Crimea Platform Summit Sticks A Flimsy Band-Aid On Croatian Government Corruption Woes

Often like two ships passing in the night! Front: Croatia’s President Zoran Milanovic, Back: Croatia’s Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic. Photo: HINA

That Croatia appears to have irretrievably lost its plot as a whole country standing united without a major shift in governing political parties has shockingly been proven last week, yet again. This is not the Croatia thousands lost their lives for in the 1990’s Homeland War, fighting off the Serb aggression despite UN arms embargo being imposed against it. Croatia was so very fortunate to have had its strong diaspora standing by and participating significantly in the efforts to secede from communist Yugoslavia and develop a true, fully functional democracy. Overwhelming corruption inherited from that communist totalitarian regime still plunders and fleeces national wealth and standard of living for the people.

Four former and recent government ministers have been arrested for fraud and corruption and yet Andrej Plenkovic’s Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) government in coalition with the Serbian ethnic minority SDSS (Independent Democratic Serbian Party) still stands! The opposition insists the government should be ousted, snap elections held, and the government representatives keep on ignoring such civilised and democratic rules of engagement in leading a nation – and so does the EU authority, creating thus huge mistrust in the Union among the populous.

The four former government ministers indicted last week are: Darko Horvat, Josip Aladrovic and Tomislav Tolusic from the Croatian Democrtatic Union Party and Boris Milosevic, former deputy Prime Minister to Plenkovic from the Independent Democratic Serb Party.

Indicted Recent Croatian Government Ministers from Left: Darko Horvat, Boris Milosevic, Tomislav Tolusic and Josip Aladrovic. Photo: Cropix

Darko Horvat, as the first indicted, is accused of having, when he was Minister of Economy, allocated grants to entrepreneurs and companies out of personal interest and at the instigation of the co-suspects Boris Milosevc and Tomislav Tolusic, and that he thus illegally allocated 2 million and 600 thousand kunas state budget funds. Josip Aladrovic, on the other hand, is accused of favouring the employment of two people while he was at the head of the pension insurance institute. In addition to the former ministers, the indictment includes four other suspects.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg of corruption and nepotism that goes on in Croatia. It all begs the question: who is in whose pocket to permit such horrible governance and governing of the country with no end of this nightmare in sight.

“The indictments (against four of his recent government ministers and a deputy Prime Minister) are not a burden for the Government,” said haughtily Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic. The self-importance this man appears to nurture is staggering and repulsive.

The president of the HDZ Members of Parliament Club, Branko Bacic, said last Wednesday, after the announcement that four former members of Plenkovic’s Government were indicted, that his party does not accept the thesis of HDZ’s collective responsibility for the eventual criminal responsibility of an individual.

What a dangerous politician, what a dangerous government. The Party is not the issue here, but the government and governance are. HDZ had several mandates in government during the past three decades and just like the Social Democratic Party (SDP) governments has done nothing to root out corruption, or most of it anyway, starting with the grassroots of government, the local government all the way up to the state level. In any decent democracy the government would fall overnight.  

When talking of the opposition I venture to say that all left-leaning political parties in parliament, and there are a few, are splinters off the former communist regime and all appear to have members at the help who were in Social Democratic Party government. Hence, no qualification to lead Croatia were new general elections to come before mid-2024. There are a few solid opposition parties and individuals who lean towards the centre-right that could emerge, finally, as winners and the coming twenty or so months may well weed out the hopeless ones from the promising ones. What Croatia needs most is a political party at the helm that will weed out corruption and nepotism via installing mechanisms of control and audits at all levels. That can only be done, in my view, by those who are squeaky clean of corruption and nepotism, otherwise the gut-wrenching circus will continue until more and more young people abandon Croatia.  

And then, as if this was not enough to demonstrate the political disarray and governance shambles Croatia is portraying, the First International Parliamentary Platform on Crimea Summit was held during the week in Zagreb and Croatia’s President Zoran Milanovic snubbed it, avoided it like the plague so to speak – while Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic played the host to it. The Summit provided a perfect mask and coverup for the deplorable latest cases of corruption Plenkovic’s government should be held accountable for.

