Communist Malignant Tumour Feeding Off Croatia’s Atrocious Judiciary

Zeljko Glasnovic
Photo: Screenshot

That the leftists are a malignant tumour that feeds off Croatia’s atrocious state in the judiciary (among other dysfunctional government departments), which in its practices has not moved forward in the past quarter of century since secession from communist Yugoslavia towards a well functioning process that delivers timely and independent from political influences results, is painfully evident in the former justice minister Orsat Miljenic’s reaction to the parliament member for the diaspora General Zeljko Glasnovic’s speech in Croatia’s parliament on Friday 22 September 2017.

Addressing the deep and disturbing problems within Croatia’s judiciary, which in essence represent a continuance of the same moral quagmire that suffocated normal life in communist Yugoslavia, Glasnovic pointed to the fact that there are no national productivity standards to which judges and judiciary must adhere to – if the justice system were to deliver justice for all. Glasnovic pointed out the unacceptable reality where some judges deliver decisions on two cases per year and others on a hundred and, yet, all are treated equally or considered as equally productive members of the judiciary! And wouldn’t you know it, Orsat Miljenic – who as a former justice minister had the perfect opportunity to advance the Croatian judiciary into a functioning unit of administering justice in Croatia but failed miserably, had the hide to criticise Glasnovic and suggest he needs to be silenced!

Does such reaction from Miljenic remind us of communist totalitarian regime? You bet it does!

Croatia’s political left, that is, former communists who still hold onto that dark heritage, are not really interested in debating what is right or wrong for Croatia. They are interested in debating you personally, threatening you – just like it used to happen in Yugoslavia. They are interested in castigating you as a nasty human being because you happen to promote positive changes that would shatter and split open the very ground they walk upon. This is what makes leftists leftists: an unearned sense of moral superiority over you. And if they can instill that sense of moral superiority in others by making you the bad guy, they will.

The sad and disturbing reality within Croatia’s judiciary that beckons urgent change in order to align it with a functional democracy lies in long court procedures and an enormously significant backlog of cases. The unreasonable delays in court proceedings (that can last for more than a decade!) violate the right to a fair trial within a reasonable time as protected by Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, and are therefore very important to address. The fact that we encounter people like Miljenic who threatens and criticises Glasnovic for his aim of creating a more stable and efficient judicial environment is a matter that requires the application of lustration directed at people such as Miljenic.

Orsat Miljenic Twitter
Photo: Screenshot

The international awareness of the inefficient and at times unpredictable legal system is one of the greatest challenges facing companies seeking to invest in Croatia; and Glasnovic alluded to that fact in his parliamentary speech on Friday 22 September, also. However, Miljenic, wrapped up in his anti-progress stance, omitted to give that reality any importance! And yet, it’s exactly that reality that holds back investments. Even simple court matters can take an unthinkably long time by democratic standards to resolve, due to the courts backlog of several hundreds of thousand cases. Reforms are an absolute necessity to enhance transparency and accountability within the court system. Standards of productivity, to which Glasnovic referred, are exactly the required mechanisms for transparency and accountability – but not in Croatia, still bogged down in the quagmire of communist filth on all fronts. Clean it up, please!

By continuing to allow politicians and people in social or political power, such as Miljenic, to ignore Croatia’s human rights obligations, such as a right to a fair trial within a reasonable time, Croatia is earning its reputation as a ‘talk-fest’, unable to bring about real social change due to self-imposed non-iterference in the establishment rules carried over from half a century of communism. While one may hope Croatia is successful in bringing about significant and lasting change through its several rhetorical persuasion efforts that arise from the right and independent political stances, it is doubtful such human rights initiatives will be successful in their aims until it first addresses the underlying issue of political disparity between its democratic and its leftist non-democratic members; i.e. until lustration steams up and cleans up. Ina Vukic


Croatia: Personal Bankruptcy – A Looming Deluge Threatening The Economy



The latest figures released by Croatia’s justice minister Orsat Miljenic say that right now in Croatia there are some 317,000 citizens who have had their bank accounts blocked, preventing them from meeting their financial obligations as well as their everyday needs. Their private/household debt totals some 28 billion Kuna. To put a perspective on that sum it translates into almost 25% of the income/revenue feature of the state budget for 2014/2015! On average, ten families are deprived of their assets — most often their housing — each day as a result of enforcement proceedings.

Croatia has a quite effective legal framework for the enforcement of debt payments, but in six years of deep economic crisis no way has yet been found or asserted to incorporate a social component into the debt collection system. The institutions of personal bankruptcy and debt rescheduling for the over-indebted still do not exist, however public submissions for the draft Consumer Bankruptcy Bill have closed on 24 July 2014 and it is expected that it will make its way to the parliament as a matter of urgency. Scenes of implementing eviction notices on households are quite distressing.

