prime minister Zoran Milanovic, jumps with statement that Mamic was his longtime friend, his PR adviser and that he knew nothing of the email;
  • Cacic announces the Ombla and Plomin multibillion Euro projects will go ahead despite negative feasibility ecological studies (these projects are in the field of electricity generating plants);
  • One of the feasibility studies (done without costs to the government) that gave a negative assessment was done by Goran Mazija, an expert for geology, hydrogeology, ecology and protection of waters; Mazija is the husband of the woman for whose job Holy intervened with her morally corrupt email;
  • Daily t-portal blogger Zoran Sprajc (demoted HTV news anchor who had been linked to the disgraceful doctoring of phone conversations about Vukovar  that prime minister Milanovic had forced Holy to resign as minister and yet he supports Cacic who continues to make hollow promises of a better future and new investments that will improve the state of the economy.
  • June 12, Cacic says: “Whenever something is free of charge (referring to feasibility study), I find it very suspicious. There cannot be ‘a green study’, free of charge, for an HRK 900 million, it indicates that either nothing is well done or someone’s interest is at stake.”                                                                                                                                                      The president of Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) and Leader of Opposition Tomislav Karamarko, said June 12 that “the case was now entering the phase of scheming, when it is trying to be established who read emails and why. By doing so, (the government) is trying to avoid addressing the merit of the problem, namely the issue of jockeying for positions”, adding that “this was the main characteristic of this government”.

I totally agree with Karamarko, and as Lewis Carroll (the author of Alice in Wonderland) would understand only too well: “Reeling and Writhing, of course, to begin with, and then the different branches of arithmetic — Ambition, Distraction, Uglification, and Derision,” (The Mock Turtle, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland) is what the Cock-a-doodle-doo (Kukuriku) Social Democrat led Croatian government is doing. It thinks that it has led the Croatian public though the rabbit hole where in the land of wonder Holy’s corruption isn’t important, perhaps because there’s so much of it that a single case becomes invisible, hard and professional volunteers’ (“free of charge”) work (so often depended on in many areas of life in the civilised world) is only for idiots, while projects intended for the boosting of the ailing economy end up as fodder for a Mad Tea Party.

The Cock-a-doodle-doo government should climb out of the rabbit hole and deal with reality of corruption, unemployment and struggling economy without distorting it with fairytales. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps.(Syd)

Tomislav Karamarko: A good notch above all new candidates for Croatian Democratic Union leadership

Tomislav Karamarko

The Croatian Democratic Union (CDU) (Hrvatska demokratska zajednica/ HDZ), having been the predominant force in national politics in the two decades since Croatia split from Yugoslavia, has been facing a struggle for leadership after steep parliamentary losses (December 2011) and allegations of corruption of individual former leaders or party dignitaries.

A month after  CDU lost at general elections and its leader Jadranka Kosor was replaced as Prime Minister by Zoran Milanovic of the Social Democratic Party (December 2011), five candidates have emerged to challenge Kosor for CDU party leadership.

Contrary to the view one may form from following the Croatian media, this, of course, is a normal event. Everywhere one looks (in developed democratic societies) electoral defeats are assessed; political parties re-grouped, new programs emerge … Every political party in the democratic world undergoes (or should undergo) a major “SWOT” (Strengths – Weaknesses – Opportunities – Threats) analysis after a defeat at general elections.

Such a “SWOT” analysis is, I guess, best done as a group “brainstorming” effort within a party/organisation. But, proposals made by individuals are also acceptable and indeed can create a refreshing change if changes within a Party or its programs are needed.

Changes to a political party after electoral defeats are those, should be those that reflect the best interests and needs of the people (voters) within the democratic State.

On January 23rd, CDU announced that presidential elections will be May 20th at the party’s 15th general assembly.

Soon after, Jadranka Kosor had announced her candidacy for re-election as leader (president) of CDU and so had five other members of CDU. The five new candidates are: Marko Karamarko (former minister of internal affairs); Milan Kujundzic (medical doctor), Darko Milinovic (former minister of health); Domagoj Milosevic (former deputy prime minister) and Drago Prgomet (member of CDU central committee).

Most candidates for CDU leadership go about building a public profile of themselves – hoping I guess that the information will flow to party members and translate into votes at the general assembly in May.

Some candidates try to impress by “name dropping” of “world VIP’s” they know or who support them (e.g. Hillary Clinton, Angela Merkel) (Kosor), some have announced retirement from politics if they’re not elected (Milinovic), some claim that CDU is sick and needs to be cured and that with the disappearance or weakening of CDU, the Croatian state is also endangered, democracy disappears (Kujundzic), and so on.

Well, there is no way that democracy can disappear from Croatia because it’s well rooted in the political system with many (maybe too many) political parties floating around. CDU as a political movement had made sure of that from the very beginnings of Croatian independence, under the leadership of Franjo Tudjman.

Judging by the fact that there are 6 candidates for its presidency, CDU is in strife.

Change seems imminent if it wants to secure electoral victory for government at the next general elections. Relationships and mechanisms within the party itself don’t interest the public (except members of the party), what interests the public is/ will be: can CDU be a better governing party than the current Kukuriku (Cock-a-doodle-doo) alliance or any other political party/alliance that may emerge as a serious contender at next elections?

Kosor is a “known” quantity and CDU had lost at the general elections miserably, despite her excellent leadership in bringing Croatia to the doorstep of EU membership and not doodling around the fight against organised crime and corruption.

With the dynamic, often confusing and comic commotion created by the mere existence of 6 candidates for the presidency of CDU and the spins the Croatian media churns out on a daily basis, Kosor just might be re-elected. Better the “devil” you know … as the proverb goes. She certainly has the stamina to change CDU internally, give it the facelift it needs in becoming appealing to the electorate again.