First International Parliamentary Summit on the Crimea Platform held in Zagreb, Croatia, October 25, 2022 Photo: HINA

While the purpose of the Ukraine-initiated consultation and coordination Summit has its eye on taking Crimea from Russia and return it to the Ukrainian fold Croatian President Milanovic commented: “I see a lot of cynicism and dishonesty toward the Ukrainian people and the war, and I do not want to contribute to that. In the end, Americans and Russians will have to sit at the table because they are waging a proxy war over Ukraine and the Ukrainian people are paying a terrible price for it. I don’t know why no one dares to say this openly, but that’s the truth.”

Speakers and members of parliament from around 40 countries gathered in Croatia’s capital Zagreb on Tuesday 25 October to condemn Russia’s war in Ukraine. Serbia failed to respond to the invitation to the Summit and some media ascribe this to instructions received from Russia for Serbia to avoid the Summit. The speaker of the House of Representatives of the US Congress, Nancy Pelosi, attended the Summit.

Co-hosted by speakers of the Ukrainian and Croatian Parliaments, the summit was addressed via video link by Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi.

Russia has continued to refrain from any dialogue on the subject ever since its conception in August/September 2021 in Kiev, while elsewhere firmly stating that Russia’s “sovereignty” over Crimea is undeniable, and now also over the territories of Eastern Ukraine it occupied via brutal aggression and organised sham referendums recently on seceding from Ukraine in favour of Russia. Vladimir Putin constant firm stand is that Crimea will not be a matter of discussion and that the occupied parts of Eastern Ukraine are now Russian territory. There is a very little doubt that Ukraine`s president seriously counted on a different response from Moscow, but nevertheless, Zelenskyy was not put off by this lack of success and pursues the issues, hence having ended up with a Summit attended by an impressive number of nations, mainly NATO members.

While it seems very dubious that Crimea is to return to Ukraine any time soon (or ever) given Russia`s military onslaught in Ukraine and determination to strengthen its sway over Crimea and Ukrainian occupied territories, the best-case scenario is that the platform could transform into a major irritant for Russia that spells no peace and stability for a long time. This said, if this scenario indeed materialises further, and the Second Summit is planned for 2023, the Crimea Platform most likely will be used by more powerful parties/countries for their own purposes as a tool to apply pressure on Russia, if and when necessary, and to excuse and blame their own inadequacies in governing their own countries on the Russia-Ukraine War. This will leave Ukraine as a bystander, at best, and, at worst, as a loser. The Western politicians have already started covering up their incompetencies and blaming everything that is going wrong on Russia, such as energy crises, living costs increases, economic downturns … No wonder Andrej Plenkovic’s incompetent government has hopped onto this bandwagon and the abyss of ridding Croatia of corruption and nepotism seems to be plummeting deeper than before Russia started “copping” the blame for everything. Something must give in Croatia. The sheer weight of corruption, theft and nepotism scandals erupting almost weekly is becoming too heavy.  Ina Vukic

Croatia: Poor Levels of Democratisation Continue as Corruption Prevails

Over the past thirty years, Croatia has witnessed democratic transitions take root across all levels of government and society. That was, after all, the choice its people had overwhelmingly made from 1990. Millions of oppressed people in Croatia, who voted in 1991 (94% of voters) to secede from and sever all ties with the totalitarian regime of communist Yugoslavia, are still struggling to realise true freedom and shared opportunity due to deep rooted corruption in governments. The transition from communism to democracy has since year 2000, after President Dr Franjo Tudjman’s death, been teetering on the edge of truly meaningful transition to more free society because former communist high operatives in Yugoslavia took hold of the government and power in their main stations.

Democratic gains made up to year 2000 stalled after that year or even deteriorated as fragile democratic institutions buckled under the enormous challenges of governance that was and is still nurturing corruption and nepotism and equal opportunities and competition on merit rather than political suitability remained the enemy of true progress with democracy.

It is usual to keep asking the question of how far along has Croatia come in developing its democracy after all these years? How does one measure the degree and even the type of democracy Croatia was desirous of developing and for which it spilled rivers of its own blood during the Homeland War of 1990’s?

Despite a vast academic literature on democratisation in the past twenty years in particular, the factors that allow some democratic transitions to succeed as others stall or backslide remain poorly understood by policymakers and, indeed, much of the public or consumers of democracy. And particularly so in Croatia which sees incompetent, often with strong traces of communist indoctrination, people employed in government institutions through family or friendship ties (nepotism) regardless of their abilities to perform the job they are employed to do. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the relative importance of economic development and modernisation, economic structure, inequality, governance and rule of law, civil society and media, structure of government, and education have been exhaustively debated throughout the world and so too in Croatia.

Several civil society and academic organisations have launched projects that measure the health of democracies across the world. Components of measuring democracy and according to three indexes, among many, are as follows:
Freedom House Index:
• Elections • Participation • Functioning of Government • Free Expression
• Organisational Right • Rule of Law • Individual Rights
Economist Intelligence Unit Index: • Elections • Participation • Functioning of Government • Political Culture • Civil Liberties
V-Dem Index: • Elections • Participation • Deliberation • Egalitarianism
• Liberalism (individual rights)

While one would struggle to find a body or institution, or even professional research, in Croatia whose main aim is to provide measures and progress and state of democracy in Croatia it is perhaps most useful to examine the two basic indicators of democratisation that can be used separately to measure the level of democracy, but, because they are assumed to indicate two different dimensions of democratisation, it is reasonable to argue that a combination of them would be a more realistic indicator of democracy than either of them alone. These are Participation and Competition. Participation is as important dimension of democracy as competition. If only a small minority, or barely half of the adult population eligible to vote takes part in elections, the electoral struggle for power is restricted to the upper stratum of the population, and the bulk of the population remains outside national politics and influence for change. In Croatia there has been both dwindling and gradual decline of turnout at elections since year 2000, Parliamentary or National Assembly/Sabor and Presidential elections have followed a similar trajectory of participation reduction.

In the first multi-party elections in 1990, at the dawn of wanting secession from communist Yugoslavia, three parliamentary chambers were elected in a two-round majoritarian system: the Social-Political Council, the Council of Municipalities and the Council of Associated Labour. Turnout for the election each chamber varied. It was as follows: Social-Political council (84.5% in first round in all constituencies, 74.82% in second round in 51 of 80 constituencies), Council of Municipalities, which was abolished in 2001, (84.1% in first round, 74.6% in second round) and Council of Associated Labour (76.5% in first round in all constituencies, 66% in second round in 103 of 160 constituencies).

In 1991 the referendum for secession from Yugoslavia, the Croatian Independence Referendum, saw a staggering 93.24% electoral turnout and participation.
In 1992 General Elections for Parliament or National Assembly saw an admirable 75.6% turnout,
1995 elections saw 68.8% turnout,
2000 elections saw 70.5% turnout,
2003 saw 61.7% turnout,
2007 elections saw 59.5%,
2011 elections saw 54.3% turnout,
2015 elections saw 60.8% turnout,
2016 elections saw 52.6% turnout,
2020 elections saw 46.4% turnout.

Similar pattern of dwindling and reducing participation was seen at Presidential elections in Croatia and referendums during the same decades.

One may say that reducing voter turnout is a pattern seen in many democracies across the world. For Croatia, though, a country that was so highly determined to exit the communist regime voter turnouts were expected to remain high for several decades as transition into full democracy continues. But former communists made sure such a transition was not to be smooth or thorough! Sadly! The exceptional will to fight for a fully democratic Croatia we witnessed in the 1990’s Homeland War in Croatia appears weakened and intimidated, just as it used to be during the life of communist Yugoslavia that saw progress into freedom and autonomy cruelly crushed. Today, the crushing is done in sophisticated and stealth ways.

Power sharing is then certainly more superficial in societies where voter turnout at elections that are competitive with multiple parties running is low and significant proportion of voters do not participate in deciding who and how the new governments will move forward than in societies where most of the adult population takes part in elections. Both dimensions, participation and competition, are equally important and necessary for democratisation. Political competition in Croatia has been strong with almost too many political parties and independents competing. It is often heard that comparing to its voting population (around 3.6 million) the existence of some 170 political parties, many of which compete at general elections, is a nightmare of its own. It suggests wide distrust in existing political parties and political leaders as well as the hopeless notion that just about anyone can be a politician and successfully lead the country. But does such a relatively high level of competition compensate for the relative lack of participation in the democratic processes in Croatia is a question the answer to which is obviously no. Just as a high level of participation cannot compensate for a low level of competition. While closely associated with the level of democratisation each of these two dimensions contain factors and facets that are equally important if democracy will thrive.

The level of democratisation is considered high if both participation and competition variables are high. While competition is high in Croatia its value for democratisation is low because elections have since year 2000 become not free elections but rather marred by justified distrust in the electoral commission, in vote counts and corrupt practices. Hence, competition at elections in Croatia means very little as the overt healthy competition does not end up with healthy or trusted true results of voter choice. Votes stolen or falsified, or suspected of being stolen and fabricated, is a scandal that had blanketed all general elections in Croatia since year 2000.

Gradually, over the past two decades in Croatia voter distrust has become the main culprit for relatively low participation. The justified fear of unwanted communist mindset and practices having crept into Croatia’s power corridors has influenced significant disappointment and distrust in the electoral procedures and democracy itself, which led to significant voter abstinence during elections. One often hears in Croatia ‘what’s the use of voting when the election results have been determined or fixed in advance’! In more than two decades Croatian authorities have failed miserably in building people’s trust in the electoral system and have in this way also contributed to a relatively poor level of democratisation. Croatia has failed miserably at providing for proper and due access to polling stations for all its voters and voters living abroad, which are many due to massive emigration, suffer the gravest discrimination and denial of voting right through lack of reasonable access to polling.

Measuring democratisation of Croatia has not, as I said, been pursued in Croatia with any vigour, regularity, credibility, or reliability. Perhaps that is because the government is not in the business of either measuring its democracy itself or funding NGO’s or institutions to do the measuring of progress. Perhaps also because of fear of reprisals from the government in case any such measure inevitably means criticism of the government. It is not unusual in Croatia to see government critics and opponents being ostracised, ignored, or blackened purposefully. But thankfully external organisations across the world who monitor democracy and democratisation have produced ample reports and studies on the state of democracy in Croatia and while some may be biased on political grounds many provide solid guiding information. For example, in 2020 Freedom House has in its ‘Nations In Transit’ report among other things said the following about democracy in Croatia:

“The year 2020 saw no real improvement in Croatia’s democracy… In 2020, the Croatian judiciary convicted former prime minister and HDZ (Croatian Democratic Union) leader Ivo Sanader, as well as the HDZ itself, on corruption and money-laundering charges. These convictions came more than 10 years after the crimes were committed and may yet be appealed. Sanader and the HDZ had previously been convicted in 2014, but those sentences were later overturned.

The year was marked by notable cases of grand corruption, including a major pre-election scandal involving the high-ranking HDZ official and former Knin mayor Josipa Rimac. Alongside a dozen other important political figures, Rimac stood accused of favouritism in assigning a lucrative wind farm contract. An illegal private club in Zagreb frequented during the COVID-19 lockdown by politicians (including the president) was run by Dragan Kovacevic, former CEO of the state-owned oil transport company JANAF. Under his leadership, JANAF mismanaged public procurements, and Kovacevic was found to have personally accepted large bribes. These and other instances demonstrated a pattern: unless scandals come to the surface through journalistic investigations or other means, Croatian institutions do not wholeheartedly pursue inquiries into grand corruption…

The relatively large electoral competition in Croatia has seen during the past five years increased electoral campaign-finance laws passed that have increased transparency but, also, have failed to close several loopholes. Political influence over the media is strong, with reporters who criticise the government subject to dismissal, and defamation suits often used to intimidate or harass journalists. Media pluralism is quite limited. Hence, high competition hides low competition as access to mainstream media by all competitors is selective and discriminatory.

Regulations are sometimes inconsistent and subject to frequent change. Courts lack independence, and a significant case backlog persists. High-profile politicians and public figures have been indicted, but many prominent individuals have been acquitted after interference by powerful interests.”

The state of democratisation in Croatia has not changed since 2020, which saw the lowest turnout at presidential and general elections in the history of Croatian independence and secession from communist Yugoslavia. Participation, therefore, as a key variable in the level of democracy is dangerously low and with grand corruption (corruption at all levels of society and economy whether by theft, nepotism or bribery) plaguing the country still serious political crises loom. In February of this 2022 year Croatian construction minister Darko Horvat was arrested in a corruption probe and investigations continue into his alleged abuse of power while in office. In March of this year, former Sisak-Moslavina County Prefect Marina Lovric Mercel was sentenced by the Zagreb County Court to seven years in prison for a series of corrupt practices while running one of Croatia’s poorest counties.

Until a different path is taken by the country’s leadership, the government first and foremost, it is unlikely that Croatia’s democracy will fundamentally improve. It is likely that the communist mindset will continue ruling; it is likely that corruption and thievery will hold their front of co-dependency within the leadership and power corridors unless, of course, drastic measures are taken by the people that have at their helm a steel determination to rid Croatian power lines of communists and communist Yugoslavia high operative’s children and grandchildren whose mindset and behaviour have been shaped by communism.

It is said that you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear! It is impossible to make something very successful or of high quality out of something which is unsuccessful or of poor quality. Yugoslav communists knew ‘sod all’ about democracy and they did not care for true democracy and power sharing; egotistic pursuits were the threads in the fabric of Yugoslav communist pursuits. Since year 2000 Croatian leadership has been saturated with the proverbial sows! People in positions because of their political weight and personal association with those already in power and not because of professional merit. Democratisation in Croatia maintains a cosmetic mask – Croatia’s leaders keep associating themselves and their policies with those of the European Union. But, in fact, the application and practice of those policies are at pathetic level ruled by corrupt practices on the ground. Ina Vukic

Croatia – Time Coming To Outvote Communist Chameleons  

While the fact that the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg had in its ruling on 21 December 2021 a declaration that states have a right to dissolve or refuse to register parties that do not distance themselves from former Communist Parties  that may surely work to the advantage for a further democratised European Union, one huge problem exists that will, regretfully, see the communist mindset flourish for some time to come. This is because the chameleonic nature of both communist parties and communists that saw strictly communist parties, such as Croatian SDP/ Socialist Democratic Party, simply change its name to reflect political changes that ensued after the fall of the Berlin Wall, or the saturation of the ruling HDZ/Croatian Democratic Union Party with former communists and their mindset subscribers. It is easy for them not to put in writing any support for former communist parties. They are adapted to lying and changing their visible characteristics without notice, without regard to anyone bar themselves.

Also, former communist Yugoslavia dignitaries and their children, like chameleons, have adapted to the efforts in transitioning from communism into democracy by acting as if they genuinely wish for full and functional democracy but, in fact, they hold their backs propped up supporting corruption and nepotism that defined communist Yugoslavia. It would be fair to say that no functional democracy can evolve while the same cadre in power that existed in communist Yugoslavia exists in Croatia. Lustration was and still is the answer however late some say it is for it in Croatia. Furthermore, the mere existence in writing in the Historical Foundations of today’s Croatian Constitution of the communist Croatia i.e. Antifascist National Council/AVNOH as a legitimate foundation of independent Croatia in effect legitimises all communist mindsets and beliefs in today’s Croatia. The irony is one most cruel: communists/antifascists fought against and independent Croatia in World War Two and did also in the 1990’s Homeland War!

Ultimately, there can be no smooth transition from communism into democracy in Croatia without a clear and decisive cut from of the former communist party and/or its sympathisers’ repressive political grip. 

Perhaps this line of consideration lies in the lining of the reported European Court of Human Rights thinking that communist parties should not exist? Undoubtedly, this line of thinking would seem grossly debilitating and misleading without recognising that the power and might of the EU has been the exact backing the former and current communist sympathisers or operatives needed to maintain their political grip. Croatia has no official Communist party, but it surely has too many communist chameleons for any democratic and lasting comfort.

November 1989 the fall of Berlin Wall. Photo: Getty Images

The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 laid the groundwork for new institutions, new states, and, in some cases like former Yugoslavia, new conflicts. In the more than three decades since Germany’s reunification and the European Union (EU) has taken a big growth in territorial shape along the way, with pains that persist, still. Some of those deep pains include corruption and theft prevalent still in many former communist countries that have become member states of the EU. Hence the rather recent move by the EU to install an office of audit and control over expenditure of the generous EU development funds that have seen gross misappropriation and theft. Croatia is one of those.

With the U.S.A. also extending its arms to keep an eye on corruption in Croatia by having its corruption watchdog present there, things may look up in a better light in years to come.

 Like the continent Croatia also has had to grapple with economic and political crises, demographic decline, illegal migration pressures, as well as the ongoing repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic during the past thirty or so years.

Functional democracy, the natural complement to Croatia’s emerging post-communist market economy, is disturbingly complex with its underlying corruption and fraud scandals that emerge to the surface too often. Croatia’s economy is small but at the same time very important for the political and economic stability of Southeast Europe, regardless of its Central Europe physical pull and orientation. The communist mindset and corruption that still define Croatia’s political elitism has made a genuine and thorough political liberalisation almost an unachievable goal. Too many people, it would seem, about 30% of voters who always turn up at the polls for the ideals of communism, are incapacitated to see beyond the personal perks and gains they enjoy from Yugoslavia times, such as high-end public housing, descendant Yugoslav Partisan pensions to dare to vote away from former communists … and the majority are simply too disappointed in communism still weaved into the country’s fabric that they simply have no energy to vote at elections or have abandoned all hope for a better tomorrow for which rivers of blood were spilled in the 1990’s. . 

Unfortunately, Croatia has not fully completed the transition to a market economy. A socialist/communist mindset still prevails in large parts of Croatian society. The income of most Croatians still comes from the government budget, social insurance, or public monopolies, not from revenues of truly competitive companies that operate strictly on market-based principles. So, any reforms that address public overspending, corruption, or bureaucratic and judicial inefficiency usually face strong resistance from the privileged majority and can take a long time to implement.

Fortunately, there are also a growing number of vibrant, innovative entrepreneurs leading small-and-medium-sized and internationally competitive companies across many industry sectors in Croatia. These companies have strong potential to grow and could become the locomotive of the Croatian economy and catalyst in the transformation of Croatian society. A problem does arise for Croatia with its alarming demographic picture though. The 2021 census results reveal that the total population of Croatia has fallen below 4 million to 3.88 million, or close to 10% in last ten years. A relatively huge number of working age Croats have emigrated from Croatia in search of employment and a more orderly and predictable future for their families; 400,000 in the past ten years in fact! The governing HDZ government attributes much of this to expected people movement because of Croatia becoming a member state of the EU some nine years ago. Others though insist that this fall in population, especially the young working people, has occurred as Croatia in its supposed transition from communism to democracy has held to the former political habits firmly. Corruption and nepotism meant and means that all young people, or older ones, simply do not and did not have equal opportunities in employment. And the increasing number of innovative entrepreneurial small to medium companies are largely formed by expats returning to live in Croatia because they love the people and country as homeland. Relatively very few of the returnees have to my information and knowledge succeeded in obtaining employment in the public owned and run companies that form the strongest of infrastructure of Croatian economy.    

Majority of people in Croatia cannot remain excluded from discussions of their future by abstaining from voting at general elections as they do now and in doing so, they help communist mindset and habits (e.g., corruption, theft, nepotism) thrive as acceptable standards of living in a democracy. The low turnout at general election has become an alarming trend in Croatia, as also in neighbouring countries of Former Yugoslavia. Widespread bitterness in governments of past two decades especially seeps through, almost paralysing many voters to turn up at the polls.

The question now is how far the political communist chameleons in Croatia – will go, and whether their evidently waning electoral popularity will remain adequate to form a government, whether their seeming popularity among voters will diminish markedly or grow as more and more dormant voters assemble the courage to step into the voting stations at next elections.

Croatia’s imminent stepping into the Eurozone in January 2023 will surely result in political fallout or gain by the time parliamentary elections are due in 2024, unless they are rushed forward should the government fall ahead of regular four-year parliamentary mandates. Certainly, Croatian government has fallen before, e.g. 2016 and new elections ensured. The scandals whose foundations lie in government officials or high functionaries embroiled in corruption and theft, insider trading or misappropriation of public or EU funds appear a very threatening force to the government. And when we add to this unsavoury formula of scandals the ongoing bickering and bitching between the Prime Minster Andrej Plenkovic and Croatia’ President Zoran Milanovic we may be witness to another political crisis in Croatia which no alternative other than early general elections could alleviate. The introduction of the Euro currency may prove a fertile ground for many radical changes such as hurried general elections with a highest turnout of voters since May 1991 referendum for Croatia’s secession from communist Yugoslavia!  

I would like to think that the thirty years since that referendum have shown the Croatian people ample evidence that communist chameleons truly exist – to the detriment of the values of the Croatian Homeland War. Not to mention that majority of those who fought for Croatian independence and democracy, who earned their stripes and medals for their significant contributions in the creation of that wonderful and beautiful independent state as a democratic one are hardly ever acknowledged in Croatia and its diaspora. If one is looking for the evidence that communist chameleons exist – look no further! Ina Vukic

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