Justice Minister Orsat Miljenic says that the bill would make it possible for people unable to service their debts to make a fresh start and for creditors to settle their claims evenly. It needs to be said that the idea of a personal bankruptcy i.e. insolvency over the property of a consumer is a completely new institute in Croatian legal system and a completely new and seemingly psychologically disturbing concept to the citizens of this former communist country. Croatia’s citizens had thus not had the benefit of “fear of personal bankruptcy” to guide them, or at least many of them, in curbing their personal spending/borrowing so that it doesn’t run beyond their means, leading them into personal bankruptcies about which possibilities they had known all along. Couple this with very high levels of unemployment and, therefore, no means for servicing personal loans it is more than certain that many, many thousand people will be forced into choosing with ill ease the option of personal bankruptcy.

What tricks will come out of Croatia’s government’s hat in trying to sort this mess out for even if it is private household debt, it is nevertheless a debt crisis for the country, for the government to implement and facilitate measures that would alleviate the crisis. Conventional ways governments deal with household debt crises include stimulus policies such as tax cuts and job creation programs, but also moves such as making the debts smaller by say forgiving some of the debt through mortgage principal reduction or eroding the value of the debt by increasing inflation etc., or a combination of all of these. But of course, there is always the risk of increasing public debt in the process of decreasing household debt crisis!

Bankruptcy is habitually perceived as a shocking and scandalous event, tarnishing the reputation, stigmatizing … and if job prospects are not there for one to pick-up life and start over again the future is indeed grim.

It now remains to be seen whether the Croatian Government will upon establishing the institution of personal bankruptcy also facilitate some kind of debt rescheduling and/or debt reduction for indebted citizens so that they might lead a dignified life as they pay off their debts. If any country owes this to its citizens it is Croatia particularly due to the fact that corrupt privatisation undertakings in the past two decades has seen a calamitous drop in jobs and public assets, while its Reconstruction and Development Bank (HBOR) wasted deep rivers of funds on “big business” that failed to create jobs that would replace a good number of those lost instead of stimulating small to medium business ventures spread locally to create local jobs.

Croatia’s Finance Minister Boris Lalovac said Monday 28 July that it was symptomatic that out of the 317,000 people with frozen accounts, 2,000 alone owed half the amount, namely 14 billion kuna. He said that among them were people accused of crime and should not be regarded in the same light as people who ended up with frozen accounts because of the recession. “Freezing of bank accounts and citizens’ debts did not occur accidentally,” he said. “All this happened because of the ‘credit Eldorado’ from 2006 to 2008. The amounts are so large because among debtors there are ‘wolves from Wall Street who gambled with real estate’. When we look into the debt structure we see that some 2,000 citizens owe 14 billion Kuna. We’re talking about the ‘golden boys’ who blew money into dust. There are some 150,000 citizens who cannot pay off debts up to 10,000 Kuna – and we will help these citizens – that is the duty of this Social Democrat government,” he concluded for Croatia TV news.

I truly doubt there are “golden boys” or “Eldorados” to speak of here in the significant way minister Lalovac describes. What is most worrying in this is that the public cannot ascertain from the Minister’s statement regarding “golden boys” – who owe 50% of the national household debt – whether in fact these “golden boys” are able to and have the capacity to manage their debt liabilities. It is to be expected that most people whose accounts have been frozen are ordinary people struggling to exist without employment, unable to service their loans/debts.

Justice Minister Orsat Miljanic has dubbed the new Consumer Bankruptcy bill “ a new life” while some citizens from the list of those threatened by personal bankruptcy call it “creating ghettos” – ghettos where one’s life will be controlled by others! Certainly, it seems that the citizens, as opposed to the government, are not wearing rosy glasses. They are well aware of the restrictive and significant impact upon their lives that personal bankruptcy brings and in no way see it as a welcome ‘new life’. Many have been forced into poverty through corruption and theft found in the privatisation of public companies and assets process and they are the ones to use this opportunity not only to seek alleviation of their crisis but also to seek more rigorous actions against the corrupt many and for payment of fines as well as for return to the state of all ill-gotten personal wealth amassed through corruption.



Having in mind that a significant slice of Croatia’s GDP is derived from consumer spending and the latter has significant effect on the health of the economy and that manufacturing or production is not likely to increase to an adequate job-creation level any time soon, the government has a task ahead of it that needs to ensure that the number of declared personal bankruptcies will not be so large that it significantly affects or decreases avenues of consumer spending purchase power accumulation. It would seem from Minister Lalovac’s statement that the Croatian government is looking at helping those with less than 10,000 kuna debts (which is equivalent to less than 2 months of average wage), and this suggests that there is a determination to avoid a large number of personal bankruptcies. How many though will end up personally bankrupt and how such personal bankruptcies may give rise to new citizens’ actions in fighting the corruption that has led to their personal financial demise through loss of job opportunities is a question that must await its answer for many months to come. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Croatia: Prime Minister Delivers Smoke And Mirrors Speech For Economic Recovery


On 24 September Croatian Prime Minister did deliver the historic speech on the state of the nation and it was no speech of a credible and serious statesman. In my previous post I had in mind that this speech could deliver either a prescriptive confrontation with the economic and social chaos that’s sweeping across Croatia, or a coiffe or cover up of that chaos with an indulgence in political confrontation with the opposition.

Zoran Milanovic had actually chosen to deliver a lecture of smoke and mirrors, evidently expecting that the parliament and the people would end up thinking how his government actually has the necessary capabilities to deliver the badly needed changes and improvement to government’s performance in reducing the critical budgetary deficit and improving economic performance.

According to Croatian TV news HRT, Milanovic laid out four directions his government will be taking in order to bring Croatia out of its crisis and these are: installing law and order in all spheres of life, consolidation of state finances, restructuring and rationalization of government assets and public sector, and, introducing and implementing measures for the rehabilitation and growth of the economy! However, not a single example or specific measure or ways his government plans to deliver on these grand matters that mean life or death.

In order to realise our goal, which is a reduction of budgetary deficit under 3% mark, we must combine intervening measures with reforms in the next three years,” Milanovic said in parliament!

No word about any specific reforms! Just smoke and mirrors that big ideas and big words usually create!

With regards to the “Lex Perkovic” scandal, also referred to in my previous post, Milanovic said that an agreement has been reached with the European Commission and that we will all find out about it in the coming days.  He was adamant that no sanctions by the EU against Croatia will be imposed and that he will continue his battles in showing the EU its discriminatory practices regarding judicial cooperation between member states of the EU. He babbled and ranted until time ran out so he did not have time to speak about the issue of unrest regarding introduction of Cyrillic (Serbian) script on public signs in Vukovar.

Milanovic’s supporters were the only ones (of course) who said he delivered a marvelous speech. The opposition parties all thrust their thumbs down with the general feel that the past two years have been thrown into the wind/ nothing of note for improving the economy achieved. Tomislav Karamarko, leader of Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) went as far as saying: “You (the government) managed to devastate this country economically, ideologically and morally – you are ripe for departure…”.

25 September came and the Croatian parliament and public were made aware of the agreement reached with EU regarding “Lex Perkovic”: Croatia must and will as a matter of urgency cancel that rushed law that was evidently brought by the government in breach of Croatia’s EU membership agreement and draw up a new one that would follow EU requirements to the letter. Croatian government has set 1st January 2014 as the latest date by which the new law on cooperation on criminal arrest warrants will be implemented in Croatia.

Viviane Reding of the EC said that they would wait and monitor the situation to the very end and then decide what to do. Orsat Miljenic, Croatia’s minister of justice, said: “… we are changing the Constitution to remove the statute of limitations for serious murders…we have a lot of such cases including political murders committed during the past including during the communist regime … we wish to solve those because we don’t want the perpetrators to enjoy the protection of statute of limitations …”.

Only the future will show whether Miljenic’s words regarding prosecuting communist crimes are also a scenario of smoke and mirrors! Certainly, if we’re to judge by the past inaction, it’s all thick smoke and brilliant mirrors; it’ll likely be up to someone other than a pro-communist government echelons to bring about real justice for the victims of communist crimes.

And then came 26 September! Croatian parliament reeled in disbelief when presented with the measures the government is planning to introduce for improving the economy and reducing budgetary deficit. If you suffer from vertigo, this was the time when you would have dropped to the floor, paralised from more of the same futility!

For the period between 2014 and 2016 the government plans to rail in 37 measures in its economic and fiscal politics that will, according to them, usher Croatia into some state of economic and fiscal bliss! All these measures seem to be geared for, is putting out the fire, or at least some of it, in order to prolong the misery that increasing poverty is bringing to the streets.

The key measures are an increase in PDV (goods and services taxes) from 10 to 13% on baby food, oil, flour, sugar, water, and hospitality and tourism services; an increase in excise duty for tobacco and petrol.

Sale of public assets and further borrowing.

Reductions in beneficial or value-added pensions.

Reforms in public sector will include reforms to salaries and reduction of opportunities for promotion, reduction in expenses or government contribution to prescription medicine and outsourcing ancillary services such as cleaning, food services etc.

It’s obvious to everyone except the government, it seems, that all these measures are not at all likely to significantly reduce the budget deficit nor are there any sure tell-signs that there will be the 1.5% growth in economy during the coming year that the government says it will achieve. All these measures are more of those erratically imposed by this government during the past two years, which have brought no palpable relief.

HDZ’s reaction to all this: initiate a motion of no confidence in the government to be placed on parliament’s agenda even as soon as the coming week.  HDZ, the largest opposition party holds strongly that the Social Democrat led government has demonstrated a severe lack of fiscal discipline in closing the critical black hole of budgetary deficit that’s leading Croatia into ruin.

Croatia’s finance minister Slavko Linic seems to shrug off all the critics with evident but concerning ease: “we spend more than what we earn,” he says (HRT news, 26 September 2013), “…there’s a limit to how far you can go in savings so you must borrow, and borrow more to close the gap left by budgetary deficit…”

Distressingly, this reminds me of how things were during the times of Tito’s communist Yugoslavia – the productivity of majority of state owned companies was not even close to cover bare wages for their workers but Tito knew how to avoid panic and fear in the workers and he kept on borrowing and borrowing and eventually even the birds on the trees tweeted: “It’s going to be alright, Tito got another loan for us.”  So, is Croatia falling deeper and deeper into the waters where the descendants of communists and ex-communists will once again bring the country to its knees? Surely that is not the destiny for which so much blood was spilled, so many lives lost in the plight for democracy! Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

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