From the new 5 candidates for CDU presidency Tomislav Karamarko stands out by miles from the others.

One knows where one stands with Karamarko: he takes his “political” job seriously, dedicates himself in achieving results and outcomes in difficult circumstances – he is a people man.

As police minister he had mounted a determined, hard fight against corruption and organised crime as well as pursuing Communist crimes from WWII and after. He recognised the high importance these issues have to the future well being of the Croatian nation and acted accordingly.

When in February 2011 asked if he had political ambitions Karamarko replied: “Every person who’s within the political sphere must have political ambitions. My ambition is to be useful to this country.”

There are those in Croatia who consider Karamarko too right-wing to be “liked” by EU circles and that as such he would not be accepted.  That’s plain wrong and mere political point scoring. Right-wing political parties, conservatives, are well alive and kicking across the EU and the Western world, even the far-right parties such as the British National Party hold seats in EU Parliament.

One only needs to look at the interactive map produced by the Guardian in UK last year to see how more and more EU countries, faced with economic and immigration problems, are turning conservative.

Croatia needs more of right-wing orientation in order to become stronger as an entity within the international arena, to be recognised as a force that has a great deal to offer and share.

Karamarko now takes this attitude of being useful to his country into his election campaign for the leadership of CDU. For him, CDU is a mere vessel to “deliver the goods” for all the people of Croatia. And that is what a political party must do.

Karamarko freely and with confidence points to his loyalty to Croatian independence, to paths laid down by Franjo Tudjman – free, sovereign, democratic and prosperous nation that upholds the values of the Homeland war and war veterans.

Recently Karamarko was interviewed on Osijek TV about his candidacy for president of CDU and from about 9.00 min on the televised interview above he said:

My main platform: Economic independence is essential for national independence. We have sovereignty, constitutional, legal…  but it should not remain a dead letter on paper … if we’re not going to have economic independence … the program with which I’m coming out in the coming month, month and a half …  is actually called ‘New Croatian Independence’ where I place an accent on entering European Union, how are we going to be in EU?

 Are we going to be swept away because someone is going to buy out our I would say valuable potentials, economic, natural, water, sea and in the end the potentials of our people, or are we ourselves going to make use of them in adequate and useful ways…in the way that we will offer something to the EU and take something from it.

.…and there in that correlation, that co-existence, one sees I would say a good future.

 What I like to say is that we need to enter the EU with a name and a surname.

We cannot enter it as some breakaway part of former Yugoslavia but as authentic Croatian value with diligent quality people we have… look, our people everywhere in the world in EU function fantastically somehow we function the worst in Croatia but, here, Croatia has neared, entered the EU and there is no reason for us not to achieve those standards while protecting our what I call potentials whether they’re human or natural economic

… see what we can offer, Europe needs to see our values, in reality it already has, and that’s why we’re entering into the EU  but we need to protect that we are the ones who inherit the results of this good position of ours, the geostrategic and everything else that are our potentials”.

There’s no sense in beating around the bush: both the CDU and Croatia are in strife. CDU, rightly so, wants to be in government again – as any serious political party does; Croatia is in economic turmoil with alarming downturns and existential fears spreading like wildfire at the grassroots of its growing numbers of unemployed. To top the latter the sense of “everything will be all right, EU will help us” seems to pervade throughout the Croatian society.

No, EU will not help the people – any help from economically embattled EU would only be makeshift, band-aid. Croatian people simply must turn to themselves and overcome the economic strife they’re in, by utilising more their own great people potentials and those of natural and industrial resources.

Tomislav Karamarko’s program, message, is clear on this and if that means his political orientation is palpably to the right, that can only be good, that can only be right, just as it is in the many countries of EU today.

It’s been over a hundred years when in April 1899, in Chicago, Theodore Roosevelt (US conservative/Republican president 1901-1909) said:

Above all, let us shrink from no strife, moral or physical, within or without the nation, provided we are certain that the strife is justified, for it is only through strife, through hard and dangerous endeavor, that we shall ultimately win the goal of true national greatness”.

CDU (HDZ) has seen Croatia through more than a tolerable share of difficulties and tragedies, national and personal. The past twenty years have been unkind to Croatia and yet, it has prevailed. One learns by one’s mistakes, and mistakes are an inherent part of development and growth. CDU will overcome this strife, this test of time where many destructive forces within and without Croatia continue trying to destroy the national pride that has sustained Croatian people through centuries of oppression and hardships. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Disclaimer, Terms and Conditions:

All content on “Croatia, the War, and the Future” blog is for informational purposes only. “Croatia, the War, and the Future” blog is not responsible for and expressly disclaims all liability for the interpretations and subsequent reactions of visitors or commenters either to this site or its associate Twitter account, @IVukic or its Facebook account. Comments on this website are the sole responsibility of their writers and the writer will take full responsibility, liability, and blame for any libel or litigation that results from something written in or as a direct result of something written in a comment. The nature of information provided on this website may be transitional and, therefore, accuracy, completeness, veracity, honesty, exactitude, factuality and politeness of comments are not guaranteed. This blog may contain hypertext links to other websites or webpages. “Croatia, the War, and the Future” does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness or completeness of information on any other website or webpage. We do not endorse or accept any responsibility for any views expressed or products or services offered on outside sites, or the organisations sponsoring those sites, or the safety of linking to those sites. Comment Policy: Everyone is welcome and encouraged to voice their opinion regardless of identity, politics, ideology, religion or agreement with the subject in posts or other commentators. Personal or other criticism is acceptable as long as it is justified by facts, arguments or discussions of key issues. Comments that include profanity, offensive language and insults will be moderated.
%d bloggers like